WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The White House coronavirus task force held a Tuesday morning briefing with the latest on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Donald Trump began the meeting by saying testing in all states is now available.
“Last night the FDA announced groundbreaking new policies to further increase testing, very substantially so. All states can now authorize tests developed and used within their borders in addition to the FDA’s.”
Trump also announced an expansion of Medicare telehealth services.
“Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference, at no additional costs, including with commonly used services like Facetime and Skype.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced during the briefing that Trump had instructed him to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic cost of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Trump administration is urging U.S. construction companies to donate their inventories of safety masks to hospitals and forgo new orders as the nation battles the coronavirus pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence said the single-use N95 masks, which are designed to filter 95 percent of airborne particles and commonly used in the construction industry, are “perfectly acceptable” for hospital use.
At a briefing Monday afternoon, President Trump called on the country to come together, appealing on all Americans to help halt the spread of the virus.
Trump outlined the government’s newest recommendations, urging all older Americans and those at a high risk to stay home. The administration advised the public to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, not buy more than a week’s worth of groceries at a time, and cancel all discretionary travel.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC reported over 4,200 cases of COVID-19 with 75 deaths. All U.S. states have reported cases. West Virginia was the last state to report a confirmed case.
The true fatality rate of the coronavirus isn’t known yet, but it appears to be 10 times higher than the flu, the United States’ top infectious disease expert warned lawmakers last week. The virus is more serious for those who are older or have health problems.
The Associated Press contributed to this report