Coronavirus updates: Cruise ship kept off West Coast; California, LA declare emergencies

A cruise ship was being held off the coast of San Francisco on Thursday amid fears that more than 3,500 passengers and crew may have been exposed to the coronavirus blamed for almost 3,300 deaths worldwide.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the Grand Princess was sailing with 62 passengers who company officials say had been on the ship’s previous voyage with a 71-year-old man who eventually died from the virus. The current cruise was scheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Wednesday but will not return to port until testing can take place, Newsom said. Test kits were being flown onto the ship, he said.

More than 20 passengers and crew members have developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19, Newsom said.

“We will be able to test very quickly… to determine if these individuals that are symptomatic just have traditional colds or the flu or may have contracted the COVID-19 virus,” Newsom said.

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The man died in Placer County, near Sacramento, representing the first U.S. fatality outside of Washington state, which has reported 10 deaths. More than 30 of the nation’s 162 confirmed coronavirus cases are in California. California and Los Angeles declared states of emergency Wednesday; San Francisco issued its declaration a week ago.

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

Airlines could lose $113 billion in revenue 

The coronavirus outbreak could cost airlines up to $113 billion in 2020 global revenue, The International Air Transport Association estimated. IATA said losses would reach at least $63 billion even if COVID-19 is contained in current markets.

“The turn of events as a result of COVID-19 is almost without precedent,” CEO Alexandre de Juniac said. “In little over two months, the industry’s prospects in much of the world have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.”

Seattle-area district shuts schools for 2 weeks

A suburban Seattle school district closed all its schools for 14 days in an effort to slow the coronavirus outbreak that has infiltrated King and Snohomish counties. In a lengthy letter posted to the Northshore School District website and emailed to all parents on Wednesday night, Superintendent Michelle Reid said she arrived at her decision with support from local leaders, describing the move as a “strategic approach” for the health and well-being of staff and the district’s 22,000 students.

US schools are in a ‘state of alert’ amid coronavirus outbreak:Are they overreacting – or not doing enough?

Amtrak takes action to combat coronavirus threat

Amtrak is intensifying its cleaning protocol for trains and stations and waiving reservation change fees through the end of April. The rail service issued a statement detailing the increased cleaning measures as a safety move, adding that it has had no confirmed cases of coronavirus exposure to passengers and employees and there are no current travel restrictions. 

Amtrak says it plans to accelerate cleaning frequency on trains and at stations, sometimes on an hourly basis. Additional antibacterial products, including sanitizers and wipes, will be provided at stations, on trains and in employee work areas. 

—Bill Keveney

Can’t find Purell or other hand sanitizes? Here’s how to make it at home with vodka or rubbing alcohol

Dogs and cats can’t pass coronavirus to humans

Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Departments has concluded that pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners. This comes after a quarantined dog tested weakly positive for the virus Feb. 27, Feb. 28 and March 2. 

Health experts in Hong Kong have agreed that the dog has a low-level of infection and it is “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission.” The dog will be tested again before being released. The department suggested any pets, including dogs and cats, from households where someone has tested positive for the virus should be put into quarantine.

— Adrianna Rodriguez

Iran: Put down that paper money

Iranian authorities ordered all educational and cultural institutions closed across the nation through the Persian New Year on March 20 and urged citizens not to use paper money as the coronavirus death toll rose to 107. More than 3,500 cases of the virus have been confirmed there. Officials also have set up checkpoints to limit travel between major cities.Tehran announced that all the city’s public places, including the metro trains and buses, are being disinfected hourly.

How many cases of coronavirus in the US, and where?

There were 162 confirmed cases across at least 15 states as of Thursday morning, according to a coronavirus dashboard run by Johns Hopkins University. That number is expected to rise, as the CDC has expanded its testing efforts and encouraged more testing at health centers across the country. Common signs of infection include fever, cough and breathing difficulties. If the infection worsens, it can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.

What’s the worldwide coronavirus death toll?

The global death toll was at least 3,286 early Thursday, with more than 2,900 in mainland China, where the outbreak began in the bustling capital of the country’s Hubei province, Wuhan. The worldwide count of confirmed cases was at 95,748.

Map of US coronavirus cases

Here’s a look at how coronavirus is spreading in the U.S.

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