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With 100 Million Americans Ordered to Stay Home, President Acts as Congress Stalls on Covid-19 Response

President Donald Trump speaks during press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Coronavirus cases have surged across America 10-fold in one week with infections now topping 32,000.

The state of New York is the hardest hit with 5% of the world's Covid-19 cases. 

President Trump has announced he's activating the National Guard in New York and in the states of Washington and California. Also, he's directing FEMA to create medical stations in those states.

Despite the administration’s response there, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) on ABC's This Week, said her state needs more test kits and better leadership from the federal government.

"Frankly, a patchwork strategy by each state doing what they can, you know we are going to do it if we have to, but it would be nice to have a national strategy," Whitmer insisted.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is more supportive of the federal response. On CBS's Face the Nation, he said the United States is not necessarily on the same trajectory as Italy where the death toll rose 13.5% Sunday with another 651 dead in one day. 

"One of the things that we did very early and very aggressively was the president put these travel restrictions coming from China to the United States and most recently from Europe to the United States," Fauci explained.

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On Capitol Hill, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) became the first US senator to announce he's in quarantine after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) also went into quarantine after coming in contact with Paul. In the House, at least 12 members are now in quarantine--two with the virus and others who came in contact with people having the virus.

Meanwhile, negotiations have stalled over the proposed $2 trillion Coronavirus Economic Relief Package. Republicans and Democrats are far apart on key elements of the plan, including a $500 billion relief fund for corporations.

"And what it has, for instance, is a giant, giant corporate bailout fund with no accountability," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Another key element is an amendment by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) to increase the charitable giving deduction up to one-third of the standard deduction for the rest of the year.

"We're fiddling here, fiddling with the emotions of the people, fiddling with the markets," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

President Trump wants a vote on legislation this week because unemployment rolls are growing rapidly. Non-essential workers in nine states, nearly 100 million people, have been ordered to stay home. 

"Our goal is to get relief to Americans as quickly as possible so that families can get by and small businesses can keep workers on the payroll. This will help our economy. And you will see our economy skyrocket," the president insisted.

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence and HUD Secretary Ben Carson joined the president in a conference call with hundreds of pastors. President Trump asked the pastors and other Americans to pray for the health and strength of the country.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins led them in prayer.

"We do pray for the American people. We pray for their health and well-being," Perkins prayed. "We pray for the economy, but Lord we pray most of all as a nation that we would turn back to you and we pray for our leadership that Lord they would lead us in that direction." 


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