President Trump says 'there's no reason to panic at all' after US reported its first coronavirus death
- President Donald Trump held a Saturday afternoon press conference to confirm the first death in the US from the coronavirus.
- Trump said the death was of a high-risk patient and the administration saw no immediate threat to otherwise healthy people.
- "There is no reason to panic, this is something that is being handled professionally," Trump said, adding that authorities in the country are "prepared for whatever circumstance."
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Trump said the person who died was a high-risk patient in her late 50s, and that his administration was bracing for more cases but was confident that healthy people have no need for extra concern.
Officials in King County, Washington confirmed the death hours before Trump held the afternoon press conference, specifying that the patient had been treated in the state for "severe respiratory illness" and tested positive for coronavirus last night.
The president added that he was encouraged by the first steps government authorities had taken in developing a vaccine from which he had received "very good initial feedback" and would be meeting with pharmaceutical companies on Monday.
The US has access to 43 million medical masks, Trump said, just one of the resources that he credited with ensuring the country is "prepared for whatever circumstance."
Four new cases were reported Friday, bringing the total number of cases detected in the US to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There is no reason to panic, this is something that is being handled professionally," Trump told reporters.
The president also clarified his comment from a day earlier, when he called criticism from Democrats over his handling of the virus a "hoax." When a reporter asked if he regretted using the word "hoax," Trump said his comments were in reference to Democrats propagating other political issues like "the impeachment hoax or the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax."
"Hoax referring to the action that they take to try and pin this on somebody because we've done such a good job," Trump said Saturday. "The hoax is on them."
Trump's comments came the same day he said the coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met for about two hours to address next steps in confronting the outbreak.
Pence spoke after Trump, doubling down on the president's confidence while confirming an increase in precautionary measures for travelers and medical workers.
The vice president said that authorities were issuing a level four advisory warning Americans against traveling to specific areas of Italy and South Korea and that the State Department was developing medical screening guidelines to deploy in those countries of individuals coming into the US.
Pence's travel announcement came one day after the department issued a "Level 3," or the second-highest, advisory, for all of Italy, based on a CDC recommendation to avoid "nonessential travel."
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