President Trump acknowledged on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic was growing more severe in the United States and endorsed mask wearing in a shift after weeks of playing down the seriousness of the crisis that has killed more than 140,000 Americans.

Rather than just “embers” of the virus, as he has repeatedly characterized recent outbreaks afflicting much of the country, Mr. Trump conceded that there were now “big fires,” particularly in Florida and elsewhere across the South and West. He vowed to press a “relentless” campaign to curb the spread without offering any new specific plans for how to do so.

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