March 10 coronavirus news

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11:48 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

CDC director says there's not enough staff and equipment in public health labs

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget on Capitol Hill, on Tuesday, March 10.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget on Capitol Hill, on Tuesday, March 10. Andrew Harnik/AP

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said state and local public health labs are underequipped and understaffed.

"The truth is we've not invested, we've underinvested in the public health labs," Redfield said at a House Appropriations hearing for the 2021 CDC budget.

“There's not enough equipment, there's not enough people, there's not enough internal capacity, there's no surge capacity,” Redfield added.

“Public health labs, we built the technology in those labs to monitor flu, that uses a certain equipment, which we call thermocycler, that equipment, maybe a good lab could do 300 tests a day. University of Washington can use these high machines, like New York is about to do, those machines can do thousands, and thousands and thousands,” Redfield said.  

Redfield also said that 99% of the novel coronavirus cases recently confirmed were outside of China. According to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization, which were released on Monday, there were 3,948 new cases outside China and 45 new cases in China-- roughly 1%. 

“The epicenter, the new China is Europe. And there’s a lot of people coming back and forth from Europe. We’re starting to see these communities and we are moving quickly to understand how address Europe,” Redfield said. 

11:34 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

2 New York school bus drivers have coronavirus

Nassau County in New York has 19 confirmed coronavirus cases, up from 17 yesterday – including two school bus drivers that transport between them about 80 students on several routes, according to the county executive.

They both drive small buses on Long Island, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said at a news conference today.

Most of the families of those students have been contacted by the department of health, which is continuing to contact families.

There have been school closures in response to the positive tests – including schools in Oyster Bay, Locust Valley, Glen Cove and Westbury along with some private schools in the areas including Friends Academy, Portledge, Mill Neck Manor, Eastwood and Summit Lower School.

Curran said beyond the 19 positive cases there are;

  • 72 residents in mandatory quarantine
  • 74 in precautionary quarantine
  • 10 tests pending. 

Curran stressed that the priority is to “protect our seniors” adding it’s important to focus on “containing” as much as possible to “reduce community spread”

11:17 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

Harvard asks students to move off-campus by the end of this weekend

Students walk near the Widener Library in Harvard Yard at Harvard University on August 13, 2019.
Students walk near the Widener Library in Harvard Yard at Harvard University on August 13, 2019. Charles Krupa/AP

Students at Harvard are being asked to move out of their dorms by Sunday, according to media relations director Rachael Dane. 

“Harvard College students have been asked to move out of their Houses and First-Year Dorms by Sunday, March 15 in an effort to de-densify our community,” Dane told CNN in an email. 

All academic courses will continue to be held remotely, she added.

Earlier today, Harvard's president said the school has asked students not to return to campus after spring break.

Harvard spokesman Jason Newton said any on-campus meetings after March 23 — the first day after spring break — will go virtual.

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

What it's like in Italy's ski resort towns, which are shut down because of coronavirus

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome

Filomena and Emidio Gasparri live in the mountains of Abruzzo in the town of Rivisondoli, which is known for its ski resorts.

Those resorts — which the local economy relies on — are now closed because of the government directive. 

Filomena said the closures are the "right thing to do."

“Now this situation is global, everyone is in tension," she told CNN.

Emidio agreed that closing the resorts was a good idea, adding that many people from the areas affected by the outbreak fled into the mountain region.

“They did well closing the ski resorts because it was becoming chaotic. the majority of people are not acting rationally. They search for refuge here, thinking that it would never arrive in the mountains," he said.

All of Italy under restrictions over coronavirus outbreak:

11:00 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

Spain cancels flights to and from Italy

From CNN’s Laura Perez Maestro

The Spanish government has blocked direct flights between Spain and Italy as it looks to stop the spread and of coronavirus.

The government said in a statement it was making the decision because the vast majority of cases imported into Spain had been linked to Italy

11:21 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

US Senate leader on coronavirus: "We have overcome far, far greater challenges before"

From CNN's Ted Barrett

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

In his opening floor remarks today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was upbeat about the ability of the “well-equipped” United States to overcome the coronavirus. 

"We have overcome far, far greater challenges before," he said.

He urged House and Senate Democrats and Republicans to “put reflexive partisanship aside” as the government continues to respond to the crisis. 

McConnell said he looks forward to hearing the Trump administration’s pitch today for economic stimulus but did not indicate if he would support the proposal.

10:59 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

United Nations closes New York headquarters to the general public

From CNN's Richard Roth

Valery Sharifulin\TASS/Getty Images
Valery Sharifulin\TASS/Getty Images

The United Nations has decided to close its New York complex to the general public and temporarily suspend all guided tours beginning at 8 p.m. ET today until further notice in the wake of coronavirus concerns, a spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General said in a statement.

The UN has not been advised of any coronavirus cases amongst UN staff in New York

“As the Secretary-General has said, the health and safety of staff is a matter of his utmost priority and concern,” spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
10:37 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

Quick selfies are low risk, according to the congressional doctor

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

The House physician was asked in the Democratic caucus about whether members should be concerned if they see a colleague who was supposed to be self-quarantining at the congressional gym.

The doctor responded by describing to lawmakers a spectrum of contact and how concerning it should be, according to two members in the room.

Here are some activities that are not high risks, according to the physician:

  • A quick greeting or selfie
  • A short five-minute meeting with someone who isn't showing symptoms yet but tests positive

A lengthy meeting or close contact with someone who contracts the virus would be higher risk — and would likely require quarantining, the members said.

Hand-to-hand contact was to be avoided, the physician said.

10:39 a.m. ET, March 10, 2020

If I have a weakened immune system, should I cancel my travel plans?

Your coronavirus questions, answered

People who are immunocompromised "are at higher risk from this illness, as well as other illnesses like the flu. Avoiding contact with ill people is crucial," Washington state's Snohomish Health District said.

Snohomish County is where the first US case of novel coronavirus was reported in January. Since then, more than 700 people in the US have been infected, and at least 26 have died — mostly in Washington state.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, those with weakened immune systems often suffered more severe complications when sickened while traveling.

"While rates of infection may not differ significantly between healthy and immunocompromised travelers, the latter are at greater risk for severe disease," according to researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine.

Big efforts to keep travelers safe from coronavirus: