Coronavirus task force holds briefing


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Members of the coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing Friday hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for another bill expanding on the $2 trillion package Congress passed last week to limit the economic devastation brought on by the global pandemic.

On Thursday, Pelosi announced a new House select committee to oversee the Trump administration’s handling of that $2 trillion package that provides relief to individuals, businesses, health facilities and more.

Thursday also saw New York State’s biggest single-day increase in coronavirus-related deaths, as the outbreak shows no signs of slowing down.

President Donald Trump initially downplayed the outbreak’s impact but has since stepped up his administration’s response.

On Thursday, he invoked the Defense Production Act to force several companies to increase production of critically needed supplies, though most of them were already doing so. He also attacked 3M over its global distribution of respirator masks, prompting the company to warn that his demands to withhold goods from other nations in need could backfire.

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.

The White House recently predicted up to 240,000 U.S. fatalities from the pandemic.

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 globally, with more than 1,026,900 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 53,975 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 245,500 cases in the United States and at least 6,058 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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