File photo of passengers wearing masks to protect themselves from coronavirus Photograph:( AFP )
The health department director Amy Acton said that Ohio had community spread of COVID-19
In a massive development, the US state of Ohio said that 100,000 people in the region are likely to have coronavirus, the state health department director said.
The health department director Amy Acton said that Ohio had community spread of COVID-19 in a press conference with state governor Mike DeWine.
"We know now just the fact of community spread says that at least one per cent, at the very least, one per cent of our population is carrying this virus in Ohio today," Acton said.
"We have 11.7 million people. So the math is over 100,000. So that just gives you a sense of how this virus spreads and is spreading quickly".
She said that this is "one-in-50 years pandemic that we've been planning for".
Ohio has five positive cases and 52 people are placed under investigation. However, the state has carried out limited number of tests, much like the US.
In the US, the coronavirus cases surpassed 1,300 on Thursday with around 40 deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University said.
"These numbers are going to continue to grow," governor DeWine said during the press conference, adding that that confirmed numbers "are just a small fraction of the individuals who are infected already in the state of Ohio".
"We're told by medical experts that whatever the number is today, it will double in six days and that just continues on and on," DeWine said.
Public health experts have lashed out at US authorities for downplaying the pandemic and lagging far behind the other badly-affected countries in dealing with the virus.
In order to control the spread, Ohio banned mass gathering of over 100 people. Schools in the state were also shut down for three weeks.
"Taking decisive action now will greatly slow down this disease and stop this trajectory," Acton said.
President Donald Trump has been slammed for a slow response to the outbreak and playing down the threat, initially claiming that only a few Americans are at risk.
Earlier Axios and NBC News projected 70 to 150 million Americans being affected by the COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the US president banned travel from mainland Europe as part of his effort to control the pandemic.