Trump praises administration officials' 'great' coronavirus response amid criticism

Trump praises administration officials' 'great' coronavirus response amid criticism
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE on Wednesday praised his administration over its handling the coronavirus outbreak, as health officials raise alarms about the virus's spread and the White House faces heightened scrutiny over its response. 

Upon his return from his trip to India, Trump tweeted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar were "doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus."

He added that he had meetings and calls scheduled throughout the day and would receive a briefing related to response efforts on Wednesday afternoon. 

The comments came a day after health officials appeared to break with the president and voice urgent warnings about the coronavirus, a deadly disease that has infected more than 80,000 people across more than 40 countries. Trump has continued to maintain that the virus is "under control" in the U.S. 

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But Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on Tuesday that "successful containment" would become more difficult as more countries experience "community spread."

“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," she said. “Disruption to everyday life might be severe."

White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE later in the day downplayed the significance of the outbreak.

“We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow said on CNBC.

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The developments arrived as the stock market suffered its second-consecutive day of steep losses, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 800 points, or about 2.9 percent. The U.S. stock market suffered its worst losses in more than two years just the day before, wiping out all previous gains made in 2020. 

The Trump administration on Monday said that it would request $2.5 billion in emergency funding to address the virus. Lawmakers from both parties have labeled the request insufficient and one that wouldn't protect Americans. House Democrats said they would draft their own funding request for a response.

Several Democratic presidential candidates strongly condemned the administration's response during primary debate in South Carolina Tuesday night. 

Trump dismissed Democrats' criticism in a tweet, claiming that "no matter" what the White House does, the Democratic "talking point is that we are doing badly."

"If the virus disappeared tomorrow, they would say we did a really poor, and even incompetent, job," he said. "Not fair, but it is what it is. So far, by the way, we have not had one death."

The U.S. has reported 53 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with a majority of those cases involving people who contracted it abroad before returning to the country.