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Utah officials accuse president of spreading coronavirus ‘misinformation’

President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence, speaks during a coronavirus briefing with Airline CEOs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A state coronavirus-response team in Utah is calling comments from President Donald Trump ‘misinformation’ and warning people to stay home from work if they show symptoms that match the virus.

In a tweet posted Thursday and later removed, the task force led by Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox posted an audio clip from Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity when he said many cases of coronavirus are mild and that some people still go to work.

The interview that started it all

Hannity asked President Trump about a travel ban he enacted in response to the widespread coronavirus. President Trump also initiated quarantines for Americans who came back from foreign countries where there were known cases of the virus.

“You’re saying people recommended you not do this?” Hannity asked President Trump. “Why did you go with this so quickly, what was your rationale at the time?”

President Trump said the increasing numbers in China were worrisome, and he thought there was great success with stopping those from coming into the country.

He went on to say the virus mainly affected older people and those who “are not well.” President Trump said only a small number of people in the country have been affected, and his administration will work to keep it that way.

Hannity then asked what President Trump would say to those who are worried about the virus.

“A lot of people will have this and it’s very mild,” he said. “They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor, they don’t even call a doctor, you never hear about those people. You can’t put [those people] down in the category of the overall population in terms of the […] virus.”

Questioning the numbers

President Trump said many get the virus and get better relatively quickly because it’s “not that severe.”

“We have thousands or hundreds of thousand that get better just by sitting around and going to work,” President Trump. “Some of them go to work, but they get better.”

Hannity pointed to a recent report that showed the global death rate at 3.4%, which could get worse and may be declared a pandemic.

“It seems like 3 or 4 % which is a very high number as opposed to a fraction of 1%,” President Trump said. “They don’t know about the easy cases because the easy cases don’t go to the hospital they don’t report to the doctors or hospitals in those cases. I would say the numbers are way under 1%.”

Accusations of coronavirus misinformation

A spokeswoman for Cox said he was not involved in the tweet. The tweet has since been deleted, with the page specifying it wants to avoid “politicization of the issue.”

The Twitter account commended the White House for working with the Task Force on the issue, noting it is doing everything possible to protect the health of Utahns.

Many businesses struggle with stopping the spread of coronavirus misinformation. In recent days, Facebook and Amazon both announced measures aimed at combatting false information about COVID-19.

Cox is a candidate in the race to replace outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert.

The president responds

President Trump quickly took to Twitter to defend against the statements, saying it’s “Fake News and misinformation” to “do harm to the incredible & successful effort being made!”