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Coronavirus updates from March 21, 2020

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The number of coronavirus cases worldwide reached at least 303,180 on Saturday as Italy hit a grim milestone by recording record-breaking death tolls two days in a row. In the U.S., the Senate adjourned without voting on the coronavirus relief package, setting the stage for a possible vote on Monday.

Senators continued negotiations over the weekend on the expansive stimulus package. The finalized measure is expected to cost between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, according to Trump administration officials.

New York state surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with more than 6,000 in New York City. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that Manhattan's Javits Center tops his list of locations to be turned into field hospitals to test and possibly treat cases of COVID-19 infections.

Meanwhile, the superintendent of schools in New Rochelle, the hotspot of the New York outbreak, said she tested positive for coronavirus.

On Saturday,  New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy joined other states in directing all residents to stay home. California residents have been ordered to remain in their homes as much as possible, barring some essential exceptions. In New York and Illinois, similar orders are going into effect this weekend. 

There are over 24,000 confirmed cases in the United States, and more than 300 have died. 

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention. 

 

At least 38 inmates and staff at NYC jails test positive

New York City was hit by the nation's largest coronavirus jail outbreak to date this week, with at least 38 people testing positive at the notorious Rikers Island complex and nearby facilities — more than half of them incarcerated men, the board that oversees the city's jail system said Saturday.

In a letter to New York's criminal justice leaders, Board of Correction interim chairwoman Jacqueline Sherman described a jail system in crisis.

She said in the last week, board members learned that 12 Department of Correction employees, five Correctional Health Services employees, and 21 people in custody at Rikers and city jails had tested positive for the coronavirus.

And at least another 58 were being monitored in the prison's contagious disease and quarantine units, she said.

"It is likely these people have been in hundreds of housing areas and common areas over recent weeks and have been in close contact with many other people in custody and staff," said Sherman, warning that cases could skyrocket. "The best path forward to protecting the community of people housed and working in the jails is to rapidly decrease the number of people housed and working in them."

By Associated Press
 

South Korea reports 98 new cases

The Korea Centers for Disease Control reported 98 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Korea on Saturday, Reuters reports. The total number of confirmed cases in the country is now at least 8,897.

 

First confirmed case of coronavirus in federal prison reported

An inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, has tested positive for coronavirus. The inmate is the the first confirmed case in the federal prison system.

"The inmate arrived at MDC Brooklyn on March 16, 2020," the Federal Bureau of Prisons' office of public affairs said in a statement Saturday. "On March 19, 2020, he complained of chest pains and was taken to an outside hospital, where they performed a test for COVID-19. On March 20, 2020, he was discharged back to MDC Brooklyn and immediately placed in isolation. Today, the BOP was notified his test results for COVID-19 were positive."

The inmate is still in isolation and "all CDC guidelines are being followed," according to BOP. The other inmates who were being housed with the patient are being quarantined.

Two staff members at MDC have also tested positive for coronavirus.

By Jordan Freiman
 

Spirit of D.C.'s National Cherry Blossom Festival kept alive through livestream "Bloom Cam"

Cherry Blossom Festival available as livestre... 01:38
By Jordan Freiman
 

Pence and wife test negative, press secretary says

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, have both tested negative for coronavirus, according to the vice president's press secretary. Pence had only just announced he would be tested earlier in the day Saturday at the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

"Pleased to report that the COVID-19 test results came back negative for both Vice President @Mike_Pence and Second Lady @KarenPence," Katie Miller said on Twitter on Saturday night.

A staffer in Pence's office had previously tested positive, prompting the test for the vice president and his wife.

By Jordan Freiman
 

New York becomes epicenter of coronavirus in the United States

Coronavirus hits New York hard 01:39
By Jordan Freiman
 

New Rochelle superintendent tests positive for coronavirus

The superintendent of schools in New Rochelle, the early hotspot of the coronavirus outbreak in New York state, has tested positive for coronavirus, she said Saturday. Dr. Laura Feijoo confirmed her diagnosis in an email sent to parents, CBS New York reports.

Feijoo was tested March 16 and has been instructed to quarantine for two weeks from that date. She said she first noticed symptoms on March 12. 

Feijoo said school board president Amy Moselhi will also be quarantined, due to her close proximity.

New Rochelle was considered a hotspot of the coronavirus outbreak, and early in the crisis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a one-mile containment zone around the town's center. The district closed all schools and transitioned to remote learning. 

By Caroline Linton
 

Ground stop briefly issued at New York-area airports

A ground stop was briefly issued Saturday at New York and Philadelphia airports after a trainee at the air traffic controller at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. tested positive for coronavirus. It was lifted around 2:30 p.m.

"The trainee has not been at the facility since March 17," the FAA said. "We have contacted local health authorities and we are developing a plan to quickly sanitize/clean the affected areas."

The FAA said the center remains open and operational, but flights were rerouted as part of a "longstanding contingency plan." The center is being cleaned and sanitized. 

By Kris Van Cleave
 

FDA approves new test with results in under an hour, not days

Cepheid, a diagnostics company based in Northern California, announced Saturday that the Food and Drug Administration has approved a test that can deliver COVID-19 results in under an hour, the company said. Current coronavirus test results can take days.

The FDA said the company intends to roll out the test by March 30. 

The FDA granted Cepheid Emergency Use Authorization for Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2, "a rapid molecular diagnostic test for qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19," the company said in a press release Saturday.
According to Cepheid, the test has a "detection time of approximately 45 minutes."

"During this time of increased demand for hospital services… an accurate test delivered close to the patient can be transformative — and help alleviate the pressure that the emergence of the 2019-nCoV outbreak has put on healthcare facilities," said Dr. David Persing, Chief Medical and Technology Officer at Cepheid, in the press release.

"We have developed a test that provides reference lab-quality results in multiple settings where actionable treatment information is needed quickly."

According to the company, the test will begin shipping "next week" and can be used on their more than 23,000 systems worldwide, nearly 5,000 of which are located in the United States. 

"Our automated systems do not require users to have specialty training to perform testing — they are capable of running 24/7, with many systems already doing so today," said Cepheid president Warren Kocmond.

By Audrey McNamara
 

California officials say the state has at least 1,224 confirmed cases

As of Friday, California had 1,224 confirmed cases and 23 people had died from coronavirus, the state health department said in a news release on Saturday. 

Of the 1,224 positive cases, 876 of them were among people between the ages of 18 and 64, the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. A total of 321 cases were among people 65 or older, and 19 cases were among people 17 and under. 

About 25,200 tests were conducted as of Friday in the state - a figure that includes the latest numbers the state has received from commercial and private labs, the health department said. At least 12,528 results have come back and more than 12,700 are pending. 

It said 22 state and county labs are conducting tests.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

New Jersey governor issues stay-at-home order

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Saturday he has signed an order directing residents to stay home. He said all gatherings are canceled.

"Further, all non-essential retail businesses must indefinitely close their physical stores to the public" starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, he said in a video posted on Twitter.

"Only businesses critical to our response may remain open," he said.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Children's hospitals help patients deal with isolation

Young Americans are at risk of being infected with COVID-19, despite people over 80 appearing to be the most vulnerable. Patients at Cook Children's Medical Center in Texas are being treated by staff working around the clock to protect the children, while also helping them cope with the emotional impact isolation can have.

Jill Koss, the hospital's family support services director, said security was tight in response to the pandemic, and social distancing was mandated in the facility. Only two primary caregivers are allowed inside, to reduce chances of spreading the coronavirus

"We are having to separate families, which is really hard. We have a rule now that siblings can't come up to visit," she told CBS News' Mireya Villarreal. "So we're trying to be creative in how we keep families connected." 

Read more here

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Whole Foods announces some purchase restrictions, and early closures

Whole Foods says it is "limiting the purchase quantities of high-demand items" and closing its stores up to two hours early "to give our team members more time to restock shelves, sanitize our stores and rest in preparation for the next day."

It announced a series of other measures, including closing its hot bars, soup bars and salad bars. It said it is no longer allowing customers to use their own containers at its coffee and smoothie bars.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Cuomo: Young people are still a not complying with social distancing orders

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that some "younger people" are still not complying with social distancing orders. Cuomo said non-compliance is at its worst in New York City and its parks. 

"We do have an issue with younger people who are not complying," Cuomo said at a press conference Saturday. "I mentioned this before, but it has not gotten better."

Cuomo said the false belief that young people cannot get sick from the virus is still prevalent. In reality, he said, 18-49 year-olds make up 54% of coronavirus cases in New York state. 

"You can have your own opinion, you cannot have your own facts," he said. 

"You can get this virus. And, you can transfer this virus, and can wind up hurting someone who you love, or hurting someone wholly inadvertently."

The governor emphasized the importance of following social distancing guidelines — especially in outdoor spaces.

"There's a significant amount of non-compliance, especially in New York City, especially in the parks," Cuomo said. "I'm going to go down there today, I want to see what the situation is myself."

"This is a public health issue, and you cannot endanger other people's health. You shouldn't be endangering your own, but you certainly have no right to endanger someone else's."

By Audrey McNamara
 

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan tweets about the Maryland National Guard

The Maryland governor said in a tweet Saturday that Marylanders may notice in the coming days and weeks that the Maryland National Guard is at work in their communities. 

"Though this may be an unusual sight, Marylanders should feel confident that these brave soldiers and airmen are here to help keep residents safe and healthy," Larry Hogan tweeted.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

New York looking outside hospitals to increase capacity

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday the state is scouting non-hospital locations to build new hospital beds in order to increase capacity, as the number of coronavirus cases is expected to rise in the coming weeks. 

"We're working on building new beds, we're going to go out and review a number of sites today," Cuomo said at a press conference Saturday. 

The goal is to increase hospital capacity from 50,000 beds to a minimum of 75,000, he said. 

Locations being considered include: Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, Stony Brook University, the State University of New York Westbury, and the Westchester Convention Center.

"That would give us a regional distribution and a real capacity if we can get them up quickly enough," he said.

The governor said he hopes to provide a list of available sites to the federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers by Saturday. 

In addition to building new beds, the governor has also instructed hospitals to cancel all elective surgeries. 

