Washington county declares state of emergency as coronavirus death toll rises

jarun011/iStock(NEW YORK) — A viral outbreak that began in China has since spread to every continent across the globe except Antarctica, infecting nearly 90,000 people.

Although the spread of the novel coronavirus appeared to be slowing down in China, it has picked up speed elsewhere in the world, including in the United States.

Below is a breakdown of all the developments Monday. All times are Eastern:

11 p.m. State officials announce first two cases in Georgia

Gov. Brian Kemp and officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health announced Monday night that two Fulton County residents are Georgia’s first COVID-19 cases.

The residents live in the same household, and one recently returned from Italy, one of a handful of countries where the epidemic is strongest.

Both have mild symptoms and have been isolated at home with other relatives to keep the illness from spreading, officials said.

7 p.m. NY governor pushes insurers to waive coronavirus related fees

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new directive Monday night that requires New York state health insurers to waive the cost to their clients for any procedure related to testing for coronavirus, including emergency room, urgent care and office visits.

The state’s Medicaid recipients will not be expected to pay or co-pay for any COVID-19 related testing, under the directive.

6:45 p.m. Airlines to ask passengers about travel history

Airlines are being instructed by the federal government to ask if their U.S.-bound passengers have visited China or Iran in the last two weeks, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Carriers are encouraged to look through reservations and passport stamps if necessary, agency officials said.

If a passenger traveled to one of those countries in the last 14 days, they will have to enter through one of the 11 airports designated by the Department of Homeland Security where they will be screened for the virus.

6:03 p.m. Pence provides updates from White House

Vice President Mike Pence and members of the federal coronavirus task force updated the nation about ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. He reassured Americans that despite the rise in the number of cases and deaths over the last few days, the risk to Americans remains low.

Pence said he is coordinating with local and state leaders to ensure they all have the best resources and tools.

“We’re ready for anything, but this is an all hands on deck effort,” he said.

There are currently no plans to restrict travel within the United States, but Pence said there will be 100% screening for people who travel to the U.S. from Italy and South Korea.

5:50 p.m. Trump touts additional travel restrictions

President Trump told reporters there would be additional travel restrictions to countries with ongoing outbreaks, but he didn’t provide specifics.

“We’re doing that, we’ve already done it with three countries in addition to China,” he said.

5:31 p.m. U.S. State Department announces $37 million in aid

U.S. officials announced Monday evening that the U.S. will provide $37 million to the World Health Organization and other health programs to deal with the coronavirus. This is the first batch of $100 million that the U.S. Department of State pledged last month.

The funding will help efforts in several countries including Afghanistan, Nepal, Nigeria and Thailand, according to the Department of State.

4:33 p.m. Delta waives fees for flight bookings

Delta Airlines announced it will waive change fees for all flights booked in March to any international destination.

On Sunday, American Airlines announced it would waive change fees for flights booked between March 1 and March 16. JetBlue will waive change and cancellation fees for customers who book flights up until March 11.

4 p.m. Dow snaps losing streak with 1,200-point gain

The U.S.’s major stock markets posted gains Monday afternoon following the worst week of trading since the 2008 financial crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 1,200 points, or 5%, which was the biggest percentage gain since March 2009, the Associated Press reported.

Last week, the Dow lost more than 3,500 points, roughly 12%, because of coronavirus concerns.

The S&P 500 index rose 135 points, or 4.6%, to 3,089 and the Nasdaq added 384 points, or 4.5%, to 8,952.

3:30 p.m. Fed government says no staffer sent to China has tested positive so far China mission

The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services said none of its staffers who were involved with bringing back ex-pats from China were exposed to the virus but it is investigating claims made by a whistleblower that alleged they weren’t properly trained and didn’t wear any protection.

“The 14-day window for the virus to manifest itself has long since passed and no [Administration for Children and Families] employee has become ill with COVID-19,” the HHS spokesperson for the agency said.

HHS said it wouldn’t mandate testing for those employees but the agency would provide testing kits to any one of those staffers who request one.

3:15 p.m. Inside look at NY state’s coronavirus testing facility

New York State’s Department of Health gave ABC News inside access into the Wadsworth Lab in Albany, where health officials are currently testing coronavirus cases.

