CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Trump Puts Pence in Charge of Response, What You Need to Know

Rebekah Sager
February 26, 2020 - 4:31 pm
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In a news conference Wednesday, President Donald Trump placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus response -- just a day after he sought to minimize fears of the virus spreading widely across the U.S.

Dr. Anne Schchat, Centers for Disease Control's deputy director said she expected more cases in the U.S. She recommended that schools and the public to educate themselves on pandemics. "It's spread through coughs and sneezes... stay home when you're sick and wash your hands are the ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses," Schchat said.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Insitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said a vaccine would be in trials in about two months. Then the trial would take about six months. 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness. Common symptoms in an infected person include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

There are fewer than 60 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., most of them passengers who were on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined in Japan. However, there've been 30 million Americans diagnosed with the flu this season.

In-Depth hosts Mike Simpson and Charles Feldman sat down with Dr. Peter Katona, a clinical professor of medicine in infectious diseases at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine and  Dr. Anita Gorwara, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, to discuss the coronavirus outbreak in the hopes of curbing irrational fears and informing the public. 

The experts will attempt to answer some practical questions such as:

1. Do face masks protect you?

2. Is coronavirus worse than the flu?

3. If you develop a bad cough, how concerned should you be?

4. How do you prevent getting the flu or other common viruses? 

5. Does using hand sanitizer gels or Lysol keep you from picking up viruses? 

Click here to listen to the entire In-Depth segment.

According to the California Department of Public Health, as of February, 25, there are 10 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

Following in the footsteps of San Diego County and the city of San Francisco, Orange County officials today will declare a local health emergency in response to the coronavirus.

Michelle Steel, chair of the County Board of Supervisors, and board Vice Chair Andrew Do plan to announce the declaration at an early afternoon news conference. Nichole Quick, county health officer, and Richard Sanchez, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, are also expected to attend.

Trump had told Congress earlier this week that the government needed to spend $2.5 billion to fight the virus.

“We're very, very ready for this, for anything,” even if it's “a breakout of larger proportions,” Trump said at the news conference. 

CLICK HERE to see a Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

San Diego County officials declared a local emergency in response to the coronavirus on Feb. 14. Officials there stressed that the declaration was not an indication of a greater risk of contracting the virus locally, only an effort to ensure the county was prepared to respond should an outbreak occur.

The San Diego County declaration came while hundreds of people who had been evacuated from Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- were under quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Those evacuees have since cleared quarantine and have been released. Two of those people were diagnosed with the virus, but they were treated and eventually released.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a local emergency on Tuesday. There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus -- known as COVID-19 -- in that city.

Worldwide, more than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, including 2,770 deaths, the vast majority of them in China. More than 50 cases have been confirmed in the United States.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to join Costa Mesa in a federal lawsuit seeking to block COVID-19 patients from being housed at the former Fairview Developmental Center. Costa Mesa filed the suit late last week, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the federal government and state from moving any patients to the facility. That order will remain in place until next Monday when another court hearing will be held.

Costa Mesa officials contend they received little notification of the planned move, and questioned the suitability of the location, noting that state officials had previously questioned its viability as a temporary housing facility for the homeless.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is cooperating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to recent reports of a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others that circulate mostly among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Common symptoms in an infected person include a fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

CNS and AP contributed to this story.