The House approved legislation early Saturday to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared the outbreak a national emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight it, then threw his support behind the congressional aid package.
From the Rose Garden, Trump said, "I am officially declaring a national emergency," unleashing as much as $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the crisis.
Trump also announced a range of executive actions, including a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities with drive-through locations, as Washington tries to subdue the new virus whose spread is roiling markets, shuttering institutions and disrupting the lives of everyday Americans.
But he denied any responsibility for delays in making testing available as his administration has come under criticism for being too slow to respond.
Trump said, "I don't take responsibility at all" for the slow rollout of testing.
As the House prepared to vote late Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi trumpeted the hard-fought package that will provide free testing, sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits and bolstered food programs.
"We did what we said we were going to do: Put families first," said Pelosi, flanked by Democratic lawmakers, including many freshmen. The House passed the bill after midnight on a bipartisan vote, 363-40. It now goes to the Senate.
Trump's tweet of approval instilled fresh energy in the package, all but ensuring that wary Republicans would join with a robust vote.
"I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES!" Trump wrote, "Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!"
The crush of late-day activity capped a tumultuous week in Washington as the fast-moving virus left ordinary Americans suddenly navigating self-quarantines, school closures and a changed way of life.
The White House was under enormous pressure, dealing with the crisis on multiple fronts as it encroached ever closer on the president.
Trump has been known to flout public health advice — and was eagerly shaking hands during the more than hour-long afternoon event — but acknowledged he "most likely" will be tested soon after exposures to individuals who have tested positive for the virus. The White House physician indicated later his interactions were low-risk and testing is not necessary.
Still, Trump said officials don't want people taking the test unless they have certain symptoms. "We don't want people without symptoms to go and do that test," Trump said, adding, "It's totally unnecessary."
Additionally, Trump took a number of other actions to bolster energy markets, ease the financial burden for Americans with student loans and give medical professionals additional "flexibility" in treating patients during the public health crisis.
"Through a very collective action and shared sacrifice, national determination, we will overcome the threat of the virus," Trump said.
Central to the aid package from Congress, which builds on an emergency $8.3 billion measure approved last week, are the free testing, sick pay and family leave provisions.
Providing sick pay for workers is a crucial element of federal efforts to stop the rapid spread of the infection. Officials warn that the nation's healthcare system could quickly become overwhelmed with gravely sick patients, as suddenly happened in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus.
The ability to ensure paychecks will keep flowing — for people self-quarantining or caring for others — can help assure Americans they will not fall into financial hardship. The legislation also offers three months of paid family and medical leave. Small and mid-sized employers will be reimbursed through tax credits.
Pelosi negotiated the deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in days of around-the-clock negotiations with cross-town phone calls, even as Trump was speaking at the White House.
Voting in the Senate is not yet set, with senators out of town for the weekend. But Senate Leader Mitch McConnell canceled a plan recess week and senators were scheduled to return Monday. He said he expects most senators will want to "act swiftly."
Both Mnuchin and Pelosi, who said she did not speak directly to Trump during the negotiations, promised a third coronavirus package will follow soon, with more aggressive steps to boost the U.S. economy, which economists fear has already slipped into recession.
The financial markets closed on an upswing after one of the worst nosedives since the 1987 downturn.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to be over it.
Trump said he was gratified that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested negative for the virus, after the pair sat next to each other for an extended period of time last weekend at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club. A senior aide to Bolsonaro tested positive.
The White House physician said in a memo late Friday that Trump was also exposed to a second guest at the club dinner, "sharing the table with the president," who has since tested positive for the virus. Still despite the incidents, the physician said Trump had only "LOW risk" interactions and testing "is not currently indicated."
Trump's daugher, Ivanka Trump, worked from home Friday after meeting with Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, now in isolation at a hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus. White House spokesman Judd Deere said she was evaluated by the White House Medical Unit.
Attorney General William Barr, who also met with the Australian official, stayed home Friday, though he "felt great and wasn't showing any symptoms," according to his spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
Several lawmakers, including some close to Trump, have also been exposed to people who tested positive for the virus, and are self-isolating.
Among them are Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Rick Scott, who were at Trump's club on the weekend. Graham announced Friday that he also met with the Australian official who has now tested positive. And GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who had previously isolated himself after a potential exposure at a conservative conference in Washington, said Friday he met with a Spanish official and is now self-quarantining.
Hospitals welcomed Trump's emergency declaration, which they and lawmakers in Congress had been requesting. It allows the Health and Human Services Department to temporarily waive certain federal rules that can make it harder for hospitals and other health care facilities to respond to an emergency.
