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(CNN)Never before have so many people in the world lived in such tiny bubbles. With billions across the globe now under coronavirus-related restrictions, it has been weeks or even months for some since we socialized with anyone outside our homes.

But these small bubbles could soon get a little bigger. Governments around the world are beginning to gradually lift their lockdowns, and as they do, they are mulling just how much and how widely they should advise people they can socialize.
The Belgian government has reportedly been considering allowing people to form “social bubbles” of 10 people, according to Belgium’s Le Soir citing a leaked memo. The memo proposed that a bubble of people could spend time together on weekends, as long as all 10 people agreed to socialize exclusively with each other. Overlapping bubbles would not be allowed. The Belgian government did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
    Forming our own bubbles would no doubt be socially awkward — not unlike leaving that friend or relative off your wedding guest list — and it would also be difficult to enforce. Some experts see the idea as too risky and too premature, given the lack of adequate testing capacity in many countries around the world.
    But some sociologists see it as a logical way to emerge from isolation. If you limit the people you spend time with, you naturally limit the chances of spreading the coronavirus widely.
    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last week that her government was looking at the social bubble as an option.
    “Every country is going through these decisions, none of us are through this pandemic yet, but some countries are starting to look at slightly expanding what people would define as their household — encouraging people who live alone to maybe match up with somebody else who is on their own or a couple of other people to have almost kind of bubbles of people,” she told BBC Radio Scotland.
    Keeping the current social distancing measures would be more effective in containing the virus, but some experts argue that such restrictive measure have time limits, as people will inevitably become fatigued by them, as well as the economic impacts they bring.

    So, how could you form a bubble?

    In a new study led by Oxford University sociologists say that changing the way our social networks are structured — rather than simply reducing the amount we socialize — could be effective in flattening the curve. (Flattening the curve is a term used to describe slowing the virus’ spread so heath systems can cope with the number of people needing treatment.)
    One of the study’s authors, Per Block, said that forcing people to stay at home for such long periods of time wasn’t sustainable and brought about problems of its own, including mental health issues.
    “There must be a middle ground between all of us staying at home and all of us meeting the people we want in the ways we want to,” he told CNN.
    “Our main aim here is to give people guidance on how they can structure their social surroundings so that hopefully in a year’s time we are there, and not that people at some point just give up completely on social distancing, and that we are back in a second wave by the end of the year and have to start this whole staying at home business all over again.”
    At the heart of the study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, is the idea that societies should make the paths along which the virus might travel longer than they currently are. One way to think of it is by considering the well-known concept that there are six degrees of separation between everyone in the world (yes, including Kevin Bacon). As people start socializing again, they should increase those degrees of separation, the study proposes.
    Creating a bubble with a small number of people to interact with, rather than allowing unfettered socializing, is one way of doing that.
    The study proposes a “birds of a feather” strategy, in which people of a particular group or demography socialize exclusively. Block says it isn’t practical to expect segregation by age or gender, but starting by geography could help. People could begin by creating bubbles, or clusters, with others in their neighborhoods. The strategy relies on people already interacting with others from the same area, or on people forming new networks with neighbors.
    In the longer term, other parts of society could be structured to protect these bubbles, the study proposes. Workplaces and schools, for example, may be able to keep workers or students who live in one particular area in the same room, and separate them from people who live in other areas, essentially getting rid of this “shortcut” for the virus to spread between clusters.
    In creating a bubble, something to consider is how much contact people in it might have with each other, in what’s known as “triadic closure.” This refers to the idea that contact partners of an individual are often connected themselves, which is what you often see with families.
    So if you include your parents, and your sibling and their partner in your group of 10, for example, that’s a good thing, because they likely already have contact with each other. This lowers the risk level for infection in the community as a whole, the study finds.
    Another factor is the care vulnerable people receive. It’s best if just one person provides all the care for that person, whether it’s a professional or relative. So it’s better if someone receiving healthcare is seen by the same doctor or nurse each time they visit a practice or get seen at home, as this can also reduce infection risk.
    But the idea of social bubbles is not without risk, some experts say, and a major problem with it is that it depends largely on trust.
    “I think this is a situation where you have to look at your individual situation and weigh how well you know the person you are potentially forming that ‘bubble’ with. How sure are you that the person isn’t interacting or socializing with someone that you do not know or that could be at risk for having Covid-19? Because that is the real risk and you could be putting yourself or your loved ones at risk for getting the disease,” said Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician and biosecurity fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
    “I think we need to look at the data and let science guide us before we start making recommendations about socialization. Most importantly, we need to have adequate testing in place and make sure that people who need testing are getting it. When that happens, we need to make sure the numbers of cases are actually going down.
    “Finally, we need to have the ability to contact trace, test, and quarantine people who may be contacts of positive cases because that will be the only way to prevent large outbreaks from taking off again. When we have those things in place we can start talking about letting people socializing in a modest way.”
    William Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, also warned that social bubbles could still be significant sources of infection.
    “I think that approaches like this to refine distancing are an important part of how we move past the initial surge and get into the space beyond it that will define the rest of the pandemic. I also think that there are multiple reasons to be cautious, from the obvious fact that some people will be more at risk, for example, the elderly, and should not participate, to the fact that some people may be more at risk of already being infected themselves, people working in health care for instance,” he told CNN.

    Could children play in bubbles?

    Social bubbles is something that New Zealand is already trying. The country, which announced it had eliminated the virus, moved Tuesday into a less restrictive phase in its response, with 400,000 more New Zealanders heading back to work and 75% of the country’s economy operating.
    In the very comfortable position of recording just one new infection on Monday, the government there announced that people could begin expanding their bubbles, without even needing to specify by how many people.
    “People must stay within their household bubble but can expand this to reconnect with close family … or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people,” the government wrote in its guidance.
    “It’s important to protect your bubble if you extend it. Keep your bubble exclusive and only include people where it will keep you and them safe and well. If anyone within your bubble feels unwell, they should self-isolate from everyone else within your bubble.”
    This approach could also be valuable for young children, according to Stefan Flasche from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In an article, he argues that while we all need to reduce our contacts, small and exclusive playgroups would help children’s social development.
    “The agreement of exclusivity in this is central to success, as it limits the risk for transmission chains. As a result, such social contact clustering for children would allow them to mingle with their friends while only adding a rather marginal risk for coronavirus infection from, or transmission to, those outside of the play group and their respective households,” he wrote.
    He added that it would be sensible to use the same approach for people without children, particularly single people who may be feeling lonely or people who want to visit family, as long as their bubbles remain exclusive.
    But many countries are still quite far away from making these changes and, as Dr. Kuppalli pointed out, haven’t tested at the level to have a good grasp of how prevalent the virus is.
    Many experts argue that the reproduction rate — how many people one person is infecting, on average — needs to be below 1.0 before any lockdown restrictions are eased, as was the case in Germany.
    A recent model by Imperial College London showed the reproduction rate in the UK and US to be an estimated 2.4.
    In the UK, which has now reported more than 21,000 deaths in hospitals the government has said it will announce its plan to ease out of lockdown on May 7. It would not confirm to CNN whether the idea of social bubbles was being discussed as an option.
    Most European nations and US states that have eased lockdowns have retained social distancing rules, which oblige people to only socialize with others in their homes and keep distances of between one and two meters from other people in public spaces.
      It doesn’t look like football matches, concerts in stadiums and visiting friends in other countries are on the cards just yet. But Block is hopeful that we can in the future at least start visit friends’ and relatives’ homes, Block said.
      “I guess this will take quite a long time, but the better we all are at adhering to this, at reorganizing our social lives in such a way that it’s doable in the long run, the better the chances are that in a year’s time, maybe we can go to a music concert together.”

