WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump resumed his press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, admitting that the situation in the country will "get worse."
"It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better -- something I don't like saying about things, but that's the way it is," Trump said in his first press briefing on the pandemic at the White House in nearly three months.
The president also encouraged Americans to wear masks after neglecting the practice for months.
"We're asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask," he said. "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They'll have an effect. And we need everything we can get."
As of Tuesday night, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States reached nearly 3.9 million with more than 141,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The new deaths in the United States reported Tuesday topped 1,000 for the first time in two weeks.
The country has repeatedly set daily records for new infections, with such states as Florida seeing a surge in cases.
"In recent weeks we've seen a concerning rise in the cases in many parts of our south -- if you look at South, Southwest, and West," Trump said. "Unfortunately, now Florida is in a little, tough -- or in a big, tough position."
Florida reported at least 9,520 coronavirus-related hospitalizations on Tuesday, compared to some 7,000 on July 10, according to the COVID Tracking Project and the state's Agency for Health Care Administration.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that they are "turning this thing back in a good direction," claiming that the state's health care system is able to handle the surge.
On development of vaccines and therapeutic cures, Trump sounded optimistic.
"We're very close to the vaccine. I think we're going to have some very good results," he said.
The president signaled willingness for international cooperation on vaccines, saying that "we're willing to work with anybody that's going to get us a good result."
Tuesday's press briefing came as a growing disapproval of Trump's handling of the pandemic.
According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, six in 10 Americans disapprove of how he is handling the health crisis, up sharply since the early days of the outbreak.
Trump is also facing a tough battle for reelection against presumptive Democratic nominee and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who leads in national and swing state polls.
"I think the American people will judge us on this," Trump said of the pandemic. "But they'll judge us on the economy that I created and that already we're creating."
"We're going to keep you abreast of this, and we'll also talk about some of the other topics like our economy, which is doing well," he said. "The stock market had another good day. I think they have a good day because they see a lot of positive things happening on this front too."
It remains unclear whether members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will appear at future press briefings as before.
Trump and his team halted daily virus briefings earlier this year.