As the worldwide total of coronavirus cases surpassed 100,000 on Friday morning, thousands of people are still stuck on a cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco awaiting test results.
The Grand Princess has been ordered to stay at bay until tests are concluded. Officials say 45 people had either exhibited symptoms or had been on a previous voyage with a 71-year-old man who died from the disease.
The U.S. has confirmed 233 cases of COVID-19 after Colorado, Maryland, Nevada and New Jersey reported their first encounters with infection on Thursday. At least 12 Americans and more than 3,400 people globally have died from the virus.
Meanwhile, the Vatican reported its first case on Friday, and President Donald Trump is again set to visit the U.S. Centers Disease Control and Prevention after earlier canceling his trip.
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Here’s the latest on the outbreak of COVID-19:
Trump signs coronavirus funding package
Trump on Friday signed the $8.3-billion supplemental spending package to combat the rapid worldwide spread of coronavirus approved by Congress earlier this week.
The package, which passed the Senate on Thursday, will replace the initial White House request of $2.5 billion, an amount roundly criticized by lawmakers as too little to combat the virus.
The funding includes more than $3 billion for research and vaccine development and $2.2 billion for prevention and response efforts. The package also includes $1 billion for state and local response. Each state is expected to receive no less than $4 million.
– Courtney Subramanian
Grand Princess cruise passengers still on board
More than 3,500 people remain on board Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess off the coast of California as the ship awaits coronavirus test results. Medical personnel have tested 45 people, according to the cruise line.
Those on board may have been exposed to coronavirus after sailing with 62 passengers who had previously been on the ship’s Mexico voyage with a man who eventually died from the virus. Two other passengers from that voyage have been hospitalized with the virus in Northern California, officials said.
The CDC advised guests stay in their rooms for the remainder of a cruise but had not declared a quarantine, according to a Thursday statement from a Princess Cruise spokeswoman.
While the ship was meant to arrive to port in San Francisco, it is is unclear when and where the ship will be able to dock after testing is complete.
– Morgan Hines
Trump CDC visit back on
Trump is again set to tour the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on Friday after the planned trip was briefly canceled due a suspected case of coronavirus that turned out to be negative, according to White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Grisham told reporters aboard Air Force One the trip was back on after the brief cancellation. She said the visit was canceled “out of an abundance of caution” after the CDC alerted the White House a CDC staff member was suspected to have contracted coronavirus.
Before traveling to Tennessee to inspect storm damage after tornadoes wreaked havoc and left 24 people dead this week, Trump told reporters he wanted to keep the CDC visit on his Friday schedule.
“I would prefer going … now that the test came out negative,” he told reporters at the White House. “They’re trying to work it out that I do go.”
– David Jackson
Hong Kong study challenges WHO figures on mortality rate
A new study by researchers at the University of Hong Kong puts the mortality rate for COVID-19 patients at 1.4%, much lower than the 3.4% offered by the World Health Organization. The study, a joint project between the HKU and Harvard University, estimated that 14 people die out of 1,000 individuals showing symptoms of the illness.
Professor Gabriel Leung, founding director of the HKU’s WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, said the figure could be even smaller if the calculation took into account infected patients who did not show symptoms, the South China Morning Post reported.
Asked about the new findings, WHO officials in Geneva said no one knows the true mortality rate, only how many people have died. The rate would depend on the full number of people infected, and many of those may well have never been tested or counted. Moreover, said Mike Ryan, WHO’s executive director of Health Emergencies Program, an age-specific death rate could be even much higher, especially for older individuals with underlying health problems.
Vatican confirms first case of virus
The Vatican confirmed the walled city-state’s first case of the new coronavirus Friday and closed some offices as a precaution while Pope Francis continued recovering from a cold.
A health clinic inside Vatican City was closed for sanitizing following the positive test result received Thursday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.
One Vatican official was put into a protective quarantine after a priest from France’s Catholic church in Rome tested positive for the virus. The official isn’t showing symptoms of COVID-19 disease but lives in the same church as the infected priest.
The Vatican Apostolic Library said it would keep its doors shut all next week as a precaution. The library welcomes scholars from around the world to consult the Vatican’s manuscripts and archives.
Which states have coronavirus cases?
Here’s a look at which states have reported cases of COVID-19:
Reports suggests kids not so vulnerable to virus; data challenged
A report released last month by the Joint Mission and the World Health Organization-China found that individuals under the age of 18 experience a “relatively low attack rate” of the coronavirus, about 2.4%, but some U.S. experts challenged the scope of the data.
The report said scientists found the virus to be “relatively mild” among individuals under 19 years old, with only 2.5% of the reported cases developing into a severe disease and 0.2% developing into a critical disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a Feb. 24 report that no children in China under the age of 9 have died from the infection.
But some U.S. experts say the report, based on research from the team of health officials who visited virus hot spots in three Chinese provinces, may underestimate the infection rate among children. Dr. John Williams, of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said a lack of testing among patients with milder symptoms paints a crude picture of the infection. Read the story here.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Pennsylvania closes some schools
Five Pennsylvania schools were closed Friday over concerns that several individuals were exposed to a confirmed coronavirus case that originated in another state. Pennsylvania currently has no confirmed cases of coronavirus. The Bucks County Health Department is evaluating locals that might have been exposed “to determine when they may return to school,” according to Central Bucks School District Superintendent John Kopicki. Bucks County is located in eastern Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia.
– Jasmine Vaughn-Hall, York Daily Record
Nevada’s 2nd coronavirus case forces closure of Reno school
A man in Washoe County has tested positive for coronavirus, forcing the closure of a local elementary school where one of his family members is a student, the county’s health district announced late Thursday.
The Reno-area man is in his 50s and linked the Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess outbreak. He is in stable condition and is self isolating at home, the Washoe County Health District said.
“The upside for us is this one person confirmed is not a community exposure,” Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler told the Reno Gazette Journal of the USA TODAY Network. “He was clearly on the cruise ship.”
The first “presumptive” positive case of the virus in Nevada was announced earlier Thursday, a man, also in his 50s, who had recently taken trips to Washington state and Texas.
– Anjeanette Damon and Siobhan McAndrew, Reno Gazette Journal
University of Washington moves all classes online during health crisis
The University of Washington, located in a state hard hit by the coronavirus, will switch to online classes only for three weeks starting on Monday.
Ana Mari Cauce, the University’s president, told students in an email Friday that she took the move “to increase precautionary health measures and ensure the successful conclusion of the quarter for UW students on all of our campuses.”
At least 12 people have died of the virus in Washington state.
Cauce said classes will no longer meet in person during the period. Instructors will either conduct classes or exams remotely, or, if the nature of the class makes that unsuitable, will base grades on work done so far for the year.
“The novel coronavirus is not the first challenge this region, or our University, has faced. It will not be the last,” she wrote. “In its 158-year history, the UW has endured two world wars, a depression and other crises that have tested our resilience and our compassion” and that generations of students and faculty have “risen to the challenge.”
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