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      (CNN)No siblings. No pals on the block. No reason to leave her home. Yet one month into sheltering in place with her parents in Los Angeles, 14-year-old only child Sofia Nagel isn’t bumming too hard about being all alone.

      The ninth grader has been teaching her mother how to play Minecraft. She has been learning how to skateboard. Just last week, she and one of her best buddies leveraged gamer app Discord and YouTube to launch a video blog series titled “Coronavirus Diaries” about their experiences during quarantine.
      The video, about 90 seconds long, is endearing in its honesty: Nagel and her friend make it clear they’re doing it to build community and bridge the interpersonal gaps created by social distancing.
        “We first wanted to create a gaming channel [but] then we decided that there are already so many of those,” she told CNN the day after the video launched. “We hope that people will find happiness from it, and [that it will] distract them from the sad news coming in. It’s a good substitute since we aren’t allowed to get together.”
        Nagel’s effort is a breath of fresh air in this time of widespread isolation.

        Going it alone

        It’s also proof that across the country, in just about every age bracket, only children are learning that sheltering in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, is different when they must do it without the company of siblings or peers at home.
        With no other kids around, the experience can be quiet and boring, and it can necessitate a certain degree of independence. Other potential pitfalls include feeling isolated, or depression.
        Then, of course, there is the yin and yang of a solo kid needing their parents but also wanting space from them.
        “Only children are used to being by themselves, but this is totally different,” said Adrienne Heinz, clinical and research psychologist at the Veterans Affairs National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. “We’re social creatures, and kids enjoy attention.
        “Without being able to see friends, with mom and dad working from home — whether you’re talking about only children or kids with siblings, it’s all just a lot for them to process.”
        Parents can help their kids work through their feelings, “and help validate these difficult emotions that might include disappointment, jealousy, grief or anger,” Heinz added. “This can be through conversation, art, writing, music or any medium that resonates most closely with the family.”

        Only children among us

        It’s not an exaggeration to say that single-child families are trending here in the United States. The proportion of mothers who had one child at the end of their childbearing years doubled to 22% in 2015 from 11% in 1976, according to data from Pew Research Center in Washington, DC.
        Statistics from the US Census support this trajectory, indicating that only-child families are the fastest-growing family unit in the country.
        How these only children internalize social distancing depends entirely on how they cope with hardship and unexpected drama in general, said Susan Newman, a social psychologist and author who has researched and written multiple books about only children.
        “Just like there are people who can entertain themselves and people who can’t, so too are there only children who can entertain themselves and only children who can’t,” she said. The best thing parents of only children can do during this crisis is to acknowledge a range of emotions as valid and OK, she added.
        “Boredom, loneliness and frustration are all viable reactions to the current situation,” she said, and they’re not limited to only children.
        Mom to a normally extroverted 8-year-old daughter, Allison Sands, certainly understands this phenomenon.
        The former technology executive lives in central Vermont, and Sands said her daughter has struggled at times with some of the day-to-day realities of sheltering in place. In particular, the girl has resisted online learning, claiming that while the format is efficient, it lacks the in-real-life engagement that always has been so energizing for her.
        “She says she is so sad about no longer having the face-to-face engagement,” Sands said. “For her that is a key part of school and schoolwork. She keeps telling me, ‘Nothing replaces working on a school activity with your friends.’ “
        Between skiing, being outdoors and occasionally saying (appropriately socially distanced) hellos to friends in the neighborhood, Sands said, “we’re trying our best to make it work.”

        Establishing lifelines

        Not surprisingly, technology has been a big key for other only children to stay connected with friends.
        Astrid Storey, a graphic designer in Denver, said she and her husband have taken evasive actions to allow for their extroverted 9-year-old daughter to feel like she’s still in regular contact with her BFFs. This has included activating an iCloud account for the girl so she can take FaceTime calls and signing her up for Nintendo Switch so she can play games with pals.
        Storey and her husband followed their child’s lead for these new privileges, which has had pros and cons.
        “She’s happy, but I feel like she’s grown up five years in four weeks,” Storey said. “We don’t hear her saying, ‘I want a snack’ anymore. Now, instead, we’ll ask her to come to dinner, and she’ll say, ‘I can’t come now because I’m on a call with so-and-so.’ “
        Other parents of only children shared similar reports from the field. Add in a homeschooling ritual based on distance education, and this new reality is natural and somewhat inevitable.
        Still, not all these new and beloved connections hinge on tech.
        Karen Hauck, a marketing professional who lives near Charleston, South Carolina, said her 11-year-old son and his best buddy have taken to handwriting each other letters in addition to connecting in virtual space.
        The letters are part of a Dungeons & Dragons-style game the boys have played for years. Each of them writes every letter in the voice of a character he has developed from the beginning of the game. When one of the boys finishes a letter, he rolls it up, ties it shut with a ribbon, then hand-delivers it by bike.
        “This kind of creativity is so important for kids right now,” Hauck said. “They live for it. They get lost in it. It’s a form of deep connection with each other, but it also gives them a way beyond the reality of every day.”

        Building bonds with parents

        Another byproduct of sheltering in place as a young only child: developing a deeper and more multifaceted relationship with a parent or parents.
        Many only children are infinitely more comfortable around grown-ups than their peers might be, Newman and other therapists said. During the current crisis, then, it follows that these kids are deepening these relationships and nurturing new connections and more nuanced relationships with their parents.
        That’s the case for Owen Kirkland. The 15-year-old high-school freshman from Anchorage, Alaska, has been sheltering in place with his mother for more than three weeks.
        Sure, the two have bickered, mostly over the amount of time he plays his Call of Duty video game.
        But they also have baked banana bread together, and they’ve hiked some trails in the Chugach Mountains. When reached by text interview (his choice) last week, Kirkland said he and his mother have even taken advantage of the extra time together to get him practice behind the wheel of the family car.
        “We’ve been driving a lot,” texted Kirkland, who recently got his learner’s permit. Two of their most common practice routes include the Glenn Highway to the north and the Seward Highway to the south, two of the busiest highways in south-central Alaska.
        “[There’s a lot] of backseat driving, except she’s not in the back seat,” he said.
        For Erin O’Connell, a preschool teacher outside Atlanta, the bonding with her only child has been a pleasant surprise.
        O’Connell assumed her 7-year-old daughter would miss her friends and school terribly, and that she would be fascinated by the weekly Zoom video chat with her class.
        Instead, the girl tried Zoom (and FaceTime, for that matter) and thoroughly disliked it. O’Connell in recent weeks has noticed that her daughter has been less inclined to do virtual stuff with her friends and more interested in off-line activities such as backyard camping, taking flower walks and playing with the family’s 15-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Cinnamon.
        The daughter has been so calm that O’Connell jokingly calls her “Baby Buddha.” On the flipside, O’Connell admitted in a recent email: “Meanwhile I’m like, ‘Should I up my anxiety meds now, or once this has come to an end, and I can actually see my therapist?'”

