February 28, 2020

Trump could suck coronavirus out of 60,000 people and hed still be criticized – Huckabee
* Top Republican on Fox News defends Trump and Mike Pence * Vice-president leading coronavirus containment effort in US * Whistleblower: US coronavirus staff were untrained and unprotectedDonald Trump could “personally suck” the coronavirus “out of every one of the 60,000 people in the world, suck it out of their lungs, swim to the bottom of the ocean and spit it out, and he would be accused of pollution for messing up the ocean”, a top Republican has claimed.Former Republican Arkansas governor and ex-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made the outlandish statement on Twitter on Thursday night and on Fox News’ Fox & Friends show on Friday morning.> Mike Huckabee says Trump "could personally sick the virus out of every one of the 60,000 people in the world, suck it out of their lungs, swim to the bottom of the ocean and spit it out, and he would be accused of pollution for messing up the ocean." pic.twitter.com/X7xbC5ebDz> > — Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 28, 2020According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 82,000 cases of the coronavirus have in fact been confirmed worldwide, with about 2,800 deaths. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 60 confirmed cases in the US.In the US, Huckabee’s widely ridiculed comment followed the publication of a column for Fox News in which he took aim at criticism of Trump’s choice of Vice-President Mike Pence to lead US containment efforts.Critics have said Pence’s religious faith, plus the decisions he took as governor of Indiana on scientific and public health matters, make him a poor choice to lead efforts undermined by budget cuts and poor organization.Huckabee said Pence was “a proven leader who knows how to get people with different perspectives working together effectively” on public health matters including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) outbreak of 2014.“Instead of calling for bipartisan cooperation in this life-or-death effort,” he wrote, “liberals reacted with collective outrage, even going so far as to ridicule the vice-president’s Christian faith as a way of suggesting that he’s not qualified for the role.“Numerous media outlets have also published and broadcast one-sided reports trashing Pence’s handling of an HIV outbreak as governor of Indiana, but such criticisms are both inaccurate and irrelevant.”The outbreak in question happened in 2015. Pence declared a public health emergency but many said faith-driven cuts to sexual health programs made the situation worse.Huckabee, the father of the former Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders, is not the first rightwing commentator to claim Democrats and the media are using concerns over the coronavirus outbreak to attack and undermine the president.Earlier this week, the conservative shock jock and presidential medal of freedom honoree Rush Limbaugh claimed “the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump” and said “the coronavirus is the common cold”.Some experts have criticised media coverage of the outbreak as inaccurate and potentially alarmist.According to the Guardian’s guide to the coronavirus, sufferers report “coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use … Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.”The outbreak began in China. The WHO has not yet declared it a pandemic but international markets, trade, travel and sporting events have been severely affected. In the US on Friday the Dow Jones Index plunged again, at the end of the markets’ worst week since the financial crisis of 2008.In Geneva, a WHO spokesman said: “The outbreak is getting bigger. The scenario of the coronavirus reaching multiple countries, if not all countries around the world, is something we have been looking at and warning against since quite a while.”
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