On Friday, the World Health Organization raised the global risk level for the coronavirus to "very high" as new cases were reported across the globe and experts warned that it would continue to spread rapidly.
Just hours later, Donald Trump took to the stage for a campaign rally in South Carolina in which he declared the virus a "hoax" perpetrated by Democrats in order to hurt him politically. As CNBC reported, Trump said at the North Charleston rally that his opponents are "politicizing" the fast-spreading virus.
"One of my people came up to me and said 'Mr. President they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn't work out too well.' They couldn't do it. They tried the impeachment hoax that was on a perfect conversation," he said.
"This is their new hoax," he said, referring to the virus that has killed more than 2,800 people around the world.
Other members of the Trump administration had hinted that the risks of coronavirus were being exaggerated on purpose to hurt Trump politically.
The virus has been spreading in the United States, with a third case being announced Friday in California. There are now a total of 10 cases in California and 63 in the United States.
Trump's allegation that the coronavirus was a hoax came days after his own administration warned that it may be impossible to stop its spread. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters this week that it is now inevitable that the disease will spread across the United States and that it was not a matter of if it would happen, but when.
This contradicted statements from Trump downplaying the risk of coronavirus. He said that few people had contracted the virus in the United States and predicted that "the whole situation will start working out." In past comments, Trump said that the virus would be killed off by incoming warm weather in the spring, a statement not backed by medical experts.Trump was reportedly upset that members of his administration issued more dire warnings. Sources close to the president told The Washington Post that Trump was furious at the stock market downturn that ensued after members of his administration warned that the virus would continue to spread. Later in the week, Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to serve as coordinator for the coronavirus response, and the administration has reportedly taken control of public statements about the virus.