March 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Sheena McKenzie and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT) March 13, 2020
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8:40 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Japanese store puts a curse on its toilet rolls to prevent thefts

By CNN’s Emiko Jozuka

Mink Itachibe
Mink Itachibe

Panic buying has been rife amid the global spread of the coronavirus, with shoppers stockpiling goods like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and canned food. 

In Japan, those who couldn’t buy toilet paper have resorted to pilfering supplies from public restrooms. 

But one Japanese store has cursed its toilet rolls to prevent thefts. 

Mink Itachibe, who works at a convenience store in Niigata prefecture, noticed people stealing between three to five rolls of toilet paper each day. She sketched an image that shows three eyes and several kanji characters and stuck it up in front of the toilet rolls.

Some store owners use images of eyes to give the impression that they are watching out for potential thieves, Itachibe told CNN. The kanji below imply that if someone takes the toilet paper from the store, a hungry monster will hunt them down and gobble them up. 

“I did it as a joke, but it seems to have worked,” Itachibe told CNN. “As people were stealing toilet paper, I wanted this to shock them and think they might get hexed. People can be quite superstitious in Japan.”

Itachibe has reported no thefts of toilet paper from her store since she put up the sketches. 

8:39 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

California prisons are suspending visits because of the coronavirus

Prisons in California are suspending visiting due to the coronavirus, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced on its website today.

“Normal visiting will be canceled statewide until further notice,” the department said. This includes non-contact visits, which occur with a glass partition between the inmate and their visitors.

“Family visits will be held as scheduled,” they added. These visits occur in private, apartment-like facilities on prison grounds, according to the CDCR.

"CDCR values visitation as an essential part of rehabilitation, but at this time the Department must make difficult decisions in order to protect the health and wellness of all who live in, work in, and visit state prisons," the statement said.
8:39 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

New York cancels its St. Patrick's Day parade

The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City has officially been canceled, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. 

The statement said the governor had discussed the issue with the parade organizers, as coronavirus cases and anxieties ramp up in the city and state.

"Following those conversations, I recommended and the parade's leadership agreed to postpone this year's parade due to the high density and the large volume of marchers and spectators who attend," said Cuomo in the statement.
"While I know the parade organizers did not make this decision lightly, public health experts agree that one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus is to limit large gatherings and close contacts, and I applaud the parade's leadership for working cooperatively with us."

The parade was originally set to take place on March 17.

New York now has 216 cases -- the second highest number of any state. Washington is the hardest-hit US state, with 373 cases and 30 deaths, and California follows New York, with 133 cases and four deaths, according to CNN's tally.

8:15 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

South Korea confirms 114 new coronavirus cases and 6 more deaths

From CNN's Hyoungjoo Choi in Seoul

Workers wearing protective gear disinfect as a precaution against coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul on Wednesday, March 11.
Workers wearing protective gear disinfect as a precaution against coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul on Wednesday, March 11. Kim Sun-woong/Newsis via AP

South Korea confirmed six new deaths and 114 more cases of the novel coronavirus yesterday, according to the South Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). 

That raises the national death toll to 66 and the total confirmed cases to 7,869.

The number represents a drop again in new daily cases -- on Monday, the country had recorded 131 new cases, the lowest single-day increase in weeks, sparking cautious hope that the worst of the outbreak may have passed.

Then, a new cluster was identified in Seoul -- and the number of new cases shot up to 242 on Tuesday.

The drop back down to 114 new cases on Wednesday appears to fall more in line with the previous downward trend.

73 cases were from Daegu: The southern city is at the heart of the national outbreak, and this is the lowest daily increase in Daegu since February 26.

8 cases were from North Gyeongsang province: This province surrounds Daegu -- about 89% of cases nationwide are from Daegu and North Gyeongsang combined.

19 cases were from Seoul: The capital has seen a recent rise, after a cluster was identified at a call center -- 102 cases had links to the office. The building where the call center is located has been closed and disinfected, and Seoul has designated the area an "infectious disease special zone."

