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What Does The Coronavirus Mean For Our Politics And Economy?

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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The coronavirus has so far taken the lives of six Americans. Health experts are warning Americans to expect more cases, and fear of the disease led to the largest stock market drop since 2008. What is next?

Experts at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have described the coronavirus as very similar to the flu, and the mortality rate has been low compared to diseases like Ebola, the Swine Flu, and the Avian flu.

The low mortality rate, though, allows the disease to spread much further and remain undetected in patients longer. While diseases like Ebola killed roughly 11,000 people over 21 months in the 2014 outbreak in Africa, the normal flu kills roughly 60,000 people every year in America alone.

In one of the worst-case scenarios, the coronavirus will become just another seasonal disease, harrying the human race along with the common cold and the flu.

As the the disease progresses – or doesn’t — here’s how Americans can expect it to affect the economy and the 2020 election.

The Economy:

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) before the Opening Bell at the NYSE as the ride-hailing company Uber makes its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) on May 10, 2019 in New York City. Uber will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange after raising $8.1 billion in the biggest U.S. IPO in five years. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) before the Opening Bell at the NYSE as the ride-hailing company Uber makes its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) on May 10, 2019 in New York City. Uber will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange after raising $8.1 billion in the biggest U.S. IPO in five years. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Federal Reserve made the largest cuts to interest rates since 2008 on Tuesday in an attempt to shield the U.S. economy from the impact of coronavirus.

The Fed lowered its fund rates to a range of 1%-1.25%, a decrease of half a percentage point, according to USA Today. While President Donald Trump acknowledged the cuts in a tweet, he also called for the Fed to continue them. (RELATED: Lou Dobbs Calls Out Alex Azar Over Lack Of Coronoavirus ‘Transparency’)

CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS

A medical staff member sprays disinfectant on a colleague as they prepare to transfer patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus from Wuhan No.5 Hospital to Leishenshan Hospital, the newly-built hospital for the COVID-19 coronavirus patients, in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on March 3, 2020. – Across the world, 3,127 people have died from the new virus. More than 92,000 have been infected in 77 countries and territories, according to AFP’s latest toll based on official sources at 1100 GMT on March 3. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong,” the Fed’s policymaking committee said in a statement. “However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity.” (RELATED: Corona Sales Up 3.1% Amid Coronavirus Scare)

Markets saw the largest crash since 2008 in the final week of February, but rallied in with the largest single-day gains since 2009 on Monday in anticipation of the rate cuts.

Market volatility is likely to remain if the coronavirus pandemic continues over the coming months. Experts at HHS and the CDC have said a vaccine for the disease is at least a year away at the earliest.

This means that over the next several months, the economic impact of the coronavirus will largely be determined by the abilities of individual countries to contain it. While the U.S. managed to contain the earliest outbreaks, CDC representatives have warned to “expect more cases” as outbreaks proliferate in other countries and travel to the U.S. (RELATED: Here’s How To Prepare For The Coronavirus)

While the U.S. has maintained travel restrictions with China and parts of other countries like Italy and South Korea, increasing those restrictions and applying them to other countries would be incredibly disruptive to trade, should it become necessary.

The 2020 Election:

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 29: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield listen during a news conference at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Democrats began attacking Trump for allegedly mishandling prevention efforts soon after the disease was first reported in China.

While it’s true that a major blunder in containing the virus in the U.S. might hurt Trump’s reelection chances this November, its potential impact on the economy is far more threatening.

Trump has placed the strong economy at the absolute center of his reelection bid, and while a downturn from the coronavirus wouldn’t necessarily be the fault of his policies it would likely cut against his pitch regardless. (RELATED: Trump Donates 4th Quarter Salary To Fight Coronavirus)

Democrats have faulted Trump for lowballing his funding request to fight the virus. At $2.5 billion, the request was far below the federal response to the Avian Flu and Swine Flu, as administrations requested more than $7 billion for each.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 26: 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 administration's 'whole of government' response to the global coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 26: 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 administration’s ‘whole of government’ response to the global coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Some Republicans in Congress also questioned the president’s number, calling for him to raise it to $4.5 billion.

Trump addressed these criticisms at a press conference at the end of February, where he said the funding number was ultimately up to Congress and that he would sign any amount they sent him.

Several media outlets also lent credence to the accusation that Trump was mishandling the coronavirus by repeating the false claim that he had called the disease a “hoax” at a campaign rally.

Both Politico and CNN repeated the claim, as well as numerous reporters on Twitter.

In reality, Trump was referring to Democrats’s accusations as a “hoax,” not the disease itself.