As virus deaths rise, Congress agrees on $8.3 billion to fund public response

The United States now has 11 deaths from the
virus, 10 in Washington state, and the first one in California. That word came today as Congress moved to
provide emergency funding. William Brangham has our report. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As the number of infections
in the U.S. continues to rise, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an $8.3
billion emergency spending measure to fight the outbreak. The bill includes $3 billion for increased
research into a vaccine and other treatments, $2.2 billion for public health prevention
and response, including a boost for the CDC, $1 billion for medical supplies, like masks
and project gowns, and $300 million to help low-income people afford a potential vaccine. It would also provide potentially billions
in loans to small businesses hurt by the outbreak. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill
tomorrow. Meanwhile, on the other side of Pennsylvania
Avenue: DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
We are, I think, doing a very effective job. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Trump and Vice
President Mike Pence met with top industry officials, including airline CEOs. The president urged the country not to be
afraid to fly. DONALD TRUMP: Large portions of the world
are very safe to fly. So, we don’t want to say anything other than
that. And we have sort of closed certain sections
of the world, frankly, and they have sort of automatically closed them also. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But some airlines are worried
it will get worse. United Airlines announced it will cut international
flights by 20 percent and domestic flights by 10 percent next month. It’s also implementing a hiring freeze and
may trim flights even more. Meanwhile, confirmed cases of COVID-19, which
in the U.S. are still relatively low in number, are growing. Los Angeles declared a public health emergency
today, in response to six new confirmed infections. L.a. Mayor Eric Garcetti tried to calm the public. ERIC GARCETTI (D), Mayor of Los Angeles: This
is important. We’re not saying that the situation in Los
Angeles is dramatically worse. What we’re saying — and this echoes what
the CDC is saying — the potential public health risk is elevating and significant. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Elsewhere, officials have
taken a more drastic approach to controlling their outbreaks. Italy’s education minister said today, schools
and universities will be closed starting tomorrow for at least 10 days. This comes as infections in Italy rose to
more than 3,000. Public health officials warned Italians, if
you want to help stop this spread, consider dialing back your typical touching and kissing. But, for some, that’s too much to ask. ANTONIO PIERRANTI, Italy (through translator):
We are Sicilians. We love each other, and we need physical contact. We will continue to do this as long as we
can. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In Iran, with nearly 3,000
confirmed cases, soldiers and firefighters were mobilized to spray city streets and buildings. Iranian officials also canceled the highly
attended Friday prayers for the second week in a row. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham. JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street watched the continued
spread of the virus today, and bet that central banks will react with more cuts in interest
rates. Investors also read the Super Tuesday wins
for Joe Biden as a positive. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more
than 1,170 points to close at 27090. The Nasdaq rose 334 points, and the S&P 500
was up 126.

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