15th American Dies From Coronavirus In Washington, First Case Confirmed In Hawaii: Live Updates

Summary:

  • 15th US death reported in WA
  • First case confirmed in Hawaii
  • CDC has tested fewer than 2,000 Americans, Atlantic reports
  • 15 more patients from Kirkland nursing home hospitalized
  • 2nd LAX screener tests positive
  • LA County confirms another 2 cases, bringing total to 13
  • Germany reports 90 new cases to 534
  • Saudi Arabia suspends sports events starting Saturday
  • U. of Washington will move all classes online for rest of semester
  • McDonald's cancels franchisee convention
  • Iraqi officials report third death
  • LatAm airline employee confirmed as Peru's first coronavirus case
  • Houston area confirms 6th case
  • Italy reports another 678 cases
  • Gap closes NYC office
  • New York cases climb to 33
  • Baggage handler at Heathrow tests positive
  • Madrid closes old folks homes
  • 5 schools close in PA.
  • Trump visit to CDC is back on
  • WHO: "false hope" that virus will disappear when summer arrives
  • WHO: We don't know mortality rate
  • Kudlow: "Buy stocks"
  • 2nd death in UK, cases hit 163; France reports 2 new deaths bringing total to 9
  • French total cases hits 577
  • Egypt reports 12 cases aboard cruise ship on the Nile
  • 2,733 asked to voluntarily quarantine in NYC
  • Trump scraps trip to CDC
  • Switzerland, the Netherlands report 1st deaths
  • Slovakia only country in Europe without coronavirus
  • Russia accuses Italy of spreading virus
  • Singapore reports 13 new cases, largest one-day jump since outbreak began
  • US case total: 234
  • South Korea, Japan feud over virus
  • Microsoft, Adidas, Lockheed say at least 1 employee has contracted virus
  • China claims it can have vaccine ready by April
  • Pompeo says China withheld information, leaving US "behind the curve"

* * *

Update (2040ET): After several close calls, Hawaii Gov. David Ige has just confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Hawaii.

After 21 people tested positive for Covid-19 on the 'Grand Princess', the cruise ship drifting off the coast of San Francisco, public health officials in Hawaii tested a passenger who had traveled on the ship. According to local TV station KITV, the ship made port calls in Nawiliwili on Feb. 26, Honolulu on Feb. 27, Lahaina on Feb. 28 and Hilo on Feb 29.

The Hawaiian patient, though not technically confirmed by the CDC yet, appears to be the 22nd case associated with the ship revealed on Friday. The case brings the total number in the US to 321.

* * *

Update (1550ET): LA County has confirmed another 2 cases bringing total to 13 case.

  • LOS ANGELES COUNTY: TOTAL NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS CASES NOW AT 13

One of the new cases is a part of a group who recently traveled to Northern Italy, the other was working as a screener at LAX, marking the second LAX screener to catch the virus.

Since the first screener tested positive on Tuesday, LAX and DHS have been testing all the screeners who work at the airport, according to the LA Times. 

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security described the worker as a medical screener who “wore all the correct protective equipment and took necessary protections on the job.”

"As soon as the individual began to feel sick, they self-quarantined, saw a physician, and reported to the appropriate authorities and officials," a DHS spokesperson said in the statement.

As we noted earlier, US trade officials granted tariff waivers for a spate of products ranging from medical masks to isolation gowns that will be needed to combat the virus, preferably at affordable prices. The decision by the office of the US trade representative to ease tariffs on such key medical supplies was communicated to companies that had made the request for an exclusion the day before.

The products in question, which also include shoe covers, surgical drapes, and specimen containers, were part of $120 billion worth of Chinese goods that were subject to 15% tariffs between September and mid February, when the levies dropped to 7.5% under the terms of a truce deal reached between Washington and Beijing in January, per the FT.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has announced suspending public attendance at all sports events starting Saturday.

* * *

Update (1510ET): Washington State has reported the country's 15th coronavirus death. In other news, Apple has reportedly asked the 12,000 employees at is Cupertino HQ to work from home amid the outbreak.

