Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, is prepping a request for $8.5 billion from the U.S. federal government to help combat the coronavirus that has now sickened more than 80,000 people around the world, CNN reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed senior Senate Democratic aide.
The request is expected to set up a battle with the administration of President Donald Trump, which earlier this week requested just $2.5 billion in funding. Fears that the virus, which broke out in Wuhan, China late last year and has since spread to more than 34 countries, will spread in the U.S. are rising after health officials on Tuesday said Americans should start making contingency plans. Schumer has already criticized the administration for failing to react to the potential crisis. “We’ve seen no sign that President Trump has any plan or urgency to deal with the spread of the coronavirus — we need real leadership and we need it fast,” Schumer said. Trump is scheduled to hold a press conference on the virus at 6 p.m.