U.S. Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 1,000; British Health Minister Is Infected

As the nation scrambled to grasp the scope of the escalating public well being disaster, the quantity of identified circumstances of coronavirus an infection within the United States surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday evening, signaling that the coronavirus was spreading broadly in communities on each coasts and within the middle of the nation.

America’s first identified coronavirus case was introduced on Jan. 21 in Washington State. Six weeks later, the quantity of circumstances had risen to 70, most of them tied to abroad journey. But since then, new case experiences have poured in, first by the handfuls, then the a whole bunch.

A majority of the circumstances have been in Washington State, California or New York, the place on a regular basis life swiftly started to alter. Businesses closed. Colleges canceled class. Governors urged folks to keep away from crowds.

Nadine Dorries, the British health minister, confirmed reports late on Tuesday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. She had attended a reception at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official residence two days earlier.

Ms. Dorries said in a post on Twitter that she had felt “pretty rubbish” but hoped that the worst of the viral illness had come and gone. British news reports said she was the first member of Parliament to test positive.

Health officials were rushing to trace her contacts, which included dozens of constituents and lawmakers, as well as co-workers at the Department of Health and Social Care, according to British news outlets. She was at 10 Downing Street, Mr. Johnson’s residence, on Sunday for International Women’s Day.

The news sparked discussion in Britain about whether Parliament would need to be suspended. Lawmakers meet in the cramped House of Commons, sitting shoulder to shoulder on green leather benches and often spilling into the aisles and standing room areas, creating fertile conditions for illness to spread.

Ms. Dorries started feeling ill on Friday as she was signing a statutory instrument that declared coronavirus to be a “notifiable disease,” a step that allowed British companies to obtain insurance coverage.

Some observers noted that Ms. Dorries appeared to have voted in the House of Commons about a week ago, meaning she had at least brief contact with other lawmakers at a time when she may have been contagious.

But her most dangerous contact may have been with her 84-year-old mother, who is staying with her, Ms. Dorries wrote on Twitter late Tuesday night. “Thanks for so many good wishes,” Ms. Dorries wrote, adding that her mother had developed a cough.

Dr. Helen Y. Chu, an infectious disease expert in Seattle, wanted to repurpose tests from a flu research project to monitor the coronavirus after the first confirmed American case landed in her area in late January.

But nearly everywhere she turned, state and federal officials repeatedly rejected the idea, interviews and emails show, even as weeks crawled by and outbreaks emerged in countries outside of China, where the infection began.

By Feb. 25, Dr. Chu and her colleagues could not bear to wait any longer. They began performing coronavirus tests, without government approval.

What came back confirmed their worst fear. They quickly had a positive test from a local teenager with no recent travel history. The coronavirus had already established itself on American soil without anybody realizing it.

“It must have been here this entire time,” Dr. Chu recalled thinking with dread. “It’s just everywhere already.”

In fact, officials would later discover through testing, the virus had already contributed to the deaths of two people, and it would go on to kill 20 more in the Seattle region over the following days.

Federal and state officials said the flu study could not be repurposed because it did not have explicit permission from research subjects; the labs were also not certified for clinical work. While acknowledging the ethical questions, Dr. Chu and others argued there should be more flexibility in an emergency during which so many lives could be lost. On Monday night, state regulators told them to stop testing altogether.

The failure to tap into the flu study was just one in a series of missed chances by the federal government to ensure more widespread testing during the early days of the outbreak, when containment would have been easier. Instead, local officials across the country were left to work blindly as the crisis grew undetected and exponentially.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State will announce on Wednesday a prohibition on community gatherings of 250 or more people in the Seattle area as the state takes extraordinary steps to contain a coronavirus outbreak, according to a person involved in the discussions.

The announcement, according to the person involved, is expected to target events such as sporting and entertainment gatherings while offering exceptions to things like retail stores. Schools will not be affected, but districts will be expected to review things like sporting events that may draw significant crowds.

Washington State and the Seattle area have adopted increasingly stringent controls as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has approached 300 — the most in the country — and the number of deaths has reached 24.

Santa Clara County, Calif. — which includes the city of San Jose and much of Silicon Valley — has already banned large public gatherings, and man employers have temporarily closed down or asked people to work at home. On Tuesday, Google recommended that tens of thousands of its North American employees work from home. Previously, it had only extended that policy to workers in the Seattle area.

There will be no live audience. No spin room. Virtually no traveling members of the press. This is a presidential primary debate in the age of coronavirus.

CNN and Democratic officials announced on Tuesday that “at the request of the campaigns and out of an abundance of caution,” the Democratic debate in Phoenix on Sunday between former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders would be a significantly pared-down affair.

After loitering at sea for days because of coronavirus cases on board, the Grand Princess cruise liner docked in Oakland, Calif., on Monday so that passengers could debark, be screened and move on to quarantine or treatment as needed. But the process is going very slowly.

