BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN
New York, March 10 (IANS) US President Donald Trump in an unscheduled briefing on Monday after the worst stock market crash since 2008 said his administration will ask Congress to pass payroll tax relief and support the economy via tax cuts as the coronavirus crisis in election year draws closer to his political fortunes in November.
Trump said he would elaborate on the details Tuesday afternoon. “They will be major,” he said.
He also said that his administration was working on programme to create loans for small businesses that are affected and will also look at helping the airline, cruise and hotel industries.
The coronavirus or COVID-19 has infected nearly 114,000 people in 111 countries and killed almost 4,000. The virus cut deeper into America’s cities Monday with the death toll ballooning to 22, total cases topping 600, thousands of workers asked to work from home or from disaster recovery sites and many schools shuttering down and moving to online classes.
Trump reassured hourly wage workers that they are “not going to miss a paycheque” and won’t get “penalised for something that’s not their fault.”
“We will be taking care of the American public,” he said.
“The big decision was early when we shut down our borders,” Trump said about his decision last month to restrict US entry to foreign citizens who had been to China.
“We were the first ones ever to do that. We’ve never done that in our country before. We would have a situation that would be a lot more dire.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the market downturn of nearly 8 per cent was due to the “unprecedented move” in the oil market, where the prices tumbled by about 10 per cent. He said the economy was resilient and the situation was not like in the 2008 recession when the end was not it sight when it began.
Many people in the Trump orbit isolated themselves Monday after potential exposure to the virus. One of them was with Trump on Air Force One on Monday.
With no vaccine in sight until at least the end of the year and neighbourhood pharmacies saying they don’t have test kits available yet, life as usual is up in the air across the United States.
US Vice President Mike Pence said today that one million tests had been sent out across the country and that number would be four million by the end of the week.
“The mood is becoming really scary in public spaces, people are looking at each other in a way that we haven’t ever experienced before,” Gigi Chang, a New Jersey resident told IANS.
Trump administration health experts asked older people and those with underlying conditions to take immediate precautions, stock groceries and adequate medical supplies.
Trump continues to play down the threat. “Nothing is shut down, life and the economy go on,” he wrote. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!,” he tweeted early Monday.
Spooked by coronavirus and an oil price war, US stocks suffered their worst single-day decline in more than 10 years on Monday.
BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN