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Washington state reports first coronavirus death in U.S.

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Washington state health officials said Saturday a person has died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. It is the first reported coronavirus death in the United States.

Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday. 

President Trump said at a news conference that 22 patients in the United States currently have coronavirus. He said additional cases are likely in the U.S. but that healthy individuals should be able to fully recover.

Vice President Mike Pence announced at the same press conference that travel restrictions on Iran are being expanded in response to the coronavirus outbreak. He said the State Department has been authorized to elevate travel warnings to parts of Italy and South Korea.

The World Health Organization said earlier this week the risk of the new coronavirus expanding worldwide is "very high." There are now more than 85,000 cases worldwide — most of them in China, where the virus originated — and more than 2,900 deaths. As health officials try to contain the virus, it continues to put millions of people in the U.S. on edge and rattle the markets.

Researchers Work On Developing Test For Coronavirus At Hackensack Meridian's Center For Discovery and Innovation
A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on February 28, 2020 in Nutley, New Jersey.  Getty

Armenia reports first coronavirus infection

Armenia's prime minister reported the country's first coronavirus case on Sunday, according to Reuters. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a post on Facebook that the patient was a 29-year-old citizen who returned Friday from Iran. 

"He is now in good condition," Pashinyan said, according to Reuters. 

Armenia has closed its border with Iran and suspended air traffic a week ago, Reuters said. Several other nearby countries, including Georgia and Azerbaijan, reported their first coronavirus cases this week. 


Australia reports first coronavirus death

Health officials in Australia reported the country's first death from coronavirus on Sunday. The patient was a 78-year-old who had been evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to a statement from the Australian government. 

The man died in a hospital in Perth, officials said. 

By Victoria Albert

China reports 35 new deaths, 573 new cases

Chinese officials on Sunday reported 35 new deaths and more than 570 new cases. That brings the global death toll to at least 2,976, and the total number of worldwide cases to at least 85,976. 

Of the 35 deaths in China, 34 occurred in Hubei, the epicenter of the global outbreak. 

By Victoria Albert

State Department warns Americans not to travel to parts of Italy, South Korea

The State Department raised its travel advisory for parts of Italy and South Korea on Saturday, warning Americans not to travel to Lombardy and Veneto in Italy and Daegu, South Korea. 

The overall travel warnings for the two countries remain a level below, "Reconsider travel" — but the cities were singled out due to the level of community transmission of the virus and the imposition of local quarantine procedures. 

By Victoria Albert

As first U.S. patient dies, Washington officials announce more coronavirus cases

Washington State officials offered more information Saturday about the first patient to die of coronavirus in the U.S. The man was in his 50s and had underlying health issues, officials said during a press conference on Saturday afternoon. They also said there are two other "presumptive positive" cases in Kings County. 

Both of the cases are associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland, a long-term care nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington. One of the patients is a female health care worker at the facility who is in her 40s and is in "satisfactory condition." Officials do not believe she has traveled outside of the U.S. The other patient is a female resident at the facility who is in her 70s and is in "serious condition." Both women are currently hospitalized. 

By Li Cohen

Ireland confirms first coronavirus case

The Irish government announced the country's first case of coronavirus on Saturday, writing on Twitter the patient is a man in the eastern part of the country.

In a series of tweets, officials said the patient's case is associated with his travel in northern Italy. 

"This is not unexpected. We have been preparing for this eventuality for many weeks now," said Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, according to the tweets. "Public health protocols have been in place since January and are operating effectively." 

Another official added that investigators are currently working to identify the patient's contacts. 

By Victoria Albert

Trump is "looking at" southern border in coronavirus response

President Trump said he is "looking at the southern border" as part of his administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Mr. Trump made the statement at a White House press conference Saturday when asked about a Reuters report that his administration "is considering imposing entry restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border to control the spread of the new coronavirus in the United States." The report cited two U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials as sources. 

Mr. Trump told reporters that his administration is "looking at the southern border," adding, "we are looking at that very strongly." 

"This is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now…  we hope we don't have to do that," the president said. 

Mexico has confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus, The Associated Press reports

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

U.S. ups restrictions on Iran travel

Vice President Mike Pence announced new travel restrictions Saturday regarding Iran. 

"Iran is already under a travel ban but we are expanding existing travel restrictions to include any foreign national who has visited Iran within the last 14 days," he said.

He also said Americans are being urged to not travel to areas in Italy and South Korea that are "most affected by the coronavirus."

"We are going to increase to the highest level of advisory, which is level 4 - advising Americans do not travel to specific regions in Italy and South Korea," he said. 

He said the president has directed the State Department "to work with our allies in Italy and in South Korea to coordinate a screening, a medical screening in their countries of any individuals that are coming into the United States of America."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

22 patients in the United States have coronavirus, Trump says

President Trump said at a press conference Saturday that 22 patients in the United States have coronavirus. He said more cases are "likely" and that people who are "healthy" should be able to fully recover.

He described a woman who died as a result of the virus – the first death reported in the United States – as "a wonderful woman, a medically high risk patient in her late 50s."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Person in Washington state first in U.S. to die from new coronavirus

Officials in Washington state said Saturday a person died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. It is the first such death in the country. 

"It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19," Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement. 

He initially identified the person as a man but later updated his statement to say an "individual" died.

"In partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, the Washington State Department of Emergency Management and local and community health partners, we are strengthening our preparedness and response efforts. I am committed to keeping Washingtonians healthy, safe and informed," he said.

Health officials will be providing an update on coronavirus cases in King County, Washington, on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET). 

