WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration commissioner is declining to back up President Donald Trump's claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are "harmless."
Dr. Stephen Hahn tells CNN and ABC that he's "not going to get into who is right and who is wrong," but that government data clearly show "this is a serious problem."
He adds that "any case is tragic" and that to stem the tide of surging cases people should follow government guidance to practice social distancing and wear a mask.
In Fourth of July remarks, Trump said the U.S. was testing too much and falsely asserted that "by so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless."
The World Health Organization in fact has said about 20% of those diagnosed with COVID-19 progress to severe disease, including pneumonia and respiratory failure. Those with mild or no symptoms, meanwhile, could spread the virus to others.
The mayor of Austin, Texas, where COVID-19 cases are surging, called Trump's remarks "dangerous" and "wrong." Mayor Steve Adler urged people to listen to local officials for public safety guidance rather than the "ambiguous message coming out of Washington."