WASHINGTON — The White House says a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff has tested positive for coronavirus.
Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Miller said Friday that the staff member, who is not being identified, did not have “close contact” to either Pence or President Donald Trump.
Miller said contact tracing, or contacting everyone the individual has been in contact with, is being conducted in accordance with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Miller says Pence’s office was notified Friday evening of the positive test result.
Eight More Deaths in Washington State
Washington state health officials in Seattle reported eight new coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the total to 83.
Seven of those deaths were in King County, the epicenter of the outbreak in the state.
More than 1,500 people have tested positive across Washington.
Graceland Closes in Memphis
Elvis Presley’s Graceland is temporarily closing in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Memphis-based tourist attraction said Friday that tours of Presley’s former home-turned-museum have been called off. Graceland said on its website that it will be temporarily closed from Saturday through April 3.
The tourist attraction is centered on the life and career of the late singer and actor. Presley died in Memphis on Aug. 16, 1977. He was 42.
About 500,000 people, including international travelers, visit Graceland each year. In addition to the museum, Graceland features restaurants, exhibition halls, and a concert venue.
96 Confirmed Cases in Arkansas
Arkansas health officials in Little Rock say there are now nearly 100 cases of coronavirus in the state, including at least 13 residents and staff of a Little Rock nursing home.
The state said the number of coronavirus cases had risen overnight from 62 to 96. The new cases include 13 residents and staff of the Briarwood Nursing Home and Rehab.
The Health Department said there are also cases at a nursing home in Pine Bluff and another in Centerton.
Arkansas has imposed sweeping restrictions because of the outbreak and closed its schools until April 17.
Kansas Running Out of Test Kits
The top administrator at Kansas’ health department said it could run out of coronavirus testing kits over the weekend — forcing the state to rely on private labs and potentially delaying results.
Dr. Lee Norman said that testing wouldn’t stop altogether because the agency would hold back a few of its tests for infected people who have been hospitalized.
Norman also said four private lab companies already are doing some testing, but they typically take longer to report their results than the state’s one-day turnaround.
Norman said the state has enough testing kits for about 300 patients, and it’s doing testing for between 150 and 300 a day. He said his agency has been providing free testing for local agencies and hospitals, and private lab tests will come with a cost of roughly $200.
Kansas has had more than 40 cases of COVID-19, including one death, with 10 new confirmed cases reported Friday alone.
First Death in Israel Reported
Israel has reported its first death from the coronavirus.
Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek Hospital said an 88-year-old man died late Friday, a week after he was hospitalized. The hospital said the man had a history of health problems.
Israel has reported more than 700 cases of COVID-19.
Displaced People in War-Torn Countries at Great Risk
The United Nations says the consequences of the coronavirus could be devastating for the 100 million people living in war zones and other emergency settings.
It noted many people are living in cramped conditions with little or no access to proper sanitation and basic health services.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said humanitarian officials are concerned people who depend on U.N. assistance are able to keep getting life-saving help while trying to avoid “the catastrophic impact that the COVID-19 outbreak could have on them.”
He said relief agencies are also concerned “about the limited surveillance systems in countries with large numbers of vulnerable groups, while the additional burden of COVID-19 could mean that other current outbreaks such as cholera, measles and yellow fever receive less attention.”
Dujarric said overcrowded camps for internally displaced persons in some of the world’s humanitarian hot spots are also high-risk areas for COVID-19.
He said U.N. humanitarian officials will be launching an appeal for funds early next week to deal with the coronavirus threat. The U.N. has already released $15 million from its emergency fund to deal with the coronavirus in vulnerable areas, and U.N.-managed funds in Afghanistan, Sudan and Jordan have also been released to scale up preparedness.