March 12 coronavirus news

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8:13 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

China quarantine hotel collapse left 29 people dead

From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing

Emergency workers conducting search and rescue after a hotel collapsed in Quanzhou, in China's eastern Fujian province on March 8.
Emergency workers conducting search and rescue after a hotel collapsed in Quanzhou, in China's eastern Fujian province on March 8. Credit: Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

A total of 29 people have died after last week's collapse of a quarantine hotel in southeastern China, according to Chinese state media.

A hotel being used as a coronavirus quarantine center collapsed Saturday night with 80 people inside the building when it came down. Nine people escaped, leaving 71 trapped under the rubble.

All 71 are now accounted for, after nearly five days of search and rescue operations, according to state media.

At the time of the collapse, 58 of the 80 people were under quarantine in the hotel and all had tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

8:16 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

India confirms 8 more coronavirus cases, raising national total to 68

From CNN's Swati Gupta

An Indian policeman looks out from a tent at an isolation ward set up for possible coronavirus patients in Jammu, India, on Wednesday, March 11.
An Indian policeman looks out from a tent at an isolation ward set up for possible coronavirus patients in Jammu, India, on Wednesday, March 11. AP Photo/Channi Anand

India has confirmed eight more coronavirus cases in the state of Maharashtra, according to the state's chief minister.

Two of those cases were in the city of Mumbai, and six in Pune city. The patients are under observation in hospitals.

That raises the state's total to 10 cases, and the national total to 68.

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Maryland reports 3 more coronavirus cases

Maryland has announced three additional cases of coronavirus, bringing the state total to 12.

The three new cases are:

  • A Montgomery County resident in his 20s who recently traveled to Spain, and is not hospitalized. 
  • A Baltimore County resident in his 60s who worked at the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, DC, and is not hospitalized.
  • A Prince George’s County resident in his 60s whose travel history is under investigation, and is currently hospitalized.

Last week, the AIPAC announced that some people may have become exposed to an infected case, including several political leaders at the conference in DC. 

Vice President Mike Pence and many lawmakers and aides attended the conference. 

“Marylanders should be taking this pandemic very seriously,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in a news release. “All Marylanders need to understand that there may be significant disruption to your everyday lives for a period of time."
8:27 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

California cruise ship passengers arrive in Georgia to start their quarantine

Medical personnel help load passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship onto airplanes in Oakland, California, on Tuesday.
Medical personnel help load passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship onto airplanes in Oakland, California, on Tuesday. Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

American passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was docked in California after infections were found onboard, landed early Thursday local time at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia.

The passengers had been screened by the Department of Health and Human Services and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before arriving. They will now begin a 14-day quarantine as a precaution, in case they were exposed to the coronavirus aboard the ship.

The CDC is responsible for all aspects of the quarantine operation, and Dobbins personnel will have no contact with these passengers 

The passengers who landed today are part of the second wave -- some passengers had been sent to Dobbins earlier this week, while others were sent to the Travis Air Force Base in California for their quarantine.

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

LA City Council committee meetings are canceled due to the coronavirus

All Los Angeles City Council committee meetings will be canceled throughout March due to coronavirus concerns, said Council President Nury Martinez in a letter to council members on Wednesday.

The city council will meet three times, but all other Wednesday and Friday meetings have been canceled in addition to all city council presentations.

This comes after two nearby counties, Ventura and Riverside, confirmed new cases today.

1:47 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are being treated in Australia's Queensland state

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Hollywood and Highland on February 9 in Hollywood, California.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Hollywood and Highland on February 9 in Hollywood, California. Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, are receiving treatment in Australia's Queensland state after testing positive for the coronavirus today, state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at a news conference.

"Our experts will work very closely with him, (and) with all of the cast and crew," she added, stating that contract tracing is ongoing and anyone classified as a close contact will be isolated and tested for the virus.

Quelling concerns over the couple’s recent exposure to fans, Palaszczuk said, "From what the chief health officer has told me it’s over 15 minutes of being in close proximity. A selfie wouldn’t count as that."

Palaszczuk didn't divulge details of where the couple has been quarantined, but said, "they will be getting the best treatment in our hospitals, just as we provide to everybody else".

She assured that their hospital is well equipped to handle their diagnosis, and that eight other coronavirus patients had been released from this hospital.

She also called for public vigilance: The latest development "clearly shows that coronavirus knows no boundaries," Palaszczuk warned, calling for the public to be prepared and informed. "So, everyone, let’s do the right thing, lets follow our health authorities."

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

US Health and Human Services warns employees of malware in fake coronavirus map 

From CNN’s Julia Jones in Seattle

US Health and Human Services employees were warned yesterday of malware in a fake coronavirus mapping website, an HHS employee not authorized to speak on the record told CNN. 

“A malicious website pretending to be a live map for coronavirus Covid-19 global cases by Johns Hopkins University is circulating on the Internet waiting for unwitting Internet users to visit the website,” an email to employees read.

The warning came in a department-wide correspondence that detailed the malware as an "information stealing program which can exfiltrate a variety of sense of data,” adding that anyone searching for coronavirus information on the internet could unwittingly click on the fake map.

“Our cybersecurity team is working with numerous stakeholders to ensure this map is taken offline,” the email read. 

HHS did not respond to CNN's request for comment. 

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

California confirms two more coronavirus cases

California confirmed two new coronavirus cases on Wednesday -- one in Ventura County, and one in Riverside County, both close to Los Angeles.

That brings the state’s total to 138 cases and four deaths.

Ventura County case: The patient had traveled to Italy and was a presumptive positive case, meaning they had tested positive in public health labs. The patient remains under home quarantine in Ventura County. This is the county’s second case.

Riverside County case: There are no details available about the patient, except that this is the second locally-acquired case. The county has five cases in total.

1:31 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

The US is blaming China for the coronavirus just as Beijing wants everyone to forget where it emerged 

Analysis from CNN's James Griffiths

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis on March 11, 2020 in Washington.
President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis on March 11, 2020 in Washington. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

If United States officials are clear about one thing as they scramble to respond to the worsening coronavirus pandemic, it's where they feel the blame lies. 

Addressing the nation on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump emphasized that the "foreign virus" began "in China." His comments come after multiple US lawmakers and officials have criticized Beijing's initial handling of the outbreak, or pointedly referred to the coronavirus as the "Wuhan virus" or "China virus." 

Speaking earlier in the day, Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien said that "this virus did not originate in the United States, it originated in Wuhan in Hubei province in China."

"Unfortunately, rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up," he added. "It probably cost the world community two months to respond ... had a WHO team been on the ground, had a CDC team been on the ground -- as we offered -- I think we could have dramatically curtailed what has happened in China and the world."

These statements couldn't have come at a worse time for Beijing, just as it is attempting to reframe the narrative around its response to the virus as one of success, and take something of a victory lap. New infections have slowed to a trickle, thanks largely to China's -- albeit often draconian, extreme -- response in recent weeks. 

Those moves however came as a rearguard action to a widely criticized initial response, including an apparent cover-up by officials in Wuhan, which may have cost precious time to rein in the virus before it spread through the country and the world. 

While there was a brief reckoning in China over these mistakes, particularly in the wake of the death of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, Beijing has begun pushing back hard against any criticism overseas and censoring discussion at home. State media has also started pushing the line that there is uncertainty where the virus originated, even though the first outbreak was undoubtedly in Wuhan. 

With US officials apparently determined to lay the blame at Beijing's door -- distracting from their own handling of the outbreak at home -- and their Chinese counterparts equally determined to avoid it, this argument will likely continue for some time.