President Donald Trump makes remarks to the media in the Capitol after attending the Senate Republican Policy luncheon on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
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President Donald Trump has summoned top U.S. health officials to an emergency meeting at the White House Wednesday morning, cutting a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill short, said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“This morning we were informed that President Trump and Vice President Pence have called our witnesses to an emergency meeting at the White House. We don’t know the details, just that it’s extremely urgent,” Maloney, D-NY, said before opening a hearing on the nation’s preparedness and response to the coronavirus outbreak that has swept across the nation.
Maloney said the witnesses needed to leave by 11:45 a.m. ET, significantly cutting short lawmakers’ opening statements so they could get to the questions and answers before the witnesses had to leave.
Speakers include Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and Terry Rauch, director of the defense medical research and development program for the National Institute of Health. Dr. Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response for the Department of Health and Human Services, is also scheduled to testify along with Chris Currie, the director of emergency management and national preparedness for the Government Accountability Office.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to CNBC”s request for comment.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. At least 29 people in the U.S. have died after contracting the virus. Almost half of all U.S. cases are in Washington state, California and New York, where the governors have all declared states of emergency to free up funding.
Globally, there are more than 119,000 confirmed cases and at least 4,291 deaths, according to JHU.
Trump and the White House have been trying to put together an economic stimulus plan to counteract the impact from the outbreak. After a 2,000-point drop by the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday, the Dow bounced back somewhat Tuesday, rising 1,000 points late in the trading session. The Dow was down about 850 points in intraday trading Wednesday.
The COVID-19 epidemic, which began in China a little over two months ago, has not yet met world health officials’ designation of a global pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the WHO hasn’t declared a pandemic in part because most cases of COVID-19 were still traced to known contacts or clusters of cases, and there wasn’t any “evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities.”
—CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.