The coronavirus that emerged late last year and spread from central China was in more than 78 countries on Wednesday, with outbreaks growing fast in South Korea, Italy, Iran and the U.S. At least 11 people have died of the COVID-19 disease in the U.S., all but one of them in Washington state, and most of them from a single nursing home in the Seattle area. The other death occurred in California, just outside Sacramento. The coronavirus has been confirmed in 17 states so far.
Experts were clearly still struggling to get a firm grasp on how easily the disease spreads and how deadly it is, with the head of the World Health Organization saying the data available as of Tuesday suggested it could be more lethal, but less easily transmitted than previously thought. But epidemiologists have stressed there's still too little data to draw firm conclusions.
The WHO chief did issue an urgent plea for more data, urging countries facing outbreaks to test more people, more quickly, to bolster understanding of the disease. After faulty tests were distributed last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was working with private organizations to get local health authorities across the U.S. the capacity to test more than 1 million additional people by the weekend, to help assess the spread of the disease. Vice President Mike Pence said 1.5 million tests would be available by the end of the week.
While the virus' spread has slowed dramatically in China, infections were mounting fast in the U.S. and elsewhere. At least 160 people in at least 17 states were infected by Wednesday, including the outbreak in the Seattle area.
More than 93,000 cases have been recorded and more than 3,200 deaths attributed to the disease globally, and while more than 50,000 of those people have already recovered, officials were still trying to answer the big question: How bad will it get?
2 buildings closed after Facebook contractor diagnosed with coronavirus
A Facebook contractor in Seattle has been diagnosed with coronavirus, the company confirmed to CBS News in a statement.
"We've notified our employees and are following the advice of public health officials to prioritize everyone's health and safety," said a spokesperson for the company.
The spokesperson added that two buildings have since been closed, and that employees who work there have been asked to work from home until the end of March.
New Jersey announces first presumptive positive coronavirus case
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy announced the state's first presumptive coronavirus case Wednesday. In a press release, Murphy identified the patient as a man in his 30's who has been hospitalized in Bergen County since March 3.
The state is awaiting confirmation from the CDC.
"My administration is working aggressively to keep residents safe and contain the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey," Murphy said in the release. "We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for this for weeks."
Italy is shutting down all schools nationwide amid coronavirus outbreak
As Italy tries to contain the new coronavirus outbreak,all schools, universities and daycare facilities nationwide to close for 10 days, starting Thursday.
The closures, which will last until at least March 15, are part of an effort to contain the virus, which has hit Italy harder than any other European country. The death toll in Italy has reached 107 — up 28 in just 24 hours — the Civil Protection Agency said on Wednesday. The number of cases across the country has increased to 3,090, contributing to the global total of over 93,000 cases and 3,200 deaths.
Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said Wednesday that the decision was not a "simple" one for the government.
Previously, only schools in the northern regions of the country, which have been most affected by the outbreak, have been closed. The closures will now extend nationwide, impacting around 8.4 million students.
California governor declares state of emergency
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Wednesday. California has 53 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, and the first death was reported Wednesday.
"The emergency proclamation includes provisions that protect consumers against price gouging, allow for health care workers to come from out of state to assist at health care facilities and give health care facilities the flexibility to plan and adapt to accommodate incoming patients," the governor's office said in a statement.
Price gouging needs to be "aggressively monitored," Newsom said at a press conference Wednesday.
California has added 14 labs where testing for the virus is allowed, and that number is expected to increase to 20 in the coming days, according to the governor.
Newsom also said the Grand Princess cruise ship, which is linked to the state's first confirmed death, is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Wednesday night, but will be delayed to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct tests.
China announces 139 new cases, 31 new deaths
Chinese officials announced 139 new cases and 31 new deaths Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to at least 80,409.
Recently, China has been reporting far lower daily totals than it had in previous weeks — suggesting the country's harsh containment measures may be working.
New York coronavirus cases trace back to Manhattan lawyer
New Rochelle, New York, is ground zero for a coronavirus outbreak that has infected at least 11 people. The outbreak began a week ago when 50-year-old Manhattan attorney Lawrence Garbuz went to the hospital.
Garbuz, his wife, two of his children and his neighbor who drove him to the hospital have all tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
A family of five who had close contact with Garbuz has also tested positive. Now, New York health disease detectives are racing to track down anyone else who may have come into contact with him.
The week before he knew he was contagious, the married father of four traveled around the New York City area. He went to work at his law office in Manhattan, where all of his colleagues are now being tested.
