The United States leads the world with nearly 90,000 coronavirus deaths, but the U.S. health chief Sunday rejected the notion that the government had failed its people.
"You can't celebrate a single death," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN, but contended, "It could have been vastly, vastly worse."
President Donald Trump said on Twitter, "Doing REALLY well, medically, on solving the CoronaVirus situation (Plague!). It will happen!"
Later, as he returned from a weekend visit to his Camp David presidential retreat outside Washington, Trump declared, “We did a lot of terrific meetings, tremendous progress is being made on many fronts, including coming up with a cure for this horrible plague that has beset our country.”
Azar said the U.S. over the last two months was "able to flatten the curve" of the number of coronavirus cases in order to give health care workers a chance to deal with the onslaught of patients needing care.
"While the burden has been tragic and severe, it's been controllable," he said.
Still, he said, "We do have greater health risks here in the United States" from people who are obese, have high blood pressure or diabetes.
But even as the U.S. coronavirus death toll is projected to reach 147,000 by August, Azar said, "We're now in a position where we can reopen" businesses in the country.
All but two of the country's 50 state governors have eased restrictions on businesses, stores, restaurants and factories reopening, albeit often with recommendations for continued social distancing of at least 2 meters between people and that people continue to wear masks.
Azar said there are "serious health concerns to keep us shut down,” but that “we've got to get this economy heating again."
With millions of Americans suffering from cabin fever after two months of confinement at home, the reopening of bars and restaurants in the Midwestern states of Ohio and Wisconsin have led to scenes of people crowding together and socializing as if there were no remaining health concerns from the pandemic.
Gov. Mike DeWine in Ohio, where crowds ignored social distancing guidelines as restaurants reopened, said, "We've got to continue to keep our space. This is a crucial time," even as 90% of the state's economy has now reopened.
"We have to open back up," he said, "but with caution," to prevent a renewed outbreak of the pandemic.
"Whether we're able to reopen schools (in August) depends on what we're doing right now. It's in everyone's collective hands,” DeWine said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, the Pacific coastal state, said 75% of his state's economy is reopened, but that coronavirus precautions must still be adhered to.
He said he does not now foresee the likelihood that crowds of 80,000 fans crammed into stadiums will be able to gather for football games in the fall.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, as Trump has, blamed China for the advance of virus from Wuhan, in China, to Europe and then to the United States.
"Yes, I do blame the Chinese," Navarro told ABC News' "This Week" show. He said Beijing, "behind the shield of the World Health Organization — for two months — hid the virus from the world."
"They could have kept it in Wuhan," he said. "Instead, it became a pandemic."