US COVID-19 cases top 400, including first in DC

As testing capacity ramps up in the United States, at least eight more states—plus Washington, DC—reported their first COVID-19 cases, and affected states reported more infections, raising the nation's overall total to at least 417, according to online tracking sources.

In other developments, federal health officials said yesterday that 21 of the initial 46 people tested on the Grand Princess cruise ship, quarantined off the coast of San Francisco, have tested positive for the virus, and three major conferences and events have announced cancellations or postponements, part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On the international front, surges continued in three main hot spots—Italy, Iran, and South Korea—as more steep rises were reported elsewhere in Europe.

New US cases: 157

An online dashboard from Johns Hopkins University, which adds cases as they are announced, as of this afternoon shows 417 US cases, at least 21 fatal, up from 260 reported at this time yesterday. The total includes 49 cases in either people repatriated from Wuhan, China, or from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined in Japan.

So far, 28 states have reported cases, according to a New York Times tracker.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) said yesterday on Twitter that 72 public health labs covering 49 states have begun testing for COVID-19. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) map, only Maine is not yet testing for the novel coronavirus. The agency said Maine's capability to test is "in progess."

In a breaking development, Washington DC's mayor's office said the first presumed positive has been detected in the city and that more details will be available at a media briefing this evening. Since late yesterday afternoon, the following states have reported their first cases:

  • South Carolina: two unlinked cases, one of them in an elderly woman and another in a person who had traveled to Europe
  • Utah: Grand Princess cruise ship passenger
  • Oklahoma: Italy traveler
  • Kentucky: exposure not specified in a Lexington resident
  • Nebraska: United Kingdom travel
  • Hawaii: Grand Princess cruise ship passenger
  • Kansas: Travel related

Most new cases, however, were reported from affected states on the West and East coasts. New York today confirmed 45 new cases since yesterday, raising its total to 89. Seven of the new cases are in New York City, 2 from a cruise and 5 reflecting community spread. Of New York's cases, 70 are now related to a cluster in New Rochelle. Also today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency that gives the state authority to hire more staff and make response-related purchases.

In a related development, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont last night announced that patients and staff at hospitals in Danbury and Norwalk may have been exposed to COVID-19 from a hospital employee who lives in New York's Westchester County who has tested positive for the virus.

In California, San Francisco's health department announced 6 more cases today, raising the city's total to 8. All are contacts of earlier cases. As of this morning, California had 69 cases, 42 from evacuee flights.

In another California development, Stanford University announced that all classes will meet online for the last 2 weeks of the quarter and that large-group events are being canceled or adjusted. According to media reports, a faculty member who works in a clinic tested positive for the virus. Yesterday, the school said two potentially exposed students were in self-isolation.

In Florida, in two separate announcements today, health officials reported four more cases, as well as two deaths, one in an earlier confirmed patient from Santa Rosa County. Two cases were reported in Lee County, one of them fatal. The other two were in Broward County. And in Arizona, the state's health department reported two more in Pinal County, both in household contacts of an earlier case.

New Jersey reported 1 new case and Colorado 6, at least 5 with an international travel history.

In other developments, Vice President Mike Pence last night at a media briefing announced that, of the first 46 people tested on the Grand Princess cruise ship, 21 have tested positive: 2 passengers and 19 crew members.

Washington state exceeds 100 cases

Washington state today reported 22 more cases, raising its total to 102 cases, which includes 16 deaths. Most are from hard-hit King and Snohomish counties, but illnesses have now been reported in Grant, Jefferson, Pierce, and Clark counties, as well.

In a separate announcement, Public Health–Seattle and King County reported 13 new cases, 2 of them fatal, raising its total to 71. Two of the newest cases were fatal, and two earlier patients died from their infections, raising the total to 15, all but one linked to the Life Care nursing home cluster in Kirkland.

Country officials also noted that there are no restrictions on testing, as more lab capacity comes on board. They added, however, that health providers are limited in their ability to test and rapidly process results and that sick people who are in at-risk groups should call their providers to discuss testing.

Major event cancellations/postponements

Last night, two major events announced cancellations or postponements over the threat of COVID-19 spread. One is Emerald City Comic Con, which was slated to take place in Seattle Mar 12 through Mar 15, drawing about 100,000 participants. It announced on Twitter, after consulting with local government and tourism officials, that it would postpone the event until summer.

Also, South by Southwest, slated to begin on Mar 16 and drawing as many as 230,000 in combined parts of the wide-ranging event, announced the event's cancellation yesterday. The move came as Austin, Texas, officials declared a local disaster owing to the COVID-19 threat. Though the city hasn't reported any cases, it said the festival season draws significant numbers of travelers from affected areas and creates close-contact situations.

In a related development, the Arnold Fitness Expo, part of a sports, bodybuilding, and fitness event that draws 18,000 participants from around the world in Columbus, Ohio, announced that the event was cancelled, but sports events will continue without spectators, except for parents of youth competitors.

Global hot spots stay hot

Meanwhile, international hot spots showed no let-up in cases.

South Korea reported 482 more cases and 10 more deaths, raising its respective totals to 6,767 and 44. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 73% of cases are linked to clusters from a variety of settings, including medical facilities, churches, nursing homes, and sports venues.

Iran today reported 1,076 new cases and 21 more deaths, lifting its overall totals to 5,823 infections, 145 of them fatal.

Italy today reported 1,240 new cases, raising its total to 5,884, according to the latest update from the country's health ministry. It also reported 26 more deaths, putting the fatality count at 224. The government announced plans to lock down Lombardy region, which has the most cases—3,420 as of today. The measure would extend current "red zones" to the whole region and are in effect until Apr 3, according to a media report.

China today reported 99 new cases and 28 more deaths, raising its respective totals to 80,641 and 3,070, according to the National Health Commission, which said 74 of the latest cases were in Hubei province. Also in China today, a quarantine hotel in the Fujian province city of Quanzhou collapsed, trapping 70 people, CNN reported.

Japan's health ministry today reported 42 new cases in 14 prefectures, raising its total to 408. It lists its overall total as 454, which includes 46 asymptomatic carriers.

Three new countries affected; cases outside China pass 20,000

In other developments, at least three new countries reported their first cases, including: Moldova (Italy traveler), Paraguay, and the Maldives (two resort employees who apparently contracted the virus from a visitor from Italy).

It its latest situation report today, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that, of the 101,927 global cases, 21,110 are from outside China from 93 countries. The Johns Hopkins site shows 105,838 global cases.

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