Reuters US Domestic News Summary

Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

Biden, Sanders consider changing campaign plans amid coronavirus outbreak

Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on Monday said they were consulting with public health experts about coronavirus risks in planning their next campaign moves, as election officials in upcoming primary states urged people to consider voting early. Neither Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont, nor Biden, the former vice president, has yet called off a major rally because of the outbreak that has sickened more than 110,000 people globally, although public health officials have urged people at risk for contracting the disease to avoid large gatherings.

U.S. coronavirus threat fuels demand for traditional herbal remedies

New York City acupuncturist and herbalist Clayton Shiu says demand for traditional Chinese remedies has surged at his practice since March 1, the day New York announced its first case of the novel coronavirus. "It was like a light switch was flipped," said Shiu, who had stocked up and had an ample supply of herbs on hand for his patients.

Biden is backed by former presidential rival Booker on eve of Michigan vote

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, who is seeking to deliver a heavy blow to rival Bernie Sanders on Tuesday as six states vote, received another boost on Monday when former presidential hopeful Cory Booker endorsed his campaign. Speaking at a campaign event with Biden in Flint, Michigan, Booker, who ended his own White House bid in January, said that "it should be obvious" why he is backing the former vice president, who, he said, could heal a "wounded nation."

U.S. Senate committee chair exploring targeted tax relief to address coronavirus

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee is exploring targeted tax relief to address economic fallout from the fast-spreading coronavirus, a spokesman said on Monday. Senator Charles Grassley "is exploring the possibility of targeted tax relief measures that could provide a timely and effective response to the coronavirus. Several options within the committee’s jurisdiction are being considered," spokesman Michael Zona said.

Cheering cruise passengers return to California; now comes coronavirus quarantine

Weary passengers aboard a cruise ship idled at sea for days by a coronavirus outbreak erupted in cheers on Monday as the vessel sailed into San Francisco Bay en route to the Port of Oakland and the next, unexpected phase of their voyage - two weeks of quarantine. The 2,400 passengers, who have been largely confined to their staterooms since Thursday, were to begin disembarking on Monday for transport to quarantine stations or hospitals, depending on whether they are well or need immediate medical attention.

Commander of U.S. Army Europe may have been exposed to coronavirus

The top U.S. Army commander in Europe may have been exposed to the coronavirus, while a Marine who tested positive for it had been working for a defense agency close to the Pentagon, officials said on Monday. The disclosures show the risks to the U.S. military even as it tries to limit the fallout from the global virus outbreak on the more than a million active-duty troops around the world.

Health Secretary says U.S. working aggressively on coronavirus, after markets drop

U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar said President Donald Trump's administration is working aggressively on the coronavirus disease spreading worldwide, after he was asked on a media conference call to respond to the stock market plunging on coronavirus fears. "It's been a very aggressive, whole of government approach at the state, local and federal level," Azar told reporters.

White House looks to bolster economy as coronavirus worries batter markets

The Trump administration scrambled on Monday to assure Americans it was responding to a growing coronavirus outbreak as stock markets plunged and top health officials urged some people to avoid cruise ships, air travel and big public gatherings. U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly played down the threat posed by the flu-like virus sweeping the globe, was planning to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other members of his economic team to weigh possible action, an administration official told Reuters.

Justice Department seeks informants on coronavirus antitrust schemes

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday urged people who know of price-fixing, bid-rigging or other illegal moves to profit off coronavirus fears to contact government officials. A task force aimed at stopping collusion in government procurement is on "high alert," the agency said in a statement.

Trump's focus on coronavirus numbers could backfire, health experts say

President Donald Trump loves numbers, and the ones he believes illustrate his accomplishments - an unemployment rate at a 50-year-low and stock markets at record highs - have become touchstones in his speeches, rallies and Twitter missives. The numbers in the coronavirus outbreak in the United States are increasingly not going his way, but that has not stopped him from portraying them largely as a sign of success.