WHO reports the number of confirmed infections climbed to 81,109

In the past 24 hours, 412 new cases were confirmed in China and 459 were confirmed outside the mainland

Schumer requested $8.5 billion to prepare for a U.S. outbreak

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Congress to approve $8.5 billion in funding to combat the spread of the coronavirus, more than tripling the White House request, as the World Health Organization reported the number of confirmed cases outside China approached 3,000.

President Trump scheduled a 6 p.m. EST White House news conference with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention representatives on the COVID-19 infection a day after health officials said a U.S. outbreak is inevitable.

WHO said 871 new cases of the virus surfaced in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of confirmed global infections to 81,109, with 412 new infections in China and 459 new infections outside the mainland – the first time more new cases were reported outside China than inside. The worldwide death toll stood at 2,761.

“The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a Wednesday briefing. “There are now cases linked to Iran in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman. There are now cases linked to Italy in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.”

He said he is not ready, however, to declare a pandemic although the virus still has that potential.

The White House requested $2.5 billion to prepare for an outbreak, including $1.25 billion in new funding with the rest coming from existing programs. There’s no vaccine for the disease although several drug companies are working feverishly to develop a treatment.

“Our proposal was put together after hearing from public health experts and looking at historical precedents for when Congress funded fights to combat spread of serious diseases,” Schumer said, noting $7 billion was appropriated to fight swine flu in 2009.

Schumer’s proposal, all new funding, provides $1.5 billion for the CDC, $3 billion for emergency funding for public health and social services, $2 billion for state and local governments, $1 billion for emerging health threats funding administered by the United States Agency for International Development and $1 billion for the National Institutes for Health’s effort to develop a vaccine.

“Here in the United States, the Trump administration has been caught flat-footed. The administration has no plan to deal with the coronavirus — no plan, and seemingly no urgency to develop one,” Schumer said on the Senate floor following an administration briefing Tuesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a hearing he was afraid the administration was “lowballing” its funding request.

“You can’t afford to do that,” Shelby said, adding he would introduce his own funding request without specifying how big it would be.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said $4 billion is a more realistic figure.

Lawmakers were to begin meetings Wednesday on a bipartisan, bicameral supplemental funding bill.