President Donald Trump announced he’d hold a press briefing on the international coronavirus outbreak at the White House on Saturday afternoon as health officials in Washington state announced the first death in the U.S. from the virus.
The unexpected announcement comes after three new confirmed or presumptive cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 contracted from an unknown source were reported Friday. The death was reported in Washington’s King County shortly before Trump was expected to speak.
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Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump has put in charge of his administration’s response to the virus, was meeting with the heads of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the White House situation room Saturday morning.
“I will be having a 1:30 P.M. Press Conference at the White House to discuss the latest CoronaVirus developments. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.
Trump is scheduled to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland later in the day.
At a rally in South Carolina on Friday, Trump defended his administration’s handling of the virus and accused Democrats of “politicizing” the issue. “This is their new hoax,” he said.
His Democratic rivals blasted the comments.
Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, appearing at a “Women for Mike” rally in McLean, Va., said, “The president should be putting politics aside and rallying the American people behind him” but “continues to divide by playing partisan politics. We just can’t do this.”