Over 1,700 Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in US

Tourists Gabby Vela and her husband, of San Antonio, bring a pizza back to their hotel Thursday in New York’s Times Square area near Broadway. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(CN) – Disruptions to Americans’ everyday life continued Friday as the coronavirus spread to nearly every U.S. state and cases rose to more than 1,700.

All K-12 schools in Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Oregon closed with other states like Georgia and Texas announcing more limited closures in urban centers.

The Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District also announced closures beginning Monday. The two largest districts in California serve more than 750,000 students.

“California has now entered a critical new phase in the fight to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendents Austin Beutner of Los Angeles and Cindy Marten of San Diego said in a joint statement. “There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread.”

Several universities sent students home just before spring break.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Contra Costa County Superior Court announced Friday it will close all its locations beginning March 16 for two weeks, though jurors already called for jury duty in criminal trials must report as ordered Monday for further instructions from the judge.

Louisiana officials took the unprecedented step of delaying the state’s April 4 primary election. The state has 33 confirmed cases of the virus, according to its Department of Health.

Presidential primaries on March 17 in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio are still scheduled.

The states announced in a joint statement Friday that they were working with health officials to ensure voters can place their votes in person.

“Unlike concerts, sporting events or other mass gatherings where large groups of people travel long distances to congregate in a confined space for an extended period of time, polling locations see people from a nearby community coming into and out of the building for a short duration,” the four secretaries of state wrote in the statement. “Further, guidance from voting machine manufacturers on how best to sanitize machines, guidance from CDC on best practices for hand washing, and guidance from our respective state health officials is being provided to every polling location.”

Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, planned to mail out ballots to all eligible voters that typically vote in person to allow them to return the ballot to a voting location without having to interact with other voters or staff.

“We are in uncharted territory with the COVID-19. My first concern is to protect the health of the voters and staff who work in the polling places while maintaining the integrity of the election,” said Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes in a statement Friday. “Anything we can do to minimize human interaction in the polling place is what we must do.”

Madison Square Garden is shown after NCAA college basketball games were canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus, (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Sports in the U.S. effectively ended this week with the National Basketball Association, NCAA, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League postponing their seasons indefinitely. The Boston Marathon was rescheduled for September and the Masters golf tournament is also postponed.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo closed performances on Broadway as the country’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation, suspended arena shows throughout the country for the rest of March.

Governors of states on both coasts banned large gatherings – some prohibiting groups of just 100 people.

A Johns Hopkins University tracker shows 1,268 coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 33 deaths as of noon Friday, but several other compilations of cases put the number at more than 1,700 with 40 deaths. The virus has spread to 48 states.

Near Seattle, the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., a homeless person being quarantined at a motel purchased to house people who have tested positive for the virus left the facility Friday, rebuffing on-site security, shoplifting items from a nearby convenience store and then catching a county bus.

King County purchased the motel without notifying the city of Kent. The city unsuccessfully sued in state court last week to block opening of the facility.

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said at a Friday news conference her fears about the facility, located on a major street, “have all come true.”

Police Chief Rafael Padilla said he was concerned that voluntary isolation “does not work,” but police can’t detain voluntarily quarantined persons.

The bus the person rode on has since been removed from service and is being disinfected.

Elsewhere in the area, the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine closed two Seattle-area offices Friday after a legal assistant working in the Bellevue location left work Tuesday with flu-like symptoms and died Thursday, according to multiple media reports.

The cause of death has not yet been determined.

“This is a profoundly sad and very anxious time. Davis Wright Tremaine is more than a workplace—it’s a community. We are mourning the loss of one of our own and will lean on each other to get through this trying time together. While it is extremely difficult, we remain focused on protecting each other and maintaining the highest level of client service and continuity of firm operation,” managing partner Jeff Gray said in a statement.

Friday did bring some bright spots in an otherwise bleak outlook.

The stock market rebounded slightly on Friday with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average up over 9%. Stocks saw historic losses throughout the week.

The U.S. House seemed poised to pass legislation to address the crisis after negotiations with the White House.

After a series of early morning tweets blaming former President Barack Obama for the current coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump announced a 3 p.m. news conference to address the pandemic. He’s expected to declare a national emergency that could free up billions of dollars to address the health crisis.

Servpro cleaning workers are sprayed as they exit a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., on Thursday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Administration officials brushed off reports of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s possible coronavirus infection, according to the Associated Press.

Bolsonaro recently tested positive for the virus, along with his communications director, after a visit to Mar-a-Lago last weekend, Brazilian media reported. On Friday, the Brazilian president tweeted that a second test shows a negative. His communications director, Fabio Wajngarten, has tested positive. The two individuals are Trump’s closest brush with the virus.

The coronavirus has spread from Wuhan, China, to every continent except Antarctica. The World Health Organization has officially deemed the situation a pandemic. The number of worldwide cases surpassed 132,000 on Friday. COVID-19 has so far killed more than 5,000 people across the globe.

“Our message to countries continues to be: you must take a comprehensive approach,” World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing Friday morning. “Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all.”

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