CORONAVIRUS:

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  • More than 860,000 people worldwide -- including more than 189,000 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 Wednesday, April 1, continue below: Kroger announces $2-per-hour ‘hero bonus’ for employees on coronavirus front lines Update 2:44 a.m. EDT April 1: U.S. supermarket chain Kroger announced early Wednesday it will pay staff members still working amid the worsening novel coronavirus outbreak an additional $2-per-hour “hero bonus.” “Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the front lines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement announcing the bonuses. The pay bump – benefitting all front-line grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center staff – applies to all hours worked between March 29 and April 18. UN Secretary-General: Coronavirus ‘attacking societies at their core’ Update 2:21 a.m. EDT April 1: Citing the “human crisis” created by the novel coronavirus pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the collective global response the “greatest test” since World War II. Guterres’ insights were published in a new report released Tuesday. “COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” Guterres stated in the report, adding, “This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core.' Read the full report here. US coronavirus deaths hit 4,076, total cases top 189K Update 12:31 a.m. EDT April 1: By early Wednesday morning, the number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States neared 200,000 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 189,510 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 4,076 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation by wide margins, including the 105,792 reported in Italy and the 95,923 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 1,550 – or nearly half of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 267 in New Jersey and 259 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 75,795 confirmed cases – or roughly four times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 18,696 and Michigan with 7,615. Three other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 6,932, including 150 deaths • Florida: 6,732, including 84 deaths • Massachusetts: 6,220, including 89 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington state each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections; Pennsylvania and Georgia each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; Texas and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s complete state-by-state breakdown.
  • Less than two weeks after Orange County’s rent assistance program was announced, it’s being suspended after receiving more than 20,000 applications. Here’s the county’s news release: Orange County Government will close its COVID-19 Rental Assistance Hotline and online application effective 5 p.m. on April 1, 2020. The launch of the local program was meant to function as a stopgap measure to help Orange County residents until federal and state funding was available. Orange County Government intends to fully process all applications and vet them appropriately. The Orange County COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program was launched by Mayor Jerry L. Demings on Friday, March 20, 2020. This was a one-time benefit for one month’s rent assistance for Orange County residents only with specific qualifications. The program, which is taxpayer funded, was initially set up to help 1,500 families with a budget of $1.8 million. “We ask for residents’ patience as we process their applications and appointments,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “We have increased our staff and our facilities to accommodate the demand. We will bring the program’s additional funding needs to our Orange County Board of County Commissioners at an upcoming Board meeting.”  
  • A musician in Central Florida who has no gigs for the foreseeable future is trying to raise thousands of dollars for other musicians who are also out of work. “I figured this will be the perfect opportunity for me to give back, versus making a big deal about myself,” said singer and guitarist Theo Moon. Moon has been playing music full-time in the Central Florida area for about three years, frequenting places such as Crooked Can Brewing, Tin Roof and Dead Lizard Brewing. Moon said the first week of March was the last time he played shows.  The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the rest of his March gigs, and April’s not looking good either. “Who knows, this could go into June or July,” Moon said.  “The biggest thing is the hospitality industry is very linked to musicians.  We play at the restaurants. We play at the hotels. With those shutdown, a lot of musicians including myself have no place to make money.” Moon said he’s wanted to do something for other musicians for several years, and he’s decided to act now.  Moon created the “Covid-19 Artists Relief Fund” on Facebook.  He set a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of his birthday, which is Monday, April 6.   (App users tap here) Any musicians or bands in Central Florida who wish to possibly receive some of the donated money should email their story to Theo Moon at theomoonmusic@gmail.com.  Moon said he wants to send out $300 to $500 checks to the artists who need the money. (App users tap here)
