President Donald Trump on Monday said he would resume holding coronavirus briefings this week after a nearly three-month hiatus.
Trump’s once-frequent coronavirus briefings stretched for hours and provided the public with updates on the administration’s pandemic response while also offering the president a chance to replicate his campaign rallies.
A constant presence during the spring, the briefings were curtailed in late April following Trump’s unfounded speculation that injecting disinfectants could ward off the virus.
Trump told reporters gathered in the Oval Office on Monday morning that a coronavirus briefing would likely be held on Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. Eastern time.
“I think it’s a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccines, with the therapeutics, and generally speaking, where we are,” Trump said. “So I think we’ll start that probably starting tomorrow, I’ll do it at 5:00 like we were doing. We had a good slot, and a lot of people were watching, and that’s a good thing.”
Trump was accompanied in the Oval Office by Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway had been publicly pushing for a return to televised coronavirus briefings. On July 17, Conway told Fox News that she believed daily presidential addresses to the nation on coronavirus would improve Trump’s sagging poll numbers.
“The president’s numbers were much higher when he was out there briefing everybody on a day-by-day basis about the coronavirus. Just giving people the information,” Conway told Fox. “I think the president should be doing that.”
Conway also added that some in the administration disagreed with her desire to bring back the briefings. In April, Trump’s Republican allies began to urge the president to cut back on his public remarks, which often descended into attacks on Democratic governors and the news media.
In the months since Trump took part in a televised coronavirus briefing, the White House Coronavirus Task Force has conducted infrequent public addresses. The public hiatus led to worries in late June from inside the administration about a growing information void on the virus.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the briefings are returning to reassure the American people that the pandemic is being dealt with effectively due to new treatments.
“The president wants the American people to know what the federal government is doing,” McEnany told Fox News Monday afternoon. “It’s why he’ll be resuming those 5 p.m. briefings starting tomorrow, to talk about remdesivir and convalescent plasma and these innovative therapeutics only made possible by President Trump tearing down barriers.”