US President Donald Trump speaks to the media. File photo
New York and Illinois followed California Friday in locking down to stem the coronavirus pandemic as President Donald Trump declared the United States was already "winning" the war despite a rapid rise in confirmed cases and deaths.
The move effectively seals off America's largest cities — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — with the states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Nevada following suit.
But Trump insisted there was no need for a national lockdown, arguing that other parts of the US weren't hurting as much as its most populous states.
Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered non-essential businesses to close and banned gatherings in New York state, a day after his counterpart Gavin Newsom told California's 40 million residents to stay home.
"We're all in quarantine now," Cuomo told reporters, warning of civil fines and mandatory closures for anyone violating the order, which takes effect on Sunday evening.
The restrictions so far imposed in seven states now cover around 100 million people.
The escalation came as COVID-19-linked deaths in the US rose to 249 -- more than doubling in three days -- with more than 19,000 confirmed infections, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Among the new cases was a staffer in the office of Vice President Mike Pence, the pointman for Washington's response to the coronavirus outbreak.
"Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual," Pence's press secretary Katie Miller said of the latest confirmed case to brush the inner circle of US leadership.
Despite the surge in cases, Trump said the world's number one power was "winning" and "going to win this war."
"Those are really two hotbeds. Those are probably the two hottest of them all in terms of hotspots," Trump told the daily White House news conference, adding that states in the American Midwest were not registering as many confirmed cases.
"So no, we're working with the governors and I don't think we'll ever find that necessary," he added.
But shortly afterwards Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced an immediate stay-at-home order for the state "to avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives."
"The only strategy available to us to limit the increase in cases... is to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the most robust manner possible," he said.
The order is in place from Saturday evening until April 7, Pritzker added.
Eric Garcetti, the Democratic leader of the United States' second-largest city, was sent a letter earlier Friday by federal authorities that said long-term restrictions "may be both arbitrary and unlawful."
The new accusations are part of protracted, bitter dispute between Trump's company and Fintiklis, the majority owner of the 70-story, seaside, sail-shaped building.
The money would pay for a multifaceted attack on a virus that is spreading more widely every day, sending financial markets spiraling again Thursday, disrupting travel and potentially threatening the US economy's decade-long expansion.
The group were travelling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area, officials said. A local commander was among the fatalities, provincial governor's spokesman Sanaullah Rohani told the media.
The lockdown is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas while authorities have partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen.
Sharjah Police once again has come to the rescue of residents who were stranded on a highway when their vehicle had a flat tyre.
In Victoria in Australia's southeast, which is still battling outbreaks of the new coronavirus and where social distancing rules allow for gatherings of no more than 20 people, health authorities were urging people not to attend the rallies.