March 5 coronavirus news

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4:52 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Seattle is adding homeless shelters to avoid coronavirus spread

The city of Seattle is working to add new homeless facilities in an attempt to slow the spread of novel coronavirus. 

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that two new groups of “tiny houses” and a repurposed former treatment facility will make it possible for the city to house another 100 people without shelter.

“Our neighbors experiencing homelessness are at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19, And as a City, region, and Country we must act with urgency to address the ongoing impacts of this public health crisis,” Durkan said in a statement. 

Remember: Currently, no novel coronavirus patients have been identified by health officials as being homeless.

The shelter expansion follows efforts by King County to add new temporary buildings to isolate confirmed coronavirus patients, including three modular units and a motel. Durkan said Seattle’s new homeless facilities are not intended to serve people who already have the novel coronavirus.

It will take up to three weeks before the new shelters are fully operational. Durkan said additional shelter options can be made available more quickly if necessary, using plans already in place for severe weather emergencies.

4:52 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Coronavirus testing has begun on cruise ship passengers near California

From CNN’s Dan Simon and Cheri Mossburg

In this photo provided by Michele Smith, a Coast Guard helicopter delivering virus testing kits hovers above the Grand Princess cruise ship Thursday, March 5, off the California coast.
In this photo provided by Michele Smith, a Coast Guard helicopter delivering virus testing kits hovers above the Grand Princess cruise ship Thursday, March 5, off the California coast. (Michele Smith via AP

Coronavirus testing is underway for cruise ship passengers aboard the Grand Princess, passenger Michael Bell told CNN.

The tests were delivered to the ship via a California Air National Guard helicopter a short time ago. 

The chopper hovered above the ship and para-rescue jumpers dropped the test kits and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical personnel down to the vessel, Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma told CNN.

Nearly 100 passengers have been identified as needing to be tested, including guests and staff, Princess said in an earlier statement.

In an announcement over the cruise ship’s loudspeaker, the ship’s captain told passengers that tests are being conducted and will be flown out by dinner, with results expected about five hours later, Bell said.

Bell said the CDC has forced the closure of the casino and all group activities on the ship. Guests are being told to stay six feet away from one another.

4:40 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Ireland reports 7 new coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Mia Alberti in London

The Irish Department of Health has confirmed seven new cases of COVID-19 today, raising the total in the country to 13.

According to the daily report posted on the government’s website, the new patients include four men who “are associated with travel from Northern Italy” and two women who were in contact with other patients. The government says one person “is believed to have caught the virus through community transmission.”

One of the people affected was admitted to Cork University Hospital and is recovering in an isolation unit. The hospital has canceled all outpatient appointments scheduled for Friday “as part of infection control measures."

4:32 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Texas governor announces new testing labs for coronavirus 

From CNN's Ashley Killough

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new public testing lab network across the state that he said will allow Texas to process kits more quickly.  

"What is starting today is intended to expedite that process. We just now have that capability to make sure we can turn around those test results a whole lot quicker," he told reporters at a press conference today in Austin. 

The labs are located in 10 cities: Lubbock, Fort Worth, Dallas, Tyler, El Paso, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Harlingen. 

So far about half the labs are up and running (Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Lubbock, and Forth Worth), while the others will be online by the end of the month, Abbott said. 

Abbott also confirmed that the patient diagnosed with coronavirus in Fort Bend County contracted the virus overseas, but he would not say where. He confirmed an investigation is underway on who's been in close contact with the patient. 

Asked for his thoughts on SXSW not being canceled, Abbott said that was a decision up to local officials.

Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, maintained there has been no community spread of the coronavirus in Texas, since the patient in Fort Bend County contracted the virus overseas. He also said that's why they're not concerned about homeless populations yet at this time. 

4:30 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Stocks finish sharply lower as Dow tumbles nearly 1,000 points

From CNN’s Anneken S. Tappe 

US stocks finished sharply lower on Thursday, with all three major indexes closing down more than 3%.

Worries about the global coronavirus outbreak once again spurred a selloff in stocks.

Here's where things stand:

  • The Dow closed 970 points, or 3.6%, lower, wiping out nearly all of its Wednesday gains. It was the fifth worst one-day point drop in history for the index.
  • The S&P 500 finished down 3.4%. 
  • The Nasdaq Composite fell 3.1%.

Investors plowed money into safe haven assets like bonds. The 10-year Treasury bond yield dropped to a new record low below 0.91%. Bond yields move in the opposite direction of bond prices.

4:14 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

2 new cases of coronavirus reported in Texas' Harris County

From CNN's Devon Sayers

The Harris County Public Health (HCPH) reports two new cases of novel coronavirus in Harris County, Texas.

According to a press release from the agency, a man and a woman from the unincorporated area of northwest Harris County, outside Houston, tested positive for COVID-19. These cases are travel-related and, at this time, there is no evidence of community spread.

The tests were verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The first case in Texas was reported Wednesday, in Fort Bend County, Texas.

3:54 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Los Angeles County confirms 4 more coronavirus cases

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Los Angeles County Public Health is reporting another four cases of novel coronavirus.

All four patients recently traveled to Northern Italy and are being isolated. Their close contacts are being quarantined, according to L.A. County Public Health.

This brings L.A. County’s total to 11.

4:07 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

An 11th person has died from coronavirus in Washington state

An additional person has died of novel coronavirus in King County, Washington, according to the local health department. 

In a written release, the department describes the victim as a woman in her 90’s who died on Tuesday. Her death was not included in the daily report issued earlier today from the state Department of Health.

This brings the total number of coronavirus deaths in Washington state to 11. A 12th death was confirmed earlier this week in California. The King County announcement does not affect the overall number of positive coronavirus cases reported in Washington state, which stands at 70.

Due to the increased amount of testing and results expected in coming days, King County says it will no longer provide personal details about coronavirus patients going forward.

3:34 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Rhode Island to limit the number of people that can visit health care facilities and nursing homes

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Rhode Island officials are working on a policy to limit the number of people that can visit health care facilities and nursing homes due to fears over coronavirus, Rhode Island Department of Health officials said in a statement.

The policy restricts people from visiting staff or patients if they are under the age of 18 or if they are sick, according to the statement. 

Additionally, officials have asked employers, if possible, to ask their employees who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan in the last 14 days to remain at home until they have been symptom-free for 14 days.

Rhode Island currently has two confirmed cases of coronavirus.