US news: Trump tells Americans to ‘enjoy their living rooms’ and says army may assist states battling deadly pandemic
Donald Trump encouraged Americans to self-isolate and “enjoy their living room” as the country battled to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 4,500 confirmed cases nationwide and at least 95 deaths.
The president told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday that his administration was considering providing US military assistance to states battling severe outbreaks of the new coronavirus, as New York and California announced major shutdowns for some of the largest cities in the country. His administration also said it was considering sending checks to all Americans in an effort to slow the economic downturn seen in recent days as the pandemic moved society to a screeching halt nationwide.
The House of Representatives meanwhile passed an emergency relief package late on Monday, which now moves on to the Senate, as the government seeks $850bn (£704bn) to battle the disaster. The latest developments come as three states across the country hold their Democratic primaries, with several others delaying their votes due to the pandemic.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper also said on Tuesday that the Pentagon will provide civilian health authorities with five million respirator masks and 2,000 specialized ventilators to help in a national response to the pandemic.
Mr Esper told Pentagon reporters that the ventilators are designed for use by deployed troops and the military will need to train civilians on how to use them. He said some may have “single-use” limitations. And he said the first million respirator masks will be made available immediately.
US officials have talked about the shortage of ventilators to help treat patients with the virus.
Mr Esper stressed that although the Defence Department is prepared to help civilian authorities in any way possible, there are limitations to the assistance and trade-offs that must be considered. “We want to be the last resort”, he said, adding that the first line of defense in fighting the virus should be state and local authorities.
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