Outside the US, Colombia has just confirmed its first case of the virus, breaking the news less than an hour after the first case was confirmed in Peru.

* * *

Update (1500ET): MasterCard has confirmed that an employee in its Sao Paolo office has tested positive.

* * *

Update (1445ET): As American officials tout their efforts to secure 1 million masks by the end of the day, a task that we had previously reported they were falling far behind on, the Atlantic is reporting that only 1,895 Americans have been tested so far. Roughly 10% of those have tested positive.

Here's more from the Atlantic, which billed the lack of tests as the biggest piece of evidence that the Trump Administration is botching the effort.

“The CDC got this right with H1N1 and Zika, and produced huge quantities of test kits that went around the country,” Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, told us. “I don’t know what went wrong this time."

Through interviews with dozens of public-health officials and a survey of local data from across the country, The Atlantic could only verify that 1,895 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the United States, about 10 percent of whom have tested positive. And while the American capacity to test for the coronavirus has ramped up significantly over the past few days, local officials can still test only several thousand people a day, not the tens or hundreds of thousands indicated by the White House’s promises.

Through interviews with dozens of public-health officials and a survey of local data from across the country, The Atlantic could only verify that 1,895 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the United States, about 10 percent of whom have tested positive. And while the American capacity to test for the coronavirus has ramped up significantly over the past few days, local officials can still test only several thousand people a day, not the tens or hundreds of thousands indicated by the White House’s promises.

To arrive at our estimate, we contacted the public-health departments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We gathered data on websites, and we corresponded with dozens of state officials. All 50 states and D.C. have made some information available, though the quality and timeliness of the data varied widely. Some states have only committed to releasing their numbers once or three times a week. Most are focused on the number of confirmed cases; only a few have publicized the number of people they are capable of testing.

This follows a decision by the CDC to stop publishing data about the number of tests administered, a decision that has angered many experts. It's let to a patchwork of state reports making data that much more difficult to gather. While South Korea tested more than 10,000 people a day from the beginning of the outbreak, across the US, officials can only administer a few hundreds tests a day.

Meanwhile, up in Washington State, health officials in King County, the epicenter of the outbreak, revealed that another 15 patients from a the nursing home in Kirkland have been sent to a hospital. Every patient and staffer at the facility is in the process of being tested. At least eight of the 14 deaths in the US have been Kirkland residents, the NYT reported in a  story  about the situation at the nursing home.

A team of 30 federal officials will arrive on Saturday to help with the situation at the home, state officials said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials reported the third death in the country in the region of Karbala, along with eight new cases.

* * *

Update (1425ET): McDonald's has cancelled its annual franchisees convention.

* * *

Update (1330ET): ABC13 reports that a sixth pending case of the virus has been confirmed in the Houston area, and the second in the City of Houston.

The Houston case is a woman in her 60s who was part of a group of travelers who visited Egypt.

The five previous patients were being treated for the virus after traveling to Egypt as a group last month. Two of the patients were  people in northwest Harris County, while two men were considered presumptive cases, one in Harris and one in Houston.

This woman is now Houston's second case.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has said the county had treated everyone who participated in the trip as a 'presumptive' positive, which turned out to be a smart move.

Also: Health officials in Peru and LatAm Airlines have confirmed that the airline employee has been confirmed as Peru's case of the virus.

"This new case in Houston is not unexpected because it's among the same group of international travelers associated with other cases in the Houston area," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "There remains no evidence of community spread, no need to alter our normal activity in Houston and certainly no reason to let fear grip our lives."

In other news, France's case count has climbed to 613, of those 39 are in intensive care. The death toll stands at 9.

* * *

Update (1310ET): Five schools in the Central Bucks School District, where five schools have closed for deep cleaning over potential exposure to the coronavirus as the state of PA confirms its first cases of the coronavirus. New Jersey might soon join, having advised public schools to plan for the possibility that buildings could be closed if the spread of coronavirus worsens within the state. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has become the latest state to declare some kind of public emergency when Gov Tom Wolf signed a coronavirus disaster declaration, according to the Philly Inquirer.

