Coronavirus task force holds briefing as pandemic spreads

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Members of the coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing Thursday, in what has become a daily affair, amid signs that the curve is flattening in some hard-hit areas.

Following the roll-out of the $2 trillion economic stimulus plan in response to the outbreak, congressional leaders began mulling options for additional funding to aid newly unemployed people and small businesses. But Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican push to unanimously pass a bill to put $250 billion more into a loan program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

It is unclear whether Republicans and Democrats will try to reach agreement on emergency legislation to pass in the coming days. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated she could try to pass a Democratic bill on Friday — which Republicans can likely block with most representatives out of Washington.

A new study found that the coronavirus could put between 420 million and 580 million more people, or 8% of the global population, in poverty.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence’s office is barring top public health officials from appearing on CNN until the network agrees to carry the daily White House coronavirus briefings in their entirety, instead of breaking away after the president is done speaking, the network said it was told.

Task force members include 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 1.5 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 89,931 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 332,500 cases in the United States and at least 14,830 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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