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Leonsbox/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A federal detention center at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City has no in-house ability to test sick or high-risk inmates for COVID-19, according to a letter from the jail's top official in court documents reviewed by ABC News.

"MCC New York does not have COVID-19 tests," M. Licon-Vitale, the recently installed warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Manhattan, wrote in a letter to a federal judge this week.

The warden's letter came in response to an order from U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer to test an MCC inmate in his 20s who claimed to be experiencing novel coronavirus symptoms and believed he might have contracted it.

"He was placed into quarantine yesterday after he developed symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough and body aches," wrote Florian Miedel, a defense attorney appointed to represent Bryant Brown, who's awaiting trial on murder charges. "We are concerned about MCC's ability to care for Mr. Brown, given its track record over the years with other clients under less trying circumstances."

Miedel sought the court-ordered test this week to ensure Brown was receiving appropriate care and asked the court to order the facility to provide frequent updates on his condition.

Licon-Vitale wrote in response that the facility's doctor and an infectious disease specialist from the Bureau of Prisons had determined Brown's symptoms did not meet the criteria for testing based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have prioritized testing for health care workers and for patients exhibiting high fever and acute respiratory symptoms.

Transporting Brown to a hospital "would be ill-advised and expose him to others who are symptomatic for a test that an Infectious Disease Specialist advised is not needed," Licon-Vitale wrote.

At MCC, a source familiar with the facility's operations told ABC News that staffers face severe shortages of proper personal protective equipment, or PPE.

The BOP did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the situation at MCC.

"COVID-19 and the lack of readiness by the Federal Bureau of Prisons has made an already very dangerous working environment into hell for our staff -- both physically and mentally," Tyrone Covington, the correctional officers' local union representative, told ABC News. "It is a daily war to keep the inmate population in line as they demand visits with their families and fear for their health and their families' health."

As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread throughout the United States, health officials, attorneys and prison workers at both the state and federal level have been sounding alarms for weeks about the dangers a COVID-19 spread present to inmates and staff.

At a coronavirus task force briefing earlier this week, President Donald Trump said he "doesn’t like" the idea of states releasing nonviolent offenders.

"We are looking to see if I have the right to stop it in some cases," the president said.

At Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale in Louisiana, four inmates have died from COVID-19, and nationally at least 50 staff and 91 inmates have tested positive, according to the Bureau of Prisons, which confirmed to ABC News that FCI Oakdale inmates showing symptoms wouldn't be tested because tests are too scarce.

"As is typical practice in facilities with sustained transmission of COVID-19, local health authorities have recommended against testing additional cases who present with COVID-19 symptoms in the Oakdale facility, but to presume they are COVID-19 positive. This action is in order to conserve valuable testing resources," the facility said in a statement.

In a Friday night memo to the director of the Bureau of Prisons, Attorney General William Barr called for the "appropriate transfers to home confinement of all appropriate inmates held at FCI Oakdale, LA , FCI Danbury, CT, FCI Elkton, OH and other similarly situated BOP facilities where COVID-19 is materially affecting operations.”

Barr said that like any precautions, some "have not been perfectly successful at all institutions."

The attorney general said that the transfer of inmates would occur on a "case-by-case" basis following a 14-day quarantine at a BOP facility. The AG said that he authorizes home confinement even if electronic monitoring isn’t available.

MCC in New York, which has about 700 inmates, has reported at least nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 among inmates and staff, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The facility has been mired in controversy for months following the apparent suicide of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In late February, there was a two-week lockdown after authorities found a loaded gun in an inmate's cell. Licon-Vitale took over the top spot at MCC in January, after the previous warden was removed after Epstein's death.

Another federal judge in Manhattan, Katherine Polk Failla, received a similar response from the MCC after Miedel sought a test for another client, Clifford Taylor, a 69-year-old inmate seeking a temporary release to home confinement for the duration of the pandemic.

In a brief note entered in court records on Thursday, Failla wrote that she'd spoken to the in-house lawyer at MCC and was told "MCC has no on-site COVID-19 testing capabilities" and there were "many practical impediments at this time to removing Mr. Taylor from the MCC and transporting him to a facility where he could be tested."

Faced with those facts, Failla declined to order Taylor tested.

"They're telling us that they don't do COVID-19 testing in the MCC," Miedel said. "So the only way that people can be tested is if they are taken out of the facility to a hospital and tested there."

Miedel told ABC News his client has underlying medical conditions, including a history of hypertension and kidney disease, and presently had been quarantined in a dorm-like setting on the 11th floor of MCC, along with other high-risk inmates. Taylor is asymptomatic, Miedel said, but he asked for the test because the person Taylor intends to stay with, if granted temporary release, sought assurances Taylor had tested negative.

"The judge preliminarily agreed to release him temporarily. We were working out the logistics of that release. And then the person that he was going to live with basically said, 'Look, I don't want him to come live with me unless I know it's clear,' which makes sense," Miedel said. "I am seriously concerned that the longer Mr. Taylor remains in the unit, the greater the chance that he will contract the virus."

At MCC, one of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 was an inmate who, as part of a gun investigation, was transferred to FCI Otisville in upstate New York and then transferred back to MCC, sources familiar with the situation told ABC News.

The process of moving inmates around is still going on, according to Congressman Fred Keller, R-Pa.

"Our stance is, stop it immediately. It's certainty in their power. It's their institutions," Keller, who has two BOP facilities in his district, told ABC News in an interview.

Keller said he's talked to the Bureau and left "no stone unturned" in trying to halt inmate movement.

The Bureau said it was still moving inmates because of ongoing court proceedings. Other U.S. courts have taken precautions to limit inmate movement, such as a switch to virtual hearings in the Southern District of New York.

At another federal jail in New York, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, four inmates with underlying health issues filed a civil lawsuit last week against the warden, alleging the facility is so ill-equipped to contain the virus that continuing to detain high-risk prisoners violates their constitutional rights.

An unnamed MDC prisoner was quoted by his attorney in court records that "things are very bad here."

"There are approximately 90 people in a small area, and we are freaking out and are not doing well mentally," the inmate continued in the court filing. "[W]e cannot get any information or anyone to listen to us. ... Please help me before I die."

There are approximately 1,700 inmates at MDC, and, according to the lawsuit, 537 of them are classified by BOP as vulnerable to COVID-19 using CDC guidelines, based on their age and existing health conditions.

Attorneys for the four prisoners have asked a federal judge to release them immediately because the typical processes for seeking compassionate release from BOP have been mired in delays.

