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‘We Just Keep Reopening’: White House Plans To Stay The Course With No Vaccine

Topline

Asked by reporters on Wednesday what the administration’s plan is to combat unemployment if a vaccine is not available for another 6 to 9 months, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said “we just keep reopening,” as the administration sticks to its approach of hoping the virus will end quickly despite guidance from experts.

Key Facts

Kudlow stopped to talk with reporters outside the White House on Monday to tout the strength of the economy and job growth, boasting “huge numbers,” and asserting, “our fundamentals of the economy are very strong. Let’s not forget that.”

Trump has been sternly optimistic about a vaccine timeline, telling supporters at a tele-rally earlier this month, “It’ll be delivered, the vaccine, before the end of the year and frankly, maybe even during the month of October,” and later asserting “we will very easily defeat the China virus” and “we’re making that round beautiful last turn” in the outbreak.

But Trump’s own health officials cast doubt on that optimistic timeline on Wednesday, with CDC Director Robert Redfield saying that a vaccine likely won’t be “generally available” until “late second quarter, third quarter 2021,” and HHS official Paul Mango predicting only 20 million doses of a vaccine would be immediately available if it was approved in October.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said Friday that the U.S. likely won’t reach a “degree of normality” that resembles “where we were prior to covid” until mid-to-late 2021.

But the comments still didn’t dampen the White House’s optimism, with press secretary Kayleigh McEnany responding to Redfield’s comments by stating “we do believe that it will be widely available by the end of the year” and Trump adding that as the administration will “defeat the virus” as soon as the vaccine is “given the go-ahead.”

Trump also spent much of his briefing on Wednesday evening celebrating the decision of the Big Ten college football conference to start the football season in October, “it’s gonna be great,” and urging rival conference PAC-12 to open as well.

Crucial Quote

“I think he made a mistake… It’s just incorrect information,” Trump said of Redfield’s prediction that a vaccine wouldn’t be widely available until 2021. “I called him and he didn’t tell me that. Maybe he got the message confused, stated it incorrectly… I don’t think he means that,”

Key Background

The Trump campaign’s attitude toward the virus largely reflects the White House’s attitude, with Trump holding crowded and even indoor campaign rallies – often with little social distancing and no mask requirements – as election day approaches.

Big Number

44%. That’s the percent of American adults who said in an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll in August that they would take a coronavirus vaccine approved by the government. As much as 22% said they would not take one, while 33% said they were unsure.

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