US ramps up coronavirus response as feds, states mobilize; Virus hits Congress

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US coronavirus response ramps up as feds, states mobilize
As the coronavirus outbreak continued to disrupt American life, numerous actions have been taken – in Washington, in state capitals and at the local level -- to help get a grip on a situation that simultaneously threatened to spin out of control.

In Washington, President Trump said Wednesday he would invoke the Defense Production Act, a move designed to help private businesses ramp up production and distribution of medical supplies and equipment needed to combat the virus also known as COVID-19. “If we need to use it we’ll be using it,” the president said. “It’s full speed ahead.”

On a day that saw confirmed U.S. cases of the virus surpass 9,300 and deaths top 130, Trump also signed a second coronavirus relief bill that called for providing paid sick leave, unemployment aid and free testing to the public. Trump and members of Congress also were considering providing as much as $300 billion to the airline industry and other distressed businesses.

Total projected government expenditures as high as $1 trillion – including proposed checks paid directly to the public -- seemed contrary to everything the Republican Party normally preaches about fiscal responsibility – but these were unusual circumstances, some party members noted." Click here for more on our top story.

Other coronavirus developments:
- Trump invokes Defense Production Act: What is it?
- Trump administration seeks 2 rounds of checks to Americans 
- Ilhan Omar praises Trump's 'incredible' response to coronavirus pandemic
- Maxine Waters says adults should get $2G per month, children $1G per month

Two members of Congress announce they have tested positive for coronavirus
Coronavirus has reached Congress as two lawmakers announced they had tested positive for the virus that has sickened more than 9,000 in the U.S.

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Ben McAdams, D-Utah, both said Wednesday they had tested positive for COVID-19. Diaz-Balart said he had been stricken with a fever and headache last weekend, while McAdams said he tested positive after developing "mild cold-like symptoms" Sunday evening.

As the news broke, Republican whip Steve Scalise, R-La., issued a statement saying he would go into self-quarantine, although he said he did not currently have any symptoms. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., said she would also self-quarantine despite having no symptoms because last week she "participated in a small group meeting with a colleague who has since tested positive for COVID-19."

The virus already had affected others on Capitol Hill, which has remained closed to visitors. At least two congressional staffers have been infected by the virus, and some prominent politicians have self-quarantined at both the state and federal levels. Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and several other members of Congress said they would self-quarantine after they had possible exposure to the virus. Click here for more.

Other related developments:  
- US coronavirus crisis could last 18 months or more, federal plan warns: report
- Pompeo rips China, says Beijing put 'countless lives at risk'
- San Francisco mayor responds to Jake Tapper, CNN over clip showing lack of social distancing
- Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

ICE to halt most deportation efforts amid coronavirus
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Wednesday that it will temporarily halt deportation efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, except for those deemed a safety risk or under mandatory deportation order due to criminal history.

The delay is intended to help mitigate the spread of the virus and to encourage people to seek testing and treatment, ICE said in a statement. "During the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances,” the agency said.

The statement added the agency would seek alternatives to detention but didn’t say what might happen to the approximately 37,000 current immigration detainees, The Washington Post reported. The agency said it would continue critical investigations into child exploitation, gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism. Click here for more.

Other developments:
- Trump announces US, Canada closing border to ‘non-essential traffic
- Coronavirus leads some overseas prisons to release inmates; Rikers, other US prisons consider the same
- Dozens sick on Italian cruise ship carrying over 200 Americans: report


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Air pollution increases coronavirus vulnerability, experts say.

Stock futures add to declines despite stimulus measures.
Fed moves to ensure liquidity in money market mutual funds. 
Coronavirus forces NYSE to close trading floor, go electronic.
Coronavirus and credit scores: Lawmakers look to shield Americans' credit.

#TheFlashback: CLICK HERE to find out what happened on "This Day in History."

Tucker Carlson warns that the release of prisoners due to coronavirus threat is "a recipe for chaos."

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Fox News First is compiled by Fox News' Bryan Robinson. Thank you for making us your first choice in the morning! Hang in there -- we'll get through this coronavirus outbreak crisis together. We'll see you in your inbox first thing Friday morning.