News about the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, is changing rapidly. The respiratory infection, named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), is closely related to SARS and MERS. While the majority of cases are in China, the disease has been diagnosed in dozens of other countries, including the United States. We’ll provide the latest updates on cases, deaths, travel restrictions, and more here.
What is the latest news?
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in the United States as the number of cases of coronavirus — and the number of deaths — continues to climb.
Trump, speaking from the Rose Garden at the White House, said the declaration allows the federal government to allocate up to $50 billion in aid directly to states. He also announced that Google was working on a new website where people could fill out a form to request COVID-19 testing and if approved be directed to the appropriate testing facility.
“We don’t want everybody taking this test,” Trump said, adding that if you need the test, it will be available. He said he expects 5 million tests to be available “within the month.”
The move comes as the number of U.S. cases of the new coronavirus surged past 1,600, affecting all but two states and the impacts of the outbreak continue to escalate.
Students from kindergarten through college were told to stay home as schools closed. Courts and government offices are shuttering. Large-scale events across the country have been canceled or postponed. On Thursday, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League suspended play, joining the National Basketball Association which had already announced it was suspending the rest of the regular season. The NCAA earlier this week said it would play its basketball championship tournament without fans in attendance, then a day later canceled what’s known as March Madness completely, along with all winter and spring sports championships, including softball and baseball.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that gatherings of 500 or more people, including Broadway shows, are banned. Gatherings with fewer than 500 people have to reduce their capacity by half, he said. The ban does not include schools, hospitals, or nursing homes. A day after Disneyland Resort in California announced it, too, would close for the rest of March, Disney announced that all of its parks around the world would close for the rest of the month. Its cruise line would also stop departures beginning Saturday for the rest of March.
Princess Cruise lines said it was shutting down global operations for 60 days. Passengers and crew on its ships have tested positive for the virus, most notably on one that was off the coast of Japan.
Trump late Wednesday said the U.S. would ban on all foreign travel to the United States from most of Europe for the next 30 days beginning midnight Friday, March 13.
Excluded are American citizens and those traveling from the United Kingdom.
For some, the coronavirus’ most startling revelation also came Wednesday, when two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife, actor Rita Wilson, tested positive for coronavirus while on location in Australia. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie has tested positive for coronavirus. The prime minister is self-quarantining himself and working from home.
In an address to the nation Wednesday night, Trump said his decision in January to block flights from China and other nations helped limit the spread of cases here. The European Union, he said, failed to follow suit, which leads to rapid growth across Europe. “As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” he said.
The number of cases of COVID-19 has surpassed 130,000 worldwide — including more than 1,600 in the U.S. — as the new coronavirus proves difficult for states and countries to stop. The virus has now been diagnosed in all but two U.S. states: West Virginia and Idaho, and in more than 100 countries worldwide. It accounts for 41 deaths in the U.S., the majority in elderly nursing home residents in Washington state.
While public health officials warn of more cases to come, they say that the risk to the public remains low.
Earlier this week, the CDC’s Nancy Messonnier said people who are at higher risk of getting a severe case of the disease should take steps to prepare. That includes people over 60 years old and those with underlying conditions. Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said these people should make sure they have supplies on hands such as medications and groceries and avoid going out more than needed and cancel or reschedule non-essential travel.
While she expects many people in the U.S. will be exposed to the virus, most will likely have mild cases of COVID-19, she said. Data in China showed that about 80% of cases were mild.
Several federal lawmakers are putting themselves in quarantine after coming into contact with a person at a recent convention who tested positive for COVID-19, according to media reports. Neither Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas nor Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona have symptoms or have tested positive. Cruz will remain in Texas and Gosar will close his office for the week.
Several other federal lawmakers later also declared they would self-quarantine after coming into contact with potential coronavirus patients. One of them, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, rode Air Force One with the President Donald Trump the same day. Just when Cruz’ quarantine was set to end, the senator revealed he had met in his Washington office with a Spanish official who later tested positive. Cruz said he would extend his quarantine until March 17
How many people have been diagnosed with the virus, and how many have died?
According to the European CDC, the majority of the more than 160,000 cases are in China. More than 50,000 are confirmed outside of China in 100 countries and every continent except Antarctica. Italy, Iran and South Korea are the countries with the most cases outside of China. The virus has caused almost 5,000 deaths worldwide.
Italy, Iran, and South Korea have the most deaths outside China.
How many cases of COVID-19 are in the United States?
There are more than 1,600 cases in the U.S. of COVID-19. That number includes 46 cruise ship passengers that tested positive among the more than 300 evacuated by the U.S. last month and another three cases in people repatriated to the U.S. from China.
Cases in the U.S: (updated on March 13 at 10:00 a.m.)
