More than 1,000 cases, 28 dead but Trump says virus will 'go away'
Experts say faulty test kits and testing strategy contributed to virus spread
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A running national tally kept by the Johns Hopkins University centre tracking the coronavirus outbreak in the United States showed the number of cases had risen from over 900 to 1,025, with 28 deaths.
But US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the outbreak would "go away" and urged Americans to remain calm.
"It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away," Mr Trump said, after a meeting on Capitol Hill with Republican lawmakers.
"We want to protect our shipping industry, our cruise industry, cruise ships. We want to protect our airlines industry."
Democrats accused Mr Trump of being more focused on soothing Wall Street's nerves after another stock market plunge on Monday than on protecting the public from the health and economic fallout of the fast-spreading epidemic.
"President Trump and his administration should be putting people before corporations, and they should be focused on taking appropriate steps to keep the American people and their economic security safe," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.
Epidemiologists have said faulty test kits coupled with a diagnostic strategy that initially targeted too few people allowed the disease to spread beyond the US authorities' ability to detect it.
Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Monday, academics from Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University said the failings had contributed to the virus taking root across the country.
Speaking at a White House briefing, Vice-President Mike Pence defended the federal government's response and said "a million tests are in the field".
He said more would be added as the government partnered with private companies.
According to the latest figures from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 8,554 tests had been performed as of Monday.
By way of comparison, South Korea, which announced its first case on the same day as the US, has tested more than 189,000 people, according to a report in the Business Insider.
In a separate development, New York is deploying National Guard troops for the first time in the coronavirus crisis to help contain the spread of the disease from an infection-hit suburb of New York City, the state's governor said on Tuesday.
Mr Andrew Cuomo said the authorities would set up a one-mile radius "containment zone" around the epicentre of an outbreak in New Rochelle in suburban Westchester county.
Mr Cuomo explained that all facilities in the zone that hold large gatherings, such as schools and temples, would be closed for two weeks beginning today.
"We are also going to use the National Guard in the containment area to deliver food to homes, to help with the cleaning of public spaces," Mr Cuomo said.
There have been 173 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New York state, including 108 in Westchester County, home to New Rochelle where the majority of infections have been detected.
Mr Cuomo told reporters that businesses in the containment zone will remain open and that people will be free to come and go as they wish, insisting there is no quarantine.
"You are not containing people, it is facilities. It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country. This is literally a matter of life and death," Mr Cuomo added. - AFP, REUTERS