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In the U.S., More Than 300 Coronavirus Cases Are Confirmed | Press "Enter" to skip to content

In the U.S., More Than 300 Coronavirus Cases Are Confirmed


Authorities across the United States reported 307 cases of coronavirus and 17 deaths as of Friday, with Florida reporting the first deaths on the East Coast. The number of infections does not count the 21 people who have tested positive aboard a cruise ship off California.

Florida officials on Friday night said there had been two deaths in the state related to the coronavirus. Both of the people who died had traveled internationally, they said.

Hawaii reported its first confirmed infection, a person who had been on the cruise ship, the Grand Princess.

The West Coast has borne the brunt of the toll in the United States. Washington State has recorded the most coronavirus cases, more than 80, and the highest number of deaths, 14. Most of the fatal cases emerged from a Seattle-area nursing home. Officials in King County, Wash., said 15 residents of the facility, Life Care Center, had been taken to hospitals over the past 24 hours.

Two residents of other Seattle-area complexes that largely serve elderly people have now also been hospitalized and tested positive, officials said, identifying them as Issaquah Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and Ida Culver House Ravenna.

Starbucks reported Friday night that one of its employees in downtown Seattle had tested positive. The company said the store has been closed for cleaning.

Also in the Seattle area, two Microsoft employees were being treated for the coronavirus, a company spokesman said. Microsoft did not close its campus, but it had already advised employees to work from home if possible.

The University of Washington, with 50,000 students, said that it would cancel in-person classes from Monday through at least March 20, and have students take classes and final exams remotely. Seattle University, with about 7,300 students, also said it would move to online classes for the rest of the winter quarter, and Northeastern University in Boston will do the same for students on its Seattle campus.

The chief federal judge in Seattle ordered the cancellation of all in-person federal court hearings in western Washington State.

California has treated 70 people for the virus, one of whom has died, and new cases continue to emerge at a worrying rate. An employee of the F.B.I.’s San Francisco division tested positive, the first confirmed case at the bureau.

The virus has been reported in 20 other states, though most have few cases and none have reported fatalities. They are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

All of the 3,533 people aboard a cruise ship idling off San Francisco will be tested for the coronavirus, after 19 crew members and two passengers tested positive, Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday.

The ship, the Grand Princess, had been halted off the coast on Wednesday, until passengers with possible coronavirus symptoms or exposure could be tested. On Thursday, a Coast Guard helicopter flew testing kits to the ship and flew samples for 46 people back to shore.

“Twenty-one of those on the ship tested positive for the coronavirus, 24 tested negative and one test was inconclusive,” Mr. Pence said at a White House news briefing — blindsiding the passengers and the ship’s operators.

“We have developed a plan which will be implemented this weekend to bring the ship into a noncommercial port,” he added. “All passengers and crew will be tested for the coronavirus. Those that need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those that require additional medical attention will receive it.”

Mr. Pence said the Defense Department was working to locate a California military base where passengers on the ship could be tested. Two air bases in the state have been used to house quarantined Americans repatriated from Asia.

Shortly after Mr. Pence’s briefing, the ship captain came over the loudspeaker and apologized that passengers were getting updates from television news rather than him. The captain said that he had not received any advance notice about the news briefing and that the ship would notify individuals of their test results “as soon as possible.”

The Princess cruise line said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials had told the doctor on board of the results as Mr. Pence was speaking.

President Trump, speaking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said he would have preferred not to let the passengers disembark onto American soil. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,” he said. “And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either. Okay? It wasn’t their fault either. And they are mostly Americans.”

He added that, after all, he had authorized federal health officials to make the decision.

The 34th annual edition of South by Southwest, the annual festival of music, film and technology in Austin that has become a global draw, was ordered canceled on Friday by local officials over fears about the spread of coronavirus.

Festival organizers and government officials had come under intense pressure in recent days to pull the plug, with more than 50,000 people signing an online petition and a growing list of tech companies — among them Apple, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok — announcing their withdrawal.

The festival was to have run from March 13-22, with events spread across bars and party spaces in Austin, in addition to the main conference activities.

The cancellation is perhaps the largest collateral damage of the virus so far on the international cultural calendar. Last year, South by Southwest’s various events had a combined attendance of 417,000, including 159,000 who came to the music portion, according to festival figures.

