Trump says US ‘very ready’ for virus; Pence to lead response

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French lab scientists in hazmat gear inserting liquid in test tube manipulate potentially infected patient samples at Pasteur Institute in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Scientists at the Pasteur Institute developed and shared a quick test for the new virus that is spreading worldwide, and are using genetic information about the coronavirus to develop a potential vaccine and treatments. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump says the U.S. is “very, very ready” for whatever the new coronavirus threat brings.

He has put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of overseeing the nation’s response, working with the government’s top health authorities.

Trump has been pushing back against criticism that his administration isn’t doing enough to meet the coronavirus threat. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are calling for much more money than the $2.5 billion the White House has requested, and Trump indicated at a news conference that he’d be open to more spending.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has asked for $8.5 billion. 

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