Reuters US Domestic News Summary

Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

Washington state man becomes first U.S. coronavirus fatality

A Washington state man in his 50s with underlying health issues became the United States' first fatality from the coronavirus, officials said on Saturday, as the Trump administration stepped up efforts to combat the spread of the global outbreak. The patient, who was chronically ill prior to contracting COVID-19, died at EvergreenHealth Hospital in Kirkland, near Seattle, and officials are unsure how he was exposed to the virus, said Jeffrey Duchin, head of the Washington health department's communicable disease unit.

FDA to allow some labs to use coronavirus tests prior to review

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday said it will allow some laboratories to immediately use tests they have developed and validated to achieve more rapid testing capacity for the coronavirus in the country. The policy cleared the way for state public health labs to immediately begin local testing and possibly get results within hours, which public health officials say will be critical to a rapid response to the fast-spreading virus that originated in China.

Trump to hold press conference on coronavirus on Saturday in White House

U.S. President Donald Trump, who earlier this week described the risk from the new coronavirus as "very low" in the United States, said he will hold a White House press conference about the fast-spreading flu-like illness at 1:30 pm EST (18:30 GMT) on Saturday. The president will deliver remarks from the Brady Briefing Room, the White House said in a statement after Trump announced his press conference on Twitter. It will be just the second time in his presidency that he has held a news conference in the press room.

Good early signs for Biden in exit polls as he seeks a decisive South Carolina victory

Nearly eight of 10 voters in South Carolina's Democratic primary on Saturday said they have a favorable view of Joe Biden, compared with five of 10 who see rival Bernie Sanders favorably - a good early sign for Biden in the pivotal early nominating state, exit polls showed. The polls by Edison Research also found about six of 10 of South Carolina voters said influential congressman James Clyburn's endorsement of Biden earlier this week was a factor in their decision.

Sanders courts Massachusetts voters on Warren's home turf

Bernie Sanders drew a massive crowd in Boston on Saturday, touting his grassroots-funded campaign in progressive rival Elizabeth Warren’s home state ahead of the Democratic primary in Massachusetts on Tuesday. Warren, a U.S. senator for the state, had been expected to win comfortably here, but her popularity in national polls has fallen after disappointing performances in early states, while Sanders, a U.S. Senator from neighboring Vermont, has surged.

Bloomberg in South Carolina: Not on the ballot and not liked - poll

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was not on the ballot in Saturday's Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina, but he was still on voters' minds - and not in a good way. Bloomberg, a billionaire who will appear on a primary ballot for the first time in next week's Super Tuesday contests in 14 states, stood out among all the Democratic contenders for earning the highest unfavorable opinion score in exit polls from Edison Research.

Clyburn's endorsement of Biden 'a factor' for a majority of South Carolina voters: poll

Voters in South Carolina's Democratic primary on Saturday appeared to be more moderate than those who took part in earlier presidential nominating contests, and a majority said a senior black congressman's endorsement of Joe Biden influenced their vote, according to exit polling by Edison Research. Edison - which compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters - found that six out of 10 state primary voters said U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn's endorsement of Biden, who was vice president under Democratic President Barack Obama, was a factor in their decision.

Trump allies hope to ride anti-socialist rhetoric to election win

Conservative activists are enthusiastically taking up Republican President Donald Trump's re-election rallying cry that his Democratic adversaries are pursuing a radical socialist ideology that will ruin the United States. Conservative students, right-wing media personalities and pro-Trump fundraisers and fans have gathered just outside Washington this week for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that appears to have crystallized Republican messaging for the election.

Trump White House warns Americans against travel to South Korea, Italy

Travelers entering the United States from Italy, South Korea and Iran will face new restrictions as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, President Donald Trump and U.S. health officials said on Saturday. The United States is also considering imposing restrictions on the border with Mexico, they said. Americans should not restrict their travel within the United States, officials said, but should be wary of going to coronavirus-hit areas in South Korea and Italy.

Trump says U.S. considering restrictions at Mexican border over coronavirus

The United States is considering shutting off the country's southern border with Mexico to control the spread of the new coronavirus, President Donald Trump said on Saturday, as his administration announced new limits on travelers who have visited Iran and recommended against travel to hard-hit areas of Italy and South Korea. Mexico's government said on Friday it had detected three cases of coronavirus infection in three men who had all recently traveled to Italy, making the country the second in Latin America to register the fast-spreading flu-like illness.