Coronavirus live updates: US death toll rises to 19, New York declares state of emergency – National News


XiFotos/iStock(NEW YORK) —  More than 102,000 people in 88 countries have been infected with novel coronavirus amid an outbreak that has sent countries and states scrambling to respond.

At least 3,491 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University, with the majority of those in China, where the virus was first detected in Wuhan in December but has since spread to every continent except Antarctica. The outbreak of the virus, known officially as COVID-19, has been declared global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

South Korea, Iran and Italy have the highest national totals of confirmed cases behind China, respectively.

The number of Americans diagnosed with the novel coronavirus is now at least 340, according to a case count by Johns Hopkins. At least 17 people have died in the U.S. in Washington state, California and Florida.

The states reporting cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Today’s biggest developments:

  • Death toll in US rises to 19
  • New York declares state of emergency
  • Quarantine hotel in China collapses
  • Utah, Hawaii confirm 1st cases
  • Pope cancels Sunday prayer gathering

Here is how the situation is unfolding on Saturday. All times eastern. Please refresh for updates.

5:04 p.m. CDC, Pence update on test kits

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shipped out enough tests for at least 75,000 people, according to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Of the tests the CDC has shipped, public health labs have been able to test more than 3,500 specimens from 1,583 patients, according to Hahn.

An additional 1.1 million tests have been shipped to nonpublic health labs. The manufacturer, IDT, is distributing them nationwide, but California and Washington, which have reported the highest number of cases, received the tests first.

Hahn noted that there were “manufacturing problems with the CDC test” that “created complications for expanding access for public health laboratories” who would have otherwise used the test. Those issues have since been resolved, he said, and the CDC now has “a test that the American people can trust.”

Vice President Mike Pence said after meeting with cruise ship officials that more than 1 million tests have been distributed and that “we’ll be expanding access to tests in the weeks ahead to every American.”

4:25 p.m. Italian cruise ship rejected amid fears

Costa Fortuna, a luxury Italian cruise line, was blocked from Thailand and Malaysia amid novel coronavirus fears, according to a statement from the ship’s operator.

The ship, which contains more than 2,000 passengers, none of whom have shown evidence of COVID-19, found itself on the wrong side of new rules both countries put into place hours before its scheduled arrival.

Thailand turned the ship away from Phuket because it was carrying 64 Italian passengers who left Italy less than two weeks ago, while officials in Malaysia are blocking all cruise ships from docking regardless of who’s on board.

The cruise ship is now headed for Singapore, where a maritime and port authority official told ABC News it “should be able to dock.”

“At the moment, there is no government policy which bars any cruise ship from docking at Singapore port,” the official said.

4:05 p.m. Constituent of Rep. Matt Gaetz, who mocked virus, among fatalities

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fl., said he was “extremely saddened” to learn of the death in a Santa Rosa County resident. The Floridian’s death had been previously reported and is part of the 19 fatalities, but this is Gaetz’s first time speaking about it.

“Please continue to take necessary precautions to minimize your exposure to any illness, including coronavirus,” he said in a statement.

Just three days before, Gaetz wore a gas mask on the House floor during a vote on emergency funds to respond to novel coronavirus.

He also tweeted a photo of himself in the gas mask, saying, “Reviewing the coronavirus supplemental appropriation and preparing to go vote.”

3:21 p.m. Death toll rises in US to 19

Two more people have died in Washington state, according to local officials, putting the number of American fatalities at 19.

There have now been 16 deaths in Washington state, with all but one in King County, according to the state’s health department.

A man in his 70s, who was a resident at Life Care Center in Kirkland, and a woman in her 80s, also a Life Care Center resident, were the two people whose deaths were reported Saturday.

The other deaths in the U.S. have been in Florida, where two people died, and in California.

1:45 p.m. Airport screening in Hawaii after state’s 1st case reported

Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced his state’s first case of novel coronavirus.

The patient is quarantined at home and “doing well,” Ige added. The patient had traveled on a Grand Princess cruise ship in early February and contracted the virus.

Screenings are now being conducted at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport by federal authorities.

12:59 p.m. Quarantine hotel in China collapses with dozens trapped inside

A hotel used as a medical observation center for people who had contact with novel coronavirus patients collapsed in southeastern China, leaving around 70 people trapped inside, Chinese state media reported.

Government officials in Quanzhou, where the collapse happened, said in a statement that 38 people had been rescued from the Xinjia Hotel as of 11 p.m. local time Saturday.

Rescue work was ongoing, with dozens of emergency and fire rescue vehicles, according to government officials.

It was not immediately clear what caused the collapse. An unidentified hotel employee told the Beijing Youth Daily that the owner carried out “foundation-related construction” before the disaster, according to the Associated Press, but no further details were provided.

China, where the virus was first detected in Wuhan, currently has more than 80,000 confirmed cases on the mainland.

12:14 p.m. 76 cases in New York prompts state of emergency

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency after the total number of confirmed cases rose to 76, with 32 new cases reported in the last 24 hours.

There are now 57 cases in Westchester, 11 in New York City, four in Rockland County, two in Rockland County, and two in Saratoga County, according to Cuomo. Westchester reported 23 new cases and New York City reported seven.