This all comes after the state announced 2 presumptive positives.

The governor said the order would help the state prepare for the outbreak.

In other news, an airline employee has apparently tested positive for the virus in Peru.

  • LATAM AIRLINES SAYS EMPLOYEE IN PERU HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS -INTERNAL MEMO

RTRS

This is the third global airline to have a reported coronavirus issue in the past five hours, Singapore Airlines and Austrian Airlines.

* * *

Update (1255ET): Trade officials have granted an exemption to a company seeking exemptions to import masks after the firm cited a "critical shortage."

  • U.S. TRADE OFFICIALS GRANT TARIFF RELIEF FOR FACEMASKS, MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
  • MEDLINE INDUSTRIES CITED 'CRITICAL SHORTAGE OF FACEMASKS' IN SEEKING EXEMPTION
  • 27 COMPANIES GRANTED TARIFF EXEMPTIONS FOR 103 PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

* * *

Update (1240ET): Cuomo slammed the CDC's approach to testing. Given limited test supplies, a situation that the government is scrambling to rectify, only patients with permission from doctors can get tested. Though they can't guarantee results right away, if ever.

"We have said from day 1 that we are increasing our testing capacity, our goal is to get to 1,000 (tests per day). We wanted to increase our capacity with private labs. CDC was slow to approve the use of private labs, but we got it done and now we're contracting with private labs to increase capacity."

"But if you can only do 500 tests per day, you need to triage cases. You can't just say, anybody who wants to get tested call your doctor. You can't say 'if you want to get tested enter here' when there's no exit."

"I think this is months. I think the anxiety and the fear is more of a problem than the virus. I think it'll continue for months."

He then made a poorly received joke about receiving overtime pay.

* * *

Update (1230ET): The CDC's official US case totals aren't much use to us since they're confirming the "presumptive" cases from state labs pretty slowly, allowing independent case counts by BNO News and the Washington Post to keep well ahead. But the agency just reported that as of 4 pm ET on Thursday (March 5), the total case count is 213, a 64-case increase since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Cuomo's press conference continues. The governor confirmed that all 11 new cases are from Westchester County. He added that 80% of coronavirus cases will 'self-resolve'. He insisted that he's not urging "calm", he's urging "reality."

He spent much of the press conference complaining about the paltry $35 million earmarked for New York State in the federal coronavirus emergency spending bill.

"It's ludicrous, it's a drop in the bucket," Cuomo said.

He also said that a 3.4% mortality rate seems "high for this country and especially for this state". He said the WHO number was high even for a "global number." "You don't know what the denominator is so you really have no idea."

* * *

Update (1220ET): New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has confirmed another 11 cases in his state, bringing the total to 33.

Watch the rest of his press conference below:

* * *

Update (1205ET): As Europe's worst outbreak continues to worsen, Italian health authorities just confirmed another 678 cases of the virus, bringing the total to 4,636.

A few other updates over the last hour:

Facebook is closing its London offices.

  • FACEBOOK SAYS IT IS CLOSING ITS LONDON OFFICES UNTIL MONDAY AFTER AN EMPLOYEE BASED IN SINGAPORE WHO HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19 VISITED THE LONDON OFFICES ON 24-26 FEBRUARY

Gap has closed its New York office after a worker was infected (BBG).

Preppy apparel retailer Gap Inc. has closed its New York City headquarters after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus.
The building is located at 55 Thomas St. in Lower Manhattan. The person isn’t in the office and is recovering at home, according to a memo sent to Gap workers at the location.

A baggage handler at Heathrow Airport in London has tested positive (BBG):

Coronavirus has reached Europe’s busiest airport, after two British Airways baggage handlers at London Heathrow tested positive for the disease.

The affected workers are recovering in isolation at home, British Airways parent IAG SA said Friday in an email. A small number of the luggage handlers’ colleagues are also being tested, a person familiar with the matter said.

