To contain coronavirus, Italy will limit movement across much of its northern region, including the cities of Milan and Venice. The measures, the most drastic outside of China, place significant restrictions on 16 million people in a broad area that is Italy’s economic engine.

The virus also continued to spread in the United States, with cases surpassing 400 and reaching more than 30 states, as well as Washington, D.C.

An attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference — a major annual right-wing gathering held in Maryland in February and attended by President Trump and Vice President Pence — tested positive Saturday for the virus, the host organization said, as the U.S. death toll rose to 19.

The White House is aware of the patient, and “at this time there is no indication that either President Trump or Vice President Pence met with or were in close proximity to the attendee,” said press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Carnival Cruise Line officials said they had no clearer indication Saturday of where the Grand Princess ship being held off California’s coast was headed, as passengers and their families expressed frustration.
  • Washington, D.C., reported its first “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus Saturday, days after Maryland officials announced several cases. Virginia, Utah and Kansas also announced their first positive cases.
  • A Florida presidential forum hosted by the nation’s largest federation of unions became the latest gathering to be canceled over coronavirus fears.
  • More than two dozen American tourists are being quarantined on a cruise ship in the Egyptian city of Luxor.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defended the administration’s testing procedures — which have been widely criticized after the initial CDC coronavirus test kits were faulty — saying, “the only issue was just that manufacturing scale up for capacity.”
4:25 a.m.
Link copied
link

Grand Princess’s arrival ashore mired in uncertainty

Carnival Cruise Line officials had no clearer indication Saturday of where the Grand Princess ship being held off California’s coast was headed.

They said they had been in touch with federal and state officials as well as the Port of San Francisco. Frustration, however, was mounting about uncertainties as to when the ship would dock and where, as well as what Carnival officials called a lack of an established testing regimen for passengers and crew members, 21 of whom have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Nineteen of the patients are employees.

“Our guests who expected to disembark today still do not know what to expect next,” Jan Swartz, group president of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia, said on a conference call with reporters Saturday.

Passengers were dismayed about sparse information and the fact that they learned about positive tests for the virus through a Friday afternoon news conference.

“We, too, were disappointed that we were not officially notified and could share that with the guests in advance of the announcement being made,” Swartz said.

Grant Tarling, chief medical officer for Carnival Corp., said he believed the virus arrived on the ship and infected the crew by community transmission from California. The patient originally infected, who was on a Feb. 11- 21 cruise, was from Placer County, Calif., and was served by two waiters who later tested positive for coronavirus aboard the ship.

That patient reported to the ship’s medical center with what Tarling called a “six- to seven-day history of symptoms of acute respiratory illness.”

“We believe his illness was probably community-acquired somewhere in California before he joined the ship,” Tarling said. “We believe both the waiters that served that [person’s] table may have been infected.”

Aboard the ship, more than 3,500 passengers and crew are confined to their staterooms. There are 2,422 passengers and 1,111 staff members representing 64 countries, company officials said — including 2,016 passengers from the United States and 938 from California.

Among those who tested positive were crew members from the Philippines and passengers from the United States, the company said. Very few of the crew members are from the United States, according to the officials.

Tarling said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not settled on a testing protocol for crew and other passengers aboard the ship. It was unknown, he said, whether everyone on the ship would be tested or whether individuals would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon disembarking.

“There’s a number of scenarios they are apparently still working on,” said Tarling, who said the company had been in touch with the CDC. “One of them is testing, who will be tested. We do not know that information.”

Vice President Pence has said people on board will be quarantined as needed. CDC spokesperson Belsie González said in an email Saturday evening that the agency is “committed to protecting the health and safety of all Americans.”

“The U.S. Government is taking measures to protect the Grand Princess passengers and crew, their loved ones, the traveling public, and communities within the United States,” González wrote.

4:01 a.m.
Link copied
link

Vermont reports first coronavirus case

Vermont health officials on Saturday night reported the state’s first coronavirus case.

The patient is an adult who tested presumptive positive, meaning the lab results were awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

With Vermont’s announcement, every New England state except Maine has reported cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Maine is still awaiting CDC approval for in-state testing.

The Vermont patient has been hospitalized in an isolation room, according to the health department. Officials said they were investigating the person’s travel history and tracing the person’s close contacts.

“Those individuals will be assessed for their exposure risk and provided with guidance for their health, and recommendations for self-isolation or other restrictions,” the health department said in a statement.

The department did not disclose how long the person had been infected or where the person was located.

“Our first thoughts are with this patient and for their recovery,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in a statement.

