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

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

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.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 5 Coronavirus news.

Tokyo Disneyland theme parks closed

The two Disney-branded theme parks in Tokyo are to close for two weeks as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, the operator said on Friday. 

"Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea have decided to proceed with an extraordinary closure from Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, through Sunday, Mar. 15," the operator said in a statement posted to its Japanese website. "The reopening date is scheduled for March 16 (Monday), but we will contact closely with the relevant administrative organs and will inform you again."

BTS calls off South Korean concerts because of outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea — K-pop superstar group BTS has canceled a series of planned concerts in Seoul in April over concerns about a soaring viral outbreak in South Korea, its management agency announced Friday.

“We regret to announce that the BTS MAP OF THE SOUL TOUR ... has been cancelled," the Seoul-based Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement.

It said the COVID-19 "outbreak has made it impossible at this time to predict the scale of the outbreak during the dates of the concert in April.”

The seven-member boy band was scheduled to perform April 11-12 and April 18-19 at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium. The concerts would have involved a number of global production companies and a large number of foreigners among its expert crew, with more than 200,000 concertgoers expected, according to the agency.

South Korean media described the concerts as the inaugural Seoul leg of BTS's new world tour.

“We must take into consideration the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of guests as well as our artists and the dire impact a last-minute cancellation may have on guests from overseas, production companies and staff,” the agency said.

It said it has determined it is "unavoidable that the concert must be cancelled without further delay.”

The agency said its decision was also meant to support the South Korean government’s push to restrict massive public events.

The coronavirus that causes the new illness has infected more than 2,000 people and killed 13 others in South Korea in the largest outbreak outside mainland China.

BTS has a large international following and was the first K-pop act to debut atop the Billboard Album chart in 2018 with “Love Yourself: Tear.”

The latest coronavirus numbers

As of now: 83,000-plus confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,857 deaths reported. There are now more than 40 countries with confirmed cases, up from 30 a week ago.

Of the new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, 327 were reported in mainland China and 969 were reported in the rest of the world. Also in the last 24 hours, 3,622 people in mainland China recovered from the virus, according to China's National Health Commission.

CDC investigating reported delay in COVID-19 test for California patient

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it is concerned about reports that there was a delay caused by the federal agency in testing a California coronavirus patient who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, in what may be the first case of community spread in the United States.

The CDC says it is investigating carefully, but a preliminary review of its records indicates the first time the centers were informed of the case was Sunday, and samples were ordered for testing that same day. 

Two top officials with UC Davis Health said in a memo to staff Wednesday that after the patient was transferred to its Sacramento medical center on Feb. 19, "our team asked public health officials if this case could be COVID-19. We requested COVID-19 testing by the CDC."

"Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered. UC Davis Health does not control the testing process," the memo stated. It said the CDC ordered testing for the patient on Sunday and on Wednesday the positive test was confirmed.

The case could be the first person-to-person transmission among the general public in the United States involving a person not believed to have been exposed to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected person.

The "CDC is concerned about reports that testing for COVID-19 for the California patient announced on February 26 was delayed as a result of CDC," CDC press officer Richard Quartarone said Thursday in an email.

"We are investigating this carefully, however, a preliminary review of CDC records indicates that CDC was first informed about this case on Sunday, February 23," Quartarone said.

He said that the federal agency requested samples that day from the patient in order to test for COVID-19 and that samples were sent via courier on Monday and received Tuesday. "Test results were confirmed and communicated on Wednesday, February 26," Quartarone said.

A spokesman for UC Davis Health said no information would be released beyond Wednesday's memo. 

Quartarone also said that under CDC guidelines, testing is allowed for patients who do not meet the specific criteria for testing if clinical suspicion of COVID-19 is high. He said that the situation is "rapidly evolving" and that CDC guidance is being regularly reviewed and updated. 

Outbreak spread sparks fears for American travelers

Some Americans thinking about vacations this spring and summer are reconsidering their travel plans as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread around the world.

More than 81,000 cases have been reported in at least 40 countries, leaving some travelers concerned as the virus continues to spread.

Summer Mutz, 23, of new Jersey and been looking forward to a dream trip to Europe, where she would see the sights in Rome, Vienna and Paris.

"It’s hard and I have a feeling I’m going to end up going because I’ve been dreaming of getting to Europe for years, and now I’m torn," she said. "Coronavirus is a big, scary thing. Right now it’s fear versus dreams."

After going back and forth on whether to cancel, she recently decided she would save her European vacation for another time when things were less uncertain.

Read more on how coronavirus is affecting travelers and the travel industry.

The new coronavirus hasn't mutated much — what does that tell scientists?

Scientists working to contain the spread of the new coronavirus have noticed something curious about the newly identified pathogen — it hasn't mutated much.

Genetic analyses have shown that the coronavirus has not undergone many significant changes since it first emerged in China in December, according to Timothy Sheahan, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

It's an important detail because that stability suggests why the new coronavirus is effective at moving from person to person.

“Viruses are into efficiency, and if you have a virus that spills over into the human population and isn’t that good at replicating in a person or human-to-human transmission, it may just die out,” he said.

Health officials go into detective mode after new California case

A California patient who appears to be America's first case of a coronavirus transmission of unknown origin has prompted two major questions: How was she exposed to the virus, and who else might have it?

California public health officials on Thursday said they are trying to find those answers through contact tracing, a process that entails tracking down anyone in recent weeks who might have had contact with the patient, a woman whose identity they are not revealing.

Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the state's Department of Public Health, said at a news conference that since Wednesday — when the test came back positive for the coronavirus — local, state and federal health officials have been "contacting any individuals who might have been exposed, and they're isolating them."

Read more about how health officials are working to track down the source of the infection.

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.