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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5:34 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Utah bans large gatherings for two-week period

Utah is banning all mass gatherings of more than 100 people, starting next Monday, to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

Gov. Gary Herbert said the ban – which includes houses of worship – will be in effect for two weeks. The order does not apply to K-12 schools, although all districts were asked “to prepare to close.”

Anyone who is over the age of 60 or has immunity problems is encouraged to avoid any gatherings of 20 or more people. An exception is made for businesses like grocery stores. Anyone who is sick is being told to stay home.

5:42 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

New study details first known person-to-person coronavirus transmission in the US

From CNN’s Arman Azad

A woman who traveled from China to Illinois in mid-January likely transmitted novel coronavirus to her husband through "prolonged, unprotected contact," according to research released Thursday. 

None of more than 300 people who came into contact with the two patients after they showed symptoms, however, developed symptoms of their own.

The findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, detail the first known transmission of novel coronavirus in the United States, and suggest that the virus may transmit most easily through extended contact with infected people, not brief or casual exposures.

Dr. Jennifer Layden, the chief medical officer of the Chicago Department of Public Health, who co-led the research, stressed that health care providers should still "rapidly triage and isolate individuals suspected of having [the virus]" and notify local health departments.

That's because, according to the study, "infection control measures within the hospital setting and an aggressive public health response" to these first cases might have prevented widespread coronavirus exposure. And it's possible that other patients — those with more severe illness, for example — may transmit the virus more easily.

The researchers cautioned that their findings are preliminary and based on a single transmission event, which might not represent the population at large.

The study had other limitations, too. Because they relied on memories to reconstruct people's movements, investigators might not have identified everybody who came into contact with the coronavirus patients.

5:26 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center could be closed for months, mayor says

Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center could be closed for months, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference today.

This comes after an announcement was made to cancel events of 500 or more people across the state, de Blasio said.

5:28 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus case confirmed at Fiat Chrysler facility in Indiana

From CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich

Auto giant Fiat Chrysler confirmed today that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 at one of its facilities in Kokomo, Indiana, according to a statement from the car maker.

“FCA [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles] is working with local area health authorities in Kokomo, Indiana, to support the treatment of an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. The employee, who works at the Kokomo Transmission Plant, is currently receiving medical care,” the statement read.

The employee’s immediate co-workers have been placed into quarantine along with others in the facility who the person may have come into direct contact with. FCA has deep cleaned and disinfected the employees working area.

The company is also “deploying additional sanitization measures across the entire facility, retiming break times to avoid crowding and deploying social spacing,” according to the statement.

More context: The United Auto Workers union, which represents 400,000 members, is actively monitoring the situation and working with Fiat Chrysler on precautions and measures necessary to “protect our members and everyone who works in our facilities,” said United Auto Workers Vice President Cindy Estrada. 

The FCA Kokomo plant currently remains open.

5:21 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Seattle Symphony livestreamed recordings of performances as comfort offering

From CNN's Joe Ruiz

The show must go on. Sorta.

While the home of the Seattle Symphony has canceled all public events through the end of the month, the Symphony has said it will continue to offer its performances online "to offer strength, comfort and unity" while many public gathering places are closed to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

“I believe music has the power to transform lives and bring people together in new and surprising ways,” shares Music Director Thomas Dausgaard. “Even though we can’t gather at Benaroya Hall, I’m so happy we’ll still be sharing musical moments together, whether you’re at home in Seattle or halfway across the world.”

The first rebroadcast is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET) on Thursday night. More details about the streaming schedule can be found on the Symphony's website.

4:55 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

There are no plans to shut down subways or streets in New York City, police say

The New York Police Department tweeted today that there are no plans to shut down the roadways or subways in the city.

4:47 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Maryland will close all schools for two weeks starting Monday

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

All schools will close for two weeks in Maryland starting Monday, State Superintendent of Maryland Schools Karen Salmon said at a news conference today.

The schools will remain closed until March 27, Salmon said.

As a result of the closure, make-up days will take place during spring break, which was scheduled for mid-April, Salmon said.

Students who receive meals will continue to receive food through programs, Salmon said.

The Maryland Department of Education is also working to give childcare options to residents who must continue to work such as health care providers, Salmon said.

5:10 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Maryland governor activates National Guard in response to coronavirus

Gov. Larry Hogan has directed Maryland Emergency Management to the highest activation level and issued an executive order that moves the National Guard to a higher state of readiness, he said at a news conference Thursday.

He also banned all gatherings of more than 250 people. Any religious, sporting or other gatherings of 250 people or more will need to be canceled and postponed, Hogan said. 

Additional measures are being taken to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus, including state government workers teleworking, public access to state buildings being restricted, and the closures of senior activity centers, Hogan said.

Hogan encouraged grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations to remain open as to not impact daily life of Maryland residents.

Maryland currently has at least 12 cases of coronavirus statewide.

Watch:

5:02 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

All Catholic churches across Rome to completely close due to coronavirus

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

The Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, popular with tourist, is seen in Rome on December 20, 2019.
The Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, popular with tourist, is seen in Rome on December 20, 2019. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Catholic churches across Rome have been ordered to completely close due to the spread of coronavirus and worshippers are exempt from attending Sunday mass. 

Pope Francis’ cardinal in charge of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, said on Thursday that all churches in the city, whether active parishes or just open to the public, will shut down until April 3.

A church historian in Rome has said this is the first time that all churches in Rome have been closed to the faithful.

In a statement on the Church of Rome website, the Cardinal said the shutdown was necessary due to a “sense of belonging to a human family exposed to a virus of which we still don’t know the nature of or how it propagates. The faithful are therefore dispensed from the obligation of fulfilling Sunday celebration.”

“We are living in a very serious health situation each one of us is asked to have the utmost attention, because any imprudence in observing health measures could harm other people,” he added.