Coronavirus updates: U.S. preps for a pandemic as COVID-19 claims 6 lives in Washington state

Coronavirus updates: U.S. preps for a pandemic as COVID-19 claims 6 lives in Washington state


29m ago

Planning to fly in these coronavirus times? Watch this first.

More than two dozen airlines, including major U.S. carriers, have canceled all flights to mainland China and suspended some services to and from dozens of other destinations, including London, Milan and Dubai. 

Delta and American Airlines have said they will waive fees for people who wish to change certain flights. Travel expert Brian Kelly joined “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday to give some helpful advice for anyone with travel plans:

Tips for traveling amid coronavirus chaos


57m ago

G7 finance chiefs vow to “use all appropriate policy tools” to avert virus “risks”

Government finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the world’s seven biggest economies, led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, held a conference call Tuesday to discuss the mounting economic impact of the coronavirus on their countries, and the world as a whole.  

“Given the potential impacts of COVID-19 on global growth, we reaffirm our commitment to use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against downside risks,” the G7 economic leaders said in a joint statement after the conference call. 

U.S. stocks rebounded Monday after a week of huge losses. Fears over the new virus wiped about $3 trillion off global stock values last week. 

The finance chiefs on the call Tuesday declared themselves “ready to take actions, including fiscal measures where appropriate, to aid in the response to the virus and support the economy during this phase.”  

President Trump has berated Powell for declining to lower U.S. interest rates already, as some of the hardest-hit nations have done since the virus started spreading. 


8:18 AM

Doctor says U.S. likely only seeing “tip of the iceberg” with virus cases

CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula says many more Americans are going to be diagnosed with the new coronavirus as testing in the U.S. ramps up and the disease’s true spread is revealed, but the rising numbers shouldn’t worry the majority of people.

“We’re really talking about those over 60, 70, 80 at risk,” she said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”

“In addition, those with chronic medical conditions… chronic lung disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity – this is the population of people that needs to be a little bit more concerned,” said Narula. 

She noted that whereas other countries have tested thousands of people, the CDC has only tested about 500, but a million more test kits were being spread across the country this week, “so there’s no doubt we are seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Who should be concerned?

“There has probably been a low level of community spread in our country for several weeks, and we will see more severe cases in those that are compromised,” Narula said.  

As far as prevention, Narula stressed “the basics,” including good hand washing, sanitizing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, not touching your face, avoiding handshakes and close contact with many people, keeping surfaces clean and disinfecting at home, and not sharing things like plates and towels.


7:22 AM

“Hostage in a petri dish”: Fear mounts over outbreak in Seattle area nursing home

Officials in King County, Washington, home to all six of the United States’ coronavirus deaths to date, have said they plan to buy a motel and convert it into modular units to house coronavirus patients in isolation.

King County Public Health Officer Jeff Duchin said they “expect the number of cases will continue to increase in the coming days and weeks.”     

Carmen Gray’s mother Susan Haley is under quarantine at the nursing home outside Seattle where four residents were among the country’s first coronavirus deaths. She told CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti that she asked to get her mother tested for the virus, but was told she “did not meet the criteria at this time.”

“They’re being held hostage in a petri dish,” said Gray.

Coronavirus death toll rises in U.S.

About 50 other residents of the home were showing symptoms associated with the COVID-19 disease and being tested, officials said Monday.


7:19 AM

U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency bans all but “essential” travel, even in U.S.

The Defense Intelligence Agency has banned all but “mission essential” travel for personnel, both domestically and outside the U.S. 

A DIA spokesperson confirmed the ban, first reported by BuzzFeed, to CBS News national security correspondent David Martin, saying any personnel who wished to travel would need approval from senior management and permission would be granted depending on the importance of the trip, and how risky the destination is deemed to be.

The move by the DIA came a day after Vice President Mike Pence, tapped by President Trump to lead the nation’s response to the growing coronavirus outbreak, said no domestic travel restrictions had been deemed necessary.  

The U.S. currently has about 90 coronavirus cases. There have been six deaths, all in the Seattle area, including four residents at a single nursing home. 


6:49 AM

NBA warns players to be virus-smart with fans

The NBA has told players to avoid high-fiving fans and strangers and avoid taking any item for autographs, the league’s latest response in its ongoing monitoring of the coronavirus crisis that has spread to most corners of the planet.

The league, in a memo sent to teams on Sunday and obtained Monday by The Associated Press, offered 10 recommendations to players with hopes of decreasing risks of getting the virus — among them, not taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers.

The NBA also told teams that it is consulting “with infectious disease experts, including the Centers for Disease Control” and infectious disease researchers at Columbia University in New York.

“We are also in regular communication with each other, NBA teams including team physicians and athletic trainers, other professional sports leagues, and of course, many of you,” the league wrote in its memo to teams, their physicians and athletic training staffs. 

Associated Press


6:18 AM

Officials in England can now detain someone suspected of having coronavirus

The United Kingdom unveiled new plans to counter the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in its four regions on Tuesday. Authorities in England, which has the majority of the U.K.’s 39 cases, were given new powers to detain people suspected of having the disease, or even being at risk. The plan gives officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the right to adopt the stricter controls in place in England if necessary.

“New regulations introduced in England under public health legislation provide new powers for medical professionals, public health professionals and the police to allow them to detain and direct individuals in quarantined areas at risk or suspected of having the virus,” according to the document.

In Scotland, regional Health Boards have the power “to place restrictions on the activities of individuals who are known to have the disease, or have been exposed to the disease, and to prohibit them from entering or remaining in any place. Boards may also apply for court orders for quarantine and medical examination.”

