The wife, two children and a neighbor of a suburban New York man hospitalized in critical condition with the coronavirus have all tested positive for the disease, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
The neighbor drove the New Rochelle man, 50, to the hospital, Cuomo said. One of the children, a 20-year-old son, attends Yeshiva University, which canceled classes on its Manhattan campus Wednesday.
The state now has six confirmed cases, including a New York City health care worker who recently returned from Iran. Cuomo also said hundreds of state university students studying abroad in China, Italy, Japan, Iran or South Korea will be brought home and quarantined for 14 days “out of an abundance of caution.”
“We have an epidemic caused by the coronavirus, but we have a pandemic caused by fear,” Cuomo said. “The more people you test, the more people who will test positive.”
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Here’s the latest COVID-19 developments:
WHO: Face mask, gloves shortages risk lives
A severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of masks, respirators, gloves and other personal protective equipment is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases, WHO said. The agency blamed the shortage on rising demand due to panic buying, hoarding and misuse, and it called for a 40% increase in production. Physicians, nurses and other frontline workers are “dangerously ill-equipped” to care for COVID-19 patients, WHO said.
“Without secure supply chains, the risk to health care workers around the world is real,” Tedros said in a statement. “Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding.”
After 4 weeks in coronavirus quarantine: A trip to Margaritaville
Peter and Cindy Molesky set sail from Japan on a Diamond Princess cruise ship back on Jan. 20. When their 15-day cruise ended, they went into quarantine, first on the ship and then at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. They were released Tuesday and immediately hit up the Margaritaville at the San Antonio airport.
“We figured we deserved it,” Cindy Molesky said while the couple waited for their 5 p.m. flight back to their home in New York. “We’ve been released from prison,” she told the Observer-Dispatch in Utica. “It’s a little scary. I still want to wear my mask. I feel naked without it now.”
– Amy Neff Roth, Observer-Dispatch
Death rate rises to 3.4%
The death rate among reported coronavirus patients is now about 3.4%, a far higher percentage than previous estimates, the World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says. He said the virus is more lethal than the flu, which kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, but does not spread as easily.
The death rate for the seasonal flu in the U.S. is far less than 1%. Previous global mortality rate estimates for the coronavirus had been around 2%, and the 3.43% estimate is not firm because it remains unclear how many people actually have been infected.
“COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity,” Tedros said. “That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease.”
England total almost doubles, to 80
England’s confirmed case total jumped by 32 on Wednesday, to a total of 80. All but four of the new patients had recently traveled to countries with relatively large outbreaks or were part of “recognized clusters” that were being investigated, the government said. Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have had a total of five cases.
Upside: More than 16,500 tests across the U.K. have come back negative, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
“Today we’re announcing that people self-isolating will get Statutory Sick Pay from the first day off work,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a speech to parliament.
Fauci: Vaccine could be a year away
Public health leaders told senators Tuesday that although scientists are working toward a vaccine, it won’t be available anytime soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicated potential treatments may come before a vaccine. “The timelines are fundamentally different,” he said.
Fauci said a vaccine would take at least a year to a year-and-a-half. Nine people in the U.S. have died after being infected with coronavirus, all in Washington state. There are at least 127 confirmed cases in the country. Pharmaceutical company Gilead is testing a potential treatment: “We’ll know in a few months if it works,” Fauci said.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Seattle Public Schools lays out coronavirus response plan
There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Seattle Public Schools — and the district wants to keep it that way. SPS on Tuesday night announced new guidelines for its response to the novel outbreak that has killed nine people in Washington state while stressing that custodial staff in schools across the district will prioritize cleaning common and high-traffic areas, including bathrooms and lunchrooms, multiple times each day.
If a student or staff member has had “close contact” with anybody diagnosed with coronavirus, they will be asked to leave immediately and be quarantined for 14 days. If some tests positive for coronavirus, their school will be indefinitely closed,” the district said on its website.
—Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY
Washington state outbreak hits major sports
The Chicago State University men’s basketball team canceled plans to go to Seattle for a Thursday night game. The university announced late Tuesday their team wouldn’t fly west, choosing instead to prioritize the “health and well-being” of its campus community. The cancellation was believed to be the first by a major sport in the U.S.
Chicago State also scrapped a pair of women’s basketball games slated to be played on its campus this week, including a Thursday contest against Seattle University. The university’s decision came hours after Washington state officials announced three more deaths from the virus that began in China and has since spread across the world. As of early Wednesday, Washington accounted for 27 cases in the U.S., with 231 others under public health supervision, state officials said.
Amazon confirms its first US case of coronavirus in Seattle
One of America’s tech giants, Amazon, confirmed its first U.S. case of coronavirus on Tuesday, an employee at its sprawling Seattle facility. The employee went home sick on Feb. 25 and “has not entered Amazon offices since that time,” according to an email sent to Amazon employees. The company told USA TODAY that it learned of the positive diagnosis on Tuesday.
“We’re supporting the affected employee who is in quarantine,” the company said in a statement. The employee works at the company’s Brazil building, a 12-story, 317,000-square-foot downtown complex built in 2015, the Seattle Times reported. Amazon encouraged employees experiencing symptoms to “please stay home and seek medical attention.” The company also is “continuing with enhanced deep cleaning and sanitization in the office.”
—Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY
Facebook gives free advertising to combat virus misinformation
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the social network is stepping up its efforts to combat virus-related misinformation by giving the World Health Organization free advertising. Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook account that the company is working with national health ministries and global organizations like the World Health Orgnization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF to get out timely and accurate information on the virus. Zuckerberg said Facebook will also give “support and millions more in ad credits” to other unspecified organizations.
How many cases of coronavirus in the US, and where?
There were 127 confirmed cases across at least 15 states as of early Wednesday, according to a coronavirus dashboard run by Johns Hopkins University.
That number is expected to get bigger, though, as the CDC has expanded its testing efforts and encouraged more testing at health centers across the country.
Common signs of infection include fever, cough and breathing difficulties. If the infection worsens, it can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.
What’s the worldwide coronavirus death toll?
The global death toll was at 3,198 early Wednesday, with more than 2,900 in mainland China, where the outbreak began in the bustling capital of the country’s Hubei province, Wuhan. While Chinese officials said Tuesday they believed “victory” against the virus was coming as new cases dropped to a six-week low, Italy and Iran were among the countries under siege, reporting 79 and 77 deaths, respectively.
The worldwide count of confirmed cases was at 93,158 early Wednesday.