When it comes to the novel coronavirus spreading its way across the globe, members of the Trump administration — including President Donald Trump himself — appear to have an outsized focus on the U.S. economy.
Last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross even appeared to view the outbreak as a potential boon for America, saying it might help bring jobs back to the U.S. from China.
Speaking with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Ross first attempted to show sympathy for those affected by the outbreak, saying he did not “want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease," and that “every American’s heart has to go out to the victims."
But at the end of the day, this is about American jobs. The Washington Post reported that Ross “added that the pneumonia-like virus would be taken into consideration by American businesses that are scrambling to determine how the outbreak affects their supply chains.”
“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America, some to [the] U.S., probably some to Mexico as well,” Ross said, something the Trump administration had been pressuring China to do, The Post noted.
Nevermind that at the time of Ross’ comments, the virus had killed 170 people and infected over 7,700 more.
Now, the coronavirus has killed more than 2,7000 people and infected over 81,000 — but the Trump administration has retained its focus on economic issues.
Trump reportedly was angered earlier this week when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a somber warning to Americans that emergency plans to contain the virus could mean significant disruptions to daily life. The stock market also responded to the virus threat, losing about $1.7 trillion over two days, leading the president to tell White House officials to avoid making further negative predictions that could cause more trouble for the markets.
Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow also played down the coronavirus threat this week, insisting that the U.S. economy is strong enough to handle the outbreak and going so far as to say that the Trump administration has contained the virus within the U.S.
“We have contained this, I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow told CNBC’s Kelly Evans on Tuesday — the same day CDC officials warned of potential disruptions.
The coronavirus outbreak is “a human tragedy,” Kudlow said, but he added: “The business and the economic side, I don’t think it’s going to be an economic tragedy at all. There’ll be some stumbles.”