WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 26: U.S. President Donal
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a new conference with members of the coronavirus task force, including Vice President Mike Pence in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump updated the American people about what his administrations whole of government response to the global coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
  • President Donald Trump said Wednesday evening that disruptions from the coronavirus could affect the US gross domestic product.
  • The comments were a departure from a string of rosier economic forecasts that have come from the White House in recent days.
  • "This would have an impact on GDP," Trump said of COVID-19 at a news conference, making a rare appearance in the White House briefing room. "But we're still, we're doing great."
  • For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday evening that disruptions from the coronavirus could affect the US gross domestic product, a departure from a string of rosier economic forecasts that have come from the White House in recent days.

"This would have an impact on GDP," Trump said of COVID-19 at a news conference, making a rare appearance in the White House briefing room. "But we're still, we're doing great."

Trump added that it was too soon to predict the extent of the economic effects and that focus should instead be on efforts to contain the respiratory illness, which the Centers for Disease Control has warned would likely spread through communities in the US.

"That's irrelevant compared to what we're talking about," Trump said. "We want to make sure it's safe. Safety number one."

The Trump administration sought to downplay the risks of COVID-19 this week as concerns prompted emergency government responses and rattled financial markets. US stocks have suffered sharp losses in recent days, with investors assessing the effects of the outbreak on supply chains and other business operations.

At the news conference, Trump said that the sell-offs were at least partly driven by COVID-19 but also pointed to potential concerns about the presidential election. He sought to shift blame for any broader economic weakness to issues at Boeing, a strike at General Motors earlier this year, and the Federal Reserve.

Trump has failed to deliver the 3% annual GDP growth he promised as a candidate in 2016. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Congressional Budget Office and other independent economists forecast growth would slow to around 2% in 2020.

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