President Donald Trump will make a rare appearance in the White House briefing room Wednesday for a news conference on the deadly coronavirus outbreak at 6:30 p.m. ET, alongside members of his coronavirus task force.
As the administration works to respond to the fast-spreading disease — the first case of which was just confirmed in Latin America — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testified before House lawmakers that Trump asked him to make the evening briefing public in order to be transparent.
Trump has rarely appeared in the James S. Brady Briefing Room, where White House press secretaries have traditionally fielded questions from the press. The last official press briefing, however, was nearly a year ago during the tenure of former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The current press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, has never held an official press briefing.
Hours before the presser was scheduled to begin, Politico reported that the White House was considering appointing a coronavirus czar. Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb was among a handful of officials being discussed for the role, according to Politico’s report, which cited two people familiar with the matter.
The White House also denied Politico’s report.
The rapid spread of the virus, which has killed more than 2,700 people and infected tens of thousands more, has rattled governments and markets around the world. Stocks plunged Monday and Tuesday plunged in one of the worst two-day trading sessions in years.
Those comments, which came just hours after the CDC warned Americans to start preparing for the possibility of a pandemic, quickly garnered criticism and failed to contain the hemorrhaging markets.
Schumer took the Senate floor Tuesday to lambast Trump. “The harsh fact of the matter is, the Trump administration has shown towering and dangerous incompetence when it comes to the coronavirus,” Schumer said.