U.S. Coronavirus Update: Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Test Negative As Death Toll Climbs To 340

Cases of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S. have soared past 26,000, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University. At least 340 deaths have been reported in the U.S., while 176 people have recovered. Globally, the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 311,000, with more than 13,000 deaths. More than 93,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 worldwide.

The virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, in the country's Hubei province. China claims the outbreak has been largely contained in the country, and is now tackling how to stop cases being imported from abroad. The country has almost 81,200 cases with more than 3,200 deaths and more than 72,000 recoveries.

Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence and Wife Test Negative

  • Pence said during a news briefing on Saturday that he and his wife would be tested on Saturday afternoon after a staffer in his office tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday
  • He told reporters that the staff member had been experiencing mild cold-like symptoms for a day and a half, was "doing well" and had not been at the White House since Monday
  • Pence said neither he nor President Donald Trump had direct contact with the staffer

The vice president's spokeswoman announced that both Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence tested negative for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

"Pleased to report that the COVID-19 test results came back negative for both Vice President @Mike_Pence and Second Lady @KarenPence," Pence's press secretary Katie Miller wrote on Twitter.

"Given the unique position that I have as vice president and as the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, both I and my wife will be tested for the coronavirus later this afternoon," the vice president said during a news conference at the White House on Saturday.

FDA Grants Approval to Coronavirus Test, Results in 45 Minutes

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Saturday that it has granted an Emergency Use Authorization to a rapid diagnostic test from Cepheid
  • The California-based company said on Saturday that it will start shipping tests before the end of March

"The test we're authorizing today will be able to provide Americans with results within hours, rather than days like the existing tests," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

"With new tools like point-of-care diagnostics, we are moving into a new phase of testing, where tests will be much more easily accessible to Americans who need them. With the development of point of care diagnostics, Americans who need tests will be able to get results faster than ever before.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn added that "today marks an important step in expanding the availability of testing and, importantly, rapid results."

U.S. Has Fourth Highest Number of Cases After China, Spain and Italy

The surge in numbers is likely connected to the expanded rollout of testing in the U.S. President Donald Trump announced this week that further steps would be taken to broaden testing services.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was among those to warn Americans they would see a surge in numbers in the coming days.

"Why are you seeing the numbers go up? Because you are taking more tests," Cuomo said, according to FOX News. "People see those numbers go up, they get nervous, they panic. 'Look at how many more people have the virus.' That's not how many more people have the virus, you're just taking more tests so you're finding more positives."

Guam reports first coronavirus death

  • The U.S. Pacific territory of Guam has announced that the island's first coronavirus-related death was a 68-year-old woman with underlying health issues, Reuters reported
  • She was among 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus the island

The office of the governor of Guam has urged people to continue to stay indoors and limit their contact with others, according to Reuters.

CNN reported that the woman was admitted to the Guam Memorial Hospital on March 15 and had remained in isolation since. She had no recent travel history, according to CNN, but preliminary investigations indicated she may have contracted it from someone who did travel to an affected area.

The U.S. Death Toll Reaches 340

  • Washington state has 94 deaths
  • New York has 76 deaths
  • California has 27 deaths
  • Georgia has 20 deaths
  • Louisiana has 20 deaths
  • New Jersey has 16 deaths
  • Florida has 13 deaths
  • Michigan has seven deaths
  • Colorado and Illinois each have six deaths
  • Oregon and Texas each have five deaths
  • Connecticut, Indiana and Wisconsin each have four deaths
  • Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and South Carolina each have three deaths
  • Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia each have two deaths
  • Arizona, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Tennessee have reported their first deaths in the past day or two

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of March 20.

Map of U.S. coronavirus cases, March 20
This map shows the spread of COVID-19 cases across the U.S. as of March 20. The graph by Statista uses data from Johns Hopkins University.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.