Streets and shops were empty in Milan and vast swaths of northern Italy were essentially locked down Sunday as the government dug in against an advance of the global coronavirus sweeping across the nation at an alarming rate.
In the U.S., the death toll climbed to 19 this weekend, all but three fatalities in Washington state. More than 400 infections have been reported, but the number is rising almost as fast as tests for the virus can be conducted.
Italy’s death toll rose to 233 on Sunday, and almost 6,000 infections have been confirmed. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed the decree affecting the at least 15 provinces that are home to more than a quarter of Italy’s 60 million people.
The impact reached even deeper into the country. In Rome, the Vatican announced Sunday that it will shut down its museums and the Sistine Chapel until April 3.
“To date, a single case of positivity to COVID-19 has been confirmed by an external subject who had gone … for a pre-employment medical examination,” the Vatican said. “Five people who had had close contact with this are in precautionary quarantine.”
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Here’s the latest on the outbreak of COVID-19:
Infected NJ man, Trump attended same conference
A New Jersey man who tested positive for the coronavirus attended a conference also attended by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, but organizers say the 55-year-old man did not interact with them. The American Conservative Union released a statement saying the man, now being quarantined, did not attend any events in the main hall of the Conservative Political Action Conference that wrapped up a week ago at Maryland’s National Harbor.
“The Trump administration is aware of the situation, and we will continue regular communication with all appropriate government officials,” the organization said.
– Katie Sobko, NorthJersey.com
Cruise ship passengers get good news
The Grand Princess cruise ship will begin to allow guests to disembark Monday, three days after 21 people aboard tested positive for coronavirus. Princess Cruises announced early Sunday it had been informed by state and local officials that the ship, off the coast of California, would be able to dock in the Port of Oakland, cruise line public relations director Negin Kamali told USA TODAY.
Guests who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization will be first to disembark. Authorities announced Wednesday that those on board may have been exposed to coronavirus after sailing with 62 passengers who officials say had been on the ship’s previous voyage to Mexico. A 71-year-old California man on the Mexico cruise eventually died from the virus.
– Morgan Hines and Curtis Tate
New York state to CDC: Let private labs test
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called out and called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking approval for private labs to conduct coronavirus testing. “The testing capacity is now more than the state lab can handle,” Cuomo said. Sixteen additional cases brought the New York state total to 105, Cuomo said Sunday. Twelve of them were in New York City, 82 in suburban Westchester.
“We’re testing aggressively and we are seeing the number of confirmed cases go up as expected,” Cuomo said. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned the city would have “zero tolerance for anyone taking advantage of an epidemic to gouge prices.”
– Isabel Keane, Rockland/Westchester Journal News
Marine infected; Army issues travel restrictions
A Marine has tested positive for the coronavirus and the Army has issued travel restrictions to Italy and South Korea as the military joined the struggle to halt the outbreak. The Marine, assigned to Fort Belvoir in Virginia, had recently returned from overseas and was being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.
The Army, meanwhile, restricted travel to Italy and South Korea and banned foreign troops from participating in U.S. exercises and visits in countries deemed “level alert 2” and higher. Those countries currently include China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan .
10 dead in collapse of China isolation building
At least 10 people were dead and 23 missing as first responders in Beijing sifted through the debris of a collapsed building used to isolate arrivals from other parts of the country. State media said about 80 people had been inside the converted hotel when tragedy struck. The Health Ministry said at least 38 people were being treated at hospitals; the hotel’s owner was detained for questioning. Authorities said the building was undergoing renovations when the collapse occurred.
Virus is boom to some companies
Some companies are experiencing a boom in business from the coronavirus, even if there’s no guarantee their products will curb the outbreak. Disinfectant room sprayers, commercial cleaning companies, online learning programs and even re-hydration beverages are drawing increase interest, experts say. Lawrence Muscarella, president of LFM Healthcare Solutions, said customers should ask manufacturers if their products have been proven to kill COVID-19, the current strain of the virus under scrutiny.
“You’d want a label claim from the manufacturer that says: ‘Kills COVID-19,'” Muscarella said. “If it just says ‘kills coronavirus,’ ask if that includes COVID-19.”
– Erin Richards
Florida reports first virus deaths outside of the West Coast
State health officials said two people in their 70s who had traveled overseas died in Santa Rosa County in Florida’s Panhandle and in the Fort Myers area. Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee to “Level 2” to coordinate response to the outbreak. Level 2 activation is a preparatory, intermediate-level response. “Let us not panic,” Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said. “Let us not allow fear to take over our lives.”
– John Pacenti, The Palm Beach Post
How many are sick, how many have died
As of Sunday, more than 3,600 deaths have been reported worldwide, along with more than 107,000 infections. More than 3,000 deaths and and 80,000 illnesses have taken place on mainland China, according to a Johns Hopkins data dashboard. South Korea, Italy and Iran all have confirmed more than 5,000 cases. Italy has reported more than 200 deaths, Iran almost 200. South Korea, which says it conducts 10,000 tests a day, has reported 50 deaths so far.