The facility confirmed the state’s first positive case over the weekend, a medical professional who returned from a trip to Iran last week.


2:30 p.m. 4 deaths reported in Washington

King County, Washington, declared a state of emergency after it revealed it had 14 confirmed cases of the virus, which resulted in five deaths in the county.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for the state’s Department of Public Health, said among the newly reported deaths are a man and woman in their 70s who had underlying conditions. They were residents of LifeCare, a nursing facility that had several confirmed cases and one previous death, according to Duchin.

The nursing facility’s residents and staff are currently being tested for the virus.

A woman in her 80s who was hospitalized Sunday night also succumbed to the virus, according to Duchin.

Health officials in neighboring Snohomish County also announced they had a coronavirus-related death.

There are now six total deaths related to the coronavirus in the U.S., all in Washington state.

2:00 p.m. More confirmed cases in different states

Health officials in California and Oregon confirmed more cases in their states on Monday afternoon.

The Santa Clara Public Health Department announced Monday that two men were diagnosed with the virus, the eighth and ninth cases recorded in that area. One of the men had no relevant travel history while the second patient did travel to another affected nation, the health department said.

Both men are currently under home isolation.



The Oregon Health Authority said the patient is an adult from Umatilla County who is hospitalized in Walla Walla, Washington. The adult attended a youth basketball game at Weston Middle School, according to officials.

“School district officials have closed the gym and will conduct a deep cleaning out of an abundance of caution,” the Oregon Health Authority tweeted.

1:00 p.m. ET Pentagon updates work on vaccine

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters that the U.S. military’s labs are working hard to come up with a vaccine. The science labs at Fort Detrick, Maryland, are part of the efforts and specialists will work with civilian medical authorities to develop the vaccine, according to Esper.

“We’ll see how that develops over the next couple of months,” he said.

In the meantime, the Pentagon will work with military families to ensure they stay safe at bases locally and abroad, the defense secretary said.

Esper said he is prepared to answer questions from bases about what resources they need to “number one, protect our service members and their families; number two, ensure that our mission is safeguarded, that we can conduct our missions, and number three, support the inter-agency for the whole of government approach.”

11:18 a.m. ET WHO director-general: ‘We are in uncharted territory’

The director-general of the World Health Organization said containment of the novel coronavirus “is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.”

“We are in uncharted territory,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at Monday’s daily briefing in Geneva. “We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.”

“With early, aggressive measures,” he said, “countries can stop transmission and save lives.”

Acknowledging that many people are afraid and have concerns, Tedros said the WHO “will not hesitate to describe this as a pandemic if that’s what the evidence suggests.”

“But we need to see this in perspective,” he added, noting that a vast majority of countries with cases have not demonstrated community-level transmission and about 90% of all confirmed cases were reported in China, mostly in a single province.

There also isn’t a “one-size fits all approach” to fighting the outbreak, Tedros said, because “different countries are in different scenarios.”

China, where the viral outbreak began in December, is seeing an overall decline in new cases, with just 206 confirmed in the past 24 hours — the lowest amount since Jan. 22. Meanwhile, over 130 countries around the globe have not yet detected any cases of the newly identified virus, known officially as COVID-19.

“Some [countries] have rapidly expanding epidemics, with signs of community transmission,” Tedros said. “And some have declining epidemics and have not reported a case for more than two weeks. Some countries have more than one of these scenarios at the same time.”

The epidemics in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan remain the WHO’s “greatest concern,” according to Tedros.

“Our message to all countries is: this is not a one-way street. We can push this coronavirus back,” he told reporters. “Your actions now will determine the course of the COVID-19 outbreak in your country. There’s no choice but to act now.”

10:45 a.m. ET WHO staff member tests positive for coronavirus in Iran

A staff member of the World Health Organization has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The employee, who works in the WHO Country Office in Iran, has “mild disease,” Tedros told reporters at Monday’s daily briefing in Geneva.

A WHO team arrived in Tehran on Monday afternoon to deliver medical supplies and provide support to the country, where the number of confirmed cases has continued to tick upward.

10:13 a.m. ET More info on New York’s 1st coronavirus case

During a Monday morning press briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo provided more information about the state’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.

