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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Dow plunges nearly 1,200 points as coronavirus fears send markets diving

Wall Street suffered brutal losses on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average swinging wildly through more than 1,000 points before closing with a loss of 1,200 points for the worst week since the financial crisis.

The Dow has now lost more than 3,200 points this week, or 10 percent, including a decline of 1,031 points on Tuesday and 879 points on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 fell by 4.4 percent and the Nasdaq Composite was down by around 4.6 percent. Transport-related stocks, tech stocks, and the energy sector all took the heaviest hits, as fears spread that the coronavirus epidemic would strangle global movement.

Read more here.

U.S. could see some empty shelves by mid-April if coronavirus epidemic worsens

Coronavirus has the potential to become a global pandemic, temporarily emptying retail store shelves in the coming months and depressing some consumer-facing businesses, experts say, with government officials advising families to take measured steps to stock up on certain essentials.

A pandemic is the rapid spread of an infectious disease to a large amount of people in a short period of time across international boundaries.

Ahead of any pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says families should check their prescription drug supplies, store two weeks supply of water and food, and have non-prescription drugs and health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, and fluids with electrolytes.

Read the full story here.

U.S. companies will see zero growth this year because of coronavirus, Goldman Sachs says

Earnings growth for U.S. companies will be stagnant in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus, according to Goldman Sachs.

The Wall Street firm revised its earnings estimate for the year to $165 per share from $174 per share, representing 0 percent growth in 2020. That is a dramatic move from the consensus. Forecasts still expect earnings to climb 7 percent this year.

Read the full story here.

Tim Cook says some China factories reopening

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Thursday he is “optimistic” about China’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic, noting that his company has ramped up production as factories in the country have come back online.

"It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control," Cook told Fox Business Network in an interview from Alabama, his home state. "You look at the numbers, they're coming down day by day by day. And so I'm very optimistic there."

"When you look at the parts that are done in China, we have reopened factories, so the factories were able to work through the conditions to open, they're reopening," Cook said. "They're also in ramp. So I think of this as sort of the third phase in getting back to normal, and we're in phase three of the ramp mode."

Apple warned last week that it would not meet its guidance for the next quarter due to the epidemic. The trillion-dollar company has seen billions wiped off its value since the outbreak of the virus. Twenty percent of Apple’s iPhone sales come from China, and 50 percent of the product build happens there.

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."