New York declares state of emergency due to coronavirus
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, has declared a state of emergency after the number of coronavirus cases in the state jumped to 76 on Saturday, out of more than 300 across America.
The move by Mr Cuomo will make it easier for New York to mobilise more state and federal funds to contain the disease. It comes in the wake of similar declarations by California and Washington State, which have also seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent days.
The decision by New York follows an outbreak of the disease in Westchester county, a suburb north of New York City, where 57 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the area of New Rochelle, a city of about 77,000 residents. Mr Cuomo also said there had been 11 cases in New York City.
“We have now been testing around the clock. We are aggressively testing, following up leads because we want to find as many people who test positive so we can get them out of circulation,” Mr Cuomo told reporters at a news conference.
There was growing concern that the coronavirus was beginning to spread more rapidly across communities in the US, following criticism that the Trump administration was too slow in ramping up diagnostics to identify cases of the disease.
The spread of coronavirus has already started to have a significant economic impact on the US, as travel is being scrapped, large events are being cancelled and a growing number of Americans are limiting their activities, as well as working from home.
Although the US economy was in strong shape heading into the outbreak, with the labour market producing 273,000 jobs in February, the Federal Reserve was on Tuesday forced to cut interest rates by 50 basis points as a precautionary step to insulate the American economy from the likely damage.
Donald Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the weekend where he will host Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, has sought to play down the risk to Americans and said he predicted US equity markets would bounce back from their recent sell-offs.
Mike Pence, the US vice-president, will also be in Florida on Saturday to meet with cruise line companies which are among the hardest hit sectors of the economy due to the coronavirus. As Mr Trump and Mr Pence travelled to Florida, health officials in the state reported two deaths due to coronavirus, out of more than 15 nationally. The main hubs of the outbreak are, however, on the west coast, where cases have been rising rapidly in the areas around Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco.
In addition, 21 cases have been reported on the Grand Princess cruise ship near San Francisco, which is carrying 3,500 people. Mr Pence said the ship would be allowed to dock at a “non-commercial” port, and everyone on board would be tested.
The US Food and Drug Administration said on Saturday that 2.1m coronavirus tests will have been shipped to non-public labs by Monday.