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Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force hold a press briefing Monday at the White House as authorities on the local and state levels continue taking drastic measures to slow the spread of the disease.
The outbreak has been expanding rapidly in the United States and roiling markets.
Trump on Sunday announced that he has activated the National Guard in California, New York and Washington state in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, Trump unleashed dozens of tweets spreading conspiracy theories about the outbreak, chastising the World Health Organization for its early messaging, attacking his political enemies and the media, and promoting a dubious article that suggested a miracle cure was at hand. He also suggested he wants to loosen guidelines put in place to stem the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, groups representing U.S. mayors, county executives and first responders sent a letter to Trump begging him to employ the Defense Production Act to help them get desperately needed protective gear.
Trump initially downplayed the impact of the outbreak but has since changed his tune. Earlier this month, 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. Earlier this month, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic, 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 367,400 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 16,100 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 41,500 cases in the United States and at least 499 deaths, according to the latest tallies.