CORONAVIRUS:

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • More than 786,000 people worldwide -- including more than 164,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Tuesday, March 31, continue below: Vietnam orders lockdown, bans gatherings of more than 2 to combat coronavirus spread Update 6:15 a.m. EDT March 31: In a tribute to medical workers battling the coronavirus, New York’s Empire State Building flashed red and white on Monday night to symbolize “America’s heartbeat,” The Washington Post reported. Photos and videos of the attraction’s makeover flooded social media channels. Vietnam orders lockdown, bans gatherings of more than 2 to combat coronavirus spread Update 6:08 a.m. EDT March 31: Vietnam’s government imposed strict social distancing measures on Tuesday expected to last for 15 days, including the prohibition of gatherings of more than two people. To date, the country has confirmed 204 novel coronavirus cases, resulting in zero deaths. Per the new restrictions, residents must remain in their homes except to buy food or medicine or to work in essential businesses and factories. LA Sheriff: Gun stores deemed essential services amid coronavirus crisis Update 2:27 a.m. EDT March 31: Following a solid week of debate and the filing of a National Rifle Association lawsuit, gun stores in Los Angeles are now considered essential services and will be allowed to continue operating amid a statewide stay-at-home order. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva initially ruled gun stores a nonessential business, but he has since backtracked following a contentious seven days, CNN reported. “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not order or recommend closure of businesses that sell or repair firearms or sell ammunition,” Villanueva said in a statement issued late Monday, adding, “Regardless of whether a business sells groceries, gasoline, firearms, or any other product or service, we encourage them to abide by all health and safety measures in place.”  India records largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases Update 2:10 a.m. EDT March 31: India confirmed 227 additional novel coronavirus cases on Monday, marking its largest single-day spike since the pandemic began. The latest figures bring India’s nationwide total to 1,251 cases, resulting in 32 deaths. Pennsylvania meatpacker slashes beef production after managers fall ill Update 2:05 a.m. EDT March 31: Beef processing at JBS USA in Souderton, Pennsylvania, has been scaled back after several senior managers developed flu-like symptoms, The Wall Street Journal reported. The plant, located about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, employs about 1,000 people and is expected to reduce beef processing operations for about two weeks. Owned by Brazilian meat conglomerate JBS SA, the Pennsylvania facility is believed to be the largest beef plant east of Chicago, producing beef under the Moyer, 5 Star and Swift brands, the Journal reported. Mexico declares ‘health emergency,’ nixes all non-essential activities until April 30 Update 1:42 a.m. EDT March 31: Mexican officials declared a “health emergency” late Monday, announcing the “immediate suspension” of all non-essential activities as the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the nation. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs, made the emergency declaration for the entire country, while Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell announced the immediate halting of all non-essential activities until April 30. There are now 1,094 confirmed across Mexico, which have resulted in at least 28 deaths. US coronavirus cases top 164K, deaths swell to 3,164 Update 12:39 a.m. EDT March 31: The United States recorded its deadliest day Monday with at least 574 COVID-19 fatalities confirmed, marking the nation’s highest single-day death toll since the novel coronavirus pandemic began. By early Tuesday morning, the number of cases in the United States soared past 164,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 164,274 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 3,164 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation by wide margins, including the 101,739 reported in Italy and the 87,956 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 1,218 – or more than one-third of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 217 in Washington state and 198 in New Jersey.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with at least 66,497 confirmed cases – or roughly four times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 16,636 and Michigan with 6,498. Four other states have now confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 5,763, including 135 deaths • Massachusetts: 5,752, including 56 deaths • Florida: 5,483, including 70 deaths • Illinois: 5,057, including 73 deaths Meanwhile, Washington, Pennsylvania and Louisiana each has confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus infections; Georgia has confirmed slightly more than 3,000 cases; and Texas, Colorado and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases.
  • Researchers from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics created graphs showing how COVID-19 or the coronavirus is projected to impact every U.S. state and Florida is expected to become the next epicenter, behind New York, but is not expected to peak until May 6. The model shows the timing of deaths and what resources are available in each state.  Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO) websites and local and national governments the graphs show Florida is expected to see 136 deaths per day between May 3 and May 6, then the fatalities will trend down to near zero by June 29.  The estimated number of deaths by August 4, 2020 is 5.568 for Florida. Researchers estimate that the state will be short 297 ICU hospital beds at the peak of the outbreak and will possibly need more than 3,000 ventilators during that time.  Keep in mind these numbers are based on the assumption that social distancing measures are maintained at the current status.  Projections for New York show the virus will claim many more lives, much sooner. The Empire state is projected to see its apex in just nine days, with nearly 800 deaths and 71,000 hospital beds needed on that day. The models estimate 15,546 deaths in New York by August 4, the total number of estimated deaths in nationwide is 83,967. Click her for the link to the  University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics website. 
