Donald Trump said Saturday at the White House that additional cases of novel coronavirus were “likely” as the President offered condolences to the first coronavirus death in the United States, describing her as a “medically high-risk patient in her late 50s.”
“She was a wonderful woman,” the President said, but he did not detail how she contracted the disease. The President’s update followed a briefing from his coronavirus task force earlier in the day.
“Additional cases in the US are likely,” Trump said, “but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover.”
During the remarks on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence said the US would be expanding travel restrictions from Iran “to include any foreign national who has visited Iran within the last 14 days.” He also said the US would heighten a travel advisory for specific regions of Italy and South Korea.
“We are urging Americans to not travel to the areas in Italy and the areas in South Korea that are most affected by the coronavirus,” Pence said.
Based on CNN’s count, using information confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and state health agencies, there are now 67 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States. The majority of those cases were repatriated passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship.
There are four instances of possible community spread transmission of coronavirus — two in California, one in Oregon and one in Washington.
Less than an hour before Trump was scheduled to speak, the Washington Department of Health confirmed the first coronavirus death in the United States.
“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19. Our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.
The President and his allies have consistently downplayed the effects of coronavirus, despite CDC officials saying they expect to see community spread within the country.
Trump has rarely delivered remarks to the press from the White House briefing room, but his Saturday appearance marks his second time in the room in less than a week.
The President said at a rally in South Carolina Friday that Democrats are now “politicizing” the virus. “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” Trump said. “They have no clue, they can’t even count their votes in Iowa.”
“This is their new hoax,” Trump added.
On Saturday, Trump said he doesn’t think coronavirus itself is a “hoax,” but the criticism is. Asked if he regretted calling it a hoax during Friday’s rally, Trump said he didn’t.
“Hoax referring to the action that they take to try and pin this on somebody,” the President explained. “I’m not talking about what’s happening here, I’m talking about what they’re doing.”
Trump called it the “continuation of the hoax,” and mentioned the Russia investigation and his impeachment.
“I don’t like it when they are criticizing these people and I don’t like it,” he said. “That’s the hoax I’m talking about.”
Worldwide, the virus has killed at least 2,922 — including 2,835 people in China — and there have been 85,055 confirmed cases.
A senior administration official told CNN on Friday that Trump’s mid-March meeting with leaders of southeast Asian countries in Las Vegas had been postponed.