FDA commissioner declines to confirm Trump claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are 'harmless'

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn declined on Sunday to confirm or deny President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE’s claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are “harmless.”

Hahn was asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” to respond to Trump’s remarks at the White House on the Fourth of July, when he said that “99 percent of [cases] are totally harmless.”

“We know that cases are surging in the country,” Hahn said. “We've all seen the graphs associated with that, and it’s just too early, and I'm not gonna speculate on what the causation is there.”

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CNN's Dana BashDana BashWhite House not optimistic on near-term stimulus deal Clyburn rips GOP proposal to give businesses tax deductions, scale back unemployment in stimulus package Birx says COVID-19 outbreak not under control because 'people are on the move' MORE pushed the commissioner, saying, "I can tell you it’s not true, and that’s obviously not my opinion," adding that it is based on estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Bash then asked Hahn whether Trump is “wrong.”

“I’m not gonna get into who’s right and who’s wrong,” he responded. “What I’m gonna say, Dana, is what I’ve said before, which is that it’s a serious problem that we have. We’ve seen this surge in cases. We must do something to stem the tide.”

Bash then asked, "So you won’t say whether 99 percent of coronavirus cases are 'completely harmless' is true or false, what the president said at the White House last night?"

"Dana, what I’ll say is that we have data in the White House task force," Hahn responded. "Those data show us this is a serious problem. People need to take it seriously."

During his Independence Day address, Trump seemed to reference a statistic from the CDC this week that the hospitalization rate is 102.5 per 100,000.

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been surging in recent weeks in states such as Arizona, California, Texas and Florida. In total, the U.S. has confirmed more than 2.8 million cases with 129,676 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

This report was updated at 11:09 a.m.