Coronavirus clusters swell on both sides of the US

NEW YORK (AP) – Alarming clusters of the coronavirus swelled on both coasts of the United States (US) on Tuesday, with more than 70 cases now tied to a biotech conference in Boston and infections turning up at 10 nursing homes in the hard-hit Seattle area.

Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden abruptly cancelled rallies because of worries about the virus, and New York’s governor announced he is sending the National Guard to scrub public places and deliver food in a New York City suburb that is at the centre of the nation’s biggest known cluster of infections.

Yesterday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in virtually the entire Seattle metro area to try to stop the spread of the outbreak, said a person involved in the planning of the decision. The ban applied to sporting events like Seattle Mariners baseball and Seattle Sounders soccer games.

The order would not prohibit the operation of workplaces and is not expected to include school closures, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

Santa Clara County in California, home to San Jose and Silicon Valley, on Monday announced a ban on all gatherings of 1,000 people or more.

Also in California, three Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Mineta San Jose International Airport have tested positive for COVID-19, the agency said on Tuesday. They were receiving medical care and all TSA employees who had contact with them over the past 14 days are being quarantined at home, the agency said. At least 24 people have died in Washington from COVID-19, most in the Seattle metro area.

Nineteen of the deaths are linked to one suburban Seattle nursing home and authorities in King County said the virus has spread to at least 10 long-term care facilities.

A commuter wears a face mask while riding the subway in New York. PHOTO: AP