Live Coronavirus Updates and Coverage

Live Coronavirus Updates and Coverage


Vice President Mike Pence said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was lifting all restrictions on testing for coronavirus, and would be releasing new guidelines to fast-track testing for people who fear they have the virus, even if they are displaying mild symptoms.

“Today we will issue new guidance from the C.D.C. that will make it clear that any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders,” Mr. Pence told reporters at the White House.

The federal government has promised to significantly ramp up testing, after drawing criticism for strictly limiting testing in the first weeks of the outbreak. But health care supply companies and public health officials have cast doubt on the government’s assurances, as complaints continue that the need for testing remains far greater than the capacity.

“The estimates we’re getting from industry right now — by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed,” the head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, said at a White House briefing on Monday.

But some companies developing tests say their products are still weeks away from approval.

And even if a million test kits were available, public health laboratories say they would not be able to process nearly that many within a week. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said on Monday that public health labs currently can test 15,000 people daily, though that figure is expected to grow.

The F.D.A. said that Dr. Hahn was taking into account the anticipated increased production of test kits by an outside manufacturer, Integrated DNA Technologies, which is now selling kits to the federal government and other buyers.

The C.D.C. botched the first attempt to mass produce a diagnostic kit, a discovery made only after hundreds of kits had been shipped to state laboratories. A promised replacement took several weeks, and still did not permit state and local laboratories to make final diagnoses.

“Right now, I’d say we’d need more capacity,” Dr. Hahn said at the White House briefing.

President Trump said on Tuesday that he may further tighten limits on international travel in hopes of blocking the arrival of more visitors infected by coronavirus, but he ruled out for now any restrictions on domestic travel within the United States.

“We’re not looking at that at all. There’s only one hot spot,” he told reporters. “But we’re looking at other countries and we’re being very stringent.”

The Trump administration has already imposed limits on travel from China, barred all travel to Iran and issued warnings to Americans not to travel to parts of Italy and South Korea.

Later, at the National Institutes of Health, Mr. Trump added that he was not actively considering restrictions on travel to Mexico but expressed concern about Japan, which is hosting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and has just constructed a new stadium for the competition.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” he said. “They have this fabulous facility.”

As for Mexico, he played down the prospect of travel limits. “We’re not looking at it very strongly,” he said. “We’re not seeing a lot of evidence in that area.”

Two people who died last week in the Seattle area were infected with coronavirus, officials said on Tuesday, suggesting that the virus had spread in that region days earlier than health officials had previously known.

That brought the death toll in Washington State, and in the United States, to nine. So far, those deaths have all been in the Seattle area.

The confirmation of additional deaths adds to an escalating emergency in a region that has rapidly emerged as a focal point for the virus in the United States, where there have now been at least 120 cases of coronavirus in more than a dozen states, as local health authorities from coast to coast raced to assess the risk to schools, medical centers and businesses.

The other deaths, all announced over the last few days, included residents of a nursing care facility in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb.

Health officials in North Carolina announced that state’s first case of coronavirus on Tuesday afternoon. They said the patient there had traveled to Washington and been “exposed at a long-term care facility” where there was an outbreak, an apparent reference to the Life Care nursing center in Kirkland, Wash.

The North Carolina patient was said to be doing well and isolated at home in Wake County.

Officials in Washington State were rushing to take steps to contain the spread. Health officials were asking the State Legislature for an additional $100 million in funding to help respond to the virus. Some leaders were weighing more widespread closings of events, and around Seattle, immediate steps were being taken.

In King County, officials were in the process of purchasing a motel in the region that could house people needing isolation. They were also working to repurpose modular homes that had been originally meant to be used by homeless people.

If there’s one place where being packed in close quarters with crowds of strangers is unavoidable, it is the New York City subway system — well known not just to the locals, but to millions of tourists and anyone who has ever watched a television show or movie set in the city. And that makes it a focus of public worry about contagion.

Officials said on Monday that industrial-grade disinfectants would be used to clean everything from train cars to MetroCard machines every 72 hours. “The safety of our customers and employees is our first priority as we continue to monitor the coronavirus,” said Patrick T. Warren, chief safety officer at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

From Monday evening to midday Tuesday, transit workers disinfected nearly all of the system’s 472 subway stations, more than 1,900 subway cars and nearly 2,000 buses, officials said. Transit officials in neighboring New Jersey, which has its own vast commuter rail and bus network, have also ramped up its cleaning regimen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping essential services like public transit in operation, in part so that health care workers and other emergency responders can get to work.