The threat to the inmates' lives "is ongoing, not simply imminent," the lawsuit states. "Every hour that [they] are held in the MDC, they are at a significantly elevated risk of contracting coronavirus, and because of their age and/or medical conditions, their risk of dying from coronavirus is significant."

Government attorneys representing the institution's warden, Derek Edge, argued that protocols put in place by the Bureau of Prisons this week make it unnecessary for the court to intervene.

"There is no allegation that Petitioners themselves are in need of urgent medical care. Nor is there any basis to believe that, even if they were in need of medical care, they would be unable to receive such treatment while still incarcerated," wrote Jason Cho, an assistant U.S. attorney, who also noted that his office and the BOP are working with federal public defenders on the cases of 11 inmates who believe they're eligible to be released to home confinement.

The latest phrase of BOP's COVID-19 plan, implemented this week, restricts inmates to their assigned cells, with limited exceptions, for the next two weeks to decrease the spread of the virus. The bureau also said it's working with U.S. Marshals to significantly decrease incoming movement at facilities.

"BOP and MDC have taken strong measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for inmates and have reduced inmate populations, increased sanitation and screening, limited visitors, increased testing and improved isolation protocols," Cho wrote.

The MDC has tested just seven of the 1,700 inmates at the facility, according to court filings, with three of those testing positive.

U.S. District Court Judge Rachel Kovner, who's overseeing the MDC case, ordered the parties in the case to try to reach a negotiated settlement to the litigation by the end of the day Friday.

But according to court filings late Friday evening, the attempts at mediating the dispute have been unsuccessful thus far.

MDC officials informed attorneys for the four inmates that their request to BOP for compassionate release had been rejected, according to court documents. In a letter to one inmate's lawyer, which was attached to the court filings, Warden Edge wrote that the inmate failed to meet the criteria for release because there had not been "any significant changes to his medical conditions to reflect a terminal or debilitated medical condition."

That decision was immediately blasted by the lawyers for the inmates, who renewed their request for the judge to order the inmates' immediate release in order to protect them from the virus.

"A process that requires vulnerable people to remain in hazardous conditions and wait until they contract a potentially lethal disease before they are eligible for release from that threat is no credible alternative," wrote Katherine Rosenfeld, an attorney for the inmates.

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Maksim Tkachenko(NEW YORK) -- The death toll amid the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to skyrocket as more than 7,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19.

There are at least 278,458 diagnosed cases in the U.S. and more than 1.1 million around the world. The actual number is believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

Over 58,900 have died across the globe and more than 226,000 people have recovered, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The number of cases and deaths in the U.S. is expected to continue to grow rapidly with many states and cities saying the peak is still weeks, if not months away.

Today's biggest developments:

  • 3,656 dead in New York state
  • US death toll crosses 7,000
  • Walmart issues customer guidelines
  • Italy reports decrease in ICU patients for 1st time
  •  

    Here's how the story is developing. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

    12:14 p.m.: ICU patients decrease for 1st time in Italy

    The number of patients requiring intensive care has decreased for the first time in Italy since COVID-19 appeared, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

    There are 3,994 patients in ICU, 74 fewer than on Friday, the agency reported.

    Fatalities also decreased, continuing a days-long trend. In the last 24 hours, 681 new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 15,362.

    The number of total cases in the country, however, did increase by 4,805 to 124,632. That sum includes those actively infected, deaths and recovered inviduals.

    There are 88,275 active cases.

    11:48 a.m.: At least 1 dead on Coral Princess ship

    The Coral Princess cruise ship will dock in Miami after 12 passengers tested positive and at least one person died, state officials confirmed.

    Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez determined it was necessary to bring in the ship "to save lives," according to his press secretary.

    At least one American from South Carolina has died on the ship, his press secretary said. Three other passengers, all Americans in critical condition, will get off the ship first and be taken to Larkin Hospital. At least 12 passengers have flu-like symptoms.

    Anyone with respiratory symptoms or are still recovering from being ill previously will remain on board until medically cleared by the ship’s doctors, according to a statement from Princess Cruises.

    Those who are not sick and need to fly home will most likely disembark beginning on Sunday, according to the statement. It's expected to take a few days to get those who are not sick off the ship.

    They will be transferred directly from the ship to Miami International Airport, according to Princess Cruises.

    There are 1,898 people onboard, including 1,020 guests and 878 crew members.

    11:25 a.m.: Trump tweets about supporting small businesses

    President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that he would immediately ask Congress for more money for small businesses if the allocated money runs out.

    I will immediately ask Congress for more money to support small businesses under the #PPPloan if the allocated money runs out. So far, way ahead of schedule. @BankofAmerica & community banks are rocking! @SBAgov @USTreasury

    11:17 a.m.: 3,565 deaths in New York as China, Oregon donate ventilators

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that China would be donating 1,000 ventilators and Oregon was donating 140 to New York.

    Cuomo thanked the Chinese government and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. He called Brown's donation both kind and smart.

    "They see the fire spreading -- stop the fire where it is before it gets to my home," Cuomo said.

    At least 3,565 have died in New York and more than 113,000 have tested positive, with the positive cases jumping by about 10,000 in the last 24 hours. More than 15,000 people have been hospitalized.

    The apex in the state is expected in the next seven days, according to the governor.

    "We are not yet ready for the apex," he said, adding that he wants the situation to be over but the more time it takes to reach the apex, the more time there is to prepare.

    8:38 a.m.: Coast Guard oversees disembarkation of 250,000 from cruise ships to reduce risks under COVID-19

    The U.S. Coast Guard helped facilitate the processing of more than 120 vessels in the last three weeks to remove 250,000 passengers from cruise ships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters.

    Coast guards oversaw the safe landing, screening, quarantine and repatriation of these passengers, after many international ports had denied entry to cruise ships.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a "No Sail" Order on March 14 to all cruise ships that had not already voluntarily suspended operations.

    5:48 a.m.: Trump to nominate White Houes Lawyer to coronavirus stimular watchdog position

     President Donald Trump will nominate a White House lawyer to serve as a key watchdog overseeing elements of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, the White House announced Friday.

    Trump plans to nominate Brian Miller, a special assistant to the president and senior associate counsel in the Office of White House Counsel, to serve as the special inspector general for the pandemic recovery. If Miller is confirmed by the Senate, he will be tasked with rooting out fraud and abuse in the Treasury Department's $500 billion relief program for distressed businesses.

