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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a press briefing Monday that President Trump's description of the coronavirus as "kung flu" at a rally Saturday was "linking it to its place of origin."

Why it matters: People have described the term as racist and offensive to Asian Americans, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has previously called it "highly offensive."

  • In March, the president was asked about an allegation that a member of his staff had used the term — and, while he didn’t condemn it, he had not used it in public until this weekend. At the time, he said he didn’t think it would put Asian Americans at risk of being blamed for the virus.

What she's saying:

"What the president does do is point to the fact that the origin of the virus is China. It's a fair thing to point out as China tries to ridiculously rewrite history, ridiculously blame the coronavirus on American soldiers — this is what China is trying to do. And what President Trump is saying, 'No, China, I will label this virus for its place of origin.' ... He is linking it to its place of origin. ...
It's not a discussion about Asian Americans, who the president values and prizes as citizens of this great country. It's an indictment of China for letting this virus get here."

Go deeper

Sep 30, 2020 - Health

The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Scientists are racing to learn more about the damage the novel coronavirus can do to the heart, lungs and brain.

Why it matters: It’s becoming increasingly clear that some patients struggle with its health consequences — and costs — far longer than a few weeks.

Updated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case in cruise ship COVID outbreak — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy.
  4. World: U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

7 former FDA commissioners say Trump is undermining the agency's credibility

Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Maryland. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Seven former FDA commissioners accused the Trump administration of "undermining the credibility" of the agency in a Washington Post op-ed published Tuesday.

Why it matters: The editorial comes amid fears that the Trump administration has politicized the coronavirus response and is seeking expedited approval and distribution of a possible vaccine.