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1st case confirmed in nation's capital

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: Countries around the world work to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide, including nine in the U.S.
Countries around the world work to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide, including 17 in the U.S.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The number of deaths from coronavirus in the U.S. has climbed to 19, nearly all of them in Washington state.

Two people have died in Florida, one in California and 16 in Washington state as hundreds of cases of infection have been reported around the country.

Worldwide, more than 100,000 people have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University. Huge swathes of Italy have been locked down and health experts are continuing to urge people to practice preventative measures, such as routine hand-washing, in order to avoid COVID-19.

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993d ago / 2:38 AM UTC

Argentina announces first coronavirus death in Latin America

Image: First death from coronavirus in Latin America in Buenos Aires
People cover their faces while leaving Hospital Cosme Argerich, after the first fatality from coronavirus in Latin America was confirmed, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.MARIANA GREIF / Reuters

A 64-year-old man died in Argentina as a result of the new coronavirus, the first such death in Latin America, health authorities announced Saturday.

The Ministry of Health said the patient lived in Buenos Aires and had been confirmed with COVID-19, the disease from coronavirus, after coming down with a cough, fever and sore throat following a recent trip to Europe.

The patient, who suffered kidney failure, had a history of diabetes, hypertension and bronchitis before being infected with the virus, a statement said. He had been in intensive care since being admitted to a public hospital Wednesday.

Officials said the man was not one of the eight confirmed COVID-19 cases previously reported for Argentina, but his case was confirmed by tests Saturday. Research is underway to determine who the patient had been in contact with, authorities said.

993d ago / 2:29 AM UTC

Chinese hotel used to observe virus contacts collapses

Image:
Rescuers evacuate an injured person from the rubble of a collapsed hotel building in Quanzhou city in southeast China's Fujian province on Saturday.Chinatopix / via AP

About 20 people remained trapped Sunday in a collapsed hotel in southeastern China that was being used for medical observation of people who had contact with coronavirus patients.

Forty-eight people had been pulled from the rubble of the Xinjia Express Hotel in Quanzhou, a coastal city in Fujian province, the Ministry of Emergency Management said. There were no reports of deaths.

The 80-room hotel collapsed in a matter of seconds about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted eyewitnesses as saying. About 70 people had been trapped inside initially, the Quanzhou government said.

The official People's Daily newspaper said the 80-room hotel was being used by by the city government for observation of people who had contact with virus patients.

994d ago / 1:38 AM UTC

U.S. Marine in Virginia tests positive for COVID-19

A U.S. Marine at Fort Belvoir in Virginia has tested positive for COVID-19, health officials confirmed Saturday.

Officials at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and the Virginia Department of Health are working together, keeping in close communication with federal, state, local and private agencies.

Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has been briefed, according to the health department. Virginia health officials on Saturday said the risk of coronavirus spreading throughout the state is low. 

994d ago / 1:19 AM UTC
994d ago / 1:16 AM UTC

AFL-CIO cancels presidential forum with Biden, Sanders

The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, has canceled an upcoming presidential forum in Orlando, Florida, because of the outbreak, the group announced Saturday. 

The two leading Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, were scheduled to attend Thursday's forum, five days before the state's primary.

Florida reported two deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, on Friday.

"Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, we must cancel Thursday’s AFL-CIO Presidential Forum in Orlando," the group said in an emailed statement. "We will keep you posted on any events going forward."

994d ago / 12:52 AM UTC
994d ago / 12:50 AM UTC

Kansas confirms first case of coronavirus

Kansas confirmed its first case of coronavirus Saturday. 

Gov. Laura Kelly said the patient is a 50-year-old woman who lives in Johnson County, the most populated county in the state. 

The woman is in home isolation. Two other people were under investigation in Kansas as of Friday, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

994d ago / 12:26 AM UTC
994d ago / 12:17 AM UTC

13 deaths, more expected, at Seattle-area care center

The number of residents at a Seattle-area long-term care facility who have died from illness caused by coronavirus climbed to 13 on Saturday, a spokesman said.

Life Care Center of Kirkland, in Washington, the focal point of the West Coast's coronavirus outbreak, has reported 26 total deaths since Feb. 19, but tests for 11 residents were still outstanding and results for two others were so far inconclusive, said spokesman Tim Killian.

All the deceased had been hospitalized, he said. 

A day after President Donald Trump said "anybody who wants a test gets a test," Life Care Center does not have enough test kits for its remaining 63 residents, Killian said.

Read the full story.

