The Latest: Trump meets with pharmaceutical company execs
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the new coronavirus outbreak (all times local):
President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet are meeting at the White House with executives of 10 pharmaceutical companies to learn ways to speed the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Today, there are no proven treatments. In China, scientists have been testing a combination of HIV drugs against the new coronavirus, as well as an experimental drug named remdesivir that was in development to fight Ebola. In the U.S., the University of Nebraska Medical Center also began testing remdesivir in some Americans who were found to have COVID-19 after being evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan.
It’s not clear how quickly such studies will answer whether any of the drugs help.
Vice President Mike Pence also attended the Monday afternoon meeting. He says other meetings are being arranged with leaders of airlines and cruise ship operations.
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to declare up front that immigrants will not be subject to immigration enforcement for coming forward with coronavirus illness or concerns.
ACLU staff attorney Esha Bhandari tells reporters that the administration must act now, in the early stages of the national response.
Yale University law professor Amy Kapczynski says people are less likely to seek help if they fear coming into contact with immigration enforcement.
The death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. climbed to six Monday as the disease spread to more countries.
Washington state health authorities now say six people have died from coronavirus.
At a news conference Monday Dr. Jeff Duchin from Public Health – Seattle & King County – said five of the deaths were people from King County and one was a person from Snohomish County, north of Seattle.
Researchers said earlier that the virus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in Washington state.
The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has climbed to 2,036.
Authorities reported Monday that 52 people who had tested positive have died but stressed that all of them had preexisting serious health problems, from cancer to kidney or heart disease, and nearly all were elderly, including many in their late 80s or early 90s.
So far, health officials have administered more than 23,000 swab tests in the country of nearly 60 million people.
National health institute officials said it could be 10 to 14 days before it is known if Italy’s restrictive measures, including quarantining 11 towns in the north, where nearly all the cases have been reported, is slowing the spread of the virus.
Democratic and Republican aides in the U.S. say negotiations on a bipartisan, emergency $7 billion to $8 billion measure to battle the new coronavirus are almost complete.
The measure appears on track to be unveiled as early as Tuesday, and the hope is to speed it quickly through both House and Senate by the end of the week.
The measure would finance both federal and state response efforts, fund the federal government’s drive to develop and produce a vaccine, and offer Small Business Administration disaster loans to help businesses directly affected by the growing coronavirus crisis.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is calling for caution but “not panic” over the spread of the coronavirus .
Adams was touring the Connecticut public health laboratory Monday.
He and state Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell urged the public to take precautions such as washing hands, elbow “bumping” instead of hand shaking and getting flu shots.
They said flu shots would decrease the number of people hospitalized because of flu and free up space, if needed, to treat patients sickened by the coronavirus.
Adams also defended the Trump administration’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus, saying it has “done a good job of limiting coronavirus entry into the United States.”
Senegal and Tunisia have reported their first cases of the new coronavirus.
Senegal Minister of Health Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr confirmed its case Monday. The patient is a French national who had been on holiday in Nimes and at a ski resort before returning to Senegal, where he and his family live. The health minister said he is in quarantine and his family is being monitored.
President Macky Sall called for calm. He reassured Senegal that authorities are ready to face the disease.
Tunisia also reported its first case of the virus Monday, a Tunisian man who had been working in Italy but left because the virus was spreading there. He returned to Tunisia on Thursday and then developed a fever and tested positive.
The Tunisian health minister insisted “there’s no need to panic or have hostile reactions toward the patient or his relatives.” Authorities said all those who were on the boat with him have been identified and are being monitored.
The director-general of the World Health Organization said there is still time to stop the surging global epidemic of COVID-19, saying “containment is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.”
In a press briefing Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan were now the agency’s “greatest concern.”
He described the new coronavirus as a “unique” virus capable of community transmission but that unlike flu, it could be contained with the right measures.
He declined to describe the global outbreak as a pandemic, saying the evidence did not yet support that. He added that current concerns and worries about the virus were understandable but cautioned that “let’s really calm down and do the right things” to contain the outbreak.
Speaking at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the coronavirus risk to Americans remains low, adding “we’re ready for anything.”
This week Pence, as the head of the coronavirus task force, will be meeting with aviation industry officials Wednesday. He will visit Minnesota-based 3M Thursday and will meet with cruise industry representatives in Florida on Saturday.
President Donald Trump will meet with representatives of large pharmaceutical companies later Monday. he said the meeting had been on his schedule to address drug prices, but the coronavirus will now be the top agenda item at the meeting.
U.S. health officials updated the nation’s count of coronavirus cases to 91 on Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the count includes 45 infections among people who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is one more than previously reported. It includes people who tested positive after returning from travel to outbreak areas in other parts of the world, their close contacts and what appear to be infections from community spread — people who did not travel and did not have known contact with other infected people.
Two people have died and 10 states have reported cases.