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From schools to nursing homes, a scramble to stop coronavirus

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  • Jay Inslee
    Jay Inslee
    23rd Governor of Washington, United States

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE, SAYING:

"This is not a time to be going out into public, in close contact. It's just too dangerous."

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee banned large gatherings in three counties around Seattle.

The mayor of San Francisco did the same for her city.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR LONDON BREED, SAYING:

"Please don't panic."

And late Wednesday night the governor of California asked residents to cancel all gatherings of more than 250 people for the rest of the month.

All signs of a nation scrambling to contain a coronavirus epidemic that is spreading by the day.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT THE U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH ANTHONY FAUCI, SAYING:

"Bottom line, it's going to get worse."

That's how a top U.S. health official put it to Congress.

Johns Hopkins University has tracked more than 1,300 cases of the virus in the U.S., and at least 30 deaths.

New precautions are now everywhere.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT DENISE JUNEAU, SAYING"

"This was a very, very difficult decision to make."

The superintendent of Seattle Public Schools on Wednesday said the district - serving 52,000 students - would close for at least two weeks.

The city is the epicenter of the most lethal coronavirus outbreak in the nation.

At least 19 people have died in Washington state, many of them residents of an elder-care facility in Kirkland.

The elderly are among the most vulnerable to the illness.

And while young children seem to have relatively mild or no symptoms, health officials are urging steps to prevent children from contracting and spreading the coronavirus to vulnerable populations.

Here's how Governor Inslee put it:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE, SAYING:

"You might be killing your granddad if you don't do it, I'm serious about this."

Nursing homes nationwide, including this one outside Indianapolis, are on high alert. Many have banned visitors.

Fred Stratman is a spokesperson for Communicare Health Services.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) COMMUNICARE HEALTH SERVICES SPOKESPERSON FRED STRATMAN, SAYING:

"We felt the risk was starting to increase as more and more cases are being reported around the country."

And that means Anita Taylor can't see her husband.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WIFE OF COMMUNICARE HEALTH SERVICES RESIDENT ANITA TAYLOR, SAYING:

"I am hoping after a couple weeks they will allow us to come in after time has gone by."

Universities across the country are canceling classes or shifting courses online.

Fears of contracting the illness are reverberating elsewhere.

U.S. blood banks are concerned about potential shortages as Americans avoid donation sites, and companies with employees working from home cancel blood drives.

Michelle Goodwill is with the American Red Cross.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AMERICAN RED CROSS RECRUITMENT MANAGER MICHELLE GOODWILL, SAYING:

"We're really trying to educate people, there is no evidence of a respiratory virus being transmitted through blood donation. So if you're healthy and feeling OK, we're asking people to come out so

we can keep this blood supply steady as this outbreak continues to progress."

The coronavirus has infected more than 126,000 people across the world, the vast majority in China, and killed more than 4,000.

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