Trump, Biden spoke by phone about coronavirus outbreak

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR/AP) — President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force will hold a briefing Monday to update the country on the fight against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

You can watch the briefing live above.

During the briefing, Trump said he had a “really wonderful, warm conversation” with Joe Biden on Monday about the coronavirus outbreak.

“He gave me his point of view, and I fully understood that, and we just had a very friendly conversation,” Trump said at his daily press briefing.

The president said he and Biden agreed not to share the details of their conversation, but confirmed an earlier statement from the Biden campaign that the Democrat offered “suggestions” on how to address the pandemic. Biden had previously said he’d like to share with Trump some lessons he learned from dealing with similar crises during the Obama administration.

But Trump added: “It doesn’t mean that I agree with those suggestions.”

Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement that the two had a “good call” where Biden gave Trump some advice and “expressed his appreciation for the spirit of the American people in meeting the challenges facing the nation.”

The conversation was the culmination of a dayslong effort by aides to get the two on the phone, after White House adviser Kellyanne Conway called on the former vice president to “offer some support” to Trump. Biden, the prospective Democratic presidential nominee, has in recent weeks released a series of proposals for responding to the pandemic and has criticized the Trump administration for acting too slowly to halt the virus’ spread.

Biden said last week that he would “love” to speak to Trump and wanted to share with him his experiences from the Obama administration.

“We’ve been through this in a slightly different way in the past, and I hope they can learn some lessons from what we did right and maybe what we did wrong,” Biden said during a virtual press briefing.

Vice President Mike Pence said during Monday’s briefing that the country was beginning to see a leveling of cases, but emphasized it was the “very beginning” of a leveling.

The U.S. surgeon general said Sunday that Americans should brace for levels of tragedy reminiscent of the Sept. 11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while the nation’s infectious disease chief warned that the new coronavirus may never be completely eradicated from the globe.

Those were some of the most grim assessments yet for the immediate future and beyond. But hours later, Trump and Pence tried to strike more optimistic tones, suggesting that hard weeks ahead could mean beginning to turn a corner.

“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said at an evening White House briefing. Pence added, “We are beginning to see glimmers of progress.”

The president also insisted that both assessments from his administration — they came within 12 hours of each other — didn’t represent an about-face or were even “that different.”

“I think we all know that we have to reach a certain point — and that point is going to be a horrific point in terms of death — but it’s also a point at which things are going to start changing,” Trump said. “We’re getting very close to that level right now.”

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