Los Angeles, New York City report more COVID-19 cases

Today Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency after health officials confirmed six more COVID-19 cases and said to brace for more as testing picks up in the West Coast's biggest city. And New York City noted a 10-person cluster.

None of the Los Angeles cases involving the novel coronavirus were linked to the city's first case, which was diagnosed in January. But all of the new cases were exposed after close contact with other known patients or had traveled to a coronavirus hot spot, the Los Angeles Times reported today. Declaring an emergency will allow LA County to ask the state and other counties for more money, if needed.

Also today, Placer County—north of Sacramento—announced a death from COVID-19 in an elderly patient with underlying health issues. The patient had been aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, which departed Feb 10 from San Francisco and sailed to Mexico, returning Feb 21. This is California's first death related to the virus, and the nation's first death outside of the Seattle area.

"While most cases of COVID-19 exhibit mild or moderate symptoms, this tragic death underscores the urgent need for us to take extra steps to protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including elderly persons and those with underlying health conditions," said Placer County Health Officer Aimee Sisson, MD in a press statement

Placer County said 10 healthcare workers and 5 emergency responders who came in close contact with the patient have been placed in quarantine.

Nine new cases in NYC cluster

In New York, nine more cases of the virus have been linked to a lawyer from Westchester County, including the man's neighbor (who drove him to the hospital), wife, son, and daughter. Late this afternoon, testing showed the neighbor's family, including three children, had also contracted the virus. Media in New York are reporting the voluntary school closings of the children's schools.

These new cases raise the total in New York to 11. Governor Andrew Cuomo said about 1,000 residents of Westchester County have been asked to self-quarantine, including at least 8 healthcare workers who took care of the lawyer at Lawrence Hospital.

A tracking map updated regularly by Johns Hopkins University shows there are now 153 COVID-19 cases in the United States, including 49 from repatriated Americans.

Washington state reports 10th death, 12 new cases 

In Washington state, officials confirmed another death, raising that state's total to 10. The death was reported in King County, the site of an outbreak linked to Life Care long-term care facility in Kirkland. King County also reported 10 more cases today, and neighboring Snohomish County recorded 2 more cases, lifting the state's total to 39 infections.

The Washington State Department of Health also tweeted today the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting blood supplies in the state. "The COVID-19 outbreak is starting to impact the blood supply in WA. Anyone who is symptom-free is encouraged to donate blood!" officials wrote.

Several other states also reported more cases today, including New Hampshire's second presumptive positive, in a man exposed to that state's first case. The first case-patient had been instructed to self-isolate, but had attended a private party, where she exposed the second case-patient.

Broader testing, congressional funds

Yesterday Vice President Mike Pence said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will now make coronavirus testing kits available upon any doctor's request. Physicians are encouraged to first rule out other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, before testing for COVID-19.

Finally today, the Washington Post reported that the House and the Senate have reached a deal on an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to combat the coronavirus. The bill is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump by the end of the week. More than $3 billion in the bill is allocated to developing vaccines and therapeutics, and $1 billion is for medical supplies.

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