President Trump speaks to the press at the White House on May 21. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Thursday that while a second wave of the novel coronavirus is "a very distinct possibility," the U.S. should not issue widespread lockdowns or stay-at-home orders to fight the next outbreak.

Why it matters: This strategy would be a reversal of the administration's previous support for stay-at-home orders, most notably by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Trump has frequently hedged on how long the country should remain closed.

Flashback: "I’ll tell you what — I did something that the experts thought I shouldn’t have done: I closed down our country and our borders. I did a ban on China from coming in, other than U.S. citizens. And we did very strong checks on even our U.S. citizens," Trump said in late April, stressing the benefits of the administration's actions.

Where it stands: Fauci told the Post this week that he has "no doubt" there will be new waves of the virus, with infections possibly rising in the fall. Many scientists say a second wave may not hold until then, the New York Times reports.

  • Stay-at-home orders have been issued on a state-by-state basis, with governors deciding how long their economies can withstand shuttered business and isolated people.
  • The official White House stance on states issuing stay-at-home orders has been to defer to each governor's judgement. Nearly every state has taken steps to reopen parts or the entirety of their economy, per a NYT analysis.

What he's saying: "People say that's a very distinct possibility, it's standard, and we're gonna put out the fires," Trump said, when asked if he was concerned about a second wave of the virus. "We're not going to close the country, we're going to put out the fires.There could be, whether it's an ember or a flame, we're gonna put it out. But we're not closing our country."

Go deeper... Trump: It's "possible" some lives will be lost to coronavirus due to U.S. reopening

Go deeper

Biden calls for 3-month national mask mandate: "Be a patriot"

Joe Biden called on governors to issue a three-month mandatory outdoor mask mandate on Thursday, telling reporters after receiving a coronavirus briefing that experts say it could save over 40,000 lives.

Why it matters: Biden was more aggressive and specific than he has been in previous calls to wear a mask, arguing that it will allow children to return to school sooner, businesses to reopen and help "get our country back on track."

Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Antibody drugs and various medicine cocktails against the coronavirus are progressing and may provide some relief before vaccines.

The big picture: Everyone wants to know how and when they can return to "normal" life, as vaccines are not expected to be ready for most Americans for at least a year. Two therapies are known to be helpful, and more could be announced by late September, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.

Updated 15 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand confirmed Thursday there are 13 local cases linked to the four who tested positive for COVID-19, ending 102 days of no community spread. Auckland locked down Wednesday for 72 hours and the rest of NZ is under lesser restrictions.

By the numbers: Over 751,000 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and another 20.7 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. More than 12.8 million have recovered from the virus.