U.S. Death Toll Rises to Six; Fauci Sees Pandemic: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Four more patients died in Washington state, and a top U.S. disease expert said the coronavirus is likely becoming a pandemic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he expects more cases after the state identified its first patient.
A World Health Organization team arrived in Iran with kits to test 100,000 people. The OECD warned that global economic growth will sink to levels not seen in more than a decade. The European Union set up a special team to deal with the outbreak as cases rose from Italy to Spain.
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Trump Meets With Drugmakers (4:44 p.m. NY)
President Donald Trump asked drugmakers what his administration can do to speed up the development of drugs or vaccines to treat the new coronavirus.
“We are going to be very successful,” Trump said at a White House meeting with Gilead Sciences Inc., Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and other pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. “A lot of exciting things are happening, and they’re happening very rapidly.”
Trump didn’t go into specifics on what measures the government might take to help them. Any vaccine is expected to take at least a year or a year-and- a-half to deploy.
Trump will also visit the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week. The agencies are helping lead the federal response to the outbreak as well as research efforts on potential therapies.
Four More Die in Washington; State Prepares for Spread (2:42 p.m NY)
Four more people have died from the coronavirus in Washington State, and local officials said they’re preparing to isolate large numbers of patients for what they anticipate could be a significant outbreak.
The deaths have been centered around a nursing home near Seattle in Kirkland, where there are a large number of suspected patients. In total, there are at least 18 cases in the state, with at least 14 in King County and four in Snohomish County.
Local authorities said they’re preparing for a wider outbreak and plan to purchase a hotel and set up modular units to house and isolate patients.
“We have moved to a new stage in the fight to contain, mitigate and manage this outbreak,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Trump Team Weighs Virus Response (2 p.m. NY)
The Trump administration is discussing a series of steps to contain the economic and market fallout from the rapidly spreading coronavirus, including a push for the Federal Reserve to enact an emergency rate cut and a possible tax cut.
The director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both favor the Fed cutting interest rates before its next scheduled meeting on March 17 and 18, according to people familiar with the matter. Within the White House, a rate cut is currently the most actively discussed economic measure to combat the virus, the people said.
Tech Giants Postpone, Alter Conferences (1:50 p.m. NY)
Intel Corp., the world’s biggest chipmaker, postponed a science fair that was was scheduled to be held in San Francisco on March 12. Nvidia Corp. said it’s turned its GPU Technology Conference into a digital event. The company’s annual San Jose, California-based event is attended by thousands each year. The three-day conference, which focuses on graphics technology, begins on March 23.
Coronavirus Likely at ‘Pandemic Proportions,’ Fauci Says (1:06 p.m. NY)
National Institutes of Health infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci told NBC News that the coronavirus outbreak has “now reached outbreak proportions and likely pandemic proportions,” a reporter at the network said in a tweet.
In the interview, Fauci said the U.S. may have to consider social mitigation acts, such as temporarily closing schools and events with large crowds in confined spaces. “We’re not ready for it right now, but we need to be at least thinking about the possibility,” Fauci said, according to the reporter.
WHO Team Arrives in Iran With Kits, Garments (12:07 p.m. NY)
A World Health Organization team arrived in Iran Monday with sufficient kits to test 100,000 people for the coronavirus and protective garments for 15,000 health-care workers.
Iran, the hub of the outbreak in the Middle East, said Monday that the number of confirmed cases surged by 523 to 1,501. So far 66 people there have died from the infection, the health ministry said.
Tedros Adhamon Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO, urged countries not to give up on containment as a strategy, saying it will help buy time to develop a vaccine and prepare health systems.
“It’s not influenza, and it’s not behaving like influenza,” said Michael Ryan, the director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, at the WHO’s daily briefing. He said the death rate is 2% or possibly higher. That would be at least 20 times more than for seasonal flu, which typically has a death rate of about 0.1%.
Trump to Attend Health Conference in Orlando (11:15 a.m. NY)
President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend a global health event on March 9 in Orlando, Florida, according to a U.S. official, as his administration seeks to demonstrate it’s doing a good job responding to the coronavirus.
The conference, called HIMSS20 Global Health Conference & Exhibition, brings together about 45,000 health-information technology professionals, clinicians and others, according to its website.
Pence to Meet With Airline, Cruise Ship CEOs (11 a.m. NY)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is set to meet with airline chief executive officers on Wednesday and cruise line CEOs on Saturday, according to a Trump administration official, as stocks of those companies fall as a result of concern over the coronavirus.
Pence also is set to meet with executives of 3M Co. on Thursday. The company will need to ramp up production of a type of medical mask that the Trump administration said is needed if a significant outbreak occurs in the U.S.
Russia Reports First Case in Moscow (10:05 a.m. NY)
Russia reported its first case in Moscow. The patient is a Moscow resident who had traveled to Italy, according to the government’s special anti-virus headquarters. Two other cases were reported last month in Chinese nationals in Siberia, while another three Russians with coronavirus were brought back to the city of Kazan from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
S&P 500 Gains After Worst Week Since 2008 (10 a.m. NY)
The S&P 500 advanced Monday after suffering the worst week for the benchmark since 2008. Technology shares led gains as central banks from Japan to England joined the Federal Reserve in promising action as warranted.
U.K. Coronavirus Cases Rise to 40 (9:15 a.m. NY)
Britain reported four more cases, bringing the total in the country to 40. All four patients had recently traveled from Italy and are from Hertfordshire, Devon and Kent in England.
Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the coronavirus is a problem “likely to become more significant for the country” in the next days and weeks. He spoke after chairing an emergency meeting of top officials Monday. An action plan to fight the virus will be published on Tuesday.
Johnson spokesman James Slack warned that members of the public face changes to their daily lives, though he urged people not to stockpile food. The government stands ready to use “all levers” at its disposal to make sure Britain is prepared, Slack said.
WTO Sees ‘Substantial’ Impact on World Economy (9:10 a.m. NY)
The impact of Covid-19 on the global economy will “likely be substantial,” World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo told a meeting of trade delegates in Geneva Monday.
The effects will start to show up in the trade data in the coming weeks, he said. The WTO’s June ministerial meeting in Kazakhstan is “proceeding as planned. Should the situation so demand we will take any necessary action.”
BMW Worker in Munich Tests Positive (8:50 a.m. NY)
An employee at BMW AG has tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the company to quarantine about 150 workers at its research and development center in Munich, according to a spokesperson.
The employee hadn’t traveled and is under medical supervision, the spokesperson said. Work at the center continues uninterrupted, though the 150 employees who had been in contact with the infected person will stay at home for two weeks.
Guindos Says ECB Ready to Act If Needed (7:41 a.m. NY)
“The coronavirus added a new layer of uncertainty to global and euro-area growth prospects,” ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said in London. The outbreak has the potential to affect the euro area economy through both demand and supply, he said. “We remain vigilant and will closely monitor all incoming data.”
Cuomo ‘Fully’ Expects Community Spread (7:30 a.m. NY)
Cuomo told CNN he “fully” expects community spread after the state identified its first coronavirus patient. He said New York now being able to do its own testing, rather than go through CDC, is a significant improvement.
U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with pharmaceutical industry executives at 3 p.m. Washington time. His coronavirus task force, led by Mike Pence, will meet at 4 p.m. Coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx will then brief the media at 5 p.m. local time.
Pence earlier told Fox Business Network that the government now expects “many more cases” in the U.S.
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