  • It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel.  In the year 2020, there was no need to stand in line or wait for a sweaty employee to strap you into a seat. The roller coasters were ‘virtual,’ enjoyed on a living room couch.  Visit Orlando is out with a compilation of virtual experiences just in time for weary parents working from home and antsy kids. “We recognize that now, more than ever, we all want to escape from reality, even if it’s just for a moment,” said George Aguel, President & CEO of Visit Orlando. “Whether you like floating down a lazy river in one of our resort pools or immersing yourself into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we hope these experiences provide a much-needed break from everyday life.”  Experience all of Orlando  Try riding the tallest roller coaster, ziplining over alligators,or standing on Main Street in front of Cinderella Castle. The Orlando Virtual Tour takes viewers into 85 experiences throughout Orlando, from theme parks and hotels to dining and shopping hot spots, with a 360-degree perspective.  Even More of the Theme Parks  Walt Disney World – Watch a sneak peek of new rides like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, enjoy character meet-and-greets and much more exclusively from the Disney Parks YouTube channel. Universal Orlando Resort – Travel to different worlds virtually like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alleyand experience the parks with 360-degree videos of some of the most popular roller coasters, explore holiday events and take a closer look into the restaurants that make up Universal CityWalk from the Universal Orlando Resort’s YouTube channel.  LEGOLAND Florida Resort – Explore the LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Castle virtually through the twists and turns of The Dragon, an indoor/outdoor steel roller coaster.  Virtual Relaxation  Relax and virtually float through by yourself down the winding lazy river that is part of the 5-acre waterpark located in the luxurious grounds of the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.  Explore a lake on a giant swan-shaped boat, through the swan boat ride in downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park.  Float down the river with gushing geysers at Aquatica’s Roa’s Rapids at the Aquatica Orlando water park, in a virtual action river experience with high tides and gushing geysers.  Animal Interactions  From Gatorland’s School of Croc, a Facebook live every day at 10 a.m. every showcases animals and adventures. In the afternoon, their YouTube channel shares live-action encounters with animals including Burmese pythons, crocodiles, alligators and monitor lizards.  Peak into animal habitats through a new daily video series on Facebook live, from the Central Florida Zoo.  Explore a penguin colony at SeaWorld’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.  High-Speed Thrills  Virtually experience indoor skydiving at iFLY Orlando inside of their high-energy vertical wind tunnels that allows visitors to float on a column of air.  Get in the driver’s seat for a virtual race through Andretti Indoor Karting & Games’ indoor track of turns and high-speed chases.  Virtual Learning – Making Education Fun  You can now stream educational IMAX films typically shown in the cinedome of the Orlando Science Center. Enjoy MacGillivray Freeman IMAX films by streaming, America's Musical Journey on YouTube; and Dream Big, Humpback Whale and National Parks Adventure on Vimeo on Demand.  Learn about living in space, Mars and rocketry or tour Space Shuttle Atlantis during a new series of Facebook lives from Kennedy Space Center.  From Disney Imagineers, learn real-world case studies and even design a theme park experience through interactive activities and lessons in theme park design and engineering. This free online program is created in partnership with the Khan Academy and Pixar.  Learn to draw Mickey Mouse as Disney shares a complete series of how-to tutorials on how to draw the famous figure on the Disney Parks YouTube channel. Cast member Stephen Ketchum provides expert tips on how to draw Mickey over the years, from vintage 1920s Mickey to the more contemporary “pied-eyed” version.  Music, Movies and Museums  Listen to intimate musical performances at the Timucua Arts Foundation, set in the home grounds of the former music director for Cirque du Soleil. The foundation will post daily videos of previously recorded live performances on its Facebook page, also host a Digital Music Flea Market to help local musical artists.  Get a daily move recommendation and insider info on the film from a cinematic expert on the Enzian Theater’s Facebook page. Explore the museum galleries of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art via the museum's website, with PDF versions of the object guides that are normally placed in each gallery. Learn the history behind the museum through two films available for streaming: A Legacy for the Community and The Tiffany Chapel: A Masterpiece Rediscovered.
