President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House. Photo by: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House. Photo by: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

More than 100 dead and 7,636 cases as Covid-19 takes hold of the US

By Xinhua Time of article published Mar 19, 2020

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NEW YORK - All 50 US states, as well as Washington D.C., have now reported Covid-19 cases, after West Virginia reported its first case on Tuesday.

"We knew it was coming," said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice at a news conference on Tuesday evening. "We've prepared for this and we shouldn't panic."

Confirmed cases are increasing rapidly as test kits become more readily available in various states. As of Tuesday night, the country has tallied over 6,300 Covid-19 cases, an addition of 1,500 in 24 hours, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

At least 108 deaths have resulted from the disease in the United States, 55 of which occurred in the state of Washington and 13 in New York state, according to the centre.

Amid the growing public health crisis, Houston City Council on Tuesday voted to indefinitely extend the proclamation of a local state of disaster in the fourth largest US city.

The order allows Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to make decisions to work with county, state, and federal officials to contain and mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Turner signed the disaster declaration last week, which will be in effect for seven days.

"As a city, we must work together. This is a crisis that is going to be with us for several weeks, if not several months," Turner was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Houston Mayor's Office.

"It is gravely important for us to take definitive steps to slow the Covid-19 spread. The measures we have put in place will help save lives," he continued.

Turner also announced on Tuesday that all city-produced, sponsored and previously permitted events are now canceled through the end of April. The city is also encouraging businesses to limit exposure to members of the public and shift their operations online for the time being.

The decisions were made one day after the mayor ordered all bars, nightclubs and restaurants in Houston to close for 15 days.

Meanwhile, seven counties in California's Bay Area on Tuesday started to follow a shelter-at-home order, which has been regarded as the strictest measure introduced in the entire country since the outbreak of the virus.

In San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Cruz counties, most businesses are closed and residents have been directed to stay home for the next three weeks.

However, people are still allowed to go out to buy food and gas, collect prescriptions at pharmacies and go to banks, according to local officials.

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he is considering taking similar measures to those of the California counties, adding that a decision will be made in 48 hours.

The city that never sleeps has gone unusually quiet as thousands of cinemas, theatres, bars and restaurants were closed starting Tuesday, following orders by both the mayor and New York state governor.

Also on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for national unity in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, as New York became the country's first state to have reported over 1,000 Covid-19 cases.

"Everybody is afraid. Everybody is nervous. How you respond, how you act, this is a character test for all of us individually. It is a character test for us collectively as a society," said Cuomo.

The governor said that federal resources are needed to counter the crisis, such as those of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the hospital capacity issue.

He warned the number of Covid-19 cases in the state might not peak for another 45 days, citing expert projections.

The state will then need some 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds and 18,600 to 37,200 ICU beds when the pandemic reaches its peak. Currently, it has just 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds, he noted.

On Monday, the governor issued an executive order allowing the state to use the National Guard to find existing facilities that can be converted to medical facilities, with the goal of creating an additional 9,000 beds.

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