March 3 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Tara John, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0249 GMT (1049 HKT) March 4, 2020
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9:10 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak has moved here.

8:50 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Amazon says Seattle-based employee diagnosed with coronavirus

Amazon is informing employees that one of its Seattle-based workers has been diagnosed with coronavirus. 

According to a mass email for all staff members in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington, the employee infected with the novel coronavirus first became ill on February 25 and has not been back to work since that time. 

The company said it has directly notified all coworkers who had been in close contact with the patient. The worker was based at the downtown office building the company refers to as Amazon Brazil, according to the email.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the email to CNN, adding, “We’re supporting the affected employee.” 

It was not immediately clear whether the case was included in Washington state’s count of coronavirus patients in King County, which stood at 21 on Monday.

8:27 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

New Zealand reports second case of novel coronavirus

New Zealand has reported a second case of the novel coronavirus, the country's Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday, local time.

The patient is a New Zealand citizen in her 30s who recently returned to Auckland from northern Italy, the statement said. She does not require hospital level care and is currently under self-isolation at home.

"Although we have our second case of COVID-19, with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low," the statement said.

The country's first case — which was confirmed last month — is a New Zealand citizen who traveled to Iran and returned to New Zealand via Bali.

8:22 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Malaysia confirms 7 additional coronavirus cases

From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

In this photo released by Malaysia's Ministry of Health, a health worker wearing a full protective suit waits for the arrival of evacuated Malaysians from China's Wuhan, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, Feb. 26.
In this photo released by Malaysia's Ministry of Health, a health worker wearing a full protective suit waits for the arrival of evacuated Malaysians from China's Wuhan, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, Feb. 26. Muzzafar Kasim/Malaysia's Ministry of Health via AP

There are seven new cases of novel coronavirus confirmed in Malaysia, bringing the country's total to 36, Noor Hisham Abdullah, the director general of Health Malaysia, announced on Twitter Tuesday.

The director general said all the new cases are close contacts of a patient who previously contracted the virus and they are currently in a stable condition.

8:16 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Senior administration official calls lack of coronavirus testing kits "a flashpoint right now"

From CNN's Jim Acosta

A senior administration official acknowledged that the Trump administration is feeling a major sense of urgency to distribute testing kits for the coronavirus amid bipartisan criticism that the kits are being deployed too slowly.

“It’s a flashpoint right now,” the official said.

The official conceded that the question from health professionals nationwide, and from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, is: “Why can’t the feds give us tests?”

This official went on to note that roughly one million kits are expected to be distributed throughout the country in the coming days. The official emphasized that the administration is eager for the kits to be deployed in order to obtain the data needed to assess just how widespread the outbreak is becoming, something that cannot be clearly determined at the moment.

8:03 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Ohio festival will be held without spectators due to coronavirus concerns

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at a news conference at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 3, to announce impacts on the Arnold Sports Festival of the coronavirus.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at a news conference at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 3, to announce impacts on the Arnold Sports Festival of the coronavirus. AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that most events of the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, will be held without spectators this weekend based on guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on preventing the spread of coronavirus. 

The Arnold Sports Festival is an annual multi-sport festival held in Columbus that includes the Arnold Classic, a bodybuilding competition named for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Today we had new guidance from the CDC about mass public gatherings,” DeWine told reporters. “We have all decided to move forward with the athlete competition at the Arnold Classic, but not to allow spectators or the trade show to continue with the exception of the Arnold Classic Finals on Saturday night at the convention center.”

Schwarzenegger called the decision a "very sad moment for us, for my partners Jim Lorimer and Bob Lorimer, because we have been doing this now since 1976 when we held the first Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe competition in Columbus, Ohio, and ever since we have been doing this without any interruption whatsoever.” 

The former California governor added, “Let me be very clear that we have the biggest and the best health and fitness festival in the world, but we would never choose making money over people’s health.”

8:09 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

3 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in British Columbia

From CNN's Rebekah Riess

The British Columbia Ministry of Health announced three additional confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Canadian province this evening.

This brings British Columbia's coronavirus total to 12, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.

According to Henry, the new cases include...

  • A man in his 60s who recently returned from Iran.
  • An adult woman who also recently traveled to Iran.
  • A woman in her 30s who was a household contact of British Columbia's eighth confirmed case — a woman in her 60s who is visiting family in British Columbia and lives in Iran.

The three individuals did not require hospitalization and are recovering in their homes, according to Henry.

By the numbers: These new cases bring Canada’s total number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases to 33, including 20 in Ontario, 12 in British Columbia and one in Quebec.

8:01 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Pence pledges that upcoming coronavirus briefings will be on camera

From CNN's Jason Hoffman and Jim Acosta 

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence pledged that upcoming briefings on coronavirus would be on camera, following a Tuesday evening on the record briefing led by Pence that the White House press office insisted remain off camera. 

The press office also insisted that reporters not broadcast any sound from the briefing, in which the vice president announced several new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiatives, including a change in policy that now allows any American to receive a coronavirus test, if a doctor deems it necessary. 

When pressed about the briefing being off camera, Pence said it was because President Trump had already made multiple on camera statements today.

"You’re going to see us in here every day answering questions… but the president was at NIH today and the president addressed the country today," Pence said.

He added that “I expect we’ll be back on camera tomorrow.” 

Some context: On two occasions last week, Trump and members of the Coronavirus Task Force briefed reporters on camera from the briefing room.  

8:16 p.m. ET, March 3, 2020

How much does coronavirus testing and treatment cost? It depends.

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Now that coronavirus is spreading in the US, lots of people are going to their doctors, urgent care clinics or emergency rooms to find out whether their coughs, sneezes and fevers mean they have the coronavirus.

But some are worried about the cost of that testing after the Miami Herald wrote a story about a man who went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and was told he might owe $3,270. (Turns out he actually had the flu, but his limited-coverage insurance policy left him with a $1,400 bill.)

Here's how much it will cost you if you seek care: The coronavirus test itself shouldn’t generate a bill – for now – since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is picking up the tab. That could change as more labs start running the test.

But the visit and other tests aren’t free. How much you’ll owe depends on several factors, including what insurance you have, where you seek treatment and what tests providers give you. For instance, those who haven’t satisfied their deductibles will likely be on the hook for more of the bill. Going to the emergency room is typically far more pricey than visiting your doctor or an urgent care clinic.

Those feeling sick can call their insurers to learn what the costs they might incur.

State governments and the Trump administration are also looking to relieve the financial burden so Americans don’t hesitate to get checked out — which could worsen the disease’s spread.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday required health insurers in his state to waive any cost sharing associated with testing for coronavirus. And the Trump administration is looking at providing hospitals with funding to care for the uninsured.

Congress is still hashing out a multi-billion supplemental spending bill to respond to the public health emergency.

The final sticking point: Making an eventual vaccine affordable.