(CNSNews.com) - Dr. Ben Carson, a member of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, said on Sunday it's possible that "large numbers" of Americans will contract the coronavirus, but Dr. Carson also said the ill effects of the virus are being somewhat exaggerated:
"It's true that elderly people, especially those with underlying conditions, are "particularly vulnerable," Carson said. But, he added, "The vast majority of people who actually contract virus are only going to have flu-like symptoms or less. Many of them will be asymptomatic altogether. So, there's a little bit of exaggeration in terms of what happens if you contract the virus."
Carson, a neurosurgeon, was speaking to George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week," who pressed Carson on "the magnitude of this possible crisis."
"There's no question that more people will be detected as we do more testing," Carson said. "But you can look at worst-case scenarios. You can look at best-case scenarios. The thing that needs to be understood is that we are working very hard, looking at all the evidence on a day-by-day basis, making recommendations based on that.
"And we need to be working together, federal, state and local health officials, and the medical professionals, who are very good in this country, by the way. And they're the ones who are making the determination about who needs to be tested."
As for complaints that test kits have been slow to roll out, Carson noted that "over a million tests were shipped out" to CDC labs over the last week, and another 640,000 will be available on Monday, he said.
"There are also tests being created by the Veterans Hospitals and most of the academic centers have them. So there are a lot of tests but the key thing is everybody doesn't need a test. And that should be something that should be determined by the medical professionals who are administering the tests."
Stephanopoulos noted that the virus "appears to be getting closer to the White House and official Washington," after someone at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) tested positive; and after two people at the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference also tested positive. President Trump gave a speech at CPAC and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at AIPAC.
"Well, we have concerns at all times, and that's why we ask people to sanitize their hands and to take various types of precautions. So the president does that. I know the vice president does that. We all do that. And if we've been mingling with people, obviously we're going to take those precautions.
"Bear in mind that if you go out of the studio today and you shake hands with somebody who has coronavirus, that doesn't mean that you're going to contract coronavirus. It doesn't mean that you're going to get sick."
Stephanopoulos wanted to know if it's time for more extensive measures than hand-washing, such as quarantines and work-from-home directives, but Carson didn't bite:
"I think it's time for people to really indulge themselves in learning about how viruses are spread. And to take advantage of that knowledge in determining what their daily activities are going to be.
"And as I said before it's very important to emphasize that there's certain groups of people who are at much higher risk than the general population and they need to take extra consideration in terms of where they're going to be..."