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Members of the coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing on Friday, hours after President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package into law that contains funding for small business along with aid for hospitals and Covid-19 testing.
The measure puts $370 billion into aid for small businesses trying to keep employees on the payroll as they temporarily shutter to try to slow Covid-19′s spread. It grants $75 billion to hospitals struggling to cover costs during the crisis, and $25 billion for efforts to ramp up testing for the disease.
The additional funds come as state and local governments reeling from lost tax revenues are warning of a wave of layoffs after getting left out of the package. Claims for unemployment benefits are surging, with Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia among the states with the most concentrated spikes in jobless claims since mid-March, when employers began mass layoffs and furloughs.
But despite efforts to curb the virus, the World Health Organization said the pandemic will be a long-term problem, as cases level off or decline in some countries, peak in others and resurge in areas where it appeared to be under control.
“Make no mistake, we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Officials at the federal, state and local levels have been responding to the outbreak, issuing guidance to avoid spreading and contracting the virus. The White House initially downplayed the outbreak, but has since changed its tune. At times, the president and health officials at the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have appeared unaligned on their message to the public.
As recently as Friday, Trump attempted to walk back his dangerous and unfounded speculation about whether injecting disinfectants can help to treat Covid-19, telling reporters that his comments were sarcastic. After his remarks on Thursday night, experts, health officials and the maker of Lysol, a household disinfectant brand, urged Americans not to attempt to inject or consume the cleaning product.
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 2.7 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 192,125 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 870,400 cases in the United States and at least 50,031 deaths, according to the latest tallies.
— CNBC’s Tucker Higgins and Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.
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