US coronavirus cases surpass 5,000, up fivefold from a week ago

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 5,000 in the United States on Tuesday, increasing fivefold over seven days as states ramp up testing and the new flu-like coronavirus sweeps across the country.

Across the country, the virus has infected more than 5,145 and killed at least 91 people as of noon Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, the virus has infected more than 189,386 people and killed at least 7,504, according to Hopkins. The number of cases changes by the minute as test results roll in and countries and U.S. states expand their testing capacity. 

U.S. officials confirmed the virus had infected more than 1,000 people in the U.S. a week ago. On March 1, there were roughly 100 confirmed cases in the U.S. The number of actual cases in the country is likely significantly higher, state and local officials say. Testing in the U.S. has been hampered by delays and a restrictive diagnostic criteria that limited who could get tested. 

New York’s “numbers are spiking because our testing capacity is going up,” Cuomo said last week.

Almost half of all confirmed U.S. cases are concentrated in three states: Washington, California and New York.

The virus has now been reported in every state except for West Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The West Virginia department of health says it has tested 84 people for the virus, though that does not include tests run by commercial labs and some hospitals that are increasingly equipped to screen for the virus.

Local officials respond

Without meaningful federal intervention, local leaders have adopted what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Monday a “hodgepodge” of actions across the nation to contain the outbreak. Cuomo and other tri-state area officials on Monday banned all gatherings of 50 or more people and placed restrictions on restaurants, bars and other places of recreation.

Governors in Maryland and Washington state, which has the second-highest number of cases behind New York but the nation’s most deaths, followed suit with similar actions. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday he signed an emergency declaration temporarily shutting down bars and restaurants statewide. He also banned public gatherings of more than 50 people.

“Never since World War II have we faced a situation like this,” Inslee said. “For the next several weeks, normal is not in our game plan.” 

San Francisco Bay area officials ordered some 7 million residents to “shelter in place” on Monday, marking what might be the most aggressive and restrictive measures in the country yet. 

“We know these measures will significantly disrupt people’s day-to-day lives, but they are absolutely necessary,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said. “This is going to be a defining moment for our city and we all have a responsibility to do our part to protect our neighbors and slow the spread of this virus by staying at home unless it is absolutely essential to go outside.”

This is breaking news. Check back here for updates. 

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