He also attended temple services in Westchester. The temple he attended is closed indefinitely, and its congregants are now under self-quarantine.
Both schools where his children attend have been closed for the week.
1.5 million coronavirus tests will be available this week, Pence says
Vice President Mike Pence said at a press conference Wednesday that 1.5 million coronavirus tests will be available this week.
"We will continue to build on that number," he said.
Deborah Birx, a coronavirus response coordinator, said at the press conference that data shows the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions are most vulnerable to the disease. Birx said that in South Korea, which has the largest outbreak outside of China, no one under the age of 30 has died from the disease.
Pence also said he will travel to Washington State on Thursday to meet with state officials. When asked if he was nervous about traveling to a state where 10 people have died from the disease, Pence said he has "no hesitation at all."
He also tried to calm fears about the disease. "If you are a healthy American, the risk of contracting the CV remains low," he said.
DHS screener at LAX is one of six new confirmed cases
Los Angeles County announced six new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday. One of the patients is a Department of Homeland Security medical contractor who was tasked with screening incoming travelers at Los Angeles International Airport, DHS confirmed in a statement.
"This individual is currently under self-quarantine at home with mild symptoms and under medical supervision. Their immediate family is also under home quarantine," the statement said.
According to DHS, the patient's last shift at LAX was on February 21, but they did not begin experiencing symptoms until February 28. They said the individual was "highly trained" and "wore all the correct protective equipment and took necessary protections on the job."
It is unclear if the patient contracted the disease through their work as a screener or if this is a case of community spread.
House passes $8.3 billion package to fight outbreak
The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved an $8.3 billion supplemental package to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The package, which passed by a vote of 415 to 2, now heads to the Senate where lawmakers are expected to clear the measure Thursday.
House and Senate negotiators reached a deal on the package Wednesday. The amount is far higher than the $2.5 billion originally requested by President Trump and in line with the $8 billion proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"This legislation is a critical first step to enable a strategic, coordinated, and whole-of-government response to the coronavirus and to keep Americans safe. The Senate should pass it quickly," House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey said in a statement after the vote. — Alan He, Grace Segers
Slovenia reports first coronavirus case
Slovenia confirmed its first case of coronavirus Wednesday, Reuters reports.
Slovenia's national news agency STA reports that the patient traveled from Morocco through Italy, and is now being treated in a Ljubljana hospital. So far, the country has administered 352 coronavirus tests.
Italy bars fans from all sporting events
Italy has prohibited fans from attending all sporting events — including all soccer games — until at least April 3, citing the country's coronavirus outbreak. The Italian government announced the precautionary measure Wednesday night, The Associated Press reports.
Italy has the most coronavirus cases of any country outside Asia. More than 3,000 people have been infected, and at least 107 have died from the virus.
Sporting events will continue to take place, but with no fans present for at least a month.
Italy has also closed all schools and universities through March 15, impacting around 8.4 million students.
California reports first coronavirus death
California reported its first death from the coronavirus Wednesday. This is the first reported death from the virus in the United States outside of Washington state, and it raises the national death toll to eleven.
The deceased was an elderly adult with underlying health conditions in isolation at Kaiser Permanente in Roseville, California, near Sacramento. According to county health officials, the patient tested "presumptively positive" for the virus on Tuesday, one day before their death.
Health officials said in a press release that they believe the patient was likely exposed to the virus on a Princess cruise ship that traveled from San Francisco to Mexico from February 11 to 21.
Officials said they believe the patient had "minimal community exposure between returning from the cruise and arriving at the hospital by ambulance" on February 27.
Ten healthcare workers and five emergency responders were exposed to the patient before they were put in isolation. Those fifteen people have not exhibited symptoms, but are now quarantined and are being monitored.
Officials said other cruise passengers may have also been exposed. They are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to identify and contact other cruise passengers."
"This death is an unfortunate milestone in our efforts to fight this disease, and one that we never wanted to see," said Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson in a press release.
"While most cases of COVID-19 exhibit mild or moderate symptoms, this tragic death underscores the urgent need for us to take extra steps to protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including elderly persons and those with underlying health conditions."
Washington reports tenth death from coronavirus
The state of Washington reported its 10th death from the coronavirus Wednesday, raising the national death toll to the same number.
There are now 39 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, up from 27 on Tuesday. An additional 231 people are under "public health supervision," meaning they are at risk of having been exposed to the virus and are being monitored by health officials.
