POLITICS

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Rises To 17 As Virus Prompts Cancellations, Closures

Most of those who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. so far have been in Washington state, with one death in California and two in Florida.

As more cases of coronavirus are confirmed daily around the globe, the death toll in the U.S. rose to at least 17 late Friday, with two new deaths reported in Florida.

Most of the deaths have been in Washington state. 

There have been at least 14 reported deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in Washington state, with many of these connected to an outbreak at a nursing home in the Seattle area. 

There was one death confirmed in California earlier this week. A cruise ship with over 3,000 people is now being held off the coast of San Francisco after it was confirmed that the 71-year-old man who died had been on a previous trip on the ship in mid-February. 

Vice President Mike Pence said in a news briefing Friday that 21 people on the Grand Princess cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19, including 19 crew members and two passengers. Pence said they will be testing everyone onboard and quarantining people “as necessary.”

A previously announced COVID-19 patient in Santa Rosa County and another in Lee County, both in Florida, have died, the Florida Health Department reported Friday. Both became ill after an international trip, according to the Herald-Tribune.

Across the U.S., there have been over 160 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Reported cases so far span more than 20 states.

The number of cases are growing daily around the world, reaching nearly 100,000 reported cases across at least 85 countries, per the World Health Organization. More than 3,000 people have died

WHO director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged in a Thursday news briefing for countries worldwide to take a “collective, coordinated” approach to tackling the virus.

“We are calling on every country to act with speed,” he said, adding he was “deeply concerned” about the number of additional countries reporting cases. “This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. ... This is a time for pulling out all the stops.”

The WHO repeated its calls for governments to educate the public on symptoms and ways to protect themselves, as well as to increase testing and train health workers. 

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a news briefing Friday that, in response to high demand from states for more tests, the CDC had developed a “very high quality” swab test and shipped out 900,000 of these across the country yesterday. They plan for over 1 million more to go out by early next week. 

As cases increase across the U.S., institutions and companies are taking extra precautions, with some canceling in-person events in an attempt to minimize virus spread.

The University of Washington announced Friday that it would hold classes remotely until the end of March amid a rise in cases around Seattle, including one “presumptive positive” case involving a staff member.

Big companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon and others have pulled out of attending the annual tech conference South by Southwest in Austin next week amid fears of coronavirus’ spread.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, noted Wednesday that most people who contract the coronavirus have only mild symptoms

Dr. Sonia Angell, the state’s public health director, suggested basic precautions to reduce people’s risk: Cover your mouth when you cough, wash your hands frequently and, if you don’t feel well, stay home. If you’re concerned about your own symptoms, you should call your health provider or county health officials before going to a hospital or doctor’s office.

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