        Distancing as an adult only

        Of course, sheltering in place as an only child isn’t exclusively difficult for youngsters. It’s challenging for grown only kids, too.
        Pitfalls here are twofold. First is a general and persistent concern for a parents’ well-being. Second, some only-children adults feel guilty knowing that one’s parents are all alone with no other children to look after them.
        Xania Woodman, a temporarily furloughed bar manager in Park City, Utah, has grappled with both emotions firsthand over the last month. Woodman, 41, lives with a roommate in Utah, while her father and stepmother live just outside of New York City, one of the early virus hotspots.
        Since they’ve started sheltering in place, Woodman and her father have spoken on the phone every day and have instituted a family Zoom every Sunday. They also send photos back and forth to keep in touch about what they’ve been doing to pass the time. He sends pics of him doing puzzles, gardening and cleaning out the attic in New York, and she sends shots of her new foster dog and new cocktail videos from out West.

        Strengthen family ties

        For Woodman, this constant conversation about life keeps ties strong.

        Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

        “I’ve lived away from home since I went to college, so I’m used to being far away, but until now I’ve never felt like there were circumstances going on back home that were beyond their control,” she said. “In a way, I feel like the roles have reversed, like they’re off at college and I need to try to protect them from afar. I guess I [must] trust that they’ll do the right things to protect themselves.”
        Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and author of “Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World,” said people who handle the situation like Woodman are doing it right.
          Whether you are a grown only child or one who is still developing, the most important priorities right now are staying safe and staying connected with those who make life worthwhile, said Borba, who is based in Palm Springs, California.
          “We’re all in the same ballgame,” she said. “The only way through it is together.”

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          (CNN)In ordinary times, music therapy for Michael Russo’s hospice patients revolves around glorified home concerts: the troubadour breaks out the guitar, plays Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” or “Crazy” by Willie Nelson and spreads life-affirming joy during a patient’s final days.

          Instead of one-on-one sessions in patient rooms, he’s embraced Facebook Live broadcasts, video call sessions and even recorded messages.
          During a recent house call to hospice patients at an assisted living facility in Punta Gorda, Florida, Russo set up his one-man band on a patio outside a giant window. He was close enough to the lobby so patients could hear him but safely distanced behind glass so he wouldn’t risk infecting his audience.
            “Nurses wheeled patients right up against the window so they could see me and hear me and sing along as they would anywhere else,” he said. “We weren’t completely together, but it was the next best thing.”
            This sort of innovation has become commonplace at end-of-life facilities these days.
            At a time when the specter of Covid-19 looms ominously over public health systems around the world, Russo and other hospice workers are going above and beyond to create joyful and meaningful moments for patients and their loved ones. Some of these efforts hinge upon technology. Others are all about heart.
            Most of the actions constitute simple gestures that typically wouldn’t warrant more than a passing “thank you.” But in the context of a global pandemic, they loom large and have made a huge difference to people in the last stages of life.
            “Hospice [and palliative care] professionals are trying to care for people in the best ways they know how,” said Shoshana Ungerleider, a medical doctor in San Francisco and founder of End Well, a nonprofit and annual conference about grief, loss and dying. “The results have been nothing short of inspiring.”

            Embracing technology to connect

            To be clear, patients end up in hospice at the end of long battles with terminal diseases — not because of Covid-19. The threat of coronavirus has prompted hospice facilities to keep these highly vulnerable patients sequestered. This is where the creativity comes in.
            Many hospice workers have relied upon technology to forge connections, facilitating Zoom or FaceTime chats with family members so neither patients nor loved ones feel alone.
            Balu Natarajan, chief medical officer at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care in Rosemont, Illinois, said his company has encouraged its employees to “bend over backward” to make patients feel comfortable and loved in their final moments of life, even if that means acting as liaisons to convey final thoughts or farewell messages over the phone. He noted that Seasons currently has about 6,000 patients spread across facilities in 19 different states.
            “For us, hospice is about making sure our patients die comfortably,” said Natarajan, a medical doctor. “So much of what we’re talking about is bereavement, or grief for the living after patients die. A lot of that is simply getting loved ones to make a connection before it’s too late.”
            Natarajan recounted the story of a nurse who sat with a patient while she died, then on her own volition called the patient’s daughter to tell the daughter she was with mom until the end.
            “In that case, the nurse was able to say, ‘I was with your mom,'” he said. “It makes a huge difference.”
            Other healthcare experts shared different experiences. Ungerleider, for example, remembered a Seattle funeral director who received FaceTime lessons from members of a local Jewish community to manage ritualistic bathing practices on the body of a temple congregant after he died.
            The funeral director wasn’t Jewish, said Ungerleider, and he had never performed the bathing ritual before.
            “Because of social distancing, [the funeral director] was the only one allowed in with the body, and he was determined to go through the ritual because the other congregants could not,” she said. “He didn’t have to do it. He wanted to do it. He wanted to let the man’s family and the committee of volunteers from the temple bury him in peace.”

            Care from a distance

            In addition to hospice employees using technology to create memorable moments, some have committed to creating magic in person — just far enough from patients and family members to keep the risk of Covid-19 infections low.
            In Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, locals recently teamed up with healthcare professionals to create beautiful and heartfelt chalk murals on the sidewalk outside of a senior living complex in town.
            Kelly Coons, provider relations manager with hospice company AseraCare, was one of the organizers of the event. She said she went early and marked off 6-foot blocks for each artist, so everyone could stay safely distanced from each other. Some of the children participants drew Easter bunnies and Easter eggs and wrote, “Don’t forget to smile.” Other artists drew hearts and flowers.
            “Everyone has to stay in their rooms these days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring joy,” said Coons.
            About halfway through the drawing session, one of the residents took a black Sharpie and wrote “Thank you” on a pillowcase, then hung it up on the inside of her window.
            “As soon as I saw that pillowcase, it made me smile from ear to ear and I definitely teared up,” Coons recounted. “Even in the darkest days of this pandemic, it’s still possible to bring light to someone’s face.”
            Elsewhere in the nation, other hospice workers have pulled strategies from a similar playbook. At the 14-room Bradenton Hospice House in Bradenton, Florida, for instance, new rules prohibited patients from receiving the sacrament in their waning days, so Clinical Director Stacy Trudelle and some of her colleagues set out to devise a workaround.
            The team recognized that all the rooms have lanais, or covered porches. Then they realized many of the lanais faced the same grassy area. Suddenly, it hit them: A priest could do the blessings from outside.
            The first day of the new approach was March 30. That day, nurses wheeled three different patients out to their respective lanais, and a priest gave last rites from the grass, more than 6 feet away. As soon as the priest finished one sacrament, he moved on to the next. Later in the week, after all the patients died, Trudelle said they did so with the comfort that they had received a blessing.
            “We pride ourselves on doing whatever we can do for our patients to make their end-of-life [experience] more comfortable,” said Trudelle, who noted that none of the patients had coronavirus. “We’re not on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help in other ways.”

