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U.S. cases pass 300, the East Coast reports its first deaths, and Amtrak cancels trains.
A day after the East Coast of the United States reported its first deaths from the coronavirus and schools and universities canceled classes or took measures to keep students at home, Amtrak said on Saturday that it would cancel its nonstop service between New York and Washington because of falling demand.
“We are making temporary adjustments to our schedule, such as removing train cars or canceling trains when there is a convenient alternative with a similar schedule that will have minimal impact to customers,” the company said in a statement. Starting Tuesday, the nonstop Acela service will be suspended through May 26.
The move came as officials across the United States reported 308 cases of coronavirus and 17 deaths as of Friday, with Florida reporting the first deaths on the East Coast. The number of infections does not count the 21 people who have tested positive aboard a cruise ship off California, the Grand Princess.
Florida officials reported on Friday night that there had been two deaths in the state related to the coronavirus. Both of the people who died had traveled internationally, they said.
On the East Coast, a cluster has emerged in New York State. All but a few of its 33 confirmed cases as of Friday were linked to a New Rochelle man. More than 2,700 people are under some form of quarantine in New York City.
The West Coast has borne the brunt of the toll in the United States. Washington State has recorded the most coronavirus cases, more than 80, and the highest number of deaths, 14. Most of the fatal cases emerged from a Seattle-area nursing home. Officials in King County, Wash., said 15 residents of the facility, Life Care Center, had been taken to hospitals over the past 24 hours.
California has treated 70 people for the virus, one of whom has died, and new cases continue to emerge at a worrying rate. An employee of the F.B.I.’s San Francisco division tested positive, the first confirmed case at the bureau.
And Starbucks on Friday night reported that one of its employees in downtown Seattle had tested positive. The company said the store has been closed for cleaning.
Also in the Seattle area, two Microsoft employees were being treated for the coronavirus, a company spokesman said. Microsoft did not close its campus, but it had already advised employees to work from home if possible.
Two residents of other Seattle-area complexes that largely serve older people have now also been hospitalized and tested positive, officials said, identifying them as Issaquah Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and Ida Culver House Ravenna.
The chief federal judge in Seattle ordered the cancellation of all in-person federal court hearings in Western Washington State. And Hawaii reported its first confirmed infection, a person who had been on the Grand Princess.
Stanford and other universities take measures to stem the outbreak.
At Stanford University, officials announced late Friday that classes would not meet in person as of Monday, and that any looming exams would be changed to a take-home format.
The University of Washington, with 50,000 students, said that it would cancel in-person classes from Monday through at least March 20, and have students take classes and final exams remotely.
Seattle University, with about 7,300 students, also said it would move to online classes for the rest of the winter quarter, and Northeastern University in Boston will do the same for students on its Seattle campus.
But New York City’s public schools will probably stay open even if the new coronavirus becomes more widespread. Richard A. Carranza, the schools chancellor, said this week that he considered long-term closings an “extreme” measure and a “last resort.”
New York City has the largest public school system in the United States, a vast district with about 750,000 children who are poor, including around 114,000 who are homeless. For such students, school may be the only place they can get three hot meals a day and medical care, and even wash their dirty laundry.
Even a single snow day can seriously disrupt the lives of New York’s most vulnerable children and their parents and other relatives, whose jobs often do not provide paid time off, said Aaron Pallas, a professor of education at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
“Kids will need to be supervised,” Professor Pallas said. “And there are complex interactions here that affect the well-being of families.”
A U.S. Navy sailor tests positive in Italy.
An American Navy sailor stationed in Naples, Italy, was found to have the coronavirus, the first positive case of a U.S. service member in Europe, the United States European Command said on Saturday in a statement.
The sailor is being restricted to his or her home and receiving medical care in accordance with guidelines from Italy and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the statement said.
Health officials in the military were also conducting contact tracing for anyone else who may have been exposed.
As the epidemic grows in Europe, an Italian politician says he has the virus.
The coronavirus outbreak that has paralyzed and disrupted economic and social life in Italy spread into the top of the Italian politics on Saturday when the leader of the governing coalition’s Democratic Party announced that he had contracted the virus.
“Well, it’s arrived; I also have the coronavirus,” the politician, Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of the Democratic Party, said in a Facebook video.
In the video, Mr. Zingaretti, wearing a sweater and looking relaxed, said that he would follow all the protocols suggested by the authorities, who have urged infected people to separate themselves from others.
“I’m well, and so it was decided home isolation,” Mr. Zingaretti said, adding that his family was following the protocols as well.
He said that Italian health officials had already begun contacting people with whom he worked closely and had meetings and that the party’s vice president would take over “political activities” as he stayed home.
The number of infections climbed past 7,400 in Europe on Saturday — more than doubling in just a few days.
France, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and others each recorded their biggest one-day increases in cases on Friday. More than 30 European countries now have cases; 10 of them have at least 100 each. A member of the French Parliament tested positive for the virus.
