House speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced what she has called an "evidence-based" plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which has sparked global market panic as cases have skyrocketed across five continents.
During a speech roughly an hour before Donald Trump was set to deliver an emergency speech on his administration's response, Ms Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would pass a funding bill aimed at helping Americans as they struggle with a range of difficulties posed by the virus outbreak, including free testing for the virus.
"The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing, testing," Ms Pelosi said.
Ms Pelosi said that the bill would be passed on Friday, and that it "facilitates free coronavirus testing for everyone".
In addition, the bill would also address other pressing concerns sparked by the outbreak, including the implementation of paid sick leave for workers and strengthening unemployment insurance, helping small business with loans and providing nutrition assistance for children and seniors.
The announcement comes after days of negotiations between leaders in Congress and the Trump administration, with Ms Pelosi and House Democrats engaging in a series of phone calls with administration leaders like Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin as they try to scramble a response. Democrats had hoped for a fast-tracked response, but a deal has so far eluded Congress.
Speaking to the necessity of accurate testing numbers, Ms Pelosi urged widespread testing that could help officials to understand the scope of the problem facing the country. The comments come after reports indicated Mr Trump sought to delay testing in January, worried that positive tests could damage his re-election prospects this November.
"We can only defeat this outbreak if we have an accurate determination of its scale and scope, so we can pursue the appropriate, science-based response that is necessary," Ms Pelosi said.
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