            New ways of thinking

            Even countrywide organizations are getting in on moment-making action. Exhibit A: The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in Alexandria, Virginia. In March, this organization launched the “Faces of Caring” social media campaign to spotlight hospice and palliative care worker members who are making a difference in patients’ lives.
            President and CEO Edo Banach says the effort is all about spotlighting the best of humanity.
            “We’re letting everybody see the people who are going out there and potentially putting themselves in danger [in the time of coronavirus],” he said.
            Hospice workers are desperate to help people nearing the end of their lives.
            “It just guts me to hear about all of these poor people dying alone,” Katie Tyrrell Weimann said.
            Weimann, 42, is an end-of-life doula, community mental health crisis worker and palliative care social worker from Oak Park, Illinois.
            The pandemic represents the intersection of Weimann’s varied interests, and she has vocally and openly put herself out there to help at the front lines.
            Earlier this month, Weimann wrote a letter to the administrators at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago offering to act as a “designated family liaison” to sit with patients dying of Covid-19 and navigate goodbyes with loved ones from around the country.
            She said she would be honored to stay present to facilitate phone calls and virtual messages. The mother of three children also acknowledged that by doing this, she knew she’d be putting her own life at risk.
            “Everyone is throwing eight million ideas out into the universe to make the situation better,” she said. “This is mine.”
            Weimann said Rush officials had not rejected her offer yet. She hypothesized that one potential sticking point might be the scarcity of available Personal Protective Equipment, and the inability to guarantee that Weimann could secure some to serve in the role.
            Meanwhile, Weimann had signed up to provide family liaison services remotely as part of palliative care teams assisting with the unfolding public health crisis in New York City.
            As of press time, she was awaiting her assignment.
              “I believe we have the capacity to hold space for both ourselves and others,” Weimann said. “One doesn’t negate the other. That’s the message of social distancing. We can as a product of common humanity want to protect ourselves and our families, as well as others. The only question is how.”
              The original version of this story stated that Rush Medical Center officials did not respond to interview requests, but the writer used an incorrect email to contact the Rush media relations team. The article has been corrected.

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              Donation to Tennessee institute comes as country star launches bedtime story initiative to offer a welcome distraction for children

              Dolly Parton has donated $1m (800,000) to research into a coronavirus vaccine, as she begins a new storytelling series for children in lockdown.

              The country music star wrote on Instagram:

              My longtime friend Dr Naji Abumrad, whos been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards that research of the coronavirus for a cure. I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.

              Abumrad works at the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation at Vanderbilt University hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He and Parton became friends in 2014 after the singer was involved in a car accident and was treated at Vanderbilt. His son, Jad, subsequently interviewed Parton for the podcast Dolly Partons America.

              Numerous teams are working on research into a coronavirus vaccine. US biotech firm Moderna began trials for a vaccine on 16 March, with Chinese firm CanSino Biologics launching its own trials the same day. The World Health Organization lists 52 other firms developing potential vaccines.

              Parton is fighting another front of the coronavirus crisis: bored children. On Thursday she is launching Goodnight With Dolly, a bedtime story series on YouTube, beginning with a reading of The Little Engine That Could. She said she hoped the series would be a welcome distraction during a time of unrest, and inspire a love of reading and books.

              Parton has long championed reading, with her charity, Imagination Library, having given more than 130m books to children.

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              Trumps war on science and Johnsons civil service purge may be on hold but their politics of polarisation lives on, says Guardian columnist John Harris

              In most crises we tend to see the story we want to see. And in this one, those of us who cling on to collectivist, egalitarian ideas can discern things that speak to our sense of how the world ought to be organised. To find crumbs of political comfort in a dire public health emergency might seem inappropriate. But unforeseen events always have consequences beyond their immediate impact: just because they fit some of our existing beliefs that does not make them any less real.

              Even if the new imperative of social distancing sounds like the ultimate example of individualism and frantic panic-buying does not exactly look like an expression of altruism, our shared humanity has also been brought to the surface, or soon will be. As the rapid appearance online of community help initiatives proves, we are already getting used to doing some of what the common good requires.

              Quick guide

              What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms in the UK

              Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

              • a high temperature
              • a new continuous cough

              This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

              Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

              You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them youre staying at home.

              People who are self-isolating with mild symptoms will not be tested.

              Source: NHS England

              And as usually happens with sudden adverse events, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has pushed the state and public sector into the foreground. The government machine suddenly looks less like the sclerotic inconvenience that annoys people like Dominic Cummings than the most basic means of help we have. Only weeks ago, people close to Boris Johnson were declaring war on the civil service and the BBC; now, both institutions are surely at the heart of however we collectively proceed. Ministers are suddenly back on the Radio 4 Today programme. Mindful that people have actually not had enough of experts, Johnson is now at pains to be seen deferring to the chief medical officer and the governments chief scientific adviser. If the big-spending budget suggested that Cummings and his allies quest to pull Conservatism somewhere different was in full roar, the arrival of Covid-19 surely means their revolutionary plans for the state have been postponed.

              Something comparable may be afoot in the US. Last week, the New York Times ran a piece of political analysis headlined Trump meets an enemy that cant be tweeted away. Covid-19, said the writer, does not respond to Mr Trumps favourite instruments of power: it cannot be cowed by Twitter posts, it cannot be shot down by drones, it cannot be overcome by party solidarity, it cannot be overpowered by campaign rally chants. Reality, it seemed, had suddenly intruded on a presidency built on performance and manipulation, and Trump had instantly been found wanting.

              Again, whatever ones politics, there is an undeniable truth to all this. As we know, the US is way behind other countries on testing, and cuts made by the Trump administration to crucial branches of government now look supremely reckless. The kind of denial the president was still pushing only a week or so ago forms part of the same picture: with accidental echoes of the occasion in 2006 when Johnson paid humorous tribute to laissez-faire government by praising the fictional mayor from Jaws and his decision to keep his beaches open, Trump has recently been lampooned as the real thing, downplaying a mounting emergency, lest it threaten the economic success on which his re-election might depend.

