New York, March 21 : On the strength of new data from the surging caseload, the White House Coronavirus Task Force cautioned Americans that "nobody is immune to the virus" and the contagion level from the pandemic was high for every age group.
"We continue to see signs that individuals under 20 years may have severe disease, but majority have recovered to date," Deborah Birx, co-ordinator of the Task Force, said on Friday.
"Another concerning trend that the mortality among males seems to be twice that of every age group of females," she said.
The warnings came on a day when California, New York and Illinois announced drastic new rules sharply limiting outdoor movement in the wake of the rising death toll from the coronavirus.
More than 200 have died in the US. New York has the biggest cluster of cases - more than 7,800 at last count.
Birx urged Americans not to interpret mild or moderate disease as lack of contagion. "You just happen to have a better immune system and the ability to fight the virus in a way that maybe older people or people with existing medical conditions can't," she said.
At the same briefing, Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute For Allergy and Infectious Diseases, rebutted President Donald Trump's claim that anti malarial drug hydroxychloroquine could be a "gamechanger".
With Trump towering over him, Fauci said there is only "anecdotal" evidence to support the claim and that only testing would deliver the right answers.
Fauci underlined America's two pillar strategy to battle the outbreak: The country's ability to flatten the curve by taking tough decisions on how society operates and stopping infections from coming into the country from the outside.
Border closures to non-essential travelers from Canada and Mexico go into effect midnight on Saturday. Influx into the US from China and Europe have already been stemmed.
The State Department has implemented a Level 4 travel advisory warning Americans against travelling abroad.
Fauci applauded the "tough decisions" individual states are taking to stop the spread.
On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told the state's residents to stay indoors and ordered 100 per cent of non-essential businesses to keep workers home.
On the same day, California ordered all of its 40 million residents to stay in their houses as much as possible.
The Trump administration on Friday announced that all standardised school tests, which are typically scheduled during the final burst of the school year, will be cancelled.
The tax filing date has been extended from April 15 to July 15.
Trump this week invoked emergency wartime authority to help speed up production of equipment to battle capacity shortages in America's hospitals.
(Nikhila Natarajan can be contacted at @byniknat)
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