Madrid Closes 213 Old People’s Centers on Coronavirus (BBG + El Pais):

Madrid region will close 213 old people’s centers for a month to avoid novel coronavirus infections, El Pais newspaper reports, without specifying how it got the information.

Total number of cases in Spain rose to 374, Health Ministry said.

Earlier, Russia blamed Italy for the handful of cases identified inside Russia's borders.

* * *

Update (1155ET): As the number of confirmed cases in NYC nears double-digit territory, more banks are telling their people to work from home or travel to 'backup sites'. The latest is Citi, which is reportedly moving its traders and salespeople to a backup site in Rutherford.

Mastercard has shut two offices after an employee contracted the virus.

* * *

Update (1115ET): Mexico said it's considering additional fiscal stimulus to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, the State Department is reportedly considering whether to recommend that Americans avoid cruises for now.

  • EXCLUSIVE - U.S. IS CONSIDERING WAYS TO DISCOURAGE SOME U.S. TRAVELERS FROM TAKING CRUISES AS PART OF EFFORTS TO LIMIT SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS  - U.S. OFFICIALS
  • EXCLUSIVE - U.S. OFFICIALS SAY NO FINAL DECISION HAS BEEN MADE ON ANY POTENTIAL CRUISE INDUSTRY ACTIONS IN REGARDS TO CORONAVIRUS
  • WHITE HOUSE MULLING DEFERRED TAXES OVER VIRUS IMPACT: WAPO

And as Larry Kudlow said earlier and WaPo is now apparently reporting, the White House is weighing additional tax cuts to combat virus impact.

* * *

Update (1105ET): Just two days after the WHO declared that the global mortality rate for the coronavirus was 3.4%, which prompted an avalanche of criticism of President Trump, who said he had a "hunch" the mortality rate was closer to 1% a day before US officials released an official estimate reflecting the same, the WHO has apparently back-tracked, claiming it actually can't say for certain what the mortality rate is.

  • WHO'S VAN KERKHOVE SAYS WE DON'T KNOW TRUE MORTALITY RATE
  • WHO'S RYAN: VIRUS MAY BE DEVASTATING IN REFUGEE CAMPS
  • *WHO: HIGH-INCOME COUNTRIES LACK SUFFICIENT HOSPITAL CAPACITY

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham just said his visit to the CDC is "back on", after Trump said something about a potential coronavirus test at the facility in Atlanta.

Grisham said that person has actually tested negative, so he visit is back on. The visit is set for 4 pm ET.

* * *

Update (1055ET): NPR just reported that the University of Washington, a state university based in Seattle, will hold the rest of its classes online until the end of the semester.

* * *

Update (1045ET): Germany has just reported another 90 cases of the coronavirus, raising its total yo 534. But more importantly, WHO's Dr. Mike Ryan said Friday in the organization's latest attempt to shade President Trump that the notion the virus will disappear with the arrival of the summer months is a "false hope." WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said that up to 20 vaccines are in the works, and that the business community must help governments suppress the virus.

Ryan also defended Japan and South Korea, saying they are doing a "fine" job.

  • WHO'S TEDROS SAYS SLOWING DOWN THE EPIDEMIC SAVES LIVES
  • WHO'S RYAN SAYS JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA DOING FINE JOB VS VIRUS
  • WHO'S TEDROS: ONLY WAY TO BEAT VIRUS IS THROUGH UNITED EFFORT
  • WHO'S RYAN: IT'S A FALSE HOPE VIRUS WILL DISAPPEAR IN SUMMER
  • WHO'S RYAN: WE'RE ENTERING NEW ERA IN TERMS OF INTERACTIONS
  • WHO SAYS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL THAT PEOPLE WASH THEIR HANDS

Over the past few weeks, President Trump has repeatedly said that the "corona flu" will disappear in the spring when the regular flu season ends.