The American Medical Association said the emergency declaration would help ensure America's health care system has sufficient resources to properly respond to the ongoing outbreak.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, said more tests would be available over the next week, but warned, "We still have a long way to go."
President Donald Trump, a self-described germaphobe, can't seem to stop shaking hands -- even in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic.
Trump was surrounded by several retail and health care industry executives on Friday as he announced he was declaring the virus outbreak a national emergency.
One by one, the president invited them to the lectern at the Rose Garden press conference to say a few words. He also shook several of their hands.
Public health officials have told Americans to avoid handshakes, as a key social distancing measure, to try to limit the spread of the virus.
But Trump, who acknowledges he tried to avoid shaking hands before jumping into politics, now seems to have a hard time not putting his hand out for a greeting.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon appeared to be moving away from Trump after saying a few words. But then Trump put out his hand for a handshake and McMillon obliged.
Walgreens President Richard Ashworth and Trump shared a hearty handshake before he walked away. Thomas Moriarty, executive vice president at CVS Health, also gave the president a handshake.
Bruce Greenstein, executive vice president and chief strategy and innovation officer at in-home healthcare services company LHC Group, threw the president for a curve.
He extended his forearm for an elbow bump. Trump initially stuck out his hand but then shifted to accommodate.
"Okay, I like that," Trump said. "That's good."
The United States declared a state of emergency Friday as many European countries went on a war footing amid mounting deaths as the world mobilized to fight the widening coronavirus pandemic.
At the White House, where President Donald Trump made the emergency decree, drug company executives vowed to work together and with the government to quickly expand the country's coronavirus testing capabilities, which are far behind those in many countries.
"We will defeat this threat," Trump told a news conference. "When America is tested, America rises to the occasion."
While the aggressive spread of the virus in Europe, North America and the Middle East has dashed any hopes for quick containment, dozens of countries have imposed increasingly severe measures over the past couple days — shutting borders, expanding testing, closing school for tens of millions of children and ordering tens of thousands of businesses to close their doors — to try to face down the disease.
The U.S. emergency decree will open up $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak, said Trump, who also gave the secretary of health and human services emergency powers to waive federal regulations to give doctors and hospitals "flexibility" in treating patients.
As the U.S. struggles to slow the spread of the virus, the governors of six states — Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island and Washington – sought National Guard troops.
Trump's announcement came as tens of millions of students around the world faced weeks without classes, security forces went on standby to guard against large gatherings, and bars, restaurants and offices closed.
While the new coronavirus can be deadly, particularly for the elderly and people with other health problems, for most people it causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some feel no symptoms at all and the vast majority of people recover.
But the spreading pandemic showed that power and influence offer no protection. Among those testing positive were the Canadian prime minister's wife, a top aide to Iran's supreme leader, Miami's mayor, a Brazilian official who met with Trump, and an Australian Cabinet minister who met with the U.S. attorney general and Trump's daughter, Ivanka.
Pressed by reporters, Trump, who also met with the Brazilian official, said he will "most likely" be tested for the virus "fairly soon," reversing an earlier White House statement.
Channeling wartime rhetoric and tactics in the face of a microscopic enemy, leaders appealed for solidarity to battle a threat that appeared to expand exponentially. They vowed to protect not just the sick, but those sacrificing their livelihoods and education for the greater good. But new border checks were also on the rise, showing that solidarity had its limits in the face of a fast-moving threat.
In Europe, stocks clawed back some of their losses with promises of financial support from the European Commission, France and Germany, while in the U.S., stocks surged after Trump's announcement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped nearly 2,000 points — its biggest point gain ever.
At the same time, new infections in Italy soared by more than 2,500 and virus-related deaths made their biggest single-day jump there, increasing by 250. In the three weeks since the country identified its first virus cluster, Italy has reached a total of 17,600 confirmed cases, with 1,266 deaths. The government has ordered an unprecedented lockdown, ordering businesses to close and restricting movement.
"Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic," said World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic."
New infections also rose sharply in Spain, and the government put 60,000 people in four towns on a mandatory lockdown Friday that echoed Italy's. In Madrid, which is struggling with nearly 2,000 infections, many in nursing homes, the government was pooling intensive care units and considering offers by hotel chains to transform rooms into sick wards.
In just 24 hours, the numbers of confirmed cases spiked ominously in some places: France saw an additional 800 cases to reach more than 3,600 by Friday; Britain went from 590 to 798 and New York state jumped 30 percent, hitting 421. In Africa, where experts warn that containment is key because of the continent's already-strained health care systems, six new countries confirmed infections.
Cases topped 1,700 across the U.S., where thousands of schools have been closed, concerts and sporting events canceled and even Broadway theaters shut down. Trump has halted his trademark political rallies, following the lead of Democratic rivals Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
The spread of the virus in Europe, North America and the Middle East has drawn contrasts with waning outbreaks in the hardest-hit nations in Asia. China, where the virus emerged late last year, still accounts for more than 60% of global infections but reported just eight new cases Friday and seven deaths.
In South Korea, which has had more than 8,000 cases overall, Friday marked the first day that recoveries outnumbered new infections. It reported another 107 cases Saturday.
In the U.S., hospitals were setting up circus-like triage tents, calling doctors out of retirement, guarding their supplies of face masks and making plans to cancel elective and non-emergency surgeries as they brace for an expected onslaught of coronavirus patients in the coming weeks.
Trump, who on Thursday ordered a 30-day travel ban for most foreign visitors coming to the U.S. from continental Europe, dismissed criticism that his administration has faced for the slow rollout of testing in the U.S., saying "I don't take responsibility at all" for the problem.
The public-private partnership that Trump announced at the White House will include drive-thru testing in some areas — something already being done in South Korea and Germany — and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested.
Late Friday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a deal with the Trump administration for an aid package that would provide free tests, sick pay for workers and bolster food programs. The U.S. House was poised to vote on the deal.
Across America, where millions of children depend on school lunches as their main meals, schools were cobbling together ways to keep kids fed, from distributing grand-and-go meal sacks to cafeterias that remained open even as classrooms closed.
In Italy, the town of Codogno, which had all but shut down hours after recording the country's first locally spread coronavirus infection, showed that changing habits do make a difference. New infections have slowed drastically there compared to the rest of Italy, where draconian measures came far later.
"More than a sigh of relief, there was some concern over the risk that all of the sacrifices were in vain," said Mayor Francesco Passerini.
New travel restrictions sprang up practically by the hour on Friday: Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Portugal, the Czech Republic — all started barring entry to Europeans considered at risk. Ukraine announced it would halt all passenger air traffic, Poland said anyone entering the country will be put under a 14-day quarantine, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia have stopped almost all movement in and out of their countries. The European Union urged member countries to put health screening procedures in place at their borders.
Canada and Denmark joined the U.S. in advising citizens to avoid trips abroad, and Americans in Europe caught increasingly rare trans-Atlantic flights back home.
President Donald Trump said Friday he will "most likely" be tested for the novel coronavirus, as questions swirled about why he, his top aides and his family weren't doing more to protect themselves and others after repeated exposure to COVID-19.
Trump has now had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have tested positive for the pandemic virus, which on Friday prompted him to declare a state of emergency as schools and workplaces across the country shuttered, flights were canceled and Americans braced for war against the threat.
Trump spent time last weekend at his private club in Florida with a top Brazilian official who later tested positive. And late Friday, news broke that a second person at Mar-a-Lago — who attended a fundraiser with Trump Sunday — tested positive, according to two Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private health matters. Several top administration officials, including Attorney General William Barr and Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, met last week with an Australian Cabinet minister who on Friday was confirmed positive.
Multiple lawmakers and citizens across the country who have had the same degree of exposure have opted to voluntarily quarantine themselves and get tested out of an abundance of caution.
But Trump, who has long tried to minimize the threat posed by the virus, insisted Friday — contrary to the advice of many medical professionals — that he did not need to isolate himself because he wasn't exhibiting symptoms. He conceded that he would "most likely" submit to testing "fairly soon," but continued to flout public health officials' advice by repeatedly shaking with attendees hands during a Rose Garden press conference on efforts to combat the pandemic.
Even so, Trump told the nation, "All Americans have a role to play in defeating this virus."
"Anyone can be a carrier for the virus and risk transmission to older Americans and those with underlying health conditions," Trump said, adding, "We must take all precautions and be responsible for the actions that we take and that we see other people take."
The president, according to two people close to the White House, has been reluctant to take the test for fear it would project weakness or worry. Trump has wanted to appear in full control during the crisis, especially as he tries to calm stock markets amid historic drops, and has expressed concerns that taking personal steps could undermine that appearance.
Asked whether he was being selfish by refusing to isolate himself to avoid potentially infecting others and what advice he had for people who may be receiving contradictory messages, Trump said, "I think they have to listen to their doctors."
Trump spent time last weekend with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, who has tested positive for the virus. Wajngarten posed for a photo with Trump and attended a birthday party held for Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating the president's eldest son. Trump and multiple top administration officials were present.
The White House stressed that Trump "had almost no interactions" with Wajngarten while at Mar-a-Lago and therefore did "not require being tested at this time."
Republican officials declined to name the second person who had tested positive at the club and it was unclear how much time Trump had spent with that person.