Two other large-scale, multi-day gatherings were also called off or pushed back on Friday: Emerald City Comic Con, a convention that draws thousands of people to Seattle each year, was postponed until the summer; and the Ultra Music Festival, an electronic dance music event held annually in Miami, where city officials blocked the event from going on.

As the coronavirus spreads in the United States, theaters, museums and concert halls are wary that their establishments could become petri dishes for a virus that is spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets.

Mariah Carey postponed her concert in Hawaii. The new James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” was delayed, a move that prompted many in the film industry to guess that studios would do the same with other films. But thus far, no other release date changes have been announced in the United States.

New York City officials pleaded in a letter to the federal government on Friday to send more test kits for the new coronavirus, saying that the city’s limited capacity to test for the virus had “impeded our ability to beat back this epidemic.”

As of noon on Friday, fewer than 100 people had been tested for the coronavirus in New York City over the past month, according to the city’s Department of Health, even as concerns grew that the virus was circulating largely undetected.

State officials said on Friday that so far 44 people in the state had tested positive for the illness — the majority in New Rochelle, just north of New York City. Officials conceded there were likely far more.

“I think it’s fair to say we have no idea how many New Yorkers have been infected with this virus without knowing it,” a New York City councilman, Mark Levine, who heads the City Council’s Health Committee, said.

Demetre Daskalakis, a deputy commissioner in the Department of Health, said on Thursday afternoon that New York City presently only had enough supply for “around a thousand people” before running out.

The city’s letter on Friday to top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that the limited number of tests was already undermining the city’s efforts, citing “slow federal action.”

Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said on Friday that the C.D.C. had sent enough tests to public health labs across the country for 75,000 people, and that efforts were underway to help the “private sector and hospitals” start testing for the virus.

A spokeswoman for the Association of Public Health Laboratories, Michelle Forman, said there were about 72 public health laboratories that are presently testing for the new coronavirus. “We are not aware of any widespread testing shortages,” she said.

Americans have struggled to make sense of conflicting information from official authorities, including President Trump and members of his own cabinet. Vice President Mike Pence, who previously vowed that “any American could be tested,” conceded on Thursday that “we don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”

The lack of testing around the country is affecting nursing homes in an unexpected way.

An executive with the American Health Care Association, a trade group representing most of the nation’s 15,700 nursing homes, warned that staff members were far more likely to use protective gear with patients showing any sign of respiratory illness — even as the public is buying masks and the supply chain from China has dwindled.

Nursing homes “everywhere” around the country had begun complaining about shortages of masks and gowns, the executive, David Gifford, said.

Stocks fell again on Friday, and investors rushed to the safety of government bonds, as Wall Street was gripped by another wave of panic over the coronavirus.

The most dramatic move in financial markets on Friday was a sharp drop in yields on government bonds. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note sank briefly below 0.7 percent for the first time. Yields move inversely to bond prices, and their slide has come as investors have fled risky investments and put their money into low-interest but safe Treasury bonds.

The S&P 500 stock index was down 4 percent in late afternoon, before making up some ground to close down 1.7 percent.

A strong report on the American job market on Friday did not change the direction of the markets. The U.S. government said that employers added 273,000 jobs in February, but the data was a snapshot of a point in time when the prevailing sentiment was that the United States would remain relatively unaffected by the coronavirus.

Oil prices also sank on Friday as major producers gathered for a critical meeting to try to agree on production cuts to try to manage the falling demand for crude as concerns about coronavirus spread across the globe.

Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, reported on Friday that the province had no new infections outside its capital, Wuhan, confirming that China’s new cases and deaths are increasingly concentrated in that city, while the rest of the province — and the rest of the country — are largely spared.

Hubei recorded 74 new infections, all in Wuhan. China also recorded 24 cases in people who had arrived from abroad, including 17 in Gansu, a northwest Chinese province. Excluding the infections in Wuhan and among arrivals from abroad, there was only one other new infection in the rest of China on Friday.

China also reported 28 deaths among those with the virus, all in Hubei Province. That was fewer than in Italy, where there were 49 deaths on Friday.

The downward trend in China is a result of an all-out effort by the government to contain the spread of the disease. Since January, the government has enacted nationwide quarantine and travel restrictions and placed Hubei under a strict lockdown, effectively penning in 56 million people.

The new numbers reflect a steep decline from just a few weeks earlier. At one point in early February, Hubei reported more than 1,400 new cases outside Wuhan in one day.