    While Miller has previously served in a similar role, as inspector general for the General Services Administration, Democrats will likely criticize his nomination.

    Inspectors General are typically independent and apolitical appointees; Miller played a role in rebuffing investigations into the withheld military aid to Ukraine that led to Trump's impeachment.

    4:21 a.m.: Walmart issues strict customer guidelines

    Walmart announced that starting Saturday it would limit the number of patrons in its stores to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus after too many of its customers ignored social distancing guidelines.

    "While many of our customers have been following the advice of the medical community regarding social distancing and safety, we have been concerned to still see some behaviors in our stores that put undue risk on our people," Dacona Smith, Walmart's executive vice president and COO, said in a statement Friday.

    Stores will now allow no more than five customers for every 1,000 square feet at a given time, which is roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity, the company said. Once capacity is reached, "customers will be admitted inside on a '1-out-1-in' basis."

    Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

    The move was just one of a number of customer guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Walmart also announced that in most of its stores that aisles will all be one-way with markers on the ground, directing customer traffic.

    The company said there would be only one entrance and a separate exit for each store.

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    ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A powerful Nor’easter remains lurking well offshore of the northeast coastline. It backed westward on Friday, somewhat closer to the shoreline and as a result, gusty winds, large waves, some heavy rain and coastal flooding affected parts of New England.

    The Nor’easter brought some heavier bands of rain to eastern Massachusetts, with over 1 inch of rain reported in parts of the Boston metro area. A wind gust of 59 mph was reported east of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

    As the storm slips southward and then finally will head out to sea Saturday morning, some coastal flooding will remain possible from Virginia to Massachusetts, including the harbors around New York, Boston and Atlantic City, New Jersey. The coast flood threat will subside later Saturday, when the storm gets further away from the coastline.

    Attention immediately turns to a pair of storms coming into the west, with major impacts likely through the next few days – especially in California.

    Already, winter storm warnings and winter storm watches are being issued for parts of California. Outer rain bands of the first storm appear to be reaching the northern California coastline Saturday morning.

    This first storm is expected to come ashore Saturday and bring heavy rain to the northern two-thirds of the state, and then bring some mountain snow to the Sierra and northern California mountains. This storm quickly will jet off eastward and begin to struggle to stay organized.

    The second storm looks a little more potent and comes ashore on Sunday with widespread heavy rain for much of California, and another shot of mountain snow. Wind gusts in the mountains could range from 45 mph to as high as 90 mph at the highest peaks.

    By late Sunday and Monday, heavy rain will slide into southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego. The result of both of these storms is locally up to 4 feet of mountain snow in the Sierra range. Any essential travel that is occurring in this area will be very difficult and very dangerous.

    Locally 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected in the low elevations of California – especially from Santa Barbara to San Diego. There is a possibility of some localized flash flooding and mud and rock slides. One to 2 feet of snow will be possible in the southern California mountains.

    This weekend's forecasted precipitation continues a recent trend for the region. In the last 30 days, the border area where Nevada, Arizona and California meet has seen well above average, rainfall – in some cases three to four times their average.

    In the last six months, some cities in Southern California have seen a recovery in their water deficit that occurred from a lack of rain in the wet season.

    Finally, a pretty strong cold front is moving through the central U.S. Saturday.

    There are some regions of the country that could see a 20 to 30-degree temperature drop within just a few hundred miles. This entire system was responsible for some spring snow in parts of the northern Plains, with some locations in northern Minnesota reporting well over a foot of snow.

    This same cold front is expected to interact with a disturbance in southern Texas, which should bring some heavy rain to the area. Localized flash flooding will be possible in parts of the region as a result.

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    polybutmono/iStock(DETROIT) -- At a community event in Detroit earlier this month in which a number of Detroit Police Department officers were present, the moderator of that event later tested positive for COVID-19.

    Although it isn’t certain, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said of members of the department getting the virus from that event -- it is certainly cause for concern.

    "I don't think anybody can definitively say how," Craig told ABC News.

    DPD has had two deaths since the start of the global pandemic and the disease hits close to Craig -- he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

    The chief is working and leading the department from at home and said police chiefs "aren’t invincible" and that they have to have a plan when they are down for the count.

    The department, which operates in the most populous city in the state that has the third most COVID-19 cases in the country, has a total of over 500 officers quarantined and 114 civilians and officers test positive for the virus.

    "The department has taken a very aggressive posture and keeping its members safe. Early on, when we started quarantining some of the officers, some might have thought that maybe we're a little bit over the top," Craig said. "I've always believed that we're doing the right thing and trying to keep our members safe. And doing so meant that we can't change the number of officers."

    In order to put up with the triage of losing officers to testing positive for the virus or the mass number of officers quarantined, Craig deployed some of the department’s specialized units to the hardest hit precincts.

    Craig told ABC News that response times have been lower across the city, but that doesn’t mean policing doesn’t stop because the department has been hit hard by the virus.

    "We haven't seen a disruption in service, but the idea is quickly responding instead of waiting," Craig said.

    He said the city has acquired a rapid COVD-19 test for first responders, so that way they can quickly test and get officers back into service.

    Craig said in addition to losing an officer, they’ve also lost a dispatcher, to COVID-19 -- and fortunately, when that dispatcher got sick, the department had a plan for the rest of the dispatch staff.

    "When we had the one 9-1-1 call taker become ill, it impacted our entire call center. So much so that we had to shut it down. And the good news was that we had a fallback location that we put in operation while we. Began to do very surgical cleaning of the place to get it back operational again. But the idea of having a backup center plus has shown its value," he said.

    Craig said his men and women who are quarantined are wanting to come back to work and are wanting to serve the community.

    "Despite the numbers that have been quarantined in numbers that have tested positive. Police officers are courageous. They're resilient," he said. "Many of those have been quarantined or eager to get back to work, support their colleagues. And so really, that's a testament to the kind of police officer we recognize. And I'm not saying it's unique to Detroit because this is happening all across America. But these young men and women, these American police officers, despite this unknown enemy, are still going out and keeping our city safe, despite not knowing that they're confronting."

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    narvikk/iStoc(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed at least 7,152 people in the United States.

    With more than 277,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the U.S. has by far the highest national tally in the world, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

    More than 1.09 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with the disease. The actual number is believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

    Over 58,900 have died across the globe and more than 226,000 people have recovered.

    Today's biggest developments:

  • 2,935 dead in New York state
  • US death toll crosses 7,000
  • Anyone close to Trump will get rapid COVID-19 test
  • New York City morgues are running out of space
  • US cuts 701K jobs in March, unemployment rate jumps to 4.4%

  • Here's how the story played out Friday. All times Eastern.

    10 p.m.: Pink tested positive for coronavirus

    Singer Pink said on Instagram Friday night she tested positive for coronavirus two weeks ago and has now recovered.

    The pop star, who has won three Grammys, and her 3-year-old son, Jameson, were both tested after they started feelings symptoms, with her testing positive for the virus.

    "It is an absolute travesty and failure of our government to not make testing more widely accessible," she wrote. "This illness is serious and real. People need to know that the illness affects the young and old, healthy and unhealthy, rich and poor, and we must make testing free and more widely accessible to protect our children, our families, our friends and our communities."

    Pink, 40, also announced she will be making $1 million in donations, split equally between the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund in Philadelphia, where her mother, Judy Moore, worked there for 18 years, and to the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund.

    6:56 p.m.: Trump says we'll 'find out' if NY has enough ventilators

    Asked at Friday's coronavirus task force briefing if he can provide assurances to New York that the state will have the ventilators they need in the days ahead, President Donald Trump said, "We're gonna find out."

    "We happen to think that he is well served with ventilators. We’re gonna find out," Trump said in a callous reply as New Yorkers find themselves at the epicenter of this crisis in the U.S.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned that New York is just days away from not having enough ventilators.

    The president continued to place blame on New York state for any shortage: "They should've had more ventilators [ready before the pandemic]."

    "We are doing our best for New York," Trump said, before adding, "We have states, we have a lot of states."

    6:35 p.m.: US death toll crosses 7,000

    The number of deaths from coronavirus continue to skyrocket in the U.S.

    The death toll passed 7,000 in the country Friday evening, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. At least 7,077 people have died due to COVID-19.

    In addition, there are at least 273,880 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

    6:29 p.m.: Death toll, cases jump in New York City

    New numbers released by the New York City Health Department Friday evening show a significant jump in the number of cases in the city. There have been 56,289 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in NYC -- an increase of 6,582 cases from yesterday’s figure.

    There have been 1,867 deaths due to the coronavirus in New York City, an increase of 305 reported deaths in a 24-hour period.

    Also, 11,739 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 in New York City.

    6:09 p.m.: Alabama, Missouri issue stay-at-home order


    Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey just announced a stay-at-home order for the state effective tomorrow at 5 p.m. CST until April 30. Soon after, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also issued a stay-at-home order, which begins at 12:01 Monday, April 6, and will continue until April 24.

    Now just nine states have not issued a formal stay-at-home order: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

    Ivey said, "I am convinced that our previous efforts to limit social interaction and reduce the chances of spreading this virus have not been enough. And that's why we are taking this more drastic step."

    Ivey said the expected surge in her state is in two to three weeks.

    "Our surge of hospitalization will occur in the next two or three weeks," she said. "Those patients are the ones who will become infected in the next few days. Folks, we need to extend our health orders now."

    The remaining states had come under pressure to order people to stay home except under certain instances during the pandemic.

    "First and foremost, I want everyone to know that I love this state and the people of this state," Parson said in a statement. "The people of this great state clearly define who we are in Missouri, and as Governor, I have no greater responsibility than to protect the health, well-being, and safety of all Missourians."

    5:31 p.m.: CDC asking people to wear face coverings outside

    The entire country is now being asked to cover their faces when out in public, on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Judd Deere, the White House's deputy press secretary, made the announcement in a tweet.

    4:15 p.m.: NYC needs minimum of 2,500 ventilators for next week


    As the "epicenter" of the coronavirus crisis with about 25% of the nation's cases, New York City is in desperate need for more supplies, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.

    "People are dying. And they need to be saved," he said.

    “We are about to hit a huge surge in the coming days," the mayor warned.

    De Blasio said President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, told him Thursday they would send 200,000 N95 masks to New York City's public hospitals, and those masks have since been delivered.

    But to get through April and May, New York City needs more resources including 85,000 hospital beds, 45,000 medical staff and a total of 15,000 ventilators, he said.

    Shortly after the press conference, an emergency alert was sent to phones in the New York City area asking for licensed health care workers to sign up to help.

    For next week specifically, New York City needs a minimum of 2,500 to 3,000 ventilators. He said there are about 2,000 ventilators left in the state stockpile and called the federal government "the single most important source."

    De Blasio commended the governors of New York and New Jersey who he said "took a crucial step" on Friday by ordering private companies to release any stockpiles they have of "crucially needed supplies" including ventilators and personal protective equipment.

    "I would urge every state in the union to exercise the same approach," de Blasio said.

    If any company or individual tries to resist this new order from the state, de Blasio threatened, "I am authorizing the NYDP, the sheriff's office, the FDNY to use their law enforcement capacity to make sure those items are turned over immediately and brought immediately to where the need is greatest in our hospital system."

    De Blasio said the city is bringing in medical personnel from across the country under contract and asking for volunteers, as a part of an "unprecedented "national enlistment effort."

    3:10 p.m.: Anyone close to Trump will get rapid COVID-19 test


    A new procedure is in place at the White House as of Friday so that anyone who comes into close proximity with the president or vice president will receive a rapid COVID-19 test, deputy press secretary Judd Deere said.

    The White House declined to elaborate on why this policy is being implemented now, other than to say that decisions are made in consultation with the White House physician.

    This development comes one day after President Trump received his second negative coronavirus test.

    2:55 p.m.: UK Prime Minister to extend his self-isolation


    United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive for coronavirus, says he will extend his self-isolation.

    The prime minister is one of 38,688 people in the U.K. who have tested positive for COVID-19. Also among those diagnosed with the virus is Charles Prince of Wales -- first in line to the British throne.

    The death toll in the U.K. has climbed to 3,605 -- an increase of 684 since Thursday.

    Johnson said in a video message, "Everybody may be getting a bit stir crazy, and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations. And I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now. This country has made a huge effort, a huge sacrifice, done absolutely brilliantly well in delaying the spread of the virus. Let's stick with it."

    2:35 p.m.: Massachusetts announces nation's 1st test-and-trace initiative


    Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday announced the creation of a "robust" tracing effort, in collaboration with Partners in Health, to identify individuals who may have come in close contact with coronavirus-positive people.

    "Staff will contact recent COVID-19 patients and ensure they're healthy and taking appropriate steps to not spread the virus further," Baker said.

    Once an individual has tested positive, the COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative will work to gather information about who may have been exposed to the person, and subsequently contact them.