  • The DeSantis family took to Twitter Monday morning to announce the latest addition to their family. Casey DeSantis announced Mamie DeSantis at 7 pounds and 4 ounces. The couple did not say when Mamie was born. Mamie is the third child of the governor and his wife, along with Madison and Mason.
  • At least 722,000 people worldwide – including more than 142,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, March 30, continue below: 11 veterans die after coronavirus outbreak at state-run veterans care facility in Massachusetts Update 10:40 p.m. EDT March 30: Eleven veterans are dead after a coronavirus outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, a state-run veterans care facility in Massachusetts. Five of the victims had COVID-19 and health experts are still waiting for test results on the others. Eleven additional veterans have tested positive for coronavirus. Five staff members have also tested positive, and another 25 are awaiting results. The National Guard has been requested to support on-site testing for the residents and expedite the results. The Soldiers Home superintendent has been placed on administrative leave. Utah medical group retracts on malaria drugs for coronavirus Update 10:40 p.m. EDT March 30: A Utah medical association has rescinded a recommendation it made last week on behalf of state health officials for doctors to treat coronavirus patients using malaria drugs that medical professionals across the country have cautioned against using until more testing is done. The about-face by the Utah Medical Association came after a group of infectious disease doctors pushed back over the weekend against the Friday guidance. The association said in the first email sent Friday that chloroquine and a similar drug, hydroxychloroquine, had shown “promising data for affecting the course of COVID-19” and that their recommended use was being made at the suggestion of the Utah Department of Health. The association also recommended combining them with zinc. The association reversed positions in a follow-up email Sunday in which it said the Utah Department of Health had withdrawn the previous guidance after “much collaborative discussion” and based on “a lack of convincing evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of off-label use of hydroxycholorquine.” Michelle McOmber, CEO of the Utah Medical Association, declined to answer any questions about what led to the change and instead sent only a statement Monday. “Things are rapidly changing on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. We are doing all that we can to help share the latest information and recommendations to help providers do their jobs and take care of patients,” McOmber said. “We are working to get information out as quickly as possible to help in this crisis and will continue to update and give information that we receive as soon as practicable to help providers on the front lines.” Pentagon confirms first US service member death Update 8:50 p.m. EDT March 30: A New Jersey Army National Guardsman that tested positive for COVID-19 passed away Saturday, according to the Pentagon. Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a physician assistant, had been hospitalized since March 21. “This is a stinging loss for our military community,” Esper says in a release, “and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19.” US death toll surpasses 3,000 Update 7:50 p.m. EDT March 30:  The death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to over 3,000 Monday evening according to John Hopkins University. Arizona governor issues stay-at-home order Update 7:30 p.m. EDT March 30: Arizona Doug Ducey on Monday imposed a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus that will take effect at the close of business on Tuesday. But he said grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential services will remain open, restaurants will continue takeout service and the order doesn’t prevent people from going to work, medical appointments or seeking other essential services. He also discouraged hoarding. Judges slow abortion bans in Texas, Ohio Update 7 p.m. EDT March 30: A federal judge Monday temporarily blocked Texas’ efforts to ban abortions during the coronavirus pandemic, handing Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers a victory as clinics across the U.S. filed a wave of lawsuits to stop states from trying to shutter them during the outbreak. A new Ohio order is also unconstitutional if it prevents abortions from being carried out, a separate judge ruled Monday. The ruling instructed clinics to determine on a case-by-case basis if an abortion can be delayed to maximize resources — such as preserving personal protective equipment — needed to fight the coronavirus. If the abortion is deemed necessary and can’t be delayed, it’s declared legally essential. Taken together, the rulings were signs of judges pushing back on Republican-controlled states including abortion in sweeping orders as the outbreak grows in the U.S. In Texas, the ruling came down after state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said abortion was included in a statewide ban on nonessential surgeries. But U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said the “Supreme Court has spoken clearly” on a woman’s right to abortion. One abortion provider in Texas, Whole Woman’s Health, said it had canceled more than 150 appointments in the days after the Texas order went into effect. Trump defends extending virus guidelines Update 6 p.m. EDT March 30: Siding with public health experts’ dire projections, President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to extend restrictive social distancing guidelines through the end of April, while bracing the nation for a coronavirus death toll that could exceed 100,000 people. “Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days,” Trump said during a Rose Garden press conference. He called refraining from public outings “our shared patriotic duty” during the outbreak. The comments came a day after Trump made a dramatic course reversal and announced that he