The state of emergency will assist in hiring and purchasing, with Cuomo calling the situation “labor intensive. We need the staffing.”

He acknowledged that the situation in Westchester “is obviously a problem for us.” He announced that all nursing homes and senior citizen centers in the immediate New Rochelle area would suspend outside visitors.

“Nursing homes are the most problematic,” he said. Older adults may bear most of the burden in the virus’ spread, according to Imran Ali, a geriatric physician working with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Cuomo also criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying the agency is slowing everything down and hamstringing states like New York.

The seven new cases in New York City include two who were on a cruise ship and five that appeared to community spread. One of those patients is hospitalized at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway.

The Saratoga County cases, in a 57-year-old pharmacist and a 52-year-old woman who had contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 at a conference in Miami, are that area’s first to be reported.

9:57 a.m. 1st U.S. service member in Europe tests positive

A U.S. Navy sailor stationed at the Naval Support Activity Naples tested positive for novel coronavirus, marking the first positive cause of a U.S. service member in Europe, according to a statement from U.S. European Command Theater.

The service member is in isolation at their residence and receiving medical care in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the statement read. Anyone who had close contact with the patient has been notified and is in self-isolation at their residence.

Their condition was not immediate clear.

8:50 a.m. 14 Americans under quarantine in Bethlehem hotel

The Palestinian health ministry in Bethlehem confirmed that 14 American citizens are being tested for novel coronavirus and have been quarantined in the Angles hotel in the city of Bethlehem for now.

Those American citizens were trying to leave the city yesterday but were sent back to Bethlehem by the Israeli army, according to the Palestinian health ministry. People are not permitted to leave or enter Bethlehem, as per a decision made by Israeli and Palestinian authorities after 17 cases of novel coronavirus were confirmed in the city in the last 48 hours.

8:43 a.m. Houston-area church warns of possible exposure

A person who tested positive for novel coronavirus attended the 5:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday service on Feb. 26 at the St. Cecilia Catholic Church, according to Harris County Public officials in Texas. The individual received ashes and had communion in the hand, but did not receive communion from the cup, officials said. The person sat in the last pew on the left side of the church.

Officials are asking anyone who sat in the last three rows on the left side of the church during that service to contact Harris Couty Public officials at 713-439-6000.

In the meantime, St. Cecilia has drained and sanitized the baptismal fonts and sanitized the church’s pews, door handles and restrooms and will provide hand sanitizers at all the church’s entrances. Parishioners are being urged to stay home if they are feeling unwell, according to a statement from the church.

7:43 a.m. Pope cancels Sunday prayer gathering

The Holy See press office said that Sunday prayers would not take place in the square as normal, but from the window of the Library of the Apostolic Palace amid the novel coronavirus spread.

The prayer will be streamed live by Vatican News and on screens in St. Peter’s Square “so as to allow the participation of the faithful,” according to the statement, which was translated from Italian.

The General Audience, held this upcoming Wednesday, will also be conducted in the same manner.

These choices are necessary in order to avoid the risk of diffusion of the COVID-19 due to the gathering during the security controls for access to the square, as also requested by the Italian authorities,” the statement read. “In compliance with the provisions of the Health and Hygiene Directorate of the Vatican City State, the participation of the faithful guests in the Masses in Santa Marta will be suspended until Sunday 15 March. The Holy Father will celebrate the Eucharist privately.”

3:46 a.m. Utah gets 1st confirmed case

The number of coronavirus cases and deaths continued to increase in the U.S. as officials in Utah reported late Friday night that the state had its first confirmed COVID-19 case.

Utah officials said they believe the victim was exposed to the virus while on a recent Grand Princess cruise.

A different Grand Princess cruise ship is currently just off the San Francisco coast with dozens of passengers quarantined onboard. As of Friday night, 19 passengers on the ship are confirmed to have novel coronavirus and 46 people have been tested, Vice President Mike Pence said at a press conference Friday.

Organizations across the U.S. have been grappling with how to handle the spread of the virus.

The NBA, according to ESPN, sent a memo to teams telling them to prepare to play in front of empty arenas in the near future.

The memo, obtained by ESPN and ABC New York affiliate WABC, said NBA teams were asked to develop a process and identify actions required if they had to play games without fans in attendance and with only essential staff at the arena.

Following Friday night’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James addressed the league’s memo to teams, warning he might not play in an empty arena.

“I ain’t playing. If I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s what I play for. I play for my teammates, I play for the fans,” James told reporters in the locker room following the game. “That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena, and there ain’t no fans there? I ain’t playing. So, they could do what they want to do.”

The University of Southern California and Stanford University both moved all classes online in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Stanford announced Friday that all classes would be moved online for the final two weeks of the quarter and USC said it is going to test remote classes for two days next week.

“Our university must be nimble and flexible in the event that we need to make any further changes to the semester,” Charles F. Zukoski, USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, said in a statement Friday. “We have about 7,000 lecture classes this spring. We need to test our technical capabilities to ensure academic continuity in an online environment should there be a disruption.”

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