Hospitals across the U.S. prepare for coronavirus

Before the first confirmed U.S. case of the new coronavirus infection showed up at a hospital in late January, the patient did exactly what hospital officials in Washington state had hoped for: He gave them a heads-up he was coming.

"What we really want patients to do is call and click through virtual ways, so when they come in, we're ready for them," said Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Providence St. Joseph Health, the health care system which includes the hospital in Everett to which the patient went.

Preparation is key, she said, and if health care workers can activate so-called disaster readiness plans before patients arrive, the likelihood of containing and properly treating the illness goes up. It's a lesson learned from prior outbreaks, such as Ebola, and other coronavirus epidemics, including severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.

Read more on how hospitals across the country are preparing for the coronavirus.

CEOs band together to form business task force

In one of the most consolidated efforts yet from the business world to respond to growing threats from te new coronavirus, thirteen major CEOs have formed a “COVID-19 Task Force” supported by the Business Roundtable, a trade group made up of major U.S. companies.

The purpose of the task force is to increase coordination between the private sector and the U.S. government. Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen and Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz will serve as the co-chairs.

The task force also includes CEOs from: Pfizer, JPMorgan Chase, NASDAQ, Johnson & Johnson, Stanley Black & Decker, The Home Depot, CVS Health, United Airlines, American Airlines, Steelcase, and Accenture.

Inside a coronavirus quarantine

For a dozen days, Carl Goodman’s world was reduced to a 20-by-30-foot containment room and his only visitors came bearing coronavirus testing kits and bottles of Gatorade while dressed head to toe in Hazmat suits.

Goodman contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and while he's now in lower-level housing at the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit in Omaha he remains quarantined.

And he has no idea when he’ll be allowed to go home.

Read more here.

Tennessee confirms first case of coronavirus

Tennessee's first confirmed case of coronavirus involves a 44-year-old man residing near Nashville who recently traveled out of state, state health department officials said Thursday.

The Williamson County man has a mild illness and has been isolating himself at home, they add. Officials said they are working to identify others who may have come into contact with him to "contain the spread of this disease in our communities."

A hotline has also been established for Tennessee residents seeking more information about COVID-19.

Amid growing coronavirus cases, another number increasing: recoveries

It only took a few days for the Wisconsin patient to get over the fever and a cough — and feel well enough to get out of bed and back to normal life: shop for groceries, hang out in a coffee shop, maybe see a new movie.

But that wasn't an option, because the patient wasn't getting over the common cold or even the flu. Instead, the individual had the new coronavirus, meaning it would be several weeks before the person — who remains unidentified for privacy — could leave the house or invite friends and family to visit.

Read more about coronavirus recoveries.

Walmart restricts employee travel, cancels Dallas conference

Walmart is restricting employee domestic and international travel, allowing only "business-critical trips," the company announced Thursday, citing an abundance of caution related to the coronavirus. 

The company also said it will cancel its annual Walmart U.S. Customer Conference, which was scheduled to be in Dallas next week, and will instead have "a virtual form" of the meeting.

Walmart said the new guidelines will remain in place at least until the end of April.

FCC bans 'non-critical' travel; closes buildings to anyone who visited infected countries recently

The Federal Communications Commission has closed its buildings to visitors, employees, and contractors who have recently traveled to China, Italy, Iran, or South Korea.

"Visitors who, during the most recent 14 days, have been in any country that is the subject of a COVID-19-related CDC Level 3 Travel Warning are not being allowed to enter FCC facilities, including its Washington, DC Headquarters," the agency said in a statement Thursday.

It is also suspending "until further notice non-critical FCC domestic and international travel" and "any FCC involvement in non-critical large gatherings."

U.K. confirms 115 new cases as bank sends staff home

The United Kingdom government confirmed Thursday there are 115 coronavirus cases in the country — an increase of 30 on Wednesday's figure. The Department of Health said 25 of those cases are in London, by far the country's biggest city.

There are no recorded deaths related to the new coronavirus in the U.K.

Meanwhile, international bank HSBC sent home more than 100 of its London staff Thursday after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, the first known case at a major company in Europe's main financial hub.

Greece confirms 21 more cases, shuts schools and bans public meetings

Greece reported 21 cases Thursday — all linked to a 66-year-old person who recently traveled to Israel and Egypt on a pilgrimage, health authorities said.

The country's total now stands at 31 and a big rise is expected in the weeks ahead.

On Wednesday, Greece ordered the closure of schools and banned public gatherings in three districts in the west of the country as a precaution until Friday, following Italy, which is trying to combat the worst outbreak in Europe.

100 new cases in France, first death in Switzerland

The customs line at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport on Thursday afternoon.Seth Sanders

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in France jumped by 92 to 377 on Thursday, while the number of deaths rose by two to six, according to the French Health Ministry.

The two people to die after contracting virus are a 73-year-old man and a 64-year-old man

France is currently in “stage 2” of the management of the spread, which is focused on limiting infection and secondary cases.

Separately, authorities in Switzerland confirmed the first death there from the coronavirus outbreak, a 74-year-old woman from Vaud, a mountainous district bordering France.