First he was going. Then he wasn’t. Now, he is.
President Trump was set to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta on Friday, according to his official schedule. But the stop was abruptly taken off amid fears that there was a person at the CDC who was being tested for the coronavirus.
Trump told reporters Friday morning that the trip was scrapped over the fear, but might still happen.
“We may go. They thought there was a problem at CDC with somebody that had the virus. It turned out negative so we’re seeing if we can do it. But yesterday afternoon, we were informed that there may have been a person with the virus and they now find out that that was negative test. They’ve tested the person very fully and it was a negative test. So I may be going. We’re going to see if they can turn it around with Secret Service. We may be going,” he said at the White House.
Then a few hours later, the White House put the stop back on the president’s official schedule. He is also visiting Nashville, where a devastating tornado killed at least 24 people this week.
During the mini-press conference Trump held as he signed a bill to provide $8.3 billion to battle the coronavirus in the U.S., a reporter asked how he could keep people from panicking.
“I don’t think people are panicking. We did an interview on Fox last night, a town hall, I think was very good, and I said calm, you have to be calm, it’ll go away,” he said.
“We have very low numbers compared to major countries throughout the world. Our numbers are lower than just about anybody. In terms of deaths, I don’t know what the count is today, is it 11? Eleven people and in terms of cases, it’s very, very few. When you look at other countries it’s a very tiny fraction because we’ve been very strong at the borders. But then you have a ship with a lot of Americans on it, it’s 5,000 people on it, it’s a massive ship and they want to come in. So we have to make a decision. We’re working with the governor of California on it,” he said.
Health Secretary Alex Azar also attended the bill signing, and was asked about erroneous reports that the federal government has few kits with which to test for the virus.
“All of the CDC tests, the tests that are available to test up to 75,000 people, CDC has shipped to America’s public health labs. Those are out. Then IDT, the private contractor working with CDC to ship to the private sector and hospitals, has already shipped enough tests for 700,000 tests,” Azar said.
“And the remaining lots are arriving at CDC this morning for quality control and should get out as we forecast this weekend and then next week we’ll keep ramping up production. So as many as 4 million tests next week are going to be driving forward. So everything is on schedule for the testing.”