would not be moving to ease the guidelines and get the economy back up and running by Easter, as he said last week he hoped to do. New York virus death toll rises above 1,200 Update 5 p.m. EDT March 30: As the Navy hospital ship docked in New York City on Monday as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state soared to a “beyond staggering” 1,218. The 1,000-bed USNS Comfort will be used as a “relief valve,” treating non-coronavirus patients while the city’s increasingly stressed hospitals handle people with COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. New York is bracing for an escalation in hospitalizations and deaths in April as the outbreak’s projected “apex” closes in. Cuomo noted the statewide death toll has already shot up by 253 in a single day to just over 1,200. UN official concerned about COVID-19 in Syria Update 4:35 p.m. EDT March 30: The U.N. humanitarian chief is warning that the 10 cases of COVID-19 and one death confirmed in Syria are just “the tip of the iceberg” and judging from other countries “a devastating impact” can be expected on vulnerable communities. Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that “all efforts to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19 are impeded by Syria’s fragile health system,” noting only around half of the country’s hospitals and primary health care facilities were fully functional at the end of 2019. He said efforts to prevent and combat the virus are also are impeded by high levels of population movement, challenges to obtaining critical supplies including protective equipment and ventilators, and difficulties of isolating in crowded camps for the displaced with “low levels of sanitation services.” Pentagon orders additional 8,000 ventilators Update 4:15 p.m. EDT March 30: The Pentagon has ordered an additional 8,000 ventilators, with delivery of the first 1,400 by early May. The $84.4 million order was placed with several suppliers under existing Defense Logistics Agency contracts. A Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, identified the four suppliers as Zoll, Combat Medical, Hamilton Medical, and VyAire. Andrews said delivery locations will be prioritized by FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services. These are in addition to the 2,000 ventilators that the Pentagon previously said it would make available to FEMA from Defense Department stockpiles. Cardinal close to Pope tests positive for virus Update 3:55 p.m. EDT March 30: Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome has tested positive for the coronavirus in the first case of a cardinal close to the pope known to be infected. Cardinal Angelo De Donatis had been in touch with Francis in recent weeks over the cardinal’s initial decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown decree. De Donatis reversed himself after Francis intervened and allowed diocesan churches to remain open for individuals to pray. The pope is technically bishop of Rome, but he delegates the day-to-day running of the diocese to his vicar, De Donatis, 66. The Rome church said De Donatis was in good condition at Rome's Gemelli hospital and was receiving antiviral treatment. The Holy See has said six people have tested positive for the virus in the Vatican, none of them the pope or his closest advisers. San Francisco to order residents indoors until May Update 3:50 p.m. EDT March 30: Mayor London Breed of San Francisco said Monday that an order barring residents from leaving their homes for less-than-essential reasons will be extended until at least May 1. The order, which went into effect March 17, had originally been scheduled to end on April 7. “We’re working to slow the spread of coronavirus in San Francisco, but we know that the challenges we face are going to get tougher,' Breed said Monday in a statement posted on Twitter. Kohl’s extends store closures, furloughs employees Update 3:40 p.m. EDT March 30: Officials with the department store chain Kohl’s on Monday announced an indefinite extension of the company’s store closures due to the continued threat posed by the 2019 novel coronavirus. Company officials also announced a temporary furlough of store associates, store distribution center associates and some corporate office associates “whose work has been significantly reduced by the store closures.” Kohl’s will continue to provide health benefits to affected employees. “It is an incredibly difficult decision to extend our store closures and temporarily furlough some of our associates,” Kohl’s chief executive officer, Michelle Gass, said Monday in a statement. “We look forward to the day that we can reopen our stores to welcome our associates back and serve the millions of families across the country that shop Kohl’s.” Italy to remain under lockdown until at least mid-April Update 3:15 p.m. EDT March 30: Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy will follow the recommendation of scientists and extend a nationwide lockdown at least until April 12. The lockdown decree currently runs until April 3, and doctors and other health experts have been cautioning that Italy’s cases of COVID-19 haven’t reached their peak yet, despite some encouraging numbers. Speranza says the national scientific technical committee recommended “extending the containment measures at least until Easter,” April 12. He added: “The government will move in this direction.” Italy has more than 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and nearly 11,600 deaths of infected persons. First coronavirus cases reported in Botswana Update 3 p.m. EDT March 30: Lemogang Kwape, the health minister for Botswana, said on state television Monday that health officials have recorded the country’s first three COVID-19 cases, according to Reuters. Kwape said the patients were in quarantine Monday. They had recently traveled to Britain and Thailand, Reuters reported. 