A cruise ship hit by the new coronavirus and headed to the port of Oakland, California, will remain in international waters for at least another day as officials worked on plans to transport passengers to federal facilities around the country and local officials began ordering the closure of schools and public spaces to try and stop the spread of the virus.
The largest school district in Northern California has canceled classes for a week after it was discovered that a family in the district had been exposed to COVID-19. The Elk Grove School District, which is near Sacramento, has nearly 64,000 students.
Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Sunday that more closures are likely around the state as the virus spreads.
The Grand Princess ship, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries, is expected to arrive Monday.
Grand Princess Capt. John Smith, in a recording provided by passenger Laurie Miller of San Jose, told passengers Saturday night that "after docking, we will then begin a disembarkation process specified by federal authorities that will take several days."
Ship passengers who need medical treatment or hospitalization will go to health care facilities in California, while state residents who don't require acute medical care "will go to a federally run isolation facility within California for testing and isolation," the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services said in a statement Sunday.
"The crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, but importantly, the ship will only stay in Port of Oakland for the duration of disembarkment. This ship will depart Oakland as soon as possible and will remain elsewhere for the duration of the crew's quarantine," the statement said.
U.S. guests from outside California will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states.
Smith said the information he was given did not include what would happen to passengers from other countries. California officials did not provide those details.
Some Americans will be transferred to military bases in San Antonio, Texas, and Marietta, Georgia, officials said. It was not clear when the groups would arrive.
Vice President Mike Pence announced Friday that at least 21 people aboard the ship, including 19 crew members, have tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll from the virus is at 19, with all but three victims in Washington state. The number of infections swelled to more than 400, scattered across the U.S.
The Grand Princess had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases that resulted in at least one death after a previous voyage.
Steven Smith and his wife, Michele, of Paradise, California, went on the cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The Smiths said they were a bit worried but felt safe in their room, which they had left just once since Thursday to video chat with their children.
Crew members wearing masks and gloves delivered trays with their food in covered plates, delivered outside their door. They've occupied themselves by watching TV, reading and looking out the window.
"Thank God, we have a window!" Steven Smith said.
The ship was heading from Hawaii to San Francisco when it was held off the California coast Wednesday so people with symptoms could be tested for the virus.
Grant Tarling, chief medical officer for Carnival Corporation, said it's believed a 71-year-old Northern California man who later died of the virus was probably sick when he boarded the ship for a Feb. 11 cruise to Mexico.
The passenger visited the medical center the day before disembarking with symptoms of respiratory illness, he said. Others in several states and Canada who were on that voyage also have tested positive.
The passenger likely infected his dining room server, who also tested positive for the virus, Tarling said, as did two people traveling with the man. Two passengers now on the ship who have the virus were not on the previous cruise, he said.
A cruise ship was being held off the coast of Florida on Sunday awaiting test results on whether two crew members have contracted the new coronavirus.
The Regal Princess was supposed to dock in Port Everglades on Sunday morning but was instead sailing up and down the coast, the Miami Herald reports. The crew members in question had transferred from the Grand Princess cruise ship. The Coast Guard delivered testing kits to the Regal Princess on Sunday morning and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a "no-sail order" for the ship.
Another Princess ship, the Diamond Princess, was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, last month because of the virus. Ultimately, about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected in what experts pronounced a public-health failure, with the vessel essentially becoming a floating germ factory.
Hundreds of Americans aboard that ship were flown to military bases in California and other states for two-week quarantines. Some later were hospitalized with symptoms.
An epidemiologist who studies the spread of virus particles said the recirculated air from a cruise ship's ventilation system, plus the close quarters and communal settings, make passengers and crew vulnerable to infectious diseases.
"They're not designed as quarantine facilities, to put it mildly," said Don Milton of the University of Maryland.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 100,000 people and killed more than 3,400, the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.
Two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus have died in Florida, marking the first deaths on the East Coast attributed to the outbreak in the U.S., health officials said Friday.
Helen Aguirre Ferre, a spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, confirmed the deaths on Twitter, writing the individuals were in their 70s and had traveled overseas. She promised in her tweet that updates would be provided regularly as they become available, and did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Saturday.
The announcement raises the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus strain to 16, including 13 in the state of Washington and one in California.
One of the Florida deaths was that of a man with underlying health issues in Santa Rosa County in Florida's Panhandle, according to the statement. The health department added that the second death was that of an elderly person in Lee County, in the Fort Myers area.
The statement did not give immediate indications of where the two had traveled or whether officials were seeking to determine who they came in contact with.
