Financial markets plunged this morning following President Donald J. Trump’s disastrous press conference about the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
An event intended to reassure a worried nation had the opposite effect, after the gaffe-prone leader repeatedly mispronounced the name of the infectious disease Wednesday. The 73-year-old Fordham University dropout seemed addled at times as he alternately referred to the deadly coronavirus as the “bohemiavirus” and the “dosequisvirus.”
All three prefixes are names of popular Mexican beers.
“I’ve got a good handle on this coronavirus thing and we don’t have to worry about it,” Trump said. “Its a terrible thing, a terrible thing, but we’re doing very well and the risk to the American people remains comparatively low.”
Trumped employed the same casual style he uses at his political rallies. Cracking wise about his own germaphobia, recounting an awkward encounter with a sick pal, and waving around colorful graphs he never bothered to read.
“The uh… DosEquisVirus is uh… really more of a problem for China than for us,” Trump stammered. “We’ve got an entire ocean between them and us, and the levels here are very, very low.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 650 points, or 2.3 percent Thursday morning. The S&P 500 slid 2.5 percent while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.9 percent.
The previously unknown virus has claimed 2,800 lives and infected 82,000 people since China first reported its presence in the port city of Wuhan to the World Health Organization Dec. 31. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, special adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, said the interconnected nature of the global economy is helping spread the pneumonia-like illness.
“Every local epidemic is a potential pandemic in a global economy with more than 100,000 daily flights,” said Emanuel, who described Trump’s coronavirus remarks as a little incoherent. “The days when such illnesses petered out on their own in sparsely populated areas, in the absence of new hosts, are over.”
Scientists refer to the new coronavirus strain as COVID-19.
The CDC confirmed on Wednesday the first U.S. coronavirus case of unknown origin in Northern California, indicating possible “community spread” of the disease. This brings the number of coronavirus cases detected in the U.S. to 15, with 12 of them related to travel and the other two to direct contact with a patient. Another 42 Americans tested positive on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan, and three more were detected in Wuhan.
“The coronavirus is a global challenge ,” said Tom Hailnin, global investment strategist at Ahchoo Private Capital Management. “It’s also a very bad time to have a moron in the White House. This selloff is a vote of no-confidence in Trump by the portion of the electorate that votes with its billfold.”
Japan closed its schools Wednesday and the Scopes fact-checking website confirmed that Trump fired the National Security Council’s entire pandemic response team in 2018 and never replaced it.
The 45th president also cut funding for The Centers for Disease Control’s global pandemic prevention efforts by 80 percent, forcing cancellation in 39 of 49 countries. Including China.
“There have been reports of fresh outbreaks around the world, from Burma to Zaire, but there’s really very little chance of the BohemiaVirus spreading further here,” Trump said. “We’re quarantining infected travelers as they disembark at our airports and have cancelled all flights from China. But there’s really no need to disrupt international business travel with other infected nations at this juncture.”
Burma changed its name to Myanmar in 1989 and Zaire changed its name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997.
“I’m putting Mike Pence in charge of our national response to this DosEquisVirus thing,” Trump said. “He’s got a talent for this and we’re going to give him all the money he needs. We’re gonna spend whatever’s appropriate. Even if it means bankrupting Social Security, Food Stamps, Welfare and the Veterans Administration.”
Trump’s remarks drew rebukes from members of Congress. Including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The 45th President survived a Senate impeachment trial Feb. 5.
“I think if we held the same vote today the outcome would be very different,” McConnell said cryptically.