President Donald Trump tested negative for coronavirus, his doctor said Saturday. Vice President Mike Pence also said new travel restrictions would be put in place with regard to the U.K. and Ireland.
Meanwhile, the French prime minister said the country is getting ready to close all cafés, restaurants, clubs and cinemas because the spread of the virus has continued.
And the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, ordered a curfew across the city starting Monday.
The United States has surpassed 2,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and the death toll climbed to 59, with 25 of the deaths associated with the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.
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Puerto Rico closes schools, bans cruises after island confirms first cases
Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced that the public school system in Puerto Rico will close for two weeks and that no cruise ships will be allowed to dock on the island's main port in San Juan.
The announcement came in response to news that at least three people have contracted COVID-19 in Puerto Rico, the first cases for the U.S. territory.
White House doctor will check temperature of all those in contact with Trump and Pence
A member of the White House Physician's Office will take temperatures of all people who come in contact with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the administration said on Saturday.
“Out of an abundance of caution, temperature checks are now being performed on any individuals who are in close contact with the President and Vice President,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said.
These temperature checks, which includes all members of the White House press corps, come after reports that the president has been in close contact with individuals who later tested positive for the infection.
After the president dismissed his own need to receive testing multiple times, including at a Friday press conference, he backpedaled slightly when pressed by reporters on his contact with individuals who have self-quarantined or tested positive.
"Well, I didn't say I wasn't going to be tested," Trump said. "Most likely, yeah. Most likely. Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway."
The president's doctor, Sean P. Conley, said in a memo late Friday that because Trump's interaction was minimal, including a handshake, and because the patients were not exhibiting symptoms at the time they socialized with the president, Trump was unlikely to get the virus.
The CDC has published reports recommending testing for those who have had "close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19" or have experienced "potential exposure through attendance at events or spending time in specific settings where COVID-19 cases have been reported."
They're treating uninsured Americans. But as pandemic ramps up, money is running out.
Time and resources at nonprofit community health centers, which serve approximately 29 million low-income Americans across 1,400 facilities like this one, are being stretched to their breaking point amid the coronavirus outbreak even as they could prove essential in combating its spread.
Their ability could be further handicapped very soon: Federal funding that accounts for 70 percent of these nonprofit health centers’ budgets will run out in May.
“The unknown is an added stress for everyone,” said Dr. Asqual Getaneh, the medical director for International Community Health Services in Seattle, noting their pharmacies are running short on essential medications. “There's also stress associated with whether or not we have the supplies to protect ourselves and take care of patients who are symptomatic. We’re told this is the tip of the iceberg for this epidemic, so we’re seeing a lot of people coming in and trying to figure out how best to deliver care.”
That is a challenge for these nonprofit health centers, which were first funded by the federal government more than 50 years ago as part of the “War on Poverty.” These clinics located in every state, from dense urban centers to rural towns and communities, have served a vital role in combating national emergencies such as the opioid crisis and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The trouble is they don’t know how long they can hang on, which would inhibit efforts to stymie the spread of the disease.
Anxious travelers rushing home to US amid travel ban
Fort Bragg paratroopers return from deployment and enter quarantine
The 82nd Airborne Division quarantined more than 300 paratroopers for a 14-day period on Saturday after they returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from their deployment in Afghanistan.
The soldiers, who are from the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, completed a nine month tour in Afghanistan as part of Operation Resolute Support. Because that country is on a Level 2 Travel Health Notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), the soldiers were directed to quarantine.
The Department of the Army requires any soldiers returning from a Level 2 nation or higher undergo the 14-day quarantine period, which includes health monitoring and medical treatment. Soldiers who live outside of Fort Bragg were ordered to stay inside their homes, in accordance with CDC guidelines, while those assigned to the barracks or without a local residence will be quarantined on the base.
“My number one priority is the protection of our Paratroopers, their families, our community, and the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19,” Maj. Gen. James Mingus, 82nd Airborne Division Commander, said. “We are taking proactive steps to protect and prevent spread.”
New York City reports its first coronavirus death
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday morning confirmed that New York City has seen its first coronavirus-related death.
The 82-year-old woman, who had emphysema, had been hospitalized since March 3 after contracting the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, Cuomo said during a teleconference, according to NBC New York.
Japan still preparing for Olympics, prime minister says
Japan continues to prepare to host the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday, despite continued concern about the viability of the Games given the global outbreak.
The Olympic Torch relay — in which the Olympic flame typically starts a tour around the host nation — is still due to start in the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima in less than two weeks. The tour of the torch through Greece has already been cut short.
“We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned,” Abe told the news conference in Tokyo.
