New York’s governor announced Tuesday he is sending the National Guard into a New York City suburb to help fight what is believed to be the nation’s biggest cluster of coronavirus cases — one of the most dramatic actions yet to control the outbreak in the U.S.
The move came as health authorities contended with alarming concentrations of the disease on both sides of the country and scattered cases in between.
Schools, houses of worship and large gathering places will be shuttered for two weeks in a “containment area” centred in New Rochelle, and the troops will scrub surfaces and deliver food to the zone, which extends a mile in all directions from a point near a synagogue connected to some of the cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster of cases in the country,” Cuomo said. “The numbers are going up unabated, and we do need a special public health strategy.”
New Rochelle is at the centre of an outbreak of 108 cases in Westchester County, out of 173 identified statewide. New York City has 36 cases, while its population is more than 100 times that of New Rochelle.
In Oakland, California, meanwhile, thousands of increasingly bored and restless passengers aboard a cruise ship struck by the coronavirus waited their turn to get off the vessel and go to U.S. military bases or back to their home countries for two weeks of quarantine.
In Washington state, where at least 19 deaths have been connected to a Seattle-area nursing home, Gov. Jay Inslee announced new rules for screening health care workers and limiting visitors.
“If we assume there are 1,000 or more people who have the virus today … the number of people who are infected will double in five to eight days,” he warned.
The virus has infected over 700 people in the U.S. and killed at least 27, with one state after another recording its first infections in quick succession. New Jersey recorded its first coronavirus death.
In California, passengers from the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess were allowed off the vessel and walked to the bottom of a ramp, where masked officials in yellow protective gear and blue plastic gloves took their temperature and led them to a tent for more screening before they lined up to board a bus.
After days of being forced to idle off the Northern California coast, the ship docked Monday at Oakland with about 3,500 passengers and crew, including at least 21 who tested positive for the new virus.
“We’re trying to stay calm and were trying to stay positive, but it’s getting harder and harder. They can’t make up their minds how to keep us safe,” said passenger Beryl Ward, 77, of Santa Fe, New Mexico.