March 6 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Fernando Alfonso III, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:19 p.m. ET, March 6, 2020
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2:51 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Top US health expert: "We’re going to need millions and millions and millions of tests"

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci CNN

Coronavirus screening got off to “a slow start" and there were some “missteps” with regard to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s test, but the problems have been addressed, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at CNN’s town hall tonight.

By the end of the week or the beginning of next week, the CDC should be able to get out about 75,000 additional tests. Partnering with the private sector will help get out millions more, Fauci said.

“What you’re going to see in the reasonable future is a dramatic escalation in the number of tests that are going to be available,” Fauci said. By the following week, “they could get up to a million tests out there – that’s the plan, that’s what we’re hearing.”

To get a fuller picture of the coronavirus, the US needs testing that is “much more proactive,” not just when doctors ask for it, Fauci said. This will help determine how much the disease has spread and how many cases are going undetected. 

“For that reason, we’re going to need millions and millions and millions of tests,” Fauci said. “That’s what I feel and that’s what many of my colleagues feel.”

Watch:

2:50 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

"Each of us have a responsibility" in preparing for the virus, doctor says

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove CNN

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious diseases epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, has weighed in to offer advice to the public at CNN's coronavirus town hall.

"Our biggest advice right now is to be ready. We want everyone to know what they can do to protect themselves, to protect their families at an individual level," she said.

"I want to emphasize for our viewers, we can look to doctors and government officials, but it is each of us, individuals all around the world, who are literally the front lines of this," she added. "It's washing your hands, not just for yourself, it's for your fellow family members and fell low citizens. Each of us have a responsibility in this."

What she said people should be doing:

  • Wash your hands: A basic measure that goes a long way when done properly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and frequently throughout the day.
  • If you don't have access to that: Use alcohol gel or hand sanitizer.
  • Respiratory etiquette: Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue, and put it in a bin.
  • Be informed: Use reliable sources like the WHO or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Educate yourself, know what you can do, how you can protect yourself, how you can protect your family," Kerkhove said.
11:08 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

South Korean city rejects donation from religious group linked to virus outbreak

From journalist Hyoungjoo Choi in Seoul

The government of the South Korean city of Daegu has rejected a $10.1 million donation from the Shincheonji religious group at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the East Asian country.

"What we need is not the financial donation but full cooperation for the government’s quarantine measures from Lee Man-hee, the leader of Shincheonji group, and all of his followers," Daegu city Mayor Kwon Young-jin said Friday.

Pressure has been growing on the group amid claims -- which it denies -- that Shincheonji has not been fully cooperating with officials and concealing the names of followers who might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

According to the Daegu government, there are numerous followers who tested positive for the virus but have refused to be admitted to community treatment centers. Officials also accused others of hampering quarantine measures.

2:50 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

University of Nebraska medical director: The trial for a treatment drug "shows great promise"

Dr. Mark Rupp
Dr. Mark Rupp CNN

Joining us at the town hall is Dr. Mark Rupp, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

UNMC is currently running a clinical trial of an experimental coronavirus treatment, and have a second participant enrolled in the trial. The trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"We're very pleased with the fact that we brought this trial on extremely quickly along with our colleagues at the NIH," said Rupp.

"It shows great promise. This was a drug that was developed and tested initially against Ebola virus. It was found to not be very effective against Ebola but did seem to work against some of these coronaviruses like SARS and MERS. So it really does seem to show some promise now with the treatment of Covid-19. So we're very hopeful, but it's way too early to say anything."

He urged the public not to panic: "I do agree we need to take a collective deep breath and realize this is not some existential threat against mankind. A quarter to a third of us are not going to die in the next year, like in Europe in the Middle Ages," Rupp said.

But we should still be cautious: "This is a very serious event and one that we need to take seriously and prepare for and do everything we can to blunt the spread of this pandemic," he added, warning that a worst case scenario could lead to "Millions of potential infections, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths."

2:49 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Nebraska man explains what it felt like to have coronavirus

CNN
CNN

A Nebraska man who traveled on a cruise ship that was overcome with coronavirus explained what it felt like to contract the virus tonight during CNN's town hall.

Carl Goldman contracted the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. One of the first signs of the illness was a high fever, Goldman said.

"Yeah, the common denominator seems to be a spiked, very high fever in a quick amount of time. We had been sent back from the Diamond Princess over to the states on a 747 cargo plane. When I got on the plane, I fell asleep. I was still feeling fine when we got on the plane. Fell asleep next to my wife. Two hours later, I woke up and I had a high fever, 103 plus," Goldman said.

When Goldman went to a doctor aboard the ship, the doctor told the Omaha native that he had to be placed in a quarantine area.

