Coronavirus task force holds briefing

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Members of the coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing Monday as retailers and small businesses struggle to stay afloat.

The federal government has been doling out money to help with the financial strain brought on by the virus.

Still, the retail industry is getting crushed as stores shutter and thousands of people lose their jobs amid shelter-in-place orders. Many mid-sized retailers do not qualify for government programs meant to save ailing companies and keep workers on payrolls.

The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small businesses, ran out of money on Thursday and lawmakers have been trying to replenish its coffers.

Democrats and Republicans were nearing a deal on Sunday that could inject an additional $370 billion into the loan program and other areas of need.

But Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday that the upper chamber will “regretfully” not be able to “pass more funding for Americans’ paychecks today.” He and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to another session Tuesday. The House could take up the funding bill on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he plans to use the Defense Production Act to increase the nation’s swab production by at least 20 million per month for coronavirus tests. Several companies have already stepped up to manufacture much-needed goods.

Task force members include Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar; Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus response coordinator; and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.

The outbreak has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 2.4 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 166,794 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 761,900 cases in the United States and at least 40,724 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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