March 9, 2020 / 3:48 AM / a month ago

Top U.S. congressional Democrats urge worker protections during coronavirus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hold a joint news conference on President Trump's full Budget Request for fiscal year 2021 at the Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The two top U.S. congressional Democrats urged President Donald Trump on Sunday to act quicker to protect workers affected by the deadly coronavirus, including free testing for the virus and paid sick leave for those under quarantine orders or caring for children kept home by school closures.

“President Trump continues to manufacture needless chaos within his administration and it is hampering the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

“The administration must move more quickly and seriously to address the severe impacts of the coronavirus on the financial security of America’s families,” they added.

The two called for steps to protect workers, including making coronavirus tests available for all Americans who need one, expanding the U.S. food stamp program and ensuring patients be reimbursed for any non-covered coronavirus-related costs.

Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday the United States did not yet have enough virus tests to meet anticipated demand.

Trump last week signed an $8.3 billion funding bill to help state and local governments combat the spreading coronavirus. He had initially requested $2.5 billion, with much of that coming from previously appropriated funds.

More than half of the 50 U.S. states have reported cases, including the first cases in Virginia and Connecticut on Sunday. As the outbreak spreads, daily life has been disrupted, with some concerts and conferences canceled and some universities telling students to stay home and take classes online.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Peter Cooney

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