The woman is a 39-year-old health worker who had recently traveled home from Iran, where hundreds of people have been infected. The unnamed woman is currently isolated in her Manhattan apartment with her husband, who is also being tested and presumed to be positive, according to Cuomo.

Health officials don’t believe the woman was contagious when she flew back to New York City and took a private car home. But out of an abundance of caution, Cuomo said health officials are contacting the woman’s livery driver as well as the other passengers who were on her plane.

Cuomo also announced that he will ask state lawmakers for an additional $40 million to ensure health officials have the necessary resources to respond to the viral outbreak.

The New York State Department of Health is partnering with hospitals to expand surge testing capacity to 1,000 rests per day statewide for the new coronavirus. The state will also institute a new cleaning protocol in schools, in the public transportation system and elsewhere, which the governor said is a good idea during flu season anyway.

“We have the best health-care system in the world, and we are leveraging that system to help contain any potential spread of the novel coronavirus in New York,” Cuomo told reporters. “This isn’t our first rodeo — we are fully coordinated, we are fully mobilized, and we are fully prepared to deal with the situation as it develops.”

8:07 a.m. ET Trump teases meeting with drug-makers

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday morning to tease his upcoming meeting with major drugmakers at the White House, saying there was progress on the development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

“I am meeting with the major pharmaceutical companies today at the White House about progress on a vaccine and cure. Progress being made!” Trump tweeted.

Over the weekend, Trump said a vaccine is being developed “very quickly” and “very rapidly.” However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned last week that the process is likely to take “about a year to a year and a half.”

7:22 a.m. ET Health worker from Iran is 1st coronavirus case in New York

In an interview Monday on “CBS This Morning,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed that the state’s first patient to test positive for the novel coronavirus is a female health worker who lives in Manhattan and had just returned from Iran, which has reported hundreds of confirmed cases. She is under isolation in her apartment.

“This is somewhat of a unique case because this woman was a health care worker, coming back from Iran,” Cuomo said. “She knew to take precautions herself, which was fortunate.”

The governor added that “New Yorkers should not be surprised.”

“We’ve been talking about this for days. I have said, it’s not a question of if but when,” Cuomo said. “You see the number of cases around the globe. New York is the gateway to the world. So that’s not shocking.”

New York state now has the federal authority to test for the new virus, which the governor said will allow health officials to “scale up very, very quickly.” Cuomo also urged the public to remain calm.

“We want to have a healthy diligence about this issue, but we don’t want an unnecessary anxiety we don’t want people overreacting,” he said. “We have to treat it. We have to be serious, but there’s the fear, in my opinion, is outpacing reason at this point.”


Two people sickened with the novel coronavirus have died in the U.S., as the global death toll from the viral outbreak that began in China nears 3,000.

Both patients who succumbed to the newly identified virus, known officially as COVID-19, were residents of Washington state’s King County, officials said. The second death was announced Sunday night.

The U.S. has confirmed at least 74 cases of COVID-19 so far, including several community-acquired cases in which the patients had no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual.

At least six residents of a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington state, were among those who had contracted the virus, according to the public health department for the city of Seattle and King County.

The new coronavirus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan back in December and has since spread overseas to at least 58 other countries, with South Korea, Italy and Iran seeing the biggest surge in case numbers recently. The World Health Organization, which has declared the outbreak a global health emergency and said it has “pandemic potential,” has recorded more than 87,000 confirmed infections globally. Over 91% of those cases were in China.

At least 2,873 people have died from confirmed cases of the virus, all but 104 in China, according to the latest data from the WHO.

COVID-19 causes symptoms similar to pneumonia, ranging from the mild, such as a slight cough, to the more severe, including fever and difficulty breathing, according to the CDC. There is no vaccine yet for the virus.

South Korea has the second-highest national total of cases, behind China. As of Monday, South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recorded 4,212 people who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 22 fatalities. A majority of the cases have been linked to a secretive religious sect in the city of Daegu.

Meanwhile, Italy has the third-highest national total, with 1,577 cases confirmed as of Sunday night. At least 34 of those patients had died, according to the Italian Ministry of Health. The epicenter is in the northern region of Lombardy.


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