WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump announced several new actions on Wednesday that his administration is taking to combat the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
One of the big updates that Trump announced during his White House press briefing was that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.
HUD's move is meant to bring relief to renters and homeowners who will lose income as the country practices social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Trump also said that he is invoking the Defense Production Act to expand the U.S. response to the outbreak. The federal provision “confers upon the president a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense,” according to the Congressional Research Service.
Trump said he would sign the act “in case we need it” as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus. The administration hopes to increase production of needed masks, ventilators and respirators, as well as help expand hospital capacity.
Trump also said his coronavirus task force is sending a hospital ship to New York City and they plan on docking a similar ship off the west coast as well.
As Trump was speaking about the coronavirus, he repeatedly referred to it as "the Chinese virus." The president has called the phrase "very accurate," saying that the virus was first reported in China. He has come under fire for using the phrase because naming diseases by countries or regions can lead to discrimination against groups of people, like Asian Americans in this case.
During the same press conference, Vice President Mike Pence said the Department of Health and Human Services will issue an order to allow doctors to practice across state lines. He added that elective procedures should be delayed for the time being.
The briefing comes as confirmed cases of the virus have doubled in the U.S. since Monday. Part of the reason for the spike in cases is increased testing capacity, thanks to emergency approvals by the FDA over the weekend.
The briefing also comes a day after the Trump administration said they are looking into providing direct cash payments to American citizens. Administration officials said more details would be released on their plan in the coming days.
Watch the White House briefing below:
This story is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.