3,347 new COVID-19 cases reported in New Jersey Update 2:35 p.m. EDT March 30: Health officials in New Jersey said the number of novel coronavirus cases detected in the state rose Monday by 3,347. The numbers announced Monday by Gov. Phil Murphy bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey to 16,636, the second-highest number in the United States. The only state with more cases of COVID-19 is New York, where 66,497 people have tested positive for the viral infection. In addition, Murphy said 37 people have died in New Jersey of COVID-19, bringing the state’s coronavirus death toll to 198. Among the victims was New Jersey National Guard Capt. Douglass Linn Hickok, a drilling guardsman and physician’s assistant. Pennsylvania governor orders schools closed indefinitely Update 2:30 p.m. EDT March 30: Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania announced schools across the state would be closed indefinitely amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, WPXI reported. The governor also expanded his previously issued stay at home order to include more counties. The order, which bars people from leaving their homes except for essential activities, will be in effect until April 30, according to WPXI. Virginia governor issues ‘stay at home’ order Update 2:25 p.m. EDT March 30: Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia issued an order Monday instructing residents to stay home as officials work to curb the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, WTVR-TV reported. Like similar orders issued in recent days across the country, the order will allow for people to leave their homes only for essential activities, such as grocery shopping. “Please stay home as much as possible,” Northam said Monday, according to WTVR-TV. “This is a community-wide effort and I thank you for complying. This is a time of sacrifice. We need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly.” US State Department continuing with repatriation Update 2:20 p.m. EDT March 30: State Department officials said they have successfully arranged the repatriation of some 25,000 American citizens stranded abroad in more than 50 countries due to the coronavirus pandemic. Department officials said they are continuing to ramp up evacuation efforts and that more than 100 flights for U.S. citizens have been scheduled for the coming weeks. About 9,000 Americans have registered for those upcoming flights and there is still space available on many. Many of those stranded are in Latin American countries, notably Peru, where some Americans have been quarantined by authorities. Meanwhile, department health officials said there are 75 confirmed coronavirus cases among employees at the 220 U.S. embassies. Inside the United States, the officials said there are 30 confirmed cases of the virus at State Department offices in nine cities. Rhode Island schools to be closed through April Update 1:45 p.m. EDT March 30: Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island on Monday announced the state’s public schools will remain closed through the end of April in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus, WPRI-TV reported. The governor also announced the state’s fourth death connected to COVID-19. She said 114 new coronavirus cases were identified, bringing the state’s total to 408, according to WPRI-TV. “We believe we’re in a fast spread of the virus at this point in Rhode Island,” Raimondo said Monday, according to the news network. ‘What is happening in New York is not an anomaly,’ governor says Update 1:35 p.m. EDT March 30: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York cautioned Americans on Monday against believing the disproportionate amount of COVID-19 cases reported in the state will be confined to the area. “No American is immune,” Cuomo said Monday at a news conference. “What is happening in New York is not an anomaly.” As of Monday afternoon, 66,497 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, by far the highest number of recorded cases in the U.S. The second highest number of cases have been reported in New Jersey, where 13,386 people had tested positive for the viral infection as of Monday. Cuomo said the numbers released Monday include 9,517 people who are currently hospitalized because of COVID-19 in New York state. Cuomo said 2,352 patients were in intensive care units. Officials have discharged 4,204 patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus, according to authorities. 34 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Louisiana Update 1:25 p.m. EDT March 30: Health officials in Louisiana reported 34 new deaths connected to the 2019 novel coronavirus, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 185. Officials said 4,025 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state as of noon local time Monday. Minor dies of COVID-19 in New York City Update 12:55 p.m. EDT March 30: Officials with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Monday announced the death of a minor due to the 2019 novel coronavirus. Officials did not provide the minor’s exact age, although they said in a data report that he or she had underlying medical conditions. The minor is the first believed to have died in New York City of the coronavirus. Globally, few minors have died due to COVID-19, which health officials say tends to disproportionately affect older generations. On Saturday, officials in Illinois said an infant died of COVID-19. Earlier in the month, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a 10-month-old infant died in China from the viral infection. 