Residents of apartment buildings in Italy applaud health care workers
A video filmed in Turin, Italy, shows residents of apartment buildings gathering at their windows and balconies in order to applaud the country's heath care workers who are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
The city, home to nearly 900,000 people in northwest Italy, has been on lockdown for weeks, as the country battles the ongoing outbreak that has taken the lives of more than 1,200 people there. Approximately 18,000 Italians are infected, officials reported on Friday.
Newborn baby confirmed as youngest patient in the U.K.
A newborn in a borough near London is believed to be the youngest person in the U.K. to have tested positive for coronavirus.
A spokesperson for North Middlesex University Hospital NHS trust said that two patients at the hospital have tested positive for coronavirus. One has been transferred to a specialist centre and one is being treated in an isolation room.
In an interview with NBC News' partner broadcaster ITV News, health minister Helen Whately noted on Saturday that children seem to be less at risk compared to older people. The case of the newborn baby was first reported by British tabloid newspaper The Sun.
The U.K. has almost 800 confirmed cases as of Saturday.
Troops have no access to coronavirus tests in Afghanistan, Pentagon says
There currently are no coronavirus tests available to troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Friday — a fact a U.S. military official later confirmed to NBC News.
Coalition troops have no access to tests but if they have symptoms, believe they are at risk or have flu-like symptoms, they are able to report to sick call and receive on-base medical care.
That care includes screening and a medical diagnosis. If they are suspected of carrying coronavirus, the doctors on the base will send samples to a testing facility at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany or civilian testing facilities in Munich to conduct a COVID-19 test.
Military officials confirmed there are quarantine and isolation procedures in place at all of the military medical facilities in Afghanistan.
Congressman Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) said his office was informed by a constituent earlier this week that U.S. military personnel at a base in Afghanistan have flu-like symptoms but have tested negative for the flu.
Asked at a briefing Thursday whether there is concern about getting tests to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said “nothing has come up to me that says we are in urgent need of test kits or whatever. So I don’t know where that’s coming from.”
“We’d have to pull the thread on that but nobody has said, 'Oh my goodness, we don’t have testing kits,' or whatever. The system seems to be working fairly well at this point,” Esper said.
North Korea claims it has no coronavirus cases
The government in North Korea claims there are no cases of COVID-19 in North Korea, according to a state news agency.
The KCNA agency said in an editorial said officials had increased the amount of public knowledge about the disease but added that this didn't mean people should feel relieved "for having no COVID-19 case in the DPRK,"
North Korea has further intensified quarantine and medical observation of foreigners entering the country according to the agency, and has freed over 70 foreigners without suspected symptoms from quarantine.
The top American general in South Korea said Friday, however, he is fairly certain North Korea has not been spared by the COVID-19 outbreak that began in neighboring China.
Iran reports big jump in cases and deaths
The death toll from coronavirus infections in Iran rose significantly on Saturday to 611 — almost 100 more from a day earlier, according to the Iranian health ministry.
One of the countries most deeply affected by the pandemic, there are 12,729 confirmed cases as of Saturday, up from 11,364 on Friday.
Violinist performs balcony concert in locked down Italy
A violinist performed a balcony concert for neighboring apartments in Bologna, Italy on Friday as the country continues its strict lockdown measures.
The video filmed by Bologna-resident Rudi De Fanti has been viewed more than 600,000 times on Twitter so far.
There has been much musical solidarity in Italy in the past week. Taranto residents sung from their homes, and a viral video that has more than 2 million views shows Italians singing a traditional folk song in harmony from their balconies in Siena.
A video released by the Carabinieri — an Italian policing agency — shows members of the agency in a "loud flashmob" playing music from buildings, with a caption saying "music unites people."
What does coronavirus mean for the 2020 election?
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Washington Monument to close temporarily
The National Park Service temporarily suspended elevator tours in the Washington Monument starting Saturday, citing safety concerns. Visitors can still see the Washington Monument grounds as well as other monuments along the National Mall. A reopening date has not yet been determined.
China sees imported cases exceed new local infections for first time
The number of new coronavirus cases imported into mainland China from overseas surpassed the number of locally transmitted new infections for the first time on Friday, data released by the country's National Health Commission showed on Saturday.
Of mainland China's 11 new reported cases on Friday, seven were imported internationally. Only four of those — all in the virus epicenter of Hubei province — were locally transmitted.
The other seven were all detected in travelers coming into China from overseas, specifically Italy, the United States and Saudi Arabia, according to local authorities.
This new data seems to underscore how China — where the outbreak began — appears to now face a greater threat of infections from outside its borders, as it continues to slow the spread of the virus domestically.
Britain takes different approach to coronavirus outbreak, but why?
