Coronavirus has reached all 50 US states now that West Virginia has reported its first case of the infections that’s killed 100 Americans.
The virus has spread to nearly 6,000 people across the US, triggering the Trump administration to advice all Americans to stay home as much as possible and avoid social contact.
So far, West Virginia has just one coronavirus case, but its long run without any reported infections is likely a reflection of a lack of testing in the relatively poor state, which has a notoriously weak health system.
Seven million Californians have been ordered to shelter in place, countless ‘non-essential’ businesses have been effectively shuttered and more cities – including in New York – are considering ordering similar measures to California’s.
West Virginia’s first case comes just hours after President Trump praised the state for dodging the virus and announced that all states are now permitted to develop, approve and use their own tests within their respective borders.
‘We’re not going to need them in West Virginia, where so far, I guess they have none,’ the president said.
It became clear that that is not the case on Tuesday evening, when West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced the state’s first case.
‘We’re all in this boat together, we all have to do this, the pathway to the prevention of this disease spreading,’ said Justice in a press conference.
‘None of us have ever gone through a pandemic.
‘Our power to combat this disease is being apart from one another.’
For the next two weeks, the Trump administration has asked that all Americans practice social distancing, which means avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people.
Although it falls short of an order, the new guidelines ask that anyone with even mild symptoms stay home for those two weeks in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Experts have widely agreed that the US as a whole has surpassed a tipping point in the coronavirus pandemic, and now the infection has spread to all 50 states in the US.
As cases surged last week, Trump declared a national state of emergency and Tuesday announced additional measures to expand testing.
Now, all US state scan make, validate and use their own tests rather than wait for the FDA’s approval.
The president also announced that telemedicine must now be covered at no additional costs to publicly insured Americans in an effort to lighten the burden on health care systems and reduce social contact and coronavirus transmission.
Still, testing has lagged woefully in the US.
As of Tuesday afternoon, less than 50,000 Americans had been tested for the infection, while South Korea and Italy are testing thousands and hundreds of people per every million in their respective populations.
Health and state officials have widely blamed the testing shortage for the steep rise in US cases, saying it both delayed public knowledge of just how many cases there were and allowed the disease to continue to spread from unwitting carriers to their families, social contacts and health care workers.