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Government response updates: Trump says FEMA now coordinating, touts possible drug treatments

Senate Republicans details stimulus that calls for bigger checks to Americans.

March 19, 2020, 6:06 PM

As the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus passed 10,000 in the U.S., and the northern border to Canada closed to nonessential travel, President Donald Trump said Thursday at a White House briefing that America is in a "medical war" with COVID-19 -- while his GOP allies unveiled details of "phase three" of coronavirus relief measures.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks speaks on the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak, while flanked by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, March 19, 2020 in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks speaks on the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak, while flanked by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, March 19, 2020 in Washington, With Americans testing positive for the coronavirus rising, President Trump is asking Congress for $1 trillion aid package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump once again appeared at Thursday morning's coronavirus task force briefing, again blaming China for and touting drugs for treatment -- even though they had not been approved for treating COVID-19.

"I think it's going to be a game changer -- and maybe not -- but I think it could be, based on what see," Trump said. "It could be a game changer. Very powerful, very powerful."

Continuing to cast himself as wartime president, Trump called the coronavirus outbreak "our big war."

"It's not a financial war," he continued. "It's a medical war."

During a teleconference with governors at FEMA headquarters in the afternoon, Trump again brought up the two drugs -- chloroquine and Remdesivir -- and mentioned FDA Commissioner Stephan Hahn, who had already walked back the president's earlier comments.

"He got it approved very quickly, I won't tell you how quickly, but let's put it this way, it's approved," the president said.

Trump had returned to the White House Thursday afternoon when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., unveiled the $1 trillion White House-GOP stimulus package the on the Senate floor.

Republicans are now proposing giving Americans $1200 checks -- up from $1000 as initially discussed -- to Americans who make up to $75,000 a year, scaling down until capping off at $99,000 a year. Those with children would get $500 per child based on a household income of up to $150,000.

The new measures comes as healthcare workers across the country complain of shortages of protective equipment and amid alarming data that the disease is hitting younger people harder than projected.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, on March 19, 2020, in Washington.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, on March 19, 2020, in Washington. Trump is asking Congress for a $1 trillion aid package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images

Here are Thursday's most significant developments in Washington:

  • Trump announced FEMA would take over the government's coronavirus response
  • Pelosi calls on Trump to invoke Defense Production Act powers: 'There is not a day to lose'
  • McConnell unveils "phase three" of economic stimulus packages which includes a proposal to send relief checks directly to Americans
  • At least two members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19
  • State Department tells Americans "Do Not Travel" abroad

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, March 19, 2020, in Washington.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, March 19, 2020, in Washington.
Evan Vucci/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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