Saturday Coronavirus Update

TASK FORCE TO ANNOUNCE NEW AVENUE FOR TESTING

by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 14, 2020) — An hourlong presser early Saturday afternoon attended by the president, vice president and the White House Coronavirus Task Force revealed that a second source for testing for the virus is in process and will be detailed at another presser on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Vice President Mike Pence was announced as the spokesman. However, when the group entered the White House press room, President Trump accompanied them wearing a jacket and no tie and a “USA” golf cap.

The group had just finished a daily briefing on the coronavirus outbreak, which has now affected approximately 129 countries and appeared in the United States several weeks ago.

It has now been found in 49 of 50 and the District of Columbia.  Washington State, California and New York State have been the most heavily-impacted, with most cases and fatalities occurring at a nursing home in Washington.  On Friday night, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the closing of all public schools for the next six weeks.

Trump spoke first and answered a number of reporters’ questions, revealing that he was tested for coronavirus on Friday night.  Exiting the room and leaving Pence in charge, Trump appeared upbeat and flashed a smile.

Pence thanked the American people for heeding the warnings of federal, state and local health officials to prevent “community spread” of the virus, which has killed more than 5,000 people throughout the world, most in China.

Infectious-disease specialist and Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx explained that a “negative” coronavirus test result could occur in a person who is actually infected with the virus.  Accordingly, she cautioned anyone with symptoms and a negative test to continue to practice precautionary behavior.

The cruise-line, hospitality and airline industries have been heavily impacted by the “social-distancing” Americans have been instructed to undertake, Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.  Mnuchin indicated that the administration is considering financial assistance to the aforementioned industries through congressional action.

Mnuchin also spoke about legislation passed by the House of Representatives at approximately 12:30 a.m. Saturday which, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, will provide two weeks of paid employment leave for those affected by the coronavirus, either by their own illness or in the event they are caring for a sick family member or children whose schools are closed..  Relief will be provided to some employers in the form of tax credits, Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin was the key administration arbiter with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Trump said, and thanked him for his efforts.

Prior to the presser, Fox News journalist Mark Meredith reported that all individuals who wished to attend were required to have their respective temperatures taken by White House medical personnel.  One reporter was denied entry, Meredith reported, although he did not know the individual’s temperature.

As of yesterday afternoon, there were 50 deaths in the U.S. from the virus, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said.  Fauci, who has held his position since 1984, has explained that the virus will progress along a curve, representing its increase in the country, which he hopes can be minimized by swift and consistent intervention by the American people.

Intervention involves “social distancing,” the avoidance of large crowds, frequent handwashing, staying home if one is sick, and avoiding others who are sick.

HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson urged Americans to pray for the health of the nation against the context of Trump’s announcement of Sunday as a national day of prayer.  Carson maintained that Americans have moved away from prayer in recent decades and his belief that prayer can be part of the development of all Americans’ “God-given talents.”

Author of “Gifted Hands” and a retired world-renowned neurosurgeon, Carson and his brother were raised by a single mother with a third-grade education who pressed her boys to read and complete their homework scrupulously each day.

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told the American people to work together and abandon “partisanship” to achieve the goal of minimizing the effect of coronavirus.

As she had at Friday’s Rose Garden presser, CMS Director Seema Verna stressed the new rule for nursing homes of no outside visitors until the crisis passes. Exceptions will be made for “end-of-life” situations, Verna said.  The elderly and medically-compromised populations are most vulnerable to complications from the disease, experts agree.

Acting DHS Director Chad Wolf confirmed that a ban on travel from the UK and Northern Ireland will be implemented effective at midnight on Monday.  The UK has seen a significant increase in coronavirus cases, Trump said on Friday and Saturday, but was not included in the ban on travel from Europe announced by Trump on Wednesday night.

Both Trump and Wolf confirmed that the administration is considering domestic travel restrictions as well, although no specific areas or airports were mentioned.

As announced on Friday, a “public-private partnership” between the federal government and health/wellness companies such as Target, Walgreen’s, Walmart and CVS is expected to roll out “parking-lot” testing for coronavirus in the near future.

 

 

 

 

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