This afternoon, the President and his team held a press conference at the White House to give the nation an update on the spread of coronavirus in the United States — but did little to assuage fears as it became clear that they were either withholding information or simply didn’t have it.
As the nation of Italy issues a country-wide lockdown, the states of Ohio and Lousiana announce their first confirmed corona cases, and the stock market tanks over coronavirus disruption fears, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar couldn’t even tell the world how many tests have been administered to potential virus carriers.
Let's get this straight: two weeks after saying he had this under control, Mike Pence can't tell us:
– How many are sick with COVID
– How many tests have been done
– How many total tests have been distributed
– How we will cope with threats to infrastructure
— Max Burns (@themaxburns) March 9, 2020
Nor would the President even answer if he himself had been tested as the news circulated that he himself had possibly been exposed to the virus by Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Doug Collins (R-GA) over the weekend. Vice-President Mike Pence admitted to not being tested either.
Trump leaves news conference without answering whether he has been tested for coronavirus.
Pence: “I have not been tested for the coronavirus" pic.twitter.com/b3WzItIfcX
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 9, 2020
What they could tell the nation was that the Trump team was preparing to ask Congress for a “very substantial” payroll tax “cut,” loans for small businesses, and some kind of nebulous “help” for hourly wage earners before promising another news conference tomorrow after his very important meetings with the Senate.
Democratic leaders were quick to disparage the president’s comments, which almost entirely focused on the economy, as inadequate.
Schumer: "What was glaringly missing from President Trump's press conference was how he is actually going to combat the spread of the coronavirus and keep the American people safe. It seems President Trump is more focused on the stock market than addressing this pandemic."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 9, 2020
It is entirely unsurprising to see the president’s attention fixated on the stock market, being since it affects his personal wealth and the primary qualifier he uses to mislead the country into thinking that our economy is healthy.
Desperate to keep the true extent of the crisis from reaching the public and exposing his administration’s terrifying incompetence for the world to see, we can expect to continue to see inadequate answers and obfuscation from the Trump team. But all the lies and dodged questions in the world can’t stop America’s intrepid journalists from unraveling how Trump and his cronies allowed an epidemic to spread in the nation they’re supposed to be governing.