Good morning. Welcome to another day of news breaking way faster than I can keep up with.
📺 This week on "Axios on HBO" — An exclusive: DNC chair Tom Perez said on Monday he's "not contemplating" an online convention despite the spread of the novel coronavirus (clip). Watch the full interview Sunday at 6pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
Today's word count is 1,150, or a 4-minute read.
Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images
President Trump announced from the Oval Office last night that all travel from Europe — excluding the U.K. — will be suspended for 30 days, beginning Friday. There will be an exemptions for Americans who undergo screening upon their return.
Why it matters: The move is stunning and will likely be a blow to the economy, but it won't stop the novel coronavirus outbreak from spreading in the U.S.
Trump also announced plans for economic stimulus, including:
Behind the scenes: These options were considered in the task force yesterday and presented to the president today, a senior administration official told Axios' Jonathan Swan.
Flashback: Administration officials previously — and recently — had considered trying to shut down travel from Italy, but backed off that idea in part because health officials were cool to it.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are rapidly increasing, but too many people still can't get tested.
Between the lines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's failed diagnostic test may be the original sin of our initial response to COVID-19, and we're still learning about the effects of allowing the virus to spread undetected.
The big picture: A lot of labs are now making tests, and testing capacity is steadily increasing.
What's more, shortages of testing supplies may threaten our testing capacity in the near future.
The bottom line: "What's most important now is there is still a significant shortage of reagents, and laboratories are really scrambling to get access to the reagents," Karen Carroll, director of the Division of Medical Microbiology at John Hopkins, told me. "That's the crisis we're all facing right now."
The NBA has suspended games until further notice, and it announced a player had tested positive for the virus.
The spread of the coronavirus has triggered emergency responses from cities of all sizes, as officials grapple with everything from how to pay sick workers and run city operations remotely to whether to cancel major events and close schools, Axios' Kim Hart reports.
Congress' in-house doctor told Capitol Hill staffers at a close-door meeting this week that he expects 70–150 million people in the U.S. — roughly a third of the country — to contract the coronavirus, two sources briefed on the meeting tell Axios.
As the coronavirus pushes more human activities online, it's forcing a reckoning with the often-invisible digital divide, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said Wednesday that the country's retailers and businesses, other than pharmacies and grocers that sell "essential items," will close, AP reports.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien claimed Wednesday that an initial cover-up of the coronavirus in China "cost the world community two months" and exacerbated the global outbreak, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.
As China begins to get its coronavirus outbreak under control, authorities are going on the offensive to rewrite the narrative that the global epidemic is Beijing's fault, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes.
Hospitals are dusting off their pandemic preparedness plans in anticipation of overcrowded waiting rooms and supply shortages as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.
The big picture: Hospitals are preparing for tens of millions of cases and millions of hospitalizations from COVID-19.
By the numbers: In a survey of 6,500 nurses from the National Nurses United...
What they're doing: Hospitals and clinicians are exploring ways to delay an inevitable influx of patients by pushing in-home care, and possibly limiting elective surgeries.
A leaked slide from an American Hospital Association presentation in February shows the hospital system is expecting an impact 10 times more severe than flu season. That could include:
Go deeper: Full coronavirus coverage
The IRS yesterday firmed up employers' ability to offer their employees coronavirus testing and treatment without cost-sharing, even if those employees haven't met their deductibles.
Why it matters: People in these kinds of plans usually have to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket before coverage kicks in, but the coronavirus outbreak is forcing the industry to change plan designs so people are encouraged to seek testing and treatment, regardless of cost, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Yes, but: The IRS is not requiring employers to exempt coronavirus testing and treatment from the deductible, and people who are in self-insured plans still may be on the hook for some costs. A lot depends on what employers actually do.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced yesterday that it's launching a new voluntary model that would allow seniors to buy insulin with no more than a $35 monthly copay.
Why it matters: Medicare beneficiaries who rely on insulin and are enrolled in a participating plan would save an average of $446 a year in out-of-pocket costs.
The bottom line: This move may not target the overall price of insulin, but it could meaningfully lower what seniors pay themselves for it.