Washington state announced four more coronavirus deaths on Monday, bringing the total death toll in the United States to six, officials said, as the virus continues to spread despite travel restrictions aimed at curtailing it.
In the United States, tests have taken place at a far slower pace than in South Korea and China, where reported cases of the virus continue to rise. A genetic analysis suggested that the coronavirus, which causes a highly infectious respiratory disease called covid-19, had been spreading undetected for about six weeks in Washington state. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday took steps to sharply expand testing.
Italy has more than 1,600 confirmed cases, while Iran surpassed 1,500, with 66 deaths. Travelers from both countries appear to have spread the virus to other nations in the Middle East and Europe. A French citizen was diagnosed with the virus in Senegal on Monday, marking the country’s first known case and the second in sub-Saharan Africa. Elsewhere, Indonesia, one of the few large nations thought to be free of the virus, said Monday it had two confirmed cases, while others were reported from Australia to India to Portugal.
Here are the latest developments:
The U.S. death toll rose to six on Monday, with the number of cases topping 100 across 15 states.
There are at least 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state. Kirkland, Wash., has become a hub for the coronavirus response, as evidence suggests the virus may have spread undetected in the state for weeks.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cancel the planned release of dozens of people from quarantine in his state after a patient tested positive for the virus after she was mistakenly released and spent 12 hours in the community, visiting a mall and a hotel.
As President Trump boasted of his efforts to contain the outbreak in the United States on Monday evening, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington, the location of the nation’s most serious outbreak, said people should consider avoiding large public events and prepare for other disruptions in their daily lives as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Mapping the spread of coronavirus | What you need to know about the virus | How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. | Sign up for the coronavirus newsletter
March 2, 2020 at 10:34 PM EST
Georgia reports first two cases of coronavirus
Two people in Atlanta have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Georgia health officials said Monday night, marking the state’s first two cases of the rapidly spreading virus.
Kathleen Toomey, who leads the state’s public health department, said one of the patients had recently returned from Milan, which has been at the center of a serious outbreak in Italy, and the other lives in the same household. Both individuals are isolated at home in Fulton County with minimal symptoms.
The first patient did not experience symptoms until after exiting the plane and going through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic. Toomey added that the state has not experienced any other reports of person-to-person infections.
“Everything about this situation demonstrates how well the system is working,” she said.
Her report, announced at a news conference Monday, brings the number of states reporting coronavirus cases up to 15.
Besides Georgia, other states include: Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Utah, although some of those states include only former cruise passengers who have returned home.
By Teo Armus
March 2, 2020 at 10:08 PM EST
San Antonio loses bid to keep coronavirus evacuees quarantined
A federal judge on Monday ruled that the city of San Antonio cannot stop the federal government from releasing more than 130 coronavirus evacuees from a local military base where they have been quarantined for two weeks.
The evacuees were passengers from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship who were flown to Lackland Air Force Base in mid-February and monitored for symptoms.
After spending 14 days in quarantine and testing negative for the disease, they were scheduled to be transported to San Antonio International Airport, area hotels and rental-car facilities so they could return home.
San Antonio officials sought a temporary restraining order to block their release, arguing in federal court papers that the people still posed a health risk to the community.
U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez rejected the request, deferring to the federal government in the dispute.
“The Surgeon General of the United States and the Secretary of Health and Human Services are authorized to make and enforce such regulations as in their judgment are necessary to prevent the transmission or spread of communicable diseases,” Rodriguez wrote. “In this case they have determined that two negative tests (twenty-four hours apart) and/or quarantine for fourteen days is sufficient to prevent transmission or spread of COVID-19. This Court has no authority to second-guess those determinations even though the Court also shares the concerns expressed by the Plaintiffs.”
San Antonio officials argued the release was premature and said the group should be quarantined for another two weeks. They noted in court papers Monday that a patient from a different cohort of evacuees tested negative for covid-19 twice and was released from quarantine, only to be recalled later after the results of a third test were processed.
“This person visited a local mall, ate at its food court, and spent a few hours among other persons, potentially exposing the public to the virus,” the city said. “It is necessary to the public health of the residents of San Antonio and surrounding areas that those quarantined persons at Lackland remain within the confines of those safe, secure facilities during the quarantine period following their exposure to the virus.”