Donald Trump made Vice President Mike Pence his coronavirus tsar in a sudden announcement Wednesday.
He also stated that the US would spend “everything” to defeat coronavirus on Wednesday at a White House press conference as the scale of the infection grew around the world.
But he said the health risk for Americans remained “low” and the number of people diagnosed was small.
Trump said Pence would report to him. The vice president said additional staff would be brought to the White House for “this whole government response” to the growing global health crisis.
The president boasted that he had made “early decisions” that had kept coronavirus levels low in the US – but said he would ensure that government health workers have the resources they need.
“They can do whatever they want,” Trump said at a White House press conference surrounded by top officials, including Alex Azar, his Secretary for Health and Human Services.
The White House had asked for $ 2.5 billion in additional funding for the Centers for Disease Control, but had come under pressure to increase spending by both Republicans and Democrats.
The press conference was an apparent attempt to claim fear of the virus, shattering the stock markets and criticizing both the Democrats and the Republicans for the official response.
Briefing: Donald Trump held an unprecedented White House press conference as the corona virus threat escalates
Speakers: Donald Trump was surrounded by (from the left): Robert Redfield, director of the CDC;
The briefing was held when American coronavirus cases went up to 60 with the addition of two more Diamond Princess cruise evacuees and another American who tested positive on Wednesday.
Officials have not yet revealed how the most recently diagnosed patient contracted the life-threatening infection.
The CDC confirmed the positive test results from another six cruise evacuees, including four that had already been announced by local health departments.
At least five of the new patients were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship last week. They were then transported to three different quarantine sites: military bases in California and Texas and the National Quarantine Unit in Nebraska.
Global cases have now risen to 81,000, with more than 2,700 deaths – although the vast majority of fatalities still occurred in China, where the outbreak began.
On Tuesday, CDC officials warned Americans to prepare for the spread of the infection, despite Trump’s reassurance that the virus is “under control” in the US, and the claim that the response was “great” in a series of tweets who accused Democrats of trying to cause panic.
Nancy Pelosi, the house speaker, fired Trump on Wednesday and said, “I don’t think the president knows what he’s talking about – again.”
And Alex Azar Secretary of Trump’s Health and Human Services (HHS) denied claims that he was about to be replaced by an epidemic czar in the project to monitor the way the US handles the corona virus outbreak.
Another two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed among American passengers of the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship who were evacuated from Japan earlier this month (photo)
A total of 60 Americans now have a corona virus, but 45 of those cases are in people being quarantined after evacuation from Wuhan or the cruise, while only a small number were detected in the US after a trip to China. The source of one infection remains unclear
The CDC has 14 cases in the country and 45 cases of people evacuated from the cruise ship and the city of Wuhan in China.
The agency’s website does not yet reflect the 60th case announced Wednesday by Secretary Azar.
So far, only two cases of human-to-human coronavirus transmission have occurred in the US, but CDC officials believe it is no longer a matter of “or” but “when” the virus will be active in American communities.
The protagonist of the CDC at the outbreak of the coronavirus, deputy director for infectious diseases Dr. Nancy Messonnier advised parents to talk to their children’s schools about ‘teleschooling’ in case of quarantines or cancellations of classes during an outbreak.
“I told my children that they are not at risk now, but that we as a family must prepare for a significant disruption in our lives,” Dr. Messonnier reporters in a press conference on Tuesday.
In a bizarre turn, she is the sister of Rod Rosenstein, the former Attorney General who oversaw the investigation into Robert Mueller’s special counsel and who was a repeated target for Trump’s fire.
The new cases for which details have been released are limited to the evacuees of the cruise ship.
The number of people diagnosed in the US – without being repatriated – has been stable at 14 for weeks.
Another two people who were part of the 800-some Americans who had been repatriated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China, also tested positive for the corona virus.
The extra cases this week among evacuated people may not surprise the CDC, which advised that 14 American Diamond Princess passengers whose coronavirus tests returned positively because they were about to board the evacuation flights to the US go on the cargo planes.
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs eventually wiped out the health officials on the spot in Japan, where the ship was quarantined.
Of the 328 evacuated people, 13 ‘high-risk’ passengers were transferred to the high-quality quarantine in Nebraska.
CDC officials previously said they expected to see additional cases in the cruise ship evacuees, and diagnoses have indeed arrived.
Meanwhile, LAX airport and travelers are alert to a Korean Air flight attendant there from South Korea, where business has risen to more than 1,200 in a few days, and an American soldier on the Camp Carroll military base has been diagnosed with corona virus.