Other major cities experiencing outbreaks have announced similar precautions. In Tehran, public health officials have said they are disinfecting buses at least four times a day and cleaning trains after each trip. In Italy, buses, trains and ferries are also being disinfected regularly.

Although research on the coronavirus is still in the early stages, a 2011 study on a possible influenza outbreak in New York City found that only 4 percent of infections would occur on the subway.

The number of people in Iran infected by the coronavirus surged past 2,300, the death toll rose to 77, and the country’s head of Parliament said that nearly two dozen lawmakers had tested positive and should avoid meeting with members of the public, the authorities announced on Tuesday.

The new tallies were reported as the judiciary, apparently hoping to minimize the risk of contagion in Iran’s penal system, said it had temporarily freed more than 54,000 prisoners considered to be symptom-free. But it was unclear from the announcement how many of the prisoners had actually been tested, given the shortage of testing equipment in Iran.

Gholamhossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesman, who announced the prisoner releases, did not specify whether any of the reported cases or deaths so far have included prisoners.

Iran now has 2,336 reported cases, more than any country other than China and South Korea, and 11 more people have died, according to figures cited by the deputy health minister, Alireza Raisi, on state TV.

State news media reported on Tuesday that Ahmad Toysarkani, an adviser to the judiciary, was among those who had died. The virus has been felt at the highest levels of Iranian society, with Masoumeh Ebtekar, the president’s deputy for women’s affairs and the highest-ranking woman in the government, among those who have become infected.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, was pictured in state news media wearing plastic gloves, and he told the Iranian people to follow medical advice to help combat the outbreak, saying anything that “facilitates its spread is a sin.”

The death toll in Italy jumped to 79 on Tuesday, an increase of 27 deaths in one day, Italian officials said.

Those who had died in the previous 24 hours ranged in age from 55 to 101, said Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency who is coordinating the country’s response to the crisis.

“Most were over 70, and some had pre-existing conditions. But for the others, we still aren’t sure,” he said at a news conference in Rome.

Of the 2,502 infections so far — up from the 1,835 announced on Monday — 90 percent were located in the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna, Mr. Borrelli said. Italy has had by far the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

Meanwhile, the Vatican said Tuesday that Pope Francis was ailing with a common cold, and did not have “symptoms that could be related to other pathologies.”

On Tuesday, France, which has the second highest number of cases in Europe, announced 21 new cases of coronavirus on its soil, raising the total number of cases to 212. A top official at France’s health ministry also announced one new fatality from the virus, a 92-year-old man in the western Morbihan region, bringing the death toll up to four.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Tuesday morning a second confirmed case of the coronavirus in New York, saying that a man in his 50s in Westchester County, just outside of New York City, had tested positive.

The man initially went to a hospital in Westchester about four or five days ago, before it was confirmed he had the virus, the authorities said, acknowledging that he may have exposed doctors, nurses and others to the infection.

On Tuesday, health officials told the man’s synagogue, Young Israel of New Rochelle, to call off its religious services for the foreseeable future. Citing guidance from state officials, the county also told congregants who attended Shabbat services on Feb. 22 or went to a funeral or a bat mitzvah there on Feb. 23 to quarantine themselves; the county said it would order quarantines if the affected people did not do so voluntarily.

The patient, whose test was confirmed overnight in New York City, is a lawyer who works in Manhattan and lives in New Rochelle. Mr. Cuomo said the new patient had an underlying respiratory illness and is now at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in the city. The mayor’s office said he was in “serious condition.”

Though he traveled recently to Miami, he had not traveled to any of the areas that are known hubs of transmission for the virus. For New York, this means the new coronavirus can no longer be thought of as an external threat that has yet to arrive.

Health authorities in New York are now scrambling to trace the chain of transmission in both directions: who infected him, and who he may have infected.

Two of the man’s children have links to New York City. One child attends a Jewish high school in Riverdale, which was closed on Tuesday as a precaution. The other, a college student in the city who officials believed lives on campus, has exhibited symptoms associated with the illness.

