Mon. Oct 26th, 2020

Trump increases National Guard funding to fight coronavirus

US President Donald Trump has approved federal funding for National Guard troops in the three states hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Troops will be used in New York, California and Washington to deliver medical aid and set up medical stations after the number of deaths nationwide rose to 573 and infections to 41,708..

There are fears of a shortage of key medical supplies in New York City.

A bill to fund national relief efforts has been blocked in the Senate.

Opposition Democrats want the emergency stimulus bill, which is worth almost $1.4 trillion (¬£1.2 trillion), to include more money for state and local governments and hospitals, while Mr Trump’s Republicans are pushing for quick action to reassure financial markets.

In other developments:

  • The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating”
  • UK health secretary tells people who are ignoring government advice they’re “selfish”
  • South Korea reports the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since infection rates peaked four weeks ago
  • London Underground passengers crowded on to packed trains despite warnings to minimise travel
  • Death toll in Spain passes 2,000 and globally nearly 15,000
  • The Indian government said it would stop all domestic flights from the early hours of Wednesday as it ramped up its measures to contain the virus
  • South Africa’s government said a 21-day lockdown would be imposed¬†from Thursday
  • Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, bowed to fierce criticism in Congress and withdrew measures that would have allowed companies to put employees on unpaid work for up to four months

What’s the latest in the US?

The US now has the third highest number of cases in the world, below Italy and China.

On Monday, the top US public health official, Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams, cautioned that there “are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously”.

“I want America to understand this week it’s going to get bad,” Dr Adams told NBC morning show Today. He noted that young people especially were ignoring guidance to practise social distancing.

“Everyone needs to be taking the right steps, right now: stay home.”

Michigan on Monday became the latest state to issue a stay at home order for residents. Critical services, like pharmacies and grocery stores, will remain open.

National Guard troops are also helping distribute food and medical supplies across the country.

The head of the US National Guard, General Joseph Lengyel, described the situation as having “54 different hurricanes hitting every state”.

“All 50 states, three territories & DC are engaged in combating Covid-19,” Gen Lengyel said. “This morning 7,300 National Guardsman & women are providing critical skills support.”

Covid-19 has also reached top US lawmakers.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, 57, said on Sunday he had tested positive for Covid-19, prompting fellow party members Senators Mitt Romney, 73, and Mike Lee, 48, to also self-quarantine as they had been in direct contact with him. Neither Mr Romney nor Mr Lee have shown symptoms so far, local media report.

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