Mar 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump on coronavirus: "The only thing we weren't prepared for was the media"

President Trump said at a White House briefing Thursday that his administration was prepared for the coronavirus outbreak, but the "only thing" it wasn't prepared for was the media's response.

The state of play: Hospitals, state officials and local officials are already warning the federal government about key shortages they might face as the outbreak deepens.

  • Labs will need more of some key ingredients for diagnostic tests, including RNA-extraction kits, reagents and swabs.
  • Ventilators to help patients breathe are also in short supply. The U.S. has about 62,000 and only a limited ability to tap other supplies.

What Trump said: "The only thing we weren't prepared for was the media. The media has not treated it fairly. ... I called for a ban for people coming in from China."

  • "In fact, it was [NBC News], I believe, they called me a racist because I did that. It was many of the people in the room they called me racist and other words because I did that. Because I went so early."
  • "So, when you say that I wasn't prepared, I was the first one to do the ban. Now many other countries are following what I did. But the media doesn't acknowledge that. They know it's true, but they don't want to write about it."

He continued bashing the media after a reporter from far-right One America News asked him if he considered the phrase "Chinese food" racist and alleged without evidence that mainstream media outlets parrot Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

  • "They are siding with China. They are doing things they shouldn't be doing. They are siding with many others. China is the least of it."

The big picture: Trump and other Republican politicians and media personalities have faced backlash in recent days for referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus."

  • This is in opposition to guidance from the World Health Organization, which requested last month that the epidemic be referred to as coronavirus or COVID-19, rather than terms that could stigmatize individuals with Chinese ancestry.

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