At least 11 Americans dead from coronavirus; California declares state of emergency

More than 100 Americans have contracted coronavirus, Pence said.

March 4, 2020, 8:45 PM

Countries around the world are scrambling to stymie the spread of a deadly viral outbreak that began in China about two months ago and has now infected more than 90,000 people globally.

Today's biggest developments:

  • Pence says insurance will cover COVID-19 tests
  • 11 Americans have been killed by virus, including the first death in California
  • 1,000 people in New York have self-quarantined
  • New Hampshire's 1st patient told to stay isolated but went to event instead, officials say
  • Outbreak in South Korea shows little signs of slowing down
  • COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu, WHO says
  • Here's how the day unfolded. All times are Eastern.

    7:30 p.m. California declares state of emergency

    Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency after announcing California had 53 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, including one death.

    The deceased patient was a resident of Placer County and aboard a Princess cruise ship that traveled from San Francisco to Mexico last month. The boat is currently at sea and is slated to return to San Francisco soon.

    Newsom said he delayed the cruise ship’s arrival to give federal officials more time to prepare. The CDC will be flying testing kits to the cruise ship before being turned around in a matter of hours on shore.

    6 p.m. Pence calls COVID-19 tests 'essential health benefit'

    Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to private insurers, will cover tests for the coronavirus because such examinations are an essential health benefit, Vice President Mike Pence said.

    Pence didn't elaborate on what would happen for uninsured Americans.

    5:30 p.m. 2nd California cruise passenger diagnosed

    Diamond Cruises revealed a second passenger aboard the Feb. 11 to 21 voyage of the Grand Princess has contracted the coronavirus.

    The Sonoma County, California, resident showed atypical "gastrointestinal and cardiovascular symptoms," the company said.

    A Grand Princess passenger who lived in Placer County died from the disease, according to health officials.

    5 p.m. LAX health screener tests positive

    A medical screener at LAX Airport in Los Angeles has tested positive for the virus, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

    The screener, whose last shift at the airport was on Feb. 21, began experiencing flu-like symptoms about eight days later, according to DHS. The individual at that point visited a doctor and tested positive.

    "We are told the individual wore all the correct protective equipment and took necessary protections on the job," DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement.

    DHS said it's working to identify which coworkers the individual came in contact with and whether the virus was contracted from a traveler.

    4:30 p.m. Seattle confirms 10 new cases

    Seattle health officials said the city's latest coronavirus death is among the 10 cases confirmed on Wednesday.

    The patient who died was described as a woman in her 90s who lived at Life Care, the nursing home at which multiple cases and deaths have been reported.

    4:15 p.m. Italy bans fans from sports stadiums

    Italy's government has declared that sporting events will continue but fans won't be allowed to attend, because of fears over the coronavirus.

    The decision will cover all matches, mostly soccer and rugby, over the next month. Six matches in the nation's top-flight soccer league, Serie A, were postponed last week.

    4 p.m. Dow adds almost 1,200 points

    After a volatile few weeks amid coronavirus uncertainty, U.S. financial markets rallied sharply on Wednesday.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 1,173.45 points, or 4.53%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each 4.22% and 3.85%, respectively. The surge came after massive losses Tuesday despite the Federal Reserve announcing a rare emergency rate cut.

    Lawmakers on Wednesday announced an $8 billion deal to help combat the outbreak, a move that also appears to have put more investors at ease.

    Among the biggest winners on Wednesday were health insurance companies, possibly due to Joe Biden's big wins on Super Tuesday over Bernie Sanders.

    3:52 p.m. 2nd New York family infected

    A second family in Westchester, New York, has contracted the coronavirus, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

    The father of the family came in contact with the Westchester attorney who had been diagnosed earlier, and contracted the virus along with his wife, two sons and one daughter, Cuomo said. One of the family's daughter's tested negative, the governor said.

    The number of confirmed cases in New York state is now 11, and Cuomo warned that the number of infected Westchester residents will increase.

    "It is going to be dozens and dozens and dozens," he said.

    3 p.m. United reduces flights in April

    United Airlines announced it will reduce domestic flight schedules by 10% and international flights by 20% in April due to declining demand.

    The airline said it would reveal more specifics about the reductions on Saturday and is mulling a similar reduction in May.

    United also is offering employees the option to voluntarily apply for an unpaid leave of absence, instituting a hiring freeze and suspending 2019 merit salary increases until July.

    2:25 p.m. 11th person reported dead, 1st in California

    Officials in Placer County, California, announced an elderly adult with underlying conditions was the 11th coronavirus death.

    The patient was exposed during international travel between Feb. 11 and 21 aboard a Princess Cruise ship that departed from San Francisco to Mexico, according to health officials, who are working to identify and contact other passengers who may have been exposed.

    Princess Cruises issued a statement to guests and crew who are currently aboard the ship, the Grand Princess, telling them about the situation and advising guests who sailed on the previous voyage to stay in their stateroom until they are cleared by medical staff. The company said it canceled the boat's docking at Ensenada, Mexico, and will return to San Francisco on Thursday afternoon.

    The deceased patient had minimal community exposure between returning from the cruise to their arrival at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center on Feb. 27, the officials said. However, 10 hospital health care workers and five emergency responders who were exposed to the patient before they were put into isolation are currently under monitored quarantined.

    1:40 p.m. 10th coronavirus-related death recorded in US

    Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the White House's coronavirus task force, announced that a 10th American has died from the disease. Washington health officials later said the death occurred in King County, where eight other deaths were previously recorded.

    Pence did not provide further detail about the patient, but said as of Wednesday afternoon a little more than 100 Americans have contracted the virus. Pence said he and the task force are slated to visit Washington state, where nine of the coronavirus deaths occurred, on Thursday.

    1:15 p.m. 1,000 people in self quarantine in New York

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave an update on the coronavirus situation in Westchester County, and said about 1,000 residents have been asked to self-quarantine.

    At least eight employees at Lawrence Hospital, where a 50-year-old man who contracted the disease was first admitted, are being tested for the virus, according to Cuomo.

    PHOTO: Students of the Milan's Politecnico University gather in a park outside their  university, Milan, Italy, March 4, 2020. The government has decided to close schools and universities until mid-March to reduce the risk of contagion of the coronavirus.
    Students of the Milan's Politecnico University gather in a park outside their university, Milan, Italy, March 4, 2020. The government has decided to close schools and universities until mid-March to reduce the risk of contagion of the coronavirus.
    Matteo Corner/EPA via Shutterstock
    PHOTO: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a Los Angeles County Health Department press conference on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), March 4, 2020, after declaring a state of emergency, in Los Angeles.
    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a Los Angeles County Health Department press conference on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), March 4, 2020 in Los Angeles along with Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer, left, and Supervisor Hilda Solis, second from right. Stressing that they were acting out of "an abundance of caution" Los Angeles County officials declared a state of emergency for the novel coronavirus.
    Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

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