    A group of 1,000 people will be asked to provide information on the timing and location of their respective infections.

    Baker said the program is the first of its kind in the nation, and he added that he hopes to have the initiative up and running by the end of the month.

    Baker also announced that the parking lot at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium will be converted to a testing site for first responders. Up to 200 first responders are expected to be tested per day.

    1:20 p.m.: New Jersey's death toll climbs to 646

    In the last 24 hours, another 113 people died from coronavirus in New Jersey, bringing the state's death toll to 646, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

    With 4,372 new diagnosed cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the Garden State now has over 29,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19.

    "There is no silver bullet we can load to make this go away overnight," the governor said, as he urged New Jersey residents to honor those who have died by staying home.

    Murphy said he is signing an executive order directing all flags to be lowered to half-staff effective immediately, and lasting indefinitely, to honor those who have died and those who will die.

    "This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state," Murphy tweeted.

     

    I'm signing an Executive Order directing that all flags across NJ be lowered to half-staff indefinitely in honor of those we have lost – and those we will lose – to #COVID19.

    This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state. We must have a constant & visible memorial. pic.twitter.com/2LOcEr1aPz

    — Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 3, 2020

     

    Murphy said UBS is donating 10,000 N95 masks to the state while Tito's Handmade Vodka is sending 432 gallons of hand sanitizer, 3,000 masks and 2,000 gloves.

    12:50 p.m.: WHO warns lifting lockdowns early could end up being even worse for economies

    World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus -- who called the coronavirus pandemic an "unprecedented crisis" -- issued a warning to countries that are considering easing lockdowns given the considerable economic suffering.

    "If countries rush to lift restrictions quickly, the coronavirus could resurge and the economic impact could be more severe and prolonged," he said Friday. "Financing the health response is an essential investment not just in saving lives, but in the longer-term social and economic recovery."

    He went on, "The best way for countries to end restrictions and ease their economic effects is to attack the coronavirus, with the aggressive and comprehensive package of measures that we've spoken about many times before: find, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact."

    "We still have a long way to go in this fight," he noted.

    Dr. Tedros also acknowledged the rise of domestic violence as victims are stuck indoors with abusers and he urged countries to increase resources for victims.

    New York state -- the hardest-hit spot in the U.S. -- has seen an uptick in domestic violence incidents, the governor said Friday.

    12:20 p.m.: Mayor predicts DC will reach peak cases by the end of June, early July

    The District of Columbia is forecast to reach peak COVID-19 infections at the end of June or beginning of July, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday, citing local officials.

    Bowser said the projection -- based on the CHIME model -- estimates more than 93,000 residents could be infected with coronavirus over the course of the pandemic. She said the modeling predicts between 220 and 1,000 deaths in D.C., calling it a "tough number to report."

    If the forecast holds true, the mayor said the nation's capital will need 5,000 more hospital beds and 1,000 more ventilators.

    11:45 a.m.: 2,935 dead in New York state


    In New York -- the state hit hardest by the pandemic -- 102,863 have tested positive for coronavirus and 2,935 people have died, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

    The number of deaths in New York increased by nearly 600 from Thursday to Friday, the biggest daily increase.

    "New York is in crisis," Cuomo said.

     New York state has by far the most cases and fatalities. New Jersey has the second highest number of diagnosed cases (25,000) and deaths (539), said Cuomo.

    More ventilators are still needed, the governor said, stressing that the machines are the difference between life and death for coronavirus patients in intensive care units.

    Cuomo said he is signing an executive order allowing the National Guard to take ventilators and personal protection equipment from hospitals in the state that don't need them now and redeploy the devices to other parts of the state.

    Those hospitals will be reimbursed or the ventilators will be returned, Cuomo said.

    "I'm not going to let people die because we didn't redistribute ventilators," he said.
    A timeline of Cuomo's and Trump's responses to coronavirus outbreak

    Cuomo also implored manufacturers in the state to begin making personal protection equipment.

    On a more positive note, the governor said 20,000 health professionals volunteered "in a matter of days" to come help New York.

    "When our curve is over," Cuomo vowed, "New Yorkers are going to take what we've amassed, we're going to take our equipment, we're going to take our personnel, we're going to take our knowledge and we will go to any community that needs help."

    11:12 a.m. Temporary hospitals at US convention centers will now treat COVID-19 patients

    The U.S. Department of Defense announced Friday that three temporary medical facilities at convention centers in Dallas, New Orleans and New York, which were originally intended to treat non-coronavirus patients, will now also take those diagnosed with the disease.

    "At the request of FEMA, the Department of Defense will expand its medical support to include COVID-19 positive patients at the Javits Federal Medical Station (FMS) in New York City, the Morial FMS in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Kay Bailey Hutchinson FMS in Dallas, Texas," the Pentagon said in a statement Friday. "These three DoD-supported locations will now provide support to COVID-19 positive patients in convalescent care, as well as low-acuity patients. These patients, who require a lower level of medical care, must first be screened at a local hospital."

    The facilities were initially set up to ease the strain on overloaded hospitals and expand overall capacity.

    "As it turns out, we don't have non-COVID people to any great extent in the hospitals," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing Friday. "So we wanted to turn Javits from non-COVID to COVID."

    The Department of Defense said it is also making changes to the USNS Comfort's process for taking in patients. Screening for care on the U.S. Navy hospital ship docked in New York City will now occur pier-side "in an effort to reduce the backlog at some of the nearby New York hospitals." A patient will no longer require a negative COVID-19 test in order to be admitted, but rather each individual will be screened by temperature and a short questionnaire.

    Previously, a patient had to go to a local hospital, be referred to the USNS Comfort and receive COVID-19 screening prior to being transferred there.

    "This assistance will further unburden the local hospital and ambulance systems in these areas, allowing them to focus on the more serious COVID-19 cases," the Pentagon said. "We will immediately implement this action and work with local officials in each area on the details of patient arrival.

    9:45 a.m.: Queen Elizabeth to address pandemic in rare special broadcast this weekend

    Queen Elizabeth II has recorded a special broadcast to the United Kingdom and the televised address, which was recorded at Windsor Castle, will be broadcast Sunday at 8 p.m. local time, according to the statement from the royal household.

     

    On Sunday 5th April at 8pm (BST)
    Her Majesty The Queen will address the UK and the Commonwealth in a televised broadcast.

