The Latest: Washington state virus death count up to 37
The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic:
King County health officials reported six new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the Washington state total to 36.
As of Friday, more than 6,000 people have been tested and 568 were positive in 19 counties, Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer, told The Associated Press. Even with thousands of tests being done, Lofy said it’s not enough.
“We should be doing more testing in Washington,” Lofy said. “We’re doing everything we can to increase testing capacity.”
Gov. Kate Brown said Friday that Oregon will help find childcare for the children of frontline medical workers and first responders as schools statewide are closed for two weeks to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Oregon also obtained a federal waiver Friday to allow districts to serve free and reduced-price lunches to lower-income students outside a school setting, at places such as bus stops, churches and community centers.
About half of the 580,000 children in Oregon affected by the two-week closure of all school statewide receive meal subsidies, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said.
As for childcare for doctors and nurses, Brown equated it to a wartime effort to make medical workers available.
The World Health Organization’s chief has launched a global fund on Friday to raise money to help the world’s nations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Every dollar donated is a dollar towards saving lives.”
President Donald Trump has said he is likely to take a test for the coronavirus after all.
Trump over the weekend was near Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, who tested positive for the virus just days later.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday that “both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.”
Trump was asked at a press conference Friday if he was being selfish by not undergoing testing, prompting Trump to reply: “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested.”
“Most likely, yeah,” Trump added while downplaying his interaction with the Brazilian official at this resort in Florida. “Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway. Fairly soon, we’re working out a schedule.”
The Catalan government wants to fully isolate the northeastern region of 7.5 million to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, its regional chief said late on Friday, urging central authorities in Spain to help enforcing the total lockdown.
Quim Torra spoke in a televised address on the same day when some 70,000 residents were confined to four towns of the region where a virulent cluster of the COVID-19 has infected dozens in a matter of days.
Central authorities in Spain announced Friday a state of emergency that will give the government extraordinary powers from Saturday and until the end of March to take over private facilities, restrict freedom of movement and impose mandatory supply of food and medicines.
Authorities in the Madrid region, with nearly half of the country’s more than 4,200 infections, have also urged the central government to order the total lockdown there.
In a press conference late in the evening, regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, confirmed that hotels had been designated to be used as makeshift hospitals in order to reach at least 1,000 rooms with intensive care capabilities in coming weeks.
Hungary is closing schools starting Monday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday night in a video posted on the government’s Facebook page that classes will be held for students only through distance learning.
He also asked that children staying at home not be left in the care of grandparents, who, because of their age, are among those most at risk regarding the coronavirus.
Hungary already suspended university classes earlier this week because of the large number of foreign students.
Hungary has reported 19 cases of the coronavirus.
Washington’s governor has ordered a six-week closure of all public and private schools in the state, which has seen the most COVID-19 deaths in the United States.
Gov. Jay Inslee had previously ordered all greater Seattle area schools to shut down. Inslee’s order requires schools to close from March 17 to April 24. In Washington state, there are more than 1.1 million public school students.
At least 31 deaths from coronavirus have occurred in Washington, most in the Seattle area.
President Donald Trump is criticizing legislation in the House designed to help Americans dealing with the new coronavirus, saying, “we just don’t think they’re giving enough.”
Trump claimed that Democrats, in the end, “didn’t agree to certain things they agreed to.”
Central to the House package is free testing for the virus and guaranteed sick pay for workers who are taking time away from jobs, along with an infusion of dollars to handle unemployment benefits and boost food programs for children, families and seniors.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday the House would approve the aid package and implored the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to “put families first” by backing the effort.
Morocco announced a temporary nationwide school shut down amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus.
Lessons will be conducted digitally, as the educational staff is required to continue providing lessons over the net, according to a statement from the education ministry.
Morocco introduced a range of other measures, including banning all gatherings of more than 1,000 people, prohibiting religious events and suspending flights to China, Italy, Spain and France.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says all passenger air traffic abroad will be halted on Tuesday.
Earlier Friday, the country banned entry by foreigners for two weeks.
The speaker of parliament, Dmytro Razumkov, told a Ukrainian TV station that Ukrainian citizens will still be able to enter the country by land and sea entry points.
President Donald Trump says he will waive interest on student loans being held by the federal government “until further notice” as part of an emergency action to help Americans deal with the new coronavirus.
Trump says he has also instructed his secretary of Energy to purchase large quantities of crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which stores fuel for emergency use.
Trump says “we’re going to fill it right up to the top” and the move would save American taxpayers and help the oil industry. Trump made the announcements during a White House press conference on Friday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a ramp-up Friday in testing for the new coronavirus in Florida, where more than 50 people have been infected with the virus including the Miami mayor.
DeSantis said the state was purchasing kits that allow for testing up to 625,000 people, with 40 percent of them already in hand and 60 percent of them on the way.
