Larry Kudlow put on an incredible display of scientific ignorance Friday, asserting on cable news that COVID-19 was “contained” and that Americans should go on with their lives.
The coronavirus outbreak in America is very much not contained. Experts, including public health officials in the Trump administration, say it will continue to spread, and the lack of testing capacity means we still don’t know the true nature of the virus’ footprint.
But Kudlow, who in the past has mischaracterized the position of the World Health Organization in an attempt to reassure the financial markets, put out yet more misinformation on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Friday morning.
“We don’t know what the magnitude of the economy might be in terms of a slowdown,” Kudlow said. “We don’t actually know what the magnitude of the virus is going to be, although frankly, so far it looks relatively contained, and we don’t think most people — I mean the vast majority of Americans are not at risk from this virus.”
Kudlow, a former TV commentator on financial matters, is the director of President Trump’s National Economic Council and a member of his Coronavirus Task Force.
“This is Baghdad-Bob-level stuff from Kudlow,” commented Jeremy Konyndyk, a former Obama administration USAID official who was involved in the administration’s Ebola virus response.
In a bulletin earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control said “the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to expand.”
Later in Kudlow’s appearance, “Squawk” co-anchor Carl Quintanilla pressed the White House adviser on his remarks, saying that there had been “some frustration” with Kudlow’s previous claim that the United States was “pretty close to airtight” with regard to the virus. At the time, there were just 53 known novel coronavirus cases in the United States, most of which had originated overseas, compared to the more than 230 known cases today.
Kudlow doubled down, first in asserting that “long term investors should think seriously about buying these dips” and then by saying again, falsely, that the virus was contained.
“I will still argue to you that this is contained. It can’t be airtight but we are, you know, when you look at the numbers here, and I know there are things in front of us — you know, by itself more testing is going to uncover more cases — but in a relative sense, relative to our population, relative to ordinary flus, I don’t want to downgrade this thing, this can be human tragedy for individuals who suffer or lord knows who die, I’ve said that from day one. But I think it is relatively contained.”
“Squawk” co-anchor David Faber had heard enough.
“Larry, it’s much more serious than the flu, as you know,” he said. “And it’s a virus that’s spread all over the globe in the space of about three months, so it is certainly something that seems to avoid containment to some extent.”
Kudlow: Buy on the dip, on COVID-19 "this is contained", "relatively contained." pic.twitter.com/iF4Nheem4i
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 6, 2020