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The coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” in the United States and “there are other parts of the country which we need to get a better feel for what is going on,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Wednesday night.
"The way we do that is by increasing testing and identifying people who are infected, isolating them getting out of circulation, and then do contact tracing," Fauci said. “New York City is dominating the situation in the United States. About 60% of the infections are in the New York City metropolitan area, and 56% of the new infections are coming from the New York City metropolitan area."
Fauci added: "I mean, I have spoken to the political officials in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana. They are now shutting things down in a very vigorous way. It is likely that that should have been done a little bit sooner — not blaming anyone on that but you get caught unaware because the nature of this outbreak.”
There are at least 65,201 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the country through public health systems,
So far, 928 people have died.
The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.
Alaska Airlines – which is based in Seattle and primarily serves the Pacific Northwest – is announcing it will cut its flight schedule by 70% for at least the next two months.
In a statement, the company says demand for its flights has fallen by more than 80%, forcing dramatic reductions.
Alaska Airlines says it is cutting contract and temporary jobs and suspending annual pay increases. The airline also is offering employees the opportunity to take a voluntarily leave of absence. Those who accept would not be paid a salary, but would keep their health and travel benefits.
Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden will forgo his pay through September 30, as will president Ben Minicucci, according to the airline. Additional pay cuts will be made in the executive ranks — all the way down to vice president level — and the board of directors will receive no pay.
The moves are being made as the company actively lobbies the federal government to pass a relief package for the airline industry.
“We are ultimately optimistic about the future of our great airline,” Tilden said in a statement. “But it is clear that we are and will be under severe financial pressure for the foreseeable future and that is why these actions are essential.”
The US Army has reached out to retired medical personnel to possibly volunteer to support the coronavirus response effort.
In an email obtained by CNN, the Army called upon retired personnel on Wednesday looking for “voluntary recall of retired soldiers” with specific medical specialties.
“We need to hear from you STAT!” the Army said.
The Army is asking for help from retired soldiers qualified in these specialties: “60F: Critical Care Officer; 60N: Anesthesiologist; 66F: Nurse Anesthetist; 66S: Critical Care Nurse; 66P: Nurse Practitioner; 66T: ER Nurse; 68V: Respiratory Specialist; 68W: Medic.”
A spokesperson for the Army said they’re “gauging the availability and capabilities of our retired career medical personnel to potentially assist with Covid-19 pandemic response efforts if needed.”
The spokesperson made clear they do not want to interfere in any civilian medical needs, stating, “This information request will no way interfere with any care they may be providing to their communities, it is for future planning purposes only, and is completely voluntary."
“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that's why we're turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions. When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again," the email to retirees said.
The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday a Marine who works inside the building has tested positive for Covid-19.
A defense official said the last time the Marine, an officer, was in the Pentagon was March 13. He began self-isolation on March 15. He works in the plans, policy and operations office of Marine Corps headquarters.
This is the first military person based at the Pentagon to test positive.
“A marine stationed at the Pentagon tested positive for Covid-19 on March 24. Per U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the Marine is in isolation at his home and will undergo further assessment by health professionals," the Marines said in a statement. "The Marine followed official guidance by isolating himself when his spouse began to show symptoms. Once he became ill, he contacted his assigned medical facility. His workspace has been cleaned by a Pentagon response team and a thorough contact investigation is underway to mitigate risk and preserve the health of our Marines, civilians, and families.”
Separately, a staff who works in the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center is awaiting test results, a second defense official confirmed.
It's not immediately clear when the person was last in the command center and what part of that complex they work in.
Defense One was first to report both cases.
Boeing, which recently asked lawmakers for a massive financial aid package to prop up its industry, could qualify for a special $17 billion slice of the proposed $2 trillion stimulus package.
It's not clear, however, whether the company would actually take the funds.
The aerospace giant is among the companies that would qualify for the government-backed loans reserved "for businesses critical to maintaining national security," and the only one that has made it clear that it needs the assistance.
The company is intricately linked to both the US government and the nation's economy. It is the country's largest exporter, is a major government contractor, and consistently ranks among the top 10 companies lobbying federal officials, with millions spent annually.
The company has also come under scrutiny from lawmakers and the Federal Aviation Administration after two fatal 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people and internal documents showed the company mocked and belittled its regulators.
Some context: Boeing said last week that "a minimum of $60 billion" in public and private loans is necessary "to manage the pressure on the aviation sector and the economy as a whole."
It said it would share "much of any liquidity support to Boeing" with its vast network of suppliers.
On a series of conference calls with House Democrats today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear she is already thinking about the substance of the fourth coronavirus relief package that Congress will have to pass to respond to the crisis, according to sources on the calls.
She is making clear to her members who are disappointed that the pending stimulus bill did not include enough of their priorities that they will have a chance to add those provisions in the fourth package, the source said.
The comments come as Pelosi told CNN tonight that she does not think the current $2 trillion stimulus bill will help keep the economy afloat beyond a few months.
"I don't think we have enough to go the three months," she told CNN.
At New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, a makeshift morgue including tents and refrigerated trucks is being set up in preparation for what may be a surge in the need for autopsies.
"We're in a public health crisis, and the city has declared a state of emergency. As part of that declaration, agencies like OCME have enacted emergency contingency plans to help prepare for every possible outcome,” New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said in a statement to CNN.
A similar plan was utilized after September 11 attacks.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has a request from New York and other states for assistance in mortuary operations.
“FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) has received requests for HHS Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT) from the States of Hawaii, New York, and North Carolina. These requests are currently in the review and approval process,” a FEMA spokesperson told CNN.
New York City has longstanding contracts with companies to also provide refrigerated trucks to store bodies, but that plan has not been put in to effect just yet. If and when it is, those trucks would likely be stationed at various locations including makeshift hospitals such as the Javits Center.
CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield contributed to this report.