The United Kingdom is becoming increasingly isolated in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is one of the only major countries of Western Europe to impose few, if any, restrictions on daily life.
The U.K.'s tactics, which are backed by its top team of epidemiologists and behavioral psychologists, have left many here asking: Why do our experts disagree with those in most other countries?
All arrivals to New Zealand must self-isolate: PM
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that everyone entering the country from midnight Sunday must self isolate for 14 days in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, according to Reuters.
Ardern said these were “far-reaching and unprecedented” measures to tackle a global pandemic. She also said that all cruise ships will also be told not to come to the country until June 30.
New Zealand has six confirmed cases as of Saturday and has not recorded any deaths.
Also in the region, the Australian government minister who was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection just a week after meeting Ivanka Trump and Attorney General William Barr said Saturday that he was “feeling much better.”
Peter Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB that his fever had come down but that his throat was still sore. He added that he did not start exhibiting symptoms until March 13. Dutton met people at the White House on March 6.
Manila to impose month-long curfew
The Philippines will impose a month-long curfew in the capital region of Metro Manila which, if implemented fully, would be among the strictest in in Asia.
The nighttime curfew will take effect on March 15 to April 14 from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Manila authorities announced at a news conference Saturday. Some employees, however, will be exempt from the lockdown.
Mayors will issue local ordinances for the temporary closure of malls — some of the largest in the world — and establishments, exempting shops offering essential services like groceries, banks and pharmacies.
This comes as the Philippines reported its sixth death on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte tested negative for the virus an official said Friday.
Latin American states take new measures as first cases confirmed
Guatemala will ban arrivals from the United States and Canada starting Monday in order to fight the spread of coronavirus, the country's president, Alejandro Giammattei, said in a televised address Friday. Earlier in the week, the country banned arrivals from European countries, China, Iran, South Korea
Guatemala announced its first case of confirmed coronavirus infection on Friday.
Elsewhere the region, Venezuela confirmed its first two cases of the coronavirus Friday prompting neighboring Colombia to close its shared border from Saturday morning.
Colombian President Ivan Duque also said late Friday that the country, which has 16 confirmed cases as of Saturday, would not allow visitors who have been in Europe or Asia from entering the country.
Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru all suspended European flights in the past week.
Apple closing all stores outside China
Apple is closing all its retail stores outside China until March 27 in order to protect workers and help stop the spread of the coronavirus illness COVID-19, the company announced early Saturday. The company is also committing $15 million to help with the worldwide response to the crisis, CEO Tim Cook said.
Apple’s stores in China have already re-opened. The company said it learned lessons about best practices and the situation in China, which is where the coronavirus outbreak began.
“One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Apple said.
"All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations," Apple said.
Montana has first presumptive cases
Four people in Montana have presumptively tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the governor said Friday.
The four people – three men and a woman, in Gallatin, Yellowstone, Silver Bow, and Lewis and Clark counties – appear to be the first reported within the state. They were described as being in their 40s and 50s.
Montana’s health department previously said that a Montana resident had tested positive but that the patient got the coronavirus illness COVID-19 out of state and has not yet returned.
Tests are considered presumptively positive until they are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Montana's cases mean that 49 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have reported confirmed or presumptively positive cases, according to an NBC News count of reports. As of Friday, West Virginia's health department has not reported any positive cases, but said tests were pending for five people.
President's doctor says Trump doesn't need to be tested
The president does not need to take a test to determine if he's positive for coronavirus because two interactions he had with known patients were "low risk," a White House doctor said in a memo released Friday.
The memo was made public hours after Trump said he would be tested.
"Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway," the president said Friday when asked about his interaction at his Mar-a-Lago resort last weekend with an aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Fabio Wajngarten, who turned up positive.
Physician to the president, Sean P. Conley, argued that because Trump's interaction was minimal, including a handshake, and because Wajngarten and another patient were not exhibiting symptoms at the time they socialized with the president, Trump's unlikely to get the virus.
Pentagon halts all domestic travel starting Monday
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Pentagon is imposing new travel restrictions on employees, including service members and their families. The limits will start Monday, the Department of Defense announced Friday night.
All domestic travel will be stopped as of next week. This includes domestic travel, permanent change of station and temporary duty. Civilian hiring at Department of Defense installations will also be halted.
Roundup of coronavirus coverage
They survived the coronavirus. Then they tested positive again. Why? [The Los Angeles Times]
Why do we touch strangers so much? A history of the handshake offers clues [National Geographic]
Las Vegas books scramble for content day after sports stopped [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Social distancing: This is not a snow day [Medium]
Everybody ready for the big migration to online college? Actually, no [The New York Times]
The coronavirus is creating a huge, stressful experiment in working from home [The Atlantic]