For the past two mornings, Denise Morse and other passengers have followed protocol to prepare for disembarking: Dress in their cleanest clothes, eat a big breakfast and pack their suitcases. By Tuesday afternoon, she was still on board, and growing frustrated.

“I don’t want to start crying, but I’m stressed,” said Ms. Morse, from Davis, Calif., who has been quarantined in her stateroom since Friday. “This is very exhausting to experience.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said that by 1 p.m. Pacific time, about 700 of the 2,400 passengers had left the ship. “We want to see that processing stepped up,” he said, adding of the ship: “We don’t want to see it here more than a week.”

Authorities initially said it would take around two to three days to remove all passengers from the cruise ship, an operation that federal authorities are handling in an area of the port that has been cordoned off. The crew of 1,100 would stay on board. But Mr. Newsom said the authorities were now in negotiations with the home countries of crew members to send some of them there on charter flights.

Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, said at a White House briefing that at least 171 Californians who have left the ship have been moved to Travis Air Force Base for a mandatory quarantine period. Mr. Azar said that 26 people were found to be sick and were being treated; he did not specify whether it was for the virus or other ailments.

At least 21 people aboard the two-week cruise to Hawaii have tested positive, and the figure is likely to rise. Non-Americans who leave the ship are being repatriated.

“We’re seeing the countries with socialized medicine getting their people out of here like lickety-split,” said Ms. Morse, 67.

New York State officials established a “containment zone” on Tuesday in a suburb with one of the country’s largest outbreaks, closing schools, community centers and houses of worship and deploying National Guard troops to decontaminate schools and deliver meals to people under quarantine.

The zone, announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, covers a one-mile radius around the Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, which is believed to be at the center of the large cluster of cases.

Beginning Thursday, major gathering places within that circle will be closed for two weeks. The area is mostly within New Rochelle, a small city just north of New York City, but part of it lies within the neighboring town of Eastchester.

Streets will not be closed, and businesses like grocery stores and delis will remain open, the governor said.

Noam Bramson, the mayor of New Rochelle, said that some businesses were suffering, in large part “because a fair percentage of the customer base is already quarantined” — including his own mother, who lives in a nursing home.

The creation of the containment zone was just one of many ways the virus was disrupting life in the region.

The New York Road Runners club said on Tuesday that it was canceling the New York City Half Marathon, a 13.1-mile race that typically draws about 25,000 participants and was scheduled for Sunday.

Nursing homes and assisted living centers should take action to curtail most social visits, and should even take steps to keep some employees away, to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, the industry said on Tuesday.

The recommendation follows an outbreak of the virus in the region around Seattle, where five long-term care facilities have been hit with cases, including a facility in Kirkland, Wash., where 18 residents have died.

“The mortality rate is shocking,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association. He said that the death rate might well exceed the 15 percent reported in China for people aged 80 and older who were infected.

The challenge of the virus “is one of the most significant, if not the most significant” issues the industry has ever faced, he said.

Industry officials said they are recommending that nursing homes should allow people to enter only if it is essential.

Staff members, contractors and government officials should be asked, “Do you need to be in-building to operate?” said Dr. David Gifford, the health care association’s chief medical officer.

As for family members, he said, “Our recommendation is they should not be visiting.”

Anyone who does visit, he said, should be screened carefully at reception and anyone who has signs of illness should be turned away.

Organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival have delayed next month’s event until October over concerns about the coronavirus, the festival announced on Tuesday after days of speculation.

The festival, which had been planned in two weekend installments, April 10-12 and April 17-19, will now take place six months later, on Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18. Organizers did not say anything about changes to the lineup, which was to feature Travis Scott, Frank Ocean and a reunion of Rage Against the Machine, along with dozens of other acts.

Also postponed is Stagecoach, a country music festival staged by the same organizers, which will now take place Oct. 23-25. Both events are held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.

Coachella, founded in 1999, draws up to 125,000 people a day and is a bellwether for the multibillion-dollar touring business. It joins a long list of cultural events that have been postponed or canceled over coronavirus fears, including the South By Southwest festival, which was set to begin on Friday. On Monday, Pearl Jam announced the postponement of its North American tour, and Neil Young said he was considering postponing his own tour.

Reporting and research was contributed by Jenny Gross, Michael M. Grynbaum, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Benjamin Mueller, Alissa J. Rubin, Elisabetta Povoledo, Vanessa Swales, Iliana Magra, Raphael Minder, Constant Méheut, Joanna Berendt, Jason M. Bailey, Patrick J. Lyons, Marc Santora, Jason Horowitz, Jorge Arangure, Jan Hoffman, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Peter S. Goodman, Clifford Krauss, Claire Fu, Ben Sisario, Annie Karni, Elsie Chen, Choe Sang-Hun, Maria Abi-Habib, Amber Wang, Nicholas Kulish, Zoe Mou, Niki Kitsantonis, Richard Pérez-Peña, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nicholas Fandos, Noah Weiland, Thomas Fuller, Sarah Mervosh and Mike Baker.

Source link Nytimes.com

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