US coronavirus cases top 1,000 as WHO declares a pandemic

New York Times correspondent Dr. Sheri Fink details a report she co-authored that alleges a private lab in the Seattle area ran into federal and state administrative roadblocks as it tried to test for the coronavirus after the first cases were reported in the US.

Posted: Mar 11, 2020 5:21 PM
Updated: Mar 11, 2020 5:21 PM

For the first time in 11 years, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic as a top US health official calls for "all hands on deck" to fight coronavirus.

A pandemic is defined as the "worldwide spread" of a new disease.

The US has more than 1,000 cases of novel coronavirus. And growing clusters of the disease are forcing many Americans to change their daily lives.

Large events have been postponed or canceled. Dozens of universities are temporarily shutting down campuses. A New York suburb now has a "containment zone." And more companies are urged to let their employees work from home.

"Keeping the workplace safe, keeping the home safe, keeping the school safe and keeping commercial establishments safe -- this should be universal for the country," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"We would like the country to realize that, as a nation, we can't be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago," he said.

"It doesn't matter if you're in a state that has no cases or one case. You have to start taking seriously what you can do now. Everybody should say, 'All hands on deck. This is what we need to do.'"

Where the cases are now

More than 1,000 cases are spread across at least 41 states and the District of Columbia.

At least 33 people have died: 25 in Washington state, four in California, two in Florida, one in New Jersey and one in South Dakota.

But the number of confirmed cases is expected to rise significantly because there has been a major backlog in testing. So some people with coronavirus might not even know it.

"We have very little access to testing," Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor of medicine and global health at Emory University, said Wednesday.

"I think the lack of access to testing continues to be a barrier to taking care of patients efficiently and rapidly."

Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that another 4 million tests would be available by the end of the week. He said that's on top of at least 1 million tests already in place across the country.

But US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said his department didn't know how many people have been tested.

"We don't know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report" to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Azar said.

He said the government is now working with the CDC to create a reporting system to help "keep track of how many we're testing."

A delay in testing came after the CDC had to remake a part of the testing kits sent to states after some were deemed faulty.

It wasn't until this week that public health labs in all 50 states were able to test for the virus.

Del Rio said the testing difficulties are exacerbating the outbreak.

"There was a lot of failure. There's been a lot of mishap in the developing of tests by the CDC," he said. "Catching up will not be easy."

No big crowds allowed

Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the ban of events with more than 250 people in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

In Washington state, where the most deaths have occurred, Dr. Helen Y. Chu and a team of scientists with the Seattle Flu Study hypothesized the virus was circulating for days before anyone realized it.

The team repurposed influenza tests to look for coronavirus instead, but without government approval, The New York Times reported.

The study found a positive coronavirus test from a teenager who hadn't been to any places with a coronavirus outbreak. That indicated the virus was spreading in the community earlier than officials thought.

Wednesday, the Seattle Flu Study tweeted it will be able to keep testing for coronavirus.

"In the face of this unprecedented health threat, there are times when we have all felt the need to move fast in an effort to save lives," read part of a statement from Dr. Jay Shendure, the lead principal investigator.

"We are actively working and have had good cooperation with local, state, and national health authorities on the response to COVID-19. Our team is productively collaborating with state regulators and has identified a path forward that will allow us to continue testing," the statement said.

"This collaboration will be crucial to helping us overcome the current challenge."

Some California cities and counties have similar bans.

The NBA's Golden State Warriors, who play in San Francisco, won't have any fans at Thursday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, according to league spokesman Mike Bass.

San Francisco is halting group gatherings of 1,000 people or more in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, Mayor London Breed announced.

'It is the hot spot in the nation'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a 1-mile "containment" area in the suburb of New Rochelle, where more than 100 residents have been infected.

He's deploying the National Guard to help clean public spaces and deliver food to homes in the suburb of about 80,000 people.

"It is the hot spot in the nation" for coronavirus, Cuomo said.

The rapid outbreak in New Rochelle started with one resident -- an attorney who works in Manhattan. His wife, children and neighbor are among the dozens infected.

The containment protocols include closing schools, houses of worship and other large gathering facilities.

The 1-mile radius originates from Temple Young Israel.

People can move freely within the area. Cuomo told CNN "People can come, people can go, there's no limitation on movement, but no large gatherings because the large gatherings are where it spreads."

The protocols end March 25.

Cruise ships propose new guidelines to government

The cruise industry has been hit hard by coronavirus after outbreaks on at least two ships.

Wednesday, some passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrived at the Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia to begin their quarantine.

More than 2,000 passengers will be placed in quarantine at multiple military bases for two weeks. The ship docked this week in Oakland, California, after more than 20 people on board tested positive.

On a sister ship, the Diamond Princess, more than 700 people were infected with coronavirus. At least seven of those patients have since died.

The cruise industry suffered another blow when the Department of State urged Americans to not go on cruises.

"Like many other viruses, Covid-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships," the CDC said.

Pence said the cruise line industry has proposed new measures such as advanced screening and upgraded medical services aboard each ship.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48626

Reported Deaths: 2717
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11723689
Lake5212244
Elkhart332051
Allen2815132
St. Joseph198168
Cass16399
Hamilton1596101
Hendricks1414100
Johnson1288117
Porter73637
Tippecanoe7279
Madison66364
Clark66044
Bartholomew58944
Howard58057
LaPorte57926
Vanderburgh5706
Kosciusko5564
Marshall4926
Noble48428
Jackson4723
LaGrange4719
Delaware45050
Boone44943
Hancock44935
Shelby43025
Floyd38244
Morgan32931
Monroe30128
Montgomery29720
Grant29526
Clinton2892
Dubois2836
Henry28016
White26510
Decatur25532
Lawrence24625
Vigo2368
Dearborn23323
Warrick22129
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1842
Jennings17612
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14717
Wayne1426
Orange13523
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1227
Jasper1212
Wabash1132
Carroll1102
Fayette1017
Newton9910
Whitley965
Starke933
Gibson872
Randolph804
Huntington782
Wells751
Jefferson722
Fulton711
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey440
Spencer411
Blackford392
Brown391
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland270
Martin230
Parke230
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58904

Reported Deaths: 2970
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10587431
Cuyahoga8048379
Hamilton6158204
Lucas2788303
Marion273439
Pickaway220141
Summit2175207
Montgomery213431
Mahoning1849238
Butler163747
Columbiana130660
Stark1133113
Lorain105167
Trumbull97473
Warren88124
Clark7729
Delaware58815
Fairfield58516
Tuscarawas56810
Belmont55422
Medina53632
Lake50819
Licking49612
Miami47231
Portage44959
Ashtabula43644
Wood43651
Clermont4226
Geauga40843
Wayne36352
Richland3475
Allen32341
Mercer2879
Greene2769
Darke25326
Erie24622
Holmes2393
Huron2232
Madison1999
Ottawa15024
Sandusky13714
Crawford1365
Washington13520
Ross1303
Putnam12915
Coshocton1272
Hardin12312
Morrow1171
Auglaize1074
Jefferson912
Monroe8917
Union891
Muskingum861
Hancock791
Hocking788
Preble781
Guernsey743
Lawrence720
Williams722
Shelby694
Clinton680
Logan641
Athens631
Fulton620
Ashland601
Carroll593
Wyandot595
Brown581
Knox521
Defiance513
Fayette460
Highland451
Scioto450
Champaign411
Van Wert380
Perry351
Seneca342
Henry300
Paulding260
Adams241
Jackson240
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia181
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
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