  • More than 800,000 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: Nearly 60 have virus at Southern California nursing home Update 10:50 p.m. EDT March 31: Nearly 60 patients and staff members of a Southern California nursing home have tested positive for the coronavirus and two residents have died in what may be the state’s largest outbreak at a single facility, authorities said Tuesday. While testing continues, Cedar Mountain Post Acute Rehabilitation in Yucaipa has been told to assume that all of its patients have the COVID-19 virus, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Director Trudy Raymundo said at a news conference. The nursing home, which has some 90 beds, isn’t accepting new residents or discharging any and the facility has been closed to visitors under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s two-week-old stay-at-home order, Raymundo said. Help heads to NYC as experts predict over 100,000 US deaths Update 7:30 p.m. EDT March 31: With refrigerated morgue trucks parked on New York City’s streets to collect the surging number of dead, public health officials projected Tuesday that the coronavirus could ultimately kill more than 100,000 people across the U.S. Some states that have become hot spots warn they’re running low on ventilators, while two cruise ships pleaded for Florida to allow them to dock to carry off the sick and dead. The number of U.S. deaths could range from 100,000 to 240,000 even if Americans continue to stay home and limit contact with others, experts predicted at a media briefing with President Donald Trump. But they said they hope the figure won’t soar that high if everyone does their part to prevent the virus from spreading. “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” said Trump, who has extended social distancing guidelines to April 30. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.” Man in 40s becomes 5th virus death in New Mexico Update 7:30 p.m. EDT March 31: New Mexico’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic increased to five with the case of a man in his 40s, as state officials on Tuesday said expanded testing will begin in an effort to target cases in which people have no symptoms. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the latest fatality, saying the total number of cases in the state increased to at least 315. About two dozen people remained hospitalized. State health officials said the Bernalillo County man who died was found unresponsive at home last week. He had an underlying medical condition. White House projects 100K to 240K US deaths from virus Update 6:15 p.m. EDT March 31: The White House on Tuesday projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. President Donald Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s social distancing guidelines. Trump called on Americans to brace themselves for a “rough two-week period” but predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” of the global catastrophe that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more. “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.” The comments came after Trump announced Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that urged Americans to cease social gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus. It was an abrupt reversal for Trump, who spent much of last week targeting April 12 as the day he wanted to see Americans “pack the pews” for Easter Sunday services. Wall Street closes out its worst quarter since 2008 Update 4:15 p.m. EDT March 31: Stocks are down in subdued trading Tuesday, as Wall Street’s wraps up its worst quarter of performance since the 2008 financial crisis. The S&P 500 is down in afternoon trading after flipping between modest losses and gains, pushing its loss for the first three months of the year to 20.2%. Trading was similarly shaky elsewhere earlier in the day: Global markets initially rose following a stronger-than-expected report on China’s economy, but momentum briefly stalled after the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus outbreak jumped in Spain. Major European indexes shook off the early slide and were headed higher. The surge of coronavirus cases around the world has sent markets to breathtaking drops since mid-February, undercutting what had been a good start to the year. Markets rose early in the quarter, and the S&P 500 set a record with expectations that the economy was accelerating due to calming trade wars and low interest rates around the world. Benchmark U.S. crude oil has dropped by roughly two thirds this quarter and hit its lowest price since 2002 on Monday on expectations of a dramatic drop in demand. The price turned a bit higher Tuesday. Germany’s DAX has lost a quarter of its value since the start of the year, and South Korean stocks dropped just over 20%. The big question is if markets will get worse. At this point, no one knows. New York City investigating firing of Amazon employee who led walkout Update 3:50 p.m. EDT March 31: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said Tuesday that officials will investigate the firing of an Amazon employee who led a walkout of workers at the company’s Staten Island warehouse, according to multiple reports. De Blasio said New York City’s Human Rights Commission would investigate the incident, The New York Times reported. Fifteen Amazon employees walked off the job Monday in Staten Island after reports surfaced that other warehouse employees had been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to Reuters. Nearly 7,000 COVID-19 cases reported in California Update 3:35 p.m. EDT March 31: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said the state had nearly 7,000 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon. Newsom said 6,932 coronavirus infections have been reported in the state, including 1,617 that were serious enough to require hospitalization. The governor said 657 of those hospitalized patients were admitted to intensive care units. “Over the next few weeks we expect these numbers to increase,” Newsom said. “This disease can impact anyone. Stay home. Take this seriously.” Slovakia records 1st coronavirus death Update 3:10 p.m. EDT March 31: Health officials in Slovakia have reported the country’s first fatal case of COVID-19, according to The Guardian. Officials have confirmed 363 coronavirus infections in the central European country, The Guardian reported. COVID-19 cases top 2,000 in Ohio Update 3:05 p.m. EDT March 31: Officials with