Acting DHS head says U.S. doing ‘great job’ getting economy back up

Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf addresses the daily coronavirus response briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room as seen through a window from outside the White House in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is doing “a great job” reopening the country after lockdowns to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Sunday, as infections continued to spike in some key states.

Wolf told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that the White House coronavirus task force was continuing to meet daily and the Centers for Disease Control had issued guidance to states on how to flatten the curve, including use of face masks.

“We’re seeing a number of states throughout the country in different phases, from phase one to phase three, trying to get this economy, trying to get the country back up and running. And we’re doing a great job at that,” Wolf told NBC.

In a separate interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Wolf said the White House task force was “on top of all of these outbreaks within state by state, county by county, whether it’s Arizona, Texas, Florida, a number of these states that are having hotspots.”

He said the Trump administration was surging medical equipment and staff, as well as individuals from the Department of Homeland Security, into areas that were seeing an uptick in infections, to better understand the causes of those outbreaks and support the state-led reopening efforts.

The United States has reported 2.26 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which comprises nearly 26% of the global total of 8.81 million cases, according to a Reuters tally. Over 119,600 deaths have been reported in the United States.

He defended President Donald Trump’s decision to hold an indoor campaign rally in Oklahoma, where infections have also been rising but many attendees did not wear face masks.

“The president’s rally is a state in a phase three reopening, and so activities like this are allowed,” Wolf said in the NBC interview, adding, “It’s also a personal choice that people are making on the face coverings.”

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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