"He tested me and saw that I did have the fever. Was put in a quarantine area. Flown here to Omaha, and put in the biocontainment center where I was, again, tested for the actual virus. And it came out positive. But it felt less than a common cold. I didn't have a stuffy nose. Didn't have a sore throat. The fever was high, but no body aches, no chills, no sweating that usually comes with 103 fever," Goldman said.

More on the Diamond Princess: The American-owned cruise ship was put under quarantine by Japanese for two weeks in February after a coronavirus outbreak was detected on board.

At least 705 people contracted the virus during the quarantine, four of whom have died. For a time, the ship had the largest concentration of cases outside of mainland China, where the virus is thought to have originated.

Watch:

11:09 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

California investigates death of man who shared cruise ship with suspected coronavirus patients

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Health officials in California are investigating the death of a 72-year-old Bay Area man who was previously on a cruise ship with two passengers suspected of having the coronavirus.

The man, who has not been identified, died Thursday after officers were called to his home, where they found him "unconscious and not breathing" and were unable to resuscitate.

While obtaining medical history on the patient, a family member advised officers that the man had recently been aboard a cruise ship with two passengers suspected of having the novel coronavirus, said Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Chief Phan S. Ngo

Ngo was not able to confirm which cruise ship the patient was on and said they have not yet determined if the patient had coronavirus.

Autopsy results are pending and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is investigating the case.

Seven public safety officers who responded to the call were placed into a brief quarantine "out of an abundance of caution," Ngo said. They have since been sent home, but have not been tested as they are not showing symptoms of the virus.

Sunnyvale is in Northern California’s Santa Clara County, which currently has 20 confirmed cases.

2:49 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

We're about an hour into CNN's coronavirus town hall. Tune in here

CNN
CNN

CNN's town hall on the coronavirus, addressing facts, fears, and medical guidance, is about halfway through -- it will run until midnight ET.

We're covering the town hall here with live updates -- but you can also send in questions and stream it live.

How do I participate?

The experts will take questions from the studio audience and from viewers around the world. Submit them here or tweet them using the hashtag #CNNTownHall.

Where can I watch it?

The town hall will air exclusively on CNN, CNN International, across mobile devices via CNN's apps for iOS and Android, via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV, SiriusXM Channels 116, 454, 795 and the Westwood One Radio Network.

2:49 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

The US isn't ready for a massive outbreak, experts warn

CNN's town hall is now turning to the question of what an epidemic would look like in the United States.

A moderate scenario might be a million hospitalizations — meaning 200,000 people would need to be in the intensive care unit, and 64,000 people would need breathing machines, said CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

The question: "We don't have all that. We have maybe just barely that. And many of those ventilators and breathing machines are currently being used. What are we going to do if that many people actually need care like that?" Gupta said.

The answer: "It's one area where the response has been laggard," responded Ron Klein, President Barack Obama's Ebola response coordinator.

"Getting our health care system ready for the influx of cases is something we should be doing now. We saw in China they built temporary hospitals. They really flexed up their capacity," he said.

Klein went on to make this crucial point:

"It's not just the people who get coronavirus are going to be affected by this. If hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed, if doctors and nurses treating those people get sick and staffing drops at our hospitals, if we don't have enough beds, people with other illnesses won't be able to get into the hospital and get treatment. People with routine medical conditions won't be able to get treatment. The possible impact on our health care system is something we should be using this time, as cases ramp up, to get ready for."

Watch:

2:49 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Town hall: Japan faces calls to cancel the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

People wear masks near the Olympics rings in Tokyo's Daiba waterfront area on Thursday, March 5.
People wear masks near the Olympics rings in Tokyo's Daiba waterfront area on Thursday, March 5. Kyodo News/Sipa USA

CNN Correspondent Will Ripley is joining the town hall to bring us the latest on the situation in Japan -- where a debate is ongoing on the future of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"This has not been a great week for organizers of Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee because Japan saw the case numbers rise over 1,000," said Ripley. "You have infectious diseases experts saying that the number could be 10 times the official report because of the fact this country's testing so few people."

Will the Games be canceled? Not yet -- despite calls to do so.

"You have Olympics organizers saying that they're still proceeding as if they're going to deliver the games on schedule at the end of July. But a growing number of people are questioning whether it's going to be safe to do that, given that you have people from 200-plus countries scheduled to come from all over the world, living in close quarters for a period of weeks then going back to their countries," Ripley said.

The question of a pandemic: "The big concern is if this outbreak continues to intensify, if it becomes a pandemic by summer, will they be able to hold the Games? Right now, there isn't an answer to that question."

Watch: