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US fights coronavirus as death reaches 48

…Trumps bares flight from UK, others

(Reuters) An 82-year-old woman became New York’s first coronavirus fatality, authorities said on Saturday, after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency and the spread of the pandemic shut down much of the daily routine of American life.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the woman, who had previously suffered from emphysema, was hospitalized in Manhattan on March 3. He told reporters that the state’s tally of cases had risen to 524. Nationwide, more than 2,000 people have been infected and 48 have died.

On Friday, Trump declared a national emergency in a move that he said would bring “the full power of the federal government” to bear on the escalating health crisis by freeing up some $50 billion (40.76 billion pounds) in aid. He also urged every state to set up emergency centres to help fight the virus.

On Saturday, his administration was expected to extend to Britain and Ireland a ban on travel from Europe that would go into effect on Monday night, U.S. and airlines and officials said.

Signalling a new stage in prevention measures to protect U.S. leaders from the coronavirus, the White House on Saturday instituted a policy of checking the temperatures of journalists in the White House briefing room.

The pandemic has forced public schools, sports events and cultural and entertainment venues to close across the United States.

On Friday, American shoppers picked grocery store shelves clean of products ranging from disinfectants to rice, causing retailers to race to restock their stores. In response to the run on certain items, major retailers have imposed some purchase limits.

Coronavirus took its biggest toll yet on this year’s U.S. presidential election when Louisiana announced on Friday it had postponed its Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

Early on Saturday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a coronavirus aid package that would provide free testing and paid sick leave, in a bid to limit the economic damage from the outbreak.

By a bipartisan vote of 363 to 40, the Democratic-controlled House passed a multi-billion dollar effort that would expand safety-net programs to help those who could be thrown out of work in the weeks to come. Trump said he supported the package, raising the likelihood that it will pass the Republican-controlled Senate next week.

Economists say the impact of the outbreak on businesses could tip the U.S. economy into recession.

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