With markets panicking on Monday morning amid coronavirus fears and concerns of a global economic slowdown, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar appeared on Fox News to discuss the administration’s handling of the growing crisis surrounding the disease. Azar, however, didn’t instill much confidence when he revealed he had yet to speak to President Donald Trump on Monday.
Asked by anchor Sandra Smith how the president was reacting to the sell-off that resulted in a halt of trading shortly after the markets opened on Monday morning, Azare replied: “I haven’t spoken to the president yet this morning.” Co-anchor Jon Scott, meanwhile, quickly jumped in to point out that the president was currently in the air on Air Force One as he headed to an event. Azar also insisted that “this is a very serious health problem” and “nobody is trying to minimize that.” The president had sent more than 10 tweets on Monday, however, including one that claimed the plunging markets were good and comparing coronavirus to the common flu.
Azar has recently seen his role in the administration’s coronavirus task force greatly reduced as the outbreak has grown in the United States. The president named Vice President Mike Pence to lead the task force late last month after Azar had been the face of American response, and Azar soon saw himself benched and sidelined from official visits and press briefings related to the crisis.