Confronting twin health and economic crises, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he will invoke emergency powers to marshal critical medical supplies against a coronavirus pandemic threatening to overwhelm hospitals and other treatment centres.
The Senate acted on the economic front, approving legislation to guarantee sick leave to workers sickened by the disease.
Trump described himself as a “wartime president” as virus cases surged and the markets fell, and he took a series of extraordinary steps to steady a battered nation, its day-to-day life fundamentally altered.
Most immediately, Trump said he would employ the Defence Production Act as needed, giving the government more power to steer production by private companies and try to overcome shortages in masks, ventilators and other supplies.
Trump also said he will expand the nation’s testing capacity and deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York City, which is rapidly becoming an epicentre of the pandemic, and another such ship to the West Coast.
The Housing and Urban Development Department will suspend foreclosures and evictions through April. A growing number of Americans face losing jobs and missing rent and mortgage payments.
But as Trump laid out efforts to steady the economy, the markets plummeted. Gone were the last of the gains that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had made since Trump took office.
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