The Slatest

New York Declares State of Emergency as Florida Reports First Coronavirus Deaths on East Coast

A man wears a medical mask on the AirTrain as concern over the coronavirus grows enroute to John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) on March 7, 2020 in New York City.
A man wears a medical mask on the AirTrain as concern over the coronavirus grows en route to John F. Kennedy Airport on Saturday in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Saturday as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state rose to 76. Most of the infections in the state are just north of New York City in Westchester County, where there are 57 confirmed cases in total. But there is increased concern about the spread of the virus in New York City, where there are 11 confirmed cases. The declaration makes it easier for the state to hire people and buy any needed supplies.

The emergency declaration came a day after two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus died in Florida, marking the first known deaths on the East Coast. The two people who died were in their 70s and had traveled overseas, according to officials. These two deaths bring the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 to 17, of which 14 were in the state of Washington and one in California. Health officials also said two older male patients in Broward County, Florida, had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Later in the day, Washington state said two more people had died, raising the state’s total toll to 16, and the country’s to 19.

The number of suspected cases continued to spread, and half of all U.S. states have confirmed cases. There are a total of 312 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the United States and that does not count the 21 people who have tested positive in a cruise that is being held off the coast of California. There are about 3,500 people aboard the Grand Princess, which will be taken to an unspecified noncommercial port, where everyone will be tested.* “Those that need to be quarantined, will be quarantined. Those that require additional medical attention will receive it,” Vice President Mike Pence told reporters. That seemed to contradict what President Donald Trump had expressed Friday afternoon, when he said that he would prefer to keep passengers on the cruise. “I don’t need to have the [infection] numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault, and wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either,” he said. “I can live either way with it. I’d rather have the people stay on, personally.”

Even as officials tried to bring calm to a jittery public, music festivals and conferences are being canceled. Some universities are also taking measures to avoid public gatherings with Stanford University and the University of Washington both saying classes would not meet in person as of Monday.

Globally, more than 100,000 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed and more than 3,400 people have been killed. Around 3.4 percent of confirmed cases have died, according to the World Health Organization.

In China, a hotel that was being used for observation of people who had been in contact with coronavirus patients collapsed, trapping 70 people.

This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.

Correction, March 9, 2020: This post originally misstated that there were 35,000 people aboard the Grand Princess. There are 3,500.