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US death rate likely to fall as new rules allow for wider testing

US death rate likely to fall as new rules allow for wider testing

(From yesterday issue) Otherwise, even as some Italian officials warned that their health system was on the verge of collapse and citizens debated Rome's legal authority to effectively seal off an entire country, von der Leyen expressed satisfaction with the EU's emergency response after what she acknowledged was a rough start. Von der Leyen acknowledged that there were differences in how EU capitals were responding, but she said that overall the level of coordination was solid. She praised her own move to set up the "Coronavirus response team," a group of five commissioners. "We meet once a week in this setting under my leadership to have the full overview about what the focus at the moment is and where we have to act or react faster," she said. Von der Leyen acknowledged that there were differences in how EU capitals were responding, but she said that overall the level of coordination was solid. Communication with the Commission is "working smoothly now and very efficient." But across Europe, the situation was far less calm. Hours after von der Leyen spoke, Italy ordered a country-wide lockdown. Also on Monday, coronavirus officially spread to all EU countries as Cyprus reported its first cases, and Spain said all schools and universities would be closed. Germany reported its first two coronavirus deaths and Ireland canceled St. Patrick's Day festivities across the country. Across the Atlantic, the New York Stock Exchange halted trading for 15 minutes to pause a massive sell-off, a response to plunging markets in Frankfurt, Paris and London. Not far from where von der Leyen was speaking, the International School of Brussels, which educates many of the EU seat's expat elite, announced that it was locking its doors for two weeks after a student's family reported a coronavirus diagnosis. At the Council, following a request from Paris, President Charles Michel planned a video conference on Tuesday with EU27 leaders to improve coordination. Health ministers had met for a second time in Brussels on Friday but failed to align policies beyond rhetoric about cooperation. However, the contagion increasingly seems to be paralyzing Brussels' efforts to respond. Last week, the Council shifted its Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism into "full activation" - the highest level of coordinated response for terror attacks and natural disasters, and the Croatian presidency of the Council scheduled a first roundtable meeting where proposals for EU action are supposed to be developed. But the meeting has been postponed indefinitely because Croatia's permanent representative, Irena Andrassy, who was supposed to chair the session, is in coronavirus quarantine after contact with an infected Council employee. (To be continued) (From yesterday previous issue) Meanwhile, the European Parliament cut short its plenary session, already relocated to Brussels from Strasbourg, to just a single day, in a bid to prevent further spread. While MEPs will discuss the outbreak, a vote on a resolution about the coronavirus state of play has been canceled - an acknowledgement that the assembly doesn't have anything concrete to contribute to the EU-level response. EU Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides (right) and EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenar?i? (left) give a press conference on the coronavirus in Brussels on March 6, 2020 | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images Within hours of von der Leyen's remarks, the Commission confirmed its first coronavirus diagnosis among staff. The EU has already lost €1 billion per month in tourism revenue since January, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told reporters on Monday. Nonetheless, he said the bloc's response is "extremely coordinated." "This is where you can see the strength of the EU," Breton said. Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides "knows everything," he added. "They have global coordination meetings twice a day, sometimes more." Kyriakides and Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenari have been visible presences, holding frequent press conferences and calling for more cooperation among EU health chiefs. On Monday, Kyriakides was working the phones in a photo she posted on Twitter, noting her virtual meetings with Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization's European office. Von der Leyen acknowledged on Monday that the response had been "rather bumpy" at the beginning, but insisted the Commission and member countries have it all worked out now. "I see with a lot of satisfaction that there are well-established procedures. There's a clear communication," she said. National leaders don't seem as satisfied. French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called on EU members "to take urgent action to coordinate health measures, research efforts and our economic response." He tweeted, "Let's act together now." A Crisis Coordination Committee led by Lenar?i? has been meeting weekly since January 28 - three days after France marked the Continent's first diagnosis - to help the Commission and its agencies respond to the outbreak. Von der Leyen created her "Coronavirus response team" one week ago - it's marked as a promise delivered on Day 93 of her administration. Kyriakides and Lenar?i? are members, as well as Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, Transport Commissioner Adina V?lean and Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni. A Commission spokesperson echoed von der Leyen's claim that the team meets once a week. He was unable to say when their next powwow is scheduled.

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