In a Monday coronavirus press briefing, President Donald Trump said that FEMA is distibuting 8 million N95 respirator masks and 13.3 million surgical masks, focusing on areas with the greatest need. The president also remarked that FEMA was receiving millions of mask donations.
The president also discussed an executive order that he signed that prohibited the hoarding of health and medical supplies, as well as targeting instances of price gouging.
"No items have been designated yet, and the Department of Justice is going to be working with HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] to identify cases where hoarding may be impeding the supply of health and medical resources needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic," Attorney General William Barr said.
"If you have a big supply of toilet paper at your house, this is not something you have to worry about," Barr said. "But if you're sitting on a warehouse with surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door."
Regarding the projected timeline regarding when the virus would be under control, the president remarked how it was unlikely that current social distancing guidelines would continue for months. The president also noted how he is not considering a new round of travel bans.
When noted by a journalist on how U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who tested positive for COVID-19 despite showing no major symptoms, would still be infecting others if he was not tested, Dr. Deborah Birx noted that if the senator had been following the broader prevention guidelines, such as social distancing and washing his hands, he wouldn't be infecting others.
In the briefing, there was also the discussion of progress for self-collected nasal swabs as a potential self-administered testing option for the novel coronavirus. Vice President also noted how Americans who are not showing symptoms do not need a test and how there had been breakthroughs in making a greater availability of ventilators.
The president also discussed how clinical trials would begin in New York on existing drugs that may be helpful in treating the virus including hydroxychlorquine.
"America will be open again and soon be open for business," the president proclaimed while reitering his desire for congress to put aside bipartisanship and pass a coronavirus relief package.
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The president reiterated that he wants Americans to get through this challenge, that normal life would return and our economy would rebound. "The sacrifice you are making at this time is saving lives," the president said, while also stating the need to protect the Asian American community.
When asked by a reporter on what he meant by this, the president noted how isn't going to let "nasty remarks" happen to the Asian community. President Trump has been previously criticized for referring to the novel coronavirus as the "Chinese virus."
Additionally, the president discussed how the federal government would recommend new protocols to help local economies to resume activity at the appropriate time. "Our country was not built to be shut down," the president said.
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Stocks fell about 3% on Wall Street Monday as Congress hit another roadblock in talks to inject nearly $2 trillion into the economy. Even an extraordinary flood of support from the Federal Reserve wasn’t enough to lift stocks, as frustration with Washington rises along with the number of coronavirus cases.
Another attempt to advance the aid bill on Capitol Hill failed in an afternoon vote. The plan would send checks to U.S. households and offer support for small businesses and the hard-hit travel industry, among other things, but Democrats say it too heavily favors corporations at the expense of public health and workers.
As Congress was locked in stalemate, the number of known infections worldwide jumped past 350,000. After just a few weeks, the United States has more than 35,000 cases and more than 400 deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.