ALBANY, N.Y. — Schools, temples, churches and other large gathering places within much of the New York City suburb of New Rochelle will be shut down for two weeks as the state battles to contain of one of the nation's worst coronavirus clusters.
The National Guard will be called in to help clean facilities and deliver food, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
Cuomo announced plans to enforce a "containment area" for a 1-mile radius around the center of the cluster, an area of Westchester County that includes much of the city of New Rochelle and stretches into the town of Eastchester. As of Tuesday afternoon, the state had 174 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, second only to Washington state.
"This is literally a matter of life and death," Cuomo said.
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More than 100 cases are in Westchester County, tied to an Orthodox Jewish community where a lawyer was the first case in the region.
Any large gathering places, including several public schools, within the containment area will be closed from Thursday through March 25, the governor said. Residents who live within the containment area will be free to leave their homes and the area so long as they have not otherwise been ordered to quarantine, Cuomo added.
In New York City, the United Nations closed its headquarters to the general public and suspended guided tours in an effort to prevent spread of the virus.
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US death toll rises to 28; confirmed cases at 1,023
The U.S. death toll due to coronavirus has risen to 28 as infections spread to all but a handful of states. The global death toll topped 4,200 and the number of confirmed cases approached 120,000.
New Jersey reported its first death, a 69-year-old Bergen County man with several underlying health complications including emphysema, diabetes and hypertension. State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the man went into cardiac arrest Monday night and was revived, but died Tuesday morning after going into cardiac arrest again.
The number of U.S. confirmed cases rose to 1,025 early Wednesday, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announcing the state's first two cases and declaring a state of emergency.
The two people who have the virus — a man from Wayne County with a history of domestic travel and a woman from Oakland County who traveled internationally — are both are hospitalized, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Donald Trump on coronavirus: 'It will go away, just stay calm'
President Donald Trump sought to allay concerns over the spread of coronavirus Tuesday on Capitol Hill after pitching Senate Republicans on his plan to provide relief to those affected by the economic uncertainty amid the outbreak.
"It will go away, just stay calm," he told reporters after the meeting. "Everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful. But be calm. It's really working out."
The president's proposed stimulus package is expected to include a payroll tax cut, a provision that has been met with mixed reaction among some Republican senators.
"They were just about all there, mostly all there," Trump said.
Trump also said he feels "extremely good" and didn't "think it's a big deal" to be tested for coronavirus, and the White House doctor told him he saw "no reason to do it."
Some lawmakers who been in close contact with Trump in recent days have self-quarantined after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland last month. Top among them was Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who flew with Trump aboard Air Force One from Florida back to Washington on Monday, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who was recently named Trump's chief of staff.
Gaetz tweeted Tuesday that he tested negative but will remain in quarantine until Thursday.
– Courtney Subramanian
Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders cancel Cleveland rallies
Both major Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, cancelled their scheduled rallies in Cleveland on Tuesday because of health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus.
With 352 delegates up for grabs in six primaries, Tuesday represented a big day in the race for the nomination, but the candidates won't be watching election returns among legions of supporters as originally planned. There have been three confirmed cases of coronavirus in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located.
“We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak,'' the Sanders campaign said in a statement.
– Jorge L. Ortiz
Mike Pence: Insurers to waive copays for coronavirus testing
Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that health insurers have agreed to waive copayments for coronavirus testing and extend coverage for COVID-19 treatment in all of their benefit plans.
Pence, who is heading the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, made the announcement at a White House meeting with representatives of insurance companies and the health industry.
Insurers also have agreed to cover the cost of telemedicine and promised “no surprise billing” for coronavirus-related costs, Pence said.
– Michael Collins
Several major universities halt in-person classes
An increasing number of universities and colleges throughout the country — some responding to the impact of the coronavirus in their area, others taking preemptive steps — are suspending in-person classes.
Ohio State, one of the largest universities in the land with an enrollment of more than 60,000, on Tuesday became the latest major school to announce instruction would be conducted online for the upcoming weeks.
“We are being proactive in an effort to prevent illness and continue the important work of the university,” OSU President Michael V. Drake said in an email to the campus community.
Several other institutions of higher learning have also switched to online teaching in light of the outbreak, among them Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, UCLA, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Maryland, Kent State, Indiana University, Hofstra, Amherst College and the University of Southern California.
Some of them are on spring break and plan to begin online classes when students return, but some are already alerting students that in-person teaching may not resume again this school year.
Several universities have also suspended their international programs.
– Jennifer Smola, The Columbus Dispatch, and Jorge L. Ortiz
Grand Princess evacuation proceeding slowly in California
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said hundreds more passengers have been disembarked from the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship at the Port of Oakland, but the process is going slower than he’d prefer and he wants to see it stepped up.
The liner arrived at the port Monday after floating outside the California coast since Thursday, when 21 people aboard tested positive for the new virus. Of the 407 passengers who got off, 26 were sent to area hospitals, 149 were routed to the nearby Travis Air Force Base for quarantining and the other 232 – all Canadians – were flown back to their home country.
As of 1 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, another 269 passengers had been taken off the ship and medically screened. At this rate, Newsom acknowledged it would take longer to remove all the passengers and send the Grand Princess back to sea with the crew than the 2-3 days he initially committed to. Local residents and some officials have expressed concern about the presence of a vessel with large numbers of infected people.
“We’re trying to get to about 100 people every hour,’’ Newsom said in a news conference. “We’re going to need to see an increase in that processing in order to turn this ship around. We don’t want to see it here for more than a week. We want to see it here for 72 hours.’’