994d ago / 12:13 AM UTC
994d ago / 12:10 AM UTC
Image: Majdi Allawi
Lebanese Christian Maronite priest Majdi Allawi holds the Blessed Sacrament as he blesses the country from an aircraft as protection from disease, on March 7, 2020, amid fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus.Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images
994d ago / 11:57 PM UTC

CPAC attendee tests positive

A person who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C., has tested positive for coronavirus, the event's organizer said Saturday.

The American Conservative Union said in a statement the patient was exposed to the virus before attending the four-day CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, last week.

"The individual is under the care of medical professionals in the state of New Jersey and has been quarantined," the union said. "This attendee had no interaction with the President or the Vice President and never attended the events in the main hall."

President Donald Trump spoke at the conference Feb. 29 and Vice President Mike Pence on Feb. 27.

994d ago / 11:40 PM UTC

Man tweets grandmother's medical ordeal aboard Grand Princess

A Tennessee man desperate to help his grandmother, who is quarantined on a cruise ship off the coast of California and needs access to her medication, tweeted Saturday, begging someone to help the 83-year-old woman.

Brock Fuller tweeted that the elderly woman is "1 day from having a stroke" if her doctor could not deliver the blood thinner Coudamin. The woman, whose name was not released, has congestive heart failure and dementia, Fuller said.

She packed only enough medication to get her through the trip with her sister and brother-in-law, but they have been stuck aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship where 21 people have tested positive for coronavirus. Fuller said the family has been fighting to get his grandmother's medicine to her for four days.

"Obviously, on some grand scale, the coronavirus is a big deal, but the fact that they have not had a plan of action to provide medication for citizens on board is absurd," Fuller said. "The last thing they want is a lady passing away on their cruise ship due to negligence." 

Within a few hours of Fuller's first tweet, he sent another one saying the medicine finally reached the ship and will be delivered "at some point." 

994d ago / 10:21 PM UTC

Death toll in Italy reaches 233

Italy's death toll from coronavirus continues to mount, reaching 233.

The number of cases in the country is now at 5,883, with close to half that number — 2,651 — hospitalized. 

The outbreak, one of the worst outside China, is centered in the Lombardy region, which includes Milan. 

In praising the American response to coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday noted that the United States was "screening 100 percent of all individuals from all flights from Italy."

994d ago / 9:42 PM UTC

Global conference by the recently pardoned Michael Milken postponed

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The Milken Institute Global Conference — an annual event put on by billionaire financier Michael Milken, who was recently pardoned by President Trump — will be delayed due to coronavirus fears, according to multiple reports and two sources who spoke to NBC News.

Originally scheduled to take place May 2 through May 6 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, the conference nicknamed "Davos of the West" is now delayed until July, said the sources, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the conference.

The organization says the conference attracts more than 4,000 attendees from 70 countries, including celebrities, politicians, corporate executives, and leaders.

The Milken Institute did not reply to a request for comment.

994d ago / 9:34 PM UTC

 

994d ago / 8:54 PM UTC

More than 1 million tests have been distributed, with more on the way: FDA

The head of the Food and Drug Administration said 1.1 million tests have been sent to labs, with a focus on hard-hit states, such as Washington and California.

Dr. Steven Hahn made the announcement during a White House briefing Saturday. He said he expects another million to be sent by Monday. And, he said, as many as 4 million could be ready by the end of next week. 

So far, 72 state and local public health labs in 48 states are able to test for the coronavirus.

Also on Saturday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar clarified comments President Trump made Friday when he suggested anyone could get a test. Azar said Trump was using "shorthand" and explained health officials are no longer restricting testing if a doctor determines one is necessary.

994d ago / 8:19 PM UTC

U.S. deaths up to 19

The number of deaths from coronavirus in the United States has climbed to 19, as two more fatalities were reported Saturday in Washington state. 

In total, the virus has killed 16 in Washington state, two in Florida and one in California. 

The overall number of cases of the virus has risen to 395, with Washington state and California having the most, 102 and 84, respectively. 

994d ago / 7:14 PM UTC

Amtrak cancels Acela nonstop train between D.C. and New York

Amtrak said it is temporarily halting Acela nonstop train service between Washington, D.C. and New York, due to decreased demand as the coronavirus continues to sicken people across the United States. 

The suspension starts Tuesday and will continue until May 26, Amtrak said in a statement on its website Friday. In addition, the passenger rail line said it will waive change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30, 2020.

To help keep down the spread of the virus, Amtrak trains and stations will be cleaned multiple times a day "and in some cases, on an hourly basis," the statement said. An increased number of sanitizers and disinfectant wipes will also be available for customers and its workers. 

