The state of California, the biggest in the United States, has now declared a state of emergency after a 71-year-old man became the first coronavirus fatality. There are now more than 150 patients infected with COVID-19 throughout the US.
The patient in question died in a hospital near Sacramento, according to BBC, and had underlying health issues. He is believed to have contracted the virus while on a Princess Cruise ship that he boarded from San Fransisco to Mexico last month. The ship, which is operated by Carnival Cruise Line (the same international cruise line that controls the infamous Diamond Princess), has been ordered to return to port in San Fransisco.
The Californian patient is the first out of the 11 deaths in the US to come from outside of Washington State, as the virus spreads throughout the country, with the total number of infected people now officially tallying over 150. In Washington DC, The White House has now moved to expand nationwide testing. This comes after several restrictions on who can be tested for the virus, due to the low capacity of healthcare facilities and the $1,000 cost of conducting a COVID-19 test.
“When I talked to some state officials, there was a sense that the tests would not be administered to people that were mildly symptomatic,” Vice President Mike Pence said, according to the BBC. “We’re issuing clear guidance that, subject to doctors’ orders, any American can be tested.”
Pence was appointed by President Trump to take care of the ensuing coronavirus crisis after downplaying the seriousness of the presence of COVID-19 around the country.
This comes days after a New York lawyer was diagnosed with the disease, along with his neighbour, who drove him to the hospital. The patient in question commutes through New York’s subways system and it has prompted widespread concern over the presence of the virus on the East coast. Since February, foreign nationals that have spent any time traveling to China have been prohibited from entering the country.
Stock market prices are also plummeting, while Donald Trump ordered a 0.5% interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve to counteract the economic consequences. The possibility of the coronavirus having a hugely negative impact on the nation’s economy will be a massive consideration for the Trump administration, whose ostensibly well-performing economy will be a major talking point for Trump’s re-election campaign later this year.
America is just getting started when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak. There are now more than 92,000 cases worldwide (more than 80,000 in China) and there have been more than 3,000 deaths reported.