March 11 coronavirus news
The World Health Organization just declared the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
The novel coronavirus outbreak is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.
"Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do," he added.
Remember: CNN began calling the virus a pandemic earlier this week.
The specific criteria for a pandemic are not universally defined, but there are three general criteria: a virus that can cause illness or death; sustained person-to-person transmission of that virus; and evidence of spread throughout the world.
Colorado health officials will offer a drive-up testing lab for novel coronavirus in Denver, according to the state's Department of Public Health and Environment.
The service will be available starting today.
"Individuals must have an order from their doctor confirming they meet the testing criteria and need to be tested, and photo identification that matches the name on the doctor’s order," a department statement said.
Depending on test volume, results will be made available within 72 hours. Individuals getting tested should stay at home while awaiting results, the statement said.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he's recommending that churches across the state cancel services this weekend.
"I know that that’s a big step, I know that some won’t agree with it. But I believe that it’s our job to offer those protections, that we have a lot of opportunity for virtual services," he said.
He noted he's canceling a weekend prayer breakfast.
"I don’t believe that whether you go to church during this period of time is a test of faith. I believe God gives us wisdom to protect each other and we should do that," he said.
The United Nations estimates that the coronavirus crisis is now impacting close to 363 million students worldwide, according to data published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Schools and colleges across the globe have closed — some moving to online only classes — to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
“One in five students worldwide is staying away from school due to the COVID-19 crisis and an additional one in four is being kept out of higher education establishments,” according to UNESCO.
UNESCO says 15 countries have ordered nationwide school closures and 14 have implemented localized closures, spanning Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.
Speaking at the House Oversight Committee discussing the coronavirus response, two top US doctors said the next month is critical when it comes to fighting the spread of coronavirus.
“It is critical because we must be much more serious as a country about what we might expect. ... A couple of cases today are going to be many, many cases tomorrow,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Doubling down, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “This is a time for everyone to get engaged. This is not just a response for the government and public health system. It's a response for all of America.”
As part of nationwide quarantine measures, Italy has issued a ban on all public gatherings — including weddings and funerals.
But at least one group of mourners in Rome got around the restrictions by parking a hearse outside a church and having a priest come outside to give a blessing over the coffin as it sat inside.
Italians are finding ways of living under the national lockdown: Some people seen having their hair cut on the streets to circumvent the rule against booking new appointments to avoid packing people too close together.
Stores have been limiting the number of people allowed to enter, while bars and restaurants have been keeping tables apart and using tape to mark one-meter (three-foot) gaps between people.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Health Security, said he doesn't worry much about the possibility of getting coronavirus through handling money.
"So this is a respiratory virus, so it spreads through coughs and sneezes and the droplets that go out of your body. They go about six feet and fall to the ground. It can land on surfaces, it can remain viable on the surfaces, but that's not the main way that this is transmitting," he explained.
"I don't really, myself, worry about money or coins as a major way that this is transmitting," he added.
He urged people to wash their hands frequently, including after handling money, but reiterated "it's not the main way" the virus spreads.
US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says Democrats are finalizing their coronavirus package today and will hold a vote on it tomorrow.
He said there won’t be time for a Congressional Budget Office score of the bill. He also couldn’t provide reporters with a specific cost estimate, saying it will “probably be in the billions.”
“It’ll be much more costly if we don’t provide this relief,” he said of the bill.
Remember: The legislation is not expected to pass in the Senate, as talks between lawmakers and the Trump administration continue.
Hoyer yesterday appeared to rule out the White House’s proposed payroll tax cut from being included in future coronavirus response legislation, saying he thinks it is “a nonstarter.”
The City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is cancelling this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day parade due to concerns over novel coronavirus, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.
“Due to ongoing concerns over the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, the City of Pittsburgh today is joining cities around the globe – including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dublin, Ireland – in cancelling the St. Patrick’s Day parade planned for Saturday, March 14," the statement said.
“The health of our residents and visitors to our city must be our main priority,” Mayor William Peduto said. “This mitigation measure will help keep people in Pittsburgh and Western Pa. safe.”
There are currently 14 cases of coronavirus across Pennsylvania. None of those cases are in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is, the statement said.