President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday he did not feel the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. was inevitable, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control that a major outbreak of the virus would certainly occur.
Trump’s comments came after he announced the formation of a team dedicated to combating the spread of the disease in the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has been tapped to lead the team, which will be chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center of Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. should prepare for a coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen,” Messonnier said. “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad.”
President Trump said that no matter what happens with the coronavirus, the U.S. was “totally prepared.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s inevitable,” Trump said concerning a larger U.S. outbreak of the coronavirus. “It probably will. It possibly will. It could be at a very small level or it could be at a larger level.”
“Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared,” Trump continued. “We have the best people in the world. You see that from the study. We have the best prepared people, the best people in the world.”
The White House declined to provide Newsweek with a comment for this story.
Trump has said before that the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. is “under control.”
“We have very few people with it,” Trump said Tuesday. “The people are getting better. They’re all getting better. I think that the whole situation will start working out.”
As of this writing, 60 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. with no deaths attributed to the infection. Six people have been deemed as totally recovered.
However, a patient in Northern California may represent the first U.S. coronavirus case in which the infected person had no known contact with another infected person and had not traveled out of the country.
“At this point, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the CDC said Wednesday in a statement. “The case was detected through the U.S. public health system and picked up by astute clinicians.”
“This would be the first known instance of person-to-person transmission in the general public in the United States,” said a statement Wednesday from the California Department of Public Health. “As of today, including this case, California has had 7 travel-related cases, one close contact case, and now one community transmission.”
Globally, coronavirus has been the cause of over 2,700 casualties while over 82,000 cases have been confirmed.