WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ President Donald Trump is asking Congress for $2.5 billion to prepare for the potential spread of the coronavirus nationwide, despite also stating that the United States has everything under control.
Trump said the majority of the funding would be put toward developing quarantine and treatment facilities for those who could potentially have the virus. He said some of the money would come from other infectious disease programs, like one earmarked to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
After taking part in a classified briefing, Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said he’s still concerned that a coronavirus outbreak is inevitable in the United States.
“Protection, preparedness, prevention, they all seem to be inadequate right now,” he said. “The approach right now seems to be, ‘Take two aspirin and call us in the morning.'”
On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defended Trump’s funding request, saying it’s necessary. Blumenthal said while securing the funding is important, he isn’t sure it will be enough.
“It’s way below what’s needed to protect the American people,” he said.
Blumenthal and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, believe the Trump administration is “asleep at the wheel.”
“President Trump, good morning. There’s a pandemic of Coronavirus. Where are you? Where is your plan?” Schumer said.
On Monday, fears over the virus spreading globally caused financial markets to take a major hit.
Despite the losses and concerns on Capitol Hill, Trump says he isn’t concerned.
“Let’s just say we’re fortunate so far and we think it’s going to remain that way,” Trump said.
Congress has yet to authorize any funding to combat the spread of the coronavirus.