U.S. coronavirus cases rise, 3 more die in Washington state as 1 mln test kits promised

NEW YORK, March 3 (Reuters) - The number of people with the novel coronavirus in the United States climbed on Tuesday with Washington state reporting three more deaths, as authorities worked on preventing its spread and the central bank acted on Tuesday to protect the economy from the impact of the global outbreak.

By Jonathan Allen and Maria Caspani

The Washington State Department of Health said the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases there now stands at 27, including 9 deaths, up from 18 cases and 6 deaths on Monday. All of the fatalities in the United States from the illness associated with the virus were in the Pacific Northwest state.

In New York, a man in his 50s who lives in a New York City suburb and works at a Manhattan law firm tested positive for the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the state to two, New York officials said.

He has severe pneumonia and is hospitalized, officials said. The patient had not traveled to countries hardest hit in the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in December and is now present in nearly 80 countries and territories, killing more than 3,000 people.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters his administration may cut off travel from the United States to areas with high rates of coronavirus, but said officials were not weighing any restrictions on domestic travel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures as of Monday, 108 people were infected – 60 in 12 U.S. states, including presumed cases reported by public health laboratories. The number of cases among repatriated citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak emerged, and from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan was 48, the CDC said.

The latest New York patient was in serious condition, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding that the confirmation was made by the city’s public health laboratory on its first day of testing.

Previously, all testing was conducted by the CDC, a process that created a delay of several days before the result was known.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn told Congress that testing kits should be available by the end of the week that would give labs the capacity to perform about 1 million coronavirus tests.

The man first became ill on Feb. 22, and was admitted to a hospital in a New York suburb on Feb. 27 before being transferred to a Manhattan hospital on Monday, a New York City health official said.

Family members are being quarantined in their home in New Rochelle, New York. They include a son who attends college in Manhattan and another child who attends a private high school in the Bronx borough of New York City. The high school has been shut following news of the infection.


The public transportation agency in New York, the most densely populated U.S. city of more than 8 million, said it was deploying “enhanced sanitizing procedures” for stations, train cars, buses and certain vehicles.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a MSNBC-TV interview that he expects there will be “dozens and dozens and dozens of cases” in his state eventually. He also said “people are more afraid of this than they need to be … This is a manageable situation.”

Public health officials across the country are focused on prevention efforts and federal regulators approved an emergency order to make more face masks available to health workers.

The U.S. House of Representatives is aiming for Wednesday to debate a multibillion-dollar bill providing emergency funds. Trump said his administration was working with Congress to pass an emergency spending measure, adding that he expects lawmakers to authorize about $8.5 billion.

Amid concerns about disruptions to supply chains, airlines and other business impacts of the coronavirus, the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday cut interest rates in an emergency move designed to shield the world’s largest economy. The Fed said it was cutting rates by a half percentage point to a target range of 1.00% to 1.25%.

Stocks on Wall Street initially rose more than 2% on the Fed’s surprise statement. But the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 later fell by that much in afternoon trading.

International travel to the United States will fall 6% over the next three months, the U.S. Travel Association forecast.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said they will adopt a “virtual format” for their Spring Meetings instead of convening in person in the U.S. capital.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Jonathan Allen, Laila Kearney, Hilary Russ in New York; Richard Cowan, David Morgan, Lisa Lambert and Ted Hesson in Washington and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Bill Berkrot)


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