In addition to his direct exposure, Trump has also had repeated contact with lawmakers who chose to isolate themselves after being exposed to people who later tested positive. That included Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who traveled aboard Air Force One with the president Monday and found out about the positive test mid-flight; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was working from home after spending time at Mar-a-Lago and attending his own meeting with Peter Dutton, Australia's Minister for Home Affairs; and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who also interacted with the Brazilian delegation.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Ivanka Trump, who met with Dutton, worked from home Friday "out of an abundance of caution," but said Dutton had been asymptomatic during their interaction, so the White House Medical Unit determined she was "exhibiting no symptoms and does not need to self-quarantine."
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said she'd received the same instructions, "in accordance with CDC guidance."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise those who have been in "close contact with a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19" to remain home and practice social distancing, but experts' guidance has been mixed when it comes to those who are not exhibiting symptoms.
People who are exposed to the virus don't show symptoms immediately; there is an incubation period of anywhere from two to 14 days. And the CDC is most concerned with close contact, which it defines as being coughed on or within about 6 feet of someone who is sick for a prolonged period of time. The CDC doesn't consider it risky to walk past someone with the virus or to be briefly in the same room with them.
Many doctors across the country, however, have been advising those with any exposure to take precautions. And Trump, who is 73, is considered to be at higher risk of developing serious complications because of his age.
The president should get tested, even if he is not exhibiting symptoms, said Stephen Morse, a Columbia University expert on the spread of diseases.
"Anyone who's infected is a risk of spreading it to other people," he said. "That can be true of people who are infected but don't have symptoms."
Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health who once served as the health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, said COVID-19 is "highly transmittable" and anyone who comes within six feet of someone who is infected could become infected and spread it, without even knowing they are sick.
"We are at a time of an international public health emergency," she said, so everybody should abide by public health guidelines, "no matter their position or their title."
Any administration official with known exposure, she said, "should follow the same guidance as anyone else" and be self-quarantining and monitoring their symptoms.
As for the president, she said, "in order to be the commander-in-chief of the country ... he needs to take care of himself."
The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus has endorsed Joe Biden for president, an influential nod of support that could bolster his 2020 Democratic campaign.
The endorsement by Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California on Friday is the latest testament of a growing coalescence of support for Biden's White House bid. Biden's campaign has seen a resurgence powered by black voters, who have helped cement his front-runner status after commanding wins in several recent primaries, including in South Carolina, in several Southern states and just this week in Michigan.
"It's very clear to me that he is the best person, not just to beat (President Donald) Trump, but he is the person to lead at this time," Bass said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think him having a long-standing history of working with African American communities, most notably in his own state but around the country, was qualitatively different from the other candidates."
Biden's progressive rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has performed well among younger and Latino voters, has struggled to garner support within the African American community. Black voters will continue to be a key demographic as both campaigns eye upcoming primary contests in states with large black populations, like Georgia.
Bass said she held off endorsing a candidate because two CBC members, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, were running for president. Booker and Harris have since dropped out and endorsed Biden, a former vice president and U.S. senator from Delaware.
The CBC as a whole is not officially endorsing a candidate, Bass said, but the majority of members have already announced support for Biden. The powerful group, created in 1971, is composed of most African American members of Congress, making up nearly 25% of the Democratic majority in the House. Of the 54-member group, 37 have endorsed Biden, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who has been credited with helping turn the tide for Biden with a big win in Clyburn's home state of South Carolina.
One member of the CBC, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, has endorsed Sanders.
Although Biden has strong support within the African American community, especially among older voters, concerns have been raised about his ability to energize young and progressive voters.
Bass, a progressive Democrat who is serving her fifth term in a congressional district that includes south Los Angeles and Culver City, said she believes Biden would be able to grow support among those groups, if he were to become the eventual nominee.
"As this race settles down, it is my job personally and the job of members of the Congressional Black Caucus to be extremely clear with people in our districts what is at stake here, and what is at stake is their future," Bass said. "It's a job that we've all been doing over the last 3 1/2 years, but we have to step it up."
Asked whether Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii should drop out of the race to unite the party before the Democratic National Convention, Bass said she believes the primary process needs to run its course and allow every voter the chance to weigh in.
"I would never be in a position to say, 'You need to drop out,'" Bass said. "I do think, though, that math is math."
She continued: "I think they have to do the soul searching and say, 'Why am I still doing this?' But I think that's an individual decision or a campaign decision."
Bass said she hopes, though, that the eventual nominee considers a person of color as his running mate.
"I think that a presidential candidate has got to choose somebody that they feel that they can trust, that they can work with," Bass said. "Now, having said that, I certainly hope it's a woman. I certainly hope it's a woman of color."