Levine added that the state was expecting more cases. “While we had hoped the virus would not come to Vermont, we have been preparing for this eventuality,” he said.

3:25 a.m.
Link copied
link

Maryland lawmakers who attended CPAC react to coronavirus diagnosis

Maryland lawmakers who attended CPAC in National Harbor last week said they have spent the last couple of hours texting friends and checking their health after learning that a conference attendee was diagnosed with coronavirus.

“None of us are sick,” said Del. Lauren R. Arikan (R-Harford). But the lawmaker, who is 24 weeks pregnant, said she is now second-guessing her decision to attend the conference.

“I almost didn’t go because . . . of the virus, but I didn’t want to be one of those nutty people staying in,” she said. “I didn’t want to overreact, but now I feel like I underreacted.”

Arikan said she spent the majority of her time in the main hall. The infected person was not in that area, according to an email CPAC organizers sent to attendees.

“We were obsessively washing our hands. Going to the bathroom, washing our hands,” she said, noting that attendees weren’t allowed to carry purses, so she had no hand sanitizer with her. “But now I think about it, the bathroom is where sick people are.”

Del. Matthew Morgan (R-St. Mary’s) attended with his wife and daughters. None is showing any symptoms, he said. He said there is little chance his family was exposed.

“We were all there for a short amount of time. . . . It wasn’t like we were shaking hands,” he said.

A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Saturday that they have reached out to CPAC organizers and the National Harbor resort to notify attendees, hotel guests and workers who may have come in contact with the infected person.

Asked about notifying the thousands of people who were at the resort, Mike Ricci said: “We will work on it through the conference organizers. One reason we do it by public notice obviously is to try and get folks to come forward more easily if they show symptoms.”

3:21 a.m.
Link copied
link

Captain says plans still unclear after Grand Princess makes its closest approach yet to San Francisco

In an address Saturday evening to the thousands of people still aboard the Grand Princess as it sits near San Francisco, the ship’s captain acknowledged that they were all still waiting for word on where they would go and when.

“I know that most of you didn’t expect to still be on board with us this evening and how unsettling it is to not yet know our future schedule,” the captain said in his remarks, a recording of which was provided to The Washington Post by a passenger. He stressed that the company’s leaders were speaking to state and local authorities and “urgently insisting” on answers about their plans.

“We are still anxiously waiting,” he said, pledging to keep passengers informed.

Late Saturday afternoon, the Grand Princess made its closest approach yet to San Francisco, coming in about 20 miles west of shore — east of the Farallon Islands. Passengers again wondered about a potential disembarkation. Instead, the ship was approached by another boat, identified as the Miss Tammy, which was believed to be carrying supplies.

A camera feed from the cruise line’s website showed a small boat approaching the ship’s bow with the shoreline visible in the distance.

One passenger on board tweeted that they were told to expect the ship would be stocked with supplies around the same time. Earlier, cruise officials said they were expediting prescriptions to the ship, though the nature of the Saturday evening supply delivery was unknown.

“Captain just announced that we are still waiting for news of our disembarkation, but we are moving closer to shore to receive additional supplies,” passenger Michelle Heckert wrote in a tweet just before 6 p.m. Pacific time, minutes after the boat was sighted. “For those without a balcony, they are trying to circulate more fresh air into the ship.”

The apparent supply boat traveled from Alameda, east of San Francisco and south of Oakland — just across from the Port of Oakland.

3:15 a.m.
Link copied
link

Friends and relatives of people on board Grand Princess frustrated and frightened

SAN FRANCISCO — As frustrating and frightening as it is for the passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, their onshore friends and relatives are feeling much the same way.

Vice President Pence announced Friday that the ship, carrying about 3,500 people, would soon dock at a “noncommercial” port. Twenty-one people on board have tested positive for the coronavirus, 19 of them crew members. But the ship made little movement Saturday, still idling roughly 70 miles off the coast of this city. The passengers have been starved of information: How long will this take? Where are we going? And what’s going on, precisely?

“The state of California does not want them, and the federal government has no idea what to do with them,” said Robert LaGesse, whose wife, Donna, and two friends took the cruise to celebrate Donna’s 65th birthday.

LaGesse, who is the chief operations officer for East Carolina University Physicians at the university’s Brody School of Medicine, said he speaks with his wife several times a day. She has not yet been tested and feels fine, if frustrated by how little the passengers are being told. “The longer they keep everyone on this boat, the greater the risk that the virus with spread throughout the ship,” LaGesse said. “Living in a petri dish is not a good policy.”

A call to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office about the state’s plans for the ship was not returned. Ron Eilers texts and calls his wife, Jackie, several times a day. Jackie is part of the birthday celebration, along with Freda Moore, another close friend.

