File photo: Xinhua
WASHINGTON, July 8 (Xinhua) -- White House on Wednesday continued to push states to reopen schools in the fall as the country's COVID-19 cases passed 3 million with over 132,000 deaths.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened in his tweets to "cut off federal funding" for schools if they do not resume in-person learning this fall and criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for "their very tough & expensive guidelines" for opening schools.
During a press briefing of the White House coronavirus task force that took place a few hours later at the Education Department, Vice President Mike Pence said the CDC would issue new guidance on reopening schools next week.
"We don't want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don't open," Pence said. "I think that every American, every American knows that we can safely reopen our schools."
"Remember it's guidance, it's not requirements, and its purpose is to facilitate the reopening and keeping open the schools in this country," CDC Director Robert Redfield said.
On Tuesday, Trump said at a White House meeting with government officials and school administrators "we're very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools."
"Our country has got to get back, and it's got to get back as soon as possible, and I don't consider our country coming back if the schools are closed," he said.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday that international students may have to leave the United States if their universities switch to online-only courses for the fall 2020 semester, warning that otherwise they will risk violating their visa status.
The escalation of the Trump administration's drive to reopen schools came when the country's COVID-19 infections broke 3 million cases and outbreaks continue to rage in new hot spots in the South and West.
The United States set a record for the most cases reported in a single day -- 60,021 on Tuesday.
In 35 states, the rates of new cases keep increasing, threatening to reverse the progress made during weeks of painful shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, according to a report by CNN.
The CNN report described the speed of COVID-19 spreading in the United States as "ferocious" as six months ago, "no one thought" the virus existed in the country.
"The first reported case came on January 21. Within 99 days, 1 million Americans became infected. It took just 43 days after that to reach 2 million cases," it sid. "And 28 days later, the US reached 3 million cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday."
A widely cited mortality model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected on Tuesday that U.S. deaths would reach 208,000 by Nov. 1, with the outbreak expected to gain new momentum heading into the fall.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, said Monday that the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country is "really not good."
However, Trump on Tuesday rebuked Fauci's assessment, saying the country "is in a good place."
"We've done a good job," the president said at an interview on Gray Television. "I think we are going to be in two, three, four weeks, by the time we next speak, I think we're going to be in very good shape."
On Tuesday, the Trump administration officially submitted its notification of withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) to United Nations secretary-general and Congress.
The United States will leave the WHO on July 6, 2021, and currently it owes the organization more than 200 million U.S. dollars in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website.