Breakdown: Coronavirus Task Force’s Briefing March 20, 2020
President Donald Trump

Breakdown: Coronavirus Task Force’s Briefing March 20, 2020

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President Donald Trump and members of his Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing on the coronavirus at the White House Friday morning

  • Trump announced the federal government has temporarily waived all interest on student loans and federally held student loan payments for at least 60 days. He added, “If we need more, we’ll extend that period of time.”
  • Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements for students in elementary through high school for the current year.
  • Trump confirmed that the tax deadline has been moved from April 15 to July 15, giving more Americans time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday in a tweet that the decision was ordered by the President.
  • Trump confirmed he had an “extremely good” call with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer regarding the Senate stimulus bill to bolster the economy by offering financial help to individuals and businesses.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed reports that the US has worked with Mexico to “restrict non-essential travels across our shared border.” On Wednesday, President Trump announced that the United States and Canada jointly agreed to restrict non essential traffic across the borders. The agreement between both Mexico and Canada goes into effect at midnight and excluding crossing the border unless for work or other essential reasons. People traveling for medical purposes, emergency response or public health services, those engaged in “lawful cross-border trade” and some others would be exempted.
  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary, Chad Wolf said that U.S. authorities would begin “immediately” turning back and deporting migrants who attempt to cross the border illegally. An order from the Centers for Disease Control directs DHS to suspend the introduction of “all individuals seeking to enter the U.S. without proper travel documentation.” The CDC director is exercising Title 42 protections and has determined that “the introduction and spread of the coronavirus to the department’s border patrol stations and detention facilities presents a serious danger to migrants, our frontline agents, officers and the American people.”
  • Trump expressed support for measures taken by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo in California and New York to address the coronavirus pandemic. California issued a state-wide lock down while New York mandated on Friday that 100% of all workers in non-essential businesses are required to stay home.
  • Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator discussed “concerning trends” she is seeing in reviewing the data across the globe. In Italy, where the number of deaths has surpassed, “the mortality in males seems to be twice in every age group of females.”
  • Trump said he is not considering a national lockdown order because he is “working with the governors and I don’t think we’ll ever find it necessary” as the virus has not impacted the Midwest in the same way that it has coastal states.
  • Vice President Mike Pence discussed the administration’s efforts to secure more masks for health care workers as well as more ventilators. He stated “a major procurement from the federal government of N95 masks” will be coming over the weekend and “new alternatives to increase the supply of ventilators” in an effort to “free up other ventilators” in use in the system.
  • Pompeo said US will “use all the tools we can” to get US citizens abroad home with some returning via commercial, private flights, as well as “some that will travel back other ways.”
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading infectious diseases expert said evidence that the malaria drug will work as an effective treatment for COVID-19 is “anecdotal” and needs more research.
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Mona Salama