“Emotionally, it’s been really tough. She doesn’t know what comes next or when that would happen,” said Eilers, a retired chief executive of a financial services company who lives in Castle Rock, Colo.

Eilers has written to the state’s senators, Michael F. Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R), asking that the ship be brought into port and passengers be quarantined in any place other than a close-quarters ship.

“It appears there is either no plan at all or that plan is not being communicated to the passengers at all,” Eilers said.

2:42 a.m.
Link copied
link

Italy limiting movement in drastic bid to combat coronavirus

ROME — Italian Prime Minister on Sunday morning said the country was locking down large portions of its north, include all of the populous Lombardy region, with restrictions on movement that would apply to more than 15 million people.

“There is no absolute ban [on movement],” Conte said in a middle-of-the-night national address, but people would be allowed to exit and enter the territory only for emergencies and urgent work matters.

The Italian measures, which Conte said would be formalized later Sunday, would mark the most significant step taken anywhere outside of China to contain the coronavirus.

The measures will at least temporarily transform the nation, locking off much of the northern part of the country — the entire region of Lombardy and 14 northern provinces. The changes would cut off the daily high-speed rail connections between Milan and Rome, bring an absolute halt to tourism in Venice, and essentially paralyze Italy’s economic heartland, while signaling that Western democratic nations are willing to drastically restrict freedoms as they contend with major outbreaks.

Read more here.

1:06 a.m.
Link copied
link

Union group’s Florida presidential forum canceled over coronavirus fears

A presidential forum hosted by the nation’s largest federation of unions, which Democratic contenders Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former vice president Joe Biden were planning to attend next week in Orlando, has been canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus, organizers said.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which represents millions of workers, was set to bring together Biden and Sanders days before Florida’s presidential primary, when more than 200 delegates will be at stake.

But on Saturday, the AFL-CIO Presidential Forum became the latest large gathering interrupted by the growing toll of the virus around the United States. Other major events, including several popular entertainment festivals, have been scrapped in recent days.

Coronavirus cases have been connected to multiple high-profile political events, stoking concerns that such gatherings will spread infections. News of the Florida’s forum’s cancellation came as an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference — attended last month by President Trump and a host of other senior officials — tested positive for the virus.

12:38 a.m.
Link copied
link

U.S. Marine assigned to Virginia tests positive for coronavirus, officials say, the state’s first case

A U.S. Marine assigned to Virginia tested positive Saturday for coronavirus, a Department of Defense spokesman said, marking a first for the state.

The patient, assigned to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, returned recently from “official business” overseas, tweeted Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs. Rath Hoffman said Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and the White House have been briefed.

The person is being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, he said.

“Public health officials caution that evidence has not been seen of COVID-19 spreading in Virginia and said the risk is low,” the Virginia Department of Health said in a statement.

12:10 a.m.
Link copied
link

Kansas announces first positive test for coronavirus

Kansas announced its first positive test for coronavirus Saturday, joining the more than half of states now grappling with cases.

The Kansas patient is “presumptive positive,” officials said, meaning a state laboratory has found the infection but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to confirm the result.

The patient, a woman under age 50, is isolated at home in Johnson County, following the CDC’s guidance, the governor’s office said. Authorities are working to identify and contact everyone she may have interacted with while infectious.

“Kansas has been prepared for positive cases of novel coronavirus and will continue to work alongside local and federal public health partners in addressing the potential spread of the virus,” Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said.

12:03 a.m.
Link copied
link

On the Nile, American tourists among those quarantined on ship hit by coronavirus

CAIRO — More than two dozen American tourists are being quarantined on a cruise ship in the Egyptian city of Luxor, according to two passengers, as the country’s health officials declared 33 new cases of coronavirus Saturday.

At least 26 Americans, all part of the same tour group, were in the middle of their once in-a-lifetime, 12-day dream vacation in Egypt. They had already seen the pyramids and the Great Sphinx in Giza and had boarded a luxury ship, the Asara, for a Nile cruise.

That all ended when they arrived in the fabled city of Luxor on Friday.

That’s when they learned that 12 Egyptian workers on their vessel had tested positive for the virus that causes covid-19 during a previous cruise. Then the American passengers were tested. At least three Americans are suspected of testing positive for the virus, according to passengers aboard the ship.

Instantly, they had joined the passengers of other luxury cruise ships around the world that have become floating quarantine zones, with the latest ship stranded off the coast of San Francisco. And like those passengers, the Americans aboard the Asara are in limbo, filled with uncertainty and fear.

