March 12 coronavirus news

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1:30 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Florida Sen. Rick Scott will self-quarantine after potential contact with infected Brazilian official

Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, said Thursday he would self-quarantine after potentially coming into contact with a Brazilian government aide who tested positive for coronavirus.

"My office was alerted today by the Brazilian Embassy that a member of President Bolsonaro’s delegation tested positive for Coronavirus. On Monday, I met with the President in Miami, and while I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me. The Embassy said the person had no symptoms leading up to or the day of the conference," Scott said in a statement.

He said that while doctors told him his risk was low and that he didn't need to take a test nor quarantine, he would do so out of an abundance of caution.

1:32 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus to get more dangerous in coming weeks, British prime minister says

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Simon Dawson/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Simon Dawson/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come in the UK, the British Prime Minister said on Thursday. 

“The most dangerous period is not now but some weeks away depending on how fast it spreads,” Boris Johnson said at news conference to announce the UK’s move to the "delay" phase of its coronavirus action plan. 

“The virus is more dangerous than seasonal flu and more people are going to get it. More families will lose loved ones,” Johnson warned. 

Under the plan, if the UK is able to delay the "peak" of the virus by a “few weeks,” the National Health System will be better positioned to handle it, he said. If the peak is delayed until the weather is warmer, there will be less people suffering from respiratory tract related illnesses and would put the NHS in a “stronger state.”

1:17 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Boston hotel that hosted conference tied to coronavirus cases closes

From CNN’s Jessica Moskowitz

David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Marriott Boston Long Wharf – the site of the Biogen conference, which dozens of Massachusetts' coronavirus cases are connected to — will be closed to guests effective today, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.

The hotel and the health commission had the mutual decision to close the hotel.

“The mutually agreed upon decision was based on the facts obtained through confirmed cases connected to hotel and contact tracing to identify close contacts of those cases,” the commission said in a statement.

At least 70 confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusttes are related to employees at Cambridge biotechnology company Biogen.  

1:25 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Trump administration sees a number of European countries as the biggest threat for coronavirus

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, Kaitlan Collins, Lauren Fox, Geneva Sands and Alex Rogers

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson on Thursday told CNN that the US government sees a number of countries on the European continent as the biggest threat concerning the coronavirus.

The Trump administration did not have those concerns about the United Kingdom, the spokesperson told CNN, and President Trump, during a press gathering Thursday afternoon, said he did not have concerns about the United Kingdom, which has "very strong borders." 

The DHS told CNN they have seen a lot of broken travel histories from individuals from some of those European countries, which makes it harder to track their movements. DHS "confident we can capture the vast majority of qualifying travelers with this order," the spokesperson said.

On Thursday, Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli pointed out that Europe presents a "unique problem," because the Schengen Zone – which allows for free movement throughout European Union countries – creates a region where "they don't have borders for the purposes of travel." He added that there are 26 countries with which to contend. He questioned whether it "even makes sense" to treat Italy as a unitary entity and said the Italian government is conducting exit testing for travelers on direct flights to the US.

A source with the State Department told CNN they will extend the prohibition to the UK if the cases continue to rise there. The department's level 3 warning included the UK and the rest of the world. State official tells have said they did that knowing it would greatly reduce all international travel by Americans.

1:28 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art to close its locations temporarily

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City announced today that it will close all three locations temporarily starting tomorrow, March 13, to support the city's effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The MET will undertake a thorough cleaning during the closure.

Museum staff has been preparing for this possibility for several weeks.

Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Museum, stated, “The Met’s priority is to protect and support our staff, volunteers, and visitors, and we have been taking several proactive precautionary measures, including discouraging travel to affected areas, implementing rigorous cleaning routines, and staying in close communication with New York City health officials and the Centers for Disease Control.

He added that the MET staff does not have any confirmed cases at this time.  

1:06 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus cases in 30 states have been linked to Europe, CDC says

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said cases in 30 or more states were linked to cases in Europe.

During a House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday discussing the coronavirus response, Redfield said the "real risk in general right now, and this is why the President took the action he did last night, within the world now, over 70% of the new cases are linked to Europe. In the United States … 30 states or more were linked actually to cases in Europe." 

Redfield reiterated, “Europe is the new China.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said as the CDC recently investigated the 35 states that were reporting cases, 30 of them “who were more recently getting infections ... That was predominately from Italy and from France and from Germany.” 

1:00 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Governor declares public health emergency in Wisconsin

From CNN’s Brad Parks

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in response to new coronavirus cases in the state.

“We have been working aggressively to slow the spread of COVID-19, and this declaration allows us to get the resources we need to continue to be proactive when it comes to protecting Wisconsinites,” Evers said.

He continued: “It is the latest step in the work our state agencies have been doing around the clock with our healthcare partners to prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic.”

12:56 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

These federal agencies want blood donations to continue

From CNN's Mallory Simon

Two federal agencies are urging people in the United States to continue donating blood during the coronavirus pandemic.

The US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Food and Drug Administration and US blood banks are urging blood donations and trying to calm fears. They said in a statement that coronavirus does not pose any known risks to blood donors during the donation process.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said Americans need to “start turning out in force to give blood.”

The push comes as blood centers are seeing cancellation of drives and significant drops in donations. The American Red Cross said 300 Red Cross blood drives in the United States have been canceled because of coronavirus concerns. That translates to about 8,000 uncollected blood donations, the group said.  

The FDA and HHS said the cancellation of blood drives means they are unable to keep the blood supply adequately replenished.

“We need people to prevent the blood supply from getting depleted. We need it not to get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled,” Marks said. “That’s something we absolutely do not want to have happen. To ensure an adequate blood supply we need people to come out and donate blood.”

The FDA said there “have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus and the virus poses no known risk to patients receiving blood transfusions.”

“It is safe to donate blood,” said Admiral Dr. Brett P. Giroir, assistant secretary for HHS. “Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply. Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it.”

Kate Fry, chief executive of America’s Blood Centers, which collects close to 60% of the nation’s blood supply, urged people to donate before things get worse.

“Blood donors are needed now more than ever. We cannot wait for the situation to intensify further before taking action,” Fry said. “The blood supply cannot be taken for granted and the coronavirus only heightens the need for a ready blood supply.”

 

1:18 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

US death toll in coronavirus outbreak climbs to 39

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a news conference on February 4.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a news conference on February 4. Bob Andres/AJC/AP/File

The state of Georgia has reported its first death related to the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to statement from the governor's office. 

The individual has been identified as a 67-year-old male, who was hospitalized at WellStar Kennestone just outside of Atlanta since testing positive for COVID-19 on March 7. 

In addition to being infected with coronavirus disease, this individual also had underlying medical conditions.

Georgia has currently confirmed 31 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state. 

The US death toll now stands at 39.