US on track to become next coronavirus epicenter, but there's time to reverse course, health official says

CNN's Wolf Blitzer speaks to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti about a Los Angeles County resident who is believed to be the first juvenile to have died from the novel coronavirus in the United States. After this report first aired, the LA County Department of County Health issued a clarification that there might be an "alternate explanation" for the fatality other than Covid-19.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 12:51 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 12:51 PM

There's still time to stop the United States from becoming the next epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic, a World Health Organization spokeswoman told CNN on Wednesday.

"The potential is there, but you've still got time to turn it around," WHO's Margaret Harris said.

Your coronavirus questions, answered

Though the number of cases and deaths continues to grow in the United States, it's possible to reverse the trajectory, she said.

"You've got the best public health brains in the world," Harris said. "You've got people who can harness technology brilliantly. You've got people who can really think out of the box."

The formula for success is testing people, finding each case, identifying people who have come into contact with those who have been infected, isolating those who are ill or who have been exposed and quarantining, she said.

"Finally, getting the people who are ill to treatment -- and when you do that, really, really protect your health workers," she said.

Harris previously said that the US had the potential to be the next epicenter based on the "very large acceleration" in its number of cases.

Is Easter realistic?

President Donald Trump is hopeful Americans will be able to return to work in fewer than three weeks, he said, by Easter, which is April 12 -- an outlook that is not shared by world health officials.

"Rest assured, every decision we make is grounded solely on the health, safety and well-being of our citizens," Trump said.

With US health officials sounding alarms similar to those of their world counterparts, governors across the country have continued to roll out aggressive measures to stop the rise in cases.

Former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician, worries that a dearth of testing means experts can't fully understand the scope of the pandemic. In some areas, officials may be seriously underestimating the number of cases, she said.

Without the proper data in hand, "it would be premature for us to roll back any of these restrictions which frankly have just started," the George Washington University professor said.

"We need to know the data, and if we don't have the data, how are we making these decisions at all?" she asked. "It seems like these dates that are being picked are arbitrary and not based on science and evidence."

At least 709 Americans have now died from the virus, and 53,209 have been infected. More than half of the US population is under stay-at-home orders.

'We have overwhelmed our stocks'

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who issued a stay-at-home order last week said it's likely the measure will remain in place over the next two or three months.

"I think April for California would be sooner than any of the experts that I talked to would believe is possible," he said.

The state reported a teenager may have died from coronavirus Tuesday. While the Los Angeles County Public Health Department said there may be another explanation, the teen could be the first juvenile to die from Covid-19 in the US.

A 12-year-old in Atlanta, meanwhile, is showing improvement after her family said Sunday she was fighting for her life. On Wednesday, she was coming out of sedation and "responding well" to her parents, cousin Justin Anthony said.

In Louisiana, which Gov. John Bel Edwards said is experiencing the fastest growth rate of cases in the world, residents have been ordered to stay home until April 12.

"We have overwhelmed our stocks of key resources needed for our hospitals, first responders and emergency managers. There will be a long-lasting impact on the state of Louisiana," he said.

Trump on Tuesday approved Edwards' request for a major disaster declaration, which will provide more federal aid for the state, where two parishes -- Jefferson and Orleans, in metro New Orleans -- are among the hardest hit in the country.

US studies Italy's path

As more states implement stay-at-home orders, Trump isn't planning on a nationwide quarantine, he said.

Social distancing guidelines set forth by the federal government this month will expire next week. Among other guidelines, the "15-day pause" urges Americans to avoid public gatherings with more than 10 people.

Trump foresees a rapid recovery and "packed churches all over our country" on Easter, he told Fox News on Tuesday.

"I'm not sure that's going to be the day, but I will love to aim it right at Easter Sunday," he said.

The US has turned to Italy to understand how social distancing measures can help slow the virus' spread, a health official said Tuesday.

"We're looking very closely around the world, specifically Italy right now, because they are reaching their two weeks of clear social distancing -- and looking at the impact, we are seeing the number of deaths starting to decline," Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on "The Today Show."

'This is your future'

New York's surge in cases should serve as a warning for the rest of the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

"We are just a test case," he said. "Where we are today, you will be in three weeks or four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. ... What we do here will chart the course for what we do in your city and in your community."

New York has a case tally several times that of any other state, and the majority of the state's cases are in New York City. The state and city are making appeals to the federal government for more medical supplies.

Because of the numbers, anyone who has left New York over the last few days should self-quarantine, Birx said.

The state needs another 140,000 beds and 40,000 intensive care beds, on top of the roughly 53,000 beds it already has, Cuomo said.

He also requested 30,000 more ventilators from the federal government, which has sent 4,000 -- half of which would go to New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The ventilators are the "difference between life and death for thousands of New Yorkers," the mayor said.

Timelines need to be flexible, expert says

In addition to Louisiana and New York -- which followed California's and Washington's alarming spikes -- Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania have also seen accelerated increases in their coronavirus cases. New Jersey has the second-most cases in the country.

Because of the varying tallies -- more than 25,000 in New York, while other states have fewer than 50 -- timelines for reopening businesses and returning to normalcy need to remain flexible, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"No one is going to want to tone down things when you see what's going on in a place like New York City," he said during a White House news conference Tuesday.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49063

Reported Deaths: 2732
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11760689
Lake5276246
Elkhart340255
Allen2835133
St. Joseph200169
Cass16429
Hamilton1608101
Hendricks1425100
Johnson1296118
Porter76738
Tippecanoe7359
Clark66844
Madison66764
Bartholomew59145
Vanderburgh5876
LaPorte58326
Howard58058
Kosciusko5624
Marshall5016
Noble48528
LaGrange4779
Jackson4733
Boone45443
Delaware45252
Hancock45236
Shelby43125
Floyd38444
Morgan32731
Monroe30928
Montgomery29720
Grant29626
Clinton2902
Dubois2886
Henry28216
White26610
Decatur25432
Lawrence24825
Dearborn23823
Vigo2388
Warrick22729
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1862
Jennings17712
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14817
Wayne1436
Orange13623
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1247
Jasper1232
Wabash1142
Carroll1102
Fayette1037
Newton9910
Gibson982
Whitley975
Starke943
Randolph804
Huntington782
Jefferson762
Wells751
Fulton721
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Owen501
Adams491
Benton480
Posey450
Sullivan451
Spencer441
Brown421
Blackford392
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio180
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60181

Reported Deaths: 2991
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10879439
Cuyahoga8277383
Hamilton6287206
Lucas2836303
Marion273639
Summit2241207
Pickaway220541
Montgomery220131
Mahoning1861239
Butler167447
Columbiana130960
Stark1156113
Lorain106468
Trumbull99774
Warren89525
Clark7809
Delaware61715
Fairfield60517
Tuscarawas58510
Belmont55522
Medina54332
Lake52920
Licking52012
Miami47531
Portage46159
Wood45251
Ashtabula43744
Clermont4317
Geauga41443
Wayne36552
Richland3515
Allen32841
Mercer2909
Greene2879
Darke25326
Erie25022
Holmes2453
Huron2282
Madison2029
Ottawa16024
Washington14020
Sandusky13814
Crawford1365
Putnam13215
Ross1323
Coshocton1302
Hardin12312
Morrow1181
Auglaize1074
Jefferson922
Union921
Monroe8917
Muskingum891
Hancock831
Preble801
Athens791
Hocking798
Guernsey763
Lawrence740
Williams722
Shelby704
Clinton680
Logan651
Fulton630
Ashland621
Carroll603
Wyandot605
Brown591
Scioto540
Defiance533
Knox531
Fayette480
Highland461
Champaign441
Van Wert420
Perry371
Seneca352
Henry320
Jackson260
Paulding260
Adams241
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia201
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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