The COVID-19 virus death toll in the U.S. has climbed to 14, as of Friday morning, with the number of deaths in Washington state reported to be at 13 and a death reported in California. New patients were diagnosed in Colorado, Maryland, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
There are at least 233 confirmed cases in the U.S. to date, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University. At least 46 of these cases are Americans who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Princess Cruises ship was quarantined in Japan last month after a passenger from Hong Kong was diagnosed. American evacuees from the ship who tested positive were taken to a hospital near the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California.
The virus was first reported in China’s Wuhan city in the Hubei province. It has infected at least 100,000 people globally, including 3,411 deaths and 55,753 recoveries, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University. The majority of the cases have been reported in mainland China, which has 80,573 cases and at least 2,931 deaths.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the U.S.’ coronavirus task force, visited Washington state, where he pledged federal support for the state’s nursing homes with the most vulnerable populations, Reuters reports.
State governor Jay Inslee has previously criticized Pence and the Trump administration for its response to the outbreak.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump expressed his doubts about the accuracy of the virus death rate figures provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), calling them false based on his “hunch,” and Pence defended Trump’s comment, Reuters reports.
Inslee posted on Twitter last week: “I just received a call from @VP Mike Pence, thanking Washington state for our efforts to combat the coronavirus. I told him our work would be more successful if the Trump administration stuck to the science and told the truth.
On Thursday Inslee told reporters, “I think everybody agrees here that we want to have the best science. We’re getting good information from the agencies of the federal government and we appreciate that.
“I know there is this issue about the mortality rate [of the virus]. I just want to suggest that we do not have the luxury of having debates of that nature right now,” he added.
The outbreak continues in Washington state
The latest deaths in Washington state include a woman in her 90s who died at the EvergreenHealth Medical Center, The New York Post reports. She was said to have been a resident of LifeCare, the nursing home where at least six of those who died in Washington previously lived.
A total of 11 patients have died at the EvergreenHealth facility, the CEO of EvergreenHealth Medical Center, Jeff Toblin, told NBC News affiliate KING.
King County Public Health also confirmed that a man in his 50s previously died at Harborview Medical Center, while a woman of unknown age, who wasn’t hospitalized, died at home, NBC News reports.
Newsweek has contacted Washington’s department of health for further information on the status of the outbreak in Washington state.
According to the latest report on the website of Washington state’s department of health, there are at least 70 confirmed cases of the virus in Washington state, including 51 in King County (including nine deaths), 18 in Snohomish County (including one death) and one in Grant County.
Microsoft also confirmed two of its employees in Washington state have contracted the virus. Both are in the Puget Sound region, where Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters is located, the company confirmed in a statement. One of the infected individuals is an employee of Microsoft subsidiary LinkedIn.
“Local health experts have determined that this individual had no known contact with other employees while infected and, based on that fact, there is no risk to those who work at LinkedIn from this case,” a LinkedIn spokesperson told CNBC.
“We are doing everything we can to support our colleague and will continue to keep the health and safety of our employees, customers and partners as our top priority, working closely with public health officials globally,” the LinkedIn spokesperson said.
Microsoft has advised its employees in Puget Sound as well as the Bay area of California to work from home during the next few weeks.
Google has offered a work-from-home option to employees in Bay area offices, while Facebook is also “strongly recommending that all Bay area employees and contingent staff work from home starting Friday,” Reuters reports.
Maryland reports first three patients
Maryland has reported three cases of the virus, state governor Larry Hogan confirmed in a post on his official Twitter account. The patients were reported to have been traveling overseas. A state of emergency has been declared across the state of Maryland since the outbreak.
“In order to further mobilize all available state resources in response to this threat to public health, I have issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Maryland,” Hogan said in a statement.
“With this declaration, I am officially authorizing and directing the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to ramp up coordination among all state and local agencies and enable them to fast-track coordination with our state and local health departments and emergency management teams.”
