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, The Associated Press reported.
A day after he sought to minimize fears of the virus spreading widely across the U.S., 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 traveled on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, health officials said Wednesday. The new cases bring the U.S. 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”.
The White House said Wednesday that it had faith in Azar and was not considering appointing a virus czar.
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 U.S.
The count includes 14 people who traveled 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.