- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The White House was engaged in coronavirus damage control on Wednesday, taking steps to show President Trump decisively confronting the risk amid heavy criticism from Democrats and the media, as Michael Bloomberg’s campaign aired a new TV ad accusing the president of being unprepared.

Mr. Trump called a same-day news conference on the virus upon returning to Washington at dawn from a two-day trip to India, hoping to calm fears about the spread of the deadly virus that has barely touched the U.S.

The White House said Mr. Trump is “leading an aggressive coronavirus response and preparation effort.”

“The administration is taking aggressive and proactive measures, working closely with state and local partners to protect the public health,” the White House said. “The full weight of the U.S. government is working to safeguard the health and safety of the American people.”

A top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave a relatively alarming assessment of the disease Tuesday while Mr. Trump was out of the country, saying a full-blown pandemic was only a matter of time. 

She raised the question of “how many people in this country will become infected and how many of those will develop severe or more complicated disease.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump said in India that the U.S. has the situation under control.

Democrats are criticizing the administration for acting too slowly to confront the threat, saying the president’s request for $2.5 billion in emergency funding is too small.

Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign released a nationwide TV ad on cable networks Wednesday titled “pandemic,” accusing Mr. Trump of being unprepared. It begins with news reports of the massive two-day sell-off on Wall Street to start this week, while a narrator says, “Health experts warn: the U.S. is underprepared.”

“Because of President Trump’s reckless cuts to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s funding and his senseless elimination of protective measures put in place following the last pandemic Ebola virus outbreak, the U.S. is underprepared for coronavirus,” the campaign said in a statement. “Trump is putting American lives at risk every day, ignoring science, claiming the virus will ‘miraculously’ disappear by April and relying on ‘warm weather’ to end the spread of the virus.”

The ad says Mr. Bloomberg has a proven track record of managing crises in his tenure as mayor of New York City in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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