Donald Trump made Vice President Mike Pence his coronavirus czar in a sudden announcement Wednesday.
He also declared the U.S. would spend 'whatever' it takes to beat coronavirus Wednesday at a White House press conference as the infection's scale grew around the world.
Trump said Pence would report to him. The vice president said extra personnel would be brought in to the White House for 'this whole of government response,' to the mounting worldwide health crisis.
The president boasted that he had made 'early decisions' which had kept the level of coronavirus down in the U.S. - but said that he would make sure government health workers have the resources they need.
'They can do whatever they want,' Trump said at a White House press briefing surrounded by top officials including Alex Azar, his Health and Human Services Secretary.
The White House had asked for $2.5 billion in extra funding for the Centers for Disease Control, but had come under pressure to increase that spending by both Republicans and Democrats.
The press conference was an apparent attempt to claim fears over the virus, which has seen stock markets plunge.
Briefing: Donald Trump held an unprecedented White House press conference as the threat from coronavirus escalates
The briefing was held as American coronavirus cases rose to 60 with the addition of two more Diamond Princess cruise evacuees and another American who tested positive on Wednesday.
Officials have not yet revealed how the most recently diagnosed patient acquired the life-threatening infection..
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the positive test results of an additional six cruise evacuees, including four that had already been announced by local health departments.
At least five of the new patients were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship last week. They were then transported to three different quarantine sites: military bases in California and Texas and the National Quarantine Unit in Nebraska.
Global cases have now surged past 81,000, with well over 2,700 deaths - though the vast majority of fatalities have still occurred in China, where the outbreak began.
The briefing came after CDC officials warned Americans to prepare for the infection to spread, despite President Trump's reassurances that the virus is 'under control' in the U.S., and the claim that the response was 'great' in a string of tweets which accused Democrats of trying to cause panic.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, dismissed Trump, saying: 'I don't think the president knows what he's talking about - once again.'
And Trump's Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar denied