Earlier, we noted the WHO saying that while the pace of new infections has slackened in China thanks in part to the administration's heavy handed crackdown to fight the virus, if officials and the public aren't careful, we could see a resurgence. The WHO also warned that the world is wildly unprepared for the coronavirus, a fact that the CDC and HHS Secretary have now echoed about America's ability to respond to the crisis. German officials gave the first hint at what is coming earlier today when they said that closing borders with Italy wouldn't solve the problem (note: this is the same logic they used during the migrant crisis and we all remember how that turned out). Now, European health officials have collectively decided that closing borders would be "ineffective," concluding days of mounting speculation about whether Italy, or its neighbors, would suspend Schengen rules governing the free movement of people across the EU. According to Bloomberg, health ministers from Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and a representative from San Marino agreed on Tuesday to keep European borders open, arguing that closing them would be a "disproportionate and ineffective measure" at this time. * * * The story of the four-star hotel at Tenerife, a Spanish island where an Italian doctor and his wife who both tested positive for COVID-19, appears to have captured the imagination of the international press. According to the BBC, the couple were staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel on the island, which is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands. The doctor tested positive Monday, and his wife the following day. They've been placed in isolation at the University Hospital Nuestra Senora de Candelaria. But in their wake, an entire hotel with more than 100 guests has been put under quarantine. Here's a still from a video of the residents gazing forlornly at the outside world that was initially shared by the NY Post.
Residents have been told to wait in their rooms as health officials test everyone in the building. * * * Update (1145ET): US CDC says COVID-19 epidemic is rapidly evolving and expanding, warning that a vaccine could be ready in a year, and Americans should prepare for possible spreads in communities. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, and schools to begin preparing to respond to coronavirus." Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said: "As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder." Additionally, HHS Secretary Alex Azar says at Senate panel hearing that the U.S. doesn’t have enough stockpiles of masks and ventilators to fight the coronavirus and that’s one reason the Trump administration is seeking $2.5b in funding. About 30m so-called N95 respirator masks are stockpiled but as many as 300m are needed for healthcare workers, Azar says, adding that his department doesn't yet know how much they would cost. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who questioned the administration’s readiness to battle the spread of the virus: "I’m deeply concerned we’re way behind the eight ball on this," Murray said while questioning Azar at the Appropriations subcmte hearing. Azar also says the money would be used to help develop vaccines and treatments for the virus and that a vaccine could be ready in a year. * * * Update (1100ET): WHO's Bruce Aylward told journalists that China's actions "prevented hundreds of thousands of cases" and warned that the rest of the world "is not ready for the virus to spread," adding that "countries should instruct citizens now on hygeine." * * * Update (1001ET): A case of the novel corona virus has been confirmed for the first time in Switzerland. The federal government announced on Tuesday. One person was tested positive for the virus, said those responsible. Italian officials stated that the first patient was "obviously infected in Italy," [C]