* * *

Update (0950ET): Perhaps unsurprisingly given the shape of the market, White House economic advisory Larry Kudlow was subjected to an uncharacteristically vigorous grilling Friday morning during an appearance on CNBC, the network where he once served as an anchor, until leaving to work at the White House.

Kudlow insisted that Americans should "go about their business," adding that "national infection risk is low" - though there are exceptions.

"I would avoid Seattle," Kudlow said, adding that travelers should use 'common sense' and avoid areas with outbreaks. He also repeatedly pointed out that "80% of people who get this" come out of the illness with "no trouble" - meaning we assume that they recover without requiring hospitalization.

As far as a vaccine is concerned, Kudlow said that companies are racing to find a cure (a race that the FT laid out in detail earlier this week).

"I just think the private sector is going to resolve this disease as they have in the past as you well know...we are a free country that believes in free enterprise - they call it the 'American model' of enterprise."

While he believes economic growth will slow over the next quarter will slow and that the US has seen some "modest disturbances" in supply chain deliveries ("though in general ISMs look okay"), Kudlow insisted that "there's an export boom coming once this virus dies down later in the year.

Should investors buy the dip in stocks?

"Yes," Kudlow said. "It's not a timing call, I'm not a tactical guy...but long run investors, absolutely."

"I would still argue that this is contained, but you can't be airtight."

"This is not going to go on forever. This is going to run out of steam."

Here are the headlines via Reuters:

  • WHITE HOUSE ADVISER KUDLOW SAYS U.S. ECONOMY IS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND -CNBC INTERVIEW
  • KUDLOW SAYS U.S. ECONOMY WILL SLOW DOWN IN CERTAIN SECTORS, BUT SLOWDOWN WILL BE TEMPORARY
  • KUDLOW SAYS HE DOES NOT THINK U.S. GOV'T SHOULD BE 'THROWING CASH' AROUND IN SHORT-TERM REBATE-TYPE PLANS
  • KUDLOW SAYS MAGNITUDE OF LIKELY SLOWDOWN IN U.S. ECONOMY IS NOT KNOWN
  • KUDLOW SAYS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WOULD PREFER A TARGETED APPROACH TO ANY FISCAL STIMULUS MEASURES
  • KUDLOW SAYS MORE INFORMATION NEEDED BEFORE ACTION CAN BE TAKEN TO HELP ECONOMY WITH FISCAL MEASURES
  • KUDLOW SAYS HE DOES NOT WANT TO PANIC ON POLICY MEASURES IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS
  • KUDLOW SAYS AMERICANS SHOULD BUY THE DIP WHEN IT COMES TO STOCKS
  • KUDLOW SAYS WHEN THERE ARE MARKET CORRECTIONS, LONG-TERM INVESTORS SHOULD THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT BUYING DURING THE DIPS
  • KUDLOW SAYS UNDERSTANDABLE THAT AMERICANS WOULD WANT TO AVOID TRAVEL TO SEATTLE, BUT SIMILAR CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAKS NOT SEEN ELSEWHERE IN U.S.
  • KUDLOW SAYS NATIONAL INFECTION RISK FROM CORONAVIRUS IS LOW, AVERAGE AMERICANS SHOULD GO ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS
  • KUDLOW SAYS HE THINK U.S. ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NEXT QUARTER WILL SLOW
  • KUDLOW SAYS HE DOES NOT THINK U.S. IS FACING RECESSION

Kudlow is now speaking on Bloomberg TV where he usually faces "a much rougher ride," as NewSquawk pointed out.

* * *

Update (0920ET): Egypt has confirmed 12 new coronavirus cases on a cruise ship traveling down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor, according to a statement from the Egyptian health ministry and the WHO.

According to CNN, the health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said the detection came after the WHO warned Egypt that a Taiwanese-American tourist, who was on board the cruise, had tested positive after returning home, Ahram Online added.

The 12 cases, all of whom are Egyptian crew members, have tested positive after "a test was carried out following the conclusion of the 14-day incubation period."

* * *

Update (0855ET): President Trump has signed the $8.3 billion coronavirus aid package into law. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Friday that the production of facemasks is "completely on schedule."

