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[Published: Tuesday March 24 2020]

 US deaths now 600, almost 50,000 confirmed cases: tracker

 
WASHINGTON, 24 March. - (ANA)  - Six-hundred people have died from the new coronavirus in the United States, while the number of confirmed cases now stands at 49,768, a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
 
The US has the third-highest number of confirmed cases globally, behind China and Italy. The death rate based on reported cases is now 1.2 percent - but the actual number believed to be infected is far higher, which would bring the rate down.
 
The Trump administration plans to use the Defense Production Act to procure 60,000 coronavirus test kits, amid severe shortages of kits, masks, ventilators and other crucial equipment for healthcare workers, a federal official said.
 
Peter Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told CNN the administration had decided to use the Defense Production Act because "there are some test kits we need to get our hands on." It would be the first time the act is being used for the coronavirus crisis.
 
President Donald Trump invoked the act last week but said he would hold off on using it until it was necessary, prompting criticism from Democrats including House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
 
The US military said 174 service members had coronavirus, an increase of 41 cases from the day before.
 
In a daily update, the Pentagon added 59 civilian employees, 61 dependents, and 27 contractors had also tested positive.
 
Congressional and White House officials say a deal appears to be at hand Tuesday on a nearly $2 trillion measure aimed at easing the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the top Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer, said agreement appeared close. "I don't see any issue that can't be overcome within the next few hours," Schumer said.
 
"Last night I thought we were on the five-yard line. Now we're on the two."
 
The United States has the potential to become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic because of a "very large acceleration" in infections there, the World Health Organization warned.
 
The highly contagious respiratory virus has infected more than 42,000 people in the United States, prompting more governors to join states ordering Americans to stay at home.
 
Over the past 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases worldwide were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters. Of those, 40 percent were from the United States.
 
Asked whether the US could become the new epicentre, she said: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the US. So it does have that potential… [The] outbreak is increasing in intensity." 
 
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday acknowledged the difficulty in procuring crucial healthcare supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the "world market ... is crazy" and that it "is not easy" for the federal government help US states obtain face masks and ventilators.  - (ANA) -
 
AB/ANA/24 March 2020 - - -
 
 
 

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