US President Donald Trump accused two cable TV news channels of presenting the danger from the coronavirus in as bad a light as possible and upsetting financial markets, even as public health officials warned Americans to prepare for a likely local outbreak.
Trump on Wednesday wrote on Twitter that CNN and MSNBC, both of which frequently criticize him, "are doing everything possible to make (the coronavirus) look as bad as possible, including panicking markets," adding: "USA in great shape!"
Trump, who is stepping up his re-election campaign ahead of November's presidential election, did not specify what he did not like about the coverage. He is to hold a news conference on the coronavirus at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GM) on Wednesday.
Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov.....- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020
Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday said the virus' global march had raised concern about its spread in the United States, though it remained unclear when that might happen or how severe it would be.
Global stock markets have slumped in recent days due to worries over a prolonged disruption to supply chains and economies from the disease, which has infected about 80,000 people and killed nearly 3,000, mostly in China.
U.S. stocks turned lower in afternoon trading on Wednesday in a fresh wave of selling sparked by fears of the coronavirus spreading in the United States. The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was down about 70 points, or 0.28%.
Trump has been increasingly alarmed by the drop in U.S. stock markets, which he considers a barometer of the health of the American economy and sees as key to his re-election.
During his recent trip to India, the Republican president praised U.S. health officials while downplaying the virus' potential impact on the United States.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, on Wednesday dismissed Trump's assertion in India that the coronavirus was under control at home.
"I don't think the president knows what he's talking about, once again," she told reporters.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday said the United States has 59 coronavirus cases, including 42 American passengers repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.
Azar told lawmakers the United States would be unlikely to take measures such as regional quarantines, which China and other countries have been using, if the United States faced a more severe coronavirus outbreak.
"It is very rare that those types of cordon sanitaire efforts around cities are effective. They usually promote more panic and cause people to actually leave and spread. Now, China's a different government and culture than we have here," he told a hearing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, who will brief Trump, said that while the virus was contained in the United States, Americans must get ready for a potential outbreak as transmissions spread outside of China.
"If we have a pandemic, then almost certainly we are going to get impacted," Fauci told CNN.
The CDC has advised Americans to not visit China and South Korea, and on Wednesday stepped up travel warnings for Iran, Italy and Mongolia over risks from the disease.
It is also considering expanding airport screenings to target passengers from countries that have seen recent spikes in cases such as Italy and South Korea, NBC News reported.
Trump is seeking $2.5 billion from Congress to boost its virus response. Democrats have warned that amount falls far short of what is needed and have also urged the White House to appoint a "czar" who could coordinate a national response.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called for $8.5 billion to prepare.
A congressional source said the Democratic-controlled House will attempt to advance a coronavirus emergency funding bill before the next recess, scheduled to begin on March 12.
The level of funding being considered, according to sources, could be in the range of what Congress provided for battling some past virus outbreaks, which they said were in the $4 billion to $7 billion range.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)