- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Wall Street began to rebound Wednesday from its coronavirus-driven rout even as cases in South Korea climbed to more than 1,000 and new European nations reported infections.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average remained in positive territory at lunchtime, and other indexes saw gains. Investors are trying to bounce back after global transmission and warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused big selloffs on Monday and Tuesday.

President Trump blamed the media and Democrats for the market panic and planned to address the situation from the White House at 6 p.m.

Democrats fired back by proposing an $8.5 billion package to contend with the coronavirus, laying down a marker that’s $6 billion more than what Mr. Trump proposed for the domestic response.

“This proposal brings desperately-needed resources to the global fight against coronavirus. Americans need to know that their government is prepared to handle the situation before coronavirus spreads to our communities. I urge the Congress to move quickly on this proposal. Time is of the essence,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said.

Like Mr. Trump’s proposal, it sets aside $1 billion for the pursuit of a vaccine.

Yet it also throws significant dollars at local efforts, preparedness for future outbreaks and money to buttress the Ebola response at the same time.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said the eye-popping figure was warranted.

“I’d support a hell of a lot more than that,” he told reporters.

Mr. Trump’s proposal calls for more than $1 billion in new money and swiping over $500 million from the Ebola response, plus other account transfers.

Rep. Mark Pocan, Wisconsin Democrat, asked Health Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday if the White House would be willing to redirect money from Mr. Trump’s border wall to fight the coronavirus.

“I don’t believe the administration would be supportive of that, but Congress will make the decisions about how to fund any supplemental,” said Mr. Azar, who is leading Mr. Trump’s coronavirus task force.

Mr. Azar also told Congress he is unaware of any plans to replace him with a coronavirus “czar.”

Likewise, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said reports about a czar are “not true” and that Mr. Trump is pleased with Mr. Azar.

The new virus was discovered in Hubei Province, China, in December. It causes an illness known as COVID-19 that can lead to respiratory distress and organ failure.

China has reported more than 78,000 cases, including 2,718 deaths, to the World Health Organization, though new cases in the Asian superpower are significantly dwindling.

“This is no time for complacency. This is a time for continued vigilance,” WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said.

Outside of China, there have been 2,790 cases in 37 countries, including 44 deaths, reported to WHO.

“Yesterday, the number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time,” Mr. Tedros said. “The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning. There are now cases linked to Iran in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman. There are now cases linked to Italy in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.”

The number of cases on U.S. soil stood at 59 on Wednesday — 14 from travelers or their close family contacts, three cases in American repatriated from the epicenter in Wuhan, China, and 42 in passengers flown home from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

“The immediate risk to the American public remains low, but there is now community transmission in a number of countries, including outside of Asia, which is deeply concerning,” Mr. Azar told House appropriators.

Mr. Tedros said the situation could still become a global pandemic, though some perspective is in order.

“We are not witnessing sustained and intensive community transmission of this virus, and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or death,” Mr. Tedros said. “China has fewer than 80,000 cases in a population of 1.4 billion people. In the rest of the world, there are 2,790 cases, in a population of 6.3 billion.”

“Do not mistake me: I am not downplaying the seriousness of the situation, or the potential for this to become a pandemic, because it has that potential,” he added. “Every scenario is still on the table.”

• Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide