Pres. Trump to sign Defense Production Act; suspend foreclosures and evictions through April

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President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(NEXSTAR) — The White House coronavirus task force held a briefing Wednesday to update steps being taken to help with the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

During the briefing, President Donald Trump announced he’s invoking a federal provision that allows the government to marshal the private sector in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump appeared in the White House briefing room Wednesday for the third day in a row. He said he would sign the Defense Production Act “in case we need it” as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus.

Trump also says the Department Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

Trump announced at a White House briefing Wednesday that he will sign the papers to invoke the act later in the day. The U.S. has had 116 virus-related deaths and over 7,300 infections.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. and Canada announced the two countries have agreed to temporarily close the shared border to nonessential travel.

“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” Trump tweeted.

Truck drivers and Canadian snowbirds are among those expected to get an exemption.

As of Wednesday morning, the Johns Hopkins coronavirus case tracker reports over 6,500 cases of the virus in the United States. 75 people have died in America as of Tuesday, according to the CDC.

Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. mirror what’s been reported in other countries, with about 4 out of 5 deaths occurring in people 65 and older and no deaths in kids, according to a new federal report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the findings on Wednesday, in a look at more than 4,200 U.S. cases reported from Feb. 12 to March 16. Officials had limited information, with data on the ages of about 2,500 of them.

Drawing from available information, researchers found about a third of the reported cases were in people 65 and older, but retirement-age Americans made up the bulk of people who suffered severe illness.

More than half of coronavirus patients admitted to hospital intensive care units were 65 and older, the CDC reported. No one 19 or under was admitted to an ICU, the CDC said.

During Tuesday’s coronavirus task force briefing, the president began by announcing testing is available in all states, and the expansion of Medicare telehealth services.

“Last night the FDA announced groundbreaking new policies to further increase testing, very substantially so. All states can now authorize tests developed and used within their borders in addition to the FDA’s.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced during the Tuesday briefing that Trump had instructed him to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic cost of the coronavirus outbreak.

At the Monday briefing, President Trump asked the country to come together, appealing to all Americans to help halt the spread of the virus.

Trump outlined the government’s newest recommendations, urging all older Americans and those at a high risk to stay home. The administration advised the public to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, not buy more than a week’s worth of groceries at a time, and cancel all discretionary travel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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