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US ramping up coronavirus testing, mask production: Pence

Evie Fordham

The U.S. is ramping up production of face masks and distributing coronavirus testing kits across the country following a jump in virus cases and the first death on American soil, Vice President Mike Pence told Maria Bartiromo on "Sunday Morning Futures."

"We are in the process of resolving the issues about testing kits," Pence said. "As the director of the FDA announced yesterday, we have now approved a new arrangement so states can conduct these tests on their own. As we speak, literally more than 15,000 kits are going out to the relevant areas."

AMAZON WARNS CORONAVIRUS FACE MASK SELLERS NOT TO INCREASE PRICES 

Some of the coronavirus testing kits shipped to states from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an effort to speed diagnoses are defective, a top official with the federal agency said earlier in February. The U.S. has 75,000 coronavirus testing kits available at the moment, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. More than 87,000 people have been infected globally.

President Trump also directed an increase in face mask production, Pence said.

"We have a stockpile of some 43 million, but we're already making arrangements with several American companies to begin to produce almost that amount on a monthly basis," the vice president said.

Face masks that can protect wearers from illnesses like coronavirus are still available online, but the U.S. Surgeon General is asking the American public to hold off on clicking "add to cart." Health care workers need them before the general public, according to the office of Dr. Jerome M. Adams.

"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!" the Surgeon General's official Twitter account posted on Saturday. "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

Pence said there would be more cases of coronavirus in the U.S.

"Well, I don't want to put numbers on it, but there'll be more cases," Pence said. "But I want to assure your viewers and people across this country that we're ready. The reality is that the United States is more prepared than any other nation in the world to deal with infectious diseases including the coronavirus."

In addition, Trump touted on Sunday that travelers "from certain designated high risk countries" will be screened prior to boarding and once they arrive in the U.S.

"Coronavirus: In addition to screening travelers 'prior to boarding' from certain designated high risk countries, or areas within those countries, they will also be screened when they arrive in America. Thank you!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

FOX News' Madeline Farber and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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