    As well as on television and radio, The Queen’s address will be shown on The @RoyalFamily’s social media channels. pic.twitter.com/EADh7WNU7b

    — The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 3, 2020

     

    It will be just the fourth time in the queen's 68-year reign that she has delivered a special address to the nation.

    The queen's oldest child and heir apparent to the British throne, Prince Charles, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March.

    9:15 a.m.: US cuts 701K jobs in March, unemployment rate jumps to 4.4%

    U.S. employers slashed 701,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate climbed to 4.4% from 3.5%, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Friday's report offered more details on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the U.S. labor market.

    About 90% of the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic and many businesses are closed. At least 45 U.S. states have issued or announced statewide closures of all non-essential businesses to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    8:43 a.m.: Florida-bound cruise ship confirms 12 positive cases

    At least 12 people aboard the Florida-bound cruise ship Coral Princess have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

    Those infected include seven guests and five crew, according to Princess Cruises, the California-based cruise line that operates the ship.

    Princess Cruises said it "proactively" collected 13 test samples from the ship and sent them to a lab in Barbados on March 31 "in response to a reported small cluster of cases of respiratory illness and in an abundance of caution."

    The Coral Princess is scheduled to arrive in Florida's Port Everglades on Saturday.

    7:59 a.m.: New York City morgues are running out of space

    New York City morgues are almost full amid a mounting death toll from the coronavirus pandemic, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency records reviewed by ABC News.

    The city has ordered 85 refrigerated trucks from the U.S. military to use as makeshift morgues to hold the dead. The trucks are expected to arrive by mid-April.

    ABC News has reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense as well as New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner for comment.

    So far, at least 1,562 people in New York City have died from COVID-19, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

    6:32 a.m.: New poll shows less than half of Americans believe their daily routine will return to normal by June

    Fewer than half of Americans believe their regular daily routine will return to normal by June 1, amid sharply rising concerns over contracting the novel coronavirus, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

    In the new poll, just over nine in 10 Americans now say that the outbreak has disrupted their daily routine, showing the reach of the pandemic's impact. Among those, 44% say they think they will be able to resume their regular routine by June 1 -- including 13% who say by May 1 -- while a combined 84% believe that will happen by the end of the summer.

    Still, concern over the pandemic continues on an upward trajectory, with 89% of Americans now saying they are concerned that they or someone they know will be infected with the virus, compared to 79% in a poll conducted from March 18-19 and 66% in a poll in the field from March 11-12. The steady increase in anxiety includes nearly twice as many Americans who are now very concerned (now at 50%) in the new poll, compared to the earliest poll in March when it was only 26%.

    The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in partnership with ABC News, using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, on April 1-2, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 559 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.8 points, including the design effect.

    5:48 a.m.: Google launches 'community mobility reports' during pandemic

    Google is launching a tool that will publicly track people's movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, allowing health officials to check whether their communities are abiding by social-distancing measures.

    The California-based tech giant says it will publish and regularly update the "community mobility reports," which are broken down by location and display the change in visits to public places such as grocery stores and parks. The tool, announced by the company late Thursday, uses "aggregated, anonymized sets of data" that Google has collected on users, including through Google Maps.

    Google says the reports "were developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and protecting people’s privacy."

    "No personally identifiable information, such as an individual’s location, contacts or movement, will be made available at any point," the company says.

    3 a.m.: US death toll tops 6,000

    The mounting death toll from the novel coronavirus in the United States surpassed 6,000 early Friday morning, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

    A vast majority of those deaths have occurred in New York state, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people in New York City alone.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the U.S. Department of Defense for 100,000 body bags due to the possibility that funeral homes across the country will become overwhelmed, a Pentagon spokesman told ABC News on Thursday.

    About 90% of the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders, and many businesses are closed.

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    Derek Brumby/iStock(BOSTON) -- The number of deaths at a Massachusetts health care facility for veterans has continued to rise amid the novel coronavirus crisis, with at least 21 residents reported dead as of Friday afternoon, state officials said.

    Fifteen of those veterans tested positive for COVID-19, according to Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. The results for three residents were pending, while two tested negative and one person's COVID-19 status was unknown.

    Through Thursday, there had been 18 deaths at the facility.

    The Soldier's Home, a veteran's center and hospital in the city of Holyoke, has been battling a growing number of coronavirus cases and allegations that multiple residents died without the government being informed.

    Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said that he was alerted to "the gravity of the situation" last Saturday, when people associated with the home reached out to his office anonymously.

    Morse said he then contacted the Board of Health, but he did not hear back by Saturday and decided to call the home's superintendent himself on Sunday.

    "I was shocked on the phone call when the superintendent let me know that there had been eight deaths between Wednesday and Sunday without any public notification, without any notification to my office and also just no notification to the state government that oversees the facility in the first place," Morse said in a Facebook Live speech on Tuesday.

    At least 59 veteran residents have tested positive and 160 have tested negative as of Friday, according to Sudders. On Thursday, 23 residents had tested positive in addition to seven staffers. Testing is ongoing.

    "This is a critical health situation for our veterans, and the commonwealth will continue to make all resources available to the leadership of the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes to contain the spread of the virus," an Office of Health and Human Services spokesperson said in a statement.

    Morse said Wednesday the situation was "likely going to get worse before it gets better."

    "Every decision needs to be based on, How do we save as many lives as possible? How do we stop the spread of this virus?" Morse said in a Facebook live speech.

    The Soldier's Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh has been placed on paid administrative leave.

    Walsh did not respond to request for comment from ABC News.

    He did release a statement to MassLive defending his actions, saying he provided regular updates to state officials about the number of residents and staff who were tested and their results after a resident tested positive March 21.

    He also said that all family members were contacted and told that a resident tested positive.

    "Our focus then and always was on the veterans and their families," Walsh said in his statement.

    Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday called for an investigation into the deaths.

    "We will get to the bottom of what happened," the governor said.

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    Courtesy of Isma Zubair(ASHBURN, Va.) -- A 7-year-old in Virginia has found a special way to show his appreciation to the hospital workers fighting on the front lines to save patients from COVID-19.

    Zohaib Begg of Ashburn, Virginia, said he gained his strong sense of respect and admiration for doctors and nurses when he spent years in Inova Fairfax Hospital as a younger child. That feeling never went away.

    So when the second grader asked his mother what they could do to help hospital workers fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic, she helped him start calling around.

    "My first mission was to help the hospital and sew masks, but I didn't know how to sew," he told Washington, D.C., ABC affiliate WJLA.

    He said he learned that some hospitals were running short on headgear.

