Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Friday downplayed the threat of the Wuhan coronavirus, implying the illness would not be as destructive as other epidemics seen in the past few decades.
Mulvaney, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, responded to a reporter’s question about how the White House plans to stabilize stock markets, which have been jolted by fears of outbreaks of the coronavirus.
“What I might do to calm the markets is turn the television off for 24 hours,” Mulvaney said. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS. It’s not MERS.”
Global markets have fallen precipitously in the wake of the illness’s spread, culminating in the worst crash since the 2008 financial crisis. The outbreak in China has reduced production of various goods, such as the Apple iPhone, while Tesla has shuttered its Shanghai factory.
The Trump administration is struggling to control fallout from the outbreak after several reports have emerged detailing possible bureaucratic errors in the containment of the coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control confirmed Wednesday that it had initially refused to test a patient for the illness because the patient did not meet the agency’s criteria for testing. That patient has since tested positive for coronavirus, the first case in the U.S. with “unknown” origins.
On Thursday, a Department of Health and Human Services whistleblower alleged personnel from her agency, as well as from the Administration for Children and Families, were “improperly deployed” to receive quarantined individuals without protective gear. ACF personnel were sent to a quarantine site in Solano County, Calif., the same place where the CDC confirmed the case of coronavirus with “unknown’ origins.
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