Large U.S. school districts close as coronavirus cases rise

The New York City suburb of Scarsdale awoke Monday (March 9) morning without a public school system after a faculty member at one of the middle schools tested positive for the coronavirus.

The affected Scarsdale schools join more in neighboring New Rochelle, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo described as a "hot spot" for the illness.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK STATE GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"We have a major problem in New Rochelle. We are going to be closing schools for weeks. We will take action on gatherings in that area."

The governor gave an update showing New York as of Monday had surpassed Washington state in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

Nationwide, a tally by the Johns Hopkins University center tracked more than 566 cases on Monday, including 22 deaths.

The outbreak has killed more than 3,600 globally.

Cuomo described what he called the fear and hysteria over the disease outpacing the reality.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK STATE GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"Most people will have it and they get on with their lives. Many people will have it and not know that they have it."

But he said vulnerable groups, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions should take measures to protect themselves.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK STATE GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"They should take it seriously."

On Monday, the mayor of Washington, D.C. said she was weighing whether to declare a public health emergency a day after the district confirmed a second case.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER, SAYING:

"That would be to impose quarantine if that became necessary."

New York, California, Oregon and Washington have all declared states of emergency.

The fifth largest school district in California, outside Sacramento, announced it would close 67 of its schools, serving 63,000 students, for a week after the parent of a student was ordered to self-quarantine by health officials.

On Monday, Princeton University announced all classes would be canceled or held virtually, a day after Columbia University said classes would be canceled Monday and Tuesday, and held remotely the rest of the week.

And stronger measures are on the minds of governors.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee was asked whether he was considering wide-scale quarantine measures.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE, SAYING:

"We are contemplating some next steps, particularly to protect our vulnerable populations and our nursing homes and like, and we are looking to determine whether mandatory measures are required."

[FLASH]

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER SCOTT GOTTLEIB, SAYING:

"We're past the point of containment. We have to implement broad mitigation strategies."

Scott Gottlieb is a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He told CBS News that a large-scale and economically painful response was in the best interest of public health, but that leaving such decisions up to local authorities is the wrong move.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER SCOTT GOTTLEIB, SAYING:

"No state, no city wants to be the first to basically shut down their economy, but that's what's going to need to happen. States and cities are going to have to act in the interest of the national interest right now to prevent a broader epidemic. Close businesses, close large gatherings, close theaters, cancel events."

Anthony Fauci, the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, was asked on Sunday about quarantines in China and Italy.

He told NBC News, "You don't want to alarm people, but given the spread we see, anything is possible, and that's the reason why we've got to be prepared to take whatever action is appropriate to contain and mitigate the outbreak."