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'We Have the Best People in the World': Trump Names Pence to Lead US Response to Coronavirus Threat

02-26-2020
Trump

ABOVE: Watch President Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force's news conference held Wednesday at the White House.

The Trump administration is moving to calm fears after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Americans about the potential spread of the coronavirus. 

President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the U.S. is “very, very ready” for whatever the coronavirus threat brings, and he put his vice president in charge of overseeing the nation's response.

Trump sought to minimize fears of the virus spreading widely across the U.S. But he said he was ready to spend “whatever's appropriate,” even if that meant the extra billions of dollars that Democrats have said is necessary to beef up the U.S. response. Trump had told Congress earlier this week that the government needed to spend $2.5 billion to fight the virus.

“We're very, very ready for this, for anything,” even if it's “a breakout of larger proportions,” Trump told a news conference at the White House.

Vice President Mike Pence will be working with the government's top health authorities, and Trump's earlier-appointed coronavirus task force, to oversee the response.

The CDC has also created a website to keep the public informed

Health officials say it's not a question of "if" the virus will spread but a matter of "when."

President Trump insists the US is well-prepared for any outbreak and is now considering appointing a coronavirus czar to coordinate any response. 

With a vaccine still months away, lawmakers are looking at other options to stop the spread of the virus. 

"You've heard of homeland security. Do we have enough respirators or not?," asked Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-LA).

The government says they need around 300 million masks and respirators.  But the 3M factory in South Dakota making them can't keep up with the demand. 

"This is not the time to shortchange the American people," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).

The virus has spread to at least 8 nations in Europe and Brazil now has its first confirmed case.

Health officials believe containing the virus within borders will be difficult following a spike in Italy, Iran, and South Korea.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the threat to the US from coronavirus "remains low."

This as the White House seeks billions in emergency funding to combat the virus.

"What he is doing is late, too late," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). "Hopefully we can make up for the loss of time."

"It has been relatively contained in the United States, very few cases but people worry about the worst-case scenario what if we start seeing thousands of cases in the US, what impact would this have?" asked The Heritage Foundation's Stephen Moore. 

Economist Moore says China's economy has been crushed over the virus and he's hearing reports it's performance could have receded by 10 percent in just the first quarter of this year.  

The stock market followed Monday's drop with another plunge of 900 points Tuesday, resulting in a loss of $1.7 trillion in value over the last two days.

"There is a lot of spooked investors out there," Moore told CBN News. "We've seen about a 7 to 8 percent decline in stocks since the coronavirus first emerged. My own feeling is that once this does get contained stocks are going to bounce back, but we just don't know how long this will last." 

Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for an additional $6 billion to combat the outbreak. But the White House is sticking firm with its $2.5 billion request to pay for vaccines, treatment, and protective equipment. 

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