President Trump defended his administration’s response to the coronavirus during a campaign rally on Monday and accused Democrats of trying to politicize the issue.
“Washington Democrats are trying to politicize the coronavirus, denigrating the noble work of our public health professionals, but honestly not so much anymore,” Trump told a crowd of supporters in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Everyone appreciates these are the greatest professionals in the world at what they do. We’re actually helping a lot of other countries.”
“The political attacks from some of the Democrats really must stop. We’ve really got to work together on this one to safeguard our people,” Trump said.
Trump said his administration’s “tough and early actions have really been proven to be 100 percent right,” mentioning his decision in late January to restrict travel from China. Officials also announced further restrictions on travel of those who have visited Iran and increased travel warnings for parts of Italy and South Korea over the weekend.
“We’re doing everything in our power to keep the sick and infected people from coming into our country. We’re working on it very hard,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump has sought to ease concerns about the virus, telling reporters on Saturday that U.S. officials expected more cases but that there was no reason to panic.
At the same time, Trump and some of his allies have accused the media and Democrats of overblowing the issue. At a rally in South Carolina last week, Trump called Democrats’ criticism of his response to the virus a “hoax” – a line he did not use during Monday evening’s rally.
Trump and his administration have withstood scrutiny from Democrats for their response to the coronavirus, which originated in China and has spread to dozens of countries including the United States.
Democrats have described the administration as addressing the issue with a lack of urgency and sharply criticized the $2.5 billion in emergency funding request put forth last week.
Trump on Monday also continued to express surprise at the thousands of deaths attributed to the flu each year and said that he told pharmaceutical executives that they should do a “better job” on the flu vaccine.
“They have to do a better job on that vaccine, really,” Trump said.
Trump has at times compared the virus to the flu, repeating advice from health experts that Americans should treat this virus like the flu and defend against it by washing their hands and staying home when they are sick.
Trump and members of this coronavirus task force met with pharmaceutical executives at the White House earlier Monday afternoon about the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. Health officials have said they believe it will take upwards of a year in order to produce a vaccine.
Trump continued to project confidence Monday evening, telling the crowd, “America is so resilient. We know what we’re doing.”