Houston - This week’s panel: Bob Price, Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas; Carmen Roe, Houston attorney Bill King, former mayoral candidate, businessman and columnist, Charles Blain, Urban Reform; Michele Maples, conservative attorney and Antonio Diaz-, writer, educator and radio host join Greg Groogan talking about the coronavirus and the nation's reaction to the growing pandemic.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Sunday, March 1, 2020 -- The first case of the new virus COVID-19 was confirmed in Rhode Island, state public health officials announced Sunday.
The Rhode Island Department of Health said the person is in their 40s and had traveled to Italy in mid-February. State public health officials are working with the hospital where the unnamed person is currently being treated to ensure all infection control protocols are being followed.
The person tested positive for COVID-19, and those results were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation, Dr. Nichole Alexander-Scott, the state's director of health, said Sunday at a press conference.
"At this point time, the general level of risk for Rhode islanders is low. There is no need for panic, there is no need to be frightened," Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said at the press conference.
The first reported death in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus was confirmed Saturday in Seattle, prompting the governor of Washington to declare a state of emergency. The U.S. has about 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.
Most infections result in mild symptoms, including coughing and fever, though some can become more serious and lead to pneumonia. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are especially vulnerable. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is considered small. But that number is expected to grow, and health agencies have been ramping up efforts to identify those who may be sick.
Outreach to those who have been in direct contact with the person in Rhode Island has begun. The agency said there are extensive efforts underway to ensure those people undergo a period of 14 days of self-monitoring for symptoms at home with public health supervision, also known as a quarantine.
The individual in question had limited travel in Rhode Island since returning from Italy and had not gone to their place of work since returning. The person's immediate family members have begun self-quarantining.
The CDC is managing the efforts to trace people on this person's return flight to the United States.
WASHINGTON (AP) Sunday, March 1, 2020 -- Seeking to reassure the American public, President Donald Trump said there was "no reason to panic" as the new coronavirus claimed its first victim inside the U.S. The White House also announced new restrictions on international travel to prevent its spread.
Trump, speaking Saturday only moments after the death in Washington state was announced, took a more measured approach a day after he complained that the virus threat was being overblown and that his political enemies were perpetuating a "hoax."
"This is very serious stuff," he said, but still insisted the criticism of his administration's handling of the virus outbreak was a hoax.
Trump appeared at a hastily called news conference in the White House briefing room with Vice President Mike Pence and top public health officials to announce that the U.S. was banning travel to Iran and urging Americans not to travel to regions of Italy and South Korea where the virus has been prevalent.
He said 22 people in the U.S. had been stricken by the new coronavirus, of whom one had died while four were deemed "very ill." Additional cases were "likely," he added.
Trump said he was considering additional restrictions, including closing the U.S. border with Mexico in response to the virus' spread, but later added: "This is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now."
"We're thinking about all borders," he said.
Travel to Iran is already quite limited, though some families are allowed to travel there on a visa. It is one of the seven initial countries on Trump's travel ban list, which means travel from Iran also is already severely restricted.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there was "no evidence of link to travel" abroad in the case of the man who died. The patient was described as being in his late 50s and having a high health risk before contracting the virus. Redfield said the CDC mistakenly told Trump in an earlier briefing that the victim was a woman.
On Friday, health officials confirmed a third case of coronavirus in the U.S. in a person who hadn't traveled internationally or had close contact with anyone who was known to have the virus. The U.S. has about 60 confirmed cases. Trump's tally appeared to exclude cases of Americans repatriated from China or evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The Washington case was the first death in U.S. but not first American to die: A 60-year-old U.S. citizen died in Wuhan in early February.
Trump said healthy Americans should be able to recover if they contract the new virus, as he tried to reassure Americans and global markets spooked by the virus threat.
He encouraged Americans not to alter their daily routines, saying the country is "super prepared" for a wider outbreak, adding "there's no reason to panic at all."
He added he wasn't altering his own routine either. "You're talking about 22 people right now in this whole very vast country. I think we'll be in very good shape."
The president also said he would be meeting with pharmaceutical companies at the White House on Monday to discuss efforts to develop a vaccine to counter the virus.
Trump spoke a day after he had denounced criticism of his response to the threat as a "hoax" cooked up by his political enemies. Speaking at a rally in South Carolina he accused Democrats of "politicizing" the coronavirus threat and boasted about preventive steps he's ordered in an attempt to keep the virus that originated in China from spreading across the United States. Those steps include barring entry by most foreign nationals who had recently visited China.
"They tried the impeachment hoax. ... This is their new hoax," Trump said of Democratic denunciations of his administration's coronavirus response.
Trump said Saturday he was not trying to minimize the threat of the virus.
"Again, the hoax was used in respect to Democrats and what they were saying," he said.
Some Democrats have said Trump should have acted sooner to bolster the U.S. response to the virus. Democratic and Republican lawmakers also have said his request for an additional $2.5 billion to defend against the virus isn't enough. They've signaled they will provide substantially more funding.
