U.S. Coronavirus Update As Death Toll Surpasses 150, Trump Admin Prepares for Pandemic to Last 18 Months or Longer

The COVID-19 virus outbreak continues in the U.S., where the death toll has climbed past 150, bringing the country's total cases to more than 9,400, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Confirmed cases have now surpassed 227,000 globally, including more than 9,300 deaths. Over 84,500 people have recovered from infection so far.

The virus was first detected in China's Wuhan city of the Hubei province and the country claims the outbreak has been largely contained, reporting no new domestic cases for the first time since the outbreak began.

China has reported over 81,100 cases, with more than 3,100 deaths and nearly 70,000 recoveries, but more cases have now been reported outside China than within.

The outbreak could last "18 months or longer"

The Trump administration has reportedly devised a contingency plan for a pandemic that could last "18 months or longer" with "multiple waves of illness," according to a 100-page federal document outlining the plan, obtained by CNN.

The government was said to be preparing for different situations such as "significant shortages for government, private sector and individual U.S. consumers," including a shortage of medical equipment such as protective gear and ventilators.

"Shortages of products may occur, impacting healthcare, emergency services, and other elements of critical infrastructure. This includes potentially critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE [personal protection equipment] and pharmaceuticals), and staffing in some locations," the report said.

"This could be due either to illnesses or to exposure (requiring home quarantine) among public health and medical workers, but may also be due to fear of contracting the virus, exhaustion, or the need to take care of sick family members and maintain home isolation as a family unit. State and local governments, as well as critical infrastructure and communications channels," it added.

The report also noted that the government should assume a vaccine will "take an extended time to develop" and operate under that assumption.

First deaths in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri

  • There are at least 9,415 total confirmed cases in the U.S.
  • The U.S. death toll has reached 152.
  • Washington state reports 68 deaths.
  • New York has 20 deaths.
  • California has 16 deaths.
  • Florida has eight deaths.
  • Louisiana has seven deaths.
  • New Jersey has five deaths.
  • Georgia has four deaths.
  • Texas and Oregon each have three deaths.
  • Indiana, Colorado and Virginia each previously reported 2 deaths.
  • Connecticut, Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania each reported their first deaths.
  • Illinois, Nevada, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oregon, Kansas, South Dakota and Georgia each previously reported a single death.

The first death in Connecticut was that of a man in his 80s who was a resident of an assisted living facility in the town of Ridgefield. He received treatment at Danbury Hospital, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

Missouri also reported its first death, in Boone County in the state's Columbia area, Missouri Governor Mike Parson confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday. The state has 24 confirmed cases, according to the latest report by the state's department of health.

Michigan state health officials confirmed a man in his 50s was the state's first fatality. The patient from Wayne County, who had underlying health conditions, died at Beaumont Health hospital. There are at least 110 confirmed cases in Michigan, the state's health department confirmed.

Pennsylvania's first death was that of an adult from Northampton County, the office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf confirmed in a statement. The state has 133 confirmed cases.

Washington state now has at least 1,187 confirmed cases, including 562 in King County and 310 in Snohomish County, according to figures from the state's department of health.

The state has the highest death toll in the country, with 13 new fatalities reported in the last day.

Among the total confirmed cases in the U.S., at least 276 cases are from close contact with an infected individual, 269 are travel-related and 46 are from the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship from Princess Cruises, which was quarantined in Japan after a passenger from Hong Kong tested positive, according to the latest report on Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The origins of 6,493 cases are under investigation, while 28 cases are from the Grand Princess, a second Princess Cruises vessel, which was quarantined off the coast of San Francisco after a former infected passenger was reported to have died.

New York City considering mandatory "shelter in place" order

  • New York City now has 1,339 confirmed cases, according to the latest report by the state governor's office.
  • The city is considering introducing a "shelter in place" order that would legally require residents to remain in their homes for a certain period and any violation of the order would be considered a crime.
  • The New York state death toll has climbed to 21, including 11 which were reported in New York City, NBC New York reports.
  • The state's total confirmed case has reached 2,382, with 1,008 new cases reported on Thursday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said a "shelter in place" order needs to be "considered seriously," following the recent spike in cases and deaths across the city.

A "shelter in place" order means "you and those you live with should remain at home. You are allowed to leave your home for specified reasons to make sure you have the necessities of life...such as getting food and medical supplies," explains the Santa Clara County department of health in California, where the order was issued in the Bay Area earlier this week.

"This Order is a legal Order...You are required to comply, and it is a crime (a misdemeanor) not to follow the Order," the department said.

New York Stock Exchange February 2020
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 12, 2020 in New York City. Getty Images

"You are also allowed to go outside to take care of a pet or for exercise so long as you do not congregate in a group and maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other people," it adds.

De Blasio said Wednesday on the Today show: "People have to realize at this point that this disease is going to put many, many people, thousands and tens of thousands of people's lives in danger."

"If we even get to shelter in place, we're gonna have to come up with huge new approaches to make sure people have enough food and medicine because they sure as hell don't have income right now," he added.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been opposed to such lockdowns. "I wouldn't approve shelter in place, that scares people—you can't leave your home. The fear, the panic is a bigger problem than the virus and I shut that down immediately," he said on The Daily Podcast of The New York Times.

De Blasio said residents can expect a decision on the potential "shelter in place" order to be made by Friday.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the U.S.

Spread of COVID-19 virus across the U.S.
Spread of COVID-19 virus across the U.S. STATISTA

First two U.S. Congressmen test positive

  • Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Utah Congressman Ben McAdams are the first two members of Congress to be infected.
  • Both showed symptoms and have quarantined themselves at home.
  • Before he was diagnosed, Diaz-Balart initially quarantined himself in Washington, D.C. on March 13 "in an abundance of caution," because his wife's pre-existing conditions put her at high risk.
  • McAdams developed mild cold-like symptoms on Saturday and, following a consultation with a doctor, he quarantined himself at home on Sunday. His symptoms were reported to have become worse, as he developed a fever, a dry cough and experienced labored breathing, he confirmed in a statement.

On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache, before he was tested for the virus. He remains isolated at his apartment in the capital, according to a statement.

He said: "I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better. However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times."

McAdams said in a statement: "On Tuesday, my doctor instructed me to get tested for COVID-19 and following his referral, I went to the local testing clinic for the test. Today I learned that I tested positive."

"I'm doing my part as all Americans are doing to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the coronavirus outbreak. I urge Utahans to take this seriously and follow the health recommendations we're getting from the CDC and other health experts so that we can recover from this public health threat," he said.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the recovery curve compared to the infection curve of the virus.

COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries March 18
Number of COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries.

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

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.