SOURCE: Associated Press – ZEKE MILLER
A public health and economic maelstrom brought on by the coronavirus swirled around President Donald Trump and drew closer to him personally Monday as several of his congressional confidants placed themselves in quarantine, including one who traveled with him on Air Force One.
While intent on projecting calm, Trump lashed out about the plunging stock market and convened a meeting of his top economic advisers to address what to do about it. Meanwhile the number of Republican lawmakers who announced they were isolating themselves because of possible exposure to the virus grew to five.
As Trump grappled with an epidemic whose consequences he has repeatedly played down, the White House asserted it was conducting “business as usual.” But the day’s business was anything but normal. Lawmakers pressed for details on how the Capitol could be made secure, a Pentagon meeting was broken into sub-groups to minimize the number of people in the same room and the Army commander in Europe placed himself in a precautionary quarantine.
Trump was set to hold a press briefing Monday at 6 p.m.
The president dove into handshakes with supporters Monday morning when arriving to headline a fundraiser in Longwood, Florida, that raised approximately $4 million for his reelection campaign and the Republican Party. He ignored shouted questions about the sinking stock market as he boarded Air Force One for the flight back to Washington.
On that flight: Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who later went into a voluntary quarantine. He was one of several GOP lawmakers who were exposed to a person at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference who tested positive for the virus. In Monday morning tweets, Trump vented about the market drop and news that large public gatherings were being called off because of the virus.
“At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths,” Trump tweeted, comparing it to seasonal influenza and the thousands of deaths that causes. “Think about that!”