The Latest On COVID-19

On March 11 the World Health Organization declared the spread of the novel coronavirus a pandemic. COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) is the official name for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019.

For the latest guidance and information, we strongly recommend relying on the following for accurate information:

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble. Most individuals develop mild reactions to the virus. Some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia. 

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Coronavirus is spreading across the Midwest, and health officials are scrambling to stem the disease -- or prepare for a potential epidemic. Side Effects will keep you updated on this evolving story and share reports from partner stations across the Midwest -- including news of a school closing in Indiana and the first case in Missouri. 

Shelly Hughes says three things are required to do her job: a strong back, a strong stomach and a big heart.

She's a certified nurse's aide at a nursing home in Washington state, which also means another requirement: To get her work done, she has to physically be there.

"You're helping residents that may not be able to dress themselves, feed themselves, toilet themselves," Hughes says. "The great stuff is that you get to know wonderful people. I have so many grandmas and grandpas now, let me tell you."

As the U.S. battles to limit the spread of the contagious new coronavirus, the number of health care workers ordered to self-quarantine because of potential exposure to an infected patient is rising at a rapid pace. In Vacaville, Calif., alone, one case — the first documented instance of community transmission in the U.S. — left more than 200 hospital workers under quarantine and unable to work for weeks.

Updated at 8:10 p.m. ET

After several days of circling off the coast of California, the Grand Princess cruise ship has docked at a port in Oakland.

The ship has 3,533 people on board — including at least 21 who have tested positive for the new coronavirus, out of 46 people who were in the first round of testing.

The coronavirus funding bill signed into law by the president Friday puts much more money toward treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 than his administration requested from Congress last week.

As the coronavirus spreads in the U.S., public health agencies are starting to worry about hospital capacity.

Overseas, China was forced to build two new hospitals on an emergency basis, and in South Korea earlier this week, the government said over two thousand people were waiting for hospital care.

Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa’s first three presumptive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been detected in Johnson County, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Sunday.

Even as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to spiral upward in countries around the world, a top global health expert says it's not too late to contain the virus.

"As long as you have these discrete outbreaks ... there is the opportunity to control them — to get on top of these and contain them and prevent a lot of disease and ultimately death," says Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the director-general of the World Health Organization. "That's the big message we saw in China — and one of the big surprises."

Updated at 10:57 p.m. ET

These are no ordinary times for Congress.

There are fewer handshakes. Purell hand sanitizer dispensers are posted outside the Senate and House chambers. Staffers are preparing plans to work remotely if there's a sudden closure.

Welcome to a post-coronavirus world for the U.S. Capitol as it weighs developments from the spreading outbreak against its daily operations.

Updated at 6:03 a.m. ET Sunday

The government of Italy has imposed mass restrictions across its northern region, limiting the movement of more than 16 million people, as it fights to control the coronavirus outbreak there.

The measure affects the entire Lombardy region, along with its capital, Milan, as well as the city of Venice. The area includes about a quarter of Italy's population.

The Italian Civil Protection Department reported a total of 5,883 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday evening, with 233 deaths from the illness.

Updated at 7:35 p.m. ET

Twenty-one people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California have tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19, Vice President Pence announced Friday.

The Grand Princess had been returning to San Francisco after a cruise to Hawaii and has been kept away from port while a small portion of the roughly 3,500 people on board are tested for the coronavirus.

This story was updated March 6, 2020 at 12:15 p.m. 

Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City Health Department, says his office currently has just five kits to test for possible cases of the new coronavirus.

That’s despite an announcement Tuesday evening from Vice President Mike Pence, who said “any American can be tested” for the virus.

Pence admitted to reporters Thursday that demand for the kits exceeds supply. 

“That created a real challenge when the vice president told everybody they could get tested,” Archer told the city council Thursday.

It's been a busy week at the virology lab run by UW Medicine, which includes the University of Washington's medical school and hospitals.

"We've already gone to three shifts," says Dr. Keith Jerome, a professor in the department of laboratory medicine who runs the lab. "People are going to be here basically all the time."

Updated at 10:31 a.m. ET

Fear of the coronavirus doesn't appear to have infected the U.S. job market yet, despite sending shivers through Wall Street.

A new report from the Labor Department says employers added 273,000 jobs in February — the same as in January. The February increase was about 100,000 more than private analysts had forecast. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%, matching a 50-year low.

Job gains for December and January were revised up by a total of 85,000.

So far just a few U.S. higher education students have confirmed exposure to COVID-19, mainly through contact with patients in hospitals.

Keep your distance. And don't kiss.

Those are two pieces of advice that could be crucial in reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

Public health officials say the spread has been mainly driven through people spending time indoors with others who have the disease.

"Looks like the main driver is not widespread community infection — looks like it's household-level infection," Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the World Health Organization, said at a news conference in Geneva on Feb. 25.

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