San Francisco declares state of emergency over coronavirus as bipartisan lawmakers say Trump admin not doing enough

 newsweek.com  02/26/2020 02:14:26   Aila Slisco

San Francisco has declared a state of emergency amid fears of a global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The city also criticized President Donald Trump's response to the threat.

"Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a Tuesday press release. "We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm."

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated that they now believe that the further spread of the virus is inevitable. The Trump administration's response to the impending crisis has been under fire, with politicians of both parties ripping the emergency response budget of $2.5 billion as inadequate.

"It seems to me at the outset that this request for the money, the supplemental, is lowballing it, possibly, and you can't afford to do that," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a Tuesday hearing on the matter, according to The Hill. "If you lowball something like this, you'll pay for it later."

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was another of several prominent figures from both parties to offer criticism Tuesday, saying on the Senate floor that the administration had shown "towering and dangerous incompetence" in their response to the coronavirus.

"Unfortunately what we are seeing today is a political effort by the Left and some in the media to distract and disturb the American people with fearful rhetoric and palace intrigue," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere in a statement to Newsweek. "The United States economy is the strongest in the world thanks to the leadership and policies of President Trump. The virus remains low risk domestically because of the containment actions taken by this Administration since the first of the year."

Senate Coronavirus Hearing

U.S. Senators question Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar about the COVID-19 coronavirus threat during a hearing in Washington D.C. on February 25, 2020. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

There are currently 57 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., but CDC officials believe the numbers are likely to increase as the virus spreads from person to person. Since first being detected in Wuhan, China in late December, coronavirus cases have skyrocketed to more than 80,000 around the world with over 2,600 dead as of Tuesday.

A large majority of the cases remain in China, but other countries have experienced alarming spikes in cases over the last few days. South Korea has the second largest number of cases outside of China, with close to 1,000 reported by Tuesday. Cases have also multiplied in Italy, rising 45 percent in one day to reach 322 confirmed cases.

"The global situation is serious and changing hourly, which is exactly why Secretary Azar continues to lead a whole-of-government response in partnership with state and local leaders that includes the best experts on infectious diseases," said Deere. "It's also exactly why the White House is requesting from Congress $2.5 billion in funding to accelerate vaccine development and further support preparedness and response efforts. The President is receiving regular updates, and is prepared to take additional action to protect the American people."

Trump commented on the U.S. situation in a Monday Twitter post, painting a picture that sharply contrasted with many of the worries expressed by others.

"The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA," Trump tweeted. "We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2020

Despite Trump's rosy outlook, fears over the virus pushed the stock market into a steep slide for a second straight day Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping over 900 points after plummeting more than 1000 points on Monday.

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