President Donald Trump had plenty to talk about during his latest big campaign rally, regaling a friendly crowd in New Jersey with his thoughts about impeachment, the economy, the border wall, local politics and much more.
But the president was conspicuously quiet about one big issue that has much of the globe on pins and needles: the spread of a deadly new type of coronavirus.
A self-described germaphobe, Trump has had little to say in public about the new virus that so far has killed more than 170 people in China, sickened thousands more there and led to a handful of confirmed cases in the U.S.
And he speaks in broad terms when he does talk about it.
"We're very much involved with them, right now, on the virus that's going around," Trump said of China before signing a trade deal at the White House on Wednesday. He said he had discussed the situation with Chinese President Xi Jinping and added, "We're working very closely with China."
Aides and confidants say Trump's careful approach is part of a political strategy crafted to avoid upsetting the stock market or angering China by calling too much attention to the virus or blaming Beijing for not managing the situation better, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the White House. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Later Wednesday, Trump tweeted out photos from a briefing on the virus he attended with administration officials in the Situation Room, writing that "we have the best experts anywhere in the world and they are on top of it 24/7!"
In keeping with the low-profile approach, the White House announced by email Wednesday night that the meeting included members of a task force that will lead the U.S. response to the new virus. The 12-person team is chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and coordinated through the National Security Council.
The president's comments contrast sharply with the fierce criticism he lobbed at his predecessor, President Barack Obama, during the 2014-15 Ebola crisis, which left more than 11,000 dead in three West African nations.
At the time, Trump ripped into Obama as a "dope" and "incompetent" and called for a travel ban on visitors from Ebola-infected countries. Trump also advocated preventing infected American health care workers from coming home for treatment.
Obama faced some criticism from public health officials for being slow to address the Ebola crisis initially, but also received plaudits for eventually attacking it with vigor. He nudged Congress to make a $5.4 billion emergency appropriation to aid the fight and sent 3,000 U.S. troops to West Africa to help with the international response.
Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, said he's taken a measure of comfort in the fact that Trump, so far, hasn't overreacted and has resisted "fanning the flames" as he did with his rhetoric during the Ebola crisis. That leaves room, Gostin said, for public health professionals to take the lead.
"As long as that continues and as long as there isn't political interference or mass quarantines in the U.S. or outright travel bans, I will feel comfortable with how the White House is handling it," Gostin said. He added that he'd like to see Trump ask Congress for a $1 billion emergency appropriation to help agencies battling to contain the virus.
Trump is well aware the virus outbreak in China could create a wild card for the U.S. economy during an election year. And he has long prioritized the U.S. economic relationship with China, especially during trade negotiations, and similarly largely held his tongue during widespread protests in Hong Kong. He also takes enormous pride in the personal relationship he's developed with Xi and has commended him for demonstrating "transparency" as he deals with the crisis.
Trump said "we have it totally under control" when he was asked about the new type of coronavirus while in Switzerland last week to attend an economic conference. And in a separate Twitter posting, he offered reassurance but scant detail for his confidence.
"China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus," Trump tweeted. "The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well."
But some public health experts say Trump's rosy assessments of the situation don't match the ground truth.
Gostin pointed to Chinese government bureaucratic delays that led to tens of thousands of people traveling outside of Wuhan province, increasing the likelihood that the virus will travel far beyond China.
"It's not accurate at all," Gostin said of Trump's assessment of China's handling of the outbreak. "China manifestly does not have this under control."
Trump's Democratic presidential rivals have zeroed in on the president's efforts to reduce financing for public health organizations.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and others have criticized Trump for eliminating a senior director position for global health security and biothreats at the National Security Council earlier in his term. Trump has also repeatedly sought budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes for Health.
Congress resisted that, and the 2020 budget includes $8 billion for the CDC, $1.4 billion more than Trump's budget request. It also includes $41.7 billion for the NIH, $7.5 billion more than Trump's budget request.
Biden wrote in an opinion article for USA Today this week that the "possibility of a pandemic is a challenge Donald Trump is unqualified to handle as president." Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another Democratic contender for the 2020 nomination, tweeted that after the Ebola outbreak, Congress "invested to prevent pandemics like coronavirus. Donald Trump tried to cut that funding."
Off-spinner Sikandar Raza took a career best 7-113 on Wednesday to help Zimbabwe bowl out Sri Lanka for 293 runs in its first innings to leave the host in a strong position to level the two-match series.
The 33-year-old all-rounder's seven-wicket haul on the third day of the test came after Zimbabwe totaled 406 while batting first. The hosts had a lead 175 runs after rain forced an early end of play with Zimbabwe on 62-1 in the second innings.
After giving Zimbabwe the breakthrough on Tuesday with the wicket of Sri Lanka captain and opener Dimuth Karunaratne, Raza claimed the scalps of Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Embuldeniya.
