Coronavirus task force holds briefing


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Members of the coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing Thursday as global cases cross the 1 million mark, according to Johns Hopkins University.

At the briefing, President Donald Trump is expected to urge Americans to wear face coverings to stop the spread of the virus, Reuters reported.

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

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday announced a new House select committee to oversee the Trump administration’s handling of the $2 trillion package signed into law last week to stem the economic damage of the coronavirus outbreak.

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

Since then, there has been talk of a “phase 4” deal to address the crisis. Trump said on Tuesday that he wants to restart talks on a massive infrastructure package to help get Americans back to work. Pelosi on Wednesday signaled that she would be on board with an infrastructure deal and will push her own 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 stepped up his administration’s response. On Sunday, Trump extended federal social distancing guidelines to April 30, after previously suggesting at least parts of the country could be reopened by Easter. In recent days the outbreak has intensified in areas around the nation including New York City and New Orleans.

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 965,246 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 49,180 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 217,263 cases in the United States and at least 5,137 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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