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BREAKING: COVID-19 Task Force briefing at White House (March 26)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is delivering another coronavirus briefing tonight at approx. 5:30 p.m.

Tensions are rising in Washington between those who argue the country needs to get back up and running to prevent an irrecoverable depression, and medical experts who warn that, unless more extreme action is taken, the human cost will be catastrophic.

President Donald Trump wants the country to be, "Opened up and just raring to go by Easter."

Washington is straining to respond to the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction -- staying home from work, isolating themselves -- the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system.

But pushback is growing as the economic impact snaps into focus.

New York City is becoming a hot spot for cases, and the mayor says hospitals are days away from running out of basic supplies.

Medical supplies and hospital space are in short supply elsewhere.

President Trump says we cannot not let the cure be worse than the problem itself.

But the head of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus outbreak is accelerating.

The total number of global fatalities has surpassed 22,000.

A surge in infections has caused a critical shortage of medical supplies in many places.

The hunt for ventilators and other critical items is consuming Europe and the U.S.

President Trump speaks hopefully of malaria drugs, Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, that may offer relief for coronavirus symptoms.

President Trump said if it works, the medicines would be, "A gift from God."

Both drugs have shown encouraging signs in very small and early tests.

But the drugs have major side effects.

And a spike in demand on the drugs is complicating access for people who need them for rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

That's one reason scientists don't want to give them without evidence of their value, even in this emergency.

Scientists say major studies are needed to prove the drugs are safe and effective when used for purposes other than those approved now.

Bailey Pace

Social Media and Digital Content Manager

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