9 things to know: How the coronavirus is impacting everything from airline flights to Starbucks cups
The coronavirus outbreak is impacting everything from airline flights to Starbucks coffee cups. Here’s a look at what’s happening on Tuesday:
1. United, JetBlue cutting US flights because of coronavirus
United Airlines and JetBlue Airways became the first airlines to cut their US flight schedules on Wednesday, as passenger worry about the coronavirus has caused a sharp drop in demand.
While airlines around the world have been making steep cuts in international flights, these are the first set of cuts made to a US flight schedule.
United will ax flights in the United States and Canada by 10% and overseas flights by a total 20% in April from its original international schedule. That includes overseas flights that were canceled several weeks ago. United is looking at similar domestic and international cuts in May.
The moves were disclosed in an email Wednesday to employees made available to CNN. It also disclosed a hiring freeze, a program of voluntary unpaid leaves of absences or a reduced schedule for US employees and a delay of scheduled pay raises for management employees.
The airline plans to cut the schedule “in a way that minimizes the impact on our employees and our operation,” according to the email, including reducing frequency of flights per week between two cities or cutting routes with alternative travel options via indirect flights.
2. Trump administration confronting decisions to limit teleworking for federal employees
As the government recommends to businesses that some employees should consider working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak,the Trump administration is confronting decisions it made to force federal workers to work at the office.
This week, the Social Security Administration, which frequently deals with elderly Americans in its offices around the country, reduced the options for employees to work from home at a time when they may be most vital.
Days after the first confirmed coronavirus death in the US, the second phase of cuts to the telework program at the Social Security Administration went into effect.
The cuts have reduced, or in some cases eliminated, employees' abilities to work from home despite teleworking being a key request of their labor unions and a recommendation from other government officials to protect the federal workforce from the outbreak.
Teleworking could be especially beneficial for federal employees like those at SSA, some of whom interact frequently with the elderly. White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said on Wednesday that the elderly are among the most vulnerable.
3. Starbucks forced to halt the use of personal cups at its stores because of coronavirus
Environmentally conscious coffee lovers who bring their own mugs to buy fresh java at Starbucks won’t be able to do so for a while.
Starbucks on Wednesday announced it is temporarily suspending the use of personal cups and tumblers at its stores to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
EVP Rossann Williams said the company will continue to honor its 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup or tumbler for coffee, even though customers can't use them.
"We are optimistic this will be a temporary situation," Williams said in an open letter posted on the company's website.
Starbucks said it is also increasing the number of cleanings at all its company-operated stores and suspending business-related air travel, both domestic and international, for the rest of March according to Williams.
Large meetings at the company’s offices in the United States and Canada are being postponed or modified, the company said.
4. Cruise ship being held off at sea so authorities can test for coronavirus
As officials around the country urged local communities to think about ways to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, California authorities said Wednesday that a person who died from Covid-19 had recently been on a cruise.
The patient, whose name wasn't released, had underlying health conditions, and probably was exposed to the virus on a cruise from February 11 to 21 between San Francisco and Mexico, Placer County health officials said.
In a statement, Princess Cruises said it had been notified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that there was a "small cluster" of cases from that cruise. The man who died was 71, Princess said.
"All of us at Princess Cruises offer our sincerest and heartfelt condolences to the family and all who are impacted by this loss," the company said.
5. This nursing home has become the US epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak
Relatives of residents at the Life Care Center are living with mounting “anger and fear and frustration” after the novel coronavirus was blamed for five deaths at the Washington state nursing home, a family member told CNN.
Pat Herrick's mother has lived at the facility in the Seattle suburbs for seven years. The center is now the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Six deaths have been tied to the Kirkland facility, King County officials said, and friends and family of its 108 patients have been barred from visiting.
More than 50 residents and staff will be tested after experiencing symptoms, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County, has said. Wednesday, he told reporters that at some point all residents will be tested.
Across the country, at least 154 cases of novel coronavirus have been reported as of Wednesday.
And at least 10 deaths have been reported in Washington state alone.
6. Multiple US military branches screening recruits for coronavirus amid mounting concern
Multiple US military branches are screening new recruits for the novel coronavirus as part of a sweeping effort to prevent the virus from spreading among the armed forces.
While recruits are always screened for health issues, the coronavirus is now a particular concern for the US Navy, Air Force and Army who have implemented new screening procedures as the virus spreads.
The move underscores comments made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley earlier this week that the military is planning for all scenarios as it faces the coronavirus. The virus has killed people worldwide and there are now more than 92,000 global cases, with infections in more than 70 countries and territories.
The Navy told CNN in a statement Wednesday that it began screening for the coronavirus in the initial processing of recruits in January. All incoming recruits are screened using medical and exposure risk criteria and any individuals identified as having potential risk would be further treated -- though none have met that criteria yet.
The screenings involve evaluation for related symptoms such as a fever or lower respiratory illness and questions about overseas travel history and whether they’ve had close contact with anyone with the virus.
7. Coronavirus-infected Atlanta teen attended school before showing symptoms
WOODSTOCK, GA (WGCL) -- A 15-year-old Fulton County teen who was diagnosed with coronavirus attended a class at a private school co-op before he showed symptoms of the illness, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Living Science Homeschool Study Center was not required to close its campus, but out of an abundance of caution, has voluntarily closed its campus until March 12. The school issued this statement in part:
On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp confirmed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention positively identified Georgia’s first two cases of coronavirus.
Fulton County public health officials confirmed a 56-year-old male, who is the father of the 15-year-old patient, traveled from Milan, Italy on Feb. 22. They say he was asymptomatic at the time, but developed symptoms on Feb. 25. He immediately contacted his physician who notified the CDC. Both he and his 15-year-old son later tested positive for the virus.
In addition, the man has a spouse and a second child, 12, at home who officials said have been exposed, but are asymptomatic at this time. They are being tested for the virus.
The GDPH has contacted the families whose children attended class with the 15-year-old patient. Those families have been asked to self-quarantine voluntarily for the two-week incubation period of the virus and wait until Mar. 12 to return to class.
8. House passes $8.3 billion total coronavirus response package
The House voted on Wednesday to pass a sweeping spending package to dedicate billions of dollars to dealing with the coronavirusoutbreak as lawmakers scramble to combat the spread of the disease.
The measure will next need to be taken up by the Senate. The White House is expected to back the deal.
The agreement provides $7.8 billion in appropriations to address the outbreak of coronavirus as well as an additional $500 million to fund a telehealth program in an effort to help expand access to health services for seniors.
The legislation was formally unveiled on Wednesday afternoon with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer promising a vote later in the day.
Lawmakers have been meeting for days to hammer out a package to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The total funding package of $8.3 billion is an amount far higher than the $2.5 billion White House request. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed $8.5 billion to deal with the outbreak last week.
9. 1,000 New Yorkers are being asked to self-quarantine after officials report a new cluster of coronavirus
The biggest city in the US is now a search zone for anyone who had close contact with five people recently diagnosed with novel coronavirus.
A total of six people across metro New York are infected with coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
They include the city's first case of community spread -- meaning the source of infection is unknown.
That patient, an attorney in his 50s, is hospitalized at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
The man has an underlying respiratory condition that made him more vulnerable to the virus, said Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health.
The attorney has connections across metro New York City. He works at the Lewis and Garbuz law firm in Manhattan, and his family lives in suburban Westchester County.
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