President Trump will be holding a news conference at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as he and his administration seek to reassure the public – and the markets – amid the global coronavirus outbreak. He is speaking a day after the CDC asked Americans to prepare for a spread of coronavirus in the United States.
Stocks suffered two days of steep losses on fears about the virus’ economic impact, and the president accused news outlets of stoking panic.
Mr. Trump said in a tweet Wednesday morning that the country is “in great shape!”
The administration has been inconsistent in its statements about the virus, which started last last year in China. There are now tens of thousands of cases worldwide and a handful in the United States.
Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow asserted Tuesday on CNBC that “we have contained this… I won’t say airtight, but pretty close to airtight.” And Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, was caught making inaccurate statements about the coronavirus during a hearing Tuesday.
On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans alike have expressed frustration with administration officials about inconsistencies in the information they’re providing. GOP Senator John Kennedy grew testy with Wolf, who incorrectly stated what the coronavirus mortality rate is, compared to the flu virus. Wolf also testified that the U.S. is “several months” away from a vaccine for the coronavirus, but the CDC said the timeline is closer to 12 to 18 months.
“You’re head of Homeland Security, sir. Your job is to keep us safe,” Kennedy told Wolf after he couldn’t answer how many coronavirus cases are expected in the United States.
The Trump administration has put together a $2.5 billion supplemental funding plan to speed the development of a vaccine, procure equipment and supplies, and provide for preparedness and response.