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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Sanders to Trump: 'Why don't you worry about the coronavirus?'

Sen. Bernie Sanders, campaigning in South Carolina ahead of the Democratic primary there, slammed President Trump for coming down to the state for a Friday evening rally amid the outbreak. Gary Grumbach, one of our campaign embeds, is with the Sanders campaign today:

Obama's Ebola czar: U.S. is 'far behind' on response

White House not ruling out suspending trade tariffs on China in the face of the viral outbreak, says Kudlow

The White House is not ruling out suspending trade tariffs on China in the face of the viral outbreak, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Friday, noting that he and President Donald Trump have had "discussions" on the matter.

"We do not have any precipitous actions planned right now," Kudlow told reporters at a press briefing.

He also reinforced the administration's position that the U.S. economy is strong enough to withstand any hit from the epidemic, noting that “our threat assessment is low and the economy is fundamentally sound.”

Kudlow also categorized the historic week on Wall Street as overreaction, and said the U.S. had withstood worse. "I don't think this stock market plunge is going to have any long-term effect," he said, though he did caution, "It depends how long this lasts and how deep it goes."

Biden slams Trump's response, but says 'this isn't a time to panic'

Former Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Sumter, South Carolina, ahead of that state's Democratic primary Saturday, criticized President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence over reports they have "silenced" medical experts from informing the public unless they check with the White House first.

Biden cautioned that "this isn't a time to panic," but added that the spread of the virus needs to be taken seriously.

Morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo

Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on Feb. 28, 2020.Charly Triballeau / AFP - Getty Images

Iraq's health ministry: 2 new cases, 6 total

Two new cases of the virus were recorded in Iraq on Thursday, the country's health ministry said in a statement — one in Baghdad, the other in Kirkuk. 

The total of Iraqis infected with the virus is now six, according to the health ministry.

WHO raises coronavirus risk assessment

Geneva Motor Show canceled as coronavirus cases rise in Switzerland

In an unprecedented move, organizers have canceled the Geneva International Motor Show, one of the global auto industry’s largest public events, due to concerns about the spreading coronavirus.

The 90th running of the show, which was to have begun March 3 with a two-day media preview and continued through March 15, was scheduled to see dozens of new cars, trucks and crossovers introduced by manufacturers as diverse as Audi, Hyundai, Ferrari and Aston Martin.

The decision to cancel the event came as the number of cases of the disease soared, with Switzerland now reporting 15 cases.

The auto industry as a whole has been hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic. Click here for the details.

Workers dismantle the Audi stand on Feb. 28, 2020, after the Geneva International Motor Show was cancelled.Richard Juilliart / AFP - Getty Images

Switzerland bans gatherings of more than 1,000 people

The Swiss government put an immediate ban Friday on all public and private events involving more than 1,000 people in order to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

The ban on big events will last until at least March 15, one of the latest major steps by governments to fight an outbreak that has infected more than 82,000 people and killed over 2,700 worldwide. The Swiss move highlights the growing impact of the virus on daily lives and livelihoods.

“We are aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life,” said Switzerland’s interior minister, Alain Berset.

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.