Trump downplays virus as lawmakers self-quarantine

Despite warnings from his own health officials to minimize unnecessary contact in public settings, President Donald Trump on Monday eagerly glad-handed supporters at an Orlando airport.

At the same time, U.S. lawmakers - many Republicans - announced they would be quarantining themselves.

Senator Ted Cruz and Representatives Doug Collins, Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz announced they would isolate themselves after coming in contact at a conservative political conference with an attendee who later tested positive for the virus.

Trump was also at that conference, and he was with Gaetz on Air Force One Monday, and shook hands with Collins on Friday.

The president, who spent the weekend at his private Mar-a-Lago resort, has been furiously defending his administration's response to the growing coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, as markets plummeted on fears of a looming global recession, Trump spent his morning attacking his political rivals on Twitter, complaining about "Fake News" and minimizing the threat coronavirus poses by comparing it to the flu.

Tweeting, "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu....Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"

Trump's not alone in trying to contain growing anxieties. On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to calm New Yorkers.


"People die, and people die of diseases, and people die of the flu. But this is not Ebola. This is not SARS. This is not some science fiction movie come to life. The hysteria is way out of line with the actuality and the facts."

Cuomo did confirm that the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that controls airports and other major travel hubs, contracted the virus and would work from home.

All of this comes as the World Health Organization said on Monday that threat of a pandemic from the coronavirus "has become very real,"

It was just a week ago that Trump boasted that no Americans died from the disease.


"And so far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States."

Since then, 22 have died, and as of Monday, about three-fourths of the 50 U.S. states have reported infections.

In fact, in late February Trump suggested that COVID-19 would quickly be eradicated.


"We have a total of 15 cases [FLASH] and the 15 cases within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero."

Since then, hundreds more Americans have tested positive for the disease.

And now top U.S. health officials are urging some Americans - especially older Americans and those with compromised health - to avoid cruise ships, air travel and big public gatherings.