House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday tore into President Donald Trump’s slow response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, stating his decision to initially downplay its severity cost lives.
Asked if she believes Trump should loosen social distancing measures in areas with few confirmed cases so far, despite warnings from some medical experts, Pelosi said the virus needs to be studied and contained more first.
“His denial at the beginning was deadly,” Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “His delaying … of getting equipment to where it’s needed is deadly. And now I think the best thing to do is to prevent more loss of life.”
“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” she added. “We just have to take every precaution.”
Roughly a month after Trump called mounting concerns over the virus a “new hoax” pushed by the Democrats, the U.S. surpassed China as the country with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
There are more than 124,000 confirmed cases across the U.S. with at least 2,100 deaths linked to the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory on Saturday urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from domestic travel for the next two weeks as outbreaks continue to pop up across the tri-state area. New York City alone accounts for more than 30,000 of the country’s confirmed cases.
Trump said last month that the virus was “very much under control” and that a vaccine would be available “very quickly.” Neither was true. But despite initially downplaying COVID-19’s threat, he said earlier this month that he had “always” viewed the situation as “very serious.”
Public health experts have said the administration’s delayed testing efforts likely fueled the spread of the virus across the country. Several governors have called on Trump for weeks to invoke the Defense Production Act, a federal law enacted in 1950 in response to the Korean War, to ramp up the production of much-needed medical supplies such as masks and ventilators.
Trump was reluctant to do so at first, stating that he hoped businesses would voluntarily help manufacture supplies. On Friday, he invoked the DPA to order General Motors to produce ventilators after he accused the corporation of moving too slowly.
The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.