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Coronavirus updates live: 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.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

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Live Blog

Pence's handling of 2015 HIV outbreak gets new scrutiny

President Trump's choice of Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the nation's response is bringing renewed scrutiny to the former governor's handling of an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana when he was governor.

Pence reluctantly agreed to authorize a needle exchange program in Scott County in March 2015 after the epidemic centered there saw the number of people infected with HIV skyrocket, with nearly 200 people eventually testing positive for the virus that year.

Despite his own misgivings, he initially issued an executive order allowing one in Scott County before later signing a law allowing the state government to approve them for counties on a case-by-case basis.

Greg Millett, director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, said Indiana's HIV outbreak would have been “entirely preventable” if Pence had acted earlier in response to data that was available to Indiana public health officials and clearly showed an outbreak was imminent.

Read the full story here.

CDC expands coronavirus testing recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance Thursday on who should be tested. The guidance now includes certain individuals with no clear source of exposure, as well as individuals who recently traveled to Italy, Iran, Japan or South Korea.

The previous guidance only recommended testing for people with symptoms — including fever and cough — and recent travel to China or contact with an infected individual.

For individuals without a known source of exposure, the updated guidance advises testing in patients hospitalized with severe acute lower respiratory illness for which other causes, such as flu, have been ruled out.

Dr. John Torres on simple steps to protect against coronavirus

Dow falls 1,000 points for third time this week on heightened coronavirus fears

The stock market cratered again on Friday, marking the seventh day of a massive sell-off sparked by rising fears about the coronavirus epidemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by another 1,000 points Friday morning, on the heels of Thursday's historic decline of 1,190, the biggest drop ever for the blue-chip index. The S&P 500 was down by 3.7 percent in early-morning trading on Friday, and the Nasdaq saw losses averaging 3.5 percent.

The meltdown comes as traders appear to lose any hope that the spread of the highly infectious disease has been staunched, with the number of cases continuing to spiral globally.

Mexico confirms its first two cases of coronavirus

Mexico's assistant health secretary announced Friday that the country now has two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

Hugo Lopez-Gatell said one of the patients is in Mexico City and the other in the northern state of Sinaloa, and neither is seriously ill.

At least five family contacts of the first patient have been placed in isolation. He said one of the men had contact with someone who had traveled to northern Italy where there has been an outbreak.

Brazil on Wednesday confirmed Latin America's first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in a man who traveled to Italy this month.

Mulvaney says coronavirus will probably force some schools to close

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Friday that some schools "probably" will have to close because of the coronavirus.

"Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably," Mulvaney said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland. 

"May you see impacts on public transportation? Sure, but we do this," he continued. "We know how to handle this. And so that's one of the things that you should — that's the message you try and get out. There are professionals who know how to handle this. There's professionals handling it, and we're going to do the very best that we can."

Whistleblower: Feds helping evacuees lacked virus protection

A government whistleblower has filed a complaint alleging that some federal workers did not have the necessary protective gear or training when they were deployed to help Americans evacuated from China during the coronavirus outbreak.

The complaint deals with Department of Health and Human Services employees sent to Travis and March Air Force bases in California to assist the quarantined evacuees. The Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency that investigates personnel issues, confirmed on Thursday that it had received the unnamed whistleblower's complaint and had opened a case.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., said the whistleblower recently contacted his office, also alleging retaliation by higher-ups for having flagged safety issues.

Although team members had gloves at times and masks at other times, they lacked full protective gear and received no training on how to protect themselves in a viral hot zone, according to a description provided by the congressional office. They had no respirators. While helping the evacuees, team members noticed that workers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were in full gear to protect them from getting sick.

Read the full story here.

Man on quarantined cruise ship off Japan becomes first Briton to die of virus

A British man who was on a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo has died from COVID-19, Japan's Health Ministry said on Friday. 

The man was the sixth death on the Diamond Princess, the ministry added in a written statement.

"Out of consideration to protect this persons privacy they will refrain from releasing any additional information," it added.  

Amazon cracking down on misleading coronavirus products

Where did the new coronavirus come from? Past outbreaks provide hints.

As scientists and public health officials around the world scramble to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak, some researchers are also racing to solve the enduring mystery of where the newly identified virus came from.

The coronavirus, which first sickened people in China in December, is thought to have passed from animals to humans, like many similar pathogens, but nothing has been confirmed yet by any peer-reviewed scientific research, global public health agency or academic expert. Beyond that, little is known about its origin.

Although finding the source wouldn't necessarily help scientists develop vaccines or other direct treatments, it could provide crucial pieces of information on how it emerged and evolved. And scientists are using lessons learned from previous outbreaks to know how to approach this one.

Read the full story here.