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Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force hold a press briefing Wednesday 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 as the economy has ground to a halt amid restrictive measures meant to contain the virus.
The White House and Senate leaders reached a deal early Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion relief bill — said to be the largest rescue package in American history — to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
But as of Wednesday afternoon the Senate was still drafting the final details of the text and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle threatened to hold up the deal.
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.
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, with more than 441,100 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 20,499 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 55,568 cases in the United States and at least 609 deaths, according to the latest tallies.