Streets and shops were empty in Milan and vast swaths of northern Italy were essentially locked down Sunday as the government dug in against an advance of the global coronavirus sweeping across the nation at an alarming rate.
In the U.S., the death toll climbed to 19 this weekend, all but three fatalities in Washington state. More than 400 infections have been reported, but the number is rising almost as fast as tests for the virus can be conducted.
Italy’s death toll rose to 233 on Sunday, and almost 6,000 infections have been confirmed. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed the decree affecting the at least 15 provinces that are home to more than a quarter of Italy’s 60 million people.
The impact reached even deeper into the country. In Rome, the Vatican announced Sunday that it will shut down its museums, including access to the Sistine Chapel, until April 3.
“To date, a single case of positivity to Covid-19 has been confirmed by an external subject who had gone …for a pre-employment medical examination,” the Vatican said. “Five people who had had close contact with this are in precautionary quarantine.”
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Here’s the latest on the outbreak of COVID-19:
Infected NJ man, Trump attended same conference
A New Jersey man who tested positive for the coronavirus attended a conference also attended by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, but organizers say the 55-year-old man did not interact with them. The American Conservative Union released a statement saying the man, now being quarantined, did not attend any events in the main hall of the Conservative Political Action Conference that wrapped up a week ago at Maryland’s National Harbor.
“The Trump administration is aware of the situation, and we will continue regular communication with all appropriate government officials,” the organization said.
– Katie Sobko, NorthJersey.com
Cruise ship passengers get good news
The Grand Princess cruise ship will begin to allow guests to disembark Monday, three days after 21 people aboard tested positive for coronavirus. Princess Cruises announced early Sunday it had been informed by state and local officials that the ship, off the coast of California, would be able to dock in the Port of Oakland, cruise line public relations director Negin Kamali told USA TODAY.
Guests who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization will be first to disembark. Authorities announced Wednesday that those on board may have been exposed to coronavirus after sailing with 62 passengers who officials say had been on the ship’s previous voyage to Mexico. A 71-year-old California man on the Mexico cruise eventually died from the virus.
– Morgan Hines and Curtis Tate
10 dead in collapse of China isolation building
At least 10 people were dead and 23 missing as first responders in Beijing sifted through the debris of a collapsed building used to isolate arrivals from other parts of the country. State media said about 80 people had been inside the converted hotel when tragedy struck. The Health Ministry said at least 38 people were being treated at hospitals; the hotel’s owner was detained for questioning. Authorities said the building was undergoing renovations when the collapse occurred.
Virus is boom to some companies
Some companies are experiencing a boom in business from the coronavirus, even if there’s no guarantee their products will curb the outbreak. Disinfectant room sprayers, commercial cleaning companies, online learning programs and even re-hydration beverages are drawing increase interest, experts say. Lawrence Muscarella, president of LFM Healthcare Solutions, said customers should ask manufacturers if their products have been proven to kill COVID-19, the current strain of the virus under scrutiny.
“You’d want a label claim from the manufacturer that says: ‘Kills COVID-19,'” Muscarella said. “If it just says ‘kills coronavirus,’ ask if that includes COVID-19.”
– Erin Richards
New York declares emergency
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Saturday to deal with the worsening crisis, as the number of cases jumped to 11 in New York City and 76 statewide.
The number of cases in New York City more than doubled in 24 hours, the governor said, in large part because of heavy emphasis on testing potential patients.
“We are testing aggressively,” Cuomo said. “The more positives you find, the better.”
Florida reports first virus deaths outside of the West Coast
State health officials said two people in their 70s who had traveled overseas died in Santa Rosa County in Florida’s Panhandle and in the Fort Myers area. At least one of those deaths, viewed as a presumptive positive case, has not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When confirmed by the CDC, the two Florida cases would bring the total number of U.S. deaths to 19.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, has ordered the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee to “Level 2” to coordinate response to the outbreak. Level 2 activation is a preparatory, intermediate-level response that “may not require activation” of all emergency support functions, though “primary, or lead” responders are notified.
The Florida Department of Health also said six Florida residents have been diagnosed with coronavirus along with one non-Florida resident.
– Caryn Shaffer, Treasure Coast Newspapers, and Jeffrey Schweers, USA TODAY Network, Florida
Europe struggles to combat virus
• In Spain, where eight people have died, authorities believe that an outbreak in the northern part of the country is linked to a funeral where many people became infected.
• In Britain, where a second person died Friday of the virus, the public was told to prepare itself for “social distancing,” which could include temporarily reducing socializing at entertainment or sporting events or reducing non-essential travel on public transport and recommendations to work from home.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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