“I’m terribly afraid that there’s no assurance we won’t get sick at some point,” said Amy Khamissian, 65, a paralegal from Miami.

On Saturday, Egypt’s health minister announced that 19 of the foreigners aboard the ship tested positive, along with 14 more Egyptians believed to be crew members. Eleven of the Egyptians later tested negative after a second test, said Hala Zayed, the minister.

Read more here.

11:51 p.m.
Link copied
link

Washington Nationals announce changes for fans seeking autographs at spring training

The Washington Nationals, who are at spring training Florida, say that the team has instated a new autograph policy as coronavirus continues to spread.

Starting on Saturday, Washington’s players and coaches will avoid shaking hands or exchanging items with fans. That includes balls, jerseys and pens. Pre-signed items will be distributed before and during games.

“They’ve done an unbelievable job of trying to keep everything safe around here for us and the players, and also for the fans,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I know they have sanitizers all over the place now. But hey, it’s real. It’s there. It’s an issue, so we’re trying to prevent anyone getting sick.”

The Nationals’ spring training home is in West Palm Beach, Fla. They share the facility with the Houston Astros.

Read more here.

11:05 p.m.
Link copied
link

CPAC attendee who tested positive for coronavirus did not interact with president, host group says

An attendee of the Conservative Political Action Conference — a major annual right-wing gathering held in Maryland less than two weeks ago — tested positive Saturday for coronavirus, the host organization said.

The White House is aware of the patient, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, and “at this time there is no indication that either President Trump or Vice President Pence met with or were in close proximity to the attendee."

The list of speakers from the administration at this year’s annual gathering included President Trump, Vice President Pence and a slate of Cabinet officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

White House staff who spoke at CPAC included outgoing acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council; counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway; and senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

But the host group, American Conservative Union (ACU), said in a statement Saturday evening that the patient did not interact with the president or vice president and “never attended the events in the main hall.”

The patient was exposed before the conference, which ran fromFeb. 26 to 29, and was later tested by a New Jersey hospital and then quarantined there, the ACU said. The organization said it has been in touch with Maryland’s health department and “will explicitly follow the guidance from government health experts.”

“Immediately after learning of this individual’s interactions in our state, we began coordinating with the White House, the CDC and federal officials, the New Jersey Department of Health, Prince George’s County officials, and conference organizers,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement Saturday. “Due to the scale of this conference, we are urging attendees who are experiencing flu-like symptoms to immediately reach out to their health care provider."

“We are providing this update not to unnecessarily raise alarm, but in the interest of full transparency and out of an abundance of caution,” he added.

Maryland health authorities are advising attendees to stay at home until they get instructions from their health care provider or local health department. People should watch for fever, cold symptoms, a cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, officials said.

10:49 p.m.
Link copied
link

D.C. reports first ‘presumptive positive’ case of coronavirus

Washington, D.C., reported its first “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus Saturday.

Testing came in from the Public Health Lab at the D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences late in the afternoon, authorities said. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser will hold a news conference at 7:30 p.m.

More information was not immediately available.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday that three Montgomery County residents — a husband and wife in their 70s and an unrelated woman in her 50s — contracted the virus while on a Nile River cruise in Egypt. All three are recovering from flu-like symptoms and are in good condition, he said.

The announcement quickly sparked fears that others in the area may have been exposed. Concerns that the three could have infected elderly people and children prompted the temporary closure of five schools in Bucks County, Pa., and warnings to a Rockville, Md., retirement community to monitor residents for symptoms.

Read more here.

10:20 p.m.
Link copied
link

Passengers held on Carnival Cruise Line ship near Long Beach, Calif.

As the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship waits off the coast near San Francisco, another liner is stuck near Long Beach, Calif., while a passenger undergoes coronavirus testing “out of an abundance of caution,” its company says.

Guests on the Carnival Panorama will not be able to disembark until at least 6 p.m. local time because of the passenger’s undisclosed “medical situation,” Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement.

“While we cannot discuss their specific condition, they are a U.S. citizen who has not traveled internationally, and does not meet the CDC criteria that puts them in an at risk category for coronavirus,” the company said. “Nevertheless, based on an evaluation at a local hospital, medical authorities want to administer a COVID-19 test out of an abundance of caution.”

Passengers will not be cleared to leave the ship until a negative test result comes back, the cruise line said.

Cruise ships have been increasingly under scrutiny for their potential to spread coronavirus. Nearly half of a few dozen people tested so far aboard the Grand Princess have gotten positive results, officials say. And hundreds tested positive after traveling on the Diamond Princess cruise that ended with a quarantine in Yokohama, Japan.