Coronavirus updates: Seattle to implement event ban; Michigan reports first cases as US death toll hits 28

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to announce a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in the Seattle metropolitan area, as the state attempts to slow the spread of the virus that has killed 23 people there and at least 28 across the U.S.

The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. surpassed 1,030 as of early Wednesday, including the first reported cases in Michigan, where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also declared a state of emergency.

The ban could force the Seattle Mariners to relocate their home games for at least some part of the upcoming Major League Baseball season. The Mariners, who are scheduled to open March 26 against the Texas Rangers, have discussed playing home games in Arizona, The Athletic reported Tuesday night.

The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer would also be impacted by such a ban.

There have been 267 confirmed cases in Washington state, with 19 deaths linked to one suburban Seattle nursing home and authorities in King County believe the virus has spread to at least 10 long-term care facilities.

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At a Tuesday news conference, Inslee predicted more cases, potentially tens of thousands based on estimates of the spread of the disease. The three counties that will be affected by the ban, which would affect King, Pierce and Snohomish, are home to nearly 4 million people.

“If we assume there are 1,000 or more people who have the virus today … the number of people who are infected will double in five to eight days,” Inslee said. “If you do the math, it gets very disturbing.”

Here’s the latest on the outbreak of COVID-19: 

Michigan reports first coronavirus cases, declares state of emergency

In announcing Michigan’s first two coronavirus cases Tuesday night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledged to harness all of the government’s resources to slow the spread of the virus. 

“We’re Michiganders. We’re tough,” Whitmer said. “We know how to take care of each other. We will get through this, but for now, please make sure your family and friends are taking every preventative measure available to keep yourselves safe. Talk to your friends, and your family and your co-workers and encourage them to make smart choices. We in state government will continue our work to take every necessary precaution to keep Michiganders safe.”

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.

– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press

Colleges, universities switch to online classes, tell students to stay home after spring break

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.

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.

Among the colleges that have modified their calendars in the wake of COVID-19’s expansion:

  • Amherst College
  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Hofstra University
  • Indiana University
  • Kent State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Purdue University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of California, Los Angeles 
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington

Coronavirus pushes Coachella music festival from April to October

Coachella, one of the country’s most influential annual music festivals, has been postponed into October due to growing public health concerns about the rapidly spreading coronavirus in California.

The festival’s country music counterpart, Stagecoach, will also be pushed into the fall. Both events had been scheduled over three weekends in April. The postponements follow the cancellation of the nearby BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells and the declaration of a public health emergency in the Coachella Valley’s Riverside County by the top public health officer on Sunday.

Several other conferences and large-scale events, including the Ultra Music Festival in Miami and South by Southwest music, film and technology conference in Austin, have been canceled.

Coachella was slated to be held over two weekends – April 10-12 and April 17-19. Stagecoach dates were April 24-26. 

– The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.)

Tennessee hospitals begin to screen, restrict visitors amid coronavirus scare

The spread of coronavirus in Tennessee has forced hospitals to drastically restrict the number of visitors allowed on hospital grounds to see friends and family.

Large hospitals in the Nashville area are screening visitors at the front door, limiting patients to just one visitor and, in some cases, not allowing children to visit at all.

The most severe restrictions were adopted at Williamson Medical Center, a hospital in Franklin where the first positive sample of coronavirus was collected last week. The hospital has enacted a strict “no visitors” policy with limited exceptions for new mothers and people who are undergoing surgery.

– Brett Kelman, The Tennessean

More on the outbreak of COVID-19: 

Man rescued after 69 hours in rubble of collapsed Chinese quarantine hotel

A man was pulled out alive after being trapped for 69 hours under the rubble of a collapsed virus quarantine hotel in southeastern China in which at least 27 other people died and two remain missing.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the man was sent to hospital immediately after being rescued late on Tuesday afternoon.

A 10-year-old boy and his mother had been rescued around midnight Monday after being trapped for 52 hours. The condition of all three survivors remains unknown.

South Korea reports another spike in coronavirus cases

South Korea reported a cluster of new viral infections at a Seoul insurance company.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported 242 new cases of coronavirus infection from 24 hours ago, bringing its total to 7,755.

Of the new cases, 131 were in Daegu, South Korea’s worst-hit city. But 52 new cases were in the capital, Seoul, where dozens of call-center workers for an insurance company tested positive, raising concerns about a further spread. The country has 60 virus deaths.

Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?

Here’s a look at which U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19: 

What’s the worldwide death toll?

The global death toll jumped to 4,287 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

The total of confirmed cases was nearing 120,000, with more than 80,900 in mainland China, where the virus has killed more than 3,100 people. More than 10,100 cases have now been reported in Italy.

The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, such as fever and cough, but can progress to serious illness including pneumonia, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. The World Health Organization says mild cases last about two weeks, while most patients with serious illness recover in about three to six weeks.

Contributing: Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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