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First death from coronavirus announced in U.S.

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 1, 2020 - Duration: 02:53s

First death from coronavirus announced in U.S.

Washington state health officials reported the first patient death from coronavirus in the United States on Saturday, prompting President Trump to urge for calm.

Conway G.

Gittens has the details.

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First death from coronavirus announced in U.S.

In a hastily arranged press conference Saturday, President Trump announced the first U.S. death tied to the coronavirus outbreak.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Unfortunately one person passed away overnight.

She was a wonderful woman a medically high risk patient in her late fifties." But the president, who is trying to convince Americans that his administration is on top of the situation, was wrong on one detail: Washington state health officials said it was a man, not a woman, who died.

Health officials, who said the patient was among one of the state's new cases, are still not even clear how he got it.

The first reported death in the U.S. states capped off a frantic week where federal and local health officials scrambled to contain the rapidly spreading disease.

President Trump tried to reassure the public Saturday that his administration is prepared for the possibility of a large coronavirus outbreak and warned more cases were likely to follow.

Speaking at the same press conference, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, said despite this first death there was still no need for Americans to panic.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) ALEX AZAR, U.S. SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, SAYING: "The risk to any average American is low from the novel coronavirus.

The risk remains low thanks to the unprecedented action President Trump has taken and the actions he is taking today.

That risk remains low but this can change rapidly." To prevent sick people from bringing the virus back with them, the Trump Administration announced it is expanding travel restrictions from Iran, which has been hard hit by the virus, and urged Americans not to travel to Italy, South Korea or any area with active infections.

But that still doesn't address a rise in the number of cases of unknown origin, where Americans have come down with the virus even though they haven't traveled to an infected area or interacted with someone who has - something known as community spread.

Trump has come under fire for his handling of the coronavirus and has repeatedly blamed Democrats and the press for the criticism.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I'd like to just ask and caution that the media - we will respectfully ask the media and politicians and everybody else involved not to do anything to incite a panic, because there is no need to panic at all." But panic is exactly what he's facing on Wall Street.

Stocks had their biggest one-week plunge since the financial crisis, with the Dow falling 13 percent in a seven-day slump.

President Trump will meet Monday with leaders from the pharmaceutical industry to discuss ways the U.S. can help speed up drug development, as worries grow this outbreak could turn into a pandemic.

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