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White House didn't want to tell seniors not to fly as D.C. confirms first case of COVID-19

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Posted at 10:23 PM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 23:23:31-05

A federal official says the White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the plan this week as a way of trying to control the virus, but White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed.

That’s according to a federal official with direct knowledge of the plan who did not have authorization to talk about the matter and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, Officials in Washington, D.C., say a man in his 50s has tested positive for coronavirus, marking the first presumptively confirmed case in the nation’s capital. District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said Saturday that the man started exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 in late February and was hospitalized Thursday.

She said another man, from Nigeria, who had passed through Washington has also tested positive for the virus in Maryland.

Trump says he isn't concerned “at all” about the coronavirus getting closer to the White House after the first Washington case and an attendee of a recent political conference where Trump himself had spoken also tested positive for the virus.

Missouri and Kansas also reported their first case as the virus spreads into the nation's heartland.

A St. Louis-area woman who recently traveled to Italy is the U.S. state of Missouri's first confirmed coronavirus case.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Saturday that the woman is in her 20s and is at home with her parents. She was returning home from Italy when she showed symptoms.

Page said the parents are not showing symptoms.

The Missouri announcement came the same day that neighboring Kansas also announced its first case of the virus.

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases swelled to 400, with cases in about half of the states. Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Pennsylvania also recently reported their first cases. The total U.S. death toll has reached 19.