    "I thought they could use shower caps -- and I knew that they were at hotels," he said.

    First, he collected shower caps from the hotels, but it turned out that the hotels also had gloves and face masks to donate. Zohaib was able to collect more than 6,000 caps, masks and gloves.

    The hefty total even got him a nod from former President Barack Obama.

    His mother, Isma Zubair, told ABC News on Friday that Zohaib has a "heart of gold" and that he was always thinking others.

    "President Obama's tweet was a huge surprise," she said. "We are honored he chose to mention Zohaib's work. We hope it inspires others that you're never too small to make a difference."

    She said that the family had even heard from people in France, Chile and Asia about how Zohaib's act of kindness had brought a smile to their faces during this difficult time.

    "We can no longer collect due to stay-at-home orders, but we continue to get calls of supplies and will be relaying back to hospitals or nursing homes in need," Zubair said.

    Not only did Zohaib help some hospital workers in desperate need of protective equipment, he also shared that he'd completed a personal goal he'd set for himself.

    "My third mission was to beat the National Cathedral which gave 5,000 PPEs -- and I gave 6,009 PPEs," he said.

    "The hospitals are very happy," he said.

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    barbaraaaa/iStock(NEW YORK) -- As the American death toll from the novel coronavirus continues to rise, pressure to impose a nationwide stay-at-home order mounts.

    President Trump has resisted calls to issue a nationwide stay-at-home directive, despite task force projections that predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could lose their lives from the coronavirus, even if social distancing measures are strictly followed.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a member of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the federal government should enact a nationwide stay-at-home order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

    "I don't understand why that's not happening,” Fauci said, "If you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that. We really should be.”

    "Whether there should be a federally mandated directive for that or not, I guess that’s more of a political question, but just scientifically, doesn’t everybody have to be on the same page with this stuff?” Fauci added.

    Although most states have enacted stay-at-home orders, 9 states have yet to take statewide action.

    Arkansas

    Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has repeatedly defended his decision not to issue a stay-at-home order, suggesting that such a measure would cause loss of jobs.

    "We're trying to make good judgement based upon good public health data that is scientifically based and makes sense for Arkansas," Hutchinson said in a press conference on Thursday.

    He argued that Arkansas residents are already taking precautionary measures by practicing proper social distancing and independently deciding to stay home.

    "I understand there is a certain amount of political pressure to do what everyone else is doing," Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nathan Smith added at the press conference. "What we're trying to accomplish here is not to be like every other state or tick off a box. What we're trying to do is flatten that curve."

    The two officials stated that although they believe a stay-at-home order is not sustainable, the state will take additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

    Hutchinson has issued a limit on gatherings of over 10 people and shut down dining in at restaurants. Arkansas schools have been closed until April 17.

    Iowa

    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds insists that a statewide stay-at-home order is unnecessary.

    Reynolds has previously suggested that the measures already implemented by the state are "equivalent" to an informal stay-at home-order.

    "What else are we doing by doing a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order except for potentially disrupting the supply chain, putting additional pressure on the essential workforce, and making sure that we are considering how we bring that back up?," Reynolds said in a recent press conference.

    Democratic leaders in the Hawkeye state have called for Reynolds to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.

    "A statewide shelter-in-place sends a clearer message about the serious nature of this pandemic. The current patchwork of recommendations is confusing, raising more questions than answers about what Iowans should be doing to help save lives," Iowa Senate and House Democratic leaders, Janet Petersen and Todd Prichard wrote in a letter to the governor.

    Reynolds ordered all non-essential businesses closed until April 7. Schools will be closed until April 15.

    Nebraska

    Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts reiterated on Thursday that he does not believe a statewide stay-at-home order is necessary yet.

    "We're a different state than states like New York that are doing that. We are much earlier in the epidemic curve than New York," Ricketts said.

    He assured the public that the state is taking appropriate steps and suggested that many of the measures taken by the state are stricter than in some cities and states with stay-at-home orders.

    The state has also imposed a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, and Nebraska schools will be closed until May 31

    North Dakota

    Despite lower numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has repeatedly called for residents to take social distancing seriously, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

    The state has closed all athletic facilities, theaters, bars and restaurants except for takeout, delivery and curbside service, and has recommended limiting access to nursing homes. North Dakota schools are also all closed until further.

    Burgum has asked the state's citizens to "acknowledge and understand" the orders that have already been put in place.

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt has implemented several precautionary measures, including the closure of all non-essential businesses, and a "safer-at-home" order, which was extended to all 77 counties on Wednesday.

    "I have agonized over all these decisions, but this is the right time to take these steps," said Stitt.

    The "safer-at-home" order closes all non-essential businesses and directs senior citizens and at-risk residents to self quarantine. Such an order is different from a stay-at-home directive, which would require all residents to substantially limit their movements outside the home.

    Further, the governor has called a statewide stay-at-home order “unrealistic,” reiterating individual personal responsibility, and the need for social distancing.

    Oklahoma schools will also be closed until April 6.

    South Carolina

    Three of South Carolina’s largest cities, Charleston, Columbia and Mount Pleasant have issued stay-at-home orders. However, Gov. Henry McMaster has stopped short of enacting a statewide measure.

    On Monday, McMaster ordered the closure of all state beaches, and subsequently, all non-essential businesses

    "We are not ordering people to stay at home, but from the very beginning we’ve been telling people to stay home ... and a lot of people are staying home," McMaster said in a press conference.

    Democratic Representatives have criticized McMaster for not taking further widespread enforcement actions to curtail the spread of the virus in South Carolina.

    "I don’t understand why he hasn’t taken that step and told the citizens under the force of law you must stay at home," Rep. Seth Rose said.

    All South Carolina schools will also be closed until April 30.

    South Dakota


    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has repeatedly resisted calls to close the state, arguing that "South Dakota is not New York City."

    "The calls to apply for a one-size-fits-all approach to this problem is herd mentality," Noem said in a press conference on Wednesday.

    The governor has left the decision surrounding whether to close businesses to local governments, saying that this decision was not within her powers.

    However, local leaders have disagreed, saying that such measures are within her powers during an emergency situation.

    Noem has also stressed the importance of social distancing and personal responsibility.

    "That people think if we put everybody in their house and lock them there for two weeks, then let 'em out, that the virus will be gone and nobody would get sick, and everything would be perfect."

    The state has closed all South Dakota schools until May 1.

    Utah


    Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson has called on state officials to implement a statewide stay-at-home order, asserting in a press conference that the coronavirus "does not recognize county lines." There are currently stay-at-home orders in five of Utah’s 29 counties.