"We are now working with hospitals to reconfigure the space in the hospital to get more beds and to find more staff to manage those beds," he said. 

By Audrey McNamara
 

Australia closes Bondi Beach

Officials in Australia have temporarily closed Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach after crowds ignored the government's warnings about preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus

Last week, Australia banned outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people to help fight the spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 1,071 Australians so far, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally of confirmed cases. 

On Saturday, New South Wales state police minister David Elliott announced Bondi Beach was closing, warning that closures would "become the new norm" if people continued to ignore government regulations, Reuters reported.

Read more here.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Google launches highly anticipated coronavirus website

hereGoogle announced Saturday morning the launch of an educational website on coronavirus in the United States. The site focuses on education, prevention and local resources surrounding the pandemic. 

In a blog post, Google said it worked with relevant agencies and authorities to aggregate state-based information, safety and prevention tips, search trends, information to donate to relief efforts and other resources for individuals, educators and businesses.

Read more here. 

By Sophie Lewis
 

Starbucks moves to mostly drive-through only in U.S. and Canada

Starbucks announced Friday it will transition all of its United States and Canada stores to drive-through only for at least two weeks. Some stores located near hospitals and healthcare centers will remain open for walk-in service.

The company also said it will pay all employees for the next 30 days, "whether they choose to come to work or not."

President of Starbucks' U.S. company-operated business and Canada Rossann Williams said in a letter to employees that "managing through this situation is the single biggest challenge many of us have faced in our lifetime."

"I am continually moved by your compassion for each other, our customers and our communities during this exceptionally difficult time. With daily news from friends and family members getting laid off and businesses closing, we need one another more than ever. We need to be a different kind of company."

By Audrey McNamara
 

Egypt closing archaeological sites and suspending Friday prayers

Egypt has announced that all museums and archaeological sites, including the famed pyramids at Giza, will close starting Monday through the end of March. Mostafa Waziri, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said authorities would sterilize all sites during the closure.

The most populous Arab nation, home to more than 100 million people, also announced the temporary suspension of Friday prayers and other congregations in all mosques. 

The Coptic Orthodox Church canceled all services and wedding parties, and said funeral processions will be limited to family members of the deceased.

Egypt has reported 285 cases and eight deaths, and there are increasing calls for a curfew.

-The Associated Press 

 

Jordan goes on virus lockdown

Air raid sirens echoed across Jordan's capital on Saturday to mark the start of a three-day curfew, the latest mass lockdown in the Middle East aimed at containing the coronavirus. Jordan has ordered all shops to close and all people to stay off the streets until at least Tuesday, when it plans to announce specific times for shopping. Anyone caught violating the curfew faces up to one year in prison.

Several countries in the Middle East have closed schools, universities and nonessential businesses. Many are threatening fines or jail time to those caught violating the decrees. 

Egypt announced that all museums and archaeological sites will close until the end of March, starting on Monday.

-The Associated Press

 

Three inmates test positive at Georgia prison

The Georgia Department of Corrections announced Friday night that three inmates that were housed at Lee State Prison have tested positive for coronavirus. 

One inmate was hospitalized on March 15, and the other two were hospitalized a day later, the department said in a press release. All had flu-like symptoms at the time, and they remain hospitalized.  

There are three other inmates at Lee State who are under observation for showing flu-like symptoms, the department added.

"Measures have been taken to screen and quarantine the entire inmate population at that facility," it said in the release, adding that all staff are being screened prior to entry. Currently, no staff members have shown signs of flu or COVID-19, according to the release. 

By Victoria Albert
 

NYSE boss sold his own stock ahead of coronavirus market meltdown

The CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, sold millions of dollars worth of the parent company's shares in late February just days before the first reported death from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. The transaction also came as financial markets were starting to tumble as the devastating economic impact of the outbreak was becoming clear.

Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the husband of Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, on February 26 sold $3.5 million in shares of ICE, as the exchange is called, at an average price of $93.42 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, ICE shares have plunged nearly 25% amid a broader downdraft in stocks.

Sprecher and Loeffler also sold $15.3 million worth of ICE shares on March 11, at an average price of around $87, SEC filings show.

Read more here.

By Stephen Gandel
 

Pelosi says McConnell's proposal for "phase 3" of relief bill a "non-starter"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter Friday evening that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposal for "phase 3" of an emergency coronavirus relief bill is a "non-starter."

"As you know, Senator McConnell has released his proposal for a third coronavirus response package, which is not at all pro-worker and puts corporations ahead of working people," Pelosi wrote. "As written, it is a non-starter."

As it stands, the proposed bill includes rebates of $1,200 for most individuals who reported less than $75,000 on their 2018 tax returns, or $2,400 per couple who filed their taxes jointly and made less than $150,000. McConnell said Thursday that the package aims to hit "four pillars": relief for small businesses, cash assistance for taxpayers, loans to businesses in major industries and resources to combat the virus.

Pelosi said that to be acceptable, the bill must rebuild health care infrastructure and secure more resources for testing and treatment, as well as "increase Unemployment Insurance and Medicaid, help small businesses survive, expand paid sick and family leave and put money directly into the hands of those who need it most."

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