The majority of the deaths in the state have originated in one long term care facility near Seattle. It is unclear if the latest death was also related to the facility.
Los Angeles declares state of emergency
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a state of emergency Wednesday after six new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in the city on Tuesday. There are now at least seven confirmed cases in Los Angeles County.
"While there are only a few known active COVID-19 cases in the region, the declaration helps us access state and federal funding to strengthen and support our efforts to prepare our region and keep our communities safe," Garcetti said on Facebook.
The state of emergency allows the county to access more resources, including state and federal funding, to help fight the outbreak, CBS Los Angeles reports.
"The state of emergency is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal," Garcetti said.
Congress approves $8.3 billion in coronavirus funding
House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal on anto respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The amount is far higher than the $2.5 billion originally requested by President Trump, and in line with the $8 billion proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"We got a deal," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican, told reporters Wednesday. The $8.3 billion includes $7.8 billion in discretionary appropriations, plus $500 million in Medicare telehealth mandatory spending, which would allow Medicare providers to furnish telemedicine services to seniors.
James Bond release delayed until fall
The latest James Bond installment will be delayed until November amid global coronavirus fear, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The film was set to be released next month.
"No Time to Die," starring Daniel Craig, is the first major Hollywood blockbuster to be delayed due to the virus. The 25th Bond film will now be released in the U.S. on November 25.
Chinese researchers claim they have identified 2 strains of virus
Researchers in China claim they have identified two strains of the coronavirus known as COVID-19. The research, published Tuesday as a preliminary study in the National Science Review, suggests that an earlier strain of the disease might be more aggressive than what followed.
The more aggressive strain, "L type," accounted for about 70% of analyzed strains, according to the study. While the less aggressive strain, "S type," accounted for only 30%.
"Whereas the L type was more prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, the frequency of the L type decreased after early January 2020," reads the study's abstract.
"Human intervention may have placed more severe selective pressure on the L type, which might be more aggressive and spread more quickly."
The scientists, from Peking University's School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, advocated for further research into the virus so that larger data sets can be analyzed.
"These findings strongly support an urgent need for further immediate, comprehensive studies that combine genomic data, epidemiological data, and chart records of the clinical symptoms of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)," they wrote.
Yeshiva University in Manhattan reports positive coronavirus case
Yeshiva University, a Jewish university in Manhattan, reported Wednesday that one of its students had tested positive for the new coronavirus. The school cancelled all Wednesday classes at its Manhattan campus in response to the COVID-19 disease diagnosis.
"This precautionary step will allow us to work with city agencies and other professionals to best prepare our campus and ensure the uncompromised safety of our students, faculty and staff," the school said in a press release.
The 20-year-old student is one of six people in the state of New York who have tested positive for the virus.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Cuomo said Wednesday that the student's father, who lives in New Rochelle, New York, along with his mother, and a neighbor who drove the father to the hospital, had all tested positive for the virus.
The father, 50, was the first person in New York to be hospitalized with the virus. He is believed to have been infected during a recent trip to Miami, Florida, but the exact origin was unclear. He was in severe condition Wednesday.
NIH official says coronavirus vaccine likely ready to test soon, but still a year until its ready
The U.S. National Institutes of Health is only about six weeks away from a phase-1 trial on a coronavirus vaccine, the agency's director of allergies and infectious disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday. He stressed, however, that actually getting an approved vaccine ready for human use was still a year to 18 months away.
Panic buying leaving health workers at risk, and stressing supply chains
People hoarding and misusing medical supplies in fear of the new coronavirus is leaving health care workers at risk, the head of the World Health Organization warned Tuesday. The sudden surge in purchases of surgical-style masks, hand sanitizers and other protective goods was making it hard for factories to keep up with demand.
CBS News' Mola Lenghi spoke to workers at a Georgia factory to find out how the public reaction is stressing the supply chain.
Facebook gives WHO free ad space to fight coronavirus misinformation
Facebook said it's letting the World Health Organization (WHO) advertise for free on the social media platform to fight off coronavirus misinformation. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement in a blog post on Tuesday night as the death toll of people infected with the virus in the U.S. has risen to nine.
Zuckerberg said the company has been working with health authorities over the last month to help efforts against the growing outbreak. Facebook wants its more than 1.6 billion daily average active users to have access to "credible and accurate information" as organizations such as the WHO roll out updates.
"This is critical in any emergency, but it's especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection," Zuckerberg said.
German airline Lufthansa grounds 150 planes as virus saps demand
German carrier Lufthansa said Wednesday that it was grounding 150 planes, about 20% of it's fleet, due to a reduction in travel demand caused by the coronavirus.
Most major airlines — including Delta, Emirates, Lufthansa, United and American — have suspended flights to mainland China through the end of April. Some have also suspended flights to Hong Kong, while others are flying there but on reduced schedules.
Airlines have also reduced or suspended some flights to Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and northern Italy. Delta and American have suspended service to Milan through the end of April. Delta's summer flights between New York and Venice, which usually begin April 1, have been pushed back to May 1.
Airlines will refund money for canceled flights, waive change fees for one-time itinerary changes or let customers use the value of the ticket toward future travel. But watch the fine print: If travelers switch to a flight this summer, for example, they could be charged the difference in the fare between their old flight and the new flight.
With CDC delays, states and hospitals race to implement virus testing
There were only 15,000 coronavirus test kits available in the United States as of Wednesday, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which has authorized commercial labs to develop more tests. By the end of the week, those labs were expected to make one million tests available, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expected to provide 75,000 test kits.
With the delay in CDC test kits becoming available, somein place.
"We cannot have a system which is centralized in a few laboratories. Really, the front-line battle of the response to the new coronavirus will be done in the outpatient clinics and the hospitals," said Dr. Albert Ko, at the Yale School of Medicine
Private hospitals like NYU Langone in Manhattan are also making plans.
"I think the CDC was under-testing," said Dr. Jennifer Lighter, who manages infection control at NYU Langone and expects the medical center's own coronavirus test to be ready in about a month. "To really establish a new test needs a certain amount of validation and time."
-Reporting by CBS News contributor Dr. Tara Narula
Saudi Arabia suspends all pilgrimages to Islam's holiest sites amid virus fears
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday suspended the year-round "umrah" pilgrimage over fears of the new coronavirus spreading to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the interior ministry said.
The Gulf state has decided "to suspend umrah temporarily for citizens and residents in the kingdom", the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
They were also barred from "visits to the Prophet's mosque in Medina," according to a foreign ministry tweet. The decision comes after Saudi Arabia last week suspended visas for the pilgrimage and barred citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council from entering Mecca and Medina, two of Islam's holiest cities.
Saudi Arabia on Monday confirmed its first case of new coronavirus after one its citizens who had returned from COVID-19 hotspot Iran tested positive. The unprecedented moves have left thousands of Muslim pilgrims in limbo, raising uncertainty over the annual hajj to Mecca scheduled for the end of July.
Temporary housing readied for patients as Washington's virus outbreak spreads to East Coast
Temporary housing has been set up in Seattle for coronavirus patients needing isolation. CBS News' Jonathan Vigliotti reports that while most of the cases in Washington are linked to a nursing home, one of the newest coronavirus cases in the state is an Amazon employee from an office building in Seattle.
That worker is now quarantined, and people who'd been in close contact have been notified.
The Life Care nursing home is linked with five of the nine confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., and it is now also being tied to a case on the other side of the country: a North Carolina resident who visited the facility and then flew back east. Officials say that patient is now in isolation, too.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina's public health chief, said state authorities had begun work to trace people the patient had come into contact with, including fellow passengers from the flight.
In King County, Washington, officials have set up the first of up to 14 modular units that will be used to house coronavirus patients in isolation. Each unit has four rooms with eight beds total, but county official Barbara Ramey told CBS News officials were still trying to decide "how many people per room."
German health minister says coronavirus "a global pandemic," and worst to come
The coronavirus outbreak has turned into "a global pandemic," German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Wednesday, warning that worse was still to come.
"The coronavirus outbreak in China has become a global pandemic," Sphan told German lawmakers.
"The situation is changing very quickly," he said. "What's clear is that we have not yet reached the peak of the outbreak."
The World Health Organization (WHO) has so far stopped short of declaring a pandemic — defined as an epidemic that spreads throughout the world through local transmission.
Iran rejects U.S. virus aid offer amid "vicious" sanctions
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday dismissed a U.S. offer to help the Islamic republic fight its coronavirus outbreak, charging that "vicious" American sanctions are depriving the country of medicine.
Iran has scrambled to halt the rapid spread of the virus that has claimed 92 lives out of 2,922 confirmed infections in the past two weeks.
It has shut schools and universities, suspended major cultural and sporting events, and cut back on work hours.
"Those who have deprived the people of even medicine and food through sanctions, who have done the most vicious things... they appear with a mask of sympathy and say that we want to help the nation of Iran," Rouhani said, in a clear reference to the United States.
