Trump fired back on Monday, accusing Democrats of being unfair.
“I was criticized by the Democrats when I closed the Country down to China many weeks ahead of what almost everyone recommended. Saved many lives. Dems were working the Impeachment Hoax,” the President wrote. “They didn’t have a clue! Now they are fear mongering,” the President tweeted.
Stirred by the virus, the political maelstrom gripping Washington intensified as the first two Americans perished from the coronavirus. Two men have now died from the disease in Washington state’s King County. Both had underlying health issues, with one man in his 50s and the other was 70, officials said. There are now new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus or presumptive cases in California, Massachusetts, Washington state, Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon, Rhode Island, New York and Florida.
“We’re seeing the beginning of community spread, which you know, is concerning,” Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”
“My concern is as the next week or two or three go by, we’re going to see a lot more community-related cases. That’s of great concern.”
On Sunday night, the President crowed about a poll that he said showed 77% of adults were confident the government could handle the situation.
“Gallup Poll numbers on the handling of this situation are outstanding, the best. Thank you!”
Gallup noted at the time of the poll’s release that public confidence might be based on the fact that up to that point, there had been no deaths from the virus on US soil.
The vice president tried to keep the situation in perspective, but warned that there could be more deaths.
“For people that have other conditions — that would militate toward a worse outcome, then we could have more, we could have more sad news, but the American people should know the risk to the average American remains low,” Pence told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
There are now 88 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, including 44 people evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and three from the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan, China. There are an additional 19 travel-related cases in America, and 18 person-to-person transmissions. The origin of four other cases, in Illinois and Rhode Island is not yet established.
Pence won’t criticize inflammatory comments by President’s son
Pence, who can be a talented communicator, gave a good impression of an administration that is coordinating across various government departments and is taking the threat of the virus seriously. His assessment of the situation was more coherent than the President’s comments in the news conference on Saturday, which were often light on details and sometimes contradictory. Yet like many of the President’s other political appointees, Pence’s habit of repeatedly pouring praise over the President’s role in the crisis so far — possibly in the expectation that his boss was watching — in itself politicized the response effort.
In a show of focus, Trump plans to visit the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week.
But the extent to which any elected leader can control the virus, the public reaction to its spread and the political and economic reverberations that saw a stock market rout last week and fears of a global economic downturn, remains uncertain.
“The idea that Donald Trump said just several days ago this was a Democratic hoax, what in God’s name is he talking about? What in God’s name is he talking about? Has he no shame?” Biden said on “State of the Union.”
Trump made the comment about a supposed “hoax” at a campaign rally in South Carolina on Friday night. On the defensive at his White House news conference on Saturday, he claimed, in a statement apparently contrary to the facts, that the “hoax” reference did not refer to the virus, but the use of it by Democrats to try to damage him politically.
“At times like this it is the job of the President to reassure the public that he or she is taking all the steps necessary to protect the health and well-being of every citizen,” Bloomberg said.
Wary eyes on stocks after global rout
Much of the public mood going forward could depend on how stock markets regroup after the worst week since the 2008 banking crisis triggered the Great Recession. The extent of the spread of the disease inside the US will also be important. If it can be contained to hot spots and a trickle of new cases, the political impact may be moderate. But if the disease sweeps through the population, dissatisfaction with the government response could mount.
While the administration managed to largely coordinate a positive message of control over the weekend, there remain contentious questions about its handling of the crisis. For instance, there is a debate about whether the White House used the weeks between the disease’s first emergence in China to properly prepare the United States for its arrival — on issues related to hospital capacity and whether there is sufficient equipment and supplies including breathing machines for any large-scale outbreak. It remains unclear whether the public health system and hospital networks are prepared for the kind of outbreaks seen in China, South Korea and Italy for instance.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.