In a solemn Oval Office address on Wednesday, President Donald Trump set out to steady a rattled nation and a diving economy but instead sowed more confusion and doubts that he is up to handling the fast-worsening coronavirus crisis.
Trump spoke to the nation at a fearful moment, when the rhythms of everyday American life are starting to shut down — with schools closing, the NBA suspended, hospitals on high alert over the deadly virus.
“The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States,” the President said, before painting a rosy picture of an economy that is already taking a beating from the virus fallout.
The New York Stock Exchange halted trading for 15 minutes after the S&P 500 fell 7% on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Congress are expressing outrage and confusion as to why the United States is not testing individuals for the COVID-19 coronavirus at as fast a pace as other countries.
Several members emerged from an all-members House briefing Thursday morning exasperated with what they said was a lack of clarity in the officials’ answers, as lawmakers struggle to understand how the US has been so far outpaced by other countries grappling with the pandemic.
Congressional leaders on Thursday officially announced the Capitol will be closed to tourists for the rest of the month. Several lawmakers themselves are self-quarantining as their offices undergo deep cleaning.
The House is expected to pass a bill Thursday to respond to the outbreak, but Republican leaders in the House and the Senate have expressed their opposition to the bill despite the growing outbreak.