Newsom also sought to put some pressure on pro sports leagues to call off games in areas where coronavirus cases have been multiplying. On Thursday, the San Jose Sharks of the NHL opted to keep the doors open despite a recommendation from Santa Clara Country public health officials to cancel large gatherings.
On Monday, the county went a step further and banned functions that drew more than 1,000 people for three weeks. Also Monday, the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer closed their locker rooms to members of the media and non-essential personnel in what the leagues said was an attempt to protect their players.
Newsom called that move “quite curious,’’ adding, “I think the leagues owe their fans more than just consideration of their players. I think they also should consider more broadly the public.’’
– Jorge L. Ortiz
Italy paralyzed by national lockdown
Severe lockdown protocols that had been in place across northern Italy were expanded to the entire nation of 60 million people on Tuesday. Italians have been told to avoid all unnecessary travel and to stay at home, except for essential work and to buy groceries. All gatherings in public places have been banned, bars and restaurants must close by 6 p.m. and most sporting events are not allowed. The measures will be in place until at least April 3, Premier Giuseppe Conte said.
"Italy's future is in our hands," Conte said. "At stake is the health of our loved ones, our parents, our children, our grandparents."
Italy has had 10,149 reported cases and 631 deaths, both of those the second largest figures in the world.
No tests for nursing home employees at center of US outbreak
Another 31 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, that is the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. At least 19 residents of the Life Care Center have died.
Center spokesman Tim Killian said 120 people lived at the center when the outbreak began and that 53 remain. He said those with mild symptoms are being treated on site, following instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Killian also said the facility has been unable to acquire test kits for 65 employees, now in self-quarantine, showing symptoms of the infection.
Markets stabilize after plummeting
Stocks rose sharply early Tuesday, but had given up much of their gains by mid-afternoon. That followed a plunge of about 7% the previous day, the worst drop in U.S. stocks since 2008. Trump has said he would propose "very major" and "very dramatic" measures to help workers and businesses hurt by the virus outbreak.
Airlines cut flights, warn things could 'get worse'
American Airlines announced sweeping flight cutbacks due a steep drop in travel demand. And unlike the significant cuts announced by United last week, they extend into the peak summer travel season.
American said it is reducing international seat capacity by 10% this summer, including a 55% reduction in flights across the Pacific. Flights within the United States will be reduced by 7.5% for April. Travelers will be rebooked on other flights or offered a refund, even if they have nonrefundable tickets.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said bookings are down 25% to 30% and his airline is prepared for things to "get worse.'' The airline is cutting international flight capacity by 20% to 25% and domestic by 15%. "This clearly is not an economic event,'' Bastian said. "This is a fear event probably more akin to 9/11 than what we saw in (the recession) in 2009.''
- Dawn Gilbertson
Veterans Affairs nursing homes in 'emergency situation'
Veterans Affairs medical facilities are screening patients and restricting visitors as the agency grapples with five cases of COVID-19. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said visitors are not allowed at the agency's roughly 135 nursing homes, which house more than 8,000 veterans, saying those facilities are "going into an emergency situation." One veteran has a confirmed case of the virus, VA officials said. Four others have tested positive, but those findings have not yet been confirmed.
– Donovan Slack
'Wheel of Fortune' spins without an audience
The popular NBC game show "Wheel of Fortune" is the latest television project to shift plans amid the coronavirus scare. The show is taping without live studio audiences, USA TODAY has confirmed. Last week, CBS announced it was suspending production on “The Amazing Race” in response to the outbreak. "Wheel of Fortune” tapes months in advance, so the presumably quieter shows will not immediately be noticeable to viewers at home. Both are filmed at a studio in Culver City, California.
– Cydney Henderson
Locker rooms off limits to media
Officials from four major professional sports leagues – MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS – have announced that team clubhouses and locker rooms will temporarily be closed to the media and non-essential personnel, effective Tuesday.
Instead, all interviews will take place in designated areas outside locker rooms. The media will also be asked to maintain a six-foot distance from players during those Q&A sessions.
– Gabe Lacques, Bob Nightengale and Jeff Zillgitt
California county cancels mass gatherings following first death
Santa Clara County in California has canceled mass gatherings of more than 1,000 people, a move that could have a significant impact on three local sports teams. The order, issued by the county's Public Health Officer on Monday night, comes in the wake of the county's first coronavirus death. The mass-gatherings ban goes into effect at 12 a.m. PDT Wednesday and will last at least three weeks.
The move will directly impact events held at San Jose's SAP Center — home of the NHL's Sharks and AHL's Barracuda — as well as at Earthquakes Stadium — home of the MLS' Earthquakes — and potentially events at Stanford University in Palo Alto.
— Jace Evans
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Chinese President Xi makes first visit to Wuhan since coronavirus outbreak
President Xi Jinping visited China’s virus epicenter Tuesday for the first time since cases of a then-unidentified respiratory illness emerged in the city of Wuhan in December. The disease’s spread in China cast scrutiny on Xi’s leadership, and he was conspicuously absent from the public eye during the early days of the crisis. Initial failures to react quickly were pegged on municipal and provincial-level officials.
Xi’s visit may indicate that the ruling Communist Party is feeling confident about the results of its anti-virus campaign, which shut down much of the world’s second-largest economy starting in late January.
Tennessee clamps down on info
As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increases in Tennessee, state officials have said they will no longer release county-level data — a move critics say is a step backward that will generate confusion.
After the state announced its first case of coronavirus last week, Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the 44-year-old man was a Williamson County resident. But since then, the state government has clamped down on what and how often information is released.
Health departments in states across the country with confirmed cases of coronavirus have released a wide range of information.
-- Joel Shannon
Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?
Here's a look at which U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19:
Contributing: Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: New York containment area; 1,000 US cases