• President Donald Trump said the latest data showed the U.S. has passed the peak 
  • He will issue new guidelines and announce details of reopening the economy on Thursday
  • Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, stressed social distancing measures were still needed

As COVID-19 cases in the United States rose to over 636,000 and deaths reached over 26,000 on Wednesday (April 15), President Donald Trump said current data suggested the country has "passed the peak" of the coronavirus outbreak.

"The battle continues, but the data suggests that nationwide, we have passed the peak on new cases. Hopefully, that will continue and we will continue to make great progress,” the president said.

“Some states are looking at other states and they’re saying I can’t imagine what they’re going through because they’re not in that position. They’re in very good shape,” the president added. “I would say that we have 20 states, at least, but you really have 29 that are in extremely good shape.”

The curtain goes up on another briefing by US President Donald Trump
The curtain goes up on another briefing by the U.S. President Donald Trump. AFP / MANDEL NGAN

Encouraged by the latest data, Trump said the U.S. was in a "strong position" to set new guidelines for reopening the economy. Earlier, Trump had a target to resume business operations by May 1.

The president said the reopening and the new guidelines will be announced in an afternoon press briefing Thursday after he spoke to the governors.

These new guidelines may ease the rules on social distancing in states with low transmission. However, a handful of governors in the East and West Coast have their own working groups that will coordinate when regional economies were going to reopen.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, confirmed there was a decline in COVID-19 cases over the last week. However, she was stressed social distancing must continue and that people cannot plan dinner parties at this time.

"Coming together, there is always a chance that an asymptomatic person can spread the virus unknowingly," Birx said, adding the public must still follow the guidelines.

Meanwhile, more than 3.3 million COVID-19 tests were completed, which should help researchers develop therapies or deliver an antibody test. The president said some 35 clinical trials will also be underway in the coming weeks.