Government leaders move swiftly on new coronavirus efforts as outbreak continues

Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 11, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress is quickly unveiling a coronavirus aid package while President Donald Trump is considering a national disaster declaration and new travel advisories as Washington races to confront the outbreak.

The number of confirmed cases of the infection has topped 1,000 in the U.S. and the World Health Organization has declared that the global crisis is now a pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns that the outbreak in the U.S. is going to get worse.

As of Wednesday evening, at least 32 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Deaths have been reported in the following states: Washington state (24), California (4), Florida (2), New Jersey (1), South Dakota (1).

Wednesday, the White House’s coronavirus task force recommended 30-day mitigation strategies for the Seattle and Santa Clara County communities that are experiencing widespread transmission of COVID-19. Click here to learn more.

To address Washington’s outbreak, Gov. Jay Inslee has banned all events and gatherings of more than 250 people in Seattle’s metro area. Seattle Public Schools also announced that its schools will close for at least two weeks, starting Thursday.

Large events are also being canceled or paired down. Many sporting events will be played without spectators. That includes this year’s NCAA basketball tournaments.

"The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” wrote NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement. “Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”

The outbreak is affecting the Democratic presidential race as well. On Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden said he will indefinitely stay off the campaign trail as cases of the coronavirus spread. Instead, he will have “virtual events” for supporters to watch.

As for the virus’ effect on Wall Street, stocks fell sharply, shaving 5.9% off the Dow Jones Industrial Average and bringing the index into a bear market. The more widely followed S&P 500 is within one percentage point of its own bear market, which would mark the end of one of Wall Street's greatest eras.

Investors are waiting for a more aggressive response from the U.S. government to economic fallout from the coronavirus.

Trump is expected to announce an executive order insisting on American-made medical supplies and pharmaceuticals in response to the coronavirus outbreak. That's according to a person familiar with the plan who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke to The Associate Press on condition of anonymity.

The president says he will be addressing the nation from the Oval Office at 9 p.m. He's expected to discuss efforts to combat the virus.

Click here to learn more about COVID-19 and how to help prevent the spread of the virus.