One of the new cases was only confirmed after the person had died, according to the statement. A 65-year-old man and a 75-year-old man also tested positive Friday, both in Broward County, home to Fort Lauderdale. The state's health department said both men have been isolated until public health officials clear them.
On Saturday, the Florida Department of Health tweeted another case was confirmed in Lee County, adding the individual was isolated and being appropriately cared for, but did not release the patient's age, gender or whether they may have recently traveled.
DeSantis also directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Saturday to activate at the next level to provide additional support and critical resources to the state and county health departments.
Officials had previously announced that five Florida residents who had been traveling in China have also been quarantined elsewhere after testing positive for the virus.
Officials said the risk to those in the state remains low as most cases have concentrated in Washington state and California, where a cruise ship is being held off the coast after a passenger on a previous trip died and others became infected.
But at least in Miami, city officials canceled two large music festivals over fears that crowded events could spread the new virus more widely. It is not clear whether state officials will implement any other drastic measures ahead of Florida's busy Spring Break season later this month.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asked state lawmakers Friday for $25 million for health officials to use immediately in the state's response to coronavirus.
DeSantis said he expects Florida to receive at least $27 million from the federal government, along with an extra $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to immediately cover costs like lab equipment and staffing.
The Trump campaign filed a libel lawsuit against CNN on Friday for a column about the president and election help from Russia, the third such action against a news organization taken in the past two weeks.
The campaign said a piece by Larry Noble posted last June on the CNN website falsely says that the campaign considered seeking Russia's help in the 2020 campaign and "decided to leave that option on the table." It made the complaint in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, where CNN is based.
The lawsuit said the article doesn't back up Noble's statement with evidence, and that CNN and Noble had both shown a pattern of bias against Trump.
The network had no comment on the lawsuit, a spokeswoman said.
Earlier this week, the campaign sued The Washington Post for similar opinion pieces that discussed the Trump campaign welcoming Russian help in 2016. A week earlier, The New York Times was the target, for a Max Frankel op-ed suggesting Trump and Russia had an understanding to exchange campaign help for more favorable policies toward the country.
"The Trump campaign is trying to send a message, both to the press and the public, that you criticize the president at your peril," said Brian Hauss, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberty Union's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
After the lawsuit against the Times, First Amendment lawyer Theodore Boutrous wrote in the Post that the action had little chance of success in the court.
"Trump's lawsuit may be frivolous," Boutrous wrote. "His intentions are serious and dangerous to us all."
The Time, Post and CNN have all been frequent targets of Trump's Twitter attacks against the press. During Trump's presidency through this week, he's tweeted about CNN 191 times, with 106 of those tweets containing the word "fake."
Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said the publications had recklessly published false statements and intentionally misled their readers.
"False statements are not protected under the U.S. Constitution," Ellis said. "Therefore, these suits will have no chilling effect on freedom of the press. If journalists are more accurate in their statements and their reporting, that would be a positive development, but not why these suits were filed."
The lawsuits make no differentiation between news reporting and editorial pieces. Noble is a CNN contributor and a former general counsel of the Federal Elections Commission.
His article was published under the "CNN Opinion" banner and includes a note that Noble's opinions "are solely those of the author."
The lawsuit claims the article caused damage to the campaign in the "millions of dollars."
Joe Biden's presidential campaign is plowing $12 million into a six-state ad buy ahead of the March 10 and March 17 primaries, his largest single advertising effort of the 2020 campaign and a demonstration of his resurgent campaign's new financial footing.
The former vice president is using two television and digital ads, one a spot touting his relationship with President Barack Obama, the other a new counter to rival Bernie Sanders' current ad campaign hammering Biden on his Social Security record.
The purchase, Biden's first since his commanding South Carolina primary victory and Super Tuesday surge generated an influx of donor support, underscores that both Biden and Sanders now have the wherewithal to fight it out on the airwaves as long as the nominating fight continues.
A new Biden ad, "Always," defends against Sanders' characterization that Biden is a threat to Social Security benefits, a contention the Vermont senator has made for months but ratcheted up since Biden climbed past him in the national delegate count after winning 10 out of 14 Super Tuesday states.
"Joe Biden has always been a strong supporter of Social Security. Biden will increase Social Security benefits and protect it for generations to come," a narrator intones, before turning the matter back on Sanders. "Negative ads will only help Donald Trump. It's time we bring our party together."
