Illinois governor says states are competing against each other for coronavirus supplies
WASHINGTON - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says states are competing with each other to buy medical supplies needed to fight the coronavirus, driving up prices and creating a "Wild West" atmosphere that the federal government should police.
"We're all competing against each other," Pritzker told CNN's State of the Union. "This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government."
While the Federal Emergency Management Agency has become a "central repository," Pritzker the federal government should do more to make sure that scarce resources get to places than need them.
Illinois Gov. Pritzker says despite FEMA streamlining critical supply requests, the state is still only getting a fraction of what it needs and is competing against other states on the open market for supplies. "It's a wild west... indeed we are overpaying" for PPE. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/3MLLFir83V
- State of the Union (@CNNSotu) March 22, 2020
States like Illinois are also competing against other countries for personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.
"It's a wide - Wild West, I would say, out there," Pritzker said. "And, indeed, we're overpaying, I would say, for PPE because of that competition."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., made the same complaint and, like Pritzker and other governors, called on President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act and "order companies to make gowns, masks and gloves." Cuomo tweeted: "Currently, states are competing against other states for supplies."
I'm calling on the Federal Government to nationalize the medical supply chain.
The Federal Government should immediately use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make gowns, masks and gloves.
Currently, states are competing against other states for supplies.
- Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 22, 2020
- David Jackson
Mnuchin expects deal on $2 trillion stimulus package Sunday
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he believes Senate Republicans and Democrats will reach a deal later Sunday on a massive stimulus package, which could approach $2 trillion, aimed at alleviating the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
"I do think it will get done. We've been working around the clock in the Senate with Republicans and the Democrats," Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday." He said he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"And I think we have a fundamental understanding and we look forward to wrapping it up today."
Mnuchin said the package would include small business loans, direct payments to Americans amounting to "approximately $3,000" for a family of four, "enhanced unemployment insurance," and "approximately" $110 billion for hospitals and medical professionals. Mnuchin said - working with the Federal Reserve - it would free up "$4 trillion of liquidity that we can use to support the economy" through "broad-based" lending programs.
McConnell is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. EDT before a procedural vote on the package at 3 p.m. If a deal is reached, a final vote could come as soon as Monday.
- William Cummings
North Korea: Trump offered Kim Jong Un help in fighting coronavirus
President Donald Trump has written another letter to Kim Jong Un, this one offering to help his country fight the potential spread of coronavirus, North Korean officials said Sunday.
Trump "expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work, saying that he was impressed by the efforts made by the Chairman to defend his people from the serious threat of the epidemic," said Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader's sister and senior ruling party official, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea has said it has no cases of coronavirus, but some foreign policy analysts are skeptical of those claims.
Trump and Kim have often exchanged letters during their on-again, off-again negotiations over U.S. demands that North Korea end its nuclear weapons programs. Those talks remained deadlocked.
The latest letter came after North Korea again tested short-range ballistic missiles over the weekend, drawing protests from South Korea.
A White House statement said Trump sent the letter "consistent with his efforts to engage global leaders during the ongoing pandemic. The President looks forward to continued communications with Chairman Kim."
- David Jackson
First federal inmate tests positive
WASHINGTON-The Federal Bureau of Prisons, the nation's largest detention system, reported its first known case of the coronavirus involving an inmate, confirming that the prisoner has been quarantined at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Federal officials said the inmate, who was not identified, complained of chest pains March 16, shortly after arriving at the New York facility. He was taken to an outside hospital three days later where he was tested for the virus.
Following his March 20 discharge from the hospital, authorities said he returned to the Brooklyn detention center and was "immediately placed in isolation." Prison officials were notified of the positive test results Saturday.
"BOP staff will continue to monitor this inmate," the agency said in a statement, adding that the prisoner remains in isolation. "All (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines are being followed, including the conduct of a contact investigation and additional sanitation of affected areas."
- Kevin Johnson
Pence tests negative, White House says
WASHINGTON - Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence have both tested negative for the coronavirus, his office announced Saturday.
"Pleased to report that the COVID-19 test results came back negative for both Vice President @Mike_Pence and Second Lady @KarenPence," his spokeswoman, Katie Miller, tweeted.
The vice president is 60 and his wife is 63.
Both were tested Saturday, the day after the White House announced that an aide to Mike Pence had tested positive.
The vice president said that while the White House physician had no reason to believe that the Pences had been exposed, they were tested anyway "given the unique position I have."
Pence is leading the administration's coronavirus task force and has been a regular presence at President Donald Trump's side in recent weeks.
Trump was tested for the virus a week ago and it came back negative.
- Maureen Groppe
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 updates: Senate expected to vote on coronavirus aid