Sun | Apr 5, 2020

Trump to detail US coronavirus efforts

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 2:47 PM
President Donald Trump, and first lady Melania Trump, step off Air Force One upon arrival, Wednesday, February 26, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump is returning from India. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump pushed back Wednesday against criticism that his administration isn’t doing enough to meet the coronavirus threat, as lawmakers called for giving disease fighters much more money than the $2.5 billion the White House has requested.

A day after he sought to minimise fears of the virus spreading widely across the US, Trump prepared to hold a White House press conference with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, two new coronavirus cases have been reported in Americans who had travelled on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, health officials said Wednesday.

The new cases bring the US tally to 59.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the CDC, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and others in the administration are “doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus!” and accused some news outlets of “panicking markets.”

On Capitol Hill, senior lawmakers called for a bipartisan spending package that would give federal, state and local officials more resources.

Congress in recent years took a similar approach with the opioid epidemic, pumping out federal dollars for treatment and prevention. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York unveiled an $8.5 billion coronavirus proposal.

Trump and members of his administration have been sending mixed messages about the virus.

The CDC on Tuesday warned the American public to prepare for an outbreak of the disease, which has spawned more than 80,000 cases around the world but relatively few so far in the US.

The count includes 14 people who travelled back from outbreak areas in China, or their spouses; three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan; and 42 Americans, passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the federal government to the U.S. from where the ship was docked in Japan.

But before he flew home from India on Tuesday, Trump said the coronavirus situation is “very well under control in our country.”

The administration has asked Congress for an additional $2.5 billion to speed development of a vaccine, support preparedness and response activities, and to gather needed equipment and supplies.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have questioned whether that request is sufficient.

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