Coronavirus task force holds briefing


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Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force hold a press briefing Thursday at the White House as the outbreak continues to expand rapidly in the United States

The crisis has roiled the stock market and ground the economy to a halt amid restrictive measures meant to contain the spread.

On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that he plans to provide an update at the briefing on the G20’s virtual meeting and a teleconference with governors.

Trump told U.S. governors in a letter on Thursday that the administration will soon set new guidelines, identifying “high-risk, medium risk and low-risk” counties to help officials decide on “maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place.”

The briefing also comes after the Senate passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill to help prop up the economy.

The 880-page legislation offers relief to individuals, businesses and health facilities. It includes direct payments to individuals, stronger unemployment insurance, loans and grants to businesses and more healthcare resources for hospitals, states and municipalities.

The House aims to vote on the bill on Friday. It would then go to the president, who has vowed to sign it into law.

Trump initially downplayed the impact of the outbreak but has since changed his tune. Earlier this month, he declared a national emergency, a move that freed up financial resources to assist Americans affected by the health crisis.

Health officials for weeks have been urging Americans to take strong precautions as coronavirus cases multiply. Earlier this month, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic, saying it expects “to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.”

Task force members include Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci and Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, among others.

The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 480,446 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 21,571 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 69,197 cases in the United States and at least 1,046 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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