- Washington: 457 (includes 4 evacuated passengers)
- New York: 325
- California: 198 (includes 24 people evacuated from China)
- Massachusetts: 108
- Florida: 50
- Colorado: 49
- Georgia: 42
- Illinois: 32
- Texas: 31 (includes 8 evacuated passengers)
- New Jersey: 29
- Nebraska: 24 (15 evacuated cruise ship passengers, 7 have since been released)
- Oregon: 24
- Pennsylvania: 22
- Louisiana: 19
- Tennessee: 18
- Iowa: 16
- North Carolina: 15
- Indiana: 12
- Maryland: 12
- South Carolina: 12
- Kentucky: 11
- Nevada: 11
- Washington, DC: 10
- Arizona: 9
- Minnesota: 9
- Virginia: 9
- South Dakota: 8
- Wisconsin: 8
- Arkansas: 6
- Connecticut: 6
- New Hampshire: 6
- New Mexico: 6
- Rhode Island: 5
- Ohio: 5
- Delaware: 4
- Kansas: 4
- Utah: 4
- Oklahoma: 3
- Hawaii: 2
- Vermont: 2
- Alabama: 1
- Alaska: 1
- Maine: 1
- Mississippi: 1
- Missouri: 1
- Montana: 1
- North Dakota: 1
- Wyoming: 1
- Not known: 4 (One cruise ship passenger who tested positive in Japan but was negative before returning home, and 3 other cruise ship passengers).
Deaths in the U.S.:
Washington state: 31. Twenty-two is associated with the Life Care Center skilled nursing facility in King County, Washington.
Florida: 2. One was a patient in Santa Rosa County who had recently been on an international trip The other was a person in their 70s who tested positive in Lee County, also after an international trip.
California: 4. One was in an elderly person from Placer County who had recently gone on a Princess cruise to Mexico. The other was a woman in her 60s from Santa Clara County. The third was in a woman in her 90s who lived in assisted living. The fourth was in a woman in her 60s who had traveled overseas. She died in Los Angeles County but is not a resident there.
Georgia: 1. The state’s first death was in a man in his 60s with underlying conditions. Kansas: 1. A man in his 70s was taken to a hospital and died shortly after. He tested positive for COVID-19 afterward. The man had been living in a long-term care facility in Wyandotte County, which shares a border with Missouri.
New Jersey: 1. The state’s first death was in a man in his 60s from Bergen County.
South Dakota: 1. A man in his 60s from Pennington County. Gov. Kristi Noem said he had underlying health conditions.
What are public officials doing to contain the virus?
The CDC said it has worked with states to expand testing for the virus. The agency says that 79 state and local public health labs in 50 states and the District of Columbia are currently using COVID-19 tests.
Robert Redfield, MD, director of the CDC, said during congressional testimony this week that the cost of the coronavirus tests and treatment will both be covered by private insurance, something both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have said would happen, too. It differs, however, from what private insurance companies have publicly committed to doing. The FDA, which must approve new medical tests, gave emergency approval to Roche for a fast-response test the testing giant has developed. The company says its equipment can examine more than 1,400 tests in 24 hours.
All of these developments came after the WHO called the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, acknowledging worldwide spread of the disease. At a news briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was alarmed by the spread and severity of the disease along with “alarming levels of inaction” in how some countries are dealing with it.
He said while he was concerned about fear the word might cause, he hoped to galvanize response by calling it a pandemic. The spread of the virus can still be contained, he said.
Describing the outbreak as a pandemic doesn’t change what the WHO is doing and it shouldn’t change what countries are doing, he said.
“We should double down and be more aggressive,” Tedros said.
In addition to testing people who have symptoms and have recently traveled to areas where the infection is spreading, like China, Italy, and Japan, the CDC also plans to begin testing people with pneumonia that isn’t caused by the flu through its influenza-like illness surveillance network.
Previously, the agency would only accept a test if the patient had traveled to China or had close contact with someone who had been there.
Officials and businesses are working together to halt the spread of the virus. Sports leagues have suspended or canceled play; conferences, festivals, and events are canceled; and many schools and universities have closed or are doing online classes.
The U.S. is banning any foreign visitors who have come from China and Iran from entering the country, and this week Trump extended that ban to most foreign nationals traveling from Europe.
The quarantining of people returning to the U.S. from China appears to have succeeded, as there have limited reports of the evacuees contributing to the skyrocketing number of U.S. cases.
Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the strict precautions are warranted because “the issue now with this is that there are a lot of unknowns.”
He pointed out that the number of cases “has steeply inclined each and every day.”
We now know for certain that a person without symptoms can transmit the disease, Fauci said.
Health officials also clarified the distinctions between isolation and quarantine. Isolation is used to keep a person who’s already sick from infecting others. Quarantines restrict the movement of someone who has been exposed but is not yet sick.