  • U.S. HEALTH SECRETARY AZAR SAYS PRODUCTION OF CORONAVIRUS TESTS IS COMPLETELY ON SCHEDULE

In a statement, Trump added that he would travel to Mar a Lago over the weekend to meet with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. However, as Politico reported earlier, Trump has scrapped a trip to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta even as the number of confirmed cases in the US near 250.

Meanwhile, the UK has reported another 48 cases bringing its total to 163.

US has reported 14 deaths, all but one in the Seattle area.

* * *

Update (0850ET): Switzerland's case total just hit 210, and it became the latest European nation to confirm its first death on Friday, joining the Netherlands. The small Alpine nation is said to be on the brink of a crisis, according to domestic officials.

  • SWISS HEALTH OFFICIAL SAYS THERE ARE 210 DIAGNOSED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS IN SWITZERLAND, 1 DEATH
  • SWITZERLAND IS ON THE BRINK OF AN EPIDEMIC: HEALTH OFFICIAL

* * *

Update (0840ET): France has reported another 2 virus-linked deaths, bringing its total to 9. It has confirmed another 154 cases, bringing total to 577 on Friday, France's Health Ministry said.

Two new British Airways staff have also tested positive for the virus, according to the BBC.

* * *

Update (0823ET): The number of confirmed coronavirus caases around the world has topped 100k Friday morning. We're seeing a few different numbers, but the total case count is 100,278, according to Johns Hopkins.

Of those, 55,694 have recovered and 3,404 have died.

It's amazing how quickly the virus has spread.

Just 7 weeks ago, the global total was less than 250 cases, all in China, and almost all in the city of Wuhan. On Friday, Chinese officials confirmed that outside of Wuhan, the province of Hubei reported zero new cases for the first time in weeks, as Sky News pointed out.

* * *

Update (0820ET): UK health officials have confirmed a second virus-linked death, less than 24 hours after its first. The man reportedly died at Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire.

Boris Johnson's government on Friday managed to pass a £46 million in funding to battle the virus.

In other news, we just discovered this video circulating via Twitter, where an Iranian doctor on the country's Influenza Committee said between 30% and 40% of Tehran's population could be infected. That would be nearly 5 million people.

Here's the latest "official" count: deaths, 124; cases, 4,747.

* * *

Update (0810ET): Mike Pompeo was the featured guest on "Squawk Box" Friday morning, and when asked about China's grandiose claims about its virus-fighting efforts, Pompeo replied that the Chinese deliberately delayed the sharing of data and other information that would have been of great benefit to the US in its effort to try to slow the coronavirus outbreak.

  • U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE POMPEO SAYS CHINA SHOULD HAVE SHARED CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION MORE QUICKLY -CNBC
  • POMPEO SAYS IMPERFECT CORONAVIRUS DATA FROM CHINA HAS PUT US BEHIND THE CURVE -CNBC
  • POMPEO SAYS U.S. IS WATCHING SUPPLY CHAINS VERY CLOSELY AMID CORONAVIRUS -CNBC

As far as the CCP's propaganda about the virus originating in the US...

The money quote from Pompeo:

"The information that we got at the front end of this thing wasn’t perfect and has led us now to a place where much of the challenge we face today has put us behind the curve," Pompeo said. "That’s not the way infectious disease doctors tell me it should work. It’s not the way America works with transparency and openness and the sharing of the information that needs to take place."

He added that it had been "incredibly frustrating" to work with the Chinese government to get the data on the coronavirus "which will ultimately be the solution to both getting the vaccine and attacking this risk."

* * *

Update (0800ET): Russian state-run newswire RIA Novosti reports that all of the coronavirus cases confirmed in the country so far have been imported from Italy.

It's the latest sign of the growing frustration across Europe as the Netherlands has become the latest nation to confirm its first coronavirus-related death, as many accuse the Italian government of botching the response to the virus. By the way, the number of cases confirmed in the Netherlands is 128.

