The White House announced Saturday that one person in the U.S. has now died from the coronavirus disease formally known as COVID-19.
According to the Daily Caller, President Donald Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and his coronavirus task force at a press briefing at the White House to share the sad news. The administration also mentioned at the presser new travel restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus, the Daily Caller reported.
“At this moment, we have 22 patients in the United States currently that have coronavirus,” Trump said in his remarks to the media on Saturday, according to a transcript provided by the White House. “Unfortunately, one person passed away overnight. She was a wonderful woman — a medically high-risk patient in her late fifties.”
An official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later clarified that Trump had misspoken when he referred to the deceased patient as female. According to NBC News, the patient, who was in his 50s, contracted the disease locally — rather than while traveling to China or another country where the disease is widespread — and was said to have underlying health issues.
At least two others from Washington state have since been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The president said Saturday that “additional cases in the United States are likely,” but noted that “healthy individuals should be able to fully recover.”
“Our country is prepared for any circumstance,” he added, according to the transcript. “We hope it’s not going to be a major circumstance; it’ll be a smaller circumstance. But whatever the circumstance is, we’re prepared.”
For his part, Vice President Pence also spoke at the briefing to express his condolences to the family of the deceased individual and assure the country that the Trump administration is hard at work to curb the spread of COVID-19.
That effort, Pence said Saturday, includes “additional travel restrictions on Iran” as well as “urging Americans to not travel to the areas in Italy, and the areas in South Korea, that are most affected by the coronavirus.”
“While the risk to Americans remain low, the president’s actions today with regard to Iran — with regard to Italy and the South Korea, and with regard to making medical supplies more available — I hope gives evidence to the fact that, at his direction, we’re going to continue to lean into this effort and put the health and safety of the American people first,” Pence said, according to the White House transcript.
Indeed, the Trump administration has made clear that they’re taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously. State and local leaders have also taken steps to help prevent the spread of the virus, including in Washington state, where Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday, according to the Washington Examiner.
But as Trump and Pence said, the risk to Americans from the coronavirus still remains quite low. Still, it’s nice to know the government is being proactive in its attempt to rein the disease in and keep Americans safe.