Trump tweets US and Canada closing border; massive stimulus package in development

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that by “mutual consent” the U.S. will be temporarily closing the northern border with Canada to non-essential traffic, adding that trade will not be affected, as the number of U.S. cases of the novel coronavirus jumped overnight to nearly 6,000 across all 50 states and as Americans enter the third day of a 15-day critical period meant to “flatten the curve” of the virus spread.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump said he would again hold a news conference, teasing “very important news from the FDA” and touting his response to the novel coronavirus — telling Americans, “money will soon be coming to you” — after the White House proposed a $1 trillion economic stimulus package, including a measure to send checks to directly to Americans.

For the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you. The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault! Will be stronger than ever!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020

The White House late Tuesday night also requested $45.8 billion more from Congress — in addition to the trillion-dollar package currently being negotiated — in order to cover unanticipated costs for an array of federal agencies fighting COVID-19.

Trump and Secretary Treasury Steve Mnuchin revealed new measures to deal with virus spread and economic harm earlier Tuesday including sending some Americans checks for $1000 or more by the end of April — a measure most Senate Republicans seem to support.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said Tuesday during a meeting with GOP senators that the virus could also raise the U.S. jobless rate to 20% if the government did not intervene, ABC News confirmed.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, cautioned it will take “several weeks and maybe longer until we know we’re having an effect,” on slowing the spread of the virus but said if Americans follow the guidelines, young people especially, “we’re going to see a hump instead of a peak.”

Trump is expected in a Wednesday briefing to discuss steps the Food and Drug Administration is already taking to loosen regulation on food supply to ensure there aren’t disruptions.

Here is how developments unfolded on Wednesday:

Trump continues to call COVID-19 “the Chinese Virus” in tweets

In a series of tweets, the president continued to referred to the novel coronavirus as “the Chinese Virus” — despite the Chinese government criticizing the terminology and his own health officials warning that doing so promotes hate incidents against Asians.

I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the “borders” from China – against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020

The president defended his use of the term “Chinese virus” as “very accurate,” in Tuesday’s coronavirus task force briefing, saying he started using that phrase in reaction to China spreading disinformation that the U.S. military was behind the virus.

“I did not appreciate the fact that China was saying our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody,” Trump said.

Asked then if using the term creates a stigma, he pushed back, saying, “I don’t think so. I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma.”

However, his own Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told Congress last month, “Ethnicity is not what causes the novel coronavirus.”

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