COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel 2019 coronavirus, has been causing great fear in the US. Reports of community spreading and the first American deaths are immensely unsettling.
After two weeks of confusing, muddled messaging, the White House has approved an emergency $8 billion bill for funding to combat and contain the virus.
Trump planned to sign the bill during a scheduled event at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta on Friday, but that event was canceled under uncertain circumstances. Instead they signed the bill at the White House. Health Secretary Alex Azar posed behind Trump for photos.
The bill authorizes a surprising amount of money to be used for combating the novel coronavirus.
The Trump Administration’s messaging on the COVID-19 virus has been confusing, to say the least. At one point, top officials said that the disease was “contained” in the US, “not airtight, but nearly airtight.”
Then, during a campaign rally, Trump seemed to suggest that COVID-19 was a “Democratic hoax,” despite there being no evidence of this being the case.
Since the first cases were reported in the US, Trump has made strange statements about the disease, including that it is not as dangerous as the flu (it is much more dangerous) or that people who are sick should feel okay still going to work (they should not do that, per the CDC).
Trump’s messaging on the matter has been running counter to CDC guidance, often suggesting that things aren’t “that bad.”
According to sources close to the president, he has privately been railing against any reports that the disease is major, or that it could cause disruptions in daily life. The reason?
COVID-19 has been causing the stock market to plummet. Trump, ever-conscious of stock numbers and TV ratings, seems to be livid that a disease dominating news headlines is causing the stock market to falter while he’s president.
It seems like Trump’s attempts to dismiss the severity of the disease is his way of denying the reality of the virus. But as every coronavirus patient seeking flu symptom relief will attest, this situation is very, very real.
It is still unclear why the White House canceled their Friday trip to the CDC. The White House said they didn’t want to interfere with the CDC’s work. However, Trump himself offered another explanation.
“They had one person who was potentially infected,” Trump stated, baffling some reporters. “It turned out negative, so we’ll see if we can do it,” he added.
It remains unclear who was thought to be infected. The president may or may not visit the CDC after all. However, he is scheduled to go to Tennessee on Friday to survey the tornado damage from Tuesday’s devastating weather.