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U.S. Coronavirus Cases Reach 3,600 as True Number of Infections Continues to be Unknown

HeadlineMar 16, 2020

Coronavirus cases in the United States have now topped 3,600, though the true number of cases remains unknown due to extremely limited testing — the actual number is believed to be far higher. President Trump held a press conference Sunday.

President Donald Trump: “Relax. We’re doing great. It all will pass.”

Minutes later, at the same press conference, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, appeared to contradict the president.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “As I’ve said many times, and I’ll repeat it: The worst is, yes, ahead for us.”

Trump declared a national emergency Friday after intense backlash to his response to the pandemic and the devastating shortage of tests. A reporter asked Trump if he accepted responsibility for the “lag” in testing.

President Donald Trump: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all, because we were given a — a set of circumstances, and we were given rules, regulations and specifications from a different time.”

A Politico reporter told NPR that Trump did not push for testing earlier on because he wanted to keep the official case numbers low. During his remarks Friday, which Trump delivered in the Rose Garden, Trump repeatedly shook hands with officials, and touched the microphone more than 30 times.

In the early hours of Saturday, the House passed an emergency coronavirus bill that was intended to help infected workers by mandating paid sick leave — but the bill only guarantees the paid leave to around 20% of American workers. The bill does not apply to companies with 500 or more employees, and workplaces with fewer than 50 employees can request a hardship exemption.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to expand Medicaid during the coronavirus outbreak, as was done during other crises such as after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 — or swine flu — outbreak.

The Trump administration proposed rules last summer that would loosen regulations around nursing homes, including doing away with a requirement that nursing homes employ at least one specialist in preventing infections. The coronavirus has killed 25 people associated with the Kirkland Life Care Center in Washington state, and dozens of employees were found to have the infection.

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