President Donald Trump said Saturday he was ready to aid Iran with the virus outbreak if the Islamic republic asked for assistance.
Iran cancels Friday prayers again as virus outbreak snowballs
Friday prayers in Iran have been canceled across all provincial capitals amid the country's growing coronavirus outbreak, state television said.
Friday is the main congregational day of prayer in Islam, and traditionally an important event for Iran's clerical rulers.
The report Wednesday comes as Tehran and other areas canceled Friday prayers last week over the outbreak.
Iran earlier announced that the new coronavirus has killed 92 people amid 2,922 confirmed cases across the Islamic Republic, the highest death toll in the world outside of China.
— The Associated Press
Russia bans commercial export of face masks, other medical gear
Russia's government has restricted the export of face masks and other medical protective gear until June amid hoarding prompted by the new coronavirus. The World Health Organization on Tuesday said hoarding and misuse of such items had left front-line health workers around the world short of the key equipment.
Russia temporarily banned all exports of respiratory protective equipment, medical safety glasses, chemical protection suits, medical face masks, some antiviral drugs and medical gloves and gowns, according to the state-run news agency TASS.
The ban did not include products "to provide international humanitarian assistance to foreign states based on decisions by the Russian government," TASS said, citing an official government declaration.
- Svetlana Berdnikova and Tucker Reals
CDC working to disseminate more virus test kits
There's a growing concern that thousands of Americans may have been exposed to the coronavirus but have not been tested due to a shortage of test kits.
The CDC is racing to produce and distribute more test kits, but as CBS News' Dr. Jon LaPook reports, the delay may already have impacted the U.S. health system's ability to detect community spread of the virus.
CDC officials said Wednesday they hoped to have 75,000 more test kits available to local authorities by the end of the week, and they were working with a private company that has said it can make 1 million more available soon.
Weeks after the first cases were detected in the U.S., only about 500 people had been tested in the country earlier this week. One health company manager in New York told LaPook that, in her view, the "CDC was under-testing. They didn't have the kits available and they had pretty strict criteria for who they were going to send testing on."
South Korea reports more than 500 new coronavirus cases
South Korea reported 516 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the country's total number of cases to at least 5,328, Reuters reports. At least 28 people have died of the disease in the country, which is currently facing the worst outbreak outside of China.
The 516 new cases vastly outpaced China's new reported cases for the day. In China, the epicenter of the worldwide epidemic, only reported 119 new cases on Wednesday.
U.S. to screen all travelers from Italy and South Korea
Vice President Mike Pence announced Tuesday that the U.S. was to begin screening all travelers coming on direct flights from South Korea and Italy. Those two countries have the most confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China, according to the World Health Organization.
New Hampshire announces second presumptive coronavirus case
The New Hampshire Department of Health announced the state's second presumptive coronavirus case Tuesday. In a press release, officials said the patient is an adult male from Grafton county who came in "close contact" with the state's first patient.
The department said it's still waiting for confirmation from the CDC on both tests.
It also offered more information about the first presumptive case. The department said that although that patient was instructed to self-isolate, they attended a private event on Friday, February 28.
The department added that Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center said the first presumptive case is one of their employees.
California announces three new coronavirus cases
Officials in California announced three new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Two of the cases came from Santa Clara, according to the county's public health department, bringing the county's total number of cases to 11.
The third case was announced in Berkeley, according to a press release from the city. The release said the patient returned to the city from "one of the growing number of countries with a COVID-19 outbreak" on February 23, and that the resident had "largely" stayed at home under a self-imposed quarantine. This is Berkeley's first known coronavirus case.
WHO chief says new virus much deadlier than flu, but less transmissible
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday that data has shown the new coronavirus disease to be considerably deadlier than the usual seasonal flu, but he added that it also appears to spread less easily.
Crucially, Tedros also said it did not appear that the new COVID-19 disease was spread readily by infected individuals who are not experiencing symptoms themselves. That news came after days of experts warning that many thousands of cases could essentially be hidden around the world, spread quietly by infected people with either mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
Tedros said about 3.4% of confirmed COVID-19 cases have died globally, a huge increase in previous estimates which have ranged between 1-2%. Generally the seasonal flu kills less than 1% of those infected, Tedros said by way of comparison.
"Containment is possible," stressed Tedros, warning countries dealing with their first cases that the actions they take "today will be the difference between a handful of cases, and a larger cluster."