March 18 coronavirus news
White House coronavirus task force member Seema Varna said at a news conference today that the Trump administration is recommending that patients cancel elective health procedures to help with health care capacity nationwide.
"We believe that these recommendations will help surgeons, patients, and hospitals prioritize what is essential, while leaving the ultimate decision in the hands of state and local health officials and those clinicians who have direct responsibility to their patients," Varna said.
She continued: "We urge providers and clinicians and patients to seriously consider these recommendations. They will not only preserve equipment, but it also allows doctors and nurses to help those that are on the front lines, and it will protect patients from unnecessary exposure to the virus."
Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a regulation to permit doctors to practice across state lines.
Pence also pleaded with hospitals and Americans to delay elective procedures as the outbreak spreads and hospitals face shortages of resources.
“With regard to medical personnel, at the President’s direction, HHS is issuing a regulation today that will allow all doctors and medical professionals to practice across state lines to meet the needs of hospitals that may arise in adjoining areas,” he said.
Pence added: “In addition to that, we are asking every American and our medical community leaders and hospitals to partner with us in delaying elective procedures across the country in our healthcare system to ensure that medical supplies and medical capacities go where they’re needed most.”
Hear the full announcement:
President Trump said his administration will suspend foreclosures and evictions on homeowners at least until the end of next month.
Speaking at the White House, Trump said the move from the Department of Housing and Urban Development would provide relief during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April,” Trump said.
Hear the full announcement:
President Trump said Wednesday afternoon that he may hold a second press conference Wednesday or Thursday about “exciting” Food and Drug Administration developments, declining to specify what those developments are.
“We are looking at looking at some very exciting things and I am going to be holding a second news conference either today. We’re going to talk about the FDA – some things that are happening that are quite exciting, and we’re going to be doing that either later today or tomorrow, fairly early tomorrow so we’ll see what happens,” he said.
He continued: “The FDA, at my instruction, has been working very, very hard on a number of developments and we’ll be discussing them with you later today or tomorrow.”
A hotel industry group says hotel rooms are more than 80% empty in four US cities.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association said Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Boston occupancy rates are below 20%.
The group is lobbying for government assistance, including increased liquidity and low interest loans.
Based on their current occupancy, the AHLA estimates nearly four million jobs have been eliminated or will be eliminated in the next few weeks.
“The impact to our industry is already more severe than anything we’ve seen before, including September 11th and the great recession of 2008 combined,” Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, said in the group's statement.
The US Navy hospital USNS Comfort could still be a “few weeks” away from arriving in New York, a US defense official tells CNN.
Both Navy hospital ships have “prepare to deploy” orders, two defense officials said. President Trump said Wednesday they’d launch in the next week or so.
Both ships will start getting ready, with crew and medical staff.
It is expected at this point the medical staff will be trauma care specialists, at least to begin with, so their presence can free up bed space in New York City hospitals. They will try for all due speed to get there, the officials said.
President Trump said during Wednesday’s White House press briefing that he will be invoking the Defense Production Act.
“Right after we finish this conference, I’ll be signing it and it’s prepared to go,” Trump said.
CNN reported last month that the Trump administration was considering using the 1950 wartime law to expand the production of masks and protective gear to prevent the spread of the virus.
President Trump just confirmed a statement made earlier today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the federal government will be deploying a US Navy ship to New York City to help with hospital capacity.
Trump added that an additional ship will be deployed to a yet to be determined location on the West Coast as well.
"They are being prepared right now. They're massive ships. They are the big, white ships with the Red Cross on the sides," Trump said about the ships, speaking at a press conference with his White House coronavirus task force.
President Trump announced Wednesday afternoon that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been activate across the country as it continues to fight the coronavirus.
"Today, FEMA is activated in every region. We are at level one, level one being the highest level which we will work with, and we've been working with FEMA. I've done a lot of work with FEMA. They're incredible. It's always been on hurricanes or tornadoes," Trump said moments ago from the White House.
Trump added: "This is a very different kind of a work for FEMA, but they will come through as they always do. We have tremendous people, tremendous talent in FEMA."
Watch the moment: