Trump signs $8.3B bill to fund COVID-19 fight, will visit CDC

President Donald Trump signs an $8.3 billion coronavirus supplemental funding bill Friday, alongside Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI
1 of 2 | President Donald Trump signs an $8.3 billion coronavirus supplemental funding bill Friday, alongside Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

March 6 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion coronavirus funding bill at the White House on Friday after canceling a trip to the headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and later reviving it.

Some of the money is earmarked for local officials on the front lines fighting the coronavirus in the United States. The measure also includes more than $3 billion in vaccine research.


There are so far 164 cases and 11 people in the United States have died as of 4 p.m. EST Thursday, the CDC said in an update Friday. Fifty-four of the cases involved person-to-person spread or are travel-related. The rest are under investigation, the agency said.

Johns Hopkins, which is regularly updating figures based on local and state health departments, reported 14 deaths and 259 confirmed cases as of 1:40 p.m. EST Friday.


The House and Senate passed the bipartisan bill Wednesday and Thursday to pledge billions toward fighting coronavirus disease. The $8.3 billion far exceeded the $2.5 billion Trump's administration asked for.

"I'll take it," Trump said before signing the measure. "We're doing very well. But it's an unforeseen problem. What a problem. ... But we're taking care of it."

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, appearing with Trump at the bill signing, said CDC officials have delivered 75,000 test kits in Washington state and California, the two with the highest number of U.S. COVID-19 cases.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said during Friday's White House task force briefing that the CDC shipped out 900,000 tests Thursday, another 200,000 were expected to be shipped out Saturday and another 1 million next week.

Speaking at the same briefing, Vice President Mike Pence revealed that 21 people -- 19 employees and two passengers -- on board the Grand Princess cruise ship tested positive for the disease. He said the ship will dock at a non-commercial port over the weekend and all people on board will be tested.


The University of Washington announced Friday it will close classrooms for more than 50,000 students, beginning Monday and lasting through the remainder of the winter quarter, which ends March 20. Instructors were told to instead conduct classes and exams remotely, where possible.

Washington has been the hardest-hit state, with 70 confirmed cases and 11 confirmed deaths.

More than 20 states are dealing with the disease, with Indiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania reporting their first cases Friday. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state's first presumptive positive case of the virus and declared a public health emergency.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin State said a man in his 50s in Tulsa County tested positive after returning from Italy.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration Friday after announcing two presumptive positive cases there.

Trump was originally supposed to sign the bill at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, but the White House said the trip was called off due to the president's reluctance to interfere with agency operations and its "mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency." Later Friday morning, however, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters the CDC was back on the schedule.


She explained the trip was initially canceled over suspicions that a CDC staff member had contracted the coronavirus, and said the administration was acting "out of an abundance of caution." The staffer's test results were ultimately negative.

Trump visited the CDC after stopping in the Nashville area to assess damage from this week's deadly tornadoes.

In Nashville Friday afternoon, Trump was escorted by a local emergency worker while surveying the tornado damage.

"This is real devastation ... Hope we never see again," he said.

Also on Friday's schedule is a trip to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida for meetings with campaign supporters.

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