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Trump administration "looking at" hazard pay for doctors, nurses on front lines of COVID-19 fight

U.S. needs to plan for more virus outbreaks
U.S. needs to plan for more virus outbreaks 04:38

The Trump administration is exploring whether to provide hazard pay for doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump said Monday.

In an interview with "Fox & Friends" on Fox News about the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the president said he is "looking at" providing additional pay for health care workers and suggested that aid could come in an another relief package.

"We are looking at different ways of doing it, primarily through the hospitals," Mr. Trump said, adding that the money could come in the form of bonuses. "If anybody's entitled to it, they are."

Congressional Democrats have also pushed for hazard pay for hospital and medical workers.

Many doctors and nurses have expressed concern about their high risk of exposure to the coronavirus, especially as they face a shortage of personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves. Governors have warned that as they seek equipment for health care workers on the private market, they are bidding against other states and the federal government, driving up the price.

States have also made requests to the Trump administration for masks and ventilators for patients from the Strategic National Stockpile. But in some cases, like in Louisiana, governors have not yet received a response or received a fraction of the supplies requested.

To address the growing demand for personal protective equipment, the White House on Sunday announced a public-private partnership called "Project Airbridge" designed to speed up the arrival of medical supplies. The first of 20 flights into the U.S. landed Sunday and contained 130,000 N95 masks, 1.8 million other masks and gowns, 10.3 million gloves and more than 70,000 thermometers, according to the White House.

In his interview on "Fox & Friends," which lasted more than 50 minutes, Mr. Trump also revealed he will be speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the energy industry and trade, and lambasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who on Sunday said Mr. Trump's downplaying of the severity of the coronavirus early on cost American lives.

"As the president fiddles, people are dying," Pelosi said in an interview on CNN.

The California Democrat also said Mr. Trump's delay in ensuring hospitals have the necessary equipment is costing lives.

Asked about Pelosi's comments, the president said the remarks were a "disgrace."

"She's a sick puppy, in my opinion," he told "Fox & Friends." "She's got a lot of problems."

To limit the spread of the coronavirus, of which there are more than 143,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 2,500 deaths, Mr. Trump announced Sunday his administration would be extending nationwide social distancing guidelines until the end of April.

The restrictions urge Americans to work from home, limit their social gatherings to less than 10 people and avoid nonessential travel. Governors of more than 25 states have also told their residents to stay at home and ordered nonessential businesses to close their doors.

The efforts to combat the coronavirus have effectively brought the U.S. economy to a halt, and last week, the Department of Labor reported a record 3.3 million people had filed for unemployment insurance.

To inject cash into the economy and provide relief for hurting Americans and businesses, Congress passed and Mr. Trump signed into law last week a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. The measure, the largest in U.S. history, provides direct payments to Americans and loans to small businesses. It also allocates $500 billion in loans to ailing industries.

The package was the third phase of a multi-pronged legislative response to the coronavirus outbreak, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has not ruled out the possibility that a fourth will be needed.

Mr. Trump, too, suggested the $2 trillion price tag "could go up further because we're going to help Boeing and we're going to help the airlines."

The stimulus package passed by Congress last week included more than $50 billion for passenger airlines and cargo carriers.

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