As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe with at least six new countries reporting cases for the first time on Friday, in the Unites States, the outbreak and the efforts to contain it got political.
(SOUND BITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF MICK MULVANEY, SAYING: "The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the President.
That’s what this is all about." Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney played down the deadly coronavirus, which has battered stocks in the U.S. and around the world, saying news coverage of the virus is a ploy to hurt his boss, Donald Trump.
(SOUND BITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF MICK MULVANEY, SAYING: "I got a note today from a reporter saying ‘What are you going to do today to calm the markets?’ I’m like, really, what I might do today to calm the markets is tell people to turn off their televisions for 24 hours.” Later on Friday, the World Health Organization raised its impact risk alert for the coronavirus from "high" to "very high." (SOUND BITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DR. MICHAEL RYAN, SAYING: "We are on the highest level of alert and the highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and in terms of impact.
But that is not in order to alarm or scare people." Later, the president sought to reassure Americans amid growing concerns over the fast-spreading virus.
(SOUND BITE) (English) REPORTER, SAYING: "Mr. President, the WHO just increased the risk for the coronavirus..." (SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Hello, everybody.
I'm going to South Carolina.
A lot of people.
Thousands of people outside, and it's going to be very exciting... We're at the same number.
A lot of people are getting better.
Very much better... We're very well organized.
We have great talent, great doctors, great everyone... So we'll just keep doing a good job.
We're ordering a lot of supplies... We're ordering a lot of different elements of medical.
We are working on cures and we're getting some very good results." Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the government will invoke a federal defense law to boost production of masks, gloves and other items to combat the virus, as a second coronavirus case of unknown origin was confirmed in California on Friday.
This time in Santa Clara county.
Meanwhile, in South Carolina, on the eve of its fourth-in-the-nation nominating contest, the Democratic presidential contenders blasted the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, including frontrunner Bernie Sanders.
(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS, SAYING: "One might think that in the midst of a major healthcare crisis, the President of the United States would be assembling doctors and scientists and researchers.
Not Donald Trump.
He is here in South Carolina for one reason: to disrupt the Democratic primary.
That's why he's here.
How pathetic is that?" Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is banking on the South Carolina primary on Saturday to breathe new life into his struggling campaign, accused Trump of misleading the public about the virus threat.
(SOUND BITE) (English) FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, SAYING: "Donald Trump and Mike Pence decided to silence our leading national medical experts, and said... no I really, this is really serious stuff.
They decided that, Trump and Pence decided to, public health experts, and cannot inform the public on their own of what's going on.
Now the president won’t let other people tell the truth." (SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.
You know that, right?" Earlier in the week, Goldman Sachs said that economic impacts from the virus could threaten Trump’s chances of re-election.
At his rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, the president dismissed criticism from his Democratic rivals about his handling of the virus, calling it “their new hoax,” and said he liked his chances in November.