Obamacare Architect: U.S. Should Stop Being ‘Hysterical’ About Coronavirus

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, special adviser for health care at the Office of Management and Budget, speaks March 11 at the American Medical Association's annual conference in Washington
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Appearing Thursday on CNBC, Obamacare architect Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel said the U.S. should “stop panicking and being hysterical” about the Chinese coronavirus — even as the virus death toll rises and continues spreading to new countries.

A partial transcript is as follows: 

REBECCA QUICK: We keep comparing China’s response now to what they did in 2003 with SARS. Where are we in terms of maybe where we were versus Ebola or where we were back with SARS too, in terms of our capabilities with the CDC?

EZEKIEL EMANUEL: By the “we” — if we mean the United States — Everyone in America should take a very big breath, slow down and stop panicking and being hysterical. We are having a little too much histrionics about this. Let’s remember, we have fewer than ten cases in the United States. They are concentrated in four states: California, Washington State, Arizona, and Illinois. That’s it. Most importantly, there are people coming in from China, there’s been no person to person transmission, and it’s not everyone from China.

QUICK: There has been person to person transmission in other countries, because there are people who have never traveled to China who have come down with it.

EMANUEL: That is true, but even the maximum country is Thailand with 14 cases. So, we need to be a little sober about it. Even in China — remember China is a country of 1.4 billion people — there have been a few, 7,800 cases. That’s one case for roughly 175,000 people. Even if that’s a gross underestimate by say 50-fold, that’s one case for every 4,000 people and a very low death rate compared to SARS.


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