Vice President Mike Pence said a cruise being held off the coast of Californa will be shipped to a non-commercial port so all crew and passengers can be tested during a news conference Friday.
Of the 21 people on the Grand Princess swab tested so far, 85 tested positive for the virus and 1 was deemed inconclusive, Pence said . The rest tested negative for the disease. Nineteen of those who tested positive were crew members.
“We’re taking all measures necessary to see to the health of the Americans on the Grand Princess and just as importantly to protect the health of the American public and prevent the spread of the disease, “Pence told reporters at the White House. “We will be testing everyone on the ship. We will be quarantining.”
Pence, the head of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, stressed that the risk to the public remains lows.
“General risk for the American public remains low,” he said. “But if essential health condition or elderly, it’s important to take precautions and use common sense, particularly as it relates to travel.”
He said crew members and passengers who test positive will most likely be quarantined on the ship.
Earlier this week, Pence promised coronavirus testing will be covered by private insurance plans and by Medicare and Medicaid. He said that because the Department of Health and Human Services has designated the coronavirus test as an “essential health benefit,” people will not have to pay for it out of pocket.
Pence, the head of the task force, will travel to Florida Saturday to meet with cruise ship operators who have felt the economic impact of the virus after some ships were turned away from various ports over fears that passengers and crew members could be infected.
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Globally, the virus has spread to 85 countries, infecting 400, 728 people and claiming the lives of more than 3, 728 others.
The bulk of the cases are in mainland China, where the outbreak originated in December . The U.S. has 244 confirmed cases in 21 states and deaths, the majority in Washington state.
President Trump has defended his administration’s response to the outbreak amid criticism from Democrats and some medical health professionals. He said Pence was “working hours a day or more” to spearhead prevention efforts during a Fox News town hall Thursday in Scranton, Pa.
Earlier Friday, Trump signed an $ 8.3 billion spending package to provide funds to federal agencies and state and local government to battle the disease. He visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta later in the day after initially canceling a scheduled visit.
He said the canceling was because of suspected coronavirus case at the CDC. It was re-scheduled after the person tested negative for the virus.
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