President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will temporarily suspend "all foreclosures and evictions" amid the coronavirus crisis.
That "immediate relief" for renters and homeowners will last through the end of April, Trump said during a press briefing at the White House.
Markets continue their slide as Trump delivered those remarks and took numerous questions from reporters in the White House briefing room. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 dropped more than 7% during the briefing, triggering a temporary "circuit-breaker" trading halt.
The daily briefing came shortly after Trump announced that the U.S. would temporarily close its border with Canada to "non-essential traffic."
"Trade will not be affected," tweeted the president, whose administration has signaled grave concerns about the impact of the virus on the economy. The White House is currently scrambling to hash out the details of a massive stimulus plan that could total $1 trillion.
Trump in recent days has said that he expects the struggling economy to "pop back," but he has also admitted that the U.S. "may be" headed for a recession.
The administration's latest moves come as officials at every level of government take unprecedented steps to slow the transmission of the coronavirus. State and city leaders have banned large gatherings of people and forced restaurants and bars to shutter their storefronts, allowing them only to offer takeout services to customers.
U.S. lawmakers and White House officials, meanwhile, are negotiating multiple proposals to potentially allocate more than $1 trillion to boost the economy, fund agencies and provide relief to Americans whose livelihoods could be threatened by the disease.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the White House is hashing out the details of a proposal that could include hundreds of billions of dollars in direct payments to Americans.
That plan could be crucial to Americans who lose their jobs or businesses as a result of the crisis – though Mnuchin told CNBC that the U.S. will not have a 20% unemployment rate, which is a figure he had reportedly warned Republican senators about.
"We're not going to let that happen," Mnuchin said Wednesday. "This isn't like the  financial crisis. There will be an end in sight."
Shortly after, Trump announced at the White House briefing that HUD "is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April."
The COVID-19 virus, which is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has quickly spread to dozens of countries globally. There are more than 201,000 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 8,007 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
There are at least 6,496 cases in the United States and at least 114 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
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