There are more than 100 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US as of Wednesday, including domestic cases and Americans who have returned from China or the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Vice President Mike Pence said this afternoon during a press briefing.
Pence insisted that the American public’s risk of contracting the novel coronavirus “remains low" while stressing that there is “no need for Americans to buy masks.”
However, Pence said, “It does appear that the elderly are the most vulnerable, and especially those with serious health issues,” something both Ambassador Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed.
As a result, the administration is releasing new guidelines for the nation’s nursing homes.
For the foreseeable future, Pence said, the administration will “focus all of our inspection resources… on compliance with infection control standards,” meaning that inspectors who monitor for abuse and neglect at nursing homes will focus “exclusively” on making sure the facilities are complying with these new standards.
Seema Verma, an administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said there were three memos released today: one for hospitals on triaging patients with coronavirus symptoms, one with information for nursing homes about limiting visitors and monitoring staff and another to state nursing home surveyors.
Pence also noted that his meeting with lab industry representatives “gave us great hope for great progress” on expanding testing across the country.
Working together: The labs have created a consortium to share information and resources. Pence also said it has been conveyed to state governments that all state laboratories and university labs at the state level can conduct coronavirus tests without additional assets or resources from the federal government.
Pence noted that “many members of the task force” will be traveling with him to Minnesota and Washington state for meetings with representatives from 3M and Gov. Jay Inslee, respectively.