Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

White House's rosy coronavirus comments are the exact opposite of what career health officials are saying

White House officials aren't on the same page as top health officials.

President Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday told CNBC there was basically nothing to worry about when it comes to the coronavirus' effect on the U.S. "We have contained this. I won't say [it's] airtight, but it's pretty close to airtight," he said. He also reassured viewers that while the coronavirus may be a "human tragedy," it won't be an "economic tragedy," since there aren't any "supply disruptions" just yet.

Supply disruptions may be one thing, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly simultaneously warned of incoming "disruption to everyday life," saying the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. is "not so much of a question of if" but rather "a question of when."

As CNN's Phil Mattingly put it, Kudlow's comments are "more or less, the exact opposite of what lawmakers were told in a briefing from top [Trump administration] health officials this morning." FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver seemingly agreed Kudlow's (and President Trump's) comments were misguided, tweeting it "seems very very very very risky for the Trump administration to claim coronavirus is contained in the U.S. if it later proves not to be contained."

Perhaps Kudlow realized he may have sounded a bit too optimistic, because shortly after his CNBC appearance he told reporters the possibility of further travel restrictions are "under discussion." He continued, "I'm going to wait on that. I don't want to get ahead of my skis or their skis. It's all under discussion."

Still, he insisted the U.S. is very prepared for anything the coronavirus may throw our way. "We're not going to get caught with our pants down," he predicted, per Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs. "The virus is not going to last forever." Harvard epidemiologists may have something to say about that.