President Trump accused his Democratic rivals of politicizing his response to the wily coronavirus in the U.S, dubbing it their “new hoax” and saying his moves to restrict travel have paid off.
Speaking in South Carolina, Mr. Trump said the regular flu kills far more people and — unlike in other countries — no one has died on U.S. soil from the illness known as COVID-19.
“So far, we have lost nobody to the coronavirus in the United States. It doesn’t mean we won’t, and we are totally prepared,” Mr. Trump said at a rally North Charleston, South Carolina.
The president is rallying in the state ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary on Saturday.
Mr. Trump said the contest barely matters because he plans to rout the competition in November. He said he also plans to win their electoral-rich neighbor, North Carolina.
Yet Mr. Trump is upset about the fervor around the coronavirus, which has sickened over 80,000 around the world and caused massive sell-offs on Wall Street.
Mr. Trump toggled between sober concern about the outbreak and untamed attacks on Democrats for highlighting the problem and any gaps in his response.
“This is their new hoax,” he said of his political rivals. “We did something that is pretty amazing.”
Mr. Trump fumed even as California officials confirmed the second case of the coronavirus in the U.S. believed to have been transmitted to a person who didn’t travel internationally or come in close contact with anyone who had it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that officials are “aware of a second possible instance of community spread of COVID-19 in California.”
The CDC said in a statement that the patient has tested positive for the virus and is considered a presumptive positive case.
Health officials in San Jose said the patient was an older adult woman with chronic health conditions who does not have a travel history or any known contact with a traveler or infected person.
It comes a day after state officials said a woman hospitalized at UC Davis Health Center in Sacramento had contracted the illness after no known contact.
Mr. Trump has emphasized the relatively low level of cases in the U.S, compared to places like South Korea, which has seen over 2,300, and Italy, which recorded nearly 900.
The president is upset that he hasn’t gotten more credit for his decision to restrict travel from China, where the outbreak began in December.
“We did one of the great jobs,” Mr. Trump said. “They have no clue, they can’t even count their voters in Iowa.”
“Everybody’s complimenting me,” he added.
Mr. Trump says the media is playing up the virus to make him look bad. He frequently rails against the press at his rallies, but he fixated on them from the start at his South Carolina rally.
“Looks at all of those cameras,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s a lot of cameras.”
• This report is based in part on wire services.