President Donald Trump Wednesday indicated the health of the U.S. stock market is more important to him than the health of the American people by blaming U.S. health experts and the media for triggering the three-day stock market plunge that erased more than 2,000 points from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Trump later appointed vice president Mike Pence as head of a federal government task force tasked with unifying separate efforts all aimed at mitigating a Covid-19 outbreak in the U.S. In the same press conference announcing Pence's appointment, Trump also undercut Pence by downplaying the threat to the U.S. posed by Covid-19. He said the "regular flu" kills many more people each year compared to Covid-19.
Media reported that before Pence's appointment, Trump was furious that stocks plummeted on dire news about Covid-19 and slammed U.S. health officials for panicking investors, said a story by The Washington Post. Trump also ordered his people to stop talking about the impact of Covid-19 over fears stocks might plunge further. CNN later said Trump also blamed the media for stoking panic about the coronavirus and making the disease look as bad as possible.
The stock plunge Tuesday that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average lose 900 points accelerated after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Covid-19 will "likely" continue to spread throughout the United States. CDC also warned Americans should "prepare for the expectation that this is going to be bad."
A U.S. Covid-19 outbreak is now inevitable, said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the CDC.
"It is not so much a question of if, but when," warned Messonier. "Data over the last week has raised our expectation that we are going to have community spread here."
The Trump administration's efforts to gloss over the impact of Covid-19 on Wall Street failed Tuesday and Wednesday as stocks continued to plunge even after National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow claimed the Trump administration has placed an air-tight lid on Covid-19. Kudlow also claimed the U.S. has "contained" Covid-19 and said this coronavirus won't be an "economic tragedy." Kudlow also said the selloff created a buying opportunity for long-term investors.
Trump has always touted a strong stock market as a reason to re-elect him on November 3 and seems to inexplicably link his chances of winning reelection to the health of the stock market. His prioritizing the health of the stock market also seems to explain his reluctance to boost federal spending to enhance U.S. preparations against Covid-19.
Taking this step will force him to admit the stock market has turned unhealthy. It also explains why Trump only requested $1.5 billion in new funding to enhance U.S. preparedness to combat Covid-19.
Trump seemed to be living in a parallel universe Monday when he tweeted: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"