Watch live: Trump says he'll send off USNS Comfort from Virginia Saturday


President Trump said Thursday he’ll head to the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia Saturday to send off the USNS Comfort, which will serve as a floating hospital for New York City, which is desperate for hospital beds as more people are hospitalized for coronavirus infections. The president said he’ll go “kiss it goodbye,” before the ship sails to help address the quickly rising demands on hospitals in the metro New York City area. 

On Thursday, the U.S. became the world leader in confirmed number of coronavirus cases, at 82,404 at 5:37 p.m., according to Johns Hopkins data. 

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Also today, jobless claims marked the highest one-week spike on record Thursday, climbing to roughly 3.3 million. The Senate passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday night, and the House is expected to pass the bill Friday. Mr. Trump has said he will sign the bill “immediately.” 

“We will vanquish this virus,” Mr. Trump said Thursday. 

The president is keen on restarting the economy as soon as possible. He’s suggested an Easter target to begin reopening businesses, despite cautious from public health experts that could be far too soon. 

“Our people want to go back to work, I’m hearing it loud and clear from everybody,” Mr. Trump said Thursday. 

He wrote to governors Thursday to say the administration is working on new guidelines on social distancing that are more flexible, that would offer advice on “maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place.”

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said in the task force briefing Wednesday that the timing would be “flexible.” In an interview with NBA star Steph Curry on Instagram Live Thursday afternoon, Fauci said Americans can start returning to normal life “when the country as a whole has started turning that corner and started coming down.”

Fauci also talked about vaccine development, as a potential vaccine now entered the first phase of testing.

“If we really push, we hope that we will know by the time we get into next winter whether or not we have something that works,” Fauci said.

Fauci has warned that the U.S. could face multiple cycles of the virus, and the nation needs to be prepared for that.