Make no mistake: This is Moscow underhandedly accusing Rome of dropping the ball.

Meanwhile, here's a treat from China's state media: A news anchor says the Chinese government is demanding "an apology" from the rest of the world for the "sacrifices" made by the Chinese people to blunt the impact of the virus on the rest of the world.

Of course, the government has sought to suggest that the virus may have come from the US, even though government researchers have confirmed that the outbreak began in Wuhan.

* * *

Update (0727ET): Some new headlines are hitting out of Greece, noting that 14 new cases have been confirmed, bringing the total confirmed to 45.

  • GREEK HEALTH MINISTRY OFFICIAL SAYS ¬ GREECE HAS CONFIRMED 14 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES
  • GREEK HEALTH MINISTRY OFFICIAL SAYS EXTENDS MEASURES IN THREE PELOPONNESE AREAS
  • TOTAL NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS IN GREECE HAVE RISEN TO 45

Singapore has confirmed 13 new cases, its largest daily increase yet.

  • SINGAPORE CONFIRMS 13 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES IN BIGGEST DAILY JUMP, INCLUDES SINGAPORE AIRLINES CABIN CREW MEMBER

According to Channel News Asia, an English-language, Singapore-based media org, this brings the total number of cases in the city-state to 130 since its first case was confirmed on Jan. 23. Out of the new cases, nine are linked to the cluster involving a private dinner function at SAFRA Jurong on Feb 15. One patient is a SingTel employee, another is a Singapore Airlines cabin crew member, which the government is counting as an 'imported' case.

Another patient is a permanent resident who recently traveled to Germany and is believed to have contracted it there. The last case was in the same ward as an earlier patient.

* * *

Update (0710ET): CNBC's Eunice Yoon reports that Chinese officials have announced that they will have a vaccine ready by April.

Yoon also highlighted a story in China's state media calling out local governments for "faking" data like electricity usage to make it seem like China's economy is more active than it is, something that we've also dawn attention to.

As we said at the time: Why must the owner of the empty factory pretend the factory is operating? Because "Higher ups are watching the electricity numbers." And why are higher ups watching the electricity numbers? Because they know that not only the rest of the world is also watching these numbers, but so is China's population. 

* * *

It only took three months. In that time, the novel coronavirus has spread from a wet market (or, possibly, a specialized laboratory) in Wuhan, China to every continent except Antarctica. Thanks in large part to the EU's unwillingness to restrict free movement within the Schengen Area, the virus has infected practically every state in Europe. Now that Serbia has confirmed its first case, as of Friday morning New York Time, Slovakia is the only remaining state in Europe that is virus-free. Even Vatican City, Andorra, San Marino and Luxembourg have reported at least one case.

Courtesy of WaPo

At this point, the only continents that haven't reported a pervasive spread of the virus are South America and Africa. But we suspect that will change in the coming days and weeks, once the virus has been given time to incubate. Worldwide, the number of confirmed cases is on the cusp of topping 100,000. At last count, we were at 98,704 cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Back in the US, health officials in Washington State, Oregon and California have all identified cases involving individuals who haven't recently traveled, as we reported yesterday. These cases are a sign of "community spread" to a degree that officials have yet to truly ascertain. So far, the Trump administration has imposed travel restrictions directed at countries with the worst outbreaks, including China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea. The CDC has also warned travelers against visiting Japan right now. At last check, according to BNO, there are 234 cases in the US, if we include all the "presumptive" cases that have been announced.

Officials announced the country's 14th virus-linked death late Thursday and several states announced their first "presumptive" positives, including Maryland, which joined California, Florida and Washington in declaring states of emergency, or official public health emergencies (as in Fla.).

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday pledged federal aid to Washington State as all but one death has so far been recorded in the state (the other is the dead patient in California linked to the 'Grand Princess'). 11 of the deaths have been recorded at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland, near a nursing home where more than 10 patients and employees have already been confirmed infected.

