Emergency declared in California as cruise ship delayed off shore

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
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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Facebook has canceled its yearly F8 developer conference, one of the company's signature events.

“This was a tough call to make -- F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world -- but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Facebook's director of platform partnerships, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, wrote in a blog post.

Papamiltiadis wrote that the company is planning to host a series of local events and livestreams in place of the event.

Sen. McConnell eyes getting funding package through Congress in next two weeks

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, applauded the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus, saying, “There seems to be little question that COVID-19 will eventually cause some degree of disruption here.” 

And McConnell criticized Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, for criticizing the funding request by President Trump, calling it “a strange and clumsy effort to override normal, bipartisan appropriations talks before they even happen and replace them with top-down partisan posturing.”

McConnell said that the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are working on a funding package in response to the WH request, and is hoping to pass it through Congress in the next two weeks.

Pelosi says lawmakers 'close' to reaching a deal on coronavirus emergency response money

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters at a news conference on Thursday that officials are "coming close" to a bipartisan agreement on emergency funding for the U.S. coronavirus response. 

Pelosi also criticized the Trump administration's response to the virus as "opaque and often chaotic."

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement Thursday any emergency funding proposal must include provisions to ensure that President Donald Trump cannot transfer any of the money to other priorities; that vaccines are affordable and available to those who need them; that interest-free loans are available to small businesses hurt by the outbreak; and that state and local governments are reimbursed for the costs of assisting federal agencies in the response.

“The United States government must do more to address the spread of the deadly coronavirus in a smart, strategic, and serious way, and we stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion in Congress and with the administration to achieve this necessary goal," the Democratic leaders said.

'The president is right' to compare coronavirus prevention to flu, WHO chief says

The director-general of the World Health Organization said that President Donald Trump was right when he compared some approaches to preventing the coronavirus to the flu.

"You treat this like a flu," Trump said Wednesday at a news briefing. "You want to wash your hands a lot, you want to, if you're not feeling well, if you feel you have a flu, stay inside."

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed with this advice. 

"If I am asked to advise the communities to prevent this virus, I would give them the same advice as what you give to flu: wash your hands with water and soap, and also don't rub your face, and also six feet distance," Tedros said during a media briefing Thursday. "I think with that regard, especially absent of vaccines and so on, in people taking care of themselves, it's the same."

Tedros added, "Scientifically, you can say it's not flu." 

But "there are many things in common, and you can prevent it using the basic things we use to prevent flu, so the president is right to say that," he said. 

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offered similar advice at the news conference Wednesday as Trump.

"The coronavirus that we’re talking about is a respiratory virus. It’s spread in a similar way to the common cold or to influenza," Schuchat said. "Those everyday sensible measures that we tell people to do every year with the flu are important here. Covering your cough, staying home when you’re sick, and washing your hands." 

Right now, one of the biggest differences between the coronavirus and the flu is that while the flu is well understood, predictable and has a vaccine, there are many unknowns about the coronavirus. 

"We don't know this virus," Dr. Bruce Alyward, leader of the WHO joint mission with China to study the virus, said at a news briefing Tuesday. "We don't know what's going to happen next."

Students at Prince George’s school are being tested for coronavirus

Some students at the London school attended by the U.K.'s Prince George and Princess Charlotte have stayed home as they await test results for coronavirus, NBC News has confirmed.      

Although the exact number of children staying home is not known, Thomas's Battersea school remains open.

It is unclear whether the son and daughter of Prince William, Britain's second in line to the thrown, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, have stayed home. George, 6, and Charlotte, 4, are the great grandchildren of Queen Elizabeth II.      

Most London schools are asking students who have visited China or other areas impacted by the virus to stay home if they exhibit any flu-like symptoms. 

U.S. firms in China expect a reduction in revenues

Nearly half of U.S. businesses based in China expect to lose revenues if the effects of the coronavirus outbreak continue after Apr. 30, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in the country.

The results showed that 10 percent of its 169 member companies were losing at least 500 thousand yuan ($71,345) per day because of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

One in five respondents predicted 2020 revenues will decline by more than 50 percent if the virus epidemic extends through August 30. 

Muslim pilgrims wear masks at the Grand Mosque in Mecca

Muslim pilgrims wear masks at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on Feb. 27, 2020. Saudi Arabia suspended visas for visits to Islam's holiest sites for the "umrah" pilgrimage, an unprecedented move triggered by coronavirus fears that raises questions over the annual hajj.Abdulgani Basheer / AFP - Getty Images