President Donald Trump said he’ll discuss the coronavirus threat at a White House news conference Wednesday evening, a day after he sought to ease fears of the virus spreading widely across the U.S.
Trump tweeted that representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others, would join him at the appearance.
The CDC on Tuesday warned the American public to prepare for an outbreak of the disease, which has spawned more than 80,000 cases around the world but relatively few so far in the U.S.
While the U.S. has only a few cases — mostly from travelers outside the country — medical experts cautioned that a pandemic would leave no country unaffected.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health’s infectious disease chief, told CNN that “we need to be able to think about how we will respond to a pandemic outbreak.”
Before he flew home from India on Tuesday, Trump said the coronavirus situation is “very well under control in our country.”
The president pushed back against Democrats and media outlets that have criticized his handling of the virus response.
“Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action.”
Trump said the CDC, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “and all doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus!” and announced that he would get a briefing on the matter later Wednesday.
“I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M. CDC representatives, and others, will be there.”
I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M. CDC representatives, and others, will be there. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham also engaged in the pushback after returning with Trump. Grisham retweeted a CDC post that said “there is currently no reported community spread” of coronavirus in the U.S.
In the tweet, the CDC advised people to take the usual precautions to avoid spreading the virus, such as staying home when sick and washing hands with soap and water.
There is currently no reported community spread of #COVID19 in the US. People should follow everyday measures to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as staying home when sick and washing hands with soap and water. Stay informed; visit https://t.co/1ifchVyxUM.
— CDC (@CDCgov) February 25, 2020
Azar was scheduled Wednesday to testify to Congress about appropriations for his department, with questioning about the administration’s coronavirus preparations likely.
Fauci said the first U.S. clinical trials for a possible coronavirus vaccine could begin in one to two months. He said a vaccine is a year to a year-and-a-half away.
He said that while only a few cases have turned up in the U.S. from travelers outside the country, a pandemic would affect every country.
A pandemic involves the continual spread of sustained transmission from person to person in multiple regions and hemispheres throughout the world simultaneously, Fauci noted.
As for a possible vaccine, Fauci said the U.S. is one to two months from way from a Phase One trial to determine safety.
“But that doesn’t mean you have a vaccine,” Fauci cautioned. “In order to get a vaccine that’s practically deployable for people to use … it’s going to be a year to a year and a half at best.”
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