Coronavirus: Trump makes thinly veiled attack at AOC during White House briefing

John T Bennett
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on The View on Wednesday, 19 February 2020: ABC / The View

Donald Trump took a veiled jab at New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, beloved by the far left, calling her a “little grandstander” over her threats to delay passage of a coronavirus economic aid package.

The president also again acknowledged how much his goal of opening the country, or parts of it, by 12 April is a reflection of his focus on the coronavirus death count.

“It’s one thing to have it,” the president said. “It’s another thing to die.”

According to multiple non-governmental entities tracking virus data, the United States does have a much lower rate of death, about three per 1m of population. Italy and Spain, for instance, have much higher mortality rates. The United States now has the most confirmed cases as Vice President Mike Pence said 552,000 people here have been tested, though Mr Trump and health experts say the true numbers of those infected inside China will never be known.

Though Mr Trump is focused on getting the country back to work and his re-election campaign back in gear, Deborah Birx, a State Department doctor on his virus task force, issued a warning.

“We are concerned about certain counties” where officials see the disease spreading, she said, including: Wayne County in Michigan and Cook County in Illinois.

Anthony Fauci, Mr Trump’s top infectious disease expert, said he is confident treatment drugs specifically for the virus are coming – but he did not give a time frame.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez, known colloquially as “AOC,” has complained that she is concerned the bipartisan measure, which cleared the Senate on a 96-0 vote, is too friendly to large corporations. She wants more provisions to help workers and those who have lost their jobs due to the super bug outbreak.

The president’s jab ignored Republican Congressman Thomas Massie, who also has suggested his concerns about the bill’s beefed-up unemployment aid going too far. He has suggested he might force a roll call vote, meaning as many of the over 400 House members would have to get back to Washington.

If either Ms Ocasio-Cortez or Mr Massie force that roll call vote, they would be putting the health of their colleagues in jeopardy – especially the chamber’s oldest members, who are in the age range most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Mr Trump again said “we have to get back to work,” saying the people of the United States are not suited to “sit around.”

Earlier in the day, the White House released outlines of a plan to assess counties one-by-one, ranking them into three risk categories. The president told reporters during his daily virus briefing that his team will release more information about that plan next week.

For the second consecutive evening, the president chose to come to the James S. Brady Briefing Room in the White House with no major announcement. Instead, he mentioned things his administration already has done or announced, and repeated his desire to get much of the country up and running as soon as possible.

As the US Navy hospital ship Comfort prepares to sail from a base in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday for New York City to help with the virus outbreak in the city that has become the country’s epicenter, the president said he will go to bid ‘bon voyage’ to the military treatment vessel.

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