(USA Features) Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney took the media to task Friday over what he characterized as an over-hyping of the seriousness of the coronavirus as a way to attack President Trump.
“There are professionals who know how to handle this. The professionals [are] handling it,” Mulvaney said as he helped kick off the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference.
“Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably,” he said. “But we do this — we know how to handle this.”
“Is it real? It absolutely is real — there’s no question about it. But you saw the president the other day — the flu is real,” he said. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the country should prepare for the eventual arrival of coronavirus in greater numbers, though other experts say the agency is doing a good job of responding thus far.
Mulvaney said it looks like the coronavirus is “someplace between 1 and 2 percent fatal,” which is accurate, based on published reports.
“Is that serious? It absolutely is — there’s no question about it, OK? But it’s not a death sentence,” he said.
Mulvaney then chastised the media for failing to accurately report all of the steps taken by the Trump administration to prepare for the coronavirus.
“We took extraordinary steps four or five weeks ago,” he said. “Why didn’t you hear about it? What was still going on four or five weeks ago? Impeachment, and that’s all the press wanted to talk about.”
“The reason you’re seeing so much attention [paid] to it today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That’s what this is all about,” he said.
The chief of staff said he got a recent note from a reporter asking, “What are you going to do today to calm the markets?”
“I’m like, really, what I’d like to do today to calm the markets is tell people turn the television off,” he said.