West Virginia became the 50th state to report a case of the deadly novel coronavirus when Gov. Jim Justice announced the first positive test result Tuesday.
Justice said the case was in the eastern panhandle of the state, but he gave no other details.
The announcement comes just after the death toll from the virus in the United States passed 100, according to a CNN tally of data from state heath officials.
Illinois reported its first death Tuesday, becoming one of 18 states to report the death of a resident who died from the virus in the pandemic.
The grim milestone comes as health officials tout a consistent message: Limit your interactions now or overwhelm the health systems meant to take care of you. And get used to it, this won’t be over soon.
Tuesday at the White House, a reporter asked when the number of US cases could peak if the public adheres to social distancing.
“It probably would be several weeks or maybe longer before we know whether we had an effect,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “And maybe, at the end of the day, we’ll see a curve that would’ve been way, way up.”
Fauci said persuading younger people — who researchers say may be less likely to show symptoms but might pass the virus to more vulnerable people — to stay out of gathering places such as bars and restaurants was key.
He hopes to say sooner rather than later that “we’ve seen that inflection and we’re coming down,” Fauci said.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House task force response coordinator, also urged people Tuesday to cancel elective surgeries to ease strains on physicians and hospitals.
As local measures are taking hold, the Trump administration is exploring ways to send money directly to Americans, possibly within two weeks, in a bid to curb the economic fallout, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday.
While the White House has suggested limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer, state and local officials are giving orders to an altered Americans reality, as the number of coronavirus cases across the United States surpasses 5,800.
One of the new cases announced Tuesday is a person who was staying at a homeless shelter in New York. The person is now hospitalized, Department of Social Services spokesman Isaac McGinn said.
Another is that of a 46-year-old member of the Navajo Nation who had returned to Arizona from traveling.
Measures taking so far towards preventing further cases and death
• Dallas said it was closing playgrounds, golf courses and tennis centers after Tuesday.
• North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said restaurants can only serve pickup orders or deliver food beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
• New Jersey’s indoor shopping malls, amusement parks and amusement centers have closed “until the current emergency ends,” according to Gov. Phil Murphy.
• New York Mayor Bill d Balsio said the city’s 8.4 million residents should prepare for a shelter in place order. The “very, very difficult decision” should be made in the next 48 hours. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose approval would be required for such a move, downplayed the possibility during an interview with CNN. “I don’t think shelter in place works for one locality,” he said.
• Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday the state was allowing no more than 10 people to gather on beaches statewide.
Public health officials say the US has reached a tipping point — warning that if residents don’t take the call to action seriously, the country may approach the situation in Italy, which went on lockdown last week and where hospitals have been overwhelmed with more than 31,000 cases.
The faster the disease spreads, the faster physicians will get sick, leading to a difficult scenario, Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor at Atlanta’s Emory University School of Medicine, told CNN on Tuesday.
“I’m really worried about … having the worst possible combination: too many patients; too (few) doctors, nurses … to take care of them.”
“Stay home. Do not leave,” Del Rio said. “The economic pain is going to be significant, but we can stand it as a nation. We can do it for a month and stand it.”
The situation is stressing some health departments. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said the state is reaching out to retired nurses, to request they assist with patients.
In Washington, Mnuchin expressed some support for an idea gaining backing among lawmakers: sending $1,000 checks to Americans. It will be discussed in Capitol Hill meeting, he said.