Emergency declared in California as cruise ship delayed off shore

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Image: The Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco
The Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco on Feb. 11, 2020.Scott Strazzante / AP file

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California has declared an emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, as tests continue Thursday on board a Princess cruise ship that has been linked to two cases of the illness in the state.

The first death in California related to coronavirus was confirmed Wednesday, while another fatality in Washington brought that state's death toll to 10.

Congressional leaders have agreed on an $8 billion emergency funding package to help fight the coronavirus that is headed to the House.

The virus is now spreading more rapidly outside China, where the epidemic started, with mainland China recording just 119 new confirmed cases while hundreds of cases were reported globally.

South Korea alone recorded an additional 516 cases of coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total to 5,328 confirmed cases, the largest outbreak outside of mainland China.

Governments around the world are introducing a range of measures to stop the spread of the disease. In Italy, where there have been more than 2,000 cases, all schools and colleges are shut for 10 days.

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More than 1,000 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours reported outside of China

Fueled by hundreds of new cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran, more than 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported outside of mainland China in the last 24 hours, according to an NBC News analysis of information from the World Health Organization, state government leaders and health officials. This is the greatest single-day increase in confirmed cases outside of China since the coronavirus first surfaced. 

While mainland China reported 573 new cases in the last day, approximately 1,500 new cases were reported in the rest of the world. Also, 61 deaths and nearly 3,000 recoveries were reported, bringing the total fatalities to 2,973 and total recoveries to more than 41,000.

Healthcare workers transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland in Kirkland, Washington. Dozens of staff and residents at Life Care Center of Kirkland are reportedly exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms, with two confirmed cases associated with the nursing facility reported so far.David Ryder / Getty Images

'It's all hands on deck:' Pence on U.S. response to coronavirus threat

Vice President Mike Pence says that when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus in the United States, "it's all hands on deck."

In an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Pence said federal agencies were "leaning into" President Donald Trump's directives to "mitigate" the virus' impact on U.S. soil, which includes expanding travel restrictions outside the country.

Watch "Meet the Press with Chuck Todd" Sunday at 9 a.m. ET or check local listings.

On Saturday, Trump and Pence announced additional travel restrictions involving Iran and increased warnings about travel to areas of Italy and South Korea hit by coronavirus. Travel from China to the U.S. has already been restricted. 

"The president’s concern is the health and safety of the American people," Pence said on "Meet the Press." 

When asked whether the White House is worried about potential economic fallout from coronavirus, Pence said the economy "will come back." He also said the president will respect any local or state decisions to close schools if they find it necessary.

"We’re going to focus on the health of the American people," he said.

Northern California county confirms 4th case of coronavirus

Health officials in Santa Clara County, California, on Saturday confirmed a fourth case of coronavirus.

The patient is an adult woman who is "not ill" and has not been hospitalized, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said. She was described by officials as a "household contact" of the third case in Santa Clara.  

The third case was described last week by public health officials as an older woman with chronic health issues. She had not traveled out of the country nor come into close contact with a known carrier of the virus.

Santa Clara County officials said in a statement that they are bracing for more cases and are preparing for "community spread," a term used when someone is infected but the source is unknown.

U.S. lawmakers demand federal briefing on whistleblower complaint

Three California congressmen who represent districts with military bases that received evacuees from China said Saturday that federal health officials failed to provide a "timely briefing" on their response to coronavirus. 

U.S. Reps. Mark Takano, John Garamendi and Scott Peters, all Democrats, said senior officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not provide sufficient information following a whistleblower complaint alleging improper training and a lack of safety equipment for HHS workers who handled Americans returning from China.

Takano, Garamendi and Peters are asking federal health officials to provide an updated briefing on how they plan to address the growing coronavirus threat in the United States.

"As the representatives of military bases and communities that housed repatriated Americans and given the threat that these serious allegations may pose to public health, we need answers," the representatives said in a statement. "We called for this briefing because during these difficult times, our constituents and the American people deserve a proactive, level-headed response and honesty from the federal government."

HHS officials said in an emailed statement the agency is taking the whistleblower complaint seriously and will offer testing to any staff members from the department's Administration for Children and Families, which participated in repatriation efforts at the military bases, concerned about exposure to coronavirus.

"This is an intensive process involving significant fact gathering," an HHS spokesperson said in reference to the whistleblower's complaint. "We understand Congress’s desire for information and, for that reason and others, HHS is handling this situation with grave urgency. HHS will fully brief Congress and the public when it has completed its investigation."

'Fight the virus not the people:' Demonstrators march against racism in San Francisco's Chinatown

Hundreds of people gathered in San Francisco's Chinatown on Saturday to march against xenophobia caused by fears of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Demonstrators carried signs that read "Chinatown open for business" and "United we stand together."

California Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, tweeted a photo of the gathering, calling coronavirus a "serious public threat" and "not an invitation to racial stereotyping." 

"Fight the virus not the people," he tweeted. 

In Los Angeles, a group representing Koreatown restaurants said business in general was down about 50 percent in the last week after rumors spread that a Korean Air flight attendant with coronavirus had dined in the neighborhood, NBC Los Angeles reported.

As a result, patrons canceled reservations at some restaurants and others called to check whether it was safe to visit the normally bustling area. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Friday that the flight attendant did not have symptoms while in L.A. and did not pose any risk to the general public.

Washington state testing over 50 people for coronavirus

Washington state is currently testing more than 50 people for coronavirus who may have been infected in an outbreak linked to a nursing facility in Kirkland.

Two people linked to the facility, LifeCare, have tested positive: a health care worker in her 40s and a resident of the facility in her 70s.

Test results could come back as early as Saturday afternoon and additional positive cases are expected.

Pence touts 'productive' coronavirus meeting after additional travel restrictions announced