“While today’s news may seem overwhelming, this is not a reason to panic. I am confident in our state’s ability to respond effectively to these three cases of coronavirus as well as to any future cases, and to be a national leader in responding to this situation and in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine.”
First two cases in Colorado
Colorado state officials confirmed the first two presumptive positive cases of the virus in Colorado on Thursday, which means the cases have been confirmed at a public lab but are awaiting confirmation from testing by the CDC.
One of the patients is reported to be a woman from Douglas County who has been quarantined at home. The second patient is a man in his 30s who traveled to Summit County, having arrived at Denver International Airport on February 29. He went to Italy, which is dealing with the largest outbreak in Europe, around mid-February, and the person he traveled with has since tested positive, The Denver Post reports.
At least three others have also been quarantined, while the test results for at least 30 other cases are still pending, Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed on its website.
He is now in quarantine in Jefferson County, along with his wife and two friends, who are from Colorado, state governor Jared Polis confirmed.
“We are doing everything possible to limit and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado,” the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement on its website.
“This is a rapidly changing situation, and it’s hard to predict exactly how COVID-19 may affect our communities. What we’re seeing in other areas tells us that once spread is detected in a community, numbers can increase quickly. Given that, our recommendations may change just as quickly,” it added.
More cases in New Jersey, Texas and Massachusetts
New Jersey reported its second presumptive case of the virus on Thursday, with eight others also being evaluated for possible virus testing, Philadelphia’s 6 ABC Action News reports.
The second case is a person from northern New Jersey and reported to be hospitalized at Englewood Hospital.
Further details about the first reported case in New Jersey have been released. The first patient is a man in his 30s who works in New York City. He is in stable condition at a hospital in Bergen County, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli confirmed, 6 ABC Action News reports.
Houston also reported its first “presumptive positive case” of the virus (which means it has been confirmed as positive in a public health lab but is awaiting confirmation from testing by the CDC), according to a statement by the city’s health department.
The patient is a man aged between 60 and 70 with a history of international travel who recently traveled to Egypt on a group tour.
The department is currently tracking any contacts of the man who are at risk of infection to monitor them for symptoms.
“The patient knew to monitor for symptoms and quickly sought medical care when he started feeling ill” Dr. David Persse, local health authority for the Houston Health Department, said in the statement.
“His quick action and the response of the public health system signifies that the potential for public exposure in Houston is minimal,” he added.
“All the cases in the Houston area have international travel in common and we’ve been actively monitoring these individuals since they were identified as being at-risk,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in the department’s statement.
“I encourage Houstonians to limit international travel for the time being and heed the advice of public health officials about healthy hygiene habits. If you are feeling sick, stay at home. But do not be parlayed by fear,” he added.
Currently there are five confirmed or presumptive positive cases of the virus across Texas, including one in Houston, three in Harris County and one in Bend County, the Houston Health Department confirmed on its official Twitter account.
Massachusetts reported its third presumptive case on Thursday, the state’s department of health confirmed. The patient was reported to be a woman in her 60s who traveled to Italy, NBC Boston reports.
“We appreciate this patient’s cooperation,” the state’s Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement.
Three people in Boston were also confirmed to have tested positive on Thursday, NBC Boston reports.
“While the risk in Massachusetts remains low, residents should make sure they and their families are well-informed about COVID-19 and heed the CDC’s updated international travel health alert,” Bharel added.
Starbucks stops accepting reusable cups
Starbucks, the major coffee chain, is also taking precautionary measures following coronavirus fears. The company is temporarily banning the use of personal reusable cups for “health and well-being,” of its patrons, AFP reports.
“We are pausing the use of personal cups and ‘for here’ ware in our stores,” Starbucks executive vice president Rossann Williams said in a statement.
Starbucks remains “optimistic this [ban] will be a temporary situation,” the company told AFP.
The coffee chain said it will continue to honor their 10-cent discount offers for customers who arrive with their own cup even if the shops won’t fill the cup.
The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S.as of March 6.
World Health Organisation advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handlings animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.