Coronavirus task force holds briefing


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Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing Wednesday to address the growing pandemic in the United States.

White House officials are currently projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. with coronavirus fatalities peaking over the next two weeks.

On Friday, Trump signed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to aid in the response to the coronavirus. The package offers relief to individuals, businesses and health facilities. It includes direct payments to individuals, stronger unemployment insurance, loans and grants to businesses and more health-care resources for hospitals, states and municipalities.

Since then, House Democrats have begun outlining another relief package to combat unemployment and aid a healthcare system overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. While Republicans have not expressed enthusiasm for a so-called “4th phase” bill, Trump said on Tuesday that he wants to restart talks on a massive infrastructure package.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday signaled that she would be on board with an infrastructure deal and will push that plan after the chamber’s April 20 return. “I think we come back April 20, God willing and coronavirus willing, but shortly thereafter we should be able to move forward,” she said.

Trump initially downplayed the outbreak’s impact but has since changed his tune. On Sunday, Trump extended federal social distancing guidelines to April 30, after suggesting at least parts of the country could be reopened by Easter.

Trump said his administration was extending the guidelines to reduce a U.S. death toll that could rise into the millions if drastic measures aren’t taken.

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

The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 911,300 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 45,400 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 200,000 cases in the United States and at least 4,400 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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