New York confirms first coronavirus case; U.S. ramps up preparations
New York state confirmed its first positive coronavirus test, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday night, as the U.S. government said it would start screening travelers for the virus and hike production of protective masks.
Cuomo said on Twitter that a woman in her 30s contracted coronavirus during a recent trip to Iran and was in quarantine in her home. He did not say where the woman lived.
“The patient has respiratory symptoms, but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving in New York,” Cuomo said.
At the federal level, President Donald Trump’s administration scrambled on Sunday to reassure Americans as the disease spreads and businesses cancel conferences and flights.
Administration officials tried to calm market fears that the coronavirus could cause a global recession, saying the public had overreacted and that stocks would bounce back because of the underlying strength of the U.S. economy.
The first American died from coronavirus, a man in his 50s with underlying conditions in Washington state, officials said on Saturday. They still do not know how he contracted the disease.
The state on Sunday confirmed two other cases and locked down a long-term care facility where a resident and a worker also tested positive for coronavirus and 50 residents and staff are showing symptoms.
Over 70 cases have been reported in the United States, with most on the West Coast but new cases in the Chicago area and Rhode Island, aside from New York.
Stock markets plunged last week, with an index of global stocks setting its largest weekly fall since the 2008 financial crisis, and more than $5 trillion wiped off the value of stocks worldwide.
A world economy conference with Pope Francis due to take place in Italy later this month was also canceled.
Trump said on Sunday that travelers to the United States from countries at high risk of coronavirus would be screened before boarding and on arrival, without specifying which countries.
The United States has 75,000 test kits for coronavirus and will expand that number “radically” in coming weeks, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
Democrats, who will challenge Trump for the presidency in the Nov. 3 election, have criticized his administration for downplaying the crisis and not preparing for the disease to spread in the United States.
“Other than in areas where there are individuals that have been infected with the coronavirus, people need to understand that for the average American, the risk does remain low. We’re ready,” Pence told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The United States has imposed limits on travelers who have visited Iran and recommended against travel to hard-hit areas of Italy and South Korea.
Mexico has reported four coronavirus cases. Its Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that both governments were in “close and effective communication, especially the health authorities.”