There’s no way around it, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told CNN Thursday night. “We will have a lot more cases.”
At least 1,680 cases have been reported across 47 states and the District of Columbia. At least 41 people have died: 31 in Washington state, which has been the epicenter of the outbreak, with at least 457 cases; four in California; two in Florida; one in Georgia; one in Kansas; one in New Jersey and one in South Dakota.
The number of cases will likely continue jumping as more tests become available and some facilities begin conducting drive-through testing.
It was one of many cancellations that left the public stunned.
Others hit the pause button
Gatherings are banned, schools are closed
Across many states, the bottom line: Stay home. And if you have to go out, keep your distance.
Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Oregon became the first states to announce statewide shutdowns of all K-12 schools.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued guidance Thursday to shut down all public and private K-12 schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, the state’s most populous areas, for the next six weeks.
“Today’s decision has a full range of implications from learning plans and childcare, to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, just to name a few,” Inslee said in a statement. “I anticipate this will cause ripple effects … but we can’t afford not to do it.”
A day earlier, Inslee announced a ban on all events with more than 250 people in the state’s largest three counties. He has also issued guidance for assisting-living facilities to limit visitors after at least 10 homes reported cases.
“We don’t do any of this lightly. This is difficult,” he said in a Thursday news conference. “We know it has a serious, serious impact on a number of businesses … that’s really, really painful for the many, many people who work in that field.”
Similar directives were issued by California, Oregon, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah leaders, who urged the cancellation of large public events.
In Georgia, which had its first death Thursday and has reported 31 cases, officials designated a state park with emergency mobile units as an isolation site for residents who test positive.
At least nine school districts — including the state’s three largest — also announced closures as early as Friday and lasting up to two weeks.
Some shoppers panic-buy essentials
Fearing what might come, Americans from New York to Chicago to Atlanta flocked grocery stores, emptying shelves of essentials.
One Massachusetts resident told CNN it took nearly half an hour to check out as staff members reassured shoppers via intercom that the store would stay open all weekend.
In New York City, some grocery stores had little to nothing left, a Twitter user posted.
‘Shutting down most of our structures of society’
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he wants his state to “treat this like it is — and that is a crisis.”
The state has reported five positive cases, but Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said it’s likely that number is not even close to the real tally of infections.
“We know now, just the fact of community spread says that at least 1%… of our population is carrying the virus in Ohio today,” Acton said Thursday in a news conference. “We have 11.7 million people. So, the math is: over 100,000. That just gives you a sense of how this virus spreads and is spreading quickly.”
“The steps we are taking will absolutely save lives,” she said of the governor’s actions. “We’re all sort of waking up to this new reality.”
State officials will release fact sheets and checklists to help residents “figure out what this new norm is going to be like,” she said.
“We are basically slowly shutting down most of our structures of society,” she said.
Drive-through testing begins
The number of US cases is likely to be much higher and will continue to climb as more Americans are tested, health officials have said.
But that process, initially conducted by the CDC, has proved faulty. The slow rollout prompted the federal government to approve private labs to conduct their own testing and has so far sent out more than a million tests. Vice President Mike Pence said 4 million more would be available by the end of the week.
“The idea of anybody getting it (a test) easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that,” Fauci said. “Do I think we should be? Yes, but we’re not.”
Communities in New York, Illinois and Colorado began moving toward drive-through testing.
CNN’s Rob Frehse, Joe Sutton, Mark Morales, Amanda Jackson and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.