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President Trump continued to urge states to reopen their economies Monday despite the sharp increase in the number of Americans testing positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.
“I really do believe governors should be opening up states they’re not opening, and we’ll have to see what happens with them,” Trump said during a visit to a Morrisville, N.C., biotech facility that is working on a coronavirus vaccine.
In recent weeks, Trump has been pushing the nation’s schools to reopen, though a spike in new COVID-19 cases has called that idea into question as the fall semester looms. Over the past two weeks, new cases have risen by 13 percent nationwide. To date, the pandemic has infected at least 4.2 million Americans and killed more than 147,000 people here.
In early June, while pressuring governors to lift restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Trump announced he was moving the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, N.C., because Gov. Roy Cooper asked for a plan to implement social distancing measures among attendees. But after moving the convention to Jacksonville, Fla., a dramatic increase of new cases in that state forced the president to cancel that plan last week.
With his poll numbers hitting a new low over the weekend over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has, in recent days, begun advocating the use of face masks to slow the spread of the virus. On Monday, he also promoted other measures that would seem to stand in direct conflict with his call for “opening up” states.
“We strongly advise everyone to especially, especially focus on maintaining a social distance, maintaining rigorous hygiene, avoid large gatherings and crowded indoor bars and wear masks when appropriate,” Trump told reporters. “We also urge citizens to take extra precautions to shield those at highest risk, which are in most cases, in many cases, the elderly, especially the elderly with medical problems such as heart or diabetes.”
Asked about polls such as Sunday’s survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that showed just 32 percent of Americans approved of his handling of the pandemic, Trump cited his campaign’s internal numbers.
“I think the poll numbers are very good,” Trump responded, adding, “We’re leading in North Carolina.”
An NBC News/Marist poll of the state released Monday shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by a margin of 51 percent to 44 percent.
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