(Reuters) – Two other people succumbed to the coronavirus novel in Washington state, officials said on Saturday, bringing the national budget to 19, while the number of confirmed cases in New York jumped 21 overnight and a ship from cruise with infected passengers got stuck outside San Francisco.
Doctors transport a patient through heavy rain in an ambulance to the Kirkland Life Care Center, the long-term care facility linked to numerous confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, in Kirkland, Washington, USA, March 7, 2020. REUTERS / David Ryder
More than half of all U.S. states have reported cases of coronavirus, which originated in China last year and causes the sometimes fatal respiratory disease COVID-19. As the epidemic catches on, daily life has become increasingly interrupted, with concerts and lectures canceled and universities telling students to stay home and take lessons online.
The last two deaths occurred in Washington King County, the hardest hit area in the United States after the virus spread to residents of a care facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. A team of health workers from the United States Public Health Service arrived Saturday at the besieged LifeCare nursing home. The first deaths on the east coast were announced on Friday, with two people succumbing to Florida.
In international waters off California, passengers on a cruise ship who were prevented from docking in San Francisco after some on board proved positive for the coronavirus novel they did not know on Saturday when they would be able to go ashore .
President Donald Trump said Friday that he would prefer the 2,400 passengers of the Grand Princess and 1,100 crew members who will remain at sea, but that he would let others decide where to dock.
After 19 crew members and two out of 46 passengers tested on the Grand Princess found the virus, Vice President Mike Pence said the ocean liner will be taken to an unspecified non-commercial port where all passengers on board will be retested , and that those “who need to be quarantined will be quarantined” and those who need medical attention will receive it.
A passenger described a boring and sometimes nauseating wait on board the ship to find out when their limbo would end.
“It annoys me that my relatives in the Bay Area know what will happen to us before I do,” said Elizabeth Aleteanu of Colorado Springs in an interview conducted via Facebook.
She turned 35 on Wednesday in a small windowless cabin shared with her husband and two small children, where sometimes the ship’s rocking left her sick.
“The cruise manager and staff called my phone and sang happy birthday,” he wrote. “They delivered a princess notebook, a greeting card, a domino set and a floral arrangement in my cabin. I’m not sure if we go down today. It’s a great flower arrangement … it makes me think we’ll be on board for a hot minute. ”
The ship’s captain had previously addressed passengers to say that he did not know when they could dock and that a guest who was seriously ill on Friday was removed from the ship, Aleteanu said. The ship has increased its offerings of television programs to help passengers pass the time, he said.
Pence, recently appointed by Trump to handle the White House response to the coronavirus outbreak, said on Saturday that officials approved “a plan, which will be put in place this weekend”, to bring the ship to a non-commercial port.
On Friday he said the crew will likely remain in quarantine on board the ship, regardless of whether they are positive.
It was not clear what was in store for passengers who showed no signs or symptoms of disease.
The Grand Princess’s situation was reminiscent of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, also owned by Carnival Corp, the world’s largest cruise operator. It was quarantined off Japan in February and was the largest concentration of coronavirus cases outside China for some time.
In New York, the number of confirmed cases rose 21 overnight to a statewide total of 76 people, 10 of whom were hospitalized, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday. He issued an emergency declaration.
“It allows for accelerated purchases and accelerated hiring, which is what we need right now,” Cuomo told a press conference.
Respiratory disease has spread to over 90 countries, killing over 3,400 people and infecting over 100,000 worldwide.
Economic damage also intensified and stock markets continued to collapse. To mitigate the virus, some banks in New York are dividing their operator teams between central locations and secondary sites in New Jersey and Connecticut, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Last week Goldman Sachs Group Inc was terrified when an employee in his Lower Manhattan offices reported to the bank that he had been serving a temple in a city suburb with an attorney who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. The bank said the employee had been sent home and has since been quarantined for “an abundance of cautions”.
The employee, however, had no contact with the attorney for the service and showed no signs of illness, the bank said. He is expected to return to work next week, when two weeks have passed since he attended the service.
Goldman also cleaned the floor he worked on in his headquarters. All plans remained operational, although Goldman allowed employees who felt uncomfortable to work remotely, he said.
“We have no confirmed cases of employees who have contracted COVID-19 and all of our buildings are fully operational,” said the bank.
GRAPHIC: keep track of the spread of the new coronavirus – here
Reporting by Jonathan Allen, Kevin Donnellan, Peter Szekely, Chuck Mikolajczak, Elizabeth Dilts-Marshall, Svea Herbst and Nathan Layne; Written by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis