Reacting to Trump’s prediction, an administration health official cautioned that timing depends on the vaccine development process, which is still under way. The official went on to say that Americans may still not be able to get back to normal life until the third or fourth quarter of next year, essentially backing up what CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said earlier this week.
Whether it was purposeful or not, in both stories, agencies appeared to opt for more Trump-friendly strategies downplaying the urgency of the pandemic.
The President also said he wasn’t kidding when he told rallygoers he had asked staff to slow down testing. But federal health officials have maintained that they have not been told to slow down coronavirus testing.
On Friday, the CDC updated the testing guidance once again, rolling back HHS’ changes.
The updated guidance once again stresses that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested for coronavirus.
The USPS and HHS, according to the Post, had a plan this spring to begin distributing face masks nationwide by first targeting shipments to the hardest hit areas of the country.
The plan had gone so far that the USPS had drafted a press release for the distribution plan.
But the White House scrapped the plan, instead opting for an HHS program, Project America Strong, to distribute “reusable cotton face masks to critical infrastructure sectors, companies, healthcare facilities, and faith-based and community organizations across the country.”
One administration official told the Post: “There was concern from some in the White House Domestic Policy Council and the office of the vice president that households receiving masks might create concern or panic.”
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the President said he didn’t know why the USPS’ plan to distribute face masks was canceled.
There was evidence by April, when the USPS had prepared for the mask distribution, that coronavirus could spread between asymptomatic individuals. That month, the administration recommended Americans wear cloth facial coverings.
CNN’s Nikki Carvajal and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.
This story has been updated to reflect new reporting.