Coronavirus cases in US surpass 500, deaths rise to 22

Older Americans, especially those with chronic medical conditions, should probably avoid large social gatherings and air flights, given the rapid spread of the coronavirus, a senior American health official said on Sunday investors were preparing for another volatile week in the financial markets.

Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, also said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that after the first missteps when distributing diagnostic tests, there should be 400 000 additional kits available by Monday and 4 million by the end of the week.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States reached nearly 550 Sunday, including 22 deaths, according to state public health authorities and a current national count kept by the Johns Hopkins University center to follow the epidemic.

More than half of the 50 American states have reported infections, including the first cases in Virginia, Connecticut and Iowa, as well as on the American island territory of Puerto Rico, documented on Sunday.

The warnings of Fauci and others about the need for greater “social distancing” – the practice of minimizing unnecessary contact in public places – came in the middle of leaking a high-profile example of the risks now inherent at large gatherings.

US Senator Ted Cruz said on Sunday that he would quarantine himself after being in contact at last month’s annual conservative political action conference with a participant who had since tested positive for the coronavirus.

Texas Republican and 2016 presidential candidate said he “briefly interacted” with the infected person at the CPAC meeting in Maryland 10 days ago, but that he had no symptoms and was feeling “good and healthy”.

The coronavirus originated in China last year and causes the sometimes fatal COVID-19 respiratory disease. The epidemic has killed more than 3,600 people worldwide.

As the epidemic spreads, daily life has been increasingly disrupted, with concerts and conferences canceled and universities telling students to stay home and take online courses.

To contain the epidemic in China, the government quarantined millions of people for weeks. Italy has announced similar measures, locking up 16 million people in the north of the country.

As early as Saturday, President Donald Trump said he would continue to organize political rallies, which sometimes attract up to 20,000 people.

Democrats vying to challenge him in the November 3 presidential election, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, have so far not canceled any campaign events.

Germany, which has nearly 1,000 cases, called on Sunday for the cancellation of all events with more than 1,000 people.

“Think carefully”

Fauci said U.S. officials may also need to consider measures to keep people away from crowded places if the virus continues to spread.

Yet he downplayed the likelihood of the kind of large-scale mandatory quarantines imposed in China and Italy, while saying that nothing could be excluded.

“I do not imagine that the draconian nature of what the Chinese have done would ever be achievable, applicable, doable or whatever you want to call it in the United States,” he said in an interview. granted to CBS “” 60. Minutes. “” But the idea of ​​social distancing, I mean, obviously, is something that will be seriously considered. “

He urged those most at risk to limit movement.

“If you are a person with an underlying medical condition and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying medical condition, you should think twice before flying on a long trip , and not only think twice, but do it on a cruise ship, “said Fauci on” Meet the Press “.

US surgeon general Jerome Adams told CNN the number of cases will increase, adding that the average age of death for people with the virus is 80 years and that the average age for people in need of medical care is 60 years. .

“Unfortunately, you are going to see more deaths, but that does not mean that we should panic,” he said. Communities need to “prepare for more cases so that we can prevent more deaths,” said Adams.

In financial markets, talk of recessions and bear markets increased as investors tried to gauge how much the epidemic would hurt global growth. Many strategists have become more pessimistic in recent days and anticipate further market declines and the possible end of the longest economic expansion in the history of the United States.

Cruise ship crisis

The hardest hit place in the United States is a nursing home on the outskirts of Seattle in Kirkland, and Washington State is considering mandatory measures such as banning large gatherings but not necessarily imposing quarantines massive, said the governor.

The Life Care Center nursing home was responsible for 13 of the 18 confirmed coronavirus deaths in Washington State, which has reported a total of 136 cases to date, most of all states .

Officials in California said on Sunday that the cruise ship Grand Princess, prevented from returning to San Francisco last week due to a coronavirus outbreak on board, would send most of its 2,400 passengers to quarantine centers located in four military bases across the country.

Those who need immediate medical attention will go to the hospital. The crew of 1,100 will be quarantined and treated on board the ship, unless they require acute care outside the ship.

The ship was ordered to stay at sea last week after a group of passengers and crew developed flu-like symptoms, and health officials learned that some passengers from a previous cruise to aboard the same vessel had subsequently contracted a coronavirus. One is dead.

On Friday, 21 people aboard the Grand Princess tested positive for COVID-19, and the ship was redirected to a specially secure terminal across San Francisco Bay at the port of Oakland for a brief stop on Monday to leave passengers leave the ship.

By Sunday, the number of confirmed cases in California had increased to 114 statewide, including two passengers aboard the Grand Princess who had tested positive two days earlier, the state department of public health.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number of cases in New York is now 105 and he expects it to increase as the tests increase.

“What we are really trying to do here is to avoid the massive interruption of closing everything for two weeks like China did, like Italy does,” he said.

Cuomo said a Westchester County lawyer, who is believed to be at the heart of the epidemic, attended a number of large rallies, contributing to the estimated 70 people in Westchester who tested positive.

“These are these big gatherings where you can expose a number of people in a very short time, then it’s like dominoes, right, then the tree continues to grow with branches.”

In New York State, the Scarsdale Public School District said it was closing all of its campuses for more than a week starting Monday after a high school teacher tested positive.

Columbia University of New York said it was suspending classes Monday and Tuesday because someone on campus was quarantined from exposure to the virus.

(REUTERS)