• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Trump seeks to quell fear as first U.S. coronavirus death is reported

·Senior Editor
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

President Trump sought to ease rising fears about the coronavirus epidemic on a day when the first U.S. death from COVID-19 was reported and more cases were reported on the West Coast.

Trump said that a “medically high risk” woman in Washington state had died from the virus but added no other details about her case. State health officials, in their own statement, said a middle-aged man with underlying health problems had died of the virus.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers of Disease Control, tweeted later in the day that “CDC erroneously identified the patient as a female in a briefing earlier today with the President and Vice President.”

Trump said he hoped that Americans would not curtail their daily lives because of the virus and portrayed the risk as minimal.

“So, healthy people, if you're healthy, you will probably go through a process and you'll be fine,” Trump added.

The president said he had put in place “the most aggressive actions taken anywhere in the world,” although China has confined millions of people to their homes, and other countries, including Japan and South Korea, have taken strong measures including closing public schools.

President Trump. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
President Trump. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

The administration also expanded the existing, terrorist-related ban on entry to the United State by Iranians to cover foreign nationals who traveled there and increased the level of travel advisories to parts of Italy and South Korea that have experienced outbreaks. The president said his administration had negotiated a protocol with the governments of Italy and South Korea to screen all passengers traveling to the United States.

Trump did acknowledge that the country found itself "under quite adverse circumstances" owing to the virus, adding, “we hope it's not going to be a major circumstance."

Walking a line of trying to assure nervous citizens while assessing the threat from the virus, Trump said he had “met for two and a half hours” with Vice President Mike Pence and his coronavirus task force, which Pence heads.

Pence said that those receiving treatment for the virus in the U.S. have the “prayers of millions.” The vice president said that Americans do “not need to go out and get a mask," but the Trump administration would increase the supply of them for health care workers. He described the effort to contain the virus an "all-hands-on-deck effort."

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that while the number of cases in the United States remained "low," it was "following a pattern" seen in countries where it is more widespread.

The first U.S. death in the United Sates was reported in King County, Washington, the health department there reported Saturday morning.

“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.”

President Trump at the press briefing on Feb. 29. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
President Trump at the press briefing on Feb. 29. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

New cases of the virus were also confirmed late Friday and early Saturday in California, Oregon and Washington state. Two people infected in California and one in Oregon had not traveled to countries where the virus is more widespread. A Washington woman diagnosed with the virus had recently traveled to South Korea, but a high school student from the state who is listed as “presumptive positive” did not.

Thousands of people across the West Coast who might have come into contact with infected individuals are being monitored for signs of infection. Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, said at Saturday’s news conference that it was still safe for Americans to travel to California, Washington and Oregon.

The president said he was "looking" at possibly putting restrictions on travel across the border with Mexico "very strongly" but that no decision had been made.

At a Friday-night campaign rally in North Charleston, S.C., Trump said Democrats where whipping up fear over coronavirus as a way to hurt him politically. “This is their new hoax,” Trump said. Asked about his remarks at the press conference, he emphasized that he was not saying the virus was a hoax but rather claims that his administration had put the country in danger by, among other actions, cutting the budget for epidemic preparedness at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trump claimed credit for stopping travel to China weeks ago, a step that he said has prevented a much wider outbreak in the United States.

“So far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States, and it doesn’t mean we won’t, but we are totally prepared,” Trump added.

At a Thursday press conference at which he announced Pence would head up the U.S. response to the coronavirus, Trump said the number of cases was “going very substantially down, not up.” Since then, however, the number of reported cases has continued to climb.

_____

Read more from Yahoo News:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting