March 3 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:23 p.m. ET, March 2, 2020
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10:18 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

Leader of South Korean religious group with spiking coronavirus cases apologizes

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

People watch a TV screen showing a live broadcast reporting about Lee Man-hee, a leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on March 2.
People watch a TV screen showing a live broadcast reporting about Lee Man-hee, a leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on March 2. Lee Jin-man/AP

The founder and leader of Shincheonji religious group, which is at the center of the rapid rise in South Korean coronavirus cases, apologized "sincerely" to the country today at his first news conference since the nation's outbreak.

The group has faced mounting criticism after more than half of South Korea's positive cases was linked to the group.

At a press conference at one of Shincheonji's facilities, called Peace Palace, in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province, Lee Man-hee took a deep bow on his knees after issuing an apology to the public.

"It is not intentional but I’m deeply sorry that many of our members have been infected,” and the group “is trying its best to fully cooperate with the authorities,” Lee said.

“I apologize sincerely to the public for the outbreak related to the 31st confirmed case,” he added.

Last night, Seoul City filed a legal complaint against Lee and the group’s twelve regional leaders for charges including homicide.

While he did not mention the Seoul City complaint today, the 88-year-old said that the group's leaders “are like parents for the members and what kind of parents would just wait and watch children dying?"

He denied accusations that he and his group have been hampering the health authorities’ efforts to contain and prevent infections, adding that “this is not the time to scrutinize who’s done right and who’s done wrong. This is the time for everyone to do one’s best for the people to resolve the situation.”

When asked if he has kept to the self-quarantine, he said that he was a busy person and has not been able to stay in one place.

Korean health authorities are reviewing whether Lee’s presser is a violation of quarantine act.

South Korea has the most diagnosed cases of the virus — more than 4,200 cases and 26 deaths — outside of mainland China.

As of Monday, at least 57% of total confirmed cases in South Korea are related to Shincheonji, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

10:11 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

Two more schools close in Washington state due to coronavirus fears

From CNN's Gregory Lemos

As the number of novel coronavirus infections continue to rise in Washington, the Mukilteo School District announced the closing and cleaning of two more schools Monday morning, according to a statement on their website.  

The decision to close both Mariner High School and Discovery Elementary School came after the District learned Sunday evening that a parent of a Mariner student had tested positive for COVID-19, the district said. 

"The Mariner student is not showing any symptoms, but will be quarantined at home and monitored for 14 days as recommended by the Snohomish Health District," the statement says.

The Mariner student visited Discovery Elementary last week, prompting the closing of the Elementary School as well, the District said.

The closing of these two schools bring the total number of school closures in the state to six.

10:11 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

New York will begin bleaching buses and schools, governor says

Rick Elkins/Getty Images
Rick Elkins/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is implementing new cleaning protocols at schools, on public transit and other public areas to protect against coronavirus.

Workers will use disinfectants in these areas, including bleach.

"So if people smell — if it smells like bleach when you get on a bus or when a child goes to school, it's not bad cologne or perfume, it is bleach," he said.

Cuomo added that the state will soon move emergency legislation authorizing $40 million for extra staff and equipment.

New York reported its first case yesterday: A woman in her late 30s, who contracted the virus while traveling in Iran and is currently isolated in her home.

10:05 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

New York governor: "There is no doubt that there will be more cases"

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek/Getty Images
Thomas Trutschel/Photothek/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's certain there will be more cases of coronavirus in the state.

New York reported its first case yesterday: A woman in her late 30s, who contracted the virus while traveling in Iran and is currently isolated in her home.

"In general, there is no doubt that there will be more cases where we find people who test positive. We said early on, it wasn't a question of if, but when. This is New York. We're a gateway to the world. You see all these cases around the world, around the country, of course we're going to have it here," Cuomo said today.

Cuomo said the focus is now on limiting the spread of the virus. The state is prioritizing testing possible patients.

"You're not going to eliminate the spread but you can limit the spread," he said.

10:00 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

Here's what happened with the coronavirus over the weekend

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 3,000 people, and there are now more than 88,000 global cases. In case you missed it, here are coronavirus updates from this weekend:

  • "Highest level of alert": The World Health Organization says the outbreak has reached the “highest level” of risk for the world, with the director-general warning it can go in "any direction."
  • US deaths: Two confirmed coronavirus related deaths in the US were reported over the weekend.
  • Cases reach NY: Two dozen new cases of the coronavirus in the US were reported this weekend. New York was confirmed its first case of the virus .
  • Markets plunge: Major stock indexes in the US recorded their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

9:45 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

2 oil industry conferences canceled because of coronavirus fears

Loren Elliott/AFP/Getty Images
Loren Elliott/AFP/Getty Images

Two major oil and gas industry conferences were canceled over the weekend due to concerns stemming from novel coronavirus. 

CERAWeek, an oil and energy conference that attracts thousands of global energy, technology, financial, and environmental executives every year in Houston, was canceled after event organizer IHS Markit made careful consideration following an advisory issued by the World Health Organization about the spread of coronavirus.

CERAWeek was scheduled to take place in Houston from March 9 through the 13. 

IHS Markit also cancelled The World Petrochemical Conference (WPC) 2020 scheduled to take place in New Orleans, on March 24 through 27 over similar concerns about coronavirus. 

 

9:43 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

US stocks rebound after terrible week

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe 

Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images
Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

US stocks kicked the new week off higher at Monday’s opening bell, putting the Dow and the S&P 500 on track to snap a seven-day losing streak.

US equities are coming off their worst week since the financial crisis as worries about the economic fallout from the global coronavirus outbreak mount.

Here's how the markets look:

  • The Dow opened 300 points, or 1.2%, higher
  • The S&P 500 kicked off around 1% higher
  • The Nasdaq Composite opened up 1.1%
9:38 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

Should I buy a mask?

Your coronavirus questions, answered

The answer from US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is simple: No.

He tweeted this on Saturday:

The tweet comes during what has become a mask boom. With coronavirus popping up in the United States, some have begun buying face masks as a form of protection, despite the likes of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Vice President Mike Pence saying they're unnecessary.

Washing your hands, staying home when sick and other "everyday preventive actions" are the best protections, Adams said. He urged people to get a flu shot, as fewer flu patients means more resources to fight the coronavirus.

9:38 a.m. ET, March 2, 2020

Czech Republic suspends flights to Prague from affected areas

From Tomas Etzler in Prague

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Health Minister Adam Vojtech speak at a press conference after a meeting of the Government Security Council in Prague on Monday.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Health Minister Adam Vojtech speak at a press conference after a meeting of the Government Security Council in Prague on Monday. Michal Krumphanzl/CTK/AP

The Czech Security Council has suspended flights to Prague from Milan, Bologna and Venice in Italy, as well as from South Korea, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Health minister Adam Vojtech said at a news conference today.

In other Czech news, a World Cup in biathlon in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, will go ahead as scheduled March Thursday through Sunday — but without an audience, it was announced at the news conference. About 120,000 visitors were expected at the event.