Congress was poised to approve $8.3 billion dollars in supplemental spending Thursday to help bolster U.S. defenses against an increasingly pervasive and increasingly deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Eleven people have died of the COVID-19 disease in the U.S., all but one in Washington state. California declared a state of emergency after the first death was confirmed there Wednesday. A cruise ship that the victim had traveled on was being held off shore in San Francisco, while all passengers are tested for the virus.
There were at least 160 people with the coronavirus in 17 states as of Thursday. Globally, the epidemic has spread to 80 countries, infecting at least 95,000 people and killing over 3,200. But more than 50,000 coronavirus patients have recovered and been released from isolation, and experts continue to debate the lethality of the disease.
Officials say the only way to understand it is to test a lot more people, and the U.S. government is working to catch up with other nations where widespread testing has been carried out for weeks. Vice President Mike Pence said 1.5 million more test kits would be available in the U.S. by the end of the week.
China, the country where the outbreak started, appeared to be over the worst of the epidemic, with daily death and infection rates declining. Elsewhere, including in the U.S., those rates were still ramping up, and the disease’s impact on everyday life was mounting.
Some of America’s biggest corporations have told employees in West Coast offices to work from home. The United Nations education agency UNESCO said more than 290 million children were out of school around the world thanks to closures in more than 20 countries. Countless sporting events, business conferences, concerts and other large gatherings have been scrapped as significant outbreaks in the U.S., South Korea, Iran and Italy continue to grow.