4 more deaths, 126 more COVID-19 cases reported in Georgia Update 12:50 p.m. EDT March 30: Officials in Georgia said that as of noon Monday, 2,809 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state, up 126 from the number of cases reported Sunday night, WSB-TV reported. Officials said four more deaths have also been reported, bringing Georgia’s total death toll connected to the novel coronavirus to 87, according to WSB-TV. The youngest person to die of the illness in Georgia was 29 years old. Dougherty County has reported the most deaths at 17 victims. The median age of people who have died from the virus is 68. More than 100,000 COVID-19 cases reported in Italy Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 30: Reports of the 2019 novel coronavirus have topped 100,000 in Italy, making the nation the second to have case numbers in the six-digit range. Officials with the Italian Ministry of Health said Monday that 101,739 coronavirus cases have been reported in the country. Authorities said 11,597 people have died in the country of the viral infection while 14,620 people have recovered. The numbers put Italy second only to the United States in terms of confirmed COVID-19 cases. In the U.S., more than 144,000 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed as of Monday afternoon, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 693 new coronavirus cases reported in Pennsylvania Update 12:20 p.m. EDT March 30: Health officials in Pennsylvania announced 693 new novel coronavirus cases in the state Monday, according to WPXI-TV. The new cases bring the total number of viral infections to 4,087 in the state, WPXI-TV reported. In addition to the new cases, 11 more deaths have been reported. The statewide death total is now at 49. USNS Comfort arrives in New York Update 12 p.m. EDT March 30: A Navy hospital ship has arrived in New York City to help relieve the coronavirus crisis gripping New York City’s hospitals. The USNS Comfort has 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms that could be up and running within 24 hours. It's expected to bolster a besieged health care system by treating non-coronavirus patients while hospitals treat people with COVID-19. New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, reported Sunday that its toll had risen to 776. Macy’s to furlough most employees due to COVID-19 pandemic Update 11:55 a.m. EDT March 30: Officials with Macy’s Inc. announced Monday that the company will furlough most of its 125,000 employees as the country reels from the economic impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The company previously announced a closure of all of its stores, including Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, beginning March 17. Company officials said they would focus on supporting the company’s online retail. “While the digital business remains open, we have lost the majority of our sales due to the store closures,” officials said Monday in a news release. “Across Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Bluemercury brands, we will be moving to the absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations. This means the majority of our colleagues will go on furlough beginning this week.” Macy’s Inc. will continue to provide health care coverage for furloughed employees through at least May. “We expect to bring colleagues back on a staggered bases as business resumes,” company officials said. Mnuchin says small businesses could get directions for coronavirus relief Monday Update 11:35 a.m. EDT March 30: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business News that owners of small businesses could see instructions for filing for federal aid beginning as soon as Monday. “These loans will be available starting on Friday,” Mnuchin said in an interview Monday with Fox Business News. “We hope later today we’ll be releasing the documents and instructions.' Krispy Kreme giving free doughnuts to health care workers Update 11:15 a.m. EDT March 30: Company officials have announced that beginning Monday, Krispy Kreme will give away a dozen of its Original Glazed doughnuts for health care workers through May 11. “Just go to a Krispy Kreme drive-thru, tell us what you need and show us your employer badge,” Krispy Kreme officials said in a news release. “That’s it. Pick up some free dozens on the way to work for you and your colleagues, or maybe a free dozen on your way home to family after a long shift.” Maryland governor issues ‘stay at home’ order for state Update 11:10 am. EDT March 30: Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland announced Monday that he signed a “stay at home” order for the state amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The governor announced the order, which bars residents from leaving their homes for less-than-essential reasons, as health personnel in the state deal with 1,413 confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus. Hogan said the cases include a month-old infant who has been diagnosed with the viral infection. “No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it’s for an essential job or an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention or other essential purposes,” Hogan said. Fifteen people have died of COVID-19 in Maryland, according to officials. Governor announces ‘safer at home’ order for southeast Florida Update 11 a.m. EDT March 30: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced Monday that he plans to sign a “safer at home” order for four counties in the southeast of the state which account for 60 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases, according to WPLG. The order will ensure the area, including Palm Beach and Monroe counties, is 'operating under the same sheet of music,' DeSantis said, WPLG reported. DeSantis also announced Monday that he plans to sign an order allowing for retired law enforcement and medical professionals to return to join the fight against the novel coronavirus, WJAX-TV reported. Trump presses need for extra month of social distancing Update 10:40 a.m. EDT March 30: A day after changing course and moving to extend social distancing guidelines through the end of April to fight the coronavirus, President Donald Trump told Fox News that Americans must do their part to help hold down the number of deaths from the virus outbreak. “It’s hard work to stay in place, to distance yourself,” the president said in a Monday morning phone call to “Fox and Friends.” “And hopefully, we will keep the deaths down to a minimum,” Trump said. On Sunday, the president told Americans that if his administration can keep deaths from the virus to 100,000, that would be a “good job.” USNS Mercy begins accepting patients in Los Angeles Update 10:25 a.m. EDT March 30: A floating U.S. Navy hospital began accepting its first patients Sunday after docking in Los Angeles to help relieve the strain on hospitals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. 