12:10 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Here's what is happening with the US coronavirus outbreak

US President Donald Trump addresses the Nation from the Oval Office about the widening novel coronavirus in Washington on March 11.
US President Donald Trump addresses the Nation from the Oval Office about the widening novel coronavirus in Washington on March 11. Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images

A lot is happening right now in the US as organizations around the country prepare to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

If you're just tuning in, here's where things stand right now:

  • US suspends travel from Europe: President Trump announced Wednesday night that travel from 26 European countries will be suspended for the next 30 days, starting Friday at midnight.
  • 43 states now have coronavirus: North Dakota confirmed its first case today, making it the 43rd state (plus Washington, DC) to report coronavirus infections.
  • Tom Hanks infected: The two-time Academy Award winning actor says he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, have been diagnosed with coronavirus. In a statement posted to Instagram, Hanks said the two were traveling in Australia when they were tested. 
  • NBA suspends season: The NBA has announced Wednesday night that the season is being suspended after a player from the Utah Jazz tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
  • Numerous tournaments affected: The NCAA’s Big 12 and Big Ten conferences announced Wednesday that they will play their college basketball conference tournament games without fans in attendance.
  • More states declare state of emergencies: As coronavirus continues to spread across the US, 23 states and Washington, DC, have declared a state of emergency. Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Washington, DC, all made their declarations Wednesday.
  • Congressional staffer tests positive: An employee in Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office is the first publicly known case of a congressional staffer testing positive for coronavirus. The staffer had no known contact with Cantwell, who represents Washington state, or other members of Congress.
8:15 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

The US now has 1,267 cases of the coronavirus

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the US, emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab.
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the US, emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

There are at least 1,267 cases of the coronavirus in the United States, according to state and local health agencies and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

70 cases are repatriated from overseas, like citizens evacuated from China or the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

1,197 cases were detected and confirmed on US soil, spread out across 43 states and Washington, DC.

These figures include presumptive positive cases -- meaning the patient tested positive in a public health lab and is pending confirmation from the CDC.

The US death toll is now at 38, after another patient died in Washington state.

8:15 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus test result for Utah Jazz player came right before tip-off

Officials learned a player from Utah Jazz had tested positive coronavirus right before the tip-off of their game with Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, the Jazz said in a statement.

The player's symptoms had "diminished over the course" of the day so a test for COVID-19 was performed, the team said.

"A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game," the team statement said. "Subsequently, the decision was correctly made by the NBA to postpone the game. When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office. The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions."

Because of the positive result, the game was postponed with the NBA later announcing that they were suspending the season.  

The Jazz added that they are “working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah state officials and the NBA to determine how to best move forward as we gather more information. The individual is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City. In coordination with the NBA and state officials, we will provide updates at the appropriate time.”

8:25 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

European officials say they were blindsided by Trump’s new travel restrictions

From CNN's Alex Marquardt, Kylie Atwood and Nicole Gaouette

US President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening Coronavirus crisis on March 11, in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening Coronavirus crisis on March 11, in Washington, DC. Doug Mills/New York Times/Pool/Getty Image

Europe appears to have been largely blindsided by President Trump’s announcement earlier today that the US was suspending travel from 26 European countries.

Several European ambassadors in Washington tell CNN they didn’t know this was coming, despite having been in contact with the administration over the past few days.

One ambassador in DC said there was “no indication” Trump would go to the lengths he did, while another spokesperson said German officials had no advanced warning this was coming.

“We knew something was coming on travel from Europe (more restrictive travel advice) but not this drastic," the Belgian ambassador told CNN. "What is not understandable is the exception for the UK and the lack of national measures [domestically].”

The Trump administration notified ambassadors after the announcement: Several European ambassadors expressed a need for clarity as they worked to digest what these new measures mean. They had received calls from the State Department after the announcement -- but they "have not yet answers to our questions,” said one ambassador.

State Department officials say they didn’t know precisely what Trump was going to roll out, given the fact that multiple options were on the table. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Australian Foreign Minister less than five hours before Trump’s address -- and gave no indication of the announcement coming tonight, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Pompeo did acknowledge that things were going to continue to be painful, and increasingly so, for the next six weeks or so.

8:24 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Hubei, epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, reports its lowest number of new cases in months

From CNN’s Shanshan Wang in Beijing

Workers in protective suits clean up a makeshift hospital converted from a sports venue after it officially closed in Wuhan on March 8.
Workers in protective suits clean up a makeshift hospital converted from a sports venue after it officially closed in Wuhan on March 8. Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua via AP

Mainland China reported 15 new coronavirus cases yesterday -- continuing the week-long trend of dramatically falling numbers, according to China's National Health Commission.

Six of those cases were imported from overseas -- meaning they weren't locally transmitted in China.

Hubei province, where the coronavirus pandemic began back in December, reported eight new cases -- the lowest to be reported from Hubei since the outbreak began.

The drop in new daily cases is especially striking given that just a month or two ago, the country was reporting around 2,000 new cases per day.

China has now reported 80,793 cases and 3,169 deaths. Of the total cases, 62,793 have recovered and been discharged from hospital, according to the NHC.