Washington, the state most severely hit by the coronavirus, is expected to ban gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle area amid the outbreak.
Gov. Jay Inslee is to make the announcement in a press conference Wednesday morning, according to the Seattle Times, installing the ban on King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. The new measures were expected to apply to gatherings such as baseball games, concerts and cultural events – but would not further shut down public schools or curtail retail.
“If we are going to stop this epidemic or seriously slow it down, we need to look at what’s coming in Washington state,” Inslee, a Democrat, said during an earlier press conference Tuesday, according to Oregon Live. “Not just what is here today.”
There were 267 cases of the COVID-19 illness reported in Washington as of Wednesday morning, the highest count in any state. Twenty-four people have died. In total, the U.S. recorded more than 1,000 cases of the virus in 39 states across the country.
The nationwide death toll was at least 30. At least two people in California, two in Florida, one in New Jersey and one in South Dakota have died from the novel virus as of Wednesday morning.
At least 115 public and private schools and universities in Washington had already closed for one or more days since Feb. 27 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 illness, the Seattle Times reported. This week two Seattle public schools were added to the list. Three schools shut their doors in Northshore, Meridian and Snohomish public school districts, affecting nearly 36,000 students.
At least 10 long-term care facilities in Washington have reported positive cases of COVID-19, as the virus spread through nursing homes, most heavily impacting the elderly population. The state and King County public health departments said they were working with the facilities to prevent further transmission of the highly infectious virus.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury was considering pushing back the April 15 tax filing deadline amid the outbreak, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the plan has not been finalized.
After meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday, President Trump urged Americans to “stay calm” as the government responds to the global outbreak of coronavirus, telling reporters his administration officials are “are doing a fantastic job” providing states with requested aid.
“We’re prepared and we’re doing a great job with it and it will go away,” Trump said. “Everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful, but be calm.”
Trump himself has yet to be tested, and he said the White House doctor told him there was no reason to do so. This comes after it was discovered that someone at the Conservative Political Action Conference tested positive with COVID-19. Trump attended that summit at the end of last month. Several Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, announced separately they would self-quarantine after coming in contact with the same individual at CPAC.
New York state saw the second-highest number of cases of the coronavirus Wednesday morning, with 173 people infected. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday he was sending in National Guard troops to enforce a one-mile-radius “containment area” surrounding a synagogue in New Rochelle, a town in Westchester County, about 17 miles north of Manhattan. The Young Israel synagogue is the epicenter of the outbreak in Westchester County, where most – 108 – of New York State’s cases were recorded.
“It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said, according to NPR. “And this is literally a matter of life and death.”
California came in third with at least 181 cases of the virus. That number does not include those on the Grand Princess Cruise ship, which is currently docked in Oakland and slowly disembarking as officials screen passengers after cases of the virus were reported aboard.
The ship has been docked since last Thursday, and, as of Tuesday, at least 1,406 people have been taken off the boat, USA Today reported. Wednesday marked the third day passengers would disembark and be processed, with Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, saying he hopes to expedite the process and have the ship leave port within 72 hours. Americans will be transported to military bases in California, Texas and Georgia, where they will spend their 14-day quarantine. Some non-citizens have already received treatment at hospitals before being released to quarantine in hotels.
Cases in California extend from San Francisco down to San Diego. Sacramento County health officials announced Tuesday that a woman in her 90s at an Elk Grove nursing home died from the virus, the Los Angeles Times first reported. Her death would mark the state’s third coronavirus fatality once national numbers are updated. She was the first to die at a nursing home in California, which contrasts with Washington, where an outbreak at a single nursing home resulted in most of the state’s deaths from the virus.
Massachusetts released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the state shortly after noon Wednesday, announcing that at least 1083 people are now subject to quarantine. 638 have completed monitoring, while 445 are being monitored or are under self-quarantine.
The state saw least 92 confirmed cases Wednesday morning – with the number nearly doubling from the day before when 51 people – a group of employees from a company who all attended a meeting in Boston last month – tested positive for COVID-19. At least 70 of the cases in Massachusetts are linked to employees at Biogen, a Cambridge biotechnology company, state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said, according to CNN.
Boston Medical Center has set up a tent outside to handle expected cases. John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is closed until further notice. The annual Boston Flower and Garden Show opened as scheduled Wednesday morning with ‘sanitizer stations’ and noticeably smaller crowds.
The March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston was canceled amid the outbreak. The parade in Chicago, also one of the largest in the U.S. for St. Patrick’s Day, was also canceled. New York’s parade reportedly will go on, as of Tuesday.
Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, declared a state of emergency in light of the new figure, telling reporters “the purpose of moving forward with these measures now is to act before the numbers increase to the point where the virus spread is severely impacting the commonwealth.” The measure included banning all 42,000 employees of the state’s executive branch from leaving the state and forbidding all in-person conferences and seminars, the Boston Globe reported.