'The men and women embarked on board Mercy are energized, eager, and ready to provide relief to those in need,” Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy’s Military Treatment Facility commanding officer, said Sunday in a news release. The ship is one of two U.S. Navy hospital ships deployed to support hospitals grappling with the COVID-19 outbreak. Personnel on the ship and on the USNS Comfort, which docked Monday morning in New York City, will treat non-coronavirus patients to ease the strain on local hospitals. Vincent van Gogh painting stolen from museum closed due to COVID-19 outbreak Update 10:15 a.m. EDT March 30: Officials with the Singer Laren museum in Amsterdam said Monday that a painting by Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh had been stolen in an overnight raid. The museum had been closed to help stymie the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to The Associated Press. The AP reported Van Gogh’s “Spring Garden” was taken early Monday. Spain surpasses China with more than 85,000 coronavirus cases Update 10:10 a.m. EDT March 30: Numbers released Monday by Spanish health officials show the country has overtaken China in the number of reported COVID-19 cases. According to authorities, 85,195 novel coronavirus cases have been reported in Spain, making it the country with the second-most cases in the world. Chinese health officials have reported 82,356 cases, according to the World Health Organization. In the country with the most number of COVID-19 cases, the United States, 143,055 coronavirus cases have been reported, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In Spain, 7,340 people have died of COVID-19. The number makes Spain the country with the second-highest number of reported deaths behind Italy, which has reported more than 10,000 fatal infections. Prince Charles ends isolation period for virus Update 9:50 a.m. EDT March 30: Prince Charles has ended his period of isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus. The prince’s Clarence House office says Charles is in good health after completing the seven-day quarantine recommended by U.K. health authorities for people with COVID-19 symptoms. Royal officials said last week the 71-year-old heir to the British throne was showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and self-isolating at the royal family’s Balmoral estate in Scotland. His wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, tested negative but will be in self-isolation until the end of the week. Charles’ mother Queen Elizabeth II, 93, is at her Windsor Castle home west of London with her 98-year-old husband, Prince Philip. Saudi Arabian health officials report 154 new COVID-19 cases Update 9:45 a.m. EDT March 30: Officials in Saudi Arabia announced 154 new coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 1,453. According to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health, health personnel have linked 16 of the new cases to travel. Officials said 138 cases stemmed from direct contact with a person previously diagnosed with COVID-19. Eight people have died of the 2019 novel coronavirus in Saudi Arabia. 93 new coronavirus deaths reported in the Netherlands Update 9:35 a.m. EDT March 30: Health officials in the Netherlands recorded 93 new deaths related to the 2019 novel coronavirus on Monday, raising the country’s COVID-19 death toll to 864. Officials with the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment also reported 884 new COVID-19 cases. Health authorities have reported 11,750 coronavirus cases in the country so far. Of those cases, 3,990 have prompted hospital admissions. USNS Comfort to arrive in New York on Monday Update 9:30 a.m. EDT March 30: The USNS Comfort, a U.S. Navy floating hospital, is set to arrive in New York on Monday to help relieve the pressure on hospitals dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. The ship was scheduled to dock around 10 a.m., according to WNBC. Officials said they expected to begin taking patients 24 hours after the ship’s arrival. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said Sunday that the ship “will right away be making a difference.” “We are so, so grateful to the Navy, to the military that this new help will be arriving in our city,” he said. The ship, staffed with more than 1,100 Navy medical personnel and support staff along with over 70 civil service mariners, will be open to patients who are not infected with COVID-19. Field hospital being built in New York’s Central Park Update 8:55 a.m. EDT March 30: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced Sunday that officials are building a field hospital in New York City’s Central Park to help respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re adding hospital beds,” de Blasio said Sunday. “You’ll see an unusual sight in Central Park. We’re working with Mount Sinai (Health System) to open a field hospital in Central Park’s East Meadow.” Officials said the 68-bed hospital will begin to accept patients from Mount Sinai Hospital on Tuesday. Trump weighs in on coronavirus response in new interview Update 8:38 a.m. EDT March 30: President Donald Trump weighed in on the coronavirus pandemic in a Monday morning interview with “Fox and Friends.” When asked whether the country has enough equipment to deal with the crisis, he pointed to efforts to build a 2,900-bed mobile hospital and medical centers in New York City, and said “massive planeloads” of deliveries and thousands of ventilators were on the way. 