President Trump interrupted a Friday press conference on the 2019 novel coronavirus to ask a Fox News reporter whether his town hall show on Fox on Thursday night had good ratings. In a rambling briefing that bordered on bizarre, Trump also said coronavirus testing kits were almost as “perfect” as his infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president and he didn’t want infected cruise ship passengers to come ashore in California because it would increase the U.S. tally of COVID-19 cases. “I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship,” he said.
During the tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters, Trump was asked by a reporter what measures he was considering to help offset the widespread economic and social impacts of the crisis. The president responded by saying the seasonal flu was worse with 36,000 deaths in the U.S. last year, compared to 240 confirmed cases of COVID-19. “When I first heard this I was shocked,” he said. “As of the time I left the plane with you we had 240 cases, that’s at least what was on a very fine network known as Fox News, don’t you love it? That’s what I happened to be watching and, how was the show last night? Did it get good ratings by the way?” he asked as he turned to a Fox reporter. “I don’t know,” the reporter responded. “Oh really, I heard it broke all ratings records, but maybe that’s wrong,” he continued. “But what happened if you look at the number, by the time we left, it was 240 cases and 11 deaths. That’s what it has been. Now, you look throughout the world and other countries—South Korea, Italy and particularly China, have many.”