Both of them have been quarantined and are being tested for coronavirus, according to Mr. de Blasio.

On Sunday, officials announced the state’s first case, a 39-year-old woman in Manhattan who had been visiting Iran, one of the epicenters of the virus’s rapid worldwide spread.

Symptoms of the infection include fever, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and gastrointestinal problems or diarrhea.

Serious cases cause lung lesions and pneumonia. But milder cases may resemble the flu or a cold, making detection of the more deadly coronavirus difficult.

Current estimates suggest that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure.

If you think you’re sick, stay home, except to get medical care. If you have symptoms, the C.D.C recommends that you call a medical professional if you have recently been in an area with a coronavirus outbreak, or have had close contact with someone who has been to such an area.

The Federal Reserve delivered the emergency rate cut investors had been clamoring for at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The market rally that followed lasted about 15 minutes.

By the end of trading on Tuesday, stocks were sharply lower and bond yields had plummeted to previously unthinkable lows, suggesting that investors think there’s little the Federal Reserve can do to keep the coronavirus from hammering the U.S. economy.

The S&P 500 fell about 2.8 percent, undoing much of Monday’s 4.6 percent surge. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes dropped below 1 percent.

Both moves suggest investors see growing threats to the outlook for economic growth and corporate profits over the next 10 months.

Economists around the globe sharply downgraded their economic growth expectations for the year. JPMorgan Chase economists and market analysts estimated that investors are pricing in a 90 percent chance of recession, according to a research note published Tuesday afternoon.

In response to the epidemic, the government of India on Tuesday curbed exports of 26 drugs and drug ingredients, including a wide range of antibiotics and certain vitamins, meaning that the new coronavirus could soon have ripple effects on people worldwide with other ailments.

The world relies heavily on India’s huge pharmaceutical industry for generic drugs, but Indian officials are concerned about safeguarding the supply for their own country.

Indian drug makers depend on Chinese factories for key drug ingredients, particularly for antibiotics and vitamins. The Covid-19 outbreak in China and quarantine of Hubei province, where much of the production is centered, has severely hampered China’s ability to produce those ingredients.

Although Indian companies had stockpiled extra ingredients ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holiday, those reserves are now running low.

It’s unclear whether India’s exports of the specified drugs will be completely stopped. The government’s order said that exports of the drugs are restricted, which means a government permit is required before they can be shipped out of the country.

The antibiotics facing export limits are tinidazole, metronidazole, chloramphenicol, erythromycin salts, neomycin, clindamycin salts and ornidazole.

Other drugs on the restricted list include the painkiller acetaminophen, the hormone progesterone, the antiviral drug aciclovir, and the vitamins B1, B6 and B12.

Many of the more than 120 American evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were set to be released from quarantine on Tuesday from a military base in Texas, after state and local officials said the C.D.C. modified its release protocol in response to their concerns.

The former passengers have been at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for roughly two weeks since being evacuated from the cruise ship. Those being released have tested negative for the virus and have not shown symptoms while in quarantine.

They were scheduled to go home on Monday, but their release was delayed at the urging of San Antonio and Texas state officials. The city tried and failed to obtain a federal court order barring the C.D.C. from releasing more people.

None of those released on Tuesday will stay at local hotels, city officials said, but instead will be taken on buses from the air base to the airport.

Quarantined people who have been infected must be symptom-free and have two negative test results within 24 hours are eligible for release.

Reporting and research were contributed by Katie Rogers, Christina Goldbaum, Reed Abelson, Azi Paybarah, Jesse McKinley, Katie Thomas, Knvul Sheikh, Choe Sang-Hun, Peter Baker, Benjamin Mueller, Marc Santora, Joseph Goldstein, Michael Gold, Luis Ferre-Sadurni, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Roni Caryn Rabin, Russell Goldman, Paul Mozur, Raymond Zhong, Noah Weiland, Emily Cochrane, Aaron Krolik, Claire Fu, Elaine Yu, Elisabetta Povoledo, Vindu Goel, Manny Fernandez, Mitch Smith, Richard Pérez-Peña, Dagny Salas, Iliana Magra and Constant Meheut.



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