There are now over 100 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the United States. A ninth person was confirmed dead in Washington state on Tuesday, the center of the domestic outbreak, as the Trump administration grapples with a growing public health crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday that “community spread of COVID-19 is occurring in parts of the US, including Washington, Oregon and California. We expect to identify more cases of coronavirus disease 2019.”
Community spread of #COVID19 is occurring in parts of the US, including Washington, Oregon and California. We expect to identify more cases of coronavirus disease 2019. https://t.co/KuLXWPdC15. pic.twitter.com/tIZw3JwdbF
— CDC (@CDCgov) March 3, 2020
Coronavirus claims 9 American lives
The United States entered a new stage of the outbreak when the first death was reported in Washington state this weekend, as cases began to crop up on the West Coast of infected patients who had not traveled to countries affected by the outbreak. Within mere days, there are now nine reported deaths, all in the state of Washington.
“On behalf of the president and all of the American people, we are extending our deepest condolences and sympathies to those who were lost,” Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the crisis response, said Monday. “Despite today’s sad news, let’s be clear: The risk to the American people from the coronavirus remains low.”
Many of the deaths so far have been nursing home residents in Seattle, and eight of the victims came from Kings County, ABC reported. Researchers in Washington have said that the disease may have been spreading undetected, the AP reported, adding to fears that the virus is gaining a foothold in America.
Health officials respond to outbreak
As the death tally rises, the CDC is warning that America may now be experiencing the kind of deadly outbreak only seen abroad until recently: rising clusters of victims, particularly among older people.
“What is happening now in the United States may be the beginning of what is happening abroad,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC.
The Trump administration has maintained that the risk to the public remains low while acknowledging that the outbreak is serious and will probably get worse. Meanwhile, Democrats are hammering the Trump administration for responding inadequately to the threat, including a perceived delay in providing test kits. Health officials have vowed to make testing widely available by the end of this week, the AP reported.
Trump: no domestic travel restrictions yet
Trump has taken numerous measures to combat the rising threat, including bans and restrictions on travelers from countries most affected by the coronavirus, including China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. At a roundtable with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Tuesday, Trump said that restrictions on domestic travel are not currently being considered.
But the president met Monday afternoon with pharmaceutical companies to discuss finding a cure, although NIH official Anthony Fauci has said that any vaccine would take at least a year to develop. That kind of cross-talk has been a focus for Democrats’ attacks, as a serious public health issue has been transformed into an election year political football.
There are now over 90,000 cases of coronavirus around the world and more than 3,000 deaths, most of them in China. But the disease is now spreading more quickly outside of China than where the outbreak started, and America is a new frontier.
You can find out more about COVID-19 and how to prevent it here.