Below are news updates from March 3. Click here for March 4 updates.
Fed Cuts Interest Rates to Battle Virus
The Federal Reserve, in a rare emergency step, cut short-term rates by half a percentage point on March 3 to protect the U.S. economy from the growing impact of the global coronavirus outbreak.
The half-point cut is the biggest in more than a decade and prompted a jump on the major stock indexes.
“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong. However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity,” the bank said in a statement. “The Committee is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook and will use its tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”
US Death Toll Rises to 9
Officials in King County, Washington, on Tuesday confirmed two more deaths and seven more cases of COVID-19 coronavirus.
“Today’s results include 2 additional deaths, along with an individual who was previously reported as ill but who has now died. This brings the total number of deaths in King County from COVID-19 to eight,” according to King County officials in a statement. A person is also confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in nearby Snohomish County on Monday, meaning that nine people have died in Washington state and the United States at large.
Local health officials in Snohomish confirmed two more cases of the virus, reported KIRO7, which reported that staff at the Harborview Medical Center might have been exposed to the mysterious new illness by a man who died at the facility and later tested positive. So far, 27 total cases have been reported in Washington state.
New York Confirms Second Case
In New York, a man in his 50s who lives in a New York City suburb and works at a Manhattan law firm tested positive for the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the state to two, New York officials said.
He has severe pneumonia and is hospitalized, officials said. The patient had not traveled to countries hardest hit in the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in December and is now present in nearly 80 countries and territories, killing more than 3,000 people.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the confirmation of the case was made by the city’s public health laboratory on its first day of testing.
The public transportation agency in New York, the most densely populated major U.S. city of more than 8 million, said on Twitter it was deploying “enhanced sanitizing procedures” for stations, train cars, buses, and certain vehicles.
Chile, Argentina Record First Cases
Chile recorded the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the country, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
The patient is a 33-year-old man in the city of Talca, south of Santiago.
Neighboring Argentina also confirmed its first case on Tuesday, a 43-year-old man who had traveled to Italy.
Spain Reports First Death
A man in the Spanish region of Valencia has died from coronavirus, marking the country’s first death from the outbreak, a local health official said on Tuesday.
Tests carried out post-mortem showed the man, who died on Feb. 13, was killed by the virus, regional health chief Ana Barcelo told a press conference.
News of the death came shortly after Spain’s Health Ministry announced on its Twitter page that several sporting events would be held behind closed doors, while medical conferences will be canceled in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus Treatments Could Be Ready in Months: Executives
Treatments for the new coronavirus could be ready in months, pharmaceutical executives told President Donald Trump at the White House.
Regeneron’s treatment could be produced as soon as August, Lenny Schleifer, the founder and CEO of Regeneron, said. The company uses antibodies, or proteins produced by plasma cells, to counteract diseases. It’s using the same technology it used to develop a cure for Ebola.
“We have 1,000 antibodies that are already sitting in dishes. We’re screening them. We’re selecting them. We anticipate, if all goes well, 200,000 doses per month can come out of our factory in New York, starting in August,” Schleifer told Trump on Monday during a meeting with health officials and pharmaceutical executives.
The new treatment will be able to protect those who aren’t infected from contracting the new virus and treat people who have already been infected.
Iran Orders Troops to Fight Coronavirus Outbreak as 77 Dead
Iran’s supreme leader put the Islamic Republic’s armed forces on alert Tuesday to assist health officials in combating the outbreak of the new coronavirus—the deadliest outside of China—that authorities say has killed 77 people.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s decision was announced after state media broadcast images of the 80-year-old leader planting a tree wearing disposable gloves ahead of Iran’s upcoming arbor day, showing how concern about the virus now reaches up to the top of the country’s Shiite theocracy. Iranian media reported that 23 members of parliament now had the virus, as did the head of the country’s emergency services.
“Whatever helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps to spread it is sin,” Khamenei said, who has not worn gloves at past arbor day plantings.
After downplaying the coronavirus as recently as last week, Iranian authorities said Tuesday they had plans to potentially mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus. It wasn’t clear if Khamenei’s order would set them in motion helping sanitize streets, direct traffic and track possible contacts those ill with the virus had with others, as initially suggested.
There are now over 2,530 cases of the new coronavirus across the Mideast. Of those outside Iran in the region, most link back to the Islamic Republic.
Yet experts worry Iran’s percentage of deaths to infections, now around 3.3 percent, is much higher than other countries, suggesting the number of infections in Iran may be far greater than current figures show.
Iran stands alone in how the virus has affected its government, even compared to hard-hit China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The death of Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi on Monday makes him the highest-ranking official within Iran’s leadership to be killed by the virus. State media referred to him as a confidant of Khamenei.
The virus earlier killed Hadi Khosroshahi, Iran’s former ambassador to the Vatican, as well as a recently elected member of parliament.
Those sick include Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known as “Sister Mary,” the English-speaking spokeswoman for the students who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and sparked the 444-day hostage crisis, state media reported. Also sick is Iraj Harirchi, the head of an Iranian government task force on the coronavirus who tried to downplay the virus before falling ill.
G7 to Deploy All Policy Tools to Combat Coronavirus
Group of Seven finance officials said on Tuesday they would use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable global growth and safeguard against downside risks posed by the fast-spreading coronavirus.
G7 finance ministers were ready to take action, including fiscal measures where appropriate, to aid the response, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters. Central banks would continue to support price stability and economic growth.
“We reaffirmed our commitment to adopt all appropriate policy steps to protect the economy from downside risks posed by the coronavirus, and that we stand ready to cooperate further on timely and effective measures,” Aso said after a G7 call.
