- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2020

President Trump assured leaders of the nation’s county governments Tuesday that Washington is speeding all necessary aid to communities to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are working with Congress very closely to pass supplemental legislation that ensures state and county health departments get everything they need,” Mr. Trump told the annual National Association of Counties conference in Washington. “I asked for $2.5 billion, and it looks like they’re going to give us $8.5 billion. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before.”

He said the outbreak caught many communities unaware.

“Eight weeks ago, you never heard of this,” Mr. Trump said. “All of a sudden, it’s got the world a-flutter. It’ll work out. Everyone’s working together very well to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the disease. We’re moving at maximum speed to develop the therapies — not only the vaccine, but the therapies. It’s sort of another word for ‘cure.’”

Mr. Trump is the first president to address the conference since President Bill Clinton in 1996. The organization represents 3,069 counties nationwide with nearly 40,000 elected officials.

The president highlighted his cutting of taxes and regulations, the latter receiving sustained applause from the audience. He also spoke of the benefit to local communities from increased production of oil and natural gas.

Rebecca Long, a commissioner from Lea County, New Mexico, thanked the president for policies that have resulted in a more than 100% increase in oil production in her county since 2016.

Mr. Trump replied, “You know that if [Sen. Bernard Sanders] or one of these characters get in, you can close up your energy.”

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