Donald Trump defiantly announced the return of mass political rallies from as early as next week despite the number of coronavirus cases in the US topping 2 million.
According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health the forecast for US coronavirus deaths by August has increased by 5,000 to almost 146,000.
Some 114,000 people have already died – almost three times the number of people killed in the UK, which has recorded the second-highest death rate in the world.
But that is unlikely to deter Trump from reviving his bid for a second term.
The president retweeted a journalist who wrote: “Given recent gatherings, seems reasonable time for President Trump to resume holding rallies. Could be held outside. Give out masks at entrance, encourage use. Mass gatherings are now OK. [Joe] Biden could re-start, too, of course.”
Mr Trump responded: “BIG DEMAND! Starting up again soon, maybe next week!”
Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, said he presented Mr Trump with plans for a schedule of rallies this month, saying: “The great American comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You’ll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of.”
Buffalo conspiracy theory
Protests continued to take place across the US as George Floyd was laid to rest in Houston.
Trump controversially advanced an unfounded conspiracy theory about a 75-year-old protester in New York state who was pushed over by police, tweeting that the confrontation may have been a “set-up”.
The president, who has called himself “your president of law and order”, again sided firmly with police over protesters who have taken to the streets across the country.
With his tweet, he attempted to cast doubt on video showing police in Buffalo shoving the man, who fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement. He is seen bleeding from his head as officers walk away.