With cases of the coronavirus on the rise across both the United States and around the world, President Donald Trump has accused Democrats of politicizing the outbreak in an attempt to hurt him politically.
On Saturday, the first coronavirus-related death in the U.S. was reported after the CDC confirmed on Friday that public health authorities in California, Oregon and Washington found four new presumptive cases of coronavirus from an unknown origin. However, the president, who said 22 people in the U.S. have coronavirus during a Saturday press conference, called the coronavirus the Democrats’ “new hoax” on Friday.
“The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They’re politicizing it,” Trump said during a campaign rally in South Carolina, according to Politico. “One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.”
Trump’s eldest son also made a series of bizarre and unfounded comments directed towards democrats earlier on Friday, during a television appearance on Fox and Friends.
Asked whether he was surprised by the way the Democrats’ criticism of how the Trump administration has responded to the spread of the virus so far, Don. Jr called it “a new level of sickness.”
“Anything that they can use to try to hurt Trump, they will,” he said before accusing them of trying “to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here, and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump’s streak of winning.”
Presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke out against Trump’s comments on Saturday, calling them both “bizarre” and “dangerous.”
“Some of the stuff he says is so bizarre that you can laugh at it,” Biden told reporters in South Carolina, ahead of the state’s primary election on Saturday, according to Politico. “The president of the United States says it’s a hoax? It’s hard to believe. Even for him, it’s hard to believe.”
“Look, this is a serious, serious, serious problem. It’s able to be solved, but it requires us to be absolutely levelheaded and let the scientists have the lead in all of this,” Biden added. “But for him to stop and start talking about being a hoax is absolutely dangerous. It’s just not a decent way to act.”
Many critics of the president, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have slammed the Trump administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus, which has included naming Vice President Mike Pence to lead the federal government’s response — with many pointing out that while Pence was the governor of Indiana, he reacted slowly to an HIV outbreak, which reportedly became the state’s worst ever.
“It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic,” Ocasio-Cortez, 30, tweeted after the news was announced on Wednesday. “This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have.”
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans “to prepare for a significant disruption” as it’s only a matter of time before the outbreak spreads to the United States, Trump has insisted that his administration has everything under control.
“CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, misspelling the name of the disease in a subsequent message.
Two additional U.S. cases of coronavirus from an unknown origin were reported on Friday, amid concerns that the disease is now spreading in the country through community transmission.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon and Washington have both announced their first possible instance of “community spread,” meaning the two patients who tested positive for coronavirus had not traveled to countries affected by the continued outbreak and the “source of infection is unknown.”
The announcement came after two patients in California became the first two cases in the U.S. of coronavirus in patients who had not recently traveled abroad.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the CDC encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.
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