Donald Trump's Coronavirus Briefings Under Fire for Not Using ASL Interpreters, Marlee Matlin Weighs In

President Donald Trump and the White House are coming under fire for not including American Sign Language interpreters during the press briefings this week on the coronavirus pandemic. Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin called out Trump on Twitter Thursday, while the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes told TMZ they have heard no word from officials after reaching out. The White House's decision not to use ASL interpreters is in stark contrast with local officials, who often have interpreters by their side.

Stephanie Cawthon of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes told TMZ members of the deaf and hearing-impaired community have reached out to the White House, asking them to include a single ASL interpreter in the briefing room. They have also asked for closed-captioning and better graphics with virus updates. Cawthon said they have not heard any word back from the Trump Administration.

Matlin, who appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice when Trump hosted, also took to Twitter to raise awareness of the issue. "Pls RT. Dear [White House], news & press conferences around the country during this Corona Virus Emergency have sign language interpreters standing next to the speakers, providing ACCESS for millions of deaf Americans. Can you do the same, PLEASE?" she wrote.

While Trump has not included an ASL interpreter during his press conferences, local officials have. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio have used interpreters at their press conferences.

There are now more than 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, including over 24,000 in the U.S. alone. There have been more than 280 deaths recorded in the U.S. During a press conference earlier this week, Trump predicted the crisis could continue into July or August.

On Saturday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of cases in the state topped 10,000. The federal government also declared a "major disaster" in the state, making it eligible for FEMA aid. The agency is helping the state set up temporary hospitals. Cuomo also said officials have ramped up testing in the state, with more than 45,000 conducted, reports NBC News.

Cuomo also issued a stay at home order for most New Yorkers and said the crisis could last months.

"I don’t believe it’s going to be a matter of weeks, it's going to be a matter of months," he said, reports Fox News.


On Saturday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a similar stay-at-home order. Illinois, California and Pennsylvania issued stay-at-home orders as well. The New Jersey mandate will go into effect at 9 p.m. ET Saturday, which means residents must stay home and nonessential businesses have to close.

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