U.S. President Donald Trump, in his first speech since his defeat by president-elect Joe Biden, vowed against implementing a national lockdown to stem a record-breaking surge of the novel coronavirus for the remainder of his presidency.
“This administration will not go under any circumstances, will not go into a lockdown, but will be very vigilant, very careful,” said Trump, who was addressing the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine during press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
Trump’s defiant remarks come amid a record-breaking surge in new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with virus hospitalizations reaching near-critical levels and fatalities shooting to the highest levels since the virus’ first wave in the spring.
Over the last 10 days, daily reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States have shattered records. According to a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the country surpassed 153,000 new cases in a single day yesterday — the highest recorded 24-hour increase in new cases in the U.S. or any other country.
The president, who has not held a public address since Biden was designated as the president-elect last week, has refused to concede and instead launched several legal challenges against election results in multiple states, arguing falsely that the election was either rigged or his ballots were switched to that of Biden.
Election security officials have since declared Thursday that there was no evidence of the voting systems changing or deleting votes during the election, disproving Trump’s claims.
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” read a joint statement from The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council.
Public health experts have since warned that Trump’s refusal to take action against the spread of the virus or to coordinate with the president-elect’s team could worsen the effects of the pandemic, as well as hamper the distribution of a vaccine next year.
Trump, who again dismissed aggressive action to contain the pandemic by stating a “cure cannot be worse than the problem,” also argued that lockdowns cost lives and “a lot of problems.”
“It’s horrible what happens with drugs, alcohol, depression, loss of jobs, business closures and its a terrible thing,” said Trump, whose comments go directly against the advice of health professionals that have pushed for self-isolation and social distancing to flatten the pandemic’s curve.
During his speech, he said that a vaccine could ship within a “matter of weeks” to vulnerable to populations and that it would be readily available to the public by April.
— With files from The Associated Press and Global News’ Sean Boynton