The View co-host also said it would be "absolutely cataclysmic" if the president contracted the potentially deadly virus

By Claudia Harmata
March 12, 2020 09:45 AM
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As the novel coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the United States and parts of the world, Donald Trump and his administration have faced mounting scrutiny for their response to the deadly virus.

The president has regularly taken a less urgent tone about preparedness and response than his own health officials; and critics have increasingly raised alarm about the lack of widespread coronavirus testing made available by the federal government, in contrast to other countries.

The View co-host Meghan McCain on Wednesday slammed Trump for his “misinformation” regarding the severity of the virus and the actions his administration has been taking to contain it and protect the American people.

“It seems like the chickens have finally come home to roost with [Trump’s] misinformation because it’s one thing to say, ‘Windmills cause cancer,’ it’s one thing to say, ‘Oh there’s a million people at my rally,’ ” McCain said, referencing other false or misleading comments the president has made.

“It’s an entirely different thing to say that this potentially deadly virus, that is globally hitting everywhere, is no problem here — and I actually think it is one of the few things that could really hit this election in an interesting way,” she said.

From left: President Donald Trump and Meghan McCain
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

The conservative host, 35, and her counterparts also discussed Trump’s own possible exposure to the virus after it was reported that the president came into close proximity — in one case even shaking hands — with multiple people who had been in contact with a coronavirus patient in Washington, D.C., late last month.

“The political implications if he ends up having coronavirus would be absolutely cataclysmic,” McCain said.

Her co-host Joy Behar, one of the panel’s most liberal voices, agreed with McCain on Trump’s leadership, criticizing him during Tuesday’s episode as well. The 77-year-old called the commander in chief, 73, “a menace to the world.”

During Wednesday morning’s episode of the daytime show, Behar once again slammed Trump after Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a former co-host who returned for a guest stint at the table, praised his “strong leadership” and response to the virus.

“Where’s the strong leadership?” Behar countered. “He has told us nothing of any importance. He says that it’s nothing, that it’s no big deal.”

“I love the fact that we can identify that this is precautionary, right, we have infected cases, those are serious; we’ve had deaths, those are serious — not to be taken lightly at all. But I also think we shouldn’t be in a state of panic because what we’re doing and taking cues from our president is taking early, strong, bold actions to keep this at bay as much as we possibly can right now,” Hasselbeck said as Behar and co-host Sunny Hostin pushed back.

In a formal address to the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday night, Trump detailed some of the things his administration is doing to combat the virus — particularly a new travel ban on some people coming to the U.S. from Europe.

“I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus,” he said.

It was a marked tone shift from recent days.

“It hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it,” he told reporters on Tuesday, after being asked about a possible economic downturn until the outbreak is resolved. “And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

The president has also claimed Democrats are trying to politicize the virus as a “hoax” to damage him politically and on Monday tweeted: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant.”

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, in a reflection of how far it has spread as more and more countries encourage “social distancing” measures among citizens to slow the infection rate so that treatments and vaccines can be developed and hospitals are not overburdened.

The president has also downplayed fatality rates and falsely claimed that “anyone who wants a test can get a test” for the coronavirus.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar previously corrected the president, saying that in fact people could only get approved for a coronavirus test if they had seen a doctor or medical professional who agreed they should be tested.

Additionally, the number of available tests has lagged demand.

As of Thursday morning, there have been about 1,270 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 37 deaths, almost all of them in Washington state.

The majority of U.S. cases are in Washington, California and New York, and all three have declared a state of emergency to redirect funding.

Worldwide, there are approximately 127,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 4,710 deaths.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.