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President Donald Trump has signed into law a legislation that will provide relief to Americans affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The bill, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, includes provisions offering paid sick leave for impacted workers and free COVID-19 testing.
“Today, I have signed into law H.R. 6201, the ‘Families First Coronavirus Response Act’ (the ‘Act’). The Act makes emergency supplemental appropriations and other changes to law to help the Nation respond to the coronavirus outbreak,” Trump said in a statement on Wednesday.
Trump previously backed the bill in a series of tweets on Friday night.
“This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers,” Trump tweeted at the time.
“I have directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations that will provide flexibility so that in no way will Small Businesses be hurt. I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES! I will always put the health and well-being of American families FIRST,” he wrote.
On Saturday, the president commended both parties for coming together to pass the bill, tweeting it was “nice to see!”
According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the bill will secure “testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured” and puts measures in place for families’ “economic security,” “food security,” and “health security,” she explained on Twitter.
The House of Representatives passed the legislation early Saturday with a vast majority vote of 363-40, with 40 Republicans voting against the measure and one Independent voting “present,” according to CNN.
The Senate approved the bill on early Wednesday.
In recent days Trump has pointedly changed his tone when discussing the seriousness of the coronavirus, which he had earlier claimed Democrats were trying to politicize as a “hoax” to damage him. Trump had also previously downplayed the virus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, in comparison to the seasonal flu — though experts say it is much more dangerous if it is able to infect as many people.
The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.
At first, this coronavirus was contained to China, but Wuhan is a major transportation hub with hundreds of flights leaving and landing from the city of 11 million each day. Soon, as people flew from the area to different countries, the coronavirus reached more countries, including the United States.
The first U.S. case was found in Everett, Washington, just outside of Seattle, in a man who had recently returned from Wuhan. The number of cases grew slowly from there and the virus began to spread more rapidly in communities across the United States.
As of Wednesday morning, there have been 5,881 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the nation and 107 deaths. With West Virginia reporting their first case on Tuesday evening, the virus has now spread to all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
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