1st case confirmed in nation's capital

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: Countries around the world work to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide, including nine in the U.S.
Countries around the world work to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide, including 17 in the U.S.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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The number of deaths from coronavirus in the U.S. has climbed to 19, nearly all of them in Washington state.

Two people have died in Florida, one in California and 16 in Washington state as hundreds of cases of infection have been reported around the country.

Worldwide, more than 100,000 people have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University. Huge swathes of Italy have been locked down and health experts are continuing to urge people to practice preventative measures, such as routine hand-washing, in order to avoid COVID-19.

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State Dept. says non-emergency personnel can leave Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan

The State Department announced that non-emergency personnel and their families can voluntarily leave Turkmenistan, located in Central Asia, and Azerbaijan, in the Caucasus region, due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Officials made the announcement on Friday, the same day the government raised the travel advisory to the countries to a level 3 and urged people to reconsider traveling there.

Life at coronavirus 'ground zero' in Seattle is crazy — but I'm not panicking

Ever since the first U.S. death from the coronavirus was reported in Washington state on Feb. 29, marking our Seattle-area community as “ground zero,” life as we know it here has changed.

I live in Bellevue, a suburb outside Seattle and just 12.5 miles from the Life Care Center nursing facility in Kirkland that’s linked to six deaths in the state. A friend works for the fire department that responded to the calls at the facility, and now several firefighters are quarantined because they are experiencing symptoms.

He is not one of them, but to know someone in the epicenter of the chaos is certainly unnerving.

Read the full story here.

Hotel used for quarantine collapses in China, trapping 70

A hotel used for medical observation of people who had contact with coronavirus patients collapsed in southeastern China on Saturday evening local time, trapping some 70 people, according to the Licheng District government's official Wechat account. There were no immediate reports of deaths.

Within about 90 minutes, some of those trapped — at least 23 — were rescued from the wreckage of the Xinjia Express Hotel in Quanzhou, the government said.

The 80-room hotel had been converted by the city government for observation of people who had contact with coronavirus patients, according to the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.

Amid outbreak concerns, should you still send your children to school?

U.S. Navy sailor in Italy tests positive

A U.S. sailor deployed to Naples, Italy, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the U.S. military said on Saturday. This is the second confirmed case among U.S. military forces following one in South Korea. 

“The member is currently restricted to their residence, receiving supportive and medical care in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control,” the military’s European Command said in a statement. 

“Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been exposed,” it said.

Italy has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the virus as of Saturday.

10 ways coronavirus is making people change their daily lives

The steady rise in coronavirus cases in the United States and across the globe has had a far-reaching effect on how we interact with one another. Some people have turned to panic buying at grocery stores and pharmacies, refused to shake hands and canceled or put off travel plans.

With the spread of the virus showing no sign of slowing, some of people's normal routines are also being altered such as not touching your face, leaving personal mugs at home and worshiping differently.

Read the whole story here.

Pope Francis cancels live Sunday blessing to prevent crowds gathering

Pope Francis has canceled his live Sunday blessing from a window overlooking the Vatican's St. Peter's Square, to avoid the risk of coronavirus transmission. 

Instead the Pontiff will deliver his weekly sermon via an internet livestream, the Vatican said in statement Saturday. It added that similar measures will also be put in place when he addresses an audience on Wednesday. 

The decision was taken after a request from Italian authorities, it said. 

In total, 197 people have died in Italy, making it the worst hit European country. 

Pope Francis was advised not to deliver his weekly speech live, to prevent crowds gathering. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images

Leader of Italy's co-ruling Democratic party has coronavirus

The leader of Italy's co-ruling Democratic Party Nicola Zingaretti said on Saturday he had tested positive for coronavirus.

"I have coronavirus too", Zingaretti said in a video posted on Facebook, adding he was in self-isolation at home and that all the people he had been in contact with in the latest days were being contacted for checks. He said he was well.

Italy has been the hardest hit country Europe by the epidemic, with a total of 4,636 cases and 197 deaths on Friday, and is currently reporting more deaths per day form the virus than any other country in the world.

The government this week ordered the closure of schools, universities, cinemas and theaters to stem infections.

More than half of all states have reported COVID-19 cases

With the coronavirus outbreak spreading across the country, more than half of all U.S. states have now reported cases.

As of Friday night, officials in 28 states confirmed positive tests for the coronavirus illness COVID-19. In total, more than 330 cases have been reported.

The majority of those cases were in New York, California and Washington state.

Earlier this week, a vehicle maintenance worker Thiphavanh "Loui" Thepvongsa wipes down an off-duty bus with a disinfectant during a routine cleaning at the King County Metro Atlantic and Central Base in Seattle.JASON REDMOND / Reuters, file

Read the full story here.

Outbreak used by European populists to challenge open borders

The coronavirus outbreak has emptied streets, closed universities and filled hospitals around the world, but it has taken a more ominous turn in Europe, where right-wing populists are renewing calls to crack down on immigration. 

Some have even made unsubstantiated claims that migrants from Africa brought the virus to the continent.

People wearing protective face masks walk at as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in late February in Paris, France.Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

"The government has underestimated the coronavirus," said Matteo Salvini, the former interior minister of Italy, which has been Europe's epicenter of the coronavirus. "Allowing the migrants to land from Africa, where the presence of the virus was confirmed, is irresponsible."

Salvini is one of Europe's most hard-line voices on immigration, but no evidence has emerged that migrants brought the virus to Italy, where more than 4,500 people have been infected and almost 200 people have died.

Read the whole story here.

WHO director offers praise to Facebook and Instagram for 'playing their part'

The Director-General of the World Health Organization commended Facebook and Instagram in a tweet Saturday for "stepping up and playing their part" in making sure equipment is reserved for those who most need it in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. 

Facebook's head of ads and business products said Friday that the social media giant is banning ads and commerce listings for medical masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend masks or respirators for the general public.