As the coronavirus outbreak continues to ravage the US, with more than 55,000 people now diagnosed to have contracted the virus and more than 800 dead, Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana.
The US Senate has finally agreed a massive bipartisan $2trn (£1.7trn) stimulus package with the White House to boost the country’s economy in response to the deadly contagion, the bill providing tax rebates, four months expanded unemployment benefits and a slew of business tax-relief provisions.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that checks to Americans could be sent out within three weeks.
President Trump is meanwhile under fire for suggesting hat he hopes to have America open for business again by Easter, a deadline denounced by everyone from Democratic 2020 front-runner Joe Biden to state governors. Congresswoman Donna Shalala called his aim “dangerous and immoral”.
The president doubled down on that timeline at a Thursday briefing, saying "it's time" for Americans to get back to work.
He also lashed out at the media, suggesting the press conspired to extend quarantines to prevent his re-election.
During a White House briefing on the state of the pandemic response, he called out "fake news" and said that if it wasn't for him and his administration, "you wouldn't even have a country left."
He suggested that his Easter timeline might instead apply to "sections" of the country, while his top health official Anthony Fauci warned of the inevitability of a second wave of the virus unless proper protocal is followed, based on projections in other countries that have already endured cycles of the virus.
The president said: "Our country was built to get back to work. We don't have a country where they say, 'Hey, let's close it down for two years.' We can't do that. It's not our country."
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