Speaking at the Conservative Action Conference near Washington, D.C., he said there's been a panic over the novel coronavirus, which has sickened more than 84,000 people globally, including 60 in the United States. More than 2,800 people have died worldwide.
"We sit there and watch the markets and there's this huge panic and it's like, why isn't there this huge panic every single year over flu," Mulvaney asked.
When asked what he might do to settle the markets, Mulvaney said, "really what I might do today [to] calm the markets is tell people turn their television off for 24 hours."
The major U.S. stock indexes continued their slide Friday morning, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down another 1,000 points at 10 a.m., the S&P 500 down 4 percent and the Nasdaq down 3 percent.
Mulvaney suggested media outlets are stoking fears over the coronavirus to hurt President Donald Trump politically.
"The reason you're seeing so much attention to [the coronavirus] today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president," he said.
"Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably. May you see impacts on public transportation? Sure," he added.
"But we do this, we know how to handle this."
Trump made the same argument Thursday night on Twitter.
"So, the Coronavirus, which started in China and spread to various countries throughout the world, but very slowly in the U.S. because President Trump closed our border, and ended flights, VERY EARLY, is now being blamed, by the Do Nothing Democrats, to be the fault of 'Trump,'" he tweeted.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump Jr., were also expected to headline the CPAC event at the Gaylord Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, Md.
Friday marks the third day of the conference, which annually includes conservative activists and politicians. President Donald Trump will speak to complete the event on Saturday.
Presidential advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, White House economic chief Larry Kudlow and acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and British conservative Nigel Farage also will participate in Friday's session, which will run until about 10:30 p.m.