Top US health official warns that US 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 individuals,
“We have not yet reached our peak,” Fauci said at a White House briefing Saturday.
As of Sunday morning, there were at least 2,826 coronavirus cases in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Washington DC. At least 59 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. Some, including Austin, have banned large gatherings.
And, still, restrictions and closures keep coming.
The city of Hoboken, New Jersey, on Saturday announced a citywide curfew beginning Monday. Residents will be required to stay in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., with exceptions for work, according to a statement from Mayor Ravinder Bhalla. Bars and restaurants in the city won’t be allowed to serve food inside their locations as of Sunday at 11 a.m. and “will be permitted to conduct food takeout and food delivery service only,” Bhalla’s statement said.
In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order requiring that downhill ski resorts close for a week due to the presence of coronavirus in the mountain communities with limited care capacity.
In the order issued Saturday, Gov. 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 they 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, according to LAPD spokesperson Josh Rubenstein and an internal police memo obtained by CNN. 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
Also in an effort to slow the spread, President Donald Trump expanded the 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 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, Rogers told CNN.
“No one seems prepared,” Rogers says. “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,” said passenger Katelyn Deibler. “Which sounds like a great thing in the middle of the pandemic.”
Millions more tests available
President 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 so far received stark criticism by health officials and residents who say they were turned away despite showing symptoms. Fauci said earlier this week the US testing system was failing to meet the public’s needs.
“The idea of anybody getting it (a test) easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that,” he told a congressional committee Thursday. “Do I think we should be? Yes, but we’re not.”
On Friday, Trump said 5 million coronavirus tests would be available within a month, adding 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 took a coronavirus test Friday night, he told reporters Saturday, after facing questions about whether he had been tested at a news conference the day before. The White House later said the test was negative.
Trump had his temperature taken before Saturday’s briefing, and it was normal, he said.
Meanwhile, facilities in New York, Illinois and Colorado have begun 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.”