COVID-19: U.S. cases top 1,000; Trump promises economic relief

COVID-19: U.S. cases top 1,000; Trump promises economic relief
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet Tuesday with insurance company representatives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 10 (UPI) -- Coronavirus cases in the United States crossed the 1,000 patients mark late Tuesday as infections surged in Washington State, California and Massachusetts and first infections were confirmed in Michigan and South Dakota.

By late Tuesday, the United States recorded 1,001 cases of COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, after Washington State saw its cases hit 267, California reached 157 and Massachusetts recorded 92 presumptive cases. The university reported the worldwide total of confirmed COVID-19 cases at more than 119,000, with 4,284 deaths. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the U.S. totals at 25 deaths and 647 confirmed cases. Its updates are current as of late Tuesday afternoon.


Michigan confirmed two presumptive cases in a statement while South Dakota announced it has five cases and its first death, presumably caused by the virus.


All are travel-related and spread throughout the state, Gov. Kristi Noem said during a press conference.

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"I encourage all South Dakotans to take this seriously," she said. "Now is the time to prepare."

President Donald Trump earlier Tuesday announced a number of measures to tackle the economic effects of the coronavirus, including travel industry aid, healthcare co-pay waivers and the possibility of a payroll tax cut.

He and Vice President Mike Pence addressed the economic efforts during a White House briefing with insurance industry executives. Trump said his administration is working to help as the travel industry faces plummeting demand over concern planes and cruise ships are helping the virus spread.

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"They're taking very strong steps in terms of people going on and going off," Trump said of the cruise industry. "But they're spending a lot of money and they are working very hard. And ... we're going to be helping that industry.

"Likewise, with the airline industry, they're taking very, very strong steps for people coming into our country, even getting off the planes. So we are working very closely with them."

The airline industry is facing tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue due to the outbreak. Earlier Tuesday, U.S. carriers American and Delta announced steep flight reductions to foreign and domestic markets due to a drop in demand.

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Monday, the Grand Princess cruise ship carrying 3,500 people from 54 countries docked in Oakland, Calif., after spending four days quarantined off the West Coast. The ship had 21 coronavirus patients on board, and a couple on the ship has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Princess Cruise Lines.

In an emailed statement to UPI, the cruise liner said as of Tuesday evening, 1,406 passengers had disembarked from the vessel.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters earlier during a press conference that passengers who disembark from the Grand Princess will be shuttled to Air Force bases in Texas, Georgia or California where they will be quarantined.

Nationals from 54 countries and Americans from 24 states are on the ship, he said, which is why passengers will be quarantined in Texas and Georgia so U.S. citizens can be stationed closer to their residences.

Newsom said among the passengers were 232 Canadians who were to be flown back to Canada and 171 Californias who were transported to Travis Air Base.

Princess Cruise said earlier that 407 of the passengers had disembarked from the ship by late Monday, including two confirmed cases of the virus who, along with their travel partners, were transferred to local hospitals.


The 19 crew members who tested positive for the virus remain on the vessel and have been isolated to their individual cabins, the company said.

Once all passengers have left the ship, the crew will remain on board and will depart with the Grand Princess with plans for a crew quarantine still being discussed.

During a briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force earlier Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said 26 people on the ship were sick including those with coronavirus and other "frail individuals" with various illnesses.

During the briefing, Pence said that the task force was considering implementing new travel advisories in response to the virus.

"We're going to be bringing those recommendations forward in the time and manner that we as the White House Coronavirus Task Force determine are appropriate. It's literally a day-to-day consideration," he said.

At the White House meeting, Pence announced that major U.S. insurance companies have agreed to suspend co-payments for coronavirus tests -- including UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Cigna, Humana, Aetna and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

"They've also agreed to cover telemedicine so that anyone, particularly among the vulnerable senior population, would not feel it necessary to go to a hospital or go to their doctor," Pence added. "They'll know that telemedicine is covered."


