Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday called the coronavirus a “pandemic,” using a term that has not been used by the White House or government health agencies as the Trump administration struggles to stay on message in response to the virus’ outbreak.
“Hopefully we can get past this coronavirus pandemic very quickly and get back to the trade,” Perdue said while speaking to farmers at the Commodity Classic conference in San Antonio, according to audio of his remarks obtained by CNN.
The secretary’s use of the word is out of sync with the official message from the Trump administration, which has sought to downplay fears of a pandemic. Global health officials have not labeled the virus’ outbreak a pandemic, either.
All public messaging on the coronavirus is supposed to be cleared by Vice President Mike Pence’s office, an attempt to get the Trump administration on the same page after administration officials blamed a series of mixed messages from senior officials earlier in the week for critical media coverage.
Pence is leading the administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus.
The basis for Perdue’s use of the term is unclear.
CNN has reached out to the Department of Agriculture for clarification but has not yet heard back.
The White House is declining to comment.
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Source: CNN News