Congress Approves $8.3 Billion to Fight Coronavirus: Live Updates

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The U.S. Coast Guard rushed testing kits to a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of California on Thursday as the number of new cases and deaths related to the coronavirus in the United States continued to rise.

California joined the list of states declaring emergencies. So far, 12 deaths have been linked to the virus — almost all in the Seattle area — with 210 confirmed cases across the country. Reports of cases in New Jersey and Tennessee brought the number of states with infected patients to 18. Washington State added 24 cases on Thursday, and New York added nine. San Francisco reported its first two cases, and Houston its first.

Around the world, there were almost 98,000 cases and more than 3,300 deaths. A global database maintained by Johns Hopkins counts more than 53,600 recoveries from the virus.

With the caseload in Europe passing 5,000 and rising fast, major conferences, trade shows, cultural events and sporting competitions have been canceled. Officials warned that the outbreaks — the largest is in Italy, but France, Germany and Spain are also being hit hard — will continue to grow.

The authorities in the Seattle area, where two dozen new cases were announced on Thursday, stepped up their efforts to contain the country’s worst outbreak. California recorded the first coronavirus-linked death outside of Washington State: a 69-year-old man who had recently traveled on the detained cruise ship, the Grand Princess. The ship remains at sea while passengers are tested for the virus.

The patient, who died in Placer County, near Sacramento, was the first to die from the coronavirus in California and had traveled on the ship on a round trip from San Francisco to Mexico last month. Of about 2,500 passengers aboard that cruise, about half were Californians, Mr. Newsom said.

About 60 passengers from that leg stayed on for the trip to Hawaii and are still on board. Ten crew members and 11 passengers are showing symptoms.

At least 56 people have been treated for the coronavirus in California.

Princess Cruises, owned by Carnival Corporation, is the same company that runs the Diamond Princess, a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship that was quarantined last month off the coast of Japan as the virus circulated among the more than 3,700 crew members and passengers.

The Senate resoundingly approved $8.3 billion in emergency aid on Thursday to counter the spread of the coronavirus, sending the package to President Trump, who is expected to sign it.

The bipartisan package includes nearly $7.8 billion for agencies dealing with the virus, like state and local health departments that say that even in the early stages of the outbreak in the United States, it is straining their resources.

The bill also authorizes roughly $500 million to allow Medicare providers to administer telehealth services so that more elderly patients can receive care at home.

The legislation passed the upper chamber on a 96 to 1 margin, with Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, the only vote against the measure. The House of Representatives approved it on Wednesday by a vote of 415 to 2.

The aid bill provides far more than the $2.5 billion the White House proposed in late February.

Nurses in Washington State and California, the states hardest-hit by Covid-19, say they lack the protective equipment they need to care for coronavirus patients and training in how to use it, as well as clear protocols to keep themselves and their patients safe.

The complaints dovetail with the mistakes made in other countries early in their outbreaks, when sloppy practices exposed many health care workers to the virus, sickening many of them and killing some.

Some nurses said that instead of in-person training, they had been asked to watch online videos about how to spot the virus and how to put on and take off hazmat suits. Others said they had been forced to beg for N95 masks, which are thicker and block out much smaller particles than surgical masks do. And still others said they had faced ridicule when expressing concerns about catching the highly contagious virus.

“If nurses aren’t safe, then really our community isn’t safe,” said Jenny Managhebi, a clinical nurse at the University of California Davis Medical Center, where 24 nurses were asked to self-quarantine after a patient tested positive. “If I’m not safe at the bedside, when I come home to my husband and my children, then they’re not safe.”

Health care workers are among the groups most at risk of contracting the virus. At least eight people who work in health care facilities in the United States have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

All primary schools in the Indian capital, New Delhi, were ordered closed on Thursday, affecting more than two million children as the authorities sought to prevent the small number of cases in the country from turning into a major outbreak.

In a tweet, Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, said the action was being taken “as a precautionary measure.”

Under the order, all public and private schools through the fifth grade will be closed from Friday until March 31. The sprawling city has more than 2,700 primary and pre-primary schools, according to recent government data.

The Indian government also said that all travelers from Italy and South Korea would be barred unless they could show proof that they had tested negative for coronavirus before leaving those countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also postponed plans for a March 13 visit to Brussels for a summit meeting between India and the European Union.

Iran is stepping up measures to control the spread of the coronavirus by temporarily shutting schools, universities and other education centers, and canceling concerts, sporting events and other large public gatherings, the state news media reported on Thursday.

Health Minister Said Nakami said at a news conference that the authorities would encourage people to reduce the use of paper money and that checkpoints would be imposed to restrict travel between major cities, The Associated Press reported.

Iran has been among the countries hardest hit by the outbreak, with the toll rising at a steady pace. On Thursday, officials said that 107 had died and 3,513 had been infected, news agencies reported.

