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Watch: White House Holds Coronavirus Briefing After Trump Signs Relief Bill

President Trump signs H.R.266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
Image credit: Pool

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President Trump on Friday signed the latest economic relief package, as a handful of Republican-led states prepared to re-open their states’ economies — with or without the president’s blessing.

The bulk of the $484 billion package is dedicated to replenishing the quickly depleted Paycheck Protection Program, which is aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat with forgivable loans during the coronavirus crisis.

The bill signing comes in the shadow of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp allowing a number of non-essential businesses, including hair salons and tattoo parlors, to re-open on Friday, in a move that has confounded health care experts and frustrated Trump.

The coronavirus task force is holding its daily briefing at 5 p.m. ET. Watch the briefing live.

Trump has sharply criticized Kemp, a first-term Republican governor, several times lately for his insistence on reopening the state despite not meeting the recommended benchmarks to ease social distancing restrictions.

“I didn’t like to see spas opening, frankly,” Trump said at the daily coronavirus task force briefing on Thursday.

Trump has called for states that have slowed the spread of coronavirus to consider reopening, even before federal guidelines on social distancing expire on May 1. But Georgia does not meet the criteria outlined in the White House’s three-phase guideline to begin easing its coronavirus restrictions.

“I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening. And I wasn’t happy with it. And I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy,” Trump said.

Going against experts and his party’s own standard bearer, Kemp moved forward with the decision to relax coronavirus restrictions in the state, allowing massage parlors, barber shops and other non-essential businesses to re-open Friday morning.

Trump also touted a preliminary study at Thursday briefing from the Department of Homeland Security, suggesting that ultraviolet could slow the coronavirus. He also wondered out loud about whether scientists could find a way to treat the virus by injecting disinfectant.

When asked about his comments on Friday, Trump said he asked the question “sarcastically.”

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