WASHINGTON — With 227 cases and 14 deaths reported in the United States, President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion spending package Friday aimed at combating the novel coronavirus.
Trump signed the spending package the day after it cleared the Senate in a near-unanimous vote. The spending deal includes $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $3.1 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund that will go toward developing vaccines and treatments and helping prepare health systems to respond to the outbreak.
Beyond the money aimed at stopping and treating the virus, the package allows the Small Business Administration to hand out $1 billion in loan subsidies to small businesses and other organizations that have seen a financial hit from the virus.
The $8.3 billion spending package far outpaces the Trump administration’s $2.5 billion request and came after negotiations between House and Senate appropriators.
“We’re doing very well, but it’s an unforeseen problem,” Trump said at the White House after signing the package. “What a problem. It came out of nowhere, and we’re taking care of it.”
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters at the bill-signing that the CDC has provided all of the coronavirus tests requested by California and Washington, two of the states the virus has hit hardest.
He said the agency has in total shipped enough tests to public health facilities for 75,000 people, and that a private company contracted to send out tests to the private sector has sent enough to test 700,000. By next week, the U.S. will have capacity to test up to 4 million people, Azar said.
The United States is up to 227 reported cases and 14 deaths from the virus, which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, mostly in China where the outbreak began.
Trump had been scheduled to visit the CDC on Friday, but the White House abruptly put off the trip. Trump explained Friday he delayed the visit because someone at the center was being tested for coronavirus and that the trip may be back on after the test comes back negative.
More References & Resources
Always check with trusted sources for the latest accurate information about COVID-19:
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
California Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization
City of Santa Clarita
LA County residents can also call 2-1-1.
— By Tim Ryan