A U.S. official said on Thursday that Iran had rejected American aid to fight the virus, though he did not specify what help was offered, or when. Relations between the two countries have been unusually hostile of late.

“We know that there’s gaps in their system, medical gaps, and we offered to help close those gaps,” Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special representative on Iran, told reporters in Paris.

Mr. Nakami said that Iran was introducing a national mobilization plan in places where the virus has spread most rapidly, and that it would be expanded in the coming days, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

President Hassan Rouhani, in a statement issued Wednesday, said that almost all of the provinces in the country had been affected by the coronavirus.

“This disease is a widespread disease,” Mr. Rouhani said. “It has reached almost all our provinces, and in one sense it’s a global disease.”

The epidemic in Europe will probably get much worse before it is contained, officials warned on Thursday, as the number of infections across the continent jumped sharply, from fewer than 4,000 on Wednesday to well over 5,000, with at least 160 deaths.

“It’s now highly likely that the virus is going to spread in a significant way,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, where the number of cases rose from 87 to 115.

Dilek Kalayci, the local health minister in Berlin, said: “We must accept that this will continue and we will have more new cases confirmed. No one is able to stop this from spreading.”

In the hardest-hit European countries, the number of cases saw the biggest one-day jumps so far: from 3,089 to 3,858 in Italy; from 262 to 482 in Germany; and from 285 to 423 in France. In Netherlands, infections more than doubled, from 38 to 82.

The death toll in Italy, the source of outbreaks in several other countries, leapt from 107 to 148, the highest figure outside of China.

Britain and Switzerland reported their first coronavirus deaths on Thursday, and Spain had its second. In Berlin, officials said three of the 13 cases could not be traced to any others, suggesting that the virus was spreading undetected in the city.

Organizers of the Paris Marathon postponed the event from April 5 to Oct. 18.

Many of Germany’s cases stem from a man who took part in a Carnival celebration last month in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where hundreds of other revelers became infected.

But unlike in Italy, where officials have decided that all sporting events will take place in the absence of fans, or Switzerland, where the government has banned events involving more than 1,000 people, German officials are insisting that public life should be allowed to continue as normally as possible.

The second case in the state was a 50-year-old man from New Rochelle who works in Manhattan as a lawyer. Seventeen additional people directly linked to the man — including his wife, two of his children and a neighbor who drove him to a hospital in Westchester — have since all tested positive.

The Trump administration’s efforts to contain the new coronavirus may be running headlong into its simultaneous crackdown on illegal immigration, Democrats warned.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement this week began 24-hour-a-day surveillance operations around the homes and workplaces of people believed to be undocumented immigrants, and the agency plans to deploy hundreds of additional officers in unmarked cars in the coming weeks.

Senate Democrats on Thursday sought assurances from Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, that his department would not interfere with undocumented immigrants seeking medical attention.

“This is a public health and safety issue that, if anything else, puts all of our communities at risk,” Senator Jacky Rosen, Democrat of Nevada, said. “Will the department refrain from apprehending individuals based solely on their immigration status while they’re seeking care?”

Mr. Cuccinelli said ICE does not conduct enforcement at health care facilities “absent single case exigent circumstances.”

In Washington State, site of the nation’s worst outbreak, the number of confirmed infections jumped on Thursday from 51 to 75, helping drive the national total to 199.

The Northshore School District, which serves more than 20,000 children in a suburb north of Seattle, closed for at least the next two weeks after a parent volunteer tested positive for the virus. It’s the largest such shutdown in the United States resulting from the outbreak. Public health officials urged organizers to cancel public gatherings and asked companies to let employees work from home.

Seattle’s notorious traffic all but vanished, and the few cars on the highways raced along unimpeded. In the South Lake Union area, where thousands of people work for tech companies and parking is usually a challenge, spaces were easy to find.

Facebook and Amazon have each reported having a worker infected with the virus.

The Northshore district is near Kirkland, the town where a nursing home has become the center of Washington’s outbreak. At least seven of the home’s residents died after contracting the virus, accounting for most of the state’s 11 virus-linked deaths.

Michelle Reid, superintendent of the school district, said in a letter to families that 26 district schools had some direct or indirect exposure to the affected parent. She added that 20 percent of students did not attend classes on Wednesday.

The nearby Monroe School District announced plans to close all of its schools Thursday for a day of cleaning and to allow time for contingency planning.

Reporting was contributed by Katie Robertson, Vindu Goel, Azi Paybarah, Melissa Eddy, Michael Wolgelenter, Marc Santora, Niki Kitsantonis, Mitch Smith, Sarah Mervosh, Davey Alba, Mike Baker, Tiffany May, Claire Fu, Elaine Yu, Farah Stockman, Ed Shanahan, Neil Vigdor, Lauretta Charlton, James Gorman, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Matt Richtel, Mitch Smith, Amy Harmon, Michael Gold, Ben Dooley, Richard Pérez-Peña, Azi Paybarah, Joseph Goldstein and Kirk Johnson.



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