'We're delivering so much equipment, nobody's ever really seen anything like it,' he said, touting his relationship with governors of states that have been hit hard by the virus. Trump said he expected the pandemic to peak in the U.S. “around Easter,” and by June 1, “the deaths will be at a very low number.” He said that he reassessed his initial '15 days to slow the spread' plan after listening to advice from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah L. Birx. “We picked the end of April as the day where we can see some real progress,” he said of the new timeline to continue social distancing through April 30. He added that if the government hadn't 'shut [the economy] down,' up to 2.2 million people here could have died from the virus. Trump also said new, rapid coronavirus tests could be available as soon as this week. Additionally, he slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's criticism of his response to the outbreak, calling her 'a sick puppy.' “I think it’s a disgrace to her country, her family,” he said. Israeli prime minister self-isolating after possible coronavirus exposure Update 8:30 a.m. EDT March 30: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was self-isolating Monday after one of his aides tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports. Officials told Reuters that Netanyahu was scheduled to take a coronavirus test Tuesday. He previously tested negative for COVID-19 on March 15, according to Reuters. Officials said in a statement obtained by CNN that Netanyahu’s doctor would determine when to end the self-isolation. Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for 2021 Update 8:15 a.m. EDT March 30: Organizers announced Monday that the Tokyo Olympics, which had been set to take place over the summer, have been rescheduled for 2021. Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year. “The schedule for the games is key to preparing for the games,' Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.” Adviser to British PM Boris Johnson experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolating Update 7:26 a.m. EDT March 30: Just days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he tested positive for coronavirus, one of his chief advisers is experiencing symptoms and has decided to self-isolate. According to The Associated Press, Dominic Cummings said he started feeling sick over the weekend and has been staying at home. Meanwhile, Johnson took to Twitter on Monday morning to say he’s “been working from home and continuing to lead the government’s response to coronavirus.' >> See the tweet here FDA issues ‘emergency use authorization’ of anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus treatment Update 6:45 a.m. EDT March 30: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an “emergency use authorization' to allow two anti-malaria drugs donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to possibly be used to treat coronavirus patients, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in a news release Sunday. HHS said it “accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, and 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals' on Sunday. The authorization allows the donated drugs “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” the release said. In addition, the authorization “requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including the known risks and drug interactions,” according to the FDA’s website. Read more here or here. New York City to fine people who violate social-distancing rules Update 5:20 a.m. EDT March 30: New York City will fine those who fail to follow social-distancing guidelines, officials said. According to WPIX-TV, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the news in a Sunday news conference. “We’re going to give people every chance to listen, and if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” he said, adding that people could face fines of $250 to $500 if they continue to violate the rules after receiving a warning from police. The city has already shut down nonessential businesses and instructed to residents to stay inside when possible, WPIX reported. Budget airline EasyJet grounds entire fleet Update 4:32 a.m. EDT March 30: British airline EasyJet announced that it is grounding all of its 344 planes amid the coronavirus pandemic, ITV is reporting. According to CNN, the budget carrier’s decision takes effect Monday. “At this stage, there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights,” the Luton-based airline said in a statement. The carrier tweeted Monday that entitlements for customers whose flights were canceled “are available for up to a year after your flight was originally due to depart.” >> See the tweets here 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' songwriter Alan Merrill dies of complications from virus Update 3:23 a.m. EDT March 30: Alan Merrill, best known for writing the hit song “I Love Rock 'n' Roll,” died Sunday morning after experiencing coronavirus complications. He was 69. According to USA Today, Merrill’s daughter, Laura, said in a Facebook post that her father died at a New York City hospital. “I was given two minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out,” she wrote of Merrill, who also was a guitarist and vocalist. “He seemed peaceful, and as I left, there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right-hand side of the CNN/Fox News screen.” She said she walked home and received the news of his death by the time she reached her apartment. “I’ve made a million jokes about the ‘Rona’ and how it’ll ‘getcha’ ... boy, do I feel stupid,” she continued. “If anything can come of this, I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think it’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has.” >> See the post here ″I Love Rock 'n' Roll' was originally released by the Arrows, a band Merrill was part of, in 1975, according to “Entertainment Tonight.” Seven years later, rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts released a version of the song, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the outlet reported. Jett took to Twitter to pay tribute to Merrill on Sunday, sending “thoughts and love” to his loved ones and the music community. “I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,” Jett wrote. “With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.” >> See the tweet here News of Merrill’s death came the same day that country music star Joe Diffie died from the virus, “ET” reported. Costco to temporarily change store