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Pence says older Americans will be prioritized for testing, as Fed slashes rates to nearly zero

President Trump praised the Federal Reserve's emergency step of slashing short-term interest rates to nearly zero, a move that comes shortly before Asian markets open for the week and as states announce school and business closures to slow the spreading pandemic. Vice President Mike Pence said administration will have "updated federal guidelines" Monday regarding whether restaurants, bars and businesses should stay open, as the coronavirus crisis pauses American life as usual. 

Mr. Trump has long criticized the Fed for not slashing interest rates sufficiently. Stocks plunged last week, although they made some recovery Friday after the president held a press conference with CEOs at the White House. 

"I congratulate the Federal Reserve, I think it's terrific," Mr. Trump told reporters, adding the rate cut makes him "very happy." 

Dr. Deborah Birx, the expert Pence tapped to help lead the task force, said Americans should expect to see a "spike" in cases as more tests become available, even though there aren't nearly enough tests at the moment. With the country still lacking enough tests for anyone who presents symptoms or comes into contact with a confirmed case of the virus, Vice President Mike Pence said Americans over 65 with a cough or fever or some other symptom will be prioritized for testing. 

"It's important that the tests are available for the people most in need," Pence said.

The president, who spoke with the heads of grocery companies on Sunday afternoon, said the executives asked Americans not to purchase excessive household goods and food. Americans across the country are stocking up on toilet paper, pantry items and cleaning materials, facing an uncertain future as schools and businesses shutter. 

"You don't have to buy so much. Just take it easy," Mr. Trump said, adding those stores "have to stay open," and there's "no need for anybody in the country to hoard essential food supplies. Grocery stores, the president said, will stay open. 

Pence offered a similar message, urging Americans to buy what they would need for a week, since grocery stores will "remain open." 

The U.S. has not been testing at nearly the rate of, for example, South Korea, which has been able to more effectively identify cases and trace community spread due to that testing. The Trump administration has been heavily criticized for lacking enough tests in recent weeks, and health care providers across the country are reporting they don't have access to enough tests to test patients they think need it. 

Pence said he and the president will be briefing governors Monday on public-private partnerships for testing and other needs related to the virus. The administration is working with private industry to attempt to expand testing capabilities, including drive-thru testing.

The White House said Saturday night that Mr. Trump had taken a coronavirus test the day before and the results had come back negative. Members of the press had their temperatures taken before they entered the room on Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that all options are on the table for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, and said vulnerable populations should avoid crowded places as public health officials work to combat the deadly illness. A growing number of states are shuttering or urging the shuttering of bars and restaurants. Everything is on the table, he said on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

Asked if it's possible that all bars and restaurants are urged to shutter for a time being, Fauci said Sunday afternoon "that could be, absolutely." The most challenging times for the country lie ahead, he said. 

"The worst is yet ahead for us," Fauci told reporters. 

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