Coronavirus cases surge in U.S., helicopter flies test kits to cruise ship

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The coronavirus outbreak spread further across the United States on Thursday, cropping up in at least four new states and San Francisco as Congress quickly approved more than $8 billion to fight the outbreak and Americans faced increasing disruptions to their daily lives.

The death toll from the virus in the United States rose to 12, with the latest fatality recorded in King County, Washington, and at least 57 new cases were confirmed, striking for the first time in Colorado, Maryland, Tennessee and Texas, as well as San Francisco.

A helicopter flew testing kits to a cruise liner idled off the coast of California and barred from docking in San Francisco after at least 35 people developed flu-like symptoms aboard the ship, which has been linked to two other confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In King County, Washington, which is home to Seattle and has been the site so far of the greatest concentration of coronavirus cases in the country, 20 new cases were confirmed, local health officials said, bringing the total in the county to 51 with 11 deaths. One death has been recorded in California.

“This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in King County,” the county said in a statement. “All King County residents should follow public health recommendations. Together, we may potentially impact the spread of the disease in our community.”

Many of the 70 cases in Washington state have been linked to an outbreak at a nursing facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, including six deaths.

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google on Thursday joined Inc (AMZN.O), Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) in recommending that employees in the Seattle area work from home, after some were infected with the coronavirus. The companies’ work-from-home recommendation will affect more than 100,000 people in the area. One school district in the area has closed.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number of cases in that state had doubled to 22 after the federal government approved its use of additional laboratories, boosting testing capacity. Cuomo told a news conference that the total would likely “keep going up.”

Of the new cases in New York, eight are connected to a Manhattan lawyer who lives in suburban Westchester County, north of the city, and who was previously diagnosed with the virus, two are in New York City and one on Long Island, in Nassau County.