STATEWIDE — President Trump said on Wednesday he is doing all he can to help pull New York City through its coronavirus outbreak, which he referred to as the biggest problem thus far in the entire crisis.
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To that end, the President provided an updated on shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile, saying they're sending out 6,000 ventilators, 4,000 of which are being sent to New York.
Also, the President pointed out that the federal government is building four hospitals, including one at the Javits Center and four medical centers in New York.
Other announcements during the White House's daily coronavirus briefing:
The President confirmed he has made major disaster declarations for New York, California, Washington State, Iowa, Texas and Florida.
Trump said Democrats and Republicans are very close to a deal on the emergency relief bill, which he said includes sick leave and "all sorts of things for the workers and families." He called the package bigger than anything that had ever been passed by Congress before.
However, the President also said it would put strict limits on how the money to corporations can be spent: no stock buybacks, no executive compensation which, he claimed, he insisted on.
Elaborating on some of the particulars of the bill, Trump listed $300B in money that will go directly to people and families.
The President continued to say he wants the country to open by Easter, attacking a reporter who asked why he picked that date, saying the media wants to stop him from opening the government in order to defeat him at the polls.
Trump said he's spending a lot of time talking to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who he says agrees with the way he's using the Defense Production Act as leverage.
Turning to the subject of testing, the President said the U.S. is doing more testing than anyone in the world, even more than South Korea. While he praised South Korea, saying they were "doing a great job," he said the U.S. tested more people in eight days than South Korea did in eight weeks.
Trump also said he spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to congratulate him for moving the Olympics, which will be held in an odd year. He said they were always held in even years, he's "been told."
At one point in the briefing, Trump attacked the European Union, saying they will not allow U.S. made medical equipment to be sold there because of "specifications" which, he said, were designed to keep American products out and claiming the people who take the most advantage of the United States are its "allies."
White House Declares Florida a Major Disaster Area, sending more federal funding to state
President Donald Trump on Wednesday approved Gov. Ron DeSantis' request for the state of Florida to be declared a major disaster, opening the door to more federal assistance as the state and nation grapple with an unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.
"The President’s action makes Federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of Florida," the White House declaration says. "Federal funding is also available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the State of Florida impacted by COVID-19."
Charter Communications has temporarily opened its live stream free to the public. You can watch Spectrum News via our live stream on your desktop or laptop without a subscription by visiting our website and clicking “Watch Live” in the upper right. Charter also is temporarily offering free broadband and wifi access for 60 days to families with K-12 or college students. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395. The company also will open more than half a million wifi hotspots across the country.
Earlier, the Senate and the White House agreed to a $2 trillion stimulus package, meaning many Americans will be getting money to help during the coronavirus outbreak.
Top White House aide Eric Ueland announced the agreement in a Capitol hallway shortly after midnight, capping days of often intense haggling and mounting pressure. It still needs to be finalized in detailed legislative language.
The breakdown looks like this:
- $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families
- $350 billion in small business loans
- $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits
- $500 billion in loans for distressed companies
This is one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures in the history of Congress. The House must sign off on this, but that will happen, says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is also happy with the deal.
It is just a matter of how and when. Most representatives are not in DC right now. So if there is any objection to unanimous consent, it would require the full House to return to Capitol Hill and pass the bill.
At the White House on Tuesday, even as the public-health crisis deepened, President Donald Trump expressed eagerness to nudge many people back to work in coming weeks and held out a prospect, based more on hope than science, that the country could be returning to normal in less than a month.
"We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought," Trump told a Fox News town hall. He said he’d like to have the country "opened up and just raring to go" by Easter, April 12. But in a White House briefing later, Trump said that “our decision will be based on hard facts and data."
Medical professionals say social distancing needs to be stepped up, not relaxed, to slow the spread of infections.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said pointedly at the briefing, "No one is going to want to tone down anything when you see what is going on in a place like New York City."
Although DeSantis has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order, a growing number of Florida municipalities have gone ahead and made the directive at local levels.
Starting 11 p.m. Thursday night, Orange County residents will be under such an order. The mandate was announced by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings on Tuesday. The emergency order lasts for at least two weeks, April 9, and it excludes businesses the county considers essential like grocery stores, gas stations, and banks.
A Pinellas County "safer at home" directive was issued Wednesday. Here is what that means for residents and businesses.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman was critical of the move, saying something stronger was warranted, but said his city will comply for now while monitoring street traffic.
The issue of "safer at home" as it relates to the coronavirus is still up in the air in Hillsborough County.
Officials want people to stay home for the most part, but if you do go out, practice social distancing.
“You will still be able to move about as long as you’re 6 feet apart from another," said Tampa mayor Jane Castor.
The second part of the directive, which could be voted on Thursday, is a 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. curfew Monday-Friday and 24 hours on the weekends.
A new coronavirus testing site opened in Tampa on Wednesday at Raymond James Stadium. People who have been prescreened and have an appointment can drive up beginning at 8 a.m. for a free test. County health officials wanted the site opened earlier but had to wait for needed supplies from the state, including gloves, masks and face shields.
Also in Orlando, the Orange County Convention Center’s north concourse parking lot opened to a long line of cars Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.