A California Bay Area fatality on Feb. 6 has rewritten the timeline of the outbreak’s early spread in the U.S., and raises new questions about where and how the virus spread
The virus itself jumped from bats into humans in Asia, most likely China. The outbreak in Wuhan began in December, and was in Europe by early January. New evidence from California indicates that Covid-19 now arrived in California's Bay Area by early January to account for what is now the first known fatality in the United States.
Studies of samples from New York, however, show that the vast majority belonged to lineages introduced from Europe and probably arrived early to mid-February. "You can see this from minor but telltale mutations in their genes that act like a signature," says Dr. Sara Cody of Santa Clara's Public Health Department. The New York viruses are dissimilar to those in Italy, and most resemble those in England, in France, in Belgium.
Two cats in New York have also been infected with the novel coronavirus, federal officials announced Wednesday. Both had mild respiratory symptoms and are expected to make a full recovery.
"These are the first pets in the United States to test positive," the US Department of Agriculture said Wednesday in a joint statement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agencies emphasized that there is no evidence pets play a role in spreading coronavirus in the United States. "There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare,"
Millions of new unemployment claims expected as layoffs continue to rise
Economists estimate the Labor Department will report Thursday that 4.5 million Americans filed initial applications for unemployment insurance last week.
If the latest surge in claims matches estimates, a record 26.5 million Americans will have applied for unemployment within a five-week period, a number greater than all the jobs created since the Great Recession.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell encourages cash-strapped states hit by the coronavirus to declare bankruptcy
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he'd rather let states financially squeezed by the coronavirus pandemic declare bankruptcy than extend federal aid that would require further deficit spending.
"My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don't have to do that. That's not something I'm going to be in favor of," he said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.
McConnell and other lawmakers are gathering in Washington today to vote on a $484 billion coronavirus package that would revive a depleted loan program for distressed small businesses and provide funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing.
The federal government has signed off on roughly $3 trillion in coronavirus-related economic stimulus by rolling out record-breaking relief that experts say will exacerbate debt burdens in the years ahead, but is far and away better than a short term economic collapse.