the Ohio Department of Health have confirmed 2,199 COVID-19 cases in the state, according to WHIO-TV. Of those, 585 involved patients who had to be hospitalized due to the viral infection, WHIO-TV reported. In Ohio, 55 people have died of the coronavirus. Pennsylvania governor expands stay-at-home order Update 2:45 p.m. EDT March 31: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine have revised a stay-at-home order issued for parts of the state to include several more counties as officials work to contain the spread of COVID-19, WPXI-TV reported. The order will take effect at 8 p.m. and will continue through April 30, according to WPXI-TV. 1st coronavirus cases reported in Burundi Update 2:35 p.m. EDT March 31: Officials in Burundi announced the first reported cases of COVID-19 in the East African country on Tuesday, according to The Guardian. Citing government officials, The Guardian reported the patients had been traveled outside of the country in recent days. One patient, identified only as a 56-year-old, had recently returned from Rwanda while the other, 42 years old, recently returned from Dubai. JCPenney furloughing most store employees Update 1:55 p.m. EDT March 31: Officials with JCPenney Company Inc. announced Tuesday that the company is extending its temporary store closures and furloughing most store hourly associates beginning April 2. In a news release, company officials said the furloughs would affect “a significant portion of associates in the Company’s Home Office, Salt Lake City and Soho design offices ... along with its store salaried associates.” “At JCPenney, we are making tough, prudent decisions to protect both the safety of our associates and the future of our company,” Jill Soltau, chief executive officer of JCPenney, said Tuesday in a news release. “We remain optimistic about JCPenney’s ability to weather this pandemic.” The company announced March 20 that many employees working in JCPenney supply chain and logistics centers had been furloughed. Officials said the company would continue to pay full health benefits for furloughed employees, according to officials. Tesla giving extra ventilators to hospitals, Elon Musk says Update 1:35 p.m. EDT March 31: Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said Tuesday that his electric car company, Tesla Inc., has extra ventilators and offered to ship them to hospitals free-of-charge. Musk said the “only requirement is that the (ventilators) are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse.' Trump calls for infrastructure plan to aid virus recovery Update 1:10 p.m. EDT March 31: On the heels of a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package to help the United States rebound from the negative economic impact of the coronavirus, President Donald Trump on Tuesday signaled that he would be ready to support an almost equal amount of spending to build new roads and bridges in the United States. Mr. Trump cited low interest rates as one reason to spend extra money - a suggestion made by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve last week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well. US death toll rises past 3,500 Update 12:55 p.m. EDT March 31: The death toll associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. topped 3,500 on Tuesday, eclipsing the death toll reported in China, The Associated Press reported. Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and over 39,000 people have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the U.S. had around 3,550 by midday, eclipsing China’s official toll of about 3,300. New York was the nation’s deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City. 756 new coronavirus cases reported in Pennsylvania Update 12:45 p.m. EDT March 31: Officials in Pennsylvania announced on Tuesday announced 756 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 4,842, according to WPXI-TV. The Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported 14 more deaths in the state. WPXI-TV reported the statewide coronavirus death toll was at 63 on Tuesday. State Department official dies of COVID-19 Update 12:40 p.m. EDT March 31: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a State Department official has died from the coronavirus, the first American fatality among the U.S. diplomatic corps from the pandemic. Pompeo didn’t give details about the official who passed away or where the person contracted the disease. He said about four to five dozen State Department employees had tested positive for the virus, including locally employed staffers at a handful of the 220 U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. On Monday, State Department health officials said at least two locally employed staff members had died from the virus. Those officials said they were tracking 105 confirmed cases among the agency’s global workforce of about 75,000. Of those, 75 are overseas and 30 are at State Department offices in the United States in nine cities. New York governor says brother Chris Cuomo ‘is going to be fine’ Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 31: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said his brother, CNN reporter Chris Cuomo, “is going to be fine” after the journalist announced Tuesday that he’d been diagnosed with COVID-19. “He’s young, in good shape, strong -- not as strong as he thinks -- but he will be fine,” Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference Tuesday. The governor said that two weeks earlier, he told his younger brother that he could no longer have their elderly mother in his home. The governor said Chris Cuomo feared their mother would be lonely, but he heeded his brother’s advice. Andrew Cuomo said if his younger brother hadn’t listened, their mother could have been exposed to the coronavirus. “This virus is that insidious,' the governor said. Walmart to begin checking employees’ temperatures Update 12:15 p.m. EDT March 31: Walmart officials said Tuesday that the company will begin checking employees’ temperatures and ask “some basic health screen questions” as they report to work amid the COVID-19 outbreak. “Any associate with a temperature of 100.0 degrees will be paid for reporting to work and asked to return home and seek medical treatment if necessary,' Walmart President and CEO John Furner and Sam’s Club President and CEO Kath McLay said Tuesday in a joint statement. 