              Johnson is now at pains to be seen deferring to the chief medical officer and the governments chief scientific adviser. Boris Johnson at his 13 March press conference on coronavirus. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

              Woven through this take on the presidents position is a progressive article of faith: the idea that although populists might be capable rabble-rousers, they always fall down when it comes to basic competence. This, clearly, is the Democratic partys collective rationale for the anointing of Joe Biden, the walking embodiment of the idea that the best alternative to Trumps misrule is the reassuringly dull, conventional statesmanship of yesteryear.

              Might such a sea-change be a realistic prospect? For a long time now, all over the world, politics and government and their surrounding discourse have increasingly amounted to a spectacle of anger, rhetoric and a supposed battle of values in which the political right particularly its latter-day, populist incarnation has usually been on the winning side. The story perhaps began with George W Bushs consigliere Karl Rove, and his characterisation of his bosss detractors as the reality-based community: its subsequent milestones include both the arrival in office of a president whose metier is outrage and provocation rather than anything material, and Brexits triumph of prejudice and romance over facts and figures.

              As reality bites, something about coronavirus feels like it might at least have loosened the grip of these ideas. Whatever his outbursts, every day brings unflattering footage of Trump among scientists, officials and the representatives of big US companies and the image of an awkward, impatient man, arms folded, seemingly determined to shut out whatever wisdom might be on offer. Here, the BBCs Newsnight recently saw fit to broadcast a characteristically nuanced view of the governments response to the virus from Nigel Farage, to a loud chorus of groans. His inclusion seemed not just incongruous, but silly. And therein lay a tantalising prospect: of a political discourse that might sooner or later reconnect to the basics of government, and the real world.

              And yet, and yet. Europe is still haunted by populist ghouls, predictably claiming that the virus validates everything they stand for: Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen and Hungarys Viktor Orbn, whose national security adviser recently claimed to see a certain link between coronavirus and illegal migrants.

              Ten days ago, I was on a reporting job in Worksop, the former Nottinghamshire mining town in a local government district whose vote-share for Brexit was nearly 70%. The huge TV in the breakfast room was blaring out some or other piece about Covid-19, which soon caught the attention of the staff member in charge. I think this is all bollocks, he said. Youre not going to tell me it was a coincidence it started in an overpopulated country. Two fiftysomething men had just ordered their food, and instantly joined in. The first thing they can do is stop all these refugees coming in, said one. Their apparent default setting was stubborn disbelief, mixed with the conviction that this latest emergency would not have arrived had it not been for foreigners.

              Reality, it seemed, had suddenly intruded on a presidency built on performance and manipulation, and Trump had instantly been found wanting. Donald Trump and his adviser at a press briefing on 14 March. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

              As if clumsily leading his kindred spirits across the world to the correct position, Trump has moved through these two phases in a matter of days. Only a week or so ago, he favoured denial. Now, as evidenced by the televised address he delivered last Wednesday and his ban on flights from Europe, his embrace of drastic measures is framed by the kind of themes that won him the presidency.

              His spiel contained the giveaway words America first; inside 40 seconds, he used the phrase foreign virus. By way of mood music, senior Republicans talk about the pandemic as the Chinese coronavirus or Wuhan coronavirus, and everything blurs into the ocean of conspiracy theory now swirling around online, which Trump is inevitably happy to stoke.

              Whatever the controversies over its approach to the virus, and the prime ministers long record of playing to base prejudice, our own government has chosen a higher path. But hateful, ugly things are out there in the culture, and may yet rise to the surface. In stories of public service in the most awful circumstances and a rising sense that the only useful responses to this crisis are necessarily empathetic and humane, you see people and governments at their best. But whatever the impacts of the most serious health emergency in a generation, perhaps a model of politics based on division and polarisation is now so embedded that it will inevitably condition some of the worlds response. History suggests as much: steps forward always accompanied by lurches back, as humanity does what it usually does, and simply muddles through.

              John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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              Authorities announce two deaths in Florida as the number of US cases increases to at least 400

              The death toll from coronavirus in the United States rose on Saturday afternoon to 19 people, as authorities announced two deaths in Florida, the first US deaths outside the west coast, two more in Washington state and the governor of New York declared a state of emergency.

              Across the country, there were at least 400 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local governments.

              More than 3,000 people remained quarantined on the Grand Princess, a cruise ship moored off the coast of San Francisco, California, as authorities tested crew members and passengers among those from 50 countries onboard.

              At least 21 of those had tested positive for the virus, and Donald Trump said Friday that he preferred the passengers stay onboard the ship, so they would not increase the number of coronavirus cases on American soil.

              I like the numbers being where they are, Trump said, in widely criticized remarks. I dont need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasnt our fault.

              The head of the US Food and Drug Administration said in a rare Saturday briefing that materials for 2.1m coronavirus tests will have been shipped to non-public US labs by Monday, as the Trump administration aimed to counter criticism that its response to the disease has been sluggish and confusing.

              Stephen Hahn, the FDA commissioner, told reporters at the White House that manufacturers have told the agency they believe that by the end of next week they could scale up to a capacity of 4m additional tests.

              New efforts have been announced to prevent the spread of disease and protect vulnerable people. Officials in Seattle, Washington, which has one of the largest populations of homeless people in the country, are setting up locations for homeless people who might need treatment or self-quarantine for coronavirus.

              On Friday, the gig economy organizing group Gig Workers Rising had published a petition asking chief executives at Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, Instacart, DoorDash, Postmates and Handy to give workers paid sick time off during the coronavirus outbreak.

              On Friday night, an Uber executive made a partial response to concerns about gig economy workers vulnerability to contagion, saying the company would pay drivers and couriers diagnosed with the Covid-19 novel coronavirus, or quarantined by public health officials for up to 14 days, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

              Meanwhile, the number of cases of coronavirus continued to rise across the country, fueling continued concerns about whether the nations healthcare system was prepared for the additional strain.

              A person wearing a mask walks down a street a day after 60 people were brought to nearby hospitals to be tested for coronavirus, in Boston, Massachusetts. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

              Andrew Cuomo, New York states governor, announced there were at least 76 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state as of early Saturday afternoon, a jump of 21 overnight, and that he was declaring a state of emergency, which allows a state to take special control of funds and resources.

              He criticized the Trump administration, where the vice-president, who has been put in charge of containing the crisis, and the president, have been speaking at cross-purposes.

              On Thursday Mike Pence, the vice-president, said there were not enough coronavirus testing kits available in the US to meet medical demand, but on Friday afternoon Donald Trump said there was testing available for all who needed it.

              That has caused consternation, anxiety, Cuomo said on Saturday. You know whats worse than the virus? The anxiety, and the fear and the confusion.

              There is a growing sense that the US government is not fully in control of preparing for and managing either various aspects of the medical situation or public information.

