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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

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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Facebook contractor in Seattle tests positive for COVID-19

A contractor for Facebook at the company’s Seattle office has been diagnosed with the coronavirus illness COVID-19, the company said Wednesday.

The person was last in the office Feb. 21, and the office will be closed until Monday, which would be the end of the incubation period, the company said.

The social media giant said it notified its employees and is following the advice of public health officials. It is also encouraging all Seattle work sites to work from home.

Thirty-one people in King County have tested positive for the coronavirus illness, and nine have died, according to health officials. One other patient has died in Snohomish County. Earlier this week, Amazon said that an employee at its office in Seattle tested positive for COVID-19.

Microsoft asks staff in Seattle area, Silicon Valley to work from home

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday joined the growing number of U.S. companies asking employees to work from home to limit exposure to the spreading coronavirus outbreak as it responded to cases near its headquarters near Seattle and in California.

Microsoft asked many of its employees in the Seattle region near its headquarters and the San Francisco Bay Area to work from home if possible until March 25.

It also asked employees to suspend any business travel to the areas "unless essential for the continuity of Microsoft." Microsoft also said employees should cancel nonessential travel to areas with active coronavirus cases — which includes much of Europe, Asia and the Americas. 

Coronavirus cases grow by more than 400 in South Korea; 3 new deaths reported

South Korea's health agency reported an additional 438 cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the number of total confirmed cases to more than 5,700, as well as an additional three deaths. The 438 new cases is less than the 516 reported the previous day.

Thirty-five deaths in South Korea have been linked to the coronavirus illness, according to the latest numbers from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have also been 5,766 confirmed cases, but 88 were classified as full recoveries. 

South Korea has one of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 outside mainland China. The U.S. military said Wednesday that two dependents of U.S. Forces Korea members stationed in Daegu have also tested positive and have been in self-quarantine since late February.

As of Thursday morning local time, China’s National Health Commission says there have been 3,012 deaths on mainland China, including 31 new deaths that occurred in China's Hubei Province which is where the outbreak began. There have been more than 80,400 confirmed cases in the mainland.

Apple pulls out of SXSW 2020

Apple CEO Tim Cook last year at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California.Jeff Chiu / AP file

Apple is no longer participating in the SXSW 2020 festival as concerns heighten over the spread of COVID-19, Variety has confirmed.

The tech giant had been set to premiere three new Apple TV Plus originals at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival, including Spike Jonze's documentary film "Beastie Boys Story," and was scheduled to host a discussion of Apple's "Little America" with docuseries creators Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. Those have now been canceled.

Apple joins others that have backed out of attending this year's SXSW, including Amazon Studios, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Mashable and Intel.

Organizers of SXSW continue to say the annual music, technology and entertainment festival in Austin, Texas, is still on for March 13-22. On Wednesday, officials for the city of Austin said the festival will still go forward.

21 on cruise ship linked to two COVID-19 cases showing symptoms, Calif. governor says

A Princess cruise ship that has been linked to at least two cases of COVID-19 in California, including that of a person who died, has 21 people — 11 passengers and 10 crew members — on board who are showing symptoms, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

The Grand Princess was headed to San Francisco but is being delayed off the coast "to provide ample opportunity for the CDC" to conduct tests, Newsom said. 

The two confirmed COVID-19 cases involved passengers who had been on a previous voyage between San Francisco and Mexico in mid-February, officials said. Placer County announced Wednesday that one of those people, an elderly man with underlying health conditions, had died. The other person, who was on the same cruise, tested presumptively positive in Sonoma County.

The Grand Princess then went on a trip to Hawaii, and 62 people on that trip had also been on the previous Mexico voyage, Princess Cruises said in a statement. Those guests and potential close crew contacts have been asked to stay in their staterooms until screened, the company said.

The ship stopped in Hawaii, but the director of the state health department said no specific risk has been identified, NBC affiliate KHNL of Honolulu reported.

New Jersey announces first presumptive case of coronavirus

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday night announced the first presumptive case of coronavirus in New Jersey.

Murphy said the patient is a male in his 30s who has been hospitalized since March 3 and is currently in a hospital in Bergen County.

The presumptive positive result came from the New Jersey Department of Health and samples have been sent to the CDC for confirmatory testing of coronavirus infection.    

Officials say coronavirus tests are here. But where are they?

After a weekslong delay, thousands of coronavirus test kits are headed to state and local laboratories, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

But questions remain about when, exactly, those promised test kits will arrive and how well they will work.

Read the full story here.

Top hospital braces for pandemic

Calculations are being made by health care professionals across the country as hospital systems eye their supplies in preparation for an influx of patients needing treatment.

One of those is Massachusetts General Hospital, which has a warehouse full of supples waiting until the day it needs an emergency infusion of items like IV fluid, gloves and gowns.  

"We are trying to hold out as long as we can to tap into that warehouse because we think there's a chance we will see sustained transmission in the community," said Dr. Paul Biddinger, chief of the division of emergency preparedness at Mass General, noting that the facility "takes us through the worst two weeks."

Shortages of essential medicines had already been an issue for hospitals and now, with the spread of coronavirus worldwide, Biddinger says his team has been working to map out what drugs could be impacted and whether there are any alternatives.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declares state of emergency after first coronavirus death in California

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Wednesday as California deals with more than 50 confirmed coronavirus cases. 

The Golden State is the third to declare a state of emergency amid the coronavirus outbreak, following Washington and Florida.

California reported it's first death from coronavirus earlier Wednesday, an elderly person with underlying health conditions in Placer County.

Santa Clara County in California confirms 3 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total to 14