White House to request emergency coronavirus funds

The Trump administration announced Monday night that it will ask Congress for "at least $2.5 billion" in additional funding to fight the coronavirus.

The funding request will include at least $1 billion for vaccine development, an official said.

The request will be for one lump sum to allow the Department of Health and Human Services "maximum flexibility," the official added.

“The Trump Administration continues to take the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease very seriously," said White House Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Rachel Semmel.

"Today, the Administration is transmitting to Congress a $2.5 billion supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much needed equipment and supplies," she added.

The funding request comes as the virus spreads to more countries, including new outbreaks in Italy, Iran and South Korea, raising concerns about global spread.

There is not currently known to be transmission of the virus among the general public in the United States, but many experts expect that is likely to happen eventually.

Democrats called for additional funding weeks ago, but the administration is now moving forward with that request.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) amped up his rhetoric on the issue earlier on Monday.

"All of the warning lights are flashing bright red," Schumer said on the Senate floor. "We are staring down a potential pandemic, and the administration has no plan. We have a crisis of coronavirus, and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to coordinate a response."

There is a closed-door briefing for senators from administration officials on the virus on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 1,000 points on Monday over virus fears. Trump, though, insisted the coronavirus is "very much under control" in a tweet.

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries,” Trump tweeted. “CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

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