President Donald Trump on Thursday stepped back from his insistence on the reopening of schools and said those in Covid-19 hotspots could remain closed longer.
Continuing his retreat from unconditional reopening generally, the president also announced the cancellation of Republican convention in Florida, one of states his the hardest by the second surge in Covid-19 cases.
Trump has reversed himself on an increasing number of positions he had taken earlier to get the country back on the rails irrespective of the ferocity of the epidemic that is raging through the south and the west. He has embraced the use of masks, acknowledged the epidemic “will get worse before it gets better”.
“In cities or states that are current hotspots,” Trump told reporters at the daily coronavirus that he resumed earlier this week after a gap of three months, “districts may need to delay reopening (of schools) for a few weeks, and that’s possible.”
The president had earlier threatened to cut federal funds for schools that refused to reopen. And had alleged that were being kept closed for political reasons.
Trump had been pushing for the return of normalcy, lifting of restriction, reopening of businesses, schools and colleges with an eye on elections in November, when he will seek a second term. Then came the a slew of polls showing him falling way behind his presumptive Democratic rival, Joe Biden, even in swing states that he had won in 2016.
“It’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP Convention,” Trump said, replaying a conversation he had with his campaign team earlier in the day.
Some parts of the event will move back to Charlottesville in North Carolina, the original venue which he had abandoned for Florida when local officials had refused to yield to his demands for an in-person convention with all the attendant pomp and pageantry and without social-distancing norms.
Florida is among the souther and western states hit the hardest by a second surge of Covid-19 cases and fatalities. It has reinstated many of the restrictions and officials have publicly expressed concerns about the convention and their ability to ensure the and it has slapped back restrictions
Biden cancelled his Milwaukee convention weeks ago, turning it into a largely on-line event. Now Trump.