Kudlow claims coronavirus has been contained: ‘It’s pretty close to air-tight’

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday sought to downplay the significance of the coronavirus outbreak, claiming that the virus had been contained in the U.S. and that the economic consequences would be limited. 

“We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] air-tight, but it’s pretty close to air-tight,” Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, said on CNBC’sThe Exchange,” adding that while the virus was a “human tragedy,” it would not be an “economic tragedy.”

“There will be some stumbles. We’re looking at numbers; it’s a little iffy,” Kudlow went on to say. “But at the moment, the numbers that we’re looking at … there’s no supply disruptions out there yet.”

The comments from Kudlow came as stocks suffered steep losses for the second consecutive day and as health officials warned of a coronavirus outbreak within the U.S. borders. 

U.S. stocks sustained their worst losses in two years on Monday, with the Dow plunging 1,031 points, or 3.6 percent. The slide wiped out all the previous gains made in 2020. The Dow Jones industrial average continued its slide Tuesday, falling by more than 600 points, or about 2.2 percent, as investors brace for the potential economic fallout from the virus, which has infected more than 80,000 people across more than two dozen countries. The U.S. has reported 53 confirmed cases of the virus.  

Trump asserted in a tweet Monday that the coronavirus was “very much under control” in the U.S. But a top U.S. health official offered a starkly different assessment on Tuesday, telling reporters that the virus’s spread is inevitable. 

“As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said. “It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.”

Trump continued to downplay the threat the virus poses while speaking in New Delhi on Tuesday. 

“We have very few people with it,” Trump told reporters at a press conference, saying it was “well under control” in the U.S. 

“The people are getting better. They’re all getting better,” Trump added. 

The administration announced Monday that it was prepared to ask Congress for “at least $2.5 billion” in additional funding to fight the virus. Democrats quickly denounced the request, calling it “woefully insufficient.” The proposal asks for $1.25 billion in new funding, and calls for the rest to be transferred from existing health programs. 

House Democrats said they would draft their own funding request for a response.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) rejected the claims coming from Trump and Kudlow, tweeting that “the coronavirus is not contained” and that it would not “fade in the spring.”

“They don’t know what they are doing. They are fixated on the politics and the stock market,” he said. 

Tags Brian Schatz Larry Kudlow

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