coronavirus
March 29, 2020

Singer-songwriter John Prine was hospitalized Thursday after "a sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms," and "he was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical," Prine's family announced Sunday night. Since his 1971 debut album, Prine's songs have earned him a devoted following, been widely covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Bette Midler, and won him four Grammys.

Prine, 73, has survived two bouts of cancer, in the late '90s and in 2013, and his wife, Fiona, announced March 20 that she had tested positive for the new coronavirus. "There's a chance he may not have this virus," she said on Instagram, "and we are working really, really hard and being really diligent about all of the protocols. We are quarantined and isolated from each other and members of the family. It's hard, I won't lie, but it's absolutely important."

"This is hard news for us to share," Prine's family wrote Sunday. "But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send out more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you." Peter Weber

March 22, 2020

Former Hollywood producer and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, The Niagara Gazette reports.

Weinstein is imprisoned at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York. On March 18, Weinstein was transferred there from New York City's Rikers Island jail, where there are reportedly 40 inmates who have contracted coronavirus. A law enforcement official told Deadline Weinstein is now in medical isolation.

Earlier this month, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison after being found guilty in New York of rape and sexual assault. He still faces sexual assault charges in California. Catherine Garcia

March 19, 2020

The new coronavirus has officially turned more deadly in Italy than in any other country in the world.

Italy reported that its COVID-19 death toll reached 3,405 on Thursday, pushing it past China's total of 3,245 deaths as of its last update. That's an increase of 427 new deaths since Italy's Wednesday update, showing the disease is still going strong there as it dwindles in China.

COVID-19 has hit Italy, and namely its northern region, especially hard since it spread beyond China. It saw a record increase of 475 deaths from Tuesday to Wednesday, and came close to matching that in the 24 hours since. A Wednesday Reuters report indicated even more people may have died from COVID-19, but because they died at home or in nursing homes and weren't tested, their deaths weren't attributed to the virus.

Meanwhile, China shared positive news about its outbreak on Thursday: After weeks of extreme isolation efforts, it saw no new local infections for the first time since the outbreak began. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 18, 2020

On Thursday, China announced that there were no local COVID-19 coronavirus infections reported in the country on Wednesday, for the first time since the outbreak started late last year.

There were 34 infections diagnosed, but all involved people who came to China from other countries, China's National Health Commission said. Of those infections, 21 cases were in Beijing.

After originally mismanaging the outbreak — residents complained of food shortages and a lack of hospital beds and test kits — and even punishing doctors who tried to spread the word, China enforced quarantines, shut down factories, and kept people out of cities they didn't live in. There are 80,928 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in mainland China, with the death toll at 3,245. Catherine Garcia

March 5, 2020

Mounting concern over the new coronavirus outbreak has caused school closures and movie premiere pushbacks, and now the crisis' effect on the aviation industry is drawing comparisons to 9/11.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told CNBC on Thursday that the company has lost several hundred million dollars in a week's time thanks to a decline in bookings amid increasing fears over COVID-19. Kelly added that the drop-off was "noticeable" and "precipitous" and has continued declining on a daily basis.

When prompted by CNBC's Phil LeBeau over whether the drop was reminiscent of former dips in demand spurred by the 2003 SARS outbreak or the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Kelly said the new coronavirus outbreak was more like the latter.

"It has a 9/11-like feel," Kelly said.

He explained that post-9/11 travel fallout was motivated by "fear" rather than being economically driven, saying fear is "really what's manifested this time" with the new coronavirus outbreak.

Kelly told LeBeau he thought the dip in bookings was an "overreaction" but that Southwest is financially prepared to handle the fallout.

The outbreak's effect has been felt heavily in the U.S. stock market, which has rotated between sinking and soaring over the last week, and it has caused at least 11 U.S. deaths and four states to declare emergencies. Marianne Dodson

February 25, 2020

The coronavirus crisis continues, with more than 2,500 fatalities worldwide. But as NPR reports, the number of reported cases in children is surprisingly low. "We're seeing [about] 75,000 total cases at this point, but the literature is only reporting about 100 or so pediatric cases," Terri Lynn Stillwell, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, tells Morning Edition. One small study of infected infants in Wuhan, China, found that the virus presented as a "very mild illness," causing a fever and cough but no severe complications in the children. It's much more dangerous — and deadly — for elderly patients.

Researchers aren't sure why young children seem more resilient to the virus, but Sallie Permar, a professor of pediatrics and immunology at Duke University School of Medicine, told NPR it could come down to antibodies passed along from mothers. Jessica Hullinger

February 16, 2020

Chinese state media published an internal speech delivered by President Xi Jinping on Saturday in which he describes taking action on the coronavirus outbreak as early as Jan. 7.

In the speech, which was given Feb. 3, Xi said he had "issued demands about the efforts to prevent and control" the virus during a meeting of the Communist Party's highest council, the Politburo Standing Committee, last month, and that he personally authorized the lockdown of the epicenter, Wuhan, beginning on Jan. 23. "I have at every moment monitored the spread of the epidemic and progress in efforts to curtail it," he said.

Publishing the speech is viewed as an attempt to show Xi has been involved from the start since he's been criticized for remaining in the shadows. "The overall tone of the speech of appears to be defensive," Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, told The New York Times. "He wants to change the narrative, which until this point has been very unfavorable to the top leadership."

But some analysts think it could backfire and lead to even more criticism about how the government kept the public in the dark for too long. "It seems like he's trying to indicate that 'we weren't asleep at the wheel,'" Jude Blanchette, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Times. "But it comes off like 'we knew this was a problem, but we weren't sounding the alarm.'" Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

February 9, 2020

China announced Sunday that the death toll resulting from the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan has risen to 811, which is higher than the number of fatalities from the SARS epidemic between 2002 and 2003.

The number of confirmed infections rose to 37,198. The amount of new cases has stabilized in recent days, but the World Health Orgainzation continues to urge caution, and many doctors reportedly believe the number of deaths and infections have been undercounted because of the strain China's testing facilities are under. "It's very, very early to make predictions," said Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO's health emergencies program.

WHO's Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the measures being put in place in China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, look like they're "paying off," but he also wasn't ready to make any sweeping statements. "We have to understand it with caution because it can show stability for a few days and then they can shoot up," he said. "I've said it many times: It's slow now, but it may accelerate."

The vast majority of deaths have occurred in mainland China. There has been one death in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong. Read more at The New York Times and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads