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Takeaways From Trump, White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

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President Donald Trump takes a question during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 18, 2020. Trump ordered the suspension of evictions and mortgage foreclosures for six weeks as part of the government effort
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President Donald Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing today to share updates on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of the key announcements President Trump and task force officials made:

  • Trump will invoke the Defense Production Act, which gives the president several powers in the interest of national defense. It was originally passed in 1950 as part of the Cold War effort. For one, it requires businesses to contract with the government to provide necessary services, materials, goods, on the order of the president. It also prohibits hoarding for the purpose of price gouging of any materials the president deems to be scarce. (Note: Trump later tweeted that he signed the act but added that it was in case it needed to be invoked in a future worst-case scenario.)
  • FEMA has been activated in every region at Level 1, the “highest level,” Trump said.
  • Two Navy medical ships, Comfort and Mercy, are being readied for deployment and "can be launched over the next week or so, depending on need," the president said.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April, the president said.
  • The government is looking into changing the coronavirus testing process to move to self-swabbing. Trump said the current testing process is "not very nice to do, I can tell you, ‘cause I did it."
  • Vice President Mike Pence announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a regulation to allow doctors and other medical professionals to practice across state lines "to meet the needs of hospitals that may arise in adjoining areas."
  • Pence also said the goverment is asking that doctors and hospitals nationwide delay elective procedures "to ensure that medical supplies and medical capacity go where they're needed most."
  • Dr. Deborah Birx said there may be a "disproportional number of infections" among millenials. She previously said millenials were "the core group that will stop this virus."
  • Trump was asked about comments reportedly made by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that unemployment could reach 20% without intervention from the government. The president said he didn’t agree with those comments, calling it the “absolute total worst-case scenario.”
  • Trump said he planned to hold a second press conference to discuss FDA-related news.

The president announced on Twitter earlier this morning that the U.S.-Canada border will be temporarily closed to "non-essential traffic," but said it would not affect trade.

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You can watch the full press briefing below (it begins at the 1:04:00 mark):

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