Illustration for article titled CPAC Organizer Tells Everyone to Calm Down Via Skype From Coronavirus Quarantine
Screenshot: Fox News/YouTube

Matt Schlapp, the organizer of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), insisted on Laura Ingraham’s show last night that everyone needs to “calm down” about the new coronavirus. Schlapp appeared on the Fox News program via Skype because he’s currently in self-quarantine over fears he may have been exposed to the coronavirus at his own event.

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“Everybody needs to calm down. Calm down,” Schlapp told Ingraham by Skype from his home.

Both Schlapp and Ingraham claimed that Americans are overreacting to this crisis and that President Donald Trump is handling the situation perfectly. At least 755 Americans have tested positive for the virus and 26 people have died.

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“Several days ago, [public health officials in Maryland] said there’s nothing to be alarmed about, nobody should be restricted from movement, no quarantines,” Schlapp said from self-quarantine in a video that’s available on YouTube.

At least six Republican politicians who attended CPAC at the end of February have chosen to self-quarantine after they were notified that an attendee was diagnosed with COVID-19. That attendee is currently in the hospital. Those in quarantine include Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, Rep. Julia Brownley, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Mark Meadows, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

It was revealed Monday afternoon that Gaetz, who has previously mocked fear of the virus, was on Air Force One with President Trump when he learned that he’d been in contact with the CPAC coronavirus patient. Gaetz sat by himself on the plane and does not show any symptoms of the disease.

“The 10,000 people that came to CPAC, Laura, we can’t find anybody that has symptoms, anybody, after having one case of the coronavirus,” Schlapp said. “We don’t have two, we don’t have three. We still have one. It shows that this virus is very hard to contract.”

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Ingraham also made fun of White House reporters who asked yesterday about whether the president had been tested for the virus. Schlapp shook hands with both the unnamed coronavirus patient who attended CPAC as well as the president, but the White House said late Monday that President Trump had not been tested for COVID-19.

The entire Schlapp family is deeply connected to the Trump regime and Matt Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes Schlapp, previously worked as the White House director of strategic communications until the summer of 2019.

Many other right wing political figures are actively spreading misinformation about the coronavirus threat, often echoing the president’s words that this is all a manufactured crisis intended to make him look bad. Dr. Drew Pinsky appeared on Ingraham’s show last week to say that the coronavirus was just a “press-induced panic” and that it’s no worse than the flu. That’s not true.

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And other Fox News shows continue to spread the narrative that the Democrats are making too much of the coronavirus.

“We’ve reached a tipping point. The hate is boiling. Many in the liberal media are using coronavirus in an attempt to demonize and destroy the president, despite the virus originating halfway around the world,” Fox Business personality Trish Regan announced on her show Monday.

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“This is yet another attempt to impeach, and sadly, it seems the left cares little for any of the destruction they leave in their wake, including losses in the market,” Regan continued. “This, unfortunately, is all just part of political casualties for them.”

“And, like with the Robert Mueller investigation, like with the Ukraine-gate, they don’t care who they hurt, whether it be their need to create mass hysteria to encourage a massive sell-off in an overly anxious stock market or to create mass hysteria in order to stop our economy dead in its tracks.”

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President Donald Trump is greeted by Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the American Conservative Union, as the president arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, at National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday Feb. 29, 2020
President Donald Trump is greeted by Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the American Conservative Union, as the president arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, at National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday Feb. 29, 2020
Photo: AP

The threat is global, of course, and if anyone is politicizing the threat it’s President Trump. He announced on Friday that he would rather not let a cruise ship with infected people dock in Oakland because it would make the number of infections in the country go up.

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Trump has called the World Health Organization’s estimation of the death rate from coronavirus a “false number,” said that some people who go to work with the disease are just fine, and continues to insist that he has personally saved American lives by closing the border to China.

What’s next for President Trump? His big idea for fighting the coronavirus, announced at a White House press conference on Monday evening, is to institute a payroll tax cut. The president quickly fled the briefing room as reporters tried to ask questions.

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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