The number of coronavirus infections in the United States is growing. According to the New York Times, the first two coronavirus deaths in the U.S. took place over the weekend, both older adults with underlying health problems in Washington State. There are 88 cases of the virus, officially named COVID-19, nationwide, and Florida has declared a public health emergency due to the situation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it is sending a team of experts to support the investigation in Washington.
“We recognize that this is a difficult time; we are facing a historic public health challenge. We will continue to respond to COVID-19 in an aggressive way to contain and blunt the threat of this virus,” said CDC spokesperson Dr. Nancy Messonnier in a written statement. “While we still hope for the best, we continue to prepare for this virus to become widespread in the United States.”
In New York, which confirmed its first coronavirus case over the weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new partnership between state hospitals and the Wadsworth Center — the research-intensive public health laboratory housed within the State Department of Health — to expand surge testing capacity to 1,000 tests per day statewide for the novel coronavirus. Current capacity is up to 200 tests per day. The state will also institute new cleaning protocols at schools and on public transit to contain the spread of the virus. Additionally, last week the Governor requested $40 million in funds for the New York State Department of Health to respond to the outbreak.
Thus far, the Wadsworth Center has received four samples from New York for testing. One test was positive, for a patient in her late thirties who had contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran and who is currently isolated in her home. Two more have tested negative for coronavirus, and one test is still pending.
There are currently over 87,130 cases of the coronavirus in 59 countries worldwide, according to the latest situation report from the World Health Organization (WHO). There have been 2,977 deaths from the illness thus far.