              The White House should have been telling every hospital to be prepared to see these cases, knowing how to manage bed space in hospitals if this gets bad and preparing the public for the fact that were going to be facing a pandemic rather than saying its containable, Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security and an infectious-disease physician, told the Washington Post. The idea of containment requires a lot of public health resources that can be better spent.

              The US capital, Washington DC, reported its first presumptive case on Saturday evening.

              In the Pacific north-west state of Washington, the main center of the outbreak and death toll so far in the United States, healthcare providers said medical supplies, including masks, are growing scarce, the Seattle Times reported.

              And in Washington DC, financial regulators made contingency plans for how to oversee financial markets as the coronavirus closes in on the capital. Officials said Friday that the first three cases of the pneumonia-like disease had been diagnosed in Montgomery county, Maryland, home to thousands of federal workers who commute to nearby Washington daily.

              Concerns about coronavirus led to the cancellation of major events, including South by Southwest, a tech, music and film conference that typically draws more than 400,000 people to Austin, Texas, in late March.

              Similarly, the forthcoming womens world hockey championships in Canada were canceled Saturday.

              In California, the San Francisco Symphony has cancelled performances at its symphony hall through 20 March.

              At least two universities on the west coast announced that they would temporarily hold classes online, rather than in person. The University of Washington, being at the center of the US spread so far, and Stanford University, in California, where the university announced that two undergraduate students were in self-isolation after possible exposure to coronavirus.

              At the University of California, Los Angeles, three students who were tested for Covid-19 have all tested negative, and the university is continuing to hold live classes on campus for the moment, the universitys chancellor, Gene Block, said.

              Internationally there is disagreement among leading experts about whether the virus has reached pandemic status.

              California state authorities were working on Saturday evening with federal officials to bring the Grand Princess cruise ship to a non-commercial port and test the 3,500 people aboard.

              There was no immediate word on where the vessel will dock. Pence said at a meeting in Florida with cruise line executives that officials were still working on the plan.

              All passengers and crew will be tested for the coronavirus and quarantined as necessary, he said.

              In Seattle, Washington, which has one of the largest populations of homeless people in the United States, local officials said they have designed a plan to help treat any members of the citys homeless population who might contract coronavirus.

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              (CNN)Heroes come in all shapes and sizes — this one just happens to have four legs and a furry coat.

              The one-year-old yellow Labrador serves up cuddles to health care workers who need a much needed mental break from the emergency room at Rose Medical Center.
              Wynn is no stranger to the medical staff, as she’s being trained by Susan Ryan, an emergency physician at the hospital.
                Ryan shared an image of the two of them on Sunday. In it, the doctor is seen wearing a face shield and a mask while sitting on the floor of the hospital petting Wynn.
                “I saw Wynn coming back in from being walked outside,” Ryan told CNN. “I just slumped down on the floor and said ‘can I just have a minute with her’?'”
                Ryan said she had just finished with a patient and washed up before getting some quality time with Wynn.
                “Seeing stuff and hearing stuff that you can’t unsee has an impact on you,” Ryan said. “That’s where the dogs come in. When you are in the presence of the dog and petting them you are taking a moment to ground yourself at that present time.”
                Wynn is currently being trained to become an assistance dog for Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit that provides assistance dogs free of charge to adults, children and veterans with disabilities, according to its website.
                Ryan has been training Wynn since she was eight weeks old. She frequently takes the pup to the hospital for visits.
                “It’s been the brightest part of our day,” Ryan said.
                Now, Wynn is set up in the social workers office and on-call for staffers who need some puppy love to relieve stress. In the room, lights are dimmed and meditation music plays to provide the best place for medical staff to take a little mental break before returning to their jobs.
                Don’t worry, everyone that comes in contact with Wynn thoroughly washes their hands before touching her
                Ryan suggests to help emergency room doctors, people should make sure they practice social distancing, wash their hands and take care of themselves.
                “This will decrease the surge that will hit us,” Ryan said. ” We took an oath. We will stand up and show up.”
                She also said that she was very moved by seeing the videos shared on social media of people sharing their support for medical staff.
                #Solidarityat8 is a social media movement that asks people to go on their balconies or open their windows at 8 p.m. to cheer, clap or just make some noise to honor the people who continue to work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other medical facilities.
                “We are all in this together,” she said. “We can be connected by kindness, love and four paws.”
                  For some virtual puppy love, Canine Companions for Independence has a live stream of a puppy camera daily that features some of their newest additions.
                  Wynn will be under Ryan’s care till she is about 18 to 22 months old, and then she’ll move on to a professional training program at one of the organization’s training centers.

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                  From Wuhan-400, the deadly virus invented by Dean Koontz in 1981, to the plague unleashed in Margaret Atwoods Oryx and Crake, novelists have long been fascinated by pandemics

                  According to an online conspiracy theory, the American author Dean Koontz predicted the coronavirus outbreak in 1981. His novel The Eyes of Darkness made reference to a killer virus called Wuhan-400 eerily predicting the Chinese city where Covid-19 would emerge. But the similarities end there: Wuhan-400 is described as having a killrate of 100%, developed in labs outside the city as the perfect biological weapon. An account with more similarities, also credited by some as predicting coronavirus, is found in the 2011 film Contagion, about a global pandemic that jumps from animals to humans and spreads arbitrarily around the globe.

                  But when it comes to our suffering, we want something more than arbitrariness. We want it to mean something. This is evident in our stories about illness and disease, from contemporary science fiction all the way back to Homers Iliad. Even malign actors are more reassuring than blind happenstance. Angry gods are better than no gods at all.

                  In Homers Iliad, the Greeks disrespect one of Apollos priests. The god manifests his displeasure by firing his arrows of contagion into their camp. The plague lasts nine days, brief by modern epidemiological standards. When the Greeks make amends and sacrifice sheep and goats to Apollo, the plague is cured.

                  Seven centuries later a plague struck Periclean Athens, killing a quarter of the citys population and setting the city-state on a path to military defeat at the hands of Sparta. Thucydides, the Athenian historian, has a simple explanation for the epidemic: Apollo. The Spartans had cannily supplicated the god and he in return had promised victory. Soon afterwards, Spartas enemies started dying of the plague. Hindsight suggests that Athens, under siege its population swollen with refugees, everyone living in unsanitary conditions was at risk of contagion in a way the Spartan army, free to roam the countryside outside, clearly wasnt. But this thought doesnt occur to Thucydides. It can only be the god.

                  Between then and now there have been prodigious advances in medical science. We understand contagious disease vastly better, and have a greater arsenal of medicine and hygiene to fight it. But in one respect we havent advanced at all. We still tend to see agency in our pandemics.

