February 27 coronavirus news
President Trump expressed optimism Thursday that Coronavirus would eventually be contained and eliminated in the US, even as he acknowledged it could get worse first.
"We have done an incredible job. We’re going to continue," Trump said at an event with attendees of an African-American History Month reception in the Cabinet Room. "It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better. Could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows."
Trump called his Wednesday appearance before the White House press corps “a really good press conference.”
“One of the advantages is that I get covered live,” he added. “It was a calming press conference.”
He also claimed the media won’t give the administration “credit” for a successful response to the coronavirus.
The President also said that the federal government was busy preparing for the coronavirus while Democrats were working on impeachment.
“While they were working on impeachment, we were working on doing this. Because we were hearing about it,” he said.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer today that he couldn’t comment on a whistleblower in the Department of Health and Human Services who contends HHS workers handled coronavirus evacuees from Wuhan, China, without the proper protective gear until he reads the complaint.
Instead, Frieden stressed what other top health officials have been saying for the past week, that the virus is going to spread in the US.
“The bigger picture here is it has become clear over the past few days that a pandemic is inevitable. What’s not certain is how severe it will be. There are mild pandemics, moderate and severe,” Frieden said.
He said the Trump administration’s request for $2.5 billion to fight the outbreak is key.
“What we can do now is prepare in the society, generally, in our health care settings, in the government – and one of the key things to track in this next week is what happens with the supplemental funding for this, because that will determine how robust the US response can be.”
By the numbers: A 15th case of the coronavirus, confirmed in a woman in California on Wednesday, could potentially represent the beginning of the virus’ spread in the community, something the CDC has been warning about for weeks.
A University of California Davis student is under investigation for coronavirus following potential exposure, Dr. Cindy Schorzman announced in a press call today.
That person is being isolated at home, and two other students are being isolated off campus as well, Schorzman said.
All three are roommates at a UC Davis residence hall, according to Schorzman.
Test results for the student under investigation are not expected for a few days, as the nasal and oral swabs were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which is processing hundreds of tests from around the country, Yolo County health officer Dr. Ron Chapman said. The two other students are asymptomatic.
Citing privacy laws, health officials would not say whether the student was potentially exposed to someone with the virus or if they had recently traveled to a suspect location.
A Solano County woman is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center for what might be the first community spread case of coronavirus. The UC Davis Medical Center is not on campus and is about 17-miles away in Sacramento.
A whistleblower at the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking federal protection after complaining that more than a dozen workers who received the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, lacked proper training or protective gear for coronavirus infection control.
"We are hopeful that Congress and the OSC (Office of Special Counsel) will investigate this case in a timely and comprehensive manner," Ari Wilkenfeld, a lawyer for the whistleblower, told CNN. "This matter concerns HHS's response to the coronavirus, and its failure to protect its employees and potentially the public. The retaliatory efforts to intimidate and silence our client must be opposed."
The Washington Post was first to report on the complaint and cited a redacted complaint obtained from lawyers alleges that HHS staff were "improperly deployed" and "were not properly trained or equipped to operate in a public health emergency situation."
The whistleblower also alleges she was unfairly reassigned after raising concerns.
CNN has not independently reviewed the complaint. The Washington Post and New York Times report cite a redacted complaint obtained from lawyers alleges that HHS staff were "improperly deployed" and "were not properly trained or equipped to operate in a public health emergency situation." The whistleblower also alleges she was unfairly reassigned after raising concerns.
US Office of Special Counsel Communications Director Zachary Kurz confirmed to CNN that “OSC has received the complaint and the case has been assigned.”
A State Department official pushed back on the allegations when he was asked about the report during a coronavirus hearing this afternoon before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Anderson Cooper was joined by Dr. Alok Patel this afternoon on Full Circle to discuss the novel coronavirus and how people can prepare as the disease continues to spread across the globe.
One of the big problems when it comes to the coronavirus is diagnosing people with it, Patel said.
"As of right now, it's really hard, if not impossible, to tell," Patel said. "Eighty percent of these cases are mild and come across like the common cold."
The coronavirus transmits like any other common cold, he added.
The face masks are really only for people who are already sick to help prevent them from spreading the disease, Patel said.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the agency has sent out new coronavirus testing guidance to health care workers on Thursday, after what might be the first US case of community spread of the virus.
