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WATCH LIVE: WH Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

President Trump updated what he calls the “Chinese Virus” from the White House. He announced that he is invoking the “Defense Production Act.” The act would help expedite U.S. production of medical equipment. The Defense Production Act (Pub.L. 81–774) is a United States federal law enacted on September 8, 1950, in response to the start of the Korean War.

DOD announced that hospital ships “Mercy” and “Comfort” will be deployed to help treat the sick. Trump also called the coronavirus the “invisible virus” and expressed optimism that it could be defeated sooner than is expected. Trump announced that the U.S. Housing Department is suspending foreclosures and evictions through April. Dr. Deborah Birx repeated a call to young people to heed the dire warnings about the outbreak. She said large gatherings should be avoided. Birx is a top member of the White House coronavirus task force. Trump said he views himself as a “wartime president” as the U.S. fights the coronavirus crisis. The president said a “self-swabbing” COVID-19 test will be made available to the public soon. White House coronavirus taskforce officials expect to see the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. to rise dramatically. Trump said his administration has inherited “a very obsolete system” which was never meant to handle the quantity and volume this virus presents. Dr. Deborah Birx said they are bringing the private sector to the table to maximize the number of tests that can be processed in a single day. She said Americans see the number of cases in the U.S. rise dramatically increase over the next 4-to-5 days because the testing is speeding up. The President announced that more ventilators have been ordered to add to an existing stockpile of about 10,000 machines that are currently available.

Also, the Treasury Department is proposing $250-billion in direct payments to Americans, starting April 6th. Another round of $250-billion would start on May 18th. As the coronavirus crisis hammers the U.S. economy, the stimulus package would be a tiered payment system based on income level and family size. The stimulus include 200-billion-dollars in aid to industries, including $50-billion for the struggling airline industry.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is below 20-thousand, a fall of nearly ten-thousand points since it was flirting with crossing the 30-thousand mark for the first time last month. The Dow was down more than 13-hundred points in early trading. All three major stock indexes are down around five or six percent on the day. Italy is under full coronavirus lockdown.