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

FDA says it will allow some labs to use coronavirus tests they developed

The Food and Drug Administration issued a new policy Saturday that will allow some labs to immediately use coronavirus tests they "developed and validated" before the FDA has completed review of their "Emergency Use Authorization requests," the FDA said in a press release announcing the policy.

The policy is intended to "achieve more rapid testing capacity in the U.S.," according to the FDA.

"We expect certain laboratories who develop validated tests for coronavirus would begin using them right away prior to FDA review," said Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in the release. 

FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D said that the new policy does not change established standards for issuing Emergency Use Authorizations.

"We will continue to help to ensure sound science prior to clinical testing and follow-up with the critical independent review from the FDA, while quickly expanding testing capabilities in the U.S.," Hahn said.

"This action today reflects our public health commitment to addressing critical public health needs and rapidly responding and adapting to this dynamic and evolving situation," he said.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Trump to hold press conference on coronavirus

President Trump said in a tweet Saturday he will be holding a press conference to discuss the latest developments on the new coronavirus. He said he will be speaking at 1:30 p.m. ET.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Surgeon General tells people to stop buying masks

"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!" the U.S. Surgeon General tweeted Saturday. "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!" 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend people wear masks if they are well – only if they are sick or caring for someone who is ill. 

"CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it," reads the CDC's website.

"A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms," the CDC says. "This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Health officials recommend washing your hands to help protect yourself. 

By Audrey McNamara

Democrats criticize Trump's coronavirus response

Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail are criticizing President Trump's response to the coronavirus, saying he has downplayed the threat of a widespread outbreak.

The president is working with states to step up coronavirus testing, and has said he is optimistic the United States will contain the virus.

"People are getting better. Almost everybody that we see is getting better, it could be everybody too," Mr. Trump said at the White House Friday before he left for a rally in South Carolina, which is holding its Democratic primary on Saturday.

Senator Bernie Sanders told supporters in South Carolina that the president should be focused on the coronavirus outbreak rather than holding rallies. "Do your job as president," Sanders said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has accused Mr. Trump of silencing his top public health experts.

"It's bad enough that we have a president who can't tell the truth. We now have a president who won't let other people tell the truth," Biden said on the campaign trail. 

Mike Bloomberg has piled onto the criticism. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Bloomberg noted the Trump administration dissolved the National Security Council's global health security team -- responsible for pandemic response.

"Donald Trump fired the pandemic staff that was in the federal government to deal with this two years ago. And so we have nobody there," Bloomberg said. 

By Audrey McNamara

State Department urges people to reconsider travel to Italy

The State Department is urging Americans to reconsider traveling to Italy, where there are more cases of the coronavirus than anywhere outside of Asia. Italian health officials have announced nearly 200 new cases. 

"The CDC has issued a Level 3 Warning for Italy. At this time, CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Italy," the State Department said in a travel advisory issued Friday.

There is "sustained community spread" in Italy, meaning that people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and the spread has not stopped. 

CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports that growing evidence shows that Italy has not only been one of the epicenters of the global outbreak -- it may have also helped spread it around the world.

By Audrey McNamara

Iran says "tens of thousands" may get tested for coronavirus

Iran is preparing for the possibility of "tens of thousands" of people getting tested for the new coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases spiked again Saturday, an official said, underscoring the fear both at home and abroad over the outbreak in the Islamic Republic.

The virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes have killed 43 people out of 593 confirmed cases in Iran, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said. He disputed a report by the BBC's Persian service citing anonymous medical officials in Iran putting the death toll at over four times as much. 

Iran, with 43 people dead, has the world's highest death toll outside of China. Of over 720 confirmed cases scattered across the Mideast, the majority trace back to the Islamic Republic.

-The Associated Press 


Quarantined cruise ship passengers won't go to Costa Mesa after court battle

The U.S. government announced Friday that it won't try to send dozens of cruise ship passengers quarantined amid coronavirus fears to a city in Southern California that argued the move would pose a potentially life-threatening local risk.

The government informed the California Department of Public Health that it had determined it doesn't need to use the state-owned Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to isolate passengers from the Diamond Princess, the state agency said.

Local officials had said they weren't included in the planning process and wanted to know what safeguards were in place to prevent the possible transmission of the virus.

 A federal judge had temporarily barred the swap and questioned why patients weren't being sent to facilities designed to handle contagious illnesses like Ebola. The Fairview center previously housed people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"This is a victory for the citizens of Costa Mesa and Orange County," Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement. "But the government has not promised not to place future infected persons there, so the battle is not over. We will continue to ask the court to prohibit the government from using this completely inappropriate facility for housing people infected with a highly communicable and potentially fatal disease."

—The Associated Press


Notre Dame ends Rome study abroad programs for the semester, citing coronavirus fears

After the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for Italy on Friday, warning Americans to "Reconsider travel" to the country, the University of Notre Dame ended its study abroad program in Rome for the semester.

"The 106 Notre Dame students studying in Rome will be flown back to the United States as soon as possible," the university wrote in a Facebook post. "Affiliated faculty and staff who choose to return to the United States will also be flown back."

The university added that in accordance with U.S. protocol, the students will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to America. Notre Dame noted that more than half of that quarantine time will occur during the school's spring break.

By Victoria Albert

South Korea reports 594 new coronavirus cases

South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 594 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to Reuters. That brings the country's total number of cases to 2,931.

By Victoria Albert

China announces 47 new deaths, 427 new cases

Chinese officials on Saturday announced 47 new deaths and 427 new cases of the novel coronavirus. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to at least 79,251. 

All but two of the deaths came from Hubei, the epicenter of the worldwide outbreak, officials said.  

By Victoria Albert
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