Concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus have reportedly gotten the best of Donald Trump, and the president apparently told his aides he's afraid of a journalist giving him the Wuhan-originated virus on purpose. A former West Wing official told Vanity Fair Trump is frustrated that he can't "control the narrative" of the health crisis, with the confirmed cases and death tolls rising each day across the country.
"He's definitely melting down over this," said a source close to the situation, claiming Trump is afraid of journalists "purposefully" contracting the virus to give it to him on Air Force Once. They also claimed that Trump has asked the Secret Service to set up a screening procedure at the White House, barring anyone with a cough from entering.
Trump has continued to brush off concerns over COVID-19 on Twitter and in press conferences, accusing journalists of spreading "fake news." However, one White House official has said that he's looking into opening an investigation into "the media" over "market manipulation." The official added, "He's very frustrated he doesn't have a good team around him."
While he has remained calm and dismissive when discussing COVID-19 in public, a former official has explained that Trump is "just now waking up to the fact that this is bad, and he doesn't know how to respond." Additionally, former Trump aide Sam Nunberg has said that the president "was obsessed with Ebola" when they worked with him. "He is going to resist until the very last minute," one former West Wing official said. "He may take suggestions to stop shaking hands, but in terms of shutting stuff down, his position is: 'No, I'm not going to do it.'"
As GQ points out, Trump has continued to spread misleading information about the virus himself. "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu," he tweeted on Monday. "It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!" As of right now, there's not a lot of testing for the coronavirus going on in the States. It's also worth pointing out that in the figures he quoted, the death rate for COVID-19 is four percent as opposed to the common flu's one percent.
Since he tweeted, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. has risen to 564, while the number of deaths has risen to 26, ABC News reports.