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US bolsters coronavirus preparations amid cancellations of conferences, flights

Trump administration officials on Sunday tried to calm market panic that the coronavirus could cause a global recession, saying the public had over-reacted and that stocks would bounce back due to the underlying strength of the US economy.

About 70 cases have been reported in the United States, with most on the West Coast but new cases in the Chicago area and Rhode Island.

Stock markets plunged last week, with an index of global stocks setting its largest weekly fall since the 2008 financial crisis, and more than $5 trillion wiped off the value of stocks worldwide.

President Donald Trump said on Sunday that travelers to the United States from countries at high risk of coronavirus would be screened before boarding and upon arrival, without specifying which countries.

The United States has 75,000 test kits for coronavirus and will expand that number “radically” in coming weeks, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Vice President Mike Pence said the government had contracted 3M Co to produce an extra 35 million respiratory masks a month. He urged Americans not to buy the masks, which he said were only needed by healthcare workers. Honeywell is the other major US mask producer.

He also told Fox News that clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine would start in six weeks but that a vaccine will likely not be available this season.

Democrats, who will challenge Trump for the presidency in the November 3 election, have criticized his administration for downplaying the crisis and not preparing for the disease to spread in the United States.

Pence, whom Trump appointed last week to run the White House’s coronavirus response, said Americans should brace for more cases, but that the “vast majority” of those who contracted the disease would recover.

The United States has 75,000 test kits for coronavirus and will expand that number “radically” in coming weeks, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Vice President Mike Pence said the government had contracted 3M Co to produce an extra 35 million respiratory masks a month. He urged Americans not to buy the masks, which he said were only needed by healthcare workers. Honeywell is the other major US mask producer.

He also told Fox News that clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine would start in six weeks but that a vaccine will likely not be available this season.

Democrats, who will challenge Trump for the presidency in the November 3 election, have criticized his administration for downplaying the crisis and not preparing for the disease to spread in the United States.

Pence, whom Trump appointed last week to run the White House’s coronavirus response, said Americans should brace for more cases, but that the “vast majority” of those who contracted the disease would recover.