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Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force hold a press briefing Friday at the White House as authorities on the local and state levels take drastic measures to slow the spread of the disease.
On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order for all residents to ‘stay at home’ until further notice. On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered non-essential businesses to keep 100% of their workforce at home as coronavirus cases across the state surged by 2,950 overnight to 7,102.
The outbreak has been expanding rapidly in the United States and roiling markets. Trump’s administration is now looking to Congress to pass a $1 trillion plus stimulus plan to mitigate the economic damage, with $550 billion earmarked for direct payments to Americans. Hard hit industries and small businesses are also expected to get relief.
The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to expand paid leave and unemployment insurance for people affected by the coronavirus. Trump later signed the bill into law.
Trump initially downplayed the impact of the outbreak but has since changed his tune. Last Friday, he declared a national emergency, a move that freed up financial resources to assist Americans affected by the health crisis. Even so, critically needed testing has been slow to roll out.
Health officials for weeks have been urging Americans to take strong precautions as coronavirus cases multiply. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic last week, saying it expects “to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.”
Task force members include Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci and Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, among others.
The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 245,000 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 10,031 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 14,250 cases in the United States and at least 205 deaths, according to the latest tallies.