President Trump said on Monday that he is bringing back the daily coronavirus briefings that he halted in April, a tacit acknowledgment that the public health crisis that he has sought to put behind him is still ravaging much of the country.
With cases and deaths on the rise, Mr. Trump told reporters that he would probably hold the first of the new series of briefings on Tuesday at 5 p.m. He attributed his decision to revive them not to the increasing threat of the virus but to the fact that the briefings had high television ratings.
“I was doing them and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching in the history of cable television. There’s never been anything like it,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a previously unannounced meeting with congressional Republicans. “It’s a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccines, with the therapeutics.”
The original briefings over the course of weeks from March to April were made-for-television events, with scientific information provided by public health experts often overshadowed by a confrontational president castigating governors, lawmakers, China, reporters and others he deemed insufficiently grateful to him for his leadership. He used them to defend his administration’s response to the virus and promote a pet drug as a possible treatment over the advice of his own experts.
He eventually quit holding the briefings after he was mocked widely for suggesting that people might be able to counter the virus by ingesting or injecting bleach, an offhand comment that sent public health agencies scrambling to warn the public not to try such an approach because it could be fatal. Singed, Mr. Trump declared that the briefings were “not worth the time & effort.”
But in recent weeks, the surge of cases, particularly in the South and West, has frustrated Mr. Trump’s effort to diminish the seriousness of the continuing pandemic. The United States now records more than twice as many cases each day as it did during the height of the daily briefings, and the number of deaths, which had fallen substantially, has begun to rise again as well.
The decision to revive the briefings offers a substitute of sorts for the campaign rallies that Mr. Trump had hoped to restart by now. His initial attempt at returning to the campaign trail fizzled when only a third of an arena in Tulsa, Okla., was filled and his second, a rally set for New Hampshire, was scrubbed amid concerns about low attendance, with the campaign citing weather as a reason to cancel.