It wast the second-best haul by a Zimbabwe bowler in test cricket.
"I think we couldn't have asked for a better day," Raza told reporters. "It's one of my best days of test cricket. To be 175 runs ahead with nine wickets in hand, as a country and as a team, we should be happy where we are."
Zimbabwe batsman Kevin Kasuza has been ruled out of the remainder of the test match due to a concussion and was replaced by Timycen Maruma after the opener was struck on the helmet while fielding.
The change saw Craig Ervine move up the order to open for Zimbabwe, with the left-hander nicking behind to wicketkeeper Dickwella off pacer Vishwa Fernando for 13 in to be the only wicket to fall in the second innings.
"The wicket is getting slower now, we need to take wickets earlier otherwise it becomes difficult to chase," Fernando said.
Prince Masvaure was 26 not out while Regis Chakabva was unbeaten on 14 when rain stopped play.
Rohit Sharma hit sixes off the last two balls of a dramatic Super Over as India secured an unlikely win over New Zealand to clinch their Twenty20 series and leave the Black Caps to digest another painful loss in the tiebreaker.
Six months after losing a 50-over World Cup final to England on boundary countback after tying a Super Over, the New Zealanders found themselves back in a tiebreaker after failing to wrap up the match in regulation - despite needing just two runs off the final four balls of the chase.
Mohammad Shami bowled Ross Taylor with the last ball of New Zealand's innings, leaving the teams tied on 179 runs.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who made a career-best 95 off 48 balls, returned to the crease for the Super Over and heaved Jasprit Bumrah for a six and a four to help his team score 17 alongside Martin Guptill.
Sharma and K.L. Rahul managed only eight runs from the first four balls of India's reply, which left the tourists needing nine runs from the last two balls to win. Sharma hit a six over long-on from the first of those deliveries from Tim Southee, then hoisted the last ball of the match over the long-off boundary.
"I've never done that (batted in a Super Over) before so I didn't know what to expect," Sharma said. "I didn't know whether to go from the first ball or just take a single, then try to put the pressure on from the last three or four balls.
"I just wanted to stay still and was waiting for the bowlers to make a mistake."
Bad memories of Super Overs returned for New Zealand, which also was defeated in a tiebreaker to lose the deciding match of a Twenty20 series against England in November.
"They haven't been too successful for us so we need probably to do a bit more to try to win it in regular time, I suppose," Williamson said.
"But it was a great game of cricket. India again showed their experience in their crunch moments, but it was a really important experience for us as a cricket side."
India took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Sharma played a huge role in India's win, having put on 89 with Rahul in an opening stand to set up a total of 179-5. He reached his half-century from 23 balls in an over in which he took 26 runs from the bowling of Hamish Bennett, and was top scorer with 65.
India struggled in the second half of their innings, finishing on a score that was under-par after such a strong start.
Williamson, in turn, ignited New Zealand after its relatively slow start by New Zealand and posted his half century from 28 balls. Just when he looked set to reach his maiden T20 century and guide New Zealand to victory, his rash shot in the last over saw him caught by wicketkeeper Rahul from the bowling of Shami.
Tim Seifert was unable to make contact with the next delivery - the third-to-last ball of the match - but scrambled a bye to tie the scores. Taylor flashed at a yorker from Shami and was bowled, as the Blacks Caps posted 179-6 and the match went to the Super Over.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced on Thursday that all the domestic matches of the 2020 season will be postponed for the better control of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"In order to cooperate with the nationwide prevention to curb the 2019-nCoV virus and to ensure the health of all football-related people, the CFA decided to delay all levels of domestic football matches in 2020 season from now on," said the Chinese football governing body.
The CFA also noted that they will maintain close communication with national authorities to adjust and publish the season schedule accordingly. The 2020 season Chinese Super League was originally scheduled to kick off on February 22.
In addition, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed on Wednesday that all four Chinese clubs will first play three away games in their Asian Champions League group matches.
The U.S. Defense Department on Wednesday confirmed the death of two airmen in a U.S. military plane crash in Afghanistan earlier this week.
The two, who were supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel, died on Monday in the crash of a Bombardier E-11A aircraft in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, said the Pentagon in a statement.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, it said.
Afghanistan's Taliban claimed Monday that its fighters shot down a U.S. aircraft in Ghazni Province, while the U.S. military said there are "no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire."
The United States reportedly maintains some 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, largely providing training missions to local Afghan forces while conducting counterterrorism operations against terror groups.
Operation Freedom's Sentinel is one of the two major tasks of U.S. troops and their coalition partners in Afghanistan. It is aimed at hunting down and killing terror group militants using the country as a hideout.
Another major task is called Operation Resolute Support, which is to train and advise Afghan forces fighting the Taliban.