In addition to the two new deaths announced late Thursday, five new cases were confirmed in the state, four of them among nursing home residents. The fifth case was reported in Snohomish County, the neighboring county that is also a part of suburban Seattle, and has recorded a handful of cases.

Washington’s death toll from the coronavirus reached 13 on Thursday, driven by an outbreak at a nursing home in the Seattle suburbs, and the state’s overall number of infections rose to 75, according to CNN.

Courtesy of WaPo

As the virus spreads across a Jewish community in New York's Westchester County, Rabbi Reuven Fink, the rabbi at the Young Israel synagogue and allegedly the rabbi of Lawrence Garbuz, the New Rochelle lawyer who has become the 'patient zero' of Westchester County, has also been infected.

According to the city department of health, 2,773 people - most of whom have recently returned from 1 of five countries - are under voluntary quarantine in the city, per the NYT.

But the virus’s potential reach was underscored by a much larger number: The City Department of Health is keeping tabs on 2,773 New Yorkers currently in home isolation, most of them in self-quarantine, city officials said on Thursday.

Most of those under self-quarantine have recently returned from the five countries where the outbreak has been most severe: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan, the New York City health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, said.

The two new patients confirmed in NYC are hospitalized and said to be 'critically ill'.

In South Korea, the site of the worst outbreak outside China, officials confirmed another 827 in two separate batches cases so far on Friday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 6,593. The Foreign Ministry publicly rebuked Japan for imposing a two-week mandatory quarantine for visitors from South Korea, and in apparent retaliation, the office has halted visa waivers for the Japanese in what the NYT described as "tit for tat" retaliation over the 14-day quarantine and other restrictions on travelers imposed by Japan.

Offer a classic example of poetic justice, ten leaders of the cult cited as the ground-zero for the outbreak in South Korea - and who may soon face murder investigations for failing to take steps to contain the virus - have tested positive for the virus.

Late Thursday, mainland China reported 143 new cases of coronavirus and 30 deaths for Thursday. On Wednesday, they reported 149 additional cases and 31 additional deaths on March 4, to bring the total cases in China to 80,552 and death toll to 3,042.

As schools remain shut across Japan, Chiba Prefecture has reported two more cases, both men, according to Kyodo.

Though the Pope has reportedly been tested for the coronavirus and confirmed negative, Vatican City, which has an official population of only 1,000 people, has reported its 1st case. Spokesman Matteo Bruni said the discovery was made on Thursday and that outpatient services in Vatican clinics had been suspended to sanitize the areas.

More grim news: Officials in the Netherlands have confirmed their first coronavirus-linked death.

Microsoft, Adidas and Lockheed Martin have joined Amazon, Facebook, Samsung, BMW and dozens of companies around the world that have reported cases among employees. In South Korea, Samsung has suspended operations at its smartphone factory in the small southeastern city of Gumi once again on Friday after another worker tested positive for coronavirus, a spokeswoman said. So far, six workers at the factory complex, where the company makes its top-of-the-line G20 smartphones and the Z Flip foldable phone, have been infected by the virus, prompting several temporary shutdowns.

For the second week in a row, the virus has disrupted Friday prayers across the Middle East. Iran remains the epicenter of the largest outbreak in the region. Some 60,000 mosques were closed on Friday. Iran reported another 1,234 cases on Friday, bringing its total to 4,747, along with 107 deaths according to the official death toll (with 'unofficial' reports claiming more than 1,000 deaths).

In India, the number of confirmed cases rose to 31 on Friday as schools were ordered closed across the capital of Delhi after the first case in the city was confirmed on Tuesday. The virus is forcing many Indians to miss out on Holi, one of India's most important holidays.

Interestingly enough, even as the Communist Party pushed remarks by a professional epidemiologist on Friday who said the number of new cases reported in Wuhan would soon fall to zero, western media shared a viral video of residents of the city shouting complaints at visiting government officials below.

“Everything is fake!” shouted one resident, in a video clip that was shared on social media by People’s Daily, a state-run newspaper, which covered the government’s response to the heckling.