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Death toll in the United States; schools, Amtrak act

When the death toll in the United States reached 11, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared states of emergency and Los Angeles County announced six more cases of the deadly coronavirus that has health officials in the whole world looking for answers.

More than 150 cases have been confirmed across the nation. Los Angeles had only confirmed one before Wednesday’s announcement.

A death reported Wednesday from Placer County in California near Sacramento represents the first fatality outside of Washington state.

County officials referred to the victim as “an elderly adult with basic health conditions”. They said the patient was in solitary confinement in a local hospital and was likely exposed to the virus during a trip aboard a Princess Cruises ship traveling from San Francisco to Mexico in February.

“The state of California is implementing every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” Newsom said. “This emergency announcement will help the state further prepare our communities and health system in case it spreads more widely.”

Here are the latest news on the outbreak of COVID-19:

The Seattle district closes schools for 2 weeks

A suburban school district in Seattle will close all its schools for 14 days, starting Thursday, in an attempt to “slow the spread” of the deadly coronavirus epidemic that has infiltrated King County. In a long letter published on the Northshore school district website and emailed to all parents on Wednesday evening, Superintendent Michelle Reid said she “thoughtfully” came to her decision with the support of local leaders, describing it as a “strategic approach” for the health and well-being of students and staff.

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U.S. schools are in a state of alert amid the coronavirus epidemic:Are they overreacting – or aren’t they doing enough?

Amtrak works to combat the threat of coronavirus

Amtrak is stepping up the cleaning protocol for trains and stations and giving up booking modification rates by the end of April in response to the coronavirus threat.

The railway service released a statement on Wednesday describing the major cleanup measures as a safety move, adding that it has had no confirmed cases of coronavirus exposure to passengers and employees and that there are no travel restrictions.

Amtrak says it plans to speed up the cleaning frequency on trains and stations, sometimes on an hourly basis, and will increase the use of disinfectant to clean handrails, grab bars, handles and toilets. Additional antibacterial products, including disinfectants and wipes, will be provided in employees’ stations, trains and work areas.

In addition, Amtrak has undertaken to waive the change fees on existing or new bookings made before April 30th.

—Bill Keveney

Dogs and cats cannot transmit coronavirus to humans

Hong Kong’s agriculture, fisheries and conservation departments have concluded that domestic dogs and cats cannot transmit the new coronavirus to humans, but can positively test low pathogen levels if they catch it from their owners.

This occurs after a quarantined dog tested weak for the virus on February 27, February 28 and March 2, using the dog’s nasal and oral cavity samples.

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