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President Donald Trump is expected to deliver remarks Thursday on how his administration is protecting senior citizens, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives in the United States.
Seniors are considered high-risk candidates for contracting the virus, suffering the most severe symptoms and their fatality rates are higher than the general population.
Around the country, essential businesses have established “senior-only” hours to minimize their exposure to the virus.
Seniors have grown more critical of the White House’s response to the pandemic in recent weeks. The group’s approval of how the president is handling the outbreak dropped by nearly 20 points in a recent Morning Consult poll.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump announced “Operation Warp Speed,” a plan to speed up the process of bringing a coronavirus vaccine to market.
“I hope we’re going to have a vaccine and we’re going to fast-track a vaccine like you’ve never seen before if we come with a vaccine. I think they probably will,” he told reporters during a White House meeting with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
When asked by a reporter who is in charge of the vaccine operation, Trump said, “honestly, I am.”
But Trump’s top medical advisers, including infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, have repeatedly said that a coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready for 12 to 18 months at the earliest.
Several White House and administration officials are expected to join the president, the White House said, including Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway, Doug Hoelscher, Intergovernmental Affairs director, Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Robert Wilke, Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Seema Verma, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator.
Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee is also expected to attend.
The outbreak has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 3.2 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 227,971 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 1 million cases in the United States and at least 60,999 deaths, according to the latest tallies.