Seattle was poised for a wide-ranging ban on public gatherings, Michigan was dealing with its first infections and the stock market roller coaster was poised for another plunge Wednesday as the new coronavirus raced virtually unimpeded across the globe.
The number of confirmed U.S. cases rose past 1,000 and the national death toll stood at 28.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was expected to announce a ban Wednesday on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in the Seattle metropolitan area as the state attempts to slow the spread of the virus that has killed 23 people there. The ban could force the Seattle Mariners to relocate their home games for at least some part of the upcoming Major League Baseball season.
There have been 267 confirmed cases in Washington state, with 19 deaths linked to one suburban Seattle nursing home. Authorities in King County believe the virus has spread to at least 10 long-term care facilities. The three counties affected by the ban, King, Pierce and Snohomish, are home to nearly 4 million people.
Here’s the latest on the outbreak of COVID-19:
Massachusetts infections more than double
Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency after state health officials said the number of presumptive positive cases of the COVID-19 virus in Massachusetts is now up to 92, more than doubling in one day. The state identified 51 new cases of the coronavirus since Monday, Massachusetts Health Secretary Marylou Sudders said at a news conference with the governor. The vast majority, 70, are tied to a conference the biotech company Biogen held in Boston last month. Four are travel-related and 18 are under investigation.
Baker urged older adults and those with health issues to avoid large crowds and large events. He recommended that employers and other large organizations limit or eliminate non-essential travel, limit or eliminate large events where possible, and explore telework where appropriate. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the Boston Marathon scheduled for April 20 is still on – for now. The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been canceled.
– Joey Garrison
Passengers slowly exiting Grand Princess cruise ship
The Grand Princess cruise ship was set to continue unloading passengers for a third day Wednesday in Oakland, California, after those on the ship were in limbo since Thursday when coronavirus cases were discovered on board. As of Tuesday, 1,406 people had exited from the ship. On Monday, when disembarkation began, two passengers were taken to hospitals along with their travel companions after testing positive Friday. Meanwhile, 19 crew members who tested positive but “have been deemed asymptomatic” remain on the ship in isolated cabins, the company said Tuesday.
– Morgan Hines and David Oliver
Michigan reports first cases, declares state of emergency
In announcing Michigan’s first two coronavirus cases Tuesday night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledged to harness all of the government’s resources to slow the spread of the virus. “We’re Michiganders. We’re tough,” Whitmer said. “We know how to take care of each other. We will get through this, but for now, please make sure your family and friends are taking every preventative measure available to keep yourselves safe.”
– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
National Guard rolls out in New York City suburb
The National Guard has been deployed to a New York suburb after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered schools, houses of worship and other large gathering places in a portion of New Rochelle to temporarily close. Cuomo announced a plan Tuesday to enforce a “containment area” of a 1-mile radius around the Young Israel synagogue at the center of the cluster, which includes part of the city of New Rochelle and stretches into the town of Eastchester, both of which are about 20 miles north of New York City in Westchester County.
Any large gathering places within that containment area will be required to shut down through March 25, Cuomo said. Westchester remains at the epicenter of New York state’s coronavirus outbreak with more than 100 confirmed cases. The National Guard will help residents under precautionary quarantine and help disinfect public areas, Cuomo said.
– Jon Campbell and Joseph Spector
Universities switch to online classes, tell students to stay home
An increasing number of universities and colleges throughout the country — some responding to the impact of the coronavirus in their area, others taking preemptive steps — are suspending in-person classes.
Some of them are on spring break and plan to begin online classes when students return, but some are already alerting students that in-person teaching may not resume again this school year. Several universities have also suspended their international programs.
Among the colleges that have modified their calendars in the wake of COVID-19’s expansion:
- Amherst College
- Columbia University
- Harvard University
- Hofstra University
- Indiana University
- Kent State University
- Ohio State University
- Purdue University
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
- University of California-Berkeley
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of Maryland
- University of Southern California
- University of Washington
Coronavirus pushes Coachella music festival from April to October
Coachella, one of the country’s most influential annual music festivals, has been postponed into October due to growing public health concerns about the rapidly spreading coronavirus in California.
The festival’s country music counterpart, Stagecoach, will also be pushed into the fall. Both events had been scheduled over three weekends in April. The postponements follow the cancellation of the nearby BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells and the declaration of a public health emergency in the Coachella Valley’s Riverside County by the top public health officer on Sunday.
Several other conferences and large-scale events, including the Ultra Music Festival in Miami and South by Southwest music, film and technology conference in Austin, have been canceled.
Coachella was slated to be held over two weekends – April 10-12 and April 17-19. Stagecoach dates were April 24-26.
– The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.)
Tennessee hospitals begin to screen, restrict visitors amid coronavirus scare
The spread of coronavirus in Tennessee has forced hospitals to drastically restrict the number of visitors allowed on hospital grounds to see friends and family.
Large hospitals in the Nashville area are screening visitors at the front door, limiting patients to just one visitor and, in some cases, not allowing children to visit at all.
The most severe restrictions were adopted at Williamson Medical Center, a hospital in Franklin where the first positive sample of coronavirus was collected last week. The hospital has enacted a strict “no visitors” policy with limited exceptions for new mothers and people who are undergoing surgery.
– Brett Kelman, The Tennessean
More on the outbreak of COVID-19:
Man rescued after 69 hours in rubble of collapsed Chinese quarantine hotel
A man was pulled out alive after being trapped for 69 hours under the rubble of a collapsed virus quarantine hotel in southeastern China in which at least 27 other people died and two remain missing.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the man was sent to hospital immediately after being rescued late on Tuesday afternoon.
A 10-year-old boy and his mother had been rescued around midnight Monday after being trapped for 52 hours. The condition of all three survivors remains unknown.
South Korea reports another spike in coronavirus cases
South Korea reported a cluster of new viral infections at a Seoul insurance company.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported 242 new cases of coronavirus infection from 24 hours ago, bringing its total to 7,755.
Of the new cases, 131 were in Daegu, South Korea’s worst-hit city. But 52 new cases were in the capital, Seoul, where dozens of call-center workers for an insurance company tested positive, raising concerns about a further spread. The country has 60 virus deaths.
Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?
Here’s a look at which U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19:
What’s the worldwide death toll?
The global death toll jumped to 4,287 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.
The total of confirmed cases was nearing 120,000, with more than 80,900 in mainland China, where the virus has killed more than 3,100 people. More than 10,100 cases have now been reported in Italy.
The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, such as fever and cough, but can progress to serious illness including pneumonia, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. The World Health Organization says mild cases last about two weeks, while most patients with serious illness recover in about three to six weeks.
Contributing: Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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