John Ruwitch | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

John Ruwitch

Before COVID-19, few scientists would have pegged the city of Wuhan, in temperate central China, as a likely starting point for a global coronavirus pandemic. Its climate and fauna don't fit the bill.

But the city of 11 million straddling the Yangtze River is home to some of China's most advanced biological research laboratories. And one of the secretive, state-run institutions, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is known to conduct experiments on the kind of virus that has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide so far since late 2019.

China has joined a global effort aimed at fair and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once one becomes available — an effort the Trump administration has shunned.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX, is jointly led by the World Health Organization and Gavi, an alliance promoting access to vaccines.

Before Justinian Huang left Shanghai for some beach time in Malaysia last winter, he took his dog Swagger to stay with a friend.

"I dropped him off. I kissed him goodbye. I was like, 'I'm going to see you in six days,' " Huang recounts. "That was Jan. 23 of this year."

That week the coronavirus spread with alarming speed in China. So Huang decided to wait it out in Malaysia a few extra days. Then he flew to Taiwan, where he has family, and finally home to the United States.

The race for a coronavirus vaccine is on.

This week, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. reported promising preliminary results for the vaccine it is developing. It's one of eight vaccines under development that have been approved for clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.

Updated at 9:41 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday blasted the head of the World Health Organization for bowing to Chinese pressure and not inviting Taiwan to attend the body's annual meeting, damaging its credibility at a crucial time.

The World Health Assembly started on Monday amid the worst pandemic in modern history.

Taiwan's handling of COVID-19 has won plaudits around the world, creating a historic public relations opportunity for the diplomatically isolated island.

Whether that leads to a higher profile on the international stage or a flare-up in tensions with Beijing — which regards Taiwan as Chinese territory — will depend on how the two sides play their cards at this pivotal moment, experts say.

With health officials now urging all Americans to cover their faces in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and a growing list of places requiring it, millions of people are getting creative to try and do their part - pulling out sewing kits, ripping up T-shirts and repurposing everything from vacuum filters to old bras. Seriously.

China on Tuesday reported no deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since it began publishing data about the outbreak more than two months ago.

The milestone comes a day before the government is set to lift outbound travel restrictions on people in Wuhan, the country's hardest-hit city.

With a population of more than 10 million people, Wuhan has been under lockdown since Jan. 23 in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19. The first cases of infection with the coronavirus were detected in Wuhan in December.

The traffic jams of Los Angeles are legendary, with cars often inching along for miles, bumper to bumper.

But you can add LA gridlock to the long list of things that the coronavirus pandemic has changed.

Updated at 3:45 p.m.

China will close its borders to foreigners starting on Saturday, March 28, in a dramatic step to try to stop the coronavirus coming in from abroad.

The move is the latest in a string of tough steps by the Chinese government to combat the virus, which first appeared in the city of Wuhan late last year and has spread widely since.

Now that China appears to have snuffed out local transmission of the coronavirus, it is trying hard to keep the disease from rebounding back in from abroad. China has reported just a handful of new domestic COVID-19 cases in recent days, but has seen a spike in cases coming in from elsewhere.

As thousands of travelers have begun entering China in anticipation of the eventual return to normalcy, the government has put in place a strict regime of health checks, monitoring and quarantine in the hope that it can catch any new inbound cases before infections can spread.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom expects about 56% of the state's population – more than 22 million Californians – to be infected with the coronavirus over an eight-week period.

The estimate was in a letter Newsom sent to President Trump, dated Wednesday, asking Trump to deploy the naval hospital ship Mercy to the waters off of Los Angeles through the beginning of September.