February 26 coronavirus news

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4:28 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Your coronavirus questions, answered

Do you have a question about coronavirus?

Ask it here — we'll be answering some of your questions through out the day.

4:43 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Dow logs fifth straight day of declines over coronavirus concerns

A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange on February 25.
A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange on February 25. Scott Heins/Getty Images

US stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, although the losses were more contained than the last few days, as investors assess the spread of the coronavirus.

It was the fifth straight day of declines for both the Dow and the S&P 500. The Dow has lost nearly 2,400 points since last Thursday. Investors are concerned about the economic and financial fallout from the global outbreak.

The Dow finished 124 points, or 0.5%, lower. The S&P 500 closed down 0.4%. The Nasdaq eked out a gain of 0.2%, snapping a four-day losing streak.

4:52 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Oil and energy stocks are getting crushed by coronavirus fears

An oil rig outside Waterford City, North Dakota.
An oil rig outside Waterford City, North Dakota. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The spread of the coronavirus around the world is sending shockwaves through an oil market ill-prepared for a serious blow to energy demand.

Oil prices plunged deeper into a bear market Wednesday, reflecting fears about the economic repercussions of the rapidly-spreading health crisis. Economists are warning the coronavirus could spark a severe economic slowdown or even recession in the United States and elsewhere.

The outbreak is the biggest shock to demand for oil since the 2008 financial crisis.

US crude dropped another 2.3% on Wednesday to $48.73 a barrel. That's the lowest price since January 2019 and it marks a 23% plunge from the recent peak of $63.27 a barrel on January 6.

"You're seeing the ripple effects of the coronavirus proliferate outside of China. That is what is turning investor sentiment on oil and other risk assets as well," said Michael Tran, director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Read more about this here.

4:57 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Should I be wearing a mask?

A person wearing a surgical mask walks past the New York Stock Exchange on February 3.
A person wearing a surgical mask walks past the New York Stock Exchange on February 3. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

As the number of coronavirus cases increase, reports are showing that there is a growing worldwide mask shortage. This has people asking themselves if they should be wearing one.

Tariro Mzezewa, a New York Times travel reporter, tells CNN the measure is not necessary unless you are sick or are interacting with sick people.

"If you're not interacting with somebody's who's sick or you're not the person who's sick, you don't really need a mask. The people who are sick need those, and you know, there are various kinds of masks. CDC has a whole guide on its side that's breaking down the differences between the kinds of masks and so on. If you're not the sick one, you probably don't really need it," Mzezewa said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend Americans wear surgical masks in public. Surgical masks are effective against respiratory infections but not airborne infections.

3:43 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

First coronavirus case reported in Norway

A person has tested positive for coronavirus in Norway, the country’s Institute for Public Health (NIPH) announced in a statement. This is the first case recorded in the Scandinavian country.

The person has no symptoms but was tested after returning from an area of China affected by the outbreak. The NIPH said it was a “weak positive result."

“The NIPH considers it very unlikely that the person poses an infection risk to others," said Line Vold, director of the Department of Infection Control and Preparedness at NIPH.

As a precaution, the person is undergoing quarantine at their home, Vold added.

3:44 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

It is "highly probable" New York will have cases of coronavirus, governor says

New York state has “explored” 27 cases of coronavirus, and all tests have come back negative except one case that is still pending, NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference. 

Cuomo went on to say that he believes the case that is pending is in Nassau County on Long Island, NY. 

“It is highly probably that you will see a continuing spread of this virus. It is highly probable that we will have people in New York State who test positive,” Cuomo said

Additionally Gov. Cuomo said that he is submitting an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to the state legislature asking for $40 million additional dollars for the New York Department of Health to respond to the virus. 

Cuomo said that New York State is currently in the “containment phase” of dealing with the virus. “Our operating paradigm is always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth Raske joined Cuomo at the press conference and said that hospitals have been working on preparing for coronavirus for weeks.

He said that the resources that the system has to deal with possible cases are “significant.”

 

3:14 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Semester at Sea denied entry to Seychelles due to coronavirus fears

The MV World Odyssey, part of Semester at Sea, an educational cruise program with hundreds of American students on board, was denied entry to Seychelles as it diverted from China due to coronavirus warnings.

“We diverted from China, avoided Malaysia and India, which were on our itinerary. Seychelles is the only country that has denied entry to our ship. We received word from the minister of health there that they were denying visitors from Iran, South Korean, China and Italy," Layne Hanson, vice president of public affairs for Semester at Sea, told CNN.

Hanson added that they were denied despite not having any medical issues on the ship, and despite not having visited any of those countries. 

"We are trying to be as transparent as possible. We suspect that Mauritius which was on our itinerary may do the same thing that Seychelles did so we are voluntary moving away from Mauritius. Our next stop will be Mozambique," Hanson said.

3:19 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?

Scientists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris test samples from infected patients.
Scientists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris test samples from infected patients. Francois Mori/AP

Scientists are working on a vaccine, but don't expect it anytime soon.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is trying to develop one but says it will take at least a few months before clinical trials start and more than a year until a vaccine could become available.

Separately, scientists in Texas, New York and China are also trying to create a vaccine, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

But the challenge is daunting, Hotez said.

"The lesson we've learned is coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats."

3:08 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

What should we do to prepare for coronavirus? 

Dr. John Wiesman testifies during a Senate hearing on March 5, 2019.
Dr. John Wiesman testifies during a Senate hearing on March 5, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

In general, the public should do "what you do every cold and flu season," said Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state — where the first US case of Wuhan coronavirus was confirmed.

That includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 3 feet (or 1 meter) away from anyone who may be infected.

If you're the one feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. But don't use your hands. Use either your bent elbow or a tissue that you throw away immediately afterward.

While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend N95 respirator masks for the general public, it does recommend them for health care workers.

But certain types of facial hair can prevent respirators from working effectively. So, the CDC created an infographic showing which styles of facial hair are riskier than others.