                  Disease has no agency. Bacteria and viruses spread blindly where they can, their pathways facilitated by our globalised world. We, meanwhile, bring to the struggle our ever-improving drugs and hygiene. With Covid-19, experts insist, your two best bets are: wash your hands often, touch your face never. But people do not warm to the existential arbitrariness of this. Just as the Peloponnesian plague was seen as evidence that the gods were angry with Athens, so HIV was seen by a deluded minority as Gods judgment on homosexuals. Of course, HIV spreads wherever it can and cares nothing for your morals or sexual orientation.

                  This attribution of agency is clearest in the many imaginary plagues science-fiction writers have inflicted on humanity. In place of gods we have aliens, like those in Alice Sheldons chilling and brilliant short story The Screwfly Solution (1977). A new disease provokes men to begin murdering women en masse. At the storys end we discover an alien species had introduced a brain infection so that the human race will destroy itself and the aliens can inherit the emptied planet. Its a story about what we now call toxic masculinity and it says: its not gods we have angered, but goddesses.

                  A scene from The Andromeda Strain (1970), directed by Robert Wise. Photograph: Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

                  Sometimes the alien plague is less picky. In HP Lovecrafts The Colour Out of Space (1927; recently filmed, starring Nicolas Cage) an alien infection arrives via meteorite, wastes the land and drives people mad. In Michael Crichtons The Andromeda Strain (1969) potentially world-ending contagion falls from outer space. This bug repeatedly mutates as Earths scientists try to combat it. Were doomed or would be, if it werent for the tales germus ex machina ending, in which the alien spontaneously mutates into a benign form.

                  If its not aliens behind our world-threatening plague, then it is probably that other SF stalwart, the mad scientist. Dozens of zombie franchises start with a rogue scientist infecting the population with a genetically engineered bioweapon virus. In Frank Herberts The White Plague (1982) a geneticist, pushed into insanity by the murder of his family, creates a pathogen that kills all humanitys females. A cure is eventually found, but not before the worlds population balance has been shifted to leave thousands of men to every woman.

                  In Joanna Russs feminist masterpiece The Female Man (1975), Whileaway, a gender-specific virus has wiped out all the men, creating an effective utopia for women left behind, procreating by parthenogenesis and living in harmony. By the novels end it is hinted that the man-destroying plague was actually engineered by a female scientist. Never mind the antibacterial handwash: it is patriarchy that we need to scrub out.

                  So characteristic is assigning agency to pandemics in todays culture that a video game such as Plague Inc (Ndemic Creations 2012) styles its players not as doctors attempting to stop the spread of a pandemic, but as the sickness itself. The players mission is to help their plagues spread and exterminate the human race. In HG Wellss seminal War of the Worlds (1898) and in its various modern retellings, including Independence Day (1996), the virus is on our side, destroying alien invaders that lack our acquired immunity.

                  One of the most striking twists on this conceit is Greg Bears novel Blood Music (1985). A scientist, angry at being sacked by his lab, smuggles a virus out into the world in his own body. It infects everybody, becomes self-aware, and assimilates everybody and everything to itself: human beings and their infrastructure melt down into a planetwide sea of hyperintelligent grey goo. It sounds unpleasant, but its actually a liberation: the accumulation of concentrated consciousness, our own included, punches through a transcendent new realm. The plague becomes a kind of secular Rapture.

                  The mad scientists of Channel 4s Utopia hope their germ will wipe out humanity. Photograph: Collection Christophel/Alamy

                  If on some level we still think of contagion as the gods anger, these stories become about how we have angered the god about, in other words, our guilt. When Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver planned their reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise, they decided an agent, a neuroenhancer spliced into simian flu, would both raise the apes level of intelligence and prove fatal to humans. The resulting movie trilogy (2011-17) was more than just a commercial hit; it proved an eloquent articulation of broader environmental concerns. The few surviving humans move through the films lush rejuvenated forestscapes, compelled to confront avatars of humanitys generational contempt for the natural world.

                  The plague that has destroyed us has uplifted these animals, given them wisdom, and they are angry with us why wouldnt they be? Its a common genre trope. The scientist in Alistair MacLeans The Satan Bug (1965) is an environmental fundamentalist who hopes his germ will wipe out humanity. The mad scientists from Channel 4s TV drama Utopia (201314) and Margaret Atwoods Oryx and Crake trilogy are both driven by the same animus.

                  Having invested ourselves with the crown of all creation, coronavirus arrives to puncture our hubris. Think of the computer intelligence Agent Smith inThe Matrix (1999), played with sneering panache by Hugo Weaving: humans, he tells Laurence Fishburnes Morpheus, are incapable of developing a natural equilibrium with their environment: You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. In this telling, we are the virus.

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                  (CNN)As the number of cases and deaths from novel coronavirus increase across the United States, federal health officials are expanding testing for the fast-moving outbreak.

                  “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward,” Pence told reporters while in Minnesota to tour 3M.
                  By Thursday night, there were at least 227 cases of coronavirus in the United States — with 70 in Washington state alone — according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local governments.
                    Officials in King County in Washington announced the death of a woman in her 90s who had lived at a nursing home in the center of the US outbreak. There have been 11 deaths in the state of Washington and 12 overall.
                    New guidance issued by the CDC on Wednesday formalized an earlier announcement by Pence that any American with a doctor’s order can be tested for the virus.
                    It removed earlier restrictions that limited testing for the virus to people who’d been hospitalized with a fever and respiratory symptoms — or a person who had close contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.
                    Clinicians should now “use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with … (coronavirus) and whether the patient should be tested,” the CDC said.
                    Experts have questioned whether the United States can meet the likely surge in testing demand that will follow the change in guidelines.
                    Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said Thursday that he believes between CDC tests and those from a private company, IDT, there will be a nationwide capacity to test 475,000 people by the end of the week. Azar said he hopes IDT will ramp up to a million or a million and a half people by the end of next week.
                    He explained that the test involves examining multiple specimens from one person. For example, in order to test 400,000 people, the IDT test will process 1 million specimens.
                    Two kinds of coronavirus tests in the United States have FDA emergency use authorizations and are in use nationwide.
                    One kind is the CDC test kits that are distributed to public health laboratories across the country, and another test has been designed and used by New York state.
                    The 227 coronavirus cases have been reported across 19 states, most of them in California and Washington state. Colorado, Maryland, Tennessee and Nevada reported their first cases Thursday.
                    The number of cases includes 49 repatriated citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which docked in Japan last month after an outbreak and quarantine, as well as three Americans repatriated from Wuhan, China, the global epicenter of the outbreak.

