President Trump admitted at his first coronavirus press briefing since April that the outbreak in the U.S. will "probably, unfortunately get worse before it gets better," adding: "Something I don't like saying about things, but that's the way it is."

Why it matters: For weeks, Trump has dismissed the rise in infections as a product of more testing, insisting that the coronavirus will "just disappear" one day. He repeated that claim on Tuesday, but called the surge in cases in the South "concerning" and urged all Americans to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible: "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact."

The big picture: Despite his acknowledgement of the severity of the situation, Trump continued to tout the administration's advancements in testing, therapeutics and vaccine development and stressed that other countries are struggling with the virus as well.

  • Trump said American voters should judge him on his handling of the pandemic "among other things," before rattling off a list of his favorite accomplishments related to the economy, the military and more.

Pressed on his change in tone and previous claims that the U.S. was dealing with virus "embers," Trump responded:

"We have embers and fires and we have big fires and unfortunately now, Florida is a little tough or in a big tough position. You have a great governor there, great governor in Texas. People that are very, very skilled people and I think they're going to handle it very well. Their hospital capacities are holding up. Texas is a big state and it's very well-run and so is Florida and I think they'll do a very good job. 

What to watch: Trump said he will continue to do briefings "quite often" in order to keep the public aware of developments related to the coronavirus and the economy.

Go deeper: Fauci says he wasn't invited to Trump's coronavirus press briefing

Go deeper

Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Ex-FDA chief: Career scientists won't be "easily cowed" by political vaccine pressure

The career scientists involved in the approval process will not be swayed by politics, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Why it matters: Gottlieb's comments come amid fears that the Trump administration has politicized the coronavirus response and is seeking rapid approval and distribution of a vaccine.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 31,346,086 — Total deaths: 965,294— Total recoveries: 21,518,790Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,858,130 — Total deaths: 199,890 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.
Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any new rules "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens has reported. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times that the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."

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