The US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has warned the coronavirus pandemic is “worse than 9/11” for the airline industry as the Trump administration offered a lifeline to airline CEOs this week. Speaking at the White House, Mr Mnuchin said: “I’ve had discussions with all the airline CEOs this week. The airline CEOs have had conversations with the Senate and as the President said I was up with a subset with the Republican senators last night.
“I think as you know this is worse than 9/11, for the airline industry they are almost ground to a halt.
“The president wants to make sure that although we don’t want people to travel unless it’s critical, we want to maintain the right for people to have domestic travel.
“I will tell you we’re very focused. There’s a lot of workers.
“This is strategically important to us and we will be working with Congress on this.”
President Trump added: “The airline industry will be in good shape.”
His administration is considering sending checks to Americans so they have cash to spend during the coronavirus crisis and it has increased the amount of tax payments that can be deferred, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Tuesday.
“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said at a White House briefing.
“Americans need cash now … and I mean now in the next two weeks.”
Mnuchin also said that individuals can defer tax payments up to $1 million (£830,000) and corporations up to $10 million (£8.3 million) for 90 days, interest and penalty-free.
Scrambling to get a grip on an unpredictable virus that has disrupted Americans in all walks of life, Trump predicted the economic challenge will be tough short term but that the economy will eventually rebound.
“We’re going to win and I think we’re going to win faster than people think, I hope,” said Trump, surrounded by top advisers on the coronavirus crisis.
Vice President Mike Pence said the government was urging construction companies to donate N95 face masks to local hospitals and not purchase any more to help doctors.
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Pence said the Army Corps of Engineers can deploy field hospitals quickly to help handle the influx of virus patients.
Trump said he was looking at sites where they might be needed.
Trump on Monday urged Americans to work diligently for 15 days to try to slow the spread of the virus by avoiding crowds and staying home for the most part.
“We’re asking our older generation to stay in their homes. We’re asking the younger generation to stop going out,” said Trump coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx.
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