Today’s biggest developments:
Here’s the latest on the developing situation. All times are Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.
12:39 p.m. Italy to temporarily close schools and universities
Schools and universities in Italy will close beginning Thursday until March 15, authorities announced.
The decision comes as the country grapples with rising confirmed cases of coronavirus and their attempts to contain it. There were 347 new confirmed cases reported in Italy overnight, making the total 2,036, according to the WHO’s numbers as of Wednesday.
12:10 p.m. 6 new cases have been confirmed in LA County, state of emergency declared
Officials in Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency as six new positive cases of coronavirus were confirmed there in the last 24 hours.
Kathryn Barger, a supervisor on the county’s board, said in a press conference the declaration “is not a response routed in panic.” Instead, it will allow local officials to better coordinate with state and federal partners to “enhance our preparedness,” she said.
Los Angeles County becomes the second county in the U.S. to declare a state of emergency. King County in Washington, which has reported eight deaths, declared a state of emergency on Monday.
Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said the new cases are all linked to either travel history or a close contact with a confirmed case. There are not yet any known cases of community transmission, according to Ferrer.
11:51 a.m. Hospitals should be more proactive in testing, says member of president’s coronavirus task force
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the president’s coronavirus task force, said he feels “very strongly” that hospitals should be testing patients more proactively for coronavirus.
While testifying in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the NIH budget, Fauci said the reason hospitals haven’t done so yet is because there aren’t enough resources to test the virus in every emergency room and health center. However, he noted, the CDC is expanding testing beyond the six sentinel cities it started with.
Fauci also made a point to note that the WHO fatality rate — 3.4% — is incomplete because the denominator of asymptomatic cases is currently unknown.
“If you look at the cases that have come to the attention of the medical authorities in China and you just do the math, the math is about 2%. If you look at certain age groups, certain risk groups, the fatality is much higher, but as a group it’s going to depend completely on what the factor of asymptomatic cases are,” he said.
11:32 a.m. Italy has begun screening US-bound passengers at airports
At airports in Rome and Milan, passengers will have their temperatures taken before departing for the United States amid the coronavirus outbreak, sources told ABC News on Wednesday. The screenings began Tuesday at Rome-Fiumicino and Milan-Malpensa airport, the sources said.
If someone does have a fever, they will be taken aside and not allowed to travel before further tests are carried out. The tests are being administered by the Ministry of Health and the Italian Red Cross. They are similar to ones that have now begun in South Korea.
11:02 a.m. South Korea to start screening US-bound travelers
As part of efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, all travelers flying from South Korea to the United States will now have their temperatures checked at their assigned gate at the airport prior to boarding their flight, the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced Wednesday.
Travelers who have a body temperature higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) will not be allowed to board their flight. Tickets will be refundable, the ministry said.
10:37 a.m. Case count in New York rises to 6
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state climbed to six on Wednesday.
The four new cases confirmed Wednesday are tied to a 50-year-old patient from New Rochelle in New York’s Westchester County. The man’s wife, their two children and a neighbor who drove him to the hospital have all tested positive for the novel coronavirus, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference.
The man’s son is a 20-year-old student at Yeshiva University in New York City. His daughter is a 14-year-old student at Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy and High School, known as SAR, in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. Both schools announced closures Wednesday upon receiving word of their infections, according to Cuomo.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the son had not been on Yeshiva University’s campus since Feb. 27. Both the son and daughter, as well as their mother, remain at home in isolation.
“Yeshiva University is working closely with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to take every necessary precaution to ensure the safety of students and the community,” de Blasio said in a statement Wednesday. “City disease detectives are on campus to identify close contacts of the student and connect those individuals to testing immediately. As of this morning, two contacts have transferred to Bellevue Hospital for testing. We will continue working closely with our state partners to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe.”
Meanwhile, students from both the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) will be recalled from study abroad programs in China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea, according to Cuomo. They will be flown back to the United States on a chartered plane, which will land at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York. The students will then be quarantined for 14 days in dormitories.
9:50 a.m. Son of New York patient tests positive
A college student in New York has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after his father became infected, officials said.
Yeshiva University in New York City confirmed in a press release Wednesday that the student had tested positive for the newly discovered virus, known officially as COVID-19.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as well as to all those affected,” the school said in a statement.
- Public health expert warns virus not going away – KSAT San Antonio
- Tesla asks employees to resume production at Fremont car plant despite coronavirus health orders – CNBC
- Major health groups and charities urge Trump to reverse World Health Organization funding decision – CNN
- Public health officials push back on May opening | TheHill – The Hill
- Analysis | The Health 202: Los Angeles is racing to discover the true coronavirus infection rate – The Washington Post
- Some Public Health Officials Not Releasing Coronavirus Hospitalizations : Shots – Health News – NPR
- Covid-19 health-care crisis could drive new developments in robotics, editorial says – The Washington Post
- Lost Your Health Insurance During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are Your Options – The Motley Fool
- El Paso virus cases jump to 35 as health leaders warn of increased risk of ‘community spread’ – KVIA El Paso