SEATTLE — Vice President Mike Pence says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be issuing new guidance to health care providers making clear that any American can be tested for the virus subject to a doctor’s orders.
Pence said he wanted to end any confusion after some state leaders said they were being told from some laboratory workers that the only people who could be tested for the virus were those more than mildly symptomatic.
Pence said the White House Office of Management and Budget would direct federal agencies to review internal travel policies and to adhere to State Department advisories concerning international travel. He said that the CEOs of the nation’s airlines would be coming to the White House on Wednesday.
Nine people have died and a total of 27 people in Washington state have tested positive for the new coronavirus on Tuesday. Tension is rising on how to contain the outbreak.
All of the COVID-19 deaths in the United States so far have been in or around the Seattle area. On its website, the state Department of Health reported nine deaths, eight in King County and one in Snohomish County.
On Tuesday morning, the Washington State Department of Health had 231 people under public health supervision.
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington on Sunday said they had evidence the COVID-19 virus may have been circulating in the state for up to six weeks undetected. If true, that could mean that there are hundreds of undiagnosed cases in the area.
North Carolina's governor says a person in the state has tested positive for the fast-spreading coronavirus. Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news release Tuesday that the person from Wake County tested positive for the virus after traveling to the state of Washington.
North Carolina is at least the 15th state to report a case of the virus.
The outbreak, which was first detected late last year in central China, has infected 90,000 people worldwide and killed some 3,100 of them.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expressing doubts about the government's ability to ramp up testing fast enough to deal with the crisis.
On Capitol Hill, final efforts are underway on a $7.5 billion emergency bill to fund the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak in a burst of bipartisan cooperation.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, a critic of President Donald Trump's handling of the spreading crisis, says he's expecting a bipartisan deal among lawmakers on the House and Senate Appropriations committees later Tuesday.
The hope is to clear the measure through Congress by week's end. The $7.5 billion package would triple Trump's request but is expected to enjoy support from both the White House and Trump's GOP allies on Capitol Hill.
Schumer says “when it comes to Americans’ health and safety, there is no reason to be penny-wise and pound-foolish."
The head of the U.N. health agency says Tuesday that he's concerned that the new coronavirus is disrupting worldwide supplies of protective equipment, including masks, that are vitally needed to protect the health workers fighting the COVID-19 epidemic.
He says "we are concerned that countries' abilities to respond are being compromised by the severe and increasing disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment, caused by rising demand, hoarding and misuse."
He says “shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients.”
In a surprise move, the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by a sizable half-percentage point to support the economy in the face of the spreading coronavirus.
Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference that the virus “will surely weigh on economic activity both here and abroad for some time.”
It was the Fed's first rate cut since last year when it reduced its key short-term rate three times. It is also the first time the central bank has cut its key rate between policy meetings since the 2008 financial crisis and the largest rate cut since then.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild disease. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
The CDC encourages anyone who develops symptoms to call a healthcare professional.