So far, people have tested positive for COVID-19 in at least 20 counties in Florida, most of them after traveling internationally or to other affected U.S. states. Two people in Florida have died.
Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei says the country has its first confirmed case of coronavirus.
The Guatemalan man had arrived in the country Wednesday from Italy with relatives. There were also five citizens of El Salvador who arrived on the same flight and were immediately redirected to that country.
The man was taken to a local hospital that had been prepared to treat those with the illness. The man’s relatives were being monitored.
Neighboring Honduras confirmed its first two cases earlier this week.
President Donald Trump has announced that he is officially declaring a national emergency over the new coronavirus.
The president spoke at Rose Garden press conference and said no resource will be spared in responding to the virus. He says that the declaration will free up nearly $50 billion to help the states and cities.
Trump says he is also asking every hospital in the U.S. to activate their emergency preparedness plan.
He is facing growing criticism about his mixed messages on the severity of the outbreak and over the administration’s scattershot response.
But the president is defending the administration’s response, particularly its temporary ban on travel from Europe, saying it will save lives. He says of the virus that “this will pass” and the nation will emerge stronger.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem ordered a state of emergency on Friday and ordered public schools to close in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The move marks an intensification of Noem’s response to the virus outbreak. She ordered all public schools to close for a week to clean facilities and prepare for a potential reopening the following week.
This comes after another person in the state, a man in his 30s who had traveled outside the state, had tested positive for the virus, bringing the state total to nine cases. One of the men who tested positive for the virus died on Tuesday.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday ordered the cancellation or postponement of all events and gatherings of more than 250 people in an attempt to combat the spread of the coronavirus, exempting industrial work, mass transit and the purchase of groceries or consumer goods.
The move came a day after she announced that all public and private schools — covering more than 1.5 million kids — would be closed for three weeks starting Monday due to the pandemic.
As of Thursday, Michigan had 12 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday ordered all schools in Virginia to close for at least two weeks as the coronavirus spreads, a move that follows similar orders in several other states.
Schools will close Monday until at least March 27, Northam said in a statement.
“I recognize this will pose a hardship on many families, but closing our schools for two weeks will not only give our staff time to clean and disinfect school facilities, it will help slow the spread of this virus,” Northam said.
Northam’s decision follows the near doubling of coronavirus cases in the state. Virginia has 30 people who have tested positive, up from 17 a day ago, The Virginia Department of Health said Friday.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the number of positive COVID-19 cases has climbed to 50, up from 29.
The 21 positive cases amount to the biggest jump since the first positive test last week.
Murphy also said that the state is preparing for closing schools statewide, though he stopped short of taking that step. He said it’s a matter of when, not if, they close.
Gov. Tom Wolf is ordering the closure of all schools in Pennsylvania for two weeks as the state takes sweeping measures aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.
The order affecting more than 1.7 million school children in public and private schools came as confirmed cases in the state leaped to 33 from 22, including the first patient under age 18.
Wolf ordered all schools, day cares and other facilities closed in hard-hit Montgomery County, in the Philadelphia suburbs, home to more than 800,000 people.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the country is temporarily restoring its border with its European Union neighbors and introducing strict controls for car traffic into Poland.
The decision will be effective for 10 days but can be extended by another 20 days and then by a month.
Starting at midnight local time Saturday, the country will suspend international flights and international railway connections.
The Russian government is sharply cutting passenger air traffic with countries of the European Union — but not Great Britain — as well with Norway and Switzerland.
The government’s operational center on Friday said all regular flights to and from those countries will be cancelled as of Monday, with the exception of flights connecting Moscow with the countries’ capitals and charter flights and charter flights taking citizens to their home countries.
A cruise ship was docked in isolation in northeastern Brazil on Friday after two passengers were found to have symptoms resembling that of the new coronavirus, according to local authorities.
The Brazilian state of Pernambuco’s health secretariat said it decided on Thursday to keep the ship — with its 318 passengers and 291 crew members — in isolation in the capital Recife.
The first passenger suspected of having the virus, 78, was removed from the ship and admitted to a private clinic after displaying respiratory problems. The result of his coronavirus test will dictate whether the ship’s passengers are placed into quarantine, the state’s health secretary, André Longo, said in a televised interview with network Globo.
Authorities reported a second possible case on Friday. The passenger had a fever and difficulty breathing, so was placed in a private health unit to perform the coronavirus test.
Louisiana’s governor planned to postpone the state’s presidential primaries due to fears of the coronavirus, an aide said Friday, which would make it the first state to do so.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards planned to sign an executive order delaying the April 4 primary until June 20, said his spokeswoman Christina Stephens.
