(NEW YORK) — An outbreak of a highly contagious virus that first emerged in China about three months ago has now spread to every U.S. state.
The novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has infected at least 6,300 people in the United States, including all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. At least 113 have died, according to ABC News’ count.
The newly identified respiratory virus has also reached every continent except Antarctica, infecting more than 198,000 people globally and killing nearly 8,000 of them, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Governments around the world have implemented travel restrictions, border closures and lockdowns in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Here’s how the news is unfolding Wednesday. All times Eastern:
6:07 a.m. Virus now present in all European countries as Montenegro confirms first cases
The novel coronavirus has now spread to all European nations as Montenegro confirmed its first cases late Tuesday night.
Until now, Montenegro was the only country in Europe without a single confirmed case of COVID-19. The government has taken measures to prevent the outbreak from reaching the country, including closing its borders for foreigners, shutting schools and banning public gatherings.
Montenegro’s prime minister, Dusko Markovic, revealed the country’s first two confirmed cases in a press conference late on Tuesday. The patients are both women — one is in her late 40s and the other is in her early 70s.
One of the patients had recently returned from Spain, where nearly 12,000 people are infected with the virus, while the other had returned from the United States, where nearly 6,500 people are infected.
The two patients are currently hospitalized in a special ward of a medical clinic in Podgorica, the capital. Both are in stable condition, according to Markovic.
“It is clear that the first cases of infections were not unexpected and it is very likely that soon new cases will be discovered,” Markovic said.
Calling on his European neighbors to show solidarity during the pandemic, Montenegro’s prime minister said his country’s ports will remain available to other nations in the region “to keep the flow of goods and its borders open to trade and supply.”
“It is up to us, the leaders of the region, to set an example and make decisions as good neighbors to each other,” Markovic said.
5:27 a.m. Schools close in 39 U.S. states
Thirty-nine states have decided to close schools as of Tuesday night, according to the news journal Education Week.
Combined with direct closures in other states, at least 91,000 public and private schools across the country are closed, are scheduled to close or were closed and later reopened, affecting some 41.6 million students, Education Week reported.
There are a total of 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
3:48 a.m. Wuhan, China, reports just one new case for second straight day
The Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported just one new confirmed case for the second day in a row.
China’s National Health Commission recorded only one new case of confirmed infection in Hubei province on both Monday and Tuesday. Each was reported in the city of Wuhan, where the very first cases of the novel coronavirus emerged back in December.
Overall, the Chinese mainland has reported 80,894 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,237 deaths, with a vast majority in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province. While China still compromises the bulk of the world’s cases, that proportion is shrinking by the day as the epidemic appears to slow down in China and expand abroad, particularly in Europe.
With more than 31,500 confirmed cases, Italy has the second-highest national behind China, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
3:25 a.m. U.S. hospital association warns of ventilator shortage
The largest national hospital organization in the United States is urging Americans to adhere to the recommended health precautions amid the coronavirus outbreak so the health care system doesn’t become overwhelmed with patients.
“There are limited supplies of ventilators and hospital beds, which is why hospitals and public health officials all across the country are urging the public to follow the guidance of the CDC and other public health leaders on social distancing and other actions,” Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association, told ABC News in a statement Tuesday night. “The best way not to overtax the health care system is to keep more people healthy. That is the reason public events have been canceled, schools are closed, businesses are instituting telework policies where possible, and other changes have been made to the way we routinely lead our lives.”
In addition to the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “has told nursing homes and other health care facilities that house our most vulnerable patients to severely limit visitors and group events,” according to Foster.
“This will reduce the surge of acutely ill patients that hospitals will see, and hopefully ensure we experience a manageable level of demand,” she added. “Hospitals and our dedicated doctors and nurses are doing their part to combat this virus. We hope everyone else will as well.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.