The CDC recently urged people to prepare for the spread of the coronavirus, warning that it was likely to become more common in the U.S.
“Disruption to everyday life might be severe,” Messonnier said. “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen.
“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”Which countries have travel restrictions?
The U.S. State Department has advised against travel to China and Iran, issuing a Level 4 advisory.
The CDC has also issued a Level 3 travel advisory for South Korea, Iran, and most of Europe. That means people should avoid non-essential travel. There is a Level 2 global outbreak notice. Level 2 means that older people and people with chronic conditions should consider postponing non-essential travel. Also, most foreign nations traveling from Europe, and foreign nationals from China and Iran are temporarily banned from entering the U.S.
The CDC also recommends that all travelers, and especially those with underlying conditions, avoid cruise ship travel. Passengers in higher-risk categories should also avoid planes and large gatherings, the agency says.
Coronavirus: What Happens When You Get Infected?
How Does Coronavirus Attack Your Body?
A virus infects your body by entering healthy cells. There, the invader makes copies of itself and multiplies throughout your body.
The new coronavirus latches its spiky surface proteins to receptors on healthy cells, especially those in your lungs.
Specifically, the viral proteins bust into cells through ACE2 receptors. Once inside, the coronavirus hijacks healthy cells and takes command. Eventually, it kills some of the healthy cells.
How Does Coronavirus Move Through Your Body?
COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, starts with droplets from an infected person’s cough, sneeze, or breath. They could be in the air or on a surface that you touch before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. That gives the virus a passage to the mucous membranes in your throat. Within 2 to 14 days, your immune system may respond with symptoms including:CONTINUE READING BELOW
- A cough
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Chills, sometimes with shaking
- Body aches
- A sore throat
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
The virus moves down your respiratory tract. That’s the airway that includes your mouth, nose, throat, and lungs. Your lower airways have more ACE2 receptors than the rest of your respiratory tract. So COVID-19 is more likely to go deeper than viruses like the common cold.
Your lungs might become inflamed, making it tough for you to breathe. This can lead to pneumonia, an infection of the tiny air sacs (called alveoli) inside your lungs where your blood exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide.
If your doctor does a CT scan of your chest, they’ll probably see shadows or patchy areas called “ground-glass opacity.”
For most people, the symptoms end with a cough and a fever. More than 8 in 10 cases are mild. But for some, the infection gets more severe. About 5 to 8 days after symptoms begin, they have shortness of breath (known as dyspnea). Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) begins a few days later.
ARDS can cause rapid breathing, a fast heart rate, dizziness, and sweating. It damages the tissues and blood vessels in your alveoli, causing debris to collect inside them. This makes it harder or even impossible for you to breathe.
Many people who get ARDS need help breathing from a machine called a ventilator.
As fluid collects in your lungs, they carry less oxygen to your blood. That means your blood may not supply your organs with enough oxygen to survive. This can cause your kidneys, lungs, and liver to shut down and stop working.
Not everyone who has COVID-19 has these serious complications. And not everyone needs medical care. But if your symptoms include trouble breathing, get help right away.NEWSLETTERStay Up-to-Date on COVID-19
What Else Does COVID-19 Do to Your Body?
Some people also have symptoms including:
- Liver problems or damage
- Heart problems
- Kidney damage
- Dangerous blood clots, including in their legs, lungs, and arteries. Some clots may cause a stroke.
Researchers are also looking into a few reports of skin rashes, including some reddish-purple spots on fingers or toes.
A few children and teens have been admitted to the hospital with an inflammatory syndrome that may be linked to the new coronavirus. Symptoms include a fever, rash, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and heart problems. The syndrome, now being referred to as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C is similar to toxic shock or to Kawasaki disease, a condition in children that causes inflammation in blood vessels. We’re still learning about these cases.
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Coronavirus: Adults should take vitamin D, researchers say
The Government should immediately change recommendations for vitamin D supplements as a matter of urgency by urging all adults to take them during the coronavirus pandemic, according to scientists at Trinity College Dublin.
This follows evidence highlighting the association between vitamin D levels and mortality from Covid-19 produced by Dr Eamon Laird and Prof Rose Anne Kenny, who lead the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.
They analysed European adult population studies completed since 1999 which measured vitamin D, and compared vitamin D and death rates from Covid-19.
The pivotal role of vitamin D in fighting viral infections is known but it can also “support the immune system through a number of immune pathways” involved in fighting Covid-19, they conclude in a study published in the Irish Medical Journal.
The correlation is so strong taking vitamin D should be advised immediately, Prof Kenny said. This was because vitamin D deficiency was common among those at risk of Covid-19 (particularly older people); there was no toxic risk from taking it at the recommended dosage level, and growing evidence of benefits.
Last week, scientists at Northwestern University in the US found those with severe vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to experience Covid-19 complications.
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