Trump said Democrats want him to fail and argued that steps he's taken so far have kept cases to a minimum and prevented virus deaths in the U.S.
On Saturday, Democratic challenger Joe Biden hit back, saying Trump's use of the word "hoax" when discussing the virus was "absolutely dangerous." Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg told NBC he was particularly disturbed to hear the word used because "our lives depend on the wisdom and the judgment of the president at a time like this."
But Trump defended his language and emphasized he was not referring to the virus as a hoax, saying that his description referred to "the action that they take to try and pin this on somebody because we've done such a good job."
As global markets plunged this week, Trump predicted they will come back, and encouraged the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.
"The markets will all come back," he said. "I think the Fed has a very important role, especially psychological. If you look at it, the Fed has a massive impact."
PARIS (AP) -- Sunday, March 1, 2020 The spreading coronavirus epidemic shut down France's Louvre Museum on Sunday, with workers who guard its famous trove of artworks fearful of being contaminated by the museum's flow of tourists from around the world.
Almost three-quarters of the Louvre's 9.6 million visitors last year came from abroad. The world's most popular museum welcomes tens of thousands of fans daily in Paris.
"We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere," said Andre Sacristin, a Louvre employee and union representative.
"The risk is very, very, very great," he said in a phone interview. While there are no known virus infections among the museum's 2,300 workers, "it's only a question of time," he said.
A short statement from the Louvre said a staff meeting about virus prevention efforts stopped the museum from opening as scheduled Sunday morning. Would-be visitors were still waiting Sunday afternoon to get inside but the Louvre later announced it would not open at all on Sunday.
Among the frustrated visitors was Charles Lim from Singapore. He and his wife, Jeanette, chose Paris to celebrate their first wedding anniversary and bought tickets in advance for the Louvre, home to the "Mona Lisa" and other famous artworks. He posted a video on Twitter of the long lines of people waiting to get in.
"We waited for about 3 hours before giving up," he told The Associated Press. "It was incredibly disappointing."
The shutdown followed a French government decision Saturday to ban indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
Sacristin said the new measure exacerbated the fears of Louvre workers that they might be in danger of contamination. Louvre staffers were also concerned about museum workers from northern Italy who had come to the museum to collect works by Leonardo da Vinci that were loaned for a major exhibition, he said.
Italy, with over 1,100 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths, has been the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe.
Another meeting about virus prevention at the Louvre is scheduled for Monday between union representatives and the museum management.
Sacristin, who will be taking part, said museum visitors should be subjected to health checks to protect staffers and if any cases of coronavirus contamination are confirmed "then the museum should be closed."
Workers have asked for masks to be distributed but so far have been given only an alcohol-based solution to disinfect their hands, he said.
"That didn't please us at all," he said.
MILAN (AP) -- Sunday, March 1, 2020 The number of people infected in Italy with the new coronavirus rose 40% to 1,576 in just 24 hours, Italian authorities announced Sunday, adding that five more infected people had died. The news came as a new U.S. government advisory urged Americans not to travel to the two Italian regions hardest hit by the virus.
That brings the number of deaths in Italy to 34 since cases of the virus exploded in the country on Feb. 21.
Italian health authorities say the increase is expected, since it takes as long as two weeks for containment measures to take effect, and because Italy has a large number of elderly people.
The U.S. travel advisory cited quarantines set up in 10 towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto, with a combined population of 50,000 people, as well as the `'the level of community transmission of the virus." It followed an earlier warning late Friday for Americans to avoid non-essential travel to all of Italy.
Tourism officials call the U.S. warning covering all of Italy potentially calamitous to the industry, which represents 13% of gross domestic product in a country famed for its world-class museums, archaeological sites, art cities and natural beauty.
More than 5.6 million Americans visit Italy every year, representing 9% of foreign tourists and the second-largest national group behind Germans, according to the most recent statistics.
Lombardy, which includes Italy's financial capital of Milan, accounts for just over half of the cases while Veneto and Emilia-Romagna have 18% and 20%, respectively. All three regions have closed schools for the time being. In Veneto and Lombardy, closures also have hit museums, theaters, cinemas and most public offices, emptying cities like Milan, where many companies have permitted office workers to telecommute.
Earlier Sunday, the French community church in Rome, St. Louis of the French, closed its doors to the public after a priest was infected with the new virus.
The church in the historic center of Rome is famous for three paintings by the Baroque master Caravaggio, making it a destination for tourists and the faithful alike. A sign on the door Sunday noted in French that the church had been closed as a precaution by the French Embassy for both Masses and tourist visits until further notice.
The Religious Information Service news agency reported that the church was closed after a 43-year-old priest who had returned to Paris was hospitalized after being infected by the coronavirus. The service carried a statement by the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, who said the priest, who had been living in Rome, returned to Paris by car in mid-February, and tested positive for the virus on Friday. He was in good condition, Aupetit said.
It was the first church in Rome closed by the virus. Churches in much of Veneto and Lombardy have closed their doors under widespread measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus. Televised Masses have been available for the faithful.