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New York sends in National Guard to control coronavirus

New Rochelle and surrounding Westchester County account for at least 108 cases out of 173 statewide.

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A tourist in New York wears a mask as a precaution against coronavirus (Mary Altaffer/AP)

A tourist in New York wears a mask as a precaution against coronavirus (Mary Altaffer/AP)

A tourist in New York wears a mask as a precaution against coronavirus (Mary Altaffer/AP)

New York’s governor has announced that he is sending the National Guard to help fight what is believed to be the US’s biggest cluster of coronavirus cases.

The move came as health authorities contended with alarming groups of infections on both sides of the country and scattered cases in between.

Schools, houses of worship and large gathering places will be closed for two weeks in a “containment area” centred in New Rochelle, and the troops will scrub surfaces and deliver food to the zone, which extends a mile in all directions from a point near a synagogue connected to some of the cases, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

“It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster of cases in the country,” he said. “The numbers are going up unabated, and we do need a special public health strategy.”

New Rochelle and surrounding Westchester County account for at least 108 cases out of 173 statewide. New York City, with 100 times the population of New Rochelle, has 36 known infections.

In Oakland, California, thousands of increasingly bored and restless passengers on board a cruise ship struck by the coronavirus waited for their turn to get off the vessel and go to US military bases or back to their home countries for two weeks of quarantine.

In Washington state, where at least 19 deaths have been connected to a Seattle-area nursing home, Governor Jay Inslee announced new rules for screening health care workers and limiting visitors.

“If we assume there are 1,000 or more people who have the virus today … the number of people who are infected will double in five to eight days,” he warned.

The virus has infected over 700 people in the US and killed at least 27, with one state after another recording its first infections in quick succession.

New Jersey reported its first coronavirus death on Tuesday. Worldwide, nearly 120,000 have been infected and over 4,200 have died.

In California, passengers from the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess were allowed off the vessel and walked to the bottom of a ramp, where masked officials in yellow protective gear and blue plastic gloves took their temperature and led them to a tent for more screening before they lined up to board a bus.

Authorities said foreign passengers would be flown home, while Americans would be flown or bused to military bases in California, Texas and Georgia for testing and 14-day quarantines.

Virus Outbreak
The Grand Princess cruise ship at the Port of Oakland (KGO-TV via AP)

After days of being forced to idle off the Northern California coast, the ship docked on Monday at Oakland with about 3,500 passengers and crew, including at least 21 who tested positive for the new virus.

The evacuation began on Monday with several hundred people let off the ship, including more than 200 Canadians who were flown to a military base in their country, authorities said.

About 1,100 crew members, 19 of whom tested positive for the virus, will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, which will dock elsewhere after passengers are unloaded, Governor Gavin Newsom said.

He and Oakland’s mayor sought to reassure people that no passengers would be exposed to the public before completing quarantine.

PA