February 28 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Angela Dewan, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:08 PM ET, Fri February 28, 2020
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12:00 p.m. ET, February 28, 2020

What it means for coronavirus outbreak to be at the WHO's "highest level of alert"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The coronavirus outbreak has reached the “highest level” of risk for the world, the World Health Organization announced today.

“This thing can go in any direction. We’re not undermining the risk, it’s there. That’s why today we said the global risk is very high. We increased it from high to very high,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a press briefing in Geneva on Friday. 

Remember: That risk assessment makes no “legal difference” in how countries should prepare for the outbreak, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said during today's press briefing.

Rather, “raising the risk to very high is essentially reflecting what’s actually happening at a global level,” Ryan said, adding that this is a “reality check” for governments to prepare. 

“We are on the highest level of alert, on the highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and in terms of impact, but that is not in order to alarm or scare people,” Ryan said. “We can avoid the worst of this but our level of concern is at its highest.”

11:54 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

There are 61 cases of coronavirus in the US now

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

There are now 61 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States, according to an update today by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These include...

  • 43 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship
  • 3 people repatriated from China
  • 15 US cases

A total of 285 individuals from the Diamond Princess are currently under quarantine in the United States, according to the update.

The 15 US cases include nine in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. Among these cases, there are two instances of person-to-person transmission, one in Illinois and one in California. 

The latest case in California did not have any relevant travel history or known contact with another infected person, suggesting it could be the first instance of "community spread" of the virus in the United States, according to health officials.

11:52 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

World Health Organization says drug manufacturers affected by coronavirus are starting to come back online

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht

The World Health Organization has been monitoring the impact of the novel coronavirus on the global supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, said today during a press briefing, and it is concerned.

“We do believe, though, with the decreasing incidence in China, that many companies who do produce these APIs are beginning to come back online,” Ryan said.

“So while there is a big slump in supply, we believe that’s being switched on again. We continue to monitor that.”

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday the country’s first novel coronavirus-related drug shortage. The maker of an unnamed drug that has recently been added to the FDA Drug Shortages list told the agency that the shortage is due to the novel coronavirus. Earlier in the week, the agency said it had identified 20 drugs that either solely sourced their active pharmaceutical ingredients, or produced finished drug products, from or in China.

11:08 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

The market plunged this week — but Clorox stocks are up

From CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn

Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Cleaning goods companies are stepping up production to meet demand as fears of coronavirus intensifies.

"We are taking up inventory levels [to] be prepared for the potential increase in demand for some of our bleach products," Clorox chief financial officer Kevin Jacobsen said on a call with analysts earlier this month. Clorox is one of four S&P 500 stocks to rise this week as the rest of the market has plunged.

Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Dettol and Lysol said it was investing in its supply chain to be able to prevent shortages. 

"We're continuing to make capacity investments to ensure that we don't run out at the peak for some of these products that we have that, frankly, consumers demand and we can't fulfill," said CEO Laxman Narasimhan.

The best way to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus is washing your hands — thoroughly — with soap and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More on the markets: The Dow dropped 3,226 points in the first four days of the week, including its worst one-day point drop in history on Thursday. All three major indexes are on track for their worst week since October 2008.

10:50 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

More than 20 coronavirus vaccines are in development around the world, WHO says

From CNN Health’s Jacqueline Howard

There are dozens of coronavirus vaccines in development and being studied across the globe, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.

Tedros said that work is “progressing” on the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

“More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials. We expect the first results in a few weeks,” Tedros said.

In the meantime, Tedros added that to protect yourself from illness make sure to wash your hands and clean surfaces regularly with disinfectant, among other healthy habits.

10:37 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

World Health Organization says risk of coronavirus spread is "very high at a global level"

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said WHO epidemiologists have been monitoring developments in global coronavirus cases and “we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of Covid-19 to very high at a global level.”

Most cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases, he said, and WHO does not see evidence as of yet that the virus is spreading freely.

“As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this virus,” Tedros said.
10:40 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

How can I prepare for coronavirus?

Your coronavirus questions, answered

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.

11:28 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Former White House economist says coronavirus could "absolutely" spark US recession


Former White House economist Kevin Hassett told CNN this morning the coronavirus could “absolutely” spark recession if not contained.

He said that White House economist Peter Navarro is wrong that Apple is an anomaly in terms of taking a hit from the coronavirus. Many industries including airline and oil will also see hits.

Watch more:

10:10 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

California congressman says some members will be briefed again this afternoon on coronavirus

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Rep. John Garamendi, a Democratic member who represents the area between San Francisco and Sacramento, said today that briefers in the room this morning pushed back on the whistleblower complaint that public health officials were not properly trained or protected at March Air Force Base when they went to meet incoming travelers from China.

However, he said briefers could not answer a question about whether they believed the whistleblower was wrong about what occurred at Travis Air Force base. 

“The WB issue remains unresolved at least at Travis Air Force base,” Garamendi told reporters. “The WB complaint was raised by Mark Takano who represents March Air Force base. CDC said that protocols were followed at March. I asked if they were followed at Travis and they said ‘we will talk to you this afternoon’ and they will talk to us this afternoon."

Garamendi said some members will be briefed again this afternoon. He said he did not know who all would be invited to that briefing: It may just be more California members, but he said others may be invited as well. 

Garamendi said he is largely concerned about the fact that a patient who presented symptoms for days was not tested for coronavirus because of the protocols that had been established by CDC. He said it put health workers in the first facility in Vacaville, California at great risk and that 84 health workers at the first facility where the patient was have been sent home to self-monitor because of risk of exposure.

“They haven’t been tested yet because tests as of this morning were not available,” he said. “Those people quite possibly have been infected. Similarly, there are other hospitals in the Sacramento region whose personnel have been exposed.”