Trump says Democrat criticism of White House response to coronavirus crisis is ‘their new hoax’

President Donald Trump said Democrat criticism of the White House response to coronavirus is ‘a new hoax intended to undermine his leadership’.

The President told a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, that Democrats want him to fail and insisted the steps he has taken had kept cases to a minimum and prevented virus deaths in the U.S.

‘A virus that starts in China, bleeds its way into various countries all around the world, doesn’t spread widely at all in the United States because of the early actions that myself and my administration took, against a lot of other wishes, and the Democrats’ single talking point, and you see it, is that it’s Donald Trump’s fault,’ Trump said.

The coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the world economy grew more alarming on Saturday, even as Trump denounced criticisms of his response to the threat as a ‘hoax’ cooked up by his political enemies.

New data released by manufacturing powerhouse China, where the virus was first detected in December, showed a sharp drop in the purchasing managers’ index to 35.7 in February, down from 50 in January. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below shows contraction.

President Donald Trump said Democrat criticism of the White House response to coronavirus is ‘a new hoax intended to undermine his leadership’. Pictured: Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in North Charleston

National Bureau of Statistics senior statistician Zhao Qinghe said the novel coronavirus outbreak was a direct cause of the sharp decline.

Elsewhere around the world, already slumping financial markets dropped even lower on Friday, while virus fears led to emptied shops and amusement parks, canceled events, and drastically reduced trade and travel.

Despite anxieties about a wider outbreak in the U.S., Trump has defended measures taken and lashed out Friday at Democrats who have questioned his handling of the threat, calling their criticism a new ‘hoax’ intended to undermine his leadership.

Shortly before Trump began to speak, health officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus in the U.S. in a person who didn’t travel internationally or have close contact with anyone who had the virus.

Some Democrats have said Trump could have acted sooner to bolster the U.S. response to the virus. Democratic and Republican lawmakers also have said his request for an additional $2.5 billion to defend against the virus isn’t enough. They’ve signaled they will provide substantially more funding. 

The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said that the U.S. economy remains strong and that policymakers would ‘use our tools’ to support it if necessary.

Despite that, individual states are bracing for further impact. The speaker of Hawaii´s House of Representatives said Friday he wants to form a committee to examine the potential economic effects of the outbreak so lawmakers can be prepared to cut spending if tax revenue drops sharply.

The list of countries touched by the illness has climbed to nearly 60 as Mexico, Belarus, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Iceland and the Netherlands reported their first cases. More than 84,000 people worldwide have contracted the illness, with deaths topping 2,800.

Even in isolated, sanctions-hit North Korea, leader Kim Jong Un has called for stronger anti-virus efforts to guard against COVID-19, saying there will be ‘serious consequences’ if the illness spreads to the country.

China, where the outbreak began in December, has seen a slowdown in new infections and on Saturday morning reported 427 new cases over the past 24 hours along with 47 additional deaths. The city at the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, accounted for the bulk of both.

New cases in mainland China have held steady at under 500 for past four days, with almost all of them in Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province.

With the number of discharged patients now greatly exceeding those of new arrivals, Wuhan now has more than 5,000 spare beds in 16 temporary treatment centers, Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission, told a news conference in Wuhan on Friday.

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