Franco Ordoñez

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.

Ordoñez has received several state and national awards for his work, including the Casey Medal, the Gerald Loeb Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism. He is a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists, and is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and the University of Georgia.

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The nation's 15 days of social distancing are nearly over. And while many states have issued stay-at-home orders for much longer periods of time, new guidance from the White House coronavirus task force is due soon.

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The United States and China are locked in a struggle over influence and messaging about the coronavirus pandemic even as governments around the world struggle to control the outbreak.

This week, Washington claimed a small victory.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus hailed comments by China's ambassador walking back an earlier false claim in Beijing that the U.S. Army had introduced the coronavirus to its epicenter in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

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Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday declared that the coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency, a designation that frees up as much as $50 billion in federal assistance to state and local governments overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, and makes it easier to surge medical resources to areas that need them most.

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Rachel, let's talk more about the White House response to the coronavirus here. I want to bring in NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, who is at the White House. Hi, Franco. Franco, you with us?

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hello.

Ricardo Flores can't vote on Tuesday. He's not a citizen.

But Flores wants to play a role now. He figures if he can convince a few people, especially members of his own Latino community in Kansas City, Mo., to cast a ballot for his candidate — that's a close second.

"I'm going to become a citizen of this country," he says. "And I'm going to be able to vote and I have my life here now, I want to see things better."

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Six states will hold Democratic primary contests tomorrow, including Missouri, where Joe Biden was this weekend. He's trying to stay the frontrunner.

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Updated at 7 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday stopped in at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency marshaling the response to coronavirus — a major political test for his administration.

The trip itself was almost derailed by coronavirus fears, and mixed signals about what was happening created an on-again, off-again drama that played out in front of television cameras. The chaotic impression clashed with the White House quest to show that the public health crisis is under control.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Olympia, Wash., on Thursday to meet with the governor and health officials and express support for the region that has been hit hardest by coronavirus.

"By being there on the ground, I want to assure the people of Washington State, people of California, people that are in the communities that are being impacted by the virus, that we're with them," Pence told reporters, pledging federal resources to help.

Updated at 5 :45 p.m.

The White House sought to show it was shoring up its efforts to corral the spread of coronavirus on Thursday, naming an internationally recognized HIV/AIDS expert as its new coronavirus response coordinator.

Debbie Birx is a State Department ambassador-at-large who works on global health diplomacy issues. Vice President Pence said Birx would be detailed to his office.

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