This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Thursday, March 5th 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here. Our guide to preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ.
Update: 5 p.m. Facing a rapidly escalating public health crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing the federal government to expand the city's testing capacity for COVID-19. Late Thursday, he issued a press release calling on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to send more testing kits. He also urged the Federal Drug Administration to accelerate its approval of testing developed by private labs, something the White House said would happen.
Those two measures combined could expand testing capacity by nearly ten times, as well as provide speedier test results, according to the city. The CDC has thus far sent the city two testing kits. Each test kit can test approximately 700 to 800 patient specimens, according to the CDC.
But earlier this week, the mayor said that the city can currently only perform "dozens" of tests a day. He would like to see that number go up to hundreds a day.
"Quick detection is vital to stopping the spread of the virus,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We need the CDC to step up so our experts can do their job and protect New Yorkers. Our single greatest challenge is the lack of fast federal action to increase testing capacity, and without that, we cannot beat this epidemic back.”
In a separate press release, the city said that the Department of Health was monitoring 2,773 New Yorkers undergoing some form of quarantine, either mandatory or recommended, as of this morning. The bulk of that number includes people who have traveled to countries where there have been significant outbreaks: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan. As part of the quarantine, the Department of Health regularly performs a spot check a couple times of week by phone to see how the individuals are doing. Those feeling symptoms are given a phone number to call.
Update 3 p.m. The man in Long Island who tested positive for COVID-19 is in his 40s and is currently hospitalized. Governor Cuomo held his second press briefing of the day, this time in Long Island. Cuomo was joined by Nassau County health officials, who began investigating the man's contacts this morning. They currently suspect his infection is the result of community spread. His condition is said to be improving.
More details have emerged about a case being closely watched by local health officials. New Jersey's Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that the 32-year-old person in Fort Lee who tested positive worked in New York City and that his movements were "primarily in New York." Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich said the man is a health care worker who resides in NY but has an apartment in Fort Lee.
At an earlier press conference, Mayor de Blasio had said that the man had "significant nexus" to New York City.
Update 2:40 p.m. The two newly reported NYC individuals who have contracted COVID-19 -- a man in his 40s and a woman in her 80s -- are hospitalized and "critically ill," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press briefing Thursday afternoon.
Both had underlying health conditions, the de Blasio said. The man smoked and vaped, while the woman had health issues related her advanced age. They are being treated in hospitals in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The mayor declined to provide further information out of privacy concerns.
Yet in a sign of possible community spread, neither had recently traveled nor had they been linked to other infected individuals.
De Blasio also said that the man who was confirmed positive this morning in New Jersey had a "significant nexus" to New York City.
Going forward, de Blasio said the city is advising New Yorkers who have recently traveled to China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning home.
The mayor also said that the city's health commissioner would issue an order to require any city worker, including first responders, health care workers, and teachers, who fits certain criteria to get a coronavirus test.
Three NYC public school teachers recently traveled to Italy. One has tested negative, the other two tests are pending.
Update 12:30 p.m. New York state now has 11 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 22 statewide, double the number from yesterday.
Eight of the new cases are connected to the Westchester attorney who tested positive on Tuesday. All of those individuals are at home, according to state officials. One is a person in Long Island who is hospitalized.
Two others—a man in his 40s and a woman in her 80s—are in New York City and were announced by the mayor this morning.
The governor downplayed the growing numbers.
"It is math," Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference. "The more people you test the more positives you will have."
Outside New York, federal health authorities are monitoring the situation in Washington state, which has had a significant outbreak of coronavirus, with 45 cases. There are 31 cases (including nine deaths) in King County, Washington, where Seattle is located, and officials have recommended people work from home and avoid large gatherings. Amazon and Microsoft are urging employees to work from home if possible.
The outbreak in King County, Washington has centered around a Kirkland nursing home, Life Care Center, where at least eight deaths have occurred. Those who have contracted the disease include residents and staffers of the nursing home, as well as an Amazon employee and a Facebook contractor.
King County officials have also purchased a motel to quarantine people who do not need hospital attention. They intend to add trailers as well.
Update 10:30 a.m. New Jersey has confirmed its first case of a resident testing positive for COVID-19. The patient is a 32-year-old man who lives in Fort Lee. He is being treated at Hackensack Medical Center. A hospital official said that he is "resting comfortably and doing well."
No information was immediately provided on whether he recently traveled or where he works.
Update 7:30 a.m. Speaking on the cable news show Morning Joe this morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York City.
"We only have 4 people as of this morning who have tested positive. Of the tests we have completed 25 have come back negative. Batting average is good. Of the four people, the ones previously tested, two of them are doing better," the mayor said.
A mayoral spokesperson later verified that the city had two additional cases confirmed overnight: a man in his 40s and a woman in her 80s.
The new cases appear contracted coronavirus through community spread, according to de Blasio:
On Tuesday, a Westchester attorney who worked in Midtown was found to be second individual in the state to test positive for the coronavirus. He is currently in stable condition at New York Presbyterian hospital. Prior to him, a female health care worker who had recently traveled to Iran was the first known case in New York City. That woman, who is confined to her home in Manhattan, is said to be in good condition.
As of Wednesday at 6 p.m., the state Health Department counted 10 cases of COVID-19 in New York State outside of NYC. Those numbers will change as updates come in today.
New Jersey announced its first presumptive case of coronavirus on Wednesday night. The patient is a man in his 30s who is being treated at Hackensack Medical Center. A hospital official said that he is "resting comfortably and doing well."
California Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency to free up resources to respond to COVID-19. There are, as of Wednesday evening, 53 cases of coronavirus in the state, and one person died.
The man who died had been on a Grand Princess cruise to Mexico before disembarking on February 21. He was placed into isolation on February 27, was given a pre-emptive diagnosis of coronavirus, and died on Wednesday. He reportedly had an underlying respiration condition. Another cruise passenger who disembarked on February 21 was also diagnosed with COVID-19.
The cruise continued on to Hawaii for another trip and the ship is now being held at sea outside of San Francisco. According to CNN, "There are 62 passengers on the ship who sailed that San Francisco-Mexico voyage and remained onboard for the current Hawaii one." There are 21 people aboard who have developed symptoms, 11 passengers and 10 crew members. Test kits are being sent to the ship by helicopter.
Heath officials in Los Angeles announced that a "contract" medical screener from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at LAX had developed coronavirus. Los Angeles has also declared a state of emergency.