/WATCH: White House Gives Its Daily Update On Coronavirus Efforts

WATCH: White House Gives Its Daily Update On Coronavirus Efforts

Vice President Pence speaks during a briefing at the White House on Saturday. The coronavirus task force is holding another briefing on Monday afternoon.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

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Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Vice President Pence speaks during a briefing at the White House on Saturday. The coronavirus task force is holding another briefing on Monday afternoon.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Updated at 6:32 p.m. ET

The White House has convened another update about the coronavirus disaster on Monday afternoon as officials across the country struggle to keep pace with the spiraling outbreak.

President Trump sought to emphasize that even as the administration tackles the crisis now he has an eye on the need to relax the restrictions on social interaction that have paralyzed the economy.

The first assessments about progress so far will take place at the end of the current 15-day period of social distancing set by the administration earlier this month, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday.

Trump said he didn’t know when life would get back to normal but it would be “a lot sooner than three or four months,” and he didn’t want the pandemic to disrupt the nation so badly that the current economic problems curdled into a depression.

“We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem,” Trump said.

Watch the briefing live.

Trump has come under pressure to at least give a date by which life might start to get back to normal. The isolation, quarantines and closures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus have crippled many sectors of the economy.

Congressional logjam

Meanwhile, members of Congress and President Trump are grappling over the practical politics associated with passage of a new relief and stimulus package.

Congress wants to try to ease the economic shock afflicting the United States as Americans stay home and avoid large groups — with grievous consequences for restaurants, brick-and-mortar businesses and travel.

The latest legislation has failed two procedural votes since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., attempted to bring it in for a landing over the weekend.

Democrats are continuing to negotiate with majority Republicans, but they say they’ll only agree to something they say does more to help what they call individual cases, as opposed to offering the most support to airlines or other big players.

Trump didn’t have an update on Monday but he said he hoped lawmakers could reach a breakthrough.

“They have to get together and stop with the partisan politics,” he said.

Guard deployments

In three heavily populated states — New York, California and Washington — governors and their aides are getting access to National Guard troops and resources via the Federal Emergency Management Agency following an order on Sunday by Trump.

Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, head of the National Guard Bureau, told NPR on Monday that around 8,000 National Guard personnel already are deployed around the country.

The Guard can support emergency operations for months, he said, in whatever range of ways the nation needs.

“Because we bring trained units and leaders and people who can take on really any task you need people to do — some people, for instance, in California, they’re managing food banks,” Lengyel said. “Arizona recently started using some National Guard members to stock shelves.”

And in countless other places, Americans, medical workers and elected leaders are coming to terms with a continued increase in new coronavirus cases, which topped 40,000 on Monday — up from just over 6,000 a week before. Around 500 people have died.

Millions of people could be out of work. Children across the country are home from school as states and districts cancel classes for weeks or more.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said on Monday that he was ordering schools in the commonwealth not to reconvene for this academic year and also ordered business such as gyms and theaters to close.

“This week it’s going to get bad,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in an interview with NBC on Monday.

Officials have warned that as the government closes the gap between its testing capacity and what officials call the valid cases in which people want tests, the results could show a disturbing expansion of the virus around the country.

That’s why Adams and other public health officials urged Americans in places outside the three big focus areas to take seriously the ongoing orders to stay home, keep clear of large groups and to wash their hands.

“We don’t want Dallas or New Orleans or Chicago to turn into the next New York,” Adams said. “It means everyone needs to be taking the right steps right now.”

Crackdown on scammers, hoarders

Attorney General Bill Barr said on Monday that the Justice Department would crack down on people hoarding medical equipment or supplies as authorities discovered them.

Each of the department’s 93 U.S. Attorney’s Offices is appointing an official who’ll be charged with prosecuting hoarding or other such cases, Barr said.

The Justice Department also has said it’s targeting scammers taking advantage of the crisis, including those offering a “vaccine” for sale — as yet there is no vaccine available for coronavirus patients.

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