Coronavirus now in majority of U.S. states


(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) NEW YORK GOV. ANDREW CUOMO:

"76 cases in New York, 10 people are hospitalized…"

New York declared a state of emergency Saturday, joining other states like Maryland, Washington and California who have taken similar measures to combat the coronavirus.

In Florida, officials on Friday announced two deaths from the COVID-19, the first on the East Coast.

Just off the coast of San Francisco, twenty-one people aboard a cruise ship that was barred from docking have tested positive for coronavirus, as eight more states reported their first cases of the fast-spreading respiratory disease.

As of Friday, more than half of the 50 U.S. states now have the virus.

Vice President Mike Pence, the point man on the outbreak, said the cruise ship Grand Princess will be brought to an unspecified non-commercial port where all 3,500 aboard will now be tested.

President Donald Trump said he would rather have passengers remain on board the vessel, because allowing passengers onto U.S. soil who might be infected would push up the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

"I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault."

In a visit to the CDC on Friday, the president contradicted his own advisors on how prepared the U.S. was to test its citizens.

(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

"Anybody that wants a test can get a test. [FLASH] They have the tests. The tests are beautiful."

In fact, the president repeatedly downplaying the severity of the outbreak may explain why there's now a partisan divide even on COVID-19.

(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

"We have done any incredible job. [FLASH] We're gonna be in very good shape. [FLASH] Our country is doing very well. [FLASH] We have a total of 15 cases. [FLASH] And the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. [FLASH] It's going to disappear one day , it's like a miracle, it's going to disappear."

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week, Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent threat to the United States.

And more Democrats than Republicans say they are taking steps to be prepared, including washing their hands more often or limiting their travel plans.