Additionally, Trump said he plans to speak to Congress about "a possible tax relief measure."

"We are to be meeting with House Republicans, Mitch McConnell, and discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial relief, very substantial relief," he told reporters.

Trump didn't reveal any details of his plan for such a cut.

Newsom said California's COVID-19 cases increased by 24 from the day prior to 157 patients, including 12 passengers who were among the initial 1,540 people to have disembarked from the Grand Princess before it made its way down to Hawaii.

California also suffered its third death to the coronavirus, health officials in Sacramento County said late Tuesday.

The victim was a resident in their 90s of an assisted living facility and who suffered from an underlying health condition, Sacramento County said in a press release.

In Washington State, health officials for Seattle and King County recorded two additional deaths due to the virus over Tuesday, increasing its death toll to 22.

Seattle and King County said the victims were a woman in her 80s and a resident of the Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and a man in his 80s. However, 19 of the state's deaths are linked to the one nursing center.


The county also saw a surge of 74 new cases of the coronavirus from the day prior, increasing its total to 190, health officials said. The state now has 267 confirmed cases and 24 deaths, the health department said.

Officials in New York on Tuesday said they have created a "containment zone" around New Rochelle, which is the hub of the outbreak in the state, that will last until March 25. Officials said they have deployed National Guard troops to New Rochelle, in Westchester County, to support the zone. New Rochelle is about 20 miles northeast of Manhattan.

A man stands outside on an empty shopping center sidewalk in New Rochelle, N.Y., on Tuesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan and North Carolina became the latest states to come under a state of emergency in response to the virus.

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado announced the declaration as the state hit 17 confirmed cases of the virus after confirming two presumptive COVID-19 patients over Tuesday.

"Our top priority is protecting public health and our vulnerable populations, which is why we are taking swift, bold action," Polis said in a statement. "Our administration's response will be guided by the science and lessons learned from the countries and states that this virus arrived in first."


In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker declared the emergency after the state's cases of COVID-19 nearly doubled over the past 24 hours to 92, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

"We believe it's important to start taking more aggressive action now to mitigate spread based on the information we have available," Baker said during a press conference. "There's no question that the efforts to mitigate the spread of this virus will be disruptive. We expect this disruption to continue for the foreseeable future and understand it will cause inconvenience for many."

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared the emergency to "maximize efforts and assist local governments and officials to slow the spread of the virus," the state said in a statement.

"We are taking every step we can to mitigate the spread of the virus and keep Michiganders safe," Whitmer said. "... It's crucial that all Michiganders continue to take preventative measures to lower their risk, and to share this informationwith friends,

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina said he made the declaration to help coordinate agencies, make it easier to purchase medical supplies, prevent price gouging and increase health departments' access to funds.


"Though we are still in the early stages in North Carolina, time is a valuable resource and we must work together to slow the spread while we can," he said.

Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams advised Americans not to panic, but also said, "people should know that this is going to likely get worse before it gets better."

"We've been here before -- H1N1, SARS, MERS," he told Good Morning America. "We know how to handle this, and really what we're trying to communicate to people now is how they can prepare."

Adams said the CDC will send out 4 million virus testing kits by the end of the week. The goal is to reach a level where "every American can rapidly get tested" if so ordered by their doctor.

Meanwhile, the U.S. stock market, which on Monday plunged by its largest single-day total since the financial crisis of 2008, rebounded sharply at the opening bell Tuesday following remarks by Trump that he would push for a tax-cut economic stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average vacillated throughout the day, closing up by 1,163 points or 4.9 percent. The S&P 500 closed up 4.9 percent and the Nasdaq Composite was up 5 percent.


In California, health officials in Santa Clara County issued a legal order banning mass gatherings of 1,000 or more people, starting Wednesday through the rest of the month.

The order could affect major sports events in San Jose, including those of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League and the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. The Sharks, whose season doesn't conclude until April, said Tuesday they would abide by the order.

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