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Trump administration considering "sending checks to Americans immediately," Mnuchin says

Trump and Pence give coronavirus update
Trump and Pence give update on coronavirus response 12:55

Washington — President Trump announced he and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are working on a "big" and "bold" legislative package to address the coronavirus crisis. That includes "looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," Mnuchin announced during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Tuesday morning. 

Mnuchin said the goal would be to get checks to Americans in two weeks to help workers cope with the economic effects of the crisis. The president wouldn't say exactly how much those checks might be — Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney have suggested $1,000 per adult

"We're going big," the president told reporters in the White House Briefing Room. 

Mr. Trump has also pushed a payroll tax, but Mnuchin acknowledged that could take months to help average Americans. Sources with knowledge of the proposal told CBS News earlier Tuesday that the administration's proposal would total at least $850 billion.

"We'll have a pretty good idea by the end of the day what we'll be doing," the president told reporters, before Mnuchin left the White House to meet with senators on Capitol Hill. 

Mnuchin also announced that Americans who owe a payment to the IRS can defer up to $1 million per individual, and up to $10 million per corporation. 

Mr. Trump has asked all Americans to limit contact with others for 15 days, and he's admitted the unprecedented measures being taken across the country could sink the U.S. into a recession.

The treasury secretary said the administration is also working on relief for airlines, which are taking a huge financial hit as millions avoid flying.

"I think as you know, this is worst than 9/11" in terms of economic impact for airline industry, Mnuchin said. 

The president also said "it's possible" the Trump administration could limit travel in the U.S., but "we'll see how it goes."

Health experts worry coronavirus could strain hospitals to breaking point 02:47

Many businesses have closed their doors and officials have urged, and in some cases ordered, weary citizens to hole up at home.

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence urged construction companies to donate their N95 masks to their local hospitals, and stop purchasing the masks. 

Half a billion children around the world are out of school. And doctors in some of the richest, most developed nations on the planet, including the U.S., warn health systems are ill-prepared to deal with an expected onslaught of patients.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 4,500 reported coronavirus cases in the U.S.

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