He was short on specifics and said the desirable policy response would vary from country to country.
Asked if all appropriate policy steps would include both monetary and fiscal policies, Aso said: “Yes, anything will be included, both monetary and fiscal steps.”
UK Announces 5 New Cases
The UK on Tuesday morning updated its national case total to 40, according to the country’s Department of Health and Social Care.
Forty people have now tested positive.
Another 13,485 have tested negative.
Australia’s Reserve Bank Cuts Interest Rate
The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut the cash rate to a new record low of 0.5 percent.
RBA governor Philip Lowe said the easing from 0.75 percent comes ahead of a worse-than-expected near term virus hit to the economy.
“It is too early to tell how persistent the effects of the coronavirus will be and at what point the global economy will return to an improving path. Policy measures have been announced in several countries, including China, which will help support growth,” Lowe said in his address after the bank’s March board meeting.
Belinda Allen of Commonwealth Bank told the Australian Financial Review that she favored other approaches to mitigating potential impacts from the outbreak.
“A fiscal response would be more appropriate,” she said.
Cases in Australia Increase to 35
Four more cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the Australian state of NSW, bringing the total number of people infected with the virus in the state to 13.
NSW Health on Tuesday afternoon said two women in their 60s who returned to Sydney from South Korea and Japan had tested positive.
Earlier in the day, the NSW premier announced two more cases: a 39-year-old man who arrived in Sydney from Iran on Feb. 28, and a 53-year-old man who had returned to Sydney from Singapore on Feb. 28.
Australia now has a national total of 35, with 1 death and 21 already recovered.
Georgia Detects 2 Cases
In a press conference late Monday night, Gov. Brian Kemp confirmed that a husband and wife in Atlanta have tested positive for the novel coronavirus after being tested by a local doctor, who sent the samples to the CDC.
“These cases involve two individuals who reside in the same household. One who recently returned from Italy,” Kemp said of the patients in Fulton County, Atlanta.
Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey told reporters, “We thought it was important that we come today and tell you about this even as our epidemiologists are still investigating and find any potential contacts in the community.”
The patient who returned from Italy said that they did not feel any effects of the virus until they were back in Atlanta. Toomey said that the couple are both now exhibiting minimal symptoms and are self-isolating at home.
“We will continue to search for any contacts to ensure that we stop any further spread in the community,” Toomey said. “The message to the public is still low risk. No local transmission going on and wash your hands and get a flu shot,” she added.
Jordan, Latvia Detect First Infections
The Kingdom of Jordan on Monday reported its first case of COVID-19, with the majority of cases tracing back to regions in Italy and Iran that are suffering from localized outbreaks.
The Jordanian citizen returned from Italy 16 days ago and entered quarantine last week after feeling sick. According to the country’s Health Minister Saad Jaber, the male patient is in good condition. His family and a colleague who he came in contact with are in quarantine for 14 days.
Jaber added that schools across the kingdom are likely to be shut down if the number of cases reaches 20. Mass gatherings will also be banned.
Latvia has also reported its first case of the virus, its Ministry of Health said on Monday, according to LETA news agency.
The patient, a female national who lives in Rīga, arrived in Latvia on Feb. 29 on the 3:40 p.m. airBaltic flight BT226 that left from Milan, Italy, via Munich with her family.
Upon their arrival, they traveled by private car from the airport back home.
Health officials have said that her condition is not severe. She and her child, who is also showing symptoms, have been transferred to the Latvian Infectology Centeriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii for isolation and monitoring.
The rest of her family are quarantined at home.
Other passengers on the flight are being asked to call Latvia’s Disease Control and Prevention Center on precautionary measures after sharing the plane with the infected woman. The flight arrived in Rīga at noon local time.
US to Increase Healthcare Worker Access to Respirators
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Monday measures to make more respirators, including certain N95s, available to healthcare workers.
In a statement, the FDA said that it has now approved respirators marked for use in industrial settings for use by healthcare professionals responding to patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
“The FDA and CDC’s action to allow a wider range of respirators to be used in healthcare settings will help those on the front lines of this outbreak and their patients, which will keep all Americans safe,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
“President Trump has made it clear that protecting the American people is his top priority, and that includes taking every necessary step to ensure America’s healthcare providers have the tools they need.
“We will continue pursuing every possible avenue to secure the protective gear needed for responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Another Case Detected in Australia
A 10th coronavirus case in the Australian state in Queensland has been confirmed by state health authorities.
A 20-year-old male university student from China has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The man, who had traveled to Dubai for at least two weeks before entering Australia, is in a stable condition in isolation in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
Queensland Health has confirmed he is a student.
He was living in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong with a male housemate, who is now being assessed for the disease.
A student accommodation business told AAP Chinese students are bypassing the China travel ban by spending two weeks in other countries before entering Australia.
Natural Protection Strategy Against Viruses
Conventional medicine offers very little for the prevention or treatment of most viral illnesses. Natural medicine offers considerably more solutions.
Unusual Animal Behavior in Coronavirus Epicenter: Video
People from Hubei province, the epicenter of coronavirus outbreak, have reported sightings of unusual animal behavior in Hubei, such as huge flocks of crows and fish jumping out of water.
Elderly Chinese people used to say that crows are carrion-eaters and have the ability to anticipate death, because they can smell the odor of a dying person. That is why in Chinese culture, crows are considered inauspicious and are always linked with death.
For updates from March 2, click here.
Zachary Stieber, Melanie Sun, the Associated Press, Reuters, Dr. Charles Bens, and AAP contributed to this article.