The president specifically cited Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, which had some of the earliest and most ambitious reopening plans.
“Look at what’s going on in Florida, it’s incredible,” Trump said at a news briefing to discuss better-than-expected jobs numbers. “If you look at so many different places that have opened up … the ones that are most energetic about opening they are doing tremendous business and this is what these numbers are all about.”
Some epidemiologists criticized plans in states like Florida and Georgia to reopen businesses even as the daily rate of coronavirus infection continued to climb. Some states, including Florida, have begun to see an uptick in coronavirus cases in recent days, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
On Thursday, Florida reported 1,419 new coronavirus cases, its biggest single-day increase since Florida’s Department of Health began publishing data on the outbreak. Florida now has more than 60,000 confirmed cases, according to state data. At least 2,607 people in Florida have died from Covid-19, averaging about 35 new deaths per day over the last seven days, according to Hopkins data.
Overall daily new infections across the country continue to tick upwards as states across the country ease restrictions and the virus circulates in new communities. New cases in the U.S. have risen over the past three days with a seven-day average of 21,763 daily new cases reported as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Trump’s remarks come after the Labor Department reported earlier Friday that employment rose by 2.5 million in May and the jobless rate to 13.3%. It marks the U.S. economy’s biggest jobs increase ever after its fastest plunge in history.
“We’re opening and we’re opening with a bang,” Trump said. He added that the economy will perform even stronger once more states like New York and New Jersey reopen more of their economies. Both states were among the hardest hit by the coronavirus in the country.
The coronavirus has infected more than 375,133 people in New York and killed at least 30,174 people across the state, according to Hopkins’ data. In New Jersey, the virus has infected more than 162,530 people and killed at least 11,970 New Jerseyians.
Both states have announced plans to reopen gradually, based on data tracking the outbreak such as daily new cases, availability of hospital beds and testing and contact tracing infrastructure in place.
Trump said that early on in the outbreak, he supported the decision to close down the economy in response to the virus because it proved to be highly transmissible. He characterized the decision to support closing the economy as “the hardest decision of my life.”