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US CEOs form coronavirus task force

Brittany De Lea

Business leaders from America’s most prominent companies are coming together to form their own group aimed at combating the coronavirus outbreak.

The Business Roundtable announced the formation of a task force on Thursday, with the stated goal of providing a forum for information sharing among corporate leaders and coordination with the U.S. government.

“A number of our nation’s leading companies have been contributing to response and relief efforts and are deploying their expertise, products and services to safeguard public health,” Joshua Bolten, President and CEO of Business Roundtable, said in a statement. “America’s largest employers will work with the U.S. government on solutions to minimize any public health and economic impact in the short term, while working to strengthen global health security in the long term.”

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The group will be co-chaired by Arne Sorenson, who is the CEO of Marriott, and Lance Fritz, the CEO of Union Pacific. Other business leaders participating included JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz.

Businesses are preparing for the economic fallout from the globally-spreading virus, which is closing some international operations and disrupting supply chains. For industries like airlines, fear has caused passengers to cancel trips and flights, and it has prompted some airlines to reduce schedules.

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A number of companies are already asking employees to work remotely, including Amazon, because of the risk of employee-spread infections. Many have also canceled conferences and stopped non-essential travel.

The Business Roundtable postponed its CEO Innovation Summit, which had been scheduled for later this month.

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As of Thursday, there were around 150 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. There are more than 95,200 individual cases around the world.

In an attempt to quell economic effects, the Federal Reserve announced a 50 basis point cut to the benchmark federal funds rate this week.

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