994d ago / 7:10 PM UTC

Coronavirus for Easter?

Image: Jean-Francois Pre
Chocolate maker Jean-Francois Pre shows an Easter egg shaped like a novel Coronavirus, the cause of the COVID-19 outbreak, made of white chocolate colored in black and red colored almonds, in his shop in Landivisiau, western France, on March 7, 2020.Damien Meyer / AFP - Getty Images
994d ago / 7:04 PM UTC

Phillies limit player contact with fans on autographs

The Philadelphia Phillies said the team is changing its autograph policy ahead of spring-training games to try to limit contact between players and fans amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Phillies said in a statement provided to NBC Sports that based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it is asking players to pre-sign baseballs and photo cards and for security personnel to help players distribute those items before games.

"The Phillies recognize that autograph signing for some fans is part of the overall appeal of attending spring training games. As a precautionary measure for both our players and our fans, we are making adjustments to this experience," the statement says. 

994d ago / 6:40 PM UTC

Why the WHO is not calling coronavirus outbreak a 'pandemic'

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The World Health Organization has shied away from calling the global spread of the coronavirus a "pandemic," saying the word might spook the world further and lead some countries to lose hope of containing the virus.

“Unless we’re convinced it’s uncontrollable, why (would) we call it a pandemic?” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week.

Some experts disagree, saying the outbreak meets the definition of a pandemic.

But, at a news conference last month, Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO's emergencies chief, said a pandemic is “a unique situation in which we believe that all citizens on the planet" will likely be exposed to a virus "within a defined period of time.”

994d ago / 5:54 PM UTC

New York cases jump to 76, governor declares emergency

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of cases there has jumped to 76 — a 72 percent increase from the 44 cases as of Friday — and that he has declared a state of emergency.

At least 10 of the coronavirus patients in New York state are hospitalized, Cuomo said at a press conference Saturday afternoon.

He said 11 of the 76 cases are in New York City, 57 in Westchester County, two in Rockland County, four in Nassau County and two in Saratoga County.

994d ago / 4:31 PM UTC

Calling an airline to change a reservation? Expect a wait.

Travelers calling to change or cancel flight reservations due to the coronavirus outbreak might find themselves having to wait — and wait, as some major U.S. airlines' phone lines are jammed.

Jeremy Daly, a web developer, booked his ticket for a conference in Germany that has since been pushed back because of the outbreak. When Daly called Delta Air Lines to change his ticket, he got a message advising of a time 2-hour, 40-minute wait time.  

A call to American Airlines brings a recorded message advising of a wait time between 1 hour and 5 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes. American told NBC News that it had higher call volumes and was encouraging  passengers to make flight changes online if possible.

Delta and some other airlines also offer an option for callers to leave a message with their phone numbers for a call back. Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. 

Image: Global Travel Slows Significantly Due To Coronavirus Outbreak
People walk through a sparse international departure terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport as concern over the coronavirus grows on March 7, 2020 in New York City. The number of global coronavirus infections has now surpassed 100,000, causing disruptions throughout the globe. The airline and travel industries has been especially hard hit by the outbreak, with both business and leisure travelers cancelling plans.Spencer Platt / Getty Images
994d ago / 4:07 PM UTC

994d ago / 3:59 PM UTC

State Dept. says non-emergency personnel can leave Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan

The State Department announced that non-emergency personnel and their families can voluntarily leave Turkmenistan, located in Central Asia, and Azerbaijan, in the Caucasus region, due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Officials made the announcement on Friday, the same day the government raised the travel advisory to the countries to a level 3 and urged people to reconsider traveling there.

994d ago / 3:42 PM UTC

Life at coronavirus 'ground zero' in Seattle is crazy — but I'm not panicking

Ever since the first U.S. death from the coronavirus was reported in Washington state on Feb. 29, marking our Seattle-area community as “ground zero,” life as we know it here has changed.

I live in Bellevue, a suburb outside Seattle and just 12.5 miles from the Life Care Center nursing facility in Kirkland that’s linked to six deaths in the state. A friend works for the fire department that responded to the calls at the facility, and now several firefighters are quarantined because they are experiencing symptoms.

He is not one of them, but to know someone in the epicenter of the chaos is certainly unnerving.

Read the full story here.

994d ago / 3:30 PM UTC

Hotel used for quarantine collapses in China, trapping 70

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A hotel used for medical observation of people who had contact with coronavirus patients collapsed in southeastern China on Saturday evening local time, trapping some 70 people, according to the Licheng District government's official Wechat account. There were no immediate reports of deaths.

