Trump says coronavirus 'under control' in US, problem going to 'go away'

Democrats say his response is long overdue and inadequate.

February 25, 2020, 9:26 AM

President Trump on Tuesday played down concerns about the coronavirus in the U.S., saying the situation was "under control" and was a "problem that's going to go away."

"We have very few people with it," Trump told reporters at a news conference in New Delhi, adding that he was not totally caught up on the latest details because of his trip to India but that "the people are getting better, they're all getting better," referring to patients in the U.S.

"I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, lot of brain power is being put behind it," he said.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, Feb. 25, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, Feb. 25, 2020.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Trump's comments came as the administration is preparing to ask Congress for emergency funding to deal with crisis -- $1.25 billion in new funding and another $1.25 billion shifted from existing funding previously allocated for other reasons, including some designated to deal with the Ebola virus.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar was expected to detail the supplemental budget request at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday morning.

If approved, the funds would be earmarked for accelerated vaccine development, to support preparedness and response activities, and for the procurement of equipment and supplies, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Democrats immediately attacked the administration response, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling it "too little, too late."

"That President Trump is trying to steal funds dedicated to fight Ebola is indicative of his towering incompetence and further proof that he and his administration aren’t taking the Coronavirus crisis as seriously as they need to be," he said on Twitter. "We’ve seen no sign that President Trump has any plan or urgency to deal with the spread of the Coronavirus. We need real leadership, and we need it fast."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the request was "long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency" and said the House would put forward its own emergency funding measure.

"Two and a half billion dollars, we're putting in. I see that Chuck Schumer criticized it; he thought it should be more. And if I gave more, he'd say it should be less. Automatic, you know, with these characters. They are just not good for our country," Trump responded at his news conference.

PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu, South Korea, Feb. 24, 2020.
Pedestrians wearing face masks walk in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu, South Korea, Feb. 24, 2020.
Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Senators who were given a closed-door briefing on the coronavirus situation Tuesday morning gave sharply different accounts, mostly depending on their party.

Republicans came out supporting the president's line, with GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee noting there were only 14 cases in the U.S., which he called "remarkable."

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called making the briefing "classified" was "inexplicable" and that if the American people had heard what senators were told, there would be "outrage" and "uproar."

Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, said simply, “I was not impressed. I was not impressed,” but would not elaborate.

Senators said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases helped give the briefing, along with Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Acting Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.

At an earlier event in India Tuesday, reacting to Monday's stock market drop amid fears of the spreading coronavirus, President Trump said it was “pretty bad” and a “very serious thing” but expressed confidence that “it’s going to work out fine” and that the virus will “go away.”

“I see the [market] futures are up today, fairly substantially, but that’s a very serious thing but we think we are in very good shape in the United States,” Trump said during remarks with a group of Indian business leaders in reacting to the stock drop.

“It looks like they're getting it under control, more and more, they're getting more and more under control. So I think that's a problem that's going to go away,”Trump said.

Relating to the business leaders in the room, the president compared the virus to an outside factor that can impact a business.

“We lost almost 1000 points yesterday on the market and that's something you know things like that happen where, and you have it in your business all the time had nothing to do with you it’s an outside source that nobody would have every predicted if you go back six months or three months ago nobody would have ever predicted,” Trump said. In fact, the Dow lost more than a thousand points, closing down 1031 points.

“But let's see I think it's going to be under control and I think I can speak for our country for our country is under control… And so, let's see how it all works out but I think it's going to work out fine,” he continued.

ABC News' Trish Turner contributed to this report.

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