Coronavirus task force holds briefing

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Members of the coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing Monday, after the daily total new deaths in New York, the state hit hardest by the outbreak, appeared to flatten two days in a row.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been vocal about the state’s need for ventilators and other respiratory and medical equipment to combat the virus. He said he will ask President Donald Trump to allow the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort to be used to treat patients with the coronavirus, to relieve pressure on New York City’s hospital system.

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 has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 1.3 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 72,638 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 347,003 cases in the United States and at least 10,335 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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