One of the government-appointed Chinese researchers working to control the outbreak told the state-run newspaper People’s Daily on Thursday that, based on the data, he expected Wuhan to hit zero new infections later this month.

But the harsh restrictions have also frustrated ordinary Chinese people, especially in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak. Residents of one apartment compound in Wuhan who have been confined to their homes for weeks heckled a visiting vice premier Thursday, with some shouting from their windows: “Fake! Everything is fake!”

The number of infections climbed past 7,300 in Europe on Friday — more than doubling in just three days.

France, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and others each recorded their biggest one-day increases in cases. More than 30 European countries now have cases; 10 of them have at least 100 each.

A member of the French Parliament tested positive for the virus. Doctors in Britain warned that the already-strained health care system there could be overwhelmed as the outbreak grows, and the country had its second coronavirus death.

In Italy, with the worst outbreak outside of Asia, the toll rose on Friday to more than 4,600 cases, 197 of them fatal, increases of almost 800 infections and 49 deaths from the day before. Only China has had more people die from the new coronavirus.

Pope Francis has had a cold for over a week, and on Thursday, a Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said that the pontiff’s illness was “running its due course.”

He also told reporters that the Vatican was “studying measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” the disease caused by the new coronavirus, that could affect coming activities involving the pope.

Germany, France and Spain, with the next-largest outbreaks in Europe, reported more than 1,700 cases combined, up from fewer than 1,200 on Thursday. In Switzerland, the confirmed caseload doubled, to more than 200.

Outside Europe, in Iran’s outbreak, one of the world’s largest, the government reported more than 4,700 infections, an increase of more than 1,200 from the day before.

Edouard Philippe, the French prime minister, announced a 15-day school closure in two regions, Oise and Haut-Rhin.

The president is to travel to Atlanta after a visit to the site of a deadly tornado in Nashville and then head to Florida, where he is to headline campaign fund-raising events. He is expected to spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Russia, if official figures are to be believed, has waged one of the world’s most successful campaigns to halt the spread of the coronavirus, reporting just 10 cases across a vast country with 11 time zones and a border with China more than 2,600 miles long.

So it came as a surprise this week when the city authorities in Moscow suddenly announced a raft of sweeping precautionary measures.

In a decree published late Wednesday, the capital’s mayor, Sergei S. Sobyanin, ordered all residents who visit China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea or other unspecified “states with an unfavorable coronavirus situation” to report to the municipal government upon their return to Moscow and to “self-isolate” for two weeks. The United States has now been added to the list.

Mr. Sobyanin’s decree, which declared a “regime of heightened readiness” for the capital, created uncertainty and dismay rather than reassurance, raising questions about why a city with just five officially reported cases had suddenly instituted such stringent controls.

The moves in Moscow follow an alarm this week in St Petersburg, Russia’s second-biggest city, after an Italian exchange student who returned to Russia on Feb. 29 tested positive for the virus. Fellow students in the Italian’s dormitory at the North-Western State Medical University said that they had been ordered not to leave the building.

Officials denied that the dormitory, which houses around 700 students, had been placed under quarantine, saying that its residents were simply under “medical supervision.”

The Times is publishing many articles daily on the coronavirus, which help inform this briefing. Here is a listing of the newsroom’s articles from the last day.

Florida Lobster Got a Break on China Tariffs. Then Came Coronavirus.


Coronavirus Could Slow Efforts to Cut Airlines’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions


South by Southwest Is Canceled as Coronavirus Fears Scuttle Festival

From Coughing Fits to Closings, Cultural World Girds for Coronavirus

TEFAF Art Fair Carries on. But Business Isn’t Usual.


The Handshake Is on Hold

Coronavirus Puts a Wrinkle in Wedding Industry

How to:

How to Help Protect a Family Member in a Nursing Home

How to Quarantine Yourself

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Andrew Higgins, Declan Walsh, Michael Gold, Matt Richtel, Alan Yuhas, Adeel Hassan, Aurelien Breeden, David Halbfinger, Mohammed Najib, Marc Santora, Benjamin Mueller, Mitch Smith, Michael Levenson, Russell Goldman, Amy Qin, Elaine Yu, Javier C. Hernández, Max Fisher, Ben Dooley, Mike Isaac, David Yaffe-Bellany, Raillan Brooks and Karen Weise.


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