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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Italy closes schools and universities until March 15

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Italy's Public Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said schools and universities would shut for 10 days. Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images

All Italian schools and universities will close for 10 days from Thursday, as part of an effort to contain a growing outbreak of coronavirus, Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said Wednesday. 

"I hope pupils can return to school as soon as possible," he said. The schools will be shut until at least March 15.  

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the health service risked being overwhelmed because of the high number of infected people. He added that the government was doing all it could to contain it. 

The death toll in Italy jumped by 28 over the past 24 hours to 107, the Civil Protection Agency said on Wednesday, while the accumulative number of cases jumped to 3,090, up from 2,502 on Tuesday.

Congressional leaders strike roughly $8 billion bipartisan emergency funding deal

Congressional leaders in the House and Senate on Wednesday reached a bipartisan deal on a roughly $8 billion emergency funding bill to fight the coronavirus that has been spreading throughout the United States, according to Democratic and Republican appropriators.

The deal would provide $7.8 billion to fight the coronavirus and would include a mandatory funding authorization for $500 million over a 10-year period to be used toward a remote healthcare program.

Soon after the agreement's overall framework was released, but before the legislation's text was unveiled, two Democratic leadership sources told NBC that the House is expected to vote on the deal later in the day. It will need two-thirds of the House to pass it and leadership expects it to pass with bipartisan support.

Trump had submitted a $2.5 billion request to Congress to combat the virus, but Democrats quickly said that that amount would be insufficient. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded with an $8.5 billion proposal. 

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Chicago State University cancelling men's and women's basketball games

The men's and women's basketball teams at Chicago State University will not play their final regular season games this week, citing the spread of the coronavirus.

The men's team was scheduled to play at Seattle University on Thursday and at Utah Valley State in Orem, Utah, on Saturday. The women's squad had been set to play host to those same two schools, also on Thursday and Saturday.

The cancellations appear to be the first by a major sport in the United States due to the virus. The disease's spread has already prompted professional baseball teams in Japan to play preseason games in empty stadiums and threatens the start of the regular season.

The scene in Hefei, China

Passengers react as a worker wearing a protective suit disinfects the departure area of the railway station in Hefei, China's eastern Anhui province on Wednesday.Noel Celis / AFP - Getty Images

'I don't pick up from airports' — how Uber and Lyft drivers are dealing with coronavirus

Uber and Lyft are closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and have established internal task forces — but some drivers say that is not enough.

“I wear rubber gloves,” one Uber driver told NBC News. “And when I pick up more than two riders, I wear a mask.”

While Uber and Lyft told NBC News they are closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and have established internal task forces, some drivers say the rideshare companies should provide sick leave and protective equipment for contractors and gig economy workers.

Read the full story here.

'No Time to Die,' 25th James Bond movie, delayed until November

The North American release of "No Time to Die," the 25th installment in the James Bond film franchise, has been pushed from April to November amid global fears over the outbreak, the movie's producers announced Wednesday.

The film, starring Daniel Craig in his fifth outing as 007, was originally slated to hit U.S. screens on April 10. But it will now debut on Nov. 25.

Israel tightens coronavirus travel restrictions

Israel has tightened travel restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. The country's Health Ministry said that Israeli's returning from France, Germany, Spain and Austria will be charged with isolating themselves at home for 14 days.

Similar measures are already in place for those traveling from Italy, China and Singapore. 

People of other nationalities traveling from those countries will not be able to enter unless they can prove that they can isolate themselves. International conferences will also been prohibited, as will gatherings of more than 5,000 people, the ministry said. It also placed a blanket ban on health care workers from traveling abroad.

At a news conference where the new measures were announced, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advised Israelis to stop shaking hands to help halt the spread of the virus.

     

Obama: 'Listen to the experts, and follow the science'

Former President Barack Obama urged Americans to follow "common sense" health practices in a tweet on Wednesday. 

"Let's stay calm, listen to the experts, and follow the science," he added.

L.A. officials announce six new cases, declare local health emergency

Six new cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified in Los Angeles County in the last two days, officials said Wednesday, while announcing they had declared a local health emergency. 

The county now has seven cases total, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. One is hospitalized and five are isolated at home, being closely monitored by the health department, Ferrer said. The other patient, who was diagnosed in January, has since recovered.

All six new cases have known connections to other patients identified with the virus, Ferrer added. Three traveled together to Italy, which has become the European epicenter of the outbreak; two had close contact with a family member outside of Los Angeles County who had tested positive; and the other case was a person whose job "exposed them to travelers from other countries who may have been infected," Ferrer said.

Proclamations of a local health emergency were declared by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The declarations will "support our preparedness efforts," including seeking aid to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, Ferrer said.

Pro tip: Cover your coughs, sneezes with a tissue

Mariah Carey nixes Hawaii concert

Mariah Carey performs in Los Angeles in 2018.Mario Anzuoni / Reuters file

Mariah Carey announced that she is postponing her March concert in Honolulu to November because of "evolving international travel restrictions" amid the spread of coronavirus.

"Aloha Hawaii!! I'm so so sad to have to announce that I'm postponing my show to November," Carey wrote. "I was so excited to come back to Hawaii on my 'anniversary month' but evolving international travel restrictions force us to consider everyone's safety and well being."

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