Within about 90 minutes, some of those trapped — at least 23 — were rescued from the wreckage of the Xinjia Express Hotel in Quanzhou, the government said.

The 80-room hotel had been converted by the city government for observation of people who had contact with coronavirus patients, according to the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.

994d ago / 3:03 PM UTC

Amid outbreak concerns, should you still send your children to school?

994d ago / 3:02 PM UTC

U.S. Navy sailor in Italy tests positive

A U.S. sailor deployed to Naples, Italy, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the U.S. military said on Saturday. This is the second confirmed case among U.S. military forces following one in South Korea. 

“The member is currently restricted to their residence, receiving supportive and medical care in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control,” the military’s European Command said in a statement. 

“Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been exposed,” it said.

Italy has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the virus as of Saturday.

994d ago / 2:39 PM UTC

10 ways coronavirus is making people change their daily lives

The steady rise in coronavirus cases in the United States and across the globe has had a far-reaching effect on how we interact with one another. Some people have turned to panic buying at grocery stores and pharmacies, refused to shake hands and canceled or put off travel plans.

With the spread of the virus showing no sign of slowing, some of people's normal routines are also being altered such as not touching your face, leaving personal mugs at home and worshiping differently.

Read the whole story here.

994d ago / 2:31 PM UTC

Pope Francis cancels live Sunday blessing to prevent crowds gathering

Pope Francis has canceled his live Sunday blessing from a window overlooking the Vatican's St. Peter's Square, to avoid the risk of coronavirus transmission. 

Instead the Pontiff will deliver his weekly sermon via an internet livestream, the Vatican said in statement Saturday. It added that similar measures will also be put in place when he addresses an audience on Wednesday. 

The decision was taken after a request from Italian authorities, it said. 

In total, 197 people have died in Italy, making it the worst hit European country. 

Image: Pope Francis
Pope Francis was advised not to deliver his weekly speech live, to prevent crowds gathering. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images
994d ago / 1:42 PM UTC

Leader of Italy's co-ruling Democratic party has coronavirus

The leader of Italy's co-ruling Democratic Party Nicola Zingaretti said on Saturday he had tested positive for coronavirus.

"I have coronavirus too", Zingaretti said in a video posted on Facebook, adding he was in self-isolation at home and that all the people he had been in contact with in the latest days were being contacted for checks. He said he was well.

Italy has been the hardest hit country Europe by the epidemic, with a total of 4,636 cases and 197 deaths on Friday, and is currently reporting more deaths per day form the virus than any other country in the world.

The government this week ordered the closure of schools, universities, cinemas and theaters to stem infections.

994d ago / 1:25 PM UTC

More than half of all states have reported COVID-19 cases

With the coronavirus outbreak spreading across the country, more than half of all U.S. states have now reported cases.

As of Friday night, officials in 28 states confirmed positive tests for the coronavirus illness COVID-19. In total, more than 330 cases have been reported.

The majority of those cases were in New York, California and Washington state.

Image: FILE PHOTO: Vehicle Maintenance Utility Service Worker Thiphavanh 'Loui' Thepvongsa wipes down an off-duty bus with a disinfectant during a routine cleaning at the King County Metro Atlantic and Central Base in Seattle
Earlier this week, a vehicle maintenance worker Thiphavanh "Loui" Thepvongsa wipes down an off-duty bus with a disinfectant during a routine cleaning at the King County Metro Atlantic and Central Base in Seattle.JASON REDMOND / Reuters, file

Read the full story here.

994d ago / 1:15 PM UTC

Outbreak used by European populists to challenge open borders

The coronavirus outbreak has emptied streets, closed universities and filled hospitals around the world, but it has taken a more ominous turn in Europe, where right-wing populists are renewing calls to crack down on immigration. 

Some have even made unsubstantiated claims that migrants from Africa brought the virus to the continent.

Image: People wearing protective face masks walk at as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris
People wearing protective face masks walk at as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in late February in Paris, France.Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

"The government has underestimated the coronavirus," said Matteo Salvini, the former interior minister of Italy, which has been Europe's epicenter of the coronavirus. "Allowing the migrants to land from Africa, where the presence of the virus was confirmed, is irresponsible."

Salvini is one of Europe's most hard-line voices on immigration, but no evidence has emerged that migrants brought the virus to Italy, where more than 4,500 people have been infected and almost 200 people have died.

Read the whole story here.