In Britain, the police in London said they had arrested two teenagers in connection with a racially aggravated assault, days after a 23-year-old student from Singapore said he was attacked by a group of men, one of whom shouted “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
And after the health authorities in Denmark recommended that people avoid shaking hands because of the coronavirus outbreak, government officials have suggested postponing naturalization ceremonies across the country since they require handshakes by law to complete the process.
That means thousands of people about to become Danish citizens will most likely have to wait. It was not clear for how long the suspension would be in place or if all local mayors would follow the recommendation.
Outside Europe, the government of Iran, where the outbreak is one of the world’s largest, reported more than 4,700 infections, an increase of more than 1,200 from the day before. An Iranian member of Parliament, Fatemeh Rahba, also died after contracting the coronavirus, according to state media. Ms. Rahba had been hospitalized in Masih Daneshvari Hospital, the Tasnim news agency reported.
Americans are quarantined in the West Bank over coronavirus fears.
A church group from Alabama is among dozens of guests and workers who have been quarantined at a hotel outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, after a Greek tourist who had stayed there came down with the coronavirus.
All told, some 40 people, most of them Palestinians, are being quarantined at the Angel Hotel, officials said, with Palestinian security officers in masks standing guard outside on Saturday.
The 13-member Alabama group, which includes pastors, other church workers and several spouses, arrived in Beit Jala on Monday and visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem before checking out on Thursday morning and heading to the West Bank, expecting to continue on to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and Petra.
But they were summoned back to their hotel by the authorities, said the Rev. Chris Bell, the lead pastor of 3Circle Church in Fairhope, Ala.
The group was tested for the virus on Friday but had not been told the results as of midday on Saturday, he said in an interview.
“We’re heartbroken in a million different ways,” he said.
In the province where the virus emerged, the only new cases are in Wuhan.
Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, reported on Saturday that for two consecutive days, the province had seen no new infections outside its capital, Wuhan. The news confirmed that China’s new cases and deaths are increasingly concentrated in that city, where the virus emerged, while the rest of the province — and the rest of the country — are largely spared.
Hubei reported 74 new infections on Saturday, all in Wuhan. China also recorded 24 cases in people who had arrived from abroad, including 17 in Gansu, a northwest Chinese province. Excluding the infections in Wuhan and among arrivals from abroad, there was only one other new infection in the rest of China.
China also reported 28 deaths among those with the virus, all in Hubei Province. By comparison, there were 49 deaths from the virus in Italy on Friday.
The downward trend in China is a result of an all-out effort by the government to contain the spread of the disease, which has come at a great cost to the country’s economy and its social life. Since January, the government has enacted nationwide quarantine and travel restrictions and placed Hubei under a strict lockdown, effectively penning in 56 million people.
The new numbers reflect a steep decline from just a few weeks earlier. At one point in early February, Hubei reported more than 1,400 new cases outside Wuhan in one day.
A South Korean city orders church members to submit to testing.
The South Korean city of Daegu has ordered members of a Christian sect at the center of the country’s coronavirus outbreak to be tested for the virus by the end of Saturday.
Daegu, a southeastern city of about 2.4 million, has been scrambling to test more than 10,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus within its jurisdiction since last month, when it became clear that its followers had been spreading the virus in Daegu and elsewhere. Local officials are still trying to locate and test more than 1,000 members of Shincheonji, which is considered a cult by many other South Korean Christian churches.
South Korea, whose coronavirus outbreak is the biggest outside China, reported 483 new infections on Saturday, bringing its total caseload to 6,767, including 47 deaths. More than 5,000 of those infected are Daegu residents, and a vast majority of them belong to the church.
“Yesterday alone, we tested 709 Shincheonji members and 236 of them tested positive,” Daegu’s mayor, Kwon Young-jin, said on Saturday. “This is why church members should extend their self-isolation and must subject themselves to testing.”
Mr. Kwon issued an executive order that made the testing mandatory. Anyone who disobeys it can be fined under South Korea’s laws on controlling epidemics.
The church’s founder, Lee Man-hee, recently apologized for its role in the outbreak but said the church had been cooperating with the authorities.
On Saturday, Daegu placed two adjacent apartment buildings under quarantine after 46 of their residents, all of them Sincheonji members, were confirmed to have the virus.
Malaysia and Thailand turn an Italian cruise ship away.
Japan announced that a man from Hong Kong who was a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship died of the coronavirus on Friday, making the eighth death associated with the vessel that was quarantined off Yokohama for two weeks in February.
Another cruise ship, the Costa Fortuna, became the latest luxury liner to be kept at sea over coronavirus fears, as Malaysia and Thailand denied it entry for fear that passengers from Italy had been exposed to the virus before boarding.
Malaysia turned away the ship, the Costa Fortuna, which has more than 2,000 people aboard, under a government policy announced on Saturday, which bars all cruise ships from docking at any of the country’s ports until further notice.
The ship was denied permission to dock at the island of Penang in northern Malaysia on Saturday morning. On Friday, it had been turned away from the island of Phuket in southern Thailand, about 220 miles from Penang.
Thai officials refused to allow the Costa Fortuna to dock because 64 of its passengers had departed less than 14 days earlier from Italy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Fourteen days is believed to be the virus’s maximum incubation period.
The operator of the Costa Fortuna, Costa Cruises, confirmed on Twitter that the ship had been turned away by Thailand, but it said none of the ship’s passengers on board were suspected of having Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.
N.B.A. gives teams a refresher on playing in empty stadiums.
With the coronavirus spreading in the United States, the N.B.A. reminded its teams on Friday about the protocol for postponing or canceling games, and for playing without fans in attendance. The basketball league has not indicated that it plans to pursue any of those options.
According to a memo sent to teams on Friday, the league’s protocol requires a series of actions before such changes, including consultation with the affected teams and written notice from a top league official. Separately, the N.B.A. and its players’ union recently advised against high-fives and handshakes in favor of fist bumps, to limit the spread of germs.
The N.B.A. could be particularly affected by the epidemic in states that have declared a state of emergency, such as California. The mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, has called for sporting events to be canceled. San Francisco is the home of the Chase Center, where the N.B.A’.s Golden State Warriors play. On Friday, the Warriors released a statement that listed new sanitizing measures the team had implemented.
As for games without fans, the league has advised teams to prepare contingency plans that would include deciding which staff members would need to attend. Teams were also told to prepare for the possibility of implementing temperature checks for anyone who would be considered essential for such a game, including players and referees.
LeBron James of the Lakers told a reporter that he wouldn’t play if fans weren’t present.
The league rarely postpones games and almost never cancels them. This season has been an exception because of the death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
South by Southwest leads a long list of canceled events.
The 34th annual edition of South by Southwest, the annual festival of music, film and technology in Austin, Tex., that has become a global draw, was ordered canceled on Friday by local officials over fears about the spread of coronavirus.
Festival organizers and government officials had come under intense pressure in recent days to pull the plug, with more than 50,000 people signing an online petition and a growing list of tech companies — among them Apple, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok — announcing their withdrawal.
The festival was to have run from March 13-22, with events spread across bars and party spaces in Austin, in addition to the main conference activities.
The cancellation is perhaps the largest collateral damage of the virus so far on the international cultural calendar. Last year, South by Southwest’s various events had a combined attendance of 417,000, including 159,000 who came to the music portion, according to festival figures.
Two other large-scale, multiday gatherings were also called off or pushed back on Friday: Emerald City Comic Con, a convention that draws thousands of people to Seattle each year, was postponed until the summer; and the Ultra Music Festival, an electronic dance music event held annually in Miami, where city officials blocked the event from going on.
The San Francisco Symphony said in a tweet on Saturday that it was canceling all concerts scheduled at the city’s Davies Symphony Hall through March 20.
How to quarantine yourself. (Don’t even pet the dog.)
If you’re returning from an area that’s had a coronavirus outbreak, or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who tests positive, you may be asked to isolate yourself at home for two weeks, the presumed incubation period for the coronavirus.
It’s not easy to lock yourself away from your family and friends. These are the basics.
Isolation If you are infected or have been exposed to the coronavirus, you must seclude yourself from your partner, your housemates, your children, your older aunt and even your pets. If you don’t have your own room, one should be designated for your exclusive use. No visitors unless it’s absolutely essential. Don’t take the bus, subway or even a taxi.
Masks If you must be around other people — in your home, or in a car, because you’re on your way to see a doctor (and only after you’ve called first) — wear a mask. Everyone else should, too.
Hygiene Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue to cough or sneeze, and discard it in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can use sanitizer, but soap and water are preferred. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, if you haven’t just washed them.
Disinfecting Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels or bedding. Wash these items after you use them. Use a household cleaner to wipe down countertops, tabletops, doorknobs, bathrooms fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. That also goes for any surfaces that may be contaminated by bodily fluids.
Household members When around the patient, wear a face mask, and add gloves if you’re touching anything that might carry the patient’s bodily fluids. Dispose of the mask and gloves immediately. The older members and those with chronic medical conditions should minimize contact with the secluded individual.
More Times coverage.
The Times is publishing many articles daily on the coronavirus, which help inform this briefing. Here is a list of articles from the last day or so.
Reporting was contributed by David Halbfinger, Mohammed Najib, Jason Horowitz, Eric Schmitt, Margaret Ho, Eliza Shapiro, Katie Rogers, Roni Caryn Rabin, Keith Bradsher, Thomas Fuller, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Sarah Mervosh, Tim Arango, Jenny Gross, Ben Sisario, Julia Jacobs, Amy Qin, Sopan Deb and Marc Stein.