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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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Live Blog

Health secretary: 'Blocking and tackling' to find source of infection in CA woman

Federal, state and local health officials are rushing to investigate the source of a hospitalized California woman's coronavirus infection, health secretary Dr. Alex Azar told reporters on the White House lawn Friday afternoon.

Azar said the investigation would be a "blocking and tackling" effort. The woman, who is hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center, is believed to be the first case in the U.S. of someone who was infected by an unknown source.

“This is a potential community transmission case because we do not have an evident source of how she was infected,” Azar said. “No contact that we know of that we can trace immediately to travel, say, from Wuhan or in China.”

He also said that very soon private labs will “be able to create their own test based on essentially the recipes that the CDC has used in their test kits,” further expanding the country’s testing capabilities.

VP Pence: The government response is an 'all-hands-on-deck effort'

Sign of the times, cont'd

Kristen Curley, owner of Nitro-Pak, puts items into a backpack as part of personal protection and survival equipment kits ordered by customers preparing against coronavirus at Nitro-Pak in Midway, Utah.George Frey / Reuters

Can dogs get coronavirus? Experts: Don't worry.

The CDC and WHO have both noted that at present there is no evidence that pets like dogs and cats can be infected by the virus.

"However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets,'' WHO noted on its website. "This protects you against various common bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can pass between pets and humans."

Read the rest on TODAY.com.

Amazon restricts employees from non-essential travel

Amazon told employees on Friday to defer non-essential travel. The restriction applies to roughly 750,000 people in Amazon’s employee ranks. An Amazon spokesperson said in an email that they could not speak to timelines for the restrictions.

Google has also restricted travel to Iran, two regions in Italy, and beginning in March it will ban travel to Japan and South Korea. The announcement came as it alerted employees that a colleague had tested positive for the virus.

Nestlé, L'Oreal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Cargill are among other multinational companies that have restricted travel in response to the spreading virus.

 

Fed chair: The virus presents 'evolving risks' to U.S. economy

“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

“However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity. The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook. We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”

Read more here.

Officials warn about election meddling amid outbreak

Internet trolls backed by foreign governments interested in meddling in the U.S. election could try to exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus to keep Americans from going to the polls in upcoming elections, according to government officials and experts.

Read more here.

The world's largest tourism fair has been cancelled

ITB Berlin, the world's largest tourism trade fair, has been canceled amid concerns over the outbreak, the event's organizers said on Twitter. The fair was slated to take place on March 4.

Is there a right or wrong way to wash your hands to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

When it comes to protecting yourself from the coronavirus, masks aren’t the answer, according to the World Health Organization. What is? Something as routine as washing your hands. But it’s not as simple as running them under water with a bit of soap and calling it a day. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) breaks it down into these five steps:

  1. Wet your hands (to the wrist) with clean, running water (the temperature doesn’t matter). Turn off the tap and apply a good amount of soap — it doesn’t matter what kind.

  2. Lather up the soap by rubbing your hands together. Don’t forget to spread that lather to the backs of your hands up to your wrists, between your fingers, and under your nails.

  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Try singing the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning-to-end twice to get the timing right.

  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water.

  5. Dry your hands using a clean paper towel or air dryer. Germs can be transferred more easily from wet hands than dry. 

Get more handwashing tips here.

CBS reportedly halts production of 'The Amazing Race'

CBS temporarily shut down production of the 33rd season of the globe-trotting reality series "The Amazing Race" amid fears over the virus, according to an exclusive report in Variety.

The decision was reportedly made out of an abundance of caution. The virus has not affected anyone directly involved with the show, Variety reported.

France sees 'new stage in the epidemic' with 57 cases

French health officials said Friday that a "new stage in the epidemic has been reached" with 57 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, up from 38.

The country is grappling with new cases in Annecy, a city of more than 126,000 people in southeastern France, and in Montpellier, a city of 285,000 near the southern coast, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said. Some of the new cases involve people who returned from organized trips to Egypt.

Veran also recommended people refrain from shaking hands in order to prevent infection, Reuters reported.