Similar powers were in place in Wales and Northern Ireland, and the document said ministers in all three countries, “also have powers to make regulations equivalent to those now in place in England if the level of risk increases.”

The plan warned that Britain’s emergency services could be ordered to respond only to the most serious crimes and anything threatening public order – and the military could be called on to back them up – if the virus spreads widely in the U.K.

The government warned it could order widespread school closures, the cancellation of large gatherings and for anyone able to work from home to do so. They said hospital services for non-urgent care could be delayed to let the National Health Service focus on treating coronavirus patients, and recently retired doctors and nurses could be asked to return to work temporarily.

Up to a fifth of Britain’s workforce could be sidelined and stuck at home sick at the same time when the coronavirus epidemic peaks in the U.K., according to the government’s planning.


5:37 AM

Iran orders military to help fight spread as virus death toll climbs

Iran’s supreme leader has ordered the Islamic Republic’s armed forces to assist its Health Ministry in combating the spread of the new coronavirus.

The decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came as Iran grappled with the highest death toll from the virus outside of China. Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi  said Tuesday that 11 more people had died of COVID-19 in the past day, bringing the Islamic Republic’s death toll to 77.

There were at least 2,336 people infected with the disease in Iran, but global health officials — and many Iranians — suspect that true number of cases is actually much higher, either because officials are under-reporting, or failing to detect milder cases.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks to reporters at an even to mark National Resources Week, wearing surgical gloves before planting a tree amid a fast-growing coronavirus outbreak in his country, in a photo provided by his office on March 3, 2020. 

Iranian government handout

After downplaying the coronavirus as recently as last week, Iranian authorities said they could mobilize as many as 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the disease.

Concern over the outbreak now stretches to Iran’s top leadership — some of whom have fallen ill from the virus. A close confidant of Khamenei’s died this week of the virus, and at least six other Iranian government officials have been diagnosed with it.



5:29 AM

India tracing contacts as virus cases increase

India reported two new coronavirus cases Monday, taking the total number in the country to five. On Tuesday officials said there were seven more suspected cases, including a cluster of six in Agra state.  

In a bid to prevent the further spread of the disease, India has stopped issuing visas to people from Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan, the four countries with the largest outbreaks outside China. Visas to Chinese nationals were suspended last month.

One of the new confirmed patients, a 45-year-old man from Delhi, visited Italy before flying back to India via Austria on February 25, officials said. The crew of the Vienna-Delhi flight has been asked to self-isolate in their homes for 14 days. 

A school in the Delhi suburb of Noida, where the Delhi man’s two children study, closed for three days and was to be disinfected. 

The Delhi patient came into contact with five other families during a birthday party in Agra last week. Six people among them have reported fever and blood samples have been sent for testing.  

India Virus Outbreak
Indian doctors walk past the entrance of an isolation ward where people who returned from China are under observation at the Government Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, India, March 2, 2020.

Mahesh Kumar A/AP

The other case confirmed Monday was a 24-year-old software engineer from the technology hub of Hyderabad. The man had come in contact with people from Hong Kong in Dubai last month, where he is believed to have contracted the virus. 

The patient’s colleagues, friends and family were being monitored for symptoms. 

– Arshad R. Zargar 


5:28 AM

South Korea declares “war” on coronavirus

South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared “war” against the coronavirus Tuesday, placing all government agencies on a 24-hour emergency footing. The country has the largest outbreak in the world outside China, with more than 5,000 confirmed cases.

Authorities reported 374 new cases Tuesday for a nationwide total of 5,186, the Reuters news agency said.

South Korea has seen a rapid rise in infections in recent days and scores of events — from K-pop concerts to sports seasons — have been cancelled or postponed as a result, with school and kindergarten breaks extended by three weeks nationwide.

Moon said the government would inject more than 30 trillion won (US$25 billion) into the economy to address the “grave” situation brought on by the outbreak.

“The entire country has entered a war with the infectious disease,” Moon said, ordering all government agencies to operate around the clock. 



5:26 AM

Twitter asks employees worldwide to work from home due to virus

Twitter staff members across the world were asked to work from home starting Monday in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly new coronavirus. The request follows similar requests by governments in virus hotspots.

“We are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able,” Twitter human resources chief Jennifer Christie said in a Monday blog post. “Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us — and the world around us.”

Working from home will be mandatory for employees at the company’s South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan offices, Christie said.

Twitter had already announced the suspension of “non-critical” business travel and events last week.



5:25 AM

China making “huge progress” against virus, U.N. ambassador says

The outbreak continues to wane in China, where the virus was first detected in December.

The health ministry on Tuesday announced that only 125 new cases of the virus had been detected over the prior 24 hours, the lowest number since authorities began publishing nationwide figures on Jan. 21. Another 31 deaths were reported, all of them in the hardest-hit province of Hubei. The figures bring China’s total number of cases to 80,151, with 2,943 deaths.

China’s U.N. ambassador says the government believes that “victory” over the coronavirus won’t be far behind the coming of spring.

Zhang Jun told a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York that, “China’s fight against the coronavirus is indeed making huge progress, and the situation is really becoming stable.” 

– Associated Press


5:24 AM

Georgia announces first two cases

The state of Georgia has two confirmed cases of coronavirus, Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey announced Monday night. There are now confirmed cases in 15 states across the United States.

The two patients live together in Fulton County, according to a statement from Kemp. 

“One recently returned from Italy. Both have mild symptoms; they are isolated at home with other relatives to keep the illness from spreading,” the statement said.

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