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White House and Congress still far from agreement on coronavirus relief bill

Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"It is extraordinarily widespread," said Dr. Deborah Birx, who leads the White House task force on the pandemic, during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union."

Although Trump has demanded that schools reopen, Birx was notably more cautious. "If you have high case load and active community spread -- just like we're asking people not to go to bars, not to have household parties, not to create large spreading events -- we're asking people to distance-learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control," she said.

Birx wasn't the only member of the administration to contradict the president Sunday. Adm. Brett Giroir, a top health official, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he doesn't recommend using hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug touted by Trump, as a treatment for the coronavirus.

"The evidence just doesn't show hydroxychloroquine is effective right now," Giroir said. "I think we need to move on from that and talk about what is effective."

Giroir forecasted more tragedy in the near future. "Deaths will continue to increase for the next few weeks," he warned.

Trump recently restarted his regular briefings about the coronavirus in an effort to show the country that he's taking aggressive action, but he hasn't stopped spreading misinformation about the pandemic.

 

On Saturday, he tweeted his disagreement with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert who recently testified that the U.S. is seeing more coronavirus cases because it shut down less of its economy than Europe did.

"Wrong!" Trump tweeted. "We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases."

Not only was Trump falsely blaming testing for the increasing coronavirus caseload, as he often does, but he also overstated the number of tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the United States had conducted nearly 53 million tests as of Saturday.

The U.S. has become the global epicenter for the pandemic, and many countries are limiting American visitors to prevent the spread of the virus. But Trump is eager to portray the situation here as no worse or better than anywhere else.

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