'The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.” Officials said that over the next few weeks, Walmart plans to get infrared thermometers out to all of the company’s locations. More than 75,000 coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 12 p.m. EDT March 31: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said officials in the state have identified 75,794 cases of COVID-19, up 9,397 from the number of cases reported Monday. The numbers include 10,929 cases that required patients to be hospitalized. Cuomo said 2,710 patients have been admitted to intensive care units while 4,975 have recovered and been discharged. Cuomo noted that it remained unclear Tuesday when the coronavirus pandemic would end. “I can say this, it’s not going to be soon,” Cuomo said. “So calibrate yourself and your expectations, so you are not disappointed every morning when you wake up.' CNN reporter Chris Cuomo tests positive for COVID-19 Update 11:40 a.m. EDT March 31: Journalist Chris Cuomo of CNN announced Tuesday that he’s tested positive for COVID-19. “I have been exposed to people in recent days who have subsequently tested positive and I had fever, chills and shortness of breath,” Cuomo said in a Twitter post. “I just hope I didn’t give it to the kids and Christina. That would make me feel worse than this illness!' Cuomo said he will continue to report for CNN while self-quarantining in his basement. “We will all beat this by being smart and tough and united!” he wrote. Southwest cuts flights by 40% Update 11:30 a.m. EDT March 31: Officials with Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that the company’s flight schedule is being cut by more than 40% due to low passenger demand amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In a news release Tuesday, officials said about 2,000 flights were cut for each day between May 3 and June 5. “The overall demand for travel remains fluid during this ongoing pandemic and we continue to evaluate further reductions,' company officials said in the release. Trump calls for $2T infrastructure bill amid COVID-19 pandemic Update 11:10 a.m. EDT March 31: President Donald Trump called Tuesday for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill days after he signed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to help Americans struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. “With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,” Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday morning. “It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!” UK officials report 3,009 new COVID-19 cases Update 11 a.m. EDT March 31: Officials in the United Kingdom announced 3,009 new reports of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 25,150. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced 381 new deaths Tuesday connected to the 2019 novel coronavirus. The new reports raise the death toll with COVID-19 in the U.K. to 1,789. White House Coronavirus Task Force considering changing mask guidelines Update 10:55 a.m. EDT March 31: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Tuesday that the White House Coronavirus Task Force is in active discussions over whether to broaden the guidelines for when should people wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering urging Americans to wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, The Washington Post reported Monday. “When we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks,” Fauci said in an interview Tuesday morning with CNN. “We’re not there yet, but I think we’re close to coming to some determination.” Fauci said officials were primarily concerned with ensuring health care providers have the equipment they need. “You don’t want to take away masks from the health care providers who are in a real and present danger of getting infected. That would be the worst thing we do,' Fauci said. “If we have them covered then you can look back and say, ‘Maybe we can broaden this.’” Doctor tests positive for COVID-19 days after meeting with Putin Update 10:35 a.m. EDT March 31: A doctor who last week guided Russian President Vladimir Putin on a tour of the main hospital treating COVID-19 patients in Moscow has tested positive for coronavirus, according to multiple reports. In a Facebook post Tuesday, Denis Protsenko said that despite his diagnosis, he was “feeling pretty good.” Protsenko, director of Hospital No. 40, was photographed shaking hands with Putin and standing near him during a meeting at the hospital March 24, Bloomberg News reported. It was not clear whether Protsenko had already contracted COVID-19 on March 24, The Guardian reported. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg that Putin is regularly tested for COVID-19 and is fine. 191 new coronavirus cases reported in North Carolina Update 10:15 a.m. EDT March 31: Health officials in North Carolina recorded 191 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday morning, bringing the state’s total to 1,498, WSOC-TV reported. Officials have reported a total of eight deaths in the state due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, up two from the six reported deaths Monday. US Army Corps to build hundreds of temporary hospitals amid COVID-19 outbreak Update 10:10 a.m. EDT March 31: Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are searching for dormitories, hotels and large, open spaces which can be converted into temporary hospitals amid fears of a hospital bed shortage because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite said Tuesday morning on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that officials were “looking right now at around 341 different facilities across the United States.” “Our thought was, make it extremely simple,” Semonite said. “Find an existing facility that already has all the codes -- has heat, has water, has I.T., has parking lots -- and just put in whatever we can, like a hospital inside of that.” Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively donate $400K to hospitals Update 9:35 a.m. EDT March 31: Weeks after Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively gave $1 million to support food banks dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, the actors have made another large donation. According to E! News, the power couple donated $400,000 total to four New York hospitals, including $100,000 each to NYU Hospital, Mount Sinai, Northern Westchester Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital. “If you can give, these orgs need our help,” Lively wrote in an Instagram post March 16, after the couple donated $1 million to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada. Researchers testing malaria drug for use against coronavirus Update 8:40 a.m. EDT March 31: Researchers at the University of Washington and New York University are working to see if a decades-old drug used to treat malaria and lupus might be effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine is commonly used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. A stronger form, chloroquine, is used as an anti-malaria drug. “There is an incredible need for methods of breaking community transmission,” said Dr. Ruanne Barnabas of the University of Washington, a principal investigator on the study. “It’s definitely the most urgent study I’ve ever worked on,” she said. First coronavirus case reported in Sierra Leone Update 8:25 a.m. EDT March 31: Officials in Sierra Leone on Tuesday announced the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus, according to The Guardian. The patient was identified as a 37-year-old man who arrived from France on March 16 and has been in isolation ever since, the newspaper reported. “When I did my first coronavirus press conference, I said that it was not a matter of if, but when. Well, ‘when’ has come,” President Julius Maada Bio said, according to The Guardian. Spain reports record-setting single-day coronavirus fatalities Update 7:57 a.m. EDT March 31: Spain set a single-day record of 849 novel coronavirus-related deaths on Monday. Meanwhile, 5,891 additional COVID-19 infections were diagnosed during the same 24-hour period, bringing the nationwide total to 99,417, resulting in 8,189 deaths to date. Belarus reports first coronavirus death Update 7:53 a.m. EDT March 31: President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed the first novel coronavirus-related death in Belarus on Tuesday, according to state TV. The victim is identified as a 75-year-old male actor with other health problems who died in Vitebsk.  Global coronavirus deaths near 39K, worldwide cases top 800K Update 7:37 a.m. EDT March 31: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 38,714 early Tuesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the three months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 800,049 people worldwide. • The United States has confirmed 164,610 confirmed cases, resulting in 3,170 deaths. • Italy has reported 101,739 cases, resulting in 11,591 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 94,417 infections, resulting in 8,189 deaths. • China has recorded 82,272 cases, resulting in 3,309 deaths. • Germany has reported 67,051 cases, resulting in 650 deaths. • France has confirmed 45,171 infections, resulting in 3,030 deaths. • Iran has recorded 44,605 cases, resulting in 2,898 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 22,465 cases, resulting in 1,412 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 15,922 cases, resulting in 359 deaths. • Belgium has recorded 12,775 cases, resulting in 705 deaths. China admits excluding asymptomatic cases from prior coronavirus tallies, report says Update 7:19 a.m. EDT March 31: For the first time since the global pandemic began, Chinese officials acknowledged Tuesday that asymptomatic patients have been excluded to date from China’s running tally of infected persons, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to the Journal, China confirmed Tuesday that 1,541 people have been identified as asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus, noting that 205 of that figure only recently returned from overseas. Girl, 12, dies of coronavirus in Belgium Update 7:09 a.m. EDT March 31: A 12-year-old girl has died from the novel coronavirus in Belgium, a spokeswoman for the Belgian Health ministry told CNN. The spokeswoman said the unidentified girl died on Monday. 'This is an emotionally difficult moment because it affects a child and it also affects the medical and scientific community,” Emmanuel André, the Belgian government’s spokesperson for the coronavirus response, said on Belgian TV. Iran reports more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases in single day Update 6:48 a.m. EDT March 31: A spokesman for Iran’s health ministry has confirmed the country recorded 3,111 in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 44,606 infections. Kianush Jahanpoor also told Iranian state television on Tuesday that an additional 141 virus-related deaths were also reported during the same period, bringing Iran’s death toll to 2,898. Empire State Building flashes red and white as coronavirus death toll mounts 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. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Washington Insider

  • The White House on Tuesday released new estimates of a staggering death toll associated with the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States, predicting anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths even if Americans do their best to avoid social interactions, as President Donald Trump warned the nation of a difficult road ahead. 'This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks,' the President said at the White House. 'This is going to be a rough two week period.' In the White House Briefing Room, Mr. Trump fully embraced scientific models championed by experts which show many thousands of Americans are likely to die in the month of April from the virus. 'I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,' the President said. 'We're going to go through a very tough two weeks.' The blunt warning came on the deadliest day yet in the United States as a whole, as nearly 800 deaths had been announced on Tuesday by the time the President reached the podium at the White House. 'It's a matter of life and death, frankly,' Mr. Trump said, as he urged Americans to follow the federal request for people to hold back on their social actions. By his side again at the White House, both Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx laid out the figures from a series of studies, which predicted that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die - many in the next few weeks. Birx and Fauci repeatedly emphasized that if Americans do their part to hold down the spread of the virus, that will in turn allow many people to survive. Asked about deaths of 100,000 or more, health officials did not mince words as to whether it might or might not happen. 'The answer is yes,' said Dr. Fauci. 'As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it.