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Trump orders U.S. to send Italy medical supplies, other aid to help coronavirus fight

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U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered top U.S. administration officials to help Italy in fighting the novel coronavirus by providing medical supplies, humanitarian relief and other assistance.

In a memo to several Cabinet ministers, Trump ordered a variety of measures to help Italy, including making U.S. military personnel in the country available for telemedicine services, helping set up field hospitals, and transporting supplies.

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“The Italian Republic (Italy), one of our closest and oldest Allies, is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already claimed more than 18,000 lives, brought much of the Italian healthcare system to the brink of collapse, and threatens to push Italy’s economy into a deep recession,” Trump said in the memo.

“Although the United States Government’s first and foremost responsibility is to the American people, coming to the aid of Italy will help fight the COVID-19 outbreak and mitigate the impact of the crisis, while simultaneously demonstrating United States leadership in the face of Chinese and Russian disinformation campaigns, lessening the risk of re-infection from Europe into the United States, and maintaining critical supply chains,” it continued.

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Italy has recorded the biggest number of deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, followed by the United States.

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Yet Italy is reporting that new infections, hospitalizations and deaths have been leveling off, even as the daily death tolls remain shocking. The country confirmed 570 additional deaths Friday for a total of more than 18,800.

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Trump ordered his commerce secretary to encourage U.S. suppliers to sell products requested by Italian authorities and healthcare providers, except those required for the United States’ own response to the pandemic.

The memo said the secretary of state, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank “may use available authorities to support the recovery of the Italian economy.”

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(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

—With files from the Associated Press and Global News