White House to request emergency coronavirus funds

The White House is preparing to ask Congress for emergency funding to fight the coronavirus, a spokesman said Monday, but declined to say how much would be requested.

"We need some funding here to make sure that we protect all Americans,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News.

He declined, however, to specify how much funding would be requested.

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"I don’t have an announcement on the specific amount yet, but we need to combat this, we need to make sure our people are safe and the president is always going to take action to do that,” Gidley said.

Democrats have been calling for the Trump administration to request additional funds, but officials had previously said they could shift money from other programs. As the virus spreads to more countries, the administration is now shifting to ask for funds.

Some news outlets reported the administration would ask for approximately $1 billion, which some experts doubted would be enough funding.

But an administration official pushed back on that figure Monday, saying it is not accurate but adding that a final number has not yet been determined.

A congressional aide, meanwhile, said the administration has indicated it will be sending a funding request in the coming days, but that no details have been provided on its size or content.

Adriane Casalotti, an official at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said $1 billion would not be enough.

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“By any measure, that would not be enough for a government-wide supplemental to make a meaningful impact,” Casalotti said. “Vaccine development alone needs way more than that.”

The virus is centered in China, but countries like South Korea, Iran and Italy are now reporting steep increases in confirmed cases, raising concerns.

The virus is not spreading among the general public in the U.S., but officials say it very well could eventually.

--Brett Samuels and Jessie Hellmann contributed to this report.