Massive blow to Trump’s $2 trillion virus plan
The Democrats have blocked a $2 trillion stimulus plan to help the US through the coronavirus crisis.
As President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted Sunday against advancing the rescue package.
But talks continued on Capitol Hill.
"I think you'll get there. To me it's not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies," Mr Trump said.
Later, the Republican president suggested the remedies may be more harmful than the outbreak, vowing to reassess after the 15-day mark of the shutdown. "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF," he tweeted.
Inside the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers.
It comes as the city of New York is facing a possible humanitarian catastrophe as the health system is struggling to source vital medical equipment due to a worldwide shortage.
In New York City, at least 10,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and the numbers continue to climb. There are at least 15,000 people who have been diagnosed across New York state. The densely populated city has now become the epicentre of the virus in the US after the number of cases surpassed Washington on Sunday.
"We represent, shockingly, about a third of the cases in the entire United States of America," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday, warning, "the worst is yet to come".
Officials worldwide, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have warned of a critical shortage of medical supplies and are urging health departments across the state to donate unused respirators and other medical equipment as they try to prepare for a huge surge in cases.
New York City, with a population of more than 8.6 million people, has been forecast to have, at its peak, more than 100,000 hospitalisations at once. This will overload the hospital system by more than 10 times its current capacity.
US President Donald Trump, who has been working with the Governor to find a solution, suggested in a press conference that doctors begin "sanitising masks" as opposed to discarding them.
Trump says they should sanitize used masks. pic.twitter.com/tbgKSF7BFV— Mark Golden (@MarkGolden16) March 21, 2020
Mr Cuomo told the New York Times podcast The Daily last week that the US had been struggling to source badly needed supplies, including ventilators, and the shortage was affecting the entire globe.
As the number of cases grew, he flagged the number of intensive care units available in the state would need to grow tenfold, and medical supplies, which have become scarce, would need to somehow be sourced by the President.
"It's ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. That is the greatest need," Mr Cuomo said on Thursday when he ordered every local health department across NY state to donate unused respirators and supplies to the state as they try to prepare for a growing wave of intensive care patients.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that New York state was reporting about 5 per cent of the world's coronavirus cases.
Only China, Italy and Spain have reported more COVID-19 cases than the US.
Mr Cuomo spent Saturday scouting places to build makeshift hospitals and told existing hospitals to figure out ways to increase their current beds by at least 50 per cent.
Coronavirus deaths have been reported in more than 30 American states. There were more than 27,000 cases across the US and at least 375 deaths.
Mr Trump has now activated the military and deployed US Navy hospital ships to the West Coast and the East Coast.
The USNS Mercy will be sent to Los Angeles and the USNS Comfort is on the East Coast and will be sent to New York.
Mr Trump said the National Guard would also be sent to Washington, New York and California, along with additional supplies including beds and face masks, which will arrive within 48 hours.
The President said these would not come at a cost to the state.
- with AP
Originally published as Massive blow to Trump's virus plan