Trump names Pence to lead US response to coronavirus threat

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the U.S. is “very, very ready” for whatever the coronavirus threat brings, and he put his vice president in charge of overseeing the nation’s response.

Trump sought to minimize fears of the virus spreading widely across the U.S. But he said he was ready to spend “whatever’s appropriate,” even if that meant the extra billions of dollars that Democrats have said is necessary to beef up the U.S. response. Trump had told Congress earlier this week that the government needed to spend $2.5 billion to fight the virus.

“We’re very, very ready for this, for anything,” even if it’s “a breakout of larger proportions,” Trump told a news conference.

Vice President Mike Pence will be working with the government’s top health authorities, and Trump’s earlier-appointed coronavirus task force, to oversee the response.

This will end,” Trump said of the outbreak at a White House news conference. “You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked.”

But standing next to him, the very health officials Trump praised for fighting the new coronavirus stressed that schools, businesses and individuals need to get ready.

“We do expect more cases,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shortly after Trump spoke, the CDC announced a worrisome development: Another person in the U.S. is infected — someone in California who doesn’t appear to have traveled abroad or been exposed to another patient. If the CDC confirms that, it would be a first in this country and a sign that efforts to contain the virus’ spread haven’t been enough.

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