A Sanders ad airing in upcoming primary states features Senate audio from a 1990s debate on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Biden, then a Delaware senator, talks of his work on long-term budget deals that could have curbed some entitlement spending.
The second Biden ad, "Service," features video of Obama awarding Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom shortly before the pair ended their second terms in national office. "Joe's candid, honest counsel made me a better president and a better commander in chief," Obama says in the video, touting Biden's various roles in his administration. "All of this makes him the finest vice president we have ever seen. The best part is he's nowhere close to finished."
Obama has been a shadow throughout the 2020 contest, with Biden invoking their relationship regularly as he campaigns. Other candidates alternated between criticizing part of the Obama record, such as when Julian Castro hammered Biden in an early debate over Obama-era deportations, and embracing Obama, as billionaire Mike Bloomberg did in his ubiquitous television advertising campaign. Biden expressed frustration at both tacks, defending Obama's record and noting that his old boss was staying out of the primary and not endorsing anyone.
While that may be the case, Obama has crept back in recently. The former president called Biden to congratulate him on his South Carolina victory Feb. 29, a source with knowledge of the conversation confirmed. With neither Obama or Biden disputing that account, some observers read it as the former president tacit nod toward his vice president as the field winnowed. Sources also confirm that Obama has seen the ad using clips from Biden's White House medal ceremony.
Separately, Biden has in recent weeks reminded voters that Sanders, a democratic socialist well to Obama's left, once floated the idea of a primary campaign against the president in his 2012 re-election year.
Still, Social Security may promise to be the bigger fight between Biden and Sanders in the coming weeks. Some Sanders aides have for months surfaced various comments and votes from Biden over the years on entitlement spending, without acknowledging that Sanders himself in the 1990s expressed openness to Social Security "adjustments," a word that some Sanders allies argued Biden and others used as a euphemism for cuts. Then a representative from Vermont, Sanders also praised an overhaul of the popular safety net program that reduced benefits and increased some taxes under President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.
As presidential candidates in 2020, Sanders and Biden each have proposed protecting and expanding Social Security, so it's not clear whether either candidate will be able to capitalize on the matter. The Biden campaign on social media this week has pushed back at Sanders by noting that Trump and his fellow Republicans are the more realistic threats to Social Security.
Biden told donors via telephone on Friday that he wanted to avoid "a negative bloodbath" with Sanders.
The new advertising effort includes $8 million on television, with the $4 million spread across radio and digital platforms. The ads will appear across Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi ahead of the March 10 primaries, and in Florida, Illinois and Ohio ahead of the March 17 primaries.
Currently, Biden has 664 delegates to Sanders' 573, according to Associated Press calculations, with some delegates remaining to be allocated from Super Tuesday. More than 900 delegates are at stake the next two weeks; 1,991 are needed for the nomination.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who campaigned as a progressive Democrat, said Thursday that she is dropping out of 2020 U.S. presidential race.
"I want you to hear it straight from me: Today, I'm suspending our campaign for president," Warren said in a call to her campaign staff on Thursday morning.
Speaking to reporters outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts later, Warren said she will "stay in the fight," despite her exit from the nomination battle.
The announcement came two days after Democratic primary's "Super Tuesday," in which Warren won no states and lost her home-state Massachusetts to former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
A moderate political veteran, Biden won 10 of 14 states voting on Tuesday. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a progressive, finished second by wining the other four.
Biden and Sanders are the last two viable Democratic candidates standing this election cycle. U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is still in the race but has trailed well behind them.
Warren's ideological stance aligns more closely with Sanders, but she said she will not be making an endorsement right away. "I need some space around this and want to take a little time to think a little more."
Warren, 70, announced her White House bid in February 2019 and had been considered a top-tier candidate ever since.
The former Harvard University law professor and a second-term senator had campaigned on progressive proposals like free college, canceling student loans, and a Medicare-for-All health care system, and surged to the top of the polls in late 2019.
Sanders tweeted Thursday that Warren "has run an extraordinary campaign of ideas."
"Without her, the progressive movement would not be nearly as strong as it is today," Sanders wrote.
Biden, in his tweet, said they needed Warren's voice in the race and that they "need her continued work in the Senate."
Sitting President Donald Trump, a Republican, also reacted to Warren's departure, claiming she was dropping out "THREE DAYS TOO LATE."
"She cost Crazy Bernie, at least Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas. Probably cost him the nomination!" Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the Super Tuesday primary.
The next Democratic primaries will take place on March 10 for voters of six states to cast ballots for their preferred presidential candidate this year.
The 2020 U.S. presidential election will be held on Nov. 3.