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Coronavirus death toll crosses 100 in US

By Lalit K Jha
March 18, 2020 16:54 IST

The number of deaths due to the new coronavirus in the United States has reached 105, with the outbreak spreading to all 50 states, even as President Donald Trump mounted a war-like effort to contain the situation, including an economic stimulus package of $1 trillion.

IMAGE: A health care worker tests a person at a drive-thru testing station run by the state health department for people who suspect they have novel coronavirus in Denver, Colorado, US. Photograph: Jim Urquhart/Reuters

The first fatality from COVID-19 was reported from the Washington state on February 26.

Less than a month later, the toll has crossed 100.

As of March 17, the figure stood at 105 and the number of confirmed infections crossed 6,500.

New York in the East Coast and Washington in the West are the two states that took major hits due to the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

President Donald Trump has said that the crisis in the US might continue till July and August.

 

According to The Washington Post, most of the deaths have occurred in people over 70 and those with underlying conditions.

"Public health experts believe the initial and ongoing testing problems mean that unknown numbers of cases have gone undetected, and they say the death toll will only continue to rise," Politico reported.

President Trump has urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 persons.

He asked them to stay indoors and work from home as much as possible.

Schools, offices, bars, restaurants and many stores remain closed across the United States.

In the Silicon Valley, more than seven million people have been asked to stay indoors. Curfew has been imposed in New Jersey. Several states and cities are considering taking similar measures.

Trump spoke by telephone with the executives of industrial supply retailers and wholesalers about the national response to COVID-19.

He thanked them for providing Americans the goods they rely on every day and asked them to extend his thanks to the incredible employees who are working tirelessly to keep store shelves well-stocked.

The President also announced that Medicare telehealth services will be dramatically expanded.

"Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or videoconference, at no additional cost, including with commonly used services like FaceTime and Skype -- a historic breakthrough," he said.

Several US senators wrote to Trump, urging him to use his authority to help address the widespread shortages of medical equipment caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

"There are widespread reports of shortages in personal protective equipment, ventilators, diagnostic test kits, and other medical supplies that require medical professionals to ration existing supplies," the Senators wrote.

"The Department of Defense, in collaboration with governors and appropriate federal agencies, should immediately undertake a national assessment of the supply and anticipated needs for PPE, ventilators, diagnostic test kits, and other needed medical supplies to support the use of its DPA authorities, as well as determining the potential use of the Defense Logistics Agency to support the rapid deployment of needed equipment, including from existing reserves," the letter read.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the military would provide up to five million respirator masks. He said the Pentagon will also provide items of personal protective equipment to safeguard front-line responders and up to 2,000 specialised ventilators.

Pentagon would open up as many as 16 labs to test civilians for the virus and potentially call up more members of the National Guard and Reserve, Esper told reporters.

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Lalit K Jha
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