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Wuhan Virus Watch: Task Force focuses on 15-Day Plan, Economic Stimulus, and TeleHealth

Wuhan Virus Watch: Task Force focuses on 15-Day Plan, Economic Stimulus, and TeleHealth

White House proposing $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package

Perhaps it is just me, but the press at the Tuesday Coronavirus Task Force seemed restrained and respectful.  I hope it is a trend that continues.

The briefing covered a great deal of territory reflecting a “Whole of America” approach.  Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects was President Donald Trump’s noting the removal of regulatory restrictions so that telehealth services could be practiced effectively and efficiently.

“Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional cost,” the president said.

The Trump administration and the Department of Health and Human Services are now expanding coverage of telehealth services.

“In addition, states have the authority to cover telehealth services for their medical patients,” the president said.

The goal is to help more than 60 million Medicare recipients throughout the country.

Vice President Mike Pence stressed the importance of implementing the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America covering the next 15 days.

And, as the President said, we continue to urge every American over the next 15 days to put into practice the principles in the President’s coronavirus guidelines. By every American practicing these principles, we believe that we can slow the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, our experts have told our taskforce that if every American acts on the President’s coronavirus guidelines, we could see a substantial reduction in the spread of the coronavirus.

A copy of the plan can be found by clicking HERE.

The star of Tuesday’s show was Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is leading negotiations for the administration to craft a massive economic stimulus bill that covers furloughed workers, small businesses, and the travel industry.

The first, I would say, is: Earlier today, I sent a letter to Fed Chairman Powell approving his request to use 13(3). And what that will do is, the Fed will be setting up a special purpose vehicle, which the Treasury will invest $10 billion in from one of our funds. That will enable the Fed to guarantee the purchase of A1/P1 commercial paper going forward. That is a 1-trillion-dollar market and it is critical to American workers, it’s critical to American business, and it’s critical to American savers who have a lot of that money in money market funds.

So we heard, loud and clear, there were liquidity issues. This is very significant. And we’ll create — I don’t think we’ll need to use it all, but we have the ability to have the Fed purchase up to $1 trillion of commercial paper, as needed. That has already created significant stability in the market today.

The second thing I would say is, you know, we’ve previously talked about deferring IRS payments. The President, earlier this morning, authorized me to announce this program. I have previously announced we would defer $200 billion. The President suggested we increase that to $300 billion, which we will be doing.

…The third thing is the President and I worked on a very significant economic stimulus plan. Thank you for being available last night and throughout this morning. And I will be presenting that to the Republicans in the Senate this morning and also discussing that with the House.

There were a couple of good exchanges with the press. One of my favorites was a question about the difference between 1 10–person limit in the 15-day plan and a 25-person limit under a state plan. Dr. Anthony Fauci responded:

[Q]uite frankly, I don’t think there’s a big-deal difference between 10 and 25. We got many, many more important things to worry about than that difference.

But my absolute favorite answer from this briefing comes from Trump, about his recent tweet about the “China Virus.”

THE PRESIDENT: Well, China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave this to them. That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I have to call it where it came from; it did come from China. So I think it’s a very accurate term. But, no, I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give — give it to anybody.

Q But the critics say using that phrase creates a stigma.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t think so. No, I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma.

86% of people with coronavirus are walking around undetected, study says

A new study shows that 86% of people infected with COVID-19 are walking around undetected.

Six of every seven cases – 86% — were not reported in China before travel restrictions were implemented, driving the spread of the virus, according to a study Monday in the journal Science.

“It’s the undocumented infections which are driving the spread of the outbreak,” said co-author Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University Mailman School, according to GeekWire.

Alabama company launches one-day coronavirus test

Some good news related to the speed of testing.

Huntsville biological testing company Diatherix has announced a new test for the COVID-19 infection that offers one-day results. The company has already begun accepting test samples.

“We get the specimen, we will report it out that afternoon,” Diatherix laboratory director Dr. Jeff Wisotzkey said. The company is based at Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

Coronavirus hits all 50 US states

West Virginia was the last state to be virus-free.

Announcing its first Covid-19 patient, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said: “We knew this was coming.”

New York City said it is considering a lockdown similar to one in the San Francisco Bay area.

There have so far been almost 6,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US and 105 deaths.

Globally there are about 200,000 cases and nearly 8,000 people have died.

California Governor: Expect schools to stay closed through summer break because of coronavirus

California Governor Gavin Newsom said that California parents and students should expect schools to remain closed through summer break.

“Don’t anticipate schools are going to open in a week. Don’t anticipate schools are going to open in a few weeks,” Newsom said during a news conference. “I would plan and assume that it’s unlikely that many of these schools, few, if any, will open before the summer break.”


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“Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional cost” What world is Trump living in? I’ve been with the same doctor for twenty years and I can’t talk to him by phone. All I can do is leave a message for his nurse. Doctor’s aren’t set up to do video conferencing, and is he or she expected to chat with patients for free? This is totally absurd and unworkable (like the rest of the “stimulus” plan).

    “For free” probably means no copay amount for the patient, but there will be a code for a telemed visit.

    Find a doctor with a direct patient care practice. The doc can’t bill Medicare, but the out of pocket expenses are less. I have the MC supplemental plans for major medical issues.

    mailman in reply to snopercod. | March 18, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    I think that speaks more to your doctors lack of investment in his surgeries future than it does about Trump being out of touch.

    It seems common sense to do appointments remotely at this time.

I interpreted this vast he doctor would get his regular fee for teleheakth. Not for free.

    bboop in reply to Sally MJ. | March 19, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Our primary doctor said he is doing tele-medicine but he does not get the same fees that he gets for an office visit. However, his office canceled all non-emergency visits for the near future.

LibraryGryffon | March 18, 2020 at 1:09 pm

My husband’s cardiologist changed his follow up appointment next week to a phone call, and we were informed that they would be billing it at a lower rate. I dont know if it matters that Medicare is his secondary, after my employer’s plan.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China