The president made the remarks Thursday during a tour of a Ford factory in Michigan, reiterating his belief that the U.S. could contain another outbreak without stalling the economy with widespread lockdowns.
"People say that’s a very distinct possibility. It's standard," Trump said when asked about a potential second wave. "And we're going to put out the fires. We're not going to close the country. We're going to put out the fires. Whether it’s an ember or a flame, we're going to put it out. But we're not closing our country."
Health experts have warned a second COVID-19 wave could hit the U.S. sometime in fall or winter. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last month that the second outbreak could be much worse than the first, as it would likely emerge amid flu season and put an unprecedented strain on the U.S. health care system.
"There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," Redfield told the Washington Post. "And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean. We're going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has also addressed the possibility of a second COVID-19 wave; however, he has also expressed confidence that the country could prevent another large-scale crisis by increasing virus testing, expanding contact tracing, and stockpiling medical resources.
"I hope that if we do have the threat of a second wave, we will be able to deal with it very effectively, to prevent it from becoming an outbreak not only worse than now, but much, much less," Fauci told a Senate panel earlier this month.
Trump's vow to keep the country open comes as states begin to ease stay-at-home orders. All 50 states have started lifting restrictions on both public and privately owned spaces, such as restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, and retail stores.