                    Another cruise ship is linked to coronavirus

                    California’s first coronavirus death was reported Wednesday — a former passenger on Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess ship who died almost two weeks after he returned home.
                    The unidentified man was 71 and had underlying health conditions, Placer County health officials said. He was likely exposed to the virus on his cruise from San Francisco to Mexico between February 11 and 21.
                    The Grand Princess is off the California coast after a subsequent voyage to Hawaii.
                    California Air National Guard helicopters delivered coronavirus test kits and medical personnel to the ship.
                    Two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and one C-130J from California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing were involved with the mission, according to Lt. Col Jonathan Shiroma.
                    A passenger told CNN the onboard testing was supposed to take four to six hours.
                    Princess Cruises said Thursday about 100 people on the ship had been identified for testing.
                    The samples will be sent by helicopter to a lab in Richmond, California, Princess Cruises said.
                    There are 11 passengers and 10 crew members who’ve developed symptoms, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
                    The ship is carrying 2,383 passengers and 1,100 crew members.
                    The governor declared a state of emergency, which allows for more money to be allocated for the state’s response.
                    The Grand Princess is the second cruise ship recently linked to coronavirus. More than 600 cases of coronavirus were reported from Diamond Princess cruise ship last month.
                    Passengers on that ship were quarantined in Tokyo Bay.

                    Washington state is hard-hit

                    The vast majority of deaths in the United States have been in Washington state, where 11 people have died and at least 70 cases have been diagnosed.
                    Ten of those deaths and many of those cases were discovered in King County, and seven had ties to Life Care Center, a long-term nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.
                    The nursing home’s outbreak and more recent cases in states including Florida, Georgia and Rhode Island have heightened concerns among health care experts, said Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
                    “As more areas see community spread, local communities may start employing tools that encourage social distancing,” Messonnier said.
                    “The goal of social distancing is to limit exposure by reducing face-to-face contact and preventing spread among people in community settings.”

                    Schools, festivals affected

                    Scores of US schools were closed Thursday because of coronavirus fears. At least 36 are in Washington state, 20 are in New York and one is in Rhode Island.
                    Additional schools that announced closures last week and earlier this week have reopened.
                    The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, lost one major participant.
                      A Netflix spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the streaming company is pulling out because of coronavirus concerns. The pullout was first reported in Variety.
                      SXSW is an annual conference combining technology, music, media and film scheduled from March 13 to March 22. Austin public health officials said the conference would continue as planned.

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                      (CNN)As the number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States reached 1,000 on Tuesday, officials further clamped down on large public gatherings and increasingly called for students to take classes online.

                      “We would like the country to realize that as a nation, we can’t be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a state that has no cases or one case,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
                        Since the pandemic began in the United States, at least1,000 cases have been reported. A total of 31 people have died — 24 in Washington state, three in California, two in Florida and new deaths reported Tuesday by New Jersey and South Dakota.
                        The advisories to limit public interaction have caused politicians to cancel or shift campaign rallies, educators to close school districts or tell college students to take classes online, and television shows and sports teams to recognize they may have to go without audiences for a while.
                        New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has even taken the step of declaring a 1-mile “containment” area around a section of New Rochelle where cases are concentrated. He’s also sending in the National Guard to deliver food to homes and to help clean public spaces.
                        The New York City suburb is where a man who lives in the community tested positive for the virus last week, as did his wife, son and daughter. The containment area extends out from his synagogue, officials said.
                        The governor stressed this meant closing schools and places of worship. They are not restricting people’s movements in and out of the city of roughly 80,000 people.
                        “We’ll go in, we’ll clean the schools and assess the situation,” Cuomo told reporters.
                        Among the effects of the spreading virus: California’s Santa Clara County said it would temporarily ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people — after the county reported dozens of cases — representing one of the widest such orders in the country.
                        The ban, in effect for three weeks starting Wednesday, appears to affect home games of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. Both teams said they would comply with the order and release details soon. Some college basketball teams are playing in empty arenas.
                        And in Ohio, the two frontrunners for the Democratic nomination for president, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, canceled campaign rallies Tuesday night as state officials expressed concern over large indoor crowds. Biden shifted his speech to Philadelphia, where there will be no audience.

                        Those in risk groups urged to take precautions

                        US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the biggest interventions should be reserved for areas with clusters of cases, such as Santa Clara County. But he echoed federal health officials’ advice for people at higher risk.
                        “I would encourage any individual who is elderly or is medically fragile to think long and hard about going into any large gathering that would involve close quarters and potential spread,” Azar told CNN’s “New Day.”
                        Meanwhile, in Northern California, a cruise ship that had been held off the coast for days after at least 21 people aboard tested positive for coronavirus is expected to continue disembarking passengers.
                        The Grand Princess, docked in Oakland, started disembarking passengers Monday.
                        US stock market indices finished up as the White House began pitching a payroll tax cut to ease the economic fallout.
                        But effects on daily life and business are growing. California’s Coachella music festival will be postponed, sources said; Pearl Jam postponed concerts in North America; Boston canceled its St. Patrick’s Day Parade; US airlines are slashing flights; and the United Nations said it would close its New York headquarters to the public starting Tuesday night.
                        Schools including Harvard, The Ohio State University, the University of California-Berkeley are temporarily closing classrooms in favor of online instruction.

                        Second Washington nursing home records a death

                          Here’s how Americans feel about the coronavirus

                        At least 17 states have declared emergencies.
                        In Washington state, a nursing home in a Seattle suburb is the epicenter of the US outbreak. At least 19 people with ties to the Life Care Center of Kirkland have died. Scores of residents have been transferred to hospitals, leaving 49 residents at the facility that housed 120 in mid-February.
                        A different nursing home — the Issaquah Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Issaquah — said Tuesday one of its residents who tested positive died over the weekend.
                        Five other residents have tested positive — including two who are quarantined onsite — as have two staff members, the center said.

                        Azar: ‘We don’t know’ how many Americans have been tested

                        Azar, the Health and Human Services chief, said Tuesday his department does not know how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus.
                        “We don’t know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in” to the CDC, Azar told CNN’s “New Day” when asked how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus at this point.
                        “We’re working with the CDC and those partners to get an I.T. reporting system up and running hopefully this week where we would be able to get that data to keep track of how many we’re testing.”
                        The HHS chief also said there are 2.1 million testing kits currently available and more than 1 million have been shipped.
                        The lack of availability of test kits to health care providers has been one of the most scrutinized aspects of the federal government’s response to the crisis, leading to frustration among state and local officials. There has also been confusion among Trump administration officials over the number of testing kits that have been mailed out.

                        Guidance for every American and every community

                        Early data suggests older people are twice as likely to have serious illness from the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC, which advisesolder people and those with severe chronic medical conditions to stay home as much as possible.
                        But preventingthe continued spread of the virus will depend in large part oncommunity action, officials said Monday at a White House coronavirus briefing.
                        Officials urged people to stay home from workif they or a family member are sick, use video conferencing for meetings and stop handshaking. At schools, faculty, staff and students are advised to disinfect doorknobs, limit food sharing and strengthen health screenings for cafeteria staff.
                          And at home, Americans should clean theirhands at the door, provide a protected space for vulnerable household members and clean utensils regularly, according to the tips tweeted by Vice President Mike Pence.
                          Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the revised numbers for coronavirus cases in the US. There are at least 975 cases, according to the state and local health agencies, governments and the CDC.

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