On Tuesday, USA reported three more coronavirus fatalities--all in Washington state. The number of coronavirus cases has reached 118. This couldn't stop the US President Donald Trump to use the disease as a tool to take a swipe at his billionaire political opponent, Michael Bloomberg.
Coronavirus in the United States
Washington has reported all of United States' nine coronavirus fatalities. Most of those who died were elderly with underlying health issues. Eight deaths occurred in Washington's King County, while a lone fatality was reported in Snohomish County, with five out of the nine deaths linked to a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.
Although the disease is spreading at a rapid pace, US officials have downplayed the threat. "The American people do not have to buy masks. The risk to Americans is low", said Vice President Mike Pence, USA Today reported.
Trump takes a dig at Michael Bloomberg
While 14 American states went to polls on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump took a dig at Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Trump shared a clip of Bloomberg, where he can be seen tearing the crust off a piece of pizza and then licking his fingers.
"Mini Mike, don't lick your dirty fingers. Both unsanitary and dangerous to others and yourself!", Trump pinned his tweet, appearing to be referring to the coronavirus outbreak. Washing hands multiple times is one of the directives to protect oneself from contracting the disease.
Questions raised over diagnostic testing
As cases started mounting on a rapid pace, it was only on Monday (March 2) that the Trump administration promised a rapid expansion of the country's testing capacities. Over a million diagnostic kits are set to be made available, by the end of this week, said Dr Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
But, questions are being raised whether the step came too late. "Clearly, there have been problems with rolling out the test", said Dr Thomas Frieden, former director of the CDC, New York Times reported. "There are a lot of frustrated doctors and patients and health departments", he added.
In February, the CDC distributed a three-steps kit, each of which could carry out 800 tests. However, several components in the kits were reportedly flawed, thus produced inconclusive results. It eventually rolled out two-steps kits.
Questions were asked about the agency's testing capacity of 400 specimens per day. Also, the criteria for testing was too narrow. It was widened only when community transmission of the disease was reported in Washington and California.