Coronavirus: California declares state of emergency after coronavirus death

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(CNB News) – California has declared a state of emergency after announcing its first coronavirus death, bringing the US death toll from the disease to 11. The 71-year-old man, who died in a hospital near Sacramento, had underlying health conditions and had been on a cruise ship, said officials.

The White House moved on Wednesday to expand testing nationwide for the disease.

There are now at least 150 reported US patients with Covid-19 in 16 states.

Worldwide, authorities have confirmed more than 92,000 cases of the virus, of which more than 80,000 are in China. More than 3,000 people have died globally, the vast majority in China. Ten of the 11 US deaths were in Washington state, but the outbreak has also flared up in Texas and Nebraska.

Meanwhile Washington and Florida both declared states of emergency over the weekend to help prevent the coronavirus.

What other action is the US taking?

The US government currently prohibits entry to foreign nationals who have visited China – the epicentre of the outbreak – during the past 14 days.

Coronavirus: What you need to know graphic featuring three key points: wash your hands for 20 seconds; use a tissue for coughs; avoid touching your face

US Vice-President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that any American can be tested for the coronavirus if ordered by a doctor.

Mr Pence, who is leading the US outbreak response, also said that the White House will begin on-camera briefings on the virus.

In addition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lift existing restrictions on tests and provide new guidelines for speeding up exams for those who fear they are infected.

But some question how this promise will be kept, as public health laboratories insist their capacity for processing the tests is restricted.

There is also a question of cost, amid reports of uninsured Americans paying upwards of $1,000 (£780) for a test. The US House of Representatives approved $8.3bn in emergency aid on Wednesday to combat the coronavirus.

Some health officials have accused the Trump administration of a slow-footed response to the outbreak, and concerns have been raised about a nationwide shortage of test kits.

In response, President Trump blamed the shortage on regulations adopted by his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama. The administration claims it has lifted these regulations by allowing local labs to create their own tests.

Outside of government, United Airlines and Delta have announced cuts to their US flight schedules due to a drop in demand caused by worries over the virus.

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