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Members of the coronavirus task force are expected to hold a press briefing Tuesday as officials across the federal, state and local levels rally to provide economic relief to Americans while also curbing the spread of the virus.
A fund to help struggling small businesses ran out of money last week, but the Senate on Tuesday struck a bipartisan deal to replenish the funds, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The $484 billion coronavirus relief package also includes money for hospitals and testing.
The Senate voted to pass the bill Tuesday. It now moves to the House for a vote.
There’s also talk of an international response. U.S President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed on the need for a coordinated international response to the pandemic, Downing Street said in a statement.
“The leaders committed to continue working together to strengthen our bilateral relationship, including by signing a free trade agreement as soon as possible,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
Still, some hard-hit areas in the U.S. are facing insufficient resources to deal with the outbreak. New York’s unemployment website “collapsed” following a record surge in claims after the state shuttered nonessential businesses to curb the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. The state now has 1,000 people working online and through its phone system to process the high volume of unemployment claims, he said.
“It’s unbelievable,” Cuomo said. “One thousand people just to take the incoming unemployment calls. That’s how high the volume is and they still can’t keep up with the volume.”
Meanwhile, the toll of the pandemic continues to mount. The actual number of coronavirus cases in the United States is likely significantly higher — as much 10 or even 20 times higher — than the tally of Covid-19 infections currently being reported, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former top federal health official said Tuesday during an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “There’s certainly under-diagnosis going on.”
Task force members include Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar; Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus response coordinator; and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.
The outbreak has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 2.5 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 171,810 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 788,900 cases in the United States and at least 42,485 deaths, according to the latest tallies.