Top US health official warns that America has ‘not reached our peak’ in coronavirus cases
President Donald Trump’s coronavirus test came back negative, according to White House physician Sean Conley.
America hasn’t hit the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, a top US health official said, even as the number of cases nears 3,000 and officials across the country impose a slew of restrictions to curb the virus’s spread.
Pointing to the way the coronavirus has spread in other countries, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that the US can still expect more cases and deaths, primarily among older and vulnerable people.
“We have not yet reached our peak,” Fauci said at a White House briefing Saturday.
As of Sunday morning, there were at least 2,885 coronavirus cases in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Washington DC. At least 60 people have died. As of Saturday, West Virginia remained the only state without any confirmed cases.
With the threat of further spread on the horizon, local governments have encouraged residents to stay home and practice social distancing. States such as California, New York and Washington state have banned large gatherings.
And the restrictions and closures keep coming.
Hoboken, New Jersey, announced a citywide curfew starting Monday. Residents will be required to stay in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., with exceptions for work, Mayor Ravinder Bhalla said.
Bars and restaurants in Hoboken won’t be allowed to serve food inside their locations as of Sunday at 11 a.m. They “will be permitted to conduct food takeout and food delivery service only,” Bhalla said.
In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order Saturday requiring downhill ski resorts close for a week due to the presence of coronavirus in the mountain communities with limited care capacity.
Polis said he was directing “downhill ski resorts to suspend operations for one week to slow the spread of COVID-19 and conserve medical resources in our mountain communities.”
The governor said officials will continue to monitor the course of the outbreak and may amend the executive order.
And Los Angeles County will temporarily suspend all jury trials, LAPD spokesperson Josh Rubenstein said. The high-profile murder trial of millionaire Robert Durst is expected to be among those put on hold, pending final approval from the presiding judge.
Increased travel restrictions
President Donald Trump expanded restrictions on entry into the US from Europe to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. The travel restrictions go into effect Monday at midnight.
Restrictions from 26 other countries in Europe went into effect Friday.
US citizens and their family members are exempt from both sets of restrictions, but they are subject to enhanced medical screenings upon arrival.
Travelers returning to US find long airport lines
Some passengers returning from Europe said they faced long lines and confusion upon landing at US airports.
Katherine Rogers landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Saturday. After waiting in line for about five hours to be screened by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she was told she had an hour more to go.
“No one seems prepared,” she said. “To take us off planes from all over the world and put us together for hours seems counterproductive.”
Long lines also greeted travelers arriving to John F. Kennedy International Airport, where passengers said they were instructed to share pens to fill out paperwork even as Americans are being urged not to come in close contact with one another.
“They didn’t have pens and told us to share, which sounds like a great thing in the middle of the pandemic,” passenger Katelyn Deibler said.
Millions more tests available
Trump declared a national emergency Friday, freeing up $50 billion in federal resources to combat the outbreaks.
“No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever,” he said.
The Trump administration said Friday it was partnering with the private sector to also boost testing capacity — with both more tests and drive-through testing.
The country’s testing system has received stark criticism by health officials and people who said they were turned away despite showing symptoms. Fauci said earlier this week the US testing system was failing to meet the public’s needs.
On Friday, Trump said 5 million coronavirus tests would be available within a month. He also said American retail executives would be donating resources to facilitate drive-through testing across the country.
But those companies later said they had few details on what they could offer or when test kits would be available.
Trump told reporters Saturday that he took a coronavirus test Friday night. The White House later said the test was negative.
Meanwhile, facilities in New York, Illinois and Colorado have started offering drive-through testing.
“Drive-through testing means people in this community can call a telephone number, make an appointment and then can come to be tested and literally drive through the testing facilities,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“It’s not only faster and easier. It’s also smarter and safer because you’re not exposing people who may be positive.”