By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was called on by President Donald Trump on Wednesday to walk back his remark that the second wave of novel coronavirus in the fall could be worse than the current situation.
CDC Director Robert Redfield made the widely circulated comment in an interview Tuesday with the Washington Post.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the health expert was misquoted and would be putting out a statement. Redfield, however, said he was quoted accurately.
“I think it’s really important to emphasize what I didn’t say: I didn’t say that this was going to be worse,” Redfield said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing. “I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated because we’re going to have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time.”
Redfield’s remarks came as Trump appeared to downplay the risk that the coming fall or winter could bring another serious wave of COVID-19 combined with outbreaks of seasonal flu.
“We will not go through what we went through in the last few months,” Trump said. “It may not come back at all.”
Trump said, however, that there could be “embers of corona” that could combine with flu to create “a mess.”
Even as Trump attempted to project optimism in the nation’s battle with the virus, he said he disagreed with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s aggressive push to re-open his state’s economy in violation of federal recommendations. Trump said that was too soon.
“They can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit – not much,” Trump said. “Because safety has to predominate. We have to have that.”
Even so, Trump said he was encouraged to see some states begin to open up their economies and ease restrictions.
He announced that his administration will hold a July 4 celebration on the National Mall in Washington, as it did last year. At present, the capital remains under a stay-at-home order through May 15.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; writing by James Oliphant; Editing by Chris Reese and Sam Holmes)