    However, Gov. Gary Herbet has maintained his reluctance to issue a statewide order, arguing that the state’s "Stay Home, Stay Safe," directive is a "more positive route," while a stay-at-home order would elicit fear.

    The "Stay Home, Stay Safe," order encourages residents to stay home as much as possible.

    Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, Summit County and Salt Lake City have announced their own stay-at-home orders, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has also closed its temples, and its missionaries around the world were asked to return home and quarantine upon arrival.

    There are also statewide closings of bars and restaurants, ski areas, gyms, theaters and campgrounds. Utah schools will be closed until May 1.

    Wyoming

    On Monday, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said in a press conference that the state has no plans for a stay-at-home order.

    "If we're going to issue a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, it will not have multiple exemptions. It will be a true stay-at-home order," Gordon said.

    The governor has asked all residents to stay home as much as possible and urged the need for public cooperation in order for Wyoming to make strides in slowing the spread of the virus.

    The state closed all non-essential businesses last Friday, and all Wyoming schools will be closed until April 17. The state has also forbidden gatherings of 10 people.

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    Capt. Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), gives remarks during an all-hands call on the flight deck, Dec. 15, 2019.Seaman Alexander Williams/U.S. Navy, FILE(NEW YORK) -- Videos have emerged on social media showing sailors on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt giving their fired captain a rousing sendoff as he left the ship.

    Capt. Breet Crozier was relieved of duty for a "loss of confidence" following the leak of a letter in which he advocated for stronger measures to protect his crew from an outbreak of coronavirus aboard the ship.

    The videos show hundreds of sailors gathered in the ship's hangar clapping and cheering loudly for Crozier as he walked down a ramp towards the pier in Guam where the ship is docked.

    Given that they were posted on social media, the videos were presumably taken by sailors aboard the ship on Thursday evening following word that Crozier had been relieved of command.

    Crozier is seen walking alone towards the ramp as hundreds of sailors walked behind him clapping and then cheering for him.

    At one point, he stopped at the top of the ramp to salute and wave at clapping sailors, which drew even louder cheers.

    In one of the videos capturing that moment, voices can be heard saying, "We love you, too!" and "Thank you skipper!"

    Later, the ship's crew is heard rhythmically clapping and chanting, "CAPTAIN! CROZIER!"

    Earlier on Thursday, Crozier was relieved of duty by acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly who said he had lost confidence in his leadership abilities following the leak of a letter where Crozier advocated for stronger measures to protect his ship's crew from further infection by the coronavirus.

    Modly said Crozier had expressed valid concerns for the safety of his ship but had exercised "poor judgment" in distributing the letter to senior commanders to a broad group of people when he could have expressed his concerns to the admiral aboard the carrier.

    In the letter Crozier advocated Navy leaders to speed up the removal of the nearly 5,000 sailors aboard the carrier to appropriate accommodations on Guam that met social distancing guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The day after the letter appeared in the San Francisco Examiner the Navy announced that 2,700 of the ship's crew were being brought ashore and that suitable housing would be found in hotel rooms on the island.

    Modly said the Navy had already put those plans in place at the time that Crozier wrote his letter and that he would have known that had he contacted his chain of command directly.

    "It creates a panic, and it creates the perception that the Navy is not on the job, the government's not on the job, and it's just not true," Modly said.

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    CasPhotography/iStock(DETROIT) -- A bus driver in Detroit, who had complained about a passenger coughing without covering her mouth and feared people were not taking the novel coronavirus pandemic seriously, has died after contracting the virus, officials said.

    Jason Hargrove, an employee of the Detroit Department of Transportation, recorded a Facebook message on March 21 criticizing a woman who he said got on his bus and coughed multiple times without covering her mouth.

    "We out here as public workers, doing our jobs, trying to make an honest living to take care of our families, but for you to get on the bus and stand on the bus and cough several times without covering up your mouth … that lets me know that some folks don't care. Utterly don't give a f---, excuse my language," Hargrove said in the 8-minute video.

    He said that he felt violated not only for himself, but for the other few passengers who were on the bus.

    Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said on Thursday that Hargrove had died.

    He encouraged Americans to watch Hargrove's Facebook video, cautioning that it includes multiple expletives.

    "I don't know how you can watch it and not tear up. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy, even though he was going to work for the citizens of Detroit every day, but somebody just didn't care," Duggan said in a press conference. "Somebody who didn't take this seriously and now he's gone."

    The Amalgamated Transit Union commemorated Hargrove in a statement. The union said he had been a member since 2016 and left behind a wife.

    Glenn Tolbert, the president of the union for Detroit Department of Transportation, called on city leaders to better protect bus drivers. Tolbert told ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ that out of the 530 drivers in the department, 100 were in quarantine and seven drivers had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Mayor Duggan said that when he heard bus drivers went on strike on March 17 because they felt unsafe, he implemented new measures, including only allowing people to get on from the back doors and no longer collecting bus fares. The strike lasted just one day.

    In Hargrove's message, he urged people to keep safe and take the pandemic seriously.

    More than 6,000 people in the U.S. have died after contracting the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 245,000 people are infected in the U.S. and more than a million across the globe.

    "Y'all be safe. If you ain't got to go out, don't go out. If you go, cover up your face, put some gloves on your hands. Please," Hargrove said in the video.

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    ABC News(NEW YORK) -- There was record snowfall in the Upper Midwest Thursday. In Grand Forks, North Dakota, almost 10 inches fell and Fargo, North Dakota, received almost 5 inches of snow.

    Wyoming saw the largest amount of snowfall, with 21 inches.

    Seven states from Minnesota to Kansas are under ice and snow alerts Friday morning.

    The cold front associated with the storm system that brought the record snow to the Upper Midwest is moving east and south Friday, with an icy mix from Minneapolis to Kansas City.

    Further south, strong storms with lightning and gusty winds are moving through Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.

    This cold front will reach southeastern Texas Friday afternoon, where severe weather is possible. The biggest threats with these severe thunderstorms will be damaging winds in excess of 60 mph, up to golf-ball size hail and an isolated threat for tornados. Heavy rain could also produce flash flooding.

    A new storm is also moving into the West Coast this weekend, which will bring heavy rain along the California coast and feet of mountain snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains.

    The storm will move into northern California Saturday morning and into southern California by Sunday afternoon and evening.

    Some areas in southern California could see up to 3 inches of rain Sunday into Monday, and this could cause flