WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump said Tuesday the coronavirus outbreak would “go away” and urged Americans to remain calm while the cases jumped and the White House came under increasing pressure to respond to its health – and to intensify the economic crisis.
A steady increase in the number of US cases of COVID-19, a highly contagious and sometimes fatal respiratory disease, has alarmed health officials and called for measures within Congress to extend the tests and avert an economic collapse.
Approximately three quarters of the US states have now confirmed COVID-19 with over 800 infected Americans, the governor of the US state of Washington has warned of tens of thousands of other cases without “real action”, and the governor of New York has used National Guard troops as a containment measure to suffer a severe blow to the New York City suburb.
“It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away, ”Trump said after meeting with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “We want to protect our shipping industry, our cruise industry and cruise ships. We want to protect our aviation industry. ”
Trump, who has raised wage tax cuts and relief for companies affected by coronavirus fears in the past two days, hasn’t given precise details of what was discussed in a meeting with his business leaders.
Democrats accused Republican Trump of concentrating more on calming Wall Street’s nerves after a new market crash on Monday than protecting the public from the health and economic consequences of the rapidly spreading epidemic.
“President Trump and his government should put people in front of companies and focus on taking appropriate steps to protect the American people and their economic security,” said Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Chairman.
Democrats are pushing for sick leave, advanced and free coronavirus testing, and other measures.
Republican Senate officials hoped the government could sign an economic relief package with the House Democrats, including a possible $ 300 billion tax relief that could help people make rent and mortgage payments or pay medical bills if the working hours of family members is reduced during the outbreak.
The White House was attacked for lack of preparation for the epidemic by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and earlier problems with their coronavirus test kits that delayed the confirmation of the results.
Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the government’s response to the outbreak, said more than 1 million corona virus test kits were on site and another 4 million were expiring this week. “We want people to be tested,” he said after he and Trump met with health insurance executives.
Pence announced that US private health insurers had agreed to extend coronavirus treatment coverage in all of their plans and waive copayment charges for testing. He didn’t mention the millions of uninsured Americans.
The major US stock indices rose 4% on Tuesday, making up some of the strong sell-off on Monday.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 116,000 people worldwide have been infected with the corona virus, with over 4,000 deaths since it surfaced in China late last year. It has spread to more than 100 nations. Italy, which has the highest death toll outside of China, has virtually blocked its total population of 60 million people.
Along with the more than 800 US cases, there were 28 deaths, most of them in Washington State, according to Johns Hopkins University. New Jersey reported its first coronavirus death on Tuesday.
At least 35 states and the District of Columbia have reported COVID-19 infections.
The state of Washington was hardest hit. A nursing home in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb, was responsible for the majority of the state’s 22 confirmed deaths.
Governor Jay Inslee said Tuesday that he was considering “real measures” to prevent a rapid increase in the number of cases in the state. When asked if he was considering mandatory measures to slow the virus down, he said, “I wouldn’t be shocked if we had news in the next few days.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the schools would be closed and public gatherings would be held in a “hot zone” of the coronavirus in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City, where National Guard troops would be deployed. The state of New York has one of the most cases, most of which are in and around New Rochelle.
The United Nations has announced that its headquarters in New York will be closed to the public until further notice.
In California, the cruise ship Grand Princess docked in the port of Oakland continued to unload its 2,400 passengers, most of whom are quarantined on military bases. The ship was unable to return to San Francisco last week due to a coronavirus outbreak on board.
North Carolina and Colorado governors declared a state of emergency in their states on Tuesday.
With the outbreak, daily life in the United States became increasingly disrupted. Concerts and conferences were canceled and the universities asked the students to stay at home and take lessons online.
US health officials have urged the elderly, especially those with chronic medical problems, to avoid large social gatherings, cruise ships, and airline flights.
“An outbreak is not currently going on in every community, but people should know that it is likely to worsen before it improves,” said Jerome Adams, US surgeon general, in ABC’s Good Morning America.
Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell, Susan Heavey, Andrea Shalal, David Lawder and Lisa Lambert in Washington, Deborah Bloom in Olympia, Washington and Nathan Layne and Gabriella Borter in New York; Letter from Paul Simao; Edited by Bill Berkrot