hours Update 1:31 a.m. EDT March 30: In an effort to help protect its customers, Costco announced it will temporarily implement new weekday closing hours for its locations nationwide. Beginning Monday, all its warehouses will close at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and its gas stations will close at 7 p.m. However, it said some specific locations’ hours would be different. The wholesale giant said its weekend hours would remain the same. For its members ages 60 and older and those with physical impairments, Costco has special operating hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Costco said it has made some temporary department changes to create more space for social distancing and is following CDC recommendations to minimize risk to its members and employees. U.S. cases soar past 142,000, including more than 2,500 deaths Update 12:39 a.m. EDT March 30: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 142,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 142,502 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,506 deaths. Worldwide, there are 722,435 confirmed cases and 33,997 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 97,689 reported in Italy and the 82,149 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 966 have occurred in New York, 200 in Washington state, 161 in New Jersey and 151 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 59,746 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 13,386, California with 6,284 and Michigan with 5,488. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Massachusetts: 4,955, including 48 deaths • Florida: 4,950, including 60 deaths • Illinois: 4,596, including 66 deaths • Washington: 4,493, including 200 deaths Meanwhile, Louisiana and Pennsylvania have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The number of couples filing for divorce in China is reportedly way up after long periods of COVID 19-related confinement. The British Parliament was just warned to expect a spike in U.K. divorces too, blamed on coronavirus quarantines. “My friends certainly have sent me memes of wow, the divorce rate is going to go up,” attorney Rick Jones, of Golberg Jones in Seattle, said Monday. However, Jones, who specializes in family law, told KIRO-TV he’s not seeing an uptick in divorce filings related to statewide stay-at-home orders. Yet. “Even in families that work well together, there are roles to play, and those roles include one or both of the parents getting up and going to work, or the child being in school,” Jones said during an interview from his office. “So to all of a sudden have these roles massively changed in a time that we’re all feeling incredibly stretched emotionally is definitely a stressor.' Jones expects marriages may fracture weeks and months from now because the coronavirus crisis is causing many couples to experience job loss. “Financial stress is always one of the big stressors that lead to divorce,” he said. “Trying to figure out how you can support an entire family, a spouse, and however many children you have, and that creates a level of stress.” Even though Jones’ practice has not seen an increase in divorce filings so far, his office has received a large number of coronavirus-related calls in recent weeks, including questions about “Is my parenting plan still enforceable? Can she or can he withhold the children? Can we even by agreement deviate from this parenting plan, for all the right reasons, if in fact someone has tested positive?” Jones explained. Psychology Today published ways to help prevent divorce for families working and staying at home. Jones echoes one of those: be kind. “You might not expect this from a divorce attorney, but I would say tough it out. Understand that you’re stretched. Everyone is. So be kind to each other.”

Washington Insider

  • A day after telling Americans that he would extend his call to drastically scale back social activity until the end of April, President Donald Trump said his administration was making big gains in making more tests available to check for the Coronavirus, even as some elected officials said it was clear not all needs were being met. 'Over one million Americans have now been tested,' the President said from the White House Rose Garden, praising companies for developing newer processes to more quickly test Americans. 'Today we reached a milestone in our war against the Coronavirus,' Mr. Trump added. As for his move to extend social distancing until April 30, the President urged Americans to join together. 'This is our shared patriotic duty - challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days,' Mr. Trump said. While the President sternly defended his administration's record on testing - at one point rebuking a reporter for asking what he said was a 'snarky' question on the subject - there continue to be concerns voiced in both parties, and evidence from around the nation of testing shortages. 'We need to do more to ramp up our testing capacity,' said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) on Monday, even as he praised efforts by the White House to achieve that. 'We have to do much more on testing, we’re ramping up, surging up in that capacity as we work toward some sort of medicine to address the virus,' said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR). As the President reportedly told Governors on a Monday call that he has not heard of testing shortages, there are examples readily available - like this from Huntsville, Alabama. President Trump began his Monday briefing by referencing his Sunday announcement that he would extend social distancing guidelines through the end of April, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. Voicing his support for scientific models about the spread of the virus, the President said the move to extend restrictions on social activities would pay off in a big way. “We could save more than one million American lives,” Mr. Trump said, as he has said the most likely scenario right now involves between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans dying of the Coronavirus.