- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2020

President Trump on Friday signed an emergency spending bill that provides $8.3 billion to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The president signed the bill at the White House with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at his side.

Mr. Trump originally planned to sign the bill at the Centers for Disease Control in Georgia later on Friday, but he temporarily suspended plans for that visit. He said the CDC itself had a suspected coronavirus case, but it turned out to be negative, so he may visit the headquarters after all.

“I may be going. We’re going to see if they can turn it around,” Mr. Trump said.

The virus has killed 12 people in the U.S. and the outbreak has spread to virtually every region of the country.

The president told reporters that he doesn’t think Americans are panicking over the outbreak.

“It’ll go away,” Mr. Trump said.

He also said people were “shocked” by how good the latest job numbers are; the government reported Friday that employers added 273,000 jobs in February.

The emergency measure spends billions for vaccine and treatment research; boosts state, local and overseas efforts; and provides low-interest loans to small businesses affected by the outbreak.

House and Senate lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the measure, which is more than triple the $2.5 billion initially proposed by the White House. The Senate vote on Thursday was 96-1.

“I asked for $2.5 billion and I got $8.3 [billion], and I’ll take it,” the president said.

The president signed the aid bill moments before leaving the White House to tour tornado damage in Tennessee and visit affected families and first responders. He approved disaster aid for the region Thursday night after storms killed 24 people.

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