Washington DC: President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States would not close businesses again as several states reported rising numbers of new coronavirus infections.

“We won’t be closing the country again. We won’t have to do that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel.

Trump’s comments come after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both said the United States could not shut down the economy again.

In a call with governors, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged them to repeat the administration’s claim that increased testing accounts for the spike in numbers, the New York Times has reported.

The paper’s analysis found that positive cases outstripped the average number of administered tests in at least 14 states.

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Restaurants, gyms, schools and other locations closed down in March as the country braced for the coronavirus, which has so far sickened 2.16 million Americans and killed nearly 118,000.

Millions of Americans found themselves unemployed as a result of the pandemic. Trump had previously touted the strength of the economy, making it central to his re-election bid in November.

The United States recorded 840 deaths from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to data from Johns Hopkins University Wednesday, the seventh day in a row the toll has dropped below 1,000.

The country remains the most affected in the world by the pandemic in absolute terms, with more than 117,000 deaths overall and more than 2.1 million cases diagnosed.

Despite the encouraging drop in deaths, the number of new infections has plateaued around 20,000 a day, as infection rates wax and wane around the country.

(With inputs from agency)