994d ago / 12:51 PM UTC

WHO director offers praise to Facebook and Instagram for 'playing their part'

The Director-General of the World Health Organization commended Facebook and Instagram in a tweet Saturday for "stepping up and playing their part" in making sure equipment is reserved for those who most need it in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. 

Facebook's head of ads and business products said Friday that the social media giant is banning ads and commerce listings for medical masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend masks or respirators for the general public.

994d ago / 12:22 PM UTC

Here is some expert advice on how to stop touching your face

994d ago / 12:11 PM UTC

Uber to compensate drivers diagnosed with illness or force to self-quarantine

Uber said in a memo Friday that it plans to compensate drivers and delivery workers who are required to self-quarantine, or if they are diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Employees “in these situations” will receive compensation for a period of up to 14 days, Senior Vice President Andrew Macdonald said in a statement, although he did not say how much they would receive. 

“This has already begun in some markets and we are working to implement mechanisms to do this worldwide,” he added.

994d ago / 11:15 AM UTC

Cruise ship on river Nile placed under quarantine by Egyptian authorities

A cruise on the Nile river has been quarantined by Egyptian health authorities after 12 people tested positive for coronavirus. 

A Taiwanese-American tourist likely caused the spread on board the ship, as she tested positive for the virus after returning to Taiwan late in February, officials said.

They added that American, French and Indian nationals were among the 150 passengers and crew on board. 

Those confirmed to be infected with the respiratory had been isolated on board, officials said, adding that the remaining passengers and crew were awaiting their test results.  

994d ago / 10:21 AM UTC

Philippines to declare health emergency, minister says

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte plans to declare a nationwide public health emergency following confirmation of the country's first community transmission of the disease, the country's health minister said Saturday. 

Francisco Duque told a news conference that the decision was a preemptive measure to prepare for a possible increase of cases.

His comments came after health officials said the first case of the disease being transmitted locally had been recorded when a 62-year-old Filipino man who had not traveled abroad recently was diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

His 59-year-old wife has also been infected, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian nation to six.

994d ago / 9:28 AM UTC

Italy to hire 20,000 healthcare workers: reports

The Italian government plan to hire 20,000 new medical personnel in order to bolster the health service and tackle coronavirus, local media reported Saturday.

They intend to recruit 5,000 doctors, 5,000 social workers and 10,000 nurses.

As of Saturday, 148 people have died from the respiratory illness in Italy and the country has highest death toll outside of China, where the disease originated. 

Entire towns have been quarantined northern Italy, which is expected to weigh heavily on the country's economy, with tourism particularly affected.

994d ago / 9:12 AM UTC

Majority of South Korean cases linked to secretive church, health director says

More than 60 percent of the cases in South Korea can be linked to a secretive church at the center of South Korea's outbreak, the deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said Saturday. 

The Korea Center for Disease Control said that the number of confirmed cases had risen by 448 to 7,041. Two more people had died from the respiratory illness, bringing the total number of COVID-19 linked deaths to 46. 

South Korea — which has one of the worst outbreaks outside of China — has seen a spike in cases since mid-February when a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient 31" tested positive after attending religious services at a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu.

Lee Man-hee, the founder of the church, apologized earlier this week, calling the epidemic a "great calamity."

994d ago / 5:43 AM UTC

Cruise ship passengers learned of coronavirus infections from TV, not the ship

994d ago / 5:06 AM UTC

Downtown Seattle Starbucks employee tests positive

A downtown Seattle Starbucks was closed and deep cleaned overnight after a worker was diagnosed with the coronavirus illness COVID-19, the company’s executive vice president said in a statement Friday.

"Late last night, we learned one of our store partners at our 1st & University store in downtown Seattle was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is self-isolating at home for a period of time," Rossann Williams said in a message to partners

City officials have encouraged the company to reopen the store after further preventative cleaning.

King County, where Seattle is located, has had 58 cases of COVID-19. 

994d ago / 4:13 AM UTC

Florida announces two coronavirus deaths

Florida health officials said late Friday two people have died from coronavirus in the Sunshine State.

One of the deaths, in Lee County on the Gulf Coast, was one of three new "presumptive positive" cases, the Florida Department of Health said. The Centers for Disease Control has yet to confirm the virus testing done by state labs in these cases.

Another death was a "previously announced case" in Santa Rosa County, near Pensacola, that declined, officials said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday the Santa Rosa County man was believed to be older than 70 with underlying health conditions. He had traveled internationally, he said.

"He’s not in shape to fully answer all the questions," the governor said, "so there’s an investigation ongoing."

The deaths bring the nationwide number of fatalities blamed on coronavirus to 17.