Earlier in the outbreak, CDC guidance to doctors in the US was that a patient had to have a travel history to China, among other criteria. But a patient at UC Davis Medical Center prompted the CDC to change its guidance.
The patient that prompted the guidance change was transferred from another Northern California hospital last week. According to a letter from UC Davis Health, the patient “did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered.” After doctors persisted in their request for the test, on Sunday, CDC went ahead with testing.
On Wednesday, the CDC confirmed the patient tested positive for the coronavirus.
That patient became the first US case of unknown origin, according to the CDC. The patient didn’t have any relevant travel history nor any exposure to another known patient. The patient may be the first US case of “community spread” of the virus, officials said.
“As soon as that case was recognized, we met and we revised our case definition for persons under investigation,” Redfield said. The guidance was updated on the CDC’s website Thursday. “Today that has been posted along with a new health advisory that the recommendation should be when a clinician or individual suspects coronavirus, then we should be able to get a test for coronavirus.”
Redfield added: “This is a fluid situation. There’s a lot we don’t know and we are learning more every day.”
You might have heard about the Spanish flu — the global flu pandemic that killed more than 670,000 Americans and tens of millions of people worldwide. It's basically the worst case scenario for what could happen with a pandemic outbreak.
There's no indication that coronavirus will turn into that: Health officials aren't even calling this outbreak a pandemic yet.
But John M. Barry, who wrote a book about the 1918 outbreak, has studied the issue extensively. He wrote in Smithsonian Magazine a few years ago that one reason that pandemic was so devastating is that, in the early stages, health officials didn't tell the truth.
There were a number of reasons for that, including that the US was in the midst of World War I and Congress had passed a law — the Sedition act, since largely repealed — that made it illegal to criticize the government.
"Against this background, while influenza bled into American life, public health officials, determined to keep morale up, began to lie," Barry wrote, pointing to examples of officials spreading happy talk and the press at the time not pushing them for the truth. "That is why, in my view, the most important lesson from 1918 is to tell the truth," Barry wrote.
The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a simple message for Americans: No, you shouldn't be afraid.
During a House Foreign Affairs hearing, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan asked CDC Director Robert Redfield a number of rapid-fire questions about what Americans should do as coronavirus spreads.
Houlahan said she wanted to ask simple questions, “for the human beings who are at home, for my kids, my family members, my community.”
Redfield's answers were equally simple.
Here's the full exchange:
Houlahan: Should people be afraid?
Houlahan: Should people engage in regular handwashing and coughing into their sleeves?
Houlahan: Should people be stocking up on cleaning supplies?
Houlahan: Should people be stocking up on prescription medicines that they have?
Redfield: Not at this time.
Houlahan: Should people be stocking up on food supply?
Redfield: Not at this time.
Houlahan: Should you wear a mask if you are healthy?
Houlahan: Is there a website where people can go to access good information about these questions?
Redfield: Yes, absolutely, CDC.gov.
When asked if Houlahan missed anything, Redfield took the time to add: “We need to make sure those N95 masks are available for the doctors and nurses that are going to be taking care of individuals that have this illness. And it really does displease me, to find people going out, there is no role for these masks in the community.”
The coronavirus outbreak is continuing to spread across the globe.
As of 3:30 p.m. ET, there are more than 82,000 cases in 51 countries and regions. Cases have been reported in every continent except Antartica.
If you're just tuning in, here are the latest developments as officials attempt to contain the virus:
- The latest numbers: There are more than 82,000 cases around the world, including 2,808 deaths. The vast majority of these are in mainland China, which has reported 78,497 cases and 2,744 deaths.
- Saudi Arabia bans some pilgrimages: Saudi Arabia has suspended pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina for people outside the country over coronavirus fears. For context, a wholesale temporary ban on foreign visits to the holy sites is a first in living memory.
- More cases in Italy — and beyond: At least 650 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy, officials said. Across Europe, at least 11 countries now have confirmed cases of coronavirus, some of which have been traced back to the Italy outbreak.
- The worst week for stocks since financial crisis? US stocks faced another sharp selloff today as worries about coronavirus mounted. Both the Dow and the S&P are on track for their worst week since the fall of 2008, the midst of the financial crisis.
Life around Italy's coronavirus 'red zone':