“We are experiencing community spread of coronavirus in Louisiana, and the governor is taking decisive action to slow its progress,” Stephens said on Twitter.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said in the daily address Friday that there are now 3661 confirmed cases in France — a figure that represents a rise of more than 800 since Thursday.
Veran said there have been 18 new deaths reported, bringing the French death toll to 79. All non-urgent actions in hospital are being postponed.
A count of 154 infected people are in a serious condition.
Mexico’s stock exchange said Friday that its president tested positive for coronavirus, but has yet to display any symptoms.
In a statement, the Mexican Stock Exchange said that Jaime Ruiz Sacristán had tested positive on Thursday. It said he would work from home for two weeks on the recommendation of his doctor.
It did not explain why Ruiz was tested if he had not displayed any symptoms.
The Walt Disney Co. says its shutting down many of its live-action productions, including “The Little Mermaid,” due to the coronavirus.
Hollywood on Friday continued to halt shoots of most films and television series to help control the spread of the virus. For Disney, that also includes “The Last Duel” with Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck; Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”; a “Home Alone” remake and more.
“While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our productions, after considering the current environment and the best interests of our cast and crew, we have made the decision to pause production on some of our live-action films for a short time,” said a spokesman for Disney.
The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday said it would shutter its theme parks, including Disney World and Disneyland, and it delayed the releases of several upcoming films, including “Mulan.”
University of Texas President Greg Fenves said his wife has tested positive for coronavirus and he is encouraging anyone who has been in close contact with him or his family self-quarantine for 14 days.
Fenves said he has been tested as is awaiting results. Another family member who works on the 50,000-student campus is presumed to be positive as well, he said.
Fenves and his wife Carmel traveled to New York City last week for several events with alumni and students. She started exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms after their returns. Her positive test for COVID-19 was returned this morning.
Seven new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Bulgaria on Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 30 with one fatality, the country’s health minister said.
Following the announcement of a one-month state of emergency in the Balkan country of 7 million, the government said that it was ordering a shutdown of kindergartens, schools, restaurants, entertainment establishments and shops. Only food stores and pharmacies would remain open.
Parliament approved a law amendment setting the penalties for infected people who do not observe quarantine procedures to up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 25,000 euro.
Gibraltar’s government has announced that due to the coronavirus pandemic it is postponing a planned March 19 referendum on whether to allow abortion.
The government of the tiny speck of British territory on Spain’s southern tip says it is taking the step so as not to expose vulnerable elderly voters to the new coronavirus. It had previously advised elderly people to remain at home.
A government statement says the vote will be held at a date to be decided by parliament. In mostly Catholic Gibraltar, abortion currently is a crime, with “child destruction” punishable by life in prison.
Gibraltar’s population is around 34,000. It has so far recorded one case of the virus.
Pakistan government has postponed the upcoming March 23 national day military parade amid increasing cases of coronavirus, information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said.
Pakistan showcases its military hardware at the parade. Thousands of people witness the parade at a open public place in the capital Islamabad.
So far, 28 people have been tested positive across the country. The latest seven cases were detected at the Taftan border near Iran where about 4000 people returning from Iran have been quarantined.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced in a tweet on Friday that an extraordinary summit of G7 leaders would be held Monday by videoconference to coordinate efforts on a vaccine and treatment of the COVID-19 virus, and “work on an economic and financial response.”
“It’s not division that will allow us to respond today to a world crisis,” Macron said during his solemn address to France in which he announced the closing of all schools and other measures.
His reference to divisions apparently referred to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of sharp restrictions on travel to the United States from 26 European countries — without advance consultations.
Italian civil protection authorities say the number of coronavirus infections has soared by more than 2,500 in the last 24 hours while virus-related deaths make largest single-day jump of 250.
That brings the total number of infected in Italy to 17,660 since the outbreak began on Feb. 21, and the number of related deaths to 1,266.
Italy is the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Europe.
Nearly 400 doctors in Oregon have signed a letter to Gov. Kate Brown asking her to take more dramatic steps to protect Oregonians from the coronavirus and prepare the state’s health care system for an influx of patients.
The letter says “we see ourselves making decisions in the next two weeks on who will live and who will died because we don’t have resources sufficient to care for them.”
The doctors are asking Brown to create a statewide call center, a statewide helpline for medical workers and a medical ethics team, whose members would create guidelines on how to use medical resources if there are not enough supplies to treat everyone equally.
Brown did not immediately respond to the letter but all Oregon schools will be closed for two weeks starting Monday.
West Virginia, Idaho and Montana are the last states without a confirmed case of the coronavirus after Alabama announced one.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice still shuttered schools statewide on Friday in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has 1,701 cases and 41 deaths.
The head of the World Health Organization says Europe, not China, is now the epicenter of the world’s coronavirus pandemic.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that “more cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.”
He says Europe now has “more reported virus cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.”
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
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