Senator John Kennedy, left, and John Bel Edwards visit with President Donald Trump as he arrives to tour the town of Lake Charles following Hurricane Laura on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Louisiana U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy in a Wednesday interview continued to back President Donald Trump despite reports that the president was aware in February how contagious and deadly the coronavirus was but knowingly downplaying its seriousness.

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump was recorded on Feb. 7 as telling Bob Woodward in one of 18 interviews for The Washington Post editor’s upcoming book “Rage.” The president acknowledged that he knew the airborne coronavirus can infect people through breathing.

“It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” Trump said, but added he didn’t want to panic the public.

Publicly the president called the virus a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats, held rallies where few wore masks, and claimed to have the pandemic under control.

Asked about Trump’s statements during a CNN interview Wednesday, Kennedy said three times: “These gotcha books don’t really interest me that much.”

CNN anchor Pamela Brown pressed Kennedy on why he and his Republican colleagues wouldn’t criticize the president – pointing out that a focus on COVID-19 in February could have saved thousands of lives in Louisiana had people known earlier. After Mardi Gras celebrations during the last week of February, Louisiana catapulted to the top of the world's rankings in terms of how many residents were infected compared to the state's population.

“This infatuation in Washington about who said what to whom,” Kennedy responded.

“I’m sorry, I’m not going to let you do this,” Brown said, pointing out that Trump’s comments were recorded. “As a human being how can you be okay with this?”

“You learn pretty quickly not to judge people up here by what they say, you have to judge them by what they do,” Kennedy said, adding that he hadn’t read the transcript but that the main thing he heard was the president didn’t want to create a panic. He said the Trump administration was responsive early on to Louisiana's situation.