President Donald Trump said on Friday that the US is ordering many supplies to prepare for a possible outbreak of coronavirus within the country's borders. Among those supplies, he said, are "a lot of different elements of medical." It's unclear what the president meant by "elements of medical." His statements came as the White House weathers a firestorm over its conflicting messages about the severity of the coronavirus threat and its attempts to muzzle public health officials from giving more information to the public about the disease. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump is on top of handling the US's response to a potential pandemic as the deadly coronavirus sweeps the globe. "We're order a lot of supplies," Trump told reporters on Friday. "We're ordering a lot of, uh, elements that, frankly, we wouldn't be ordering unless it was something like this. But we're ordering a lot of different elements of medical." It's unclear what the president meant by "elements of medical." The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has reached 2,858, with more than 83,000 people infected, as of Thursday night. China has seen a drop-off in its rate of new cases, but the virus seems to be gaining momentum in other parts of the world. As of Thursday, the coronavirus had spread to every province and region in China as well as at least 51 other countries. At least 64 people have died outside of mainland China. Public health officials in the US warned this week that the disease's outbreak within the country is more or less inevitable. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a press call on Tuesday. "We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad." Messonnier also said the agency was "preparing as if we are going to see community spread in the near term," adding that the outbreak could soon lead to a "disruption to everyday life." But the president has downplayed the risk and released conflicting messages about the severity of the global outbreak. The New York Times also reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on allergy and infectious diseases, told associates that the White House had barred him from discussing anything about the virus until getting further clearance. And he was also reportedly asked to cancel a series of scheduled Sunday show appearances this week. During a two-day trip to India earlier this week, Trump said China, which is at the epicenter of the outbreak, has things under control. On Wednesday, Trump announced that he was putting Vice President Mike Pence, a hardline loyalist with a spotty record of handling health crises, in charge of the White House task force to respond to the coronavirus, known as the COVID-19 virus. On Thursday, during a meeting with African-American leaders at the White House, Trump acknowledged that "we have a situation with the virus," but added that "we've done a great job" addressing it and that "the press won't give us credit for it." "What happened over the last couple of weeks with this — and it just — you know, this is life," Trump said as medical professional and science experts continued sounding the alarm about a potential coronavirus epidemic in the US. The president also downplayed the threat of the virus because there aren't as many cases of the disease in the US as there in China. "We have 15 people instead of thousands of people," he said. "Okay? It could have been thousands of people. But we do things. And it would be really nice if we could be recognized by the press fairly." He went on to say that the virus is "going to disappear" one day "like a miracle." But he later appeared to contradict himself, saying, "And from our shores, we, you know, it could get worse before it gets better." "We'll see what happens," he added. "Nobody really knows."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A law professor weighs in on how Trump could beat impeachment
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Trump said China may have started the coronavirus deliberately, as top advisers claim attacking Beijing may be the best way for the president to save his job
President Donald Trump has claimed that China may have allowed the coronavirus to spread deliberately. "But...President Donald Trump has claimed that China may have allowed the coronavirus to spread deliberately. "But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, then there should be consequences," Trump said of China's response to the disease. Trump's approach to China has veered between blaming it for the coronavirus outbreak and seeking to strike a more conciliatory tone. Top Republicans though, believe that Trump's best path to victory in November's presidential election is to take a tough line against China and cast Beijing as "the bogeyman." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump warned of "consequences" for Beijing if China were found to have deliberately allowed the novel coronavirus to spread. "It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn't, and the whole world is suffering because of it," Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing on Saturday. "If they were knowingly responsible, certainly," he said. "If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, then there should be consequences." Trump attacks the media for not reporting what he thinks are the correct number of coronavirus deaths in China, even though his own government health agencies are citing the same number. pic.twitter.com/ykS1ucDFZY — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 18, 2020 The president did not specify what the consequences may be. At the briefing, Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, also cast doubt on revised Chinese figures, which raised the number of people killed by the outbreak in its epicenter in the city of Wuhan by 50%. Birx said that China has a "moral obligation" to provide credible information to the rest of the world. Trump's remarks come as he faces increasing pressure over his faltering handling of the outbreak, which has killed nearly 40,000 people in the US so far and where the number of infections is higher than anywhere else in the world. The crisis has placed a spotlight on Trump's relationship with China, where the virus originated last year. In what critics say was an attempt to divert blame from his administration, Trump last week cut funding to the World Health Organization, which he accused of being too "China-centric." In recent weeks he has both sought to play up China's role in the crisis, referring to the coronavirus as the "China virus" in press briefings. By contrast, he has also attempted to strike a conciliatory tone, praising Chinese President Xi Jinping's handling of the crisis after a March 27 call with the leader. After the call, he also dropped the "China virus" tag. Trump is reportedly wary of antagonizing China's leader, with the US dependent on Chinese medical supplies as it battles the disease, and does not want to destabilize further markets rocked by unprecedented US unemployment figures not seen since the Great Depression. But top advisers are privately urging Trump to double down with his attacks on China. The New York Times reported on Saturday, claiming that if he can successfully pin the blame on the government in Beijing, it may be his best hope of reversing a slide in the polls and saving his job. "Trump has always been successful when he's had a bogeyman and China is the perfect bogeyman," Chris LaCivita, a longtime Republican strategist, told the publication. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A cleaning expert reveals her 3-step method for cleaning your entire home quickly
Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House on Friday rejected a conspiracy theory that the novel...Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House on Friday rejected a conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab. Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious disease, said the available evidence on the origins of the virus is "totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human." Fox News and Republican allies of President Donald Trump have been pushing the lab narrative hard in recent days, despite a lack of hard evidence to back it up. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious disease, on Friday, rejected a conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus escaped a Chinese lab. "A group of highly-qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences in bats as they evolve. The mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human," Fauci said at the daily White House press briefing in response to a question from a reporter on the theory, which has been pushed by President Donald Trump's allies in recent days. The precise origins of the novel coronavirus, which is officially known as SARS-CoV-2 and causes the disease COVID-19, remain somewhat of a mystery. But, as Fauci underscored in his remarks on Friday, studies of the virus' genome have strongly indicated that it was transmitted from an animal to a human. "We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible," an analysis published in Nature Medicine in mid-March said. The study, led by computational biologist Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in California, compared COVID-19 to the six other coronaviruses known to infect humans. The analysis explicitly states that the evidence shows SARS-CoV-2 "is not a purposefully manipulated virus." But as research on the origins of the novel coronavirus continues, some in the Trump administration, including the president, are seemingly still open to the possibility it escaped from a Chinese lab. "More and more, we're hearing the story, and we'll see," Trump said on Thursday. Trump suggests there's merit to a Fox News story about the novel coronavirus originating in a lab in China pic.twitter.com/8HkVeiJQns — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 15, 2020 On Friday, when asked "how active" the investigation was into whether the virus escaped a lab in Wuhan, China, Trump said: "We are looking at it. A lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense ... We are going to find out." "A lot of strange things are happening ... We're going to find out," Trump added. But the US intelligence community has looked into the theory for months and hasn't found hard evidence to back it up, according to a report from Politico, which cited multiple sources familiar with the matter. An administration official told Politico, "There's no consensus." Trump on Wuhan lab investigation:“We’re looking at it, a lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense. … There is a lot of investigation going on and we’re going to find out." pic.twitter.com/nw6KDIpcl1 — JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) April 17, 2020 Fox News has been leading the charge on the Chinese lab conspiracy theory Meanwhile, Fox News, the president's preferred TV network, has been pushing the lab narrative hard over the past week. "Sources believe coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan lab as part of China's efforts to compete with US," a report published on Wednesday and co-authored by Fox News anchor Bret Baier said. Along these lines, Trump's advisers and congressional allies have been hammering China in recent days, excoriating the Chinese government over its lack of transparency in relation to coronavirus. GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Wednesday told Sean Hannity of Fox News that China "must be made to pay the price" if it's determined the virus came out of a Wuhan lab. Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday told Fox News: "We really need the Chinese Government to open up. They say they want to cooperate. One of the best ways they could find to cooperate would be to let the world in, to let the world's scientists know exactly how this came to be, exactly how this virus began to spread." Trump denies the US has the most coronavirus deaths as his administration defends the country's testing capacity Trump on Friday also expressed skepticism over the Chinese government's official death toll from the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China. Based on the available data, the US is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with the highest number of reported cases and confirmed deaths. But Trump dismissed those numbers. "We don't have the most in the world deaths. The most in the world has to be China. It is a massive country...they must have the most," Trump said during Friday's press briefing. As of Friday evening, there were nearly 700,000 reported cases of coronavirus in the US, and over 36,000 confirmed deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Comparatively, the data said China has seen nearly 84,000 cases and over 4,600 deaths. Beyond Trump, there's been widespread skepticism across the international community over China's official numbers, but the Chinese government has rejected allegations of a coverup. Amid the increased focus on China, the Trump administration continues to face strong criticism from Democratic lawmakers and public health experts over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump spent weeks downplaying the threat of the virus on top of early stumbles at the federal level that left the US behind much of the world on testing for the virus. Some Democrats and former US officials have accused Trump of using China, and more recently the World Health Organization (WHO), as a scapegoat to deflect from his own failures in handling coronavirus. The president earlier this week announced a plan to cut funding to the WHO, criticizing the agency for praising China's transparency in the early days of the outbreak. But Trump was also praising China in this regard around the same time and continued to applaud its handling of the crisis well into February as the virus was spreading in the US. China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020 Trump has pushed back hard on any criticism of his response and berated reporters who've questioned him about the testing shortages in the US. Vice President Mike Pence and other officials on the coronavirus task force on Friday said that the capacity of testing for coronavirus in the US has increased to a point where governors can initiate the first of three phases that are part of the administration's guidelines on easing social distancing and reopening the economy. But earlier on Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo emphasized that his state, which has been hit the hardest by the novel coronavirus, still needs help from the federal government with testing. VP Pence on coronavirus testing and reopening the U.S. economy: “Today, we have a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of a Phase 1 reopening, if state governors should choose to do that” pic.twitter.com/AnX24wi8hc — QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 17, 2020 On Monday, Trump falsely claimed he had "total" authority to force governors to end coronavirus restrictions in order to restart the economy, but he backtracked by Thursday and said he would leave such decisions up to the states. By Friday, however, Trump was on Twitter encouraging residents of Virginia and Michigan to "liberate" their states, which came as some states have seen protests against stay-at-home orders. When asked about this at Friday's press briefing, Trump said he did not think his tweets were at odds with the administration's measured guidance for easing restrictions that leaves the timeline up to governors. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
US president asks ‘do you really believe those numbers?’ and provokes angry response from editor of...US president asks ‘do you really believe those numbers?’ and provokes angry response from editor of Global Times by repeating claims virus came from a labCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageDonald Trump has again questioned China’s transparency over the coronavirus outbreak, casting doubt on the origins of the virus and number of cases, while signalling the US would soon join countries across Europe in easing its lockdown.“Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China?” the US president said, when asked about the severity of the US death toll at a White House press briefing. “We report everything, we’re reporting the cases and our reporting is good. We’re reporting every death.” Continue reading...