Coronavirus stay-at-home directives multiply in major U.S. states

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New Jersey’s governor was expected on Saturday to follow four other states – California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut – demanding that millions of Americans close up shop and stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

The sweeping state-by-state public health restrictions, unprecedented in breadth and scope, added to the distance being experienced among ordinary Americans even as the pandemic seemed to close in on the highest levels of power in the nation’s capital.

An aide to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, leading the White House task force formed to combat the outbreak, tested positive for the virus, but neither President Donald Trump nor Pence have had close contact with the individual, Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, said in a statement on Friday.

Pence’s office was notified of the positive test on Friday evening, and officials were seeking to determine who the staffer might have exposed, Miller said.

The aide was not publicly identified, and the vice president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for further details of the diagnosis, the staffer’s condition, or whether Pence would be tested.

The White House said last week that Pence did not require testing after dining with a Brazilian government official who later tested positive for the respiratory illness. President Donald Trump has tested negative for the virus, his doctor said last week.

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives tested positive for on Wednesday, becoming the first members of Congress known to have contracted the disease, which has killed 266 people in the United States.

The total number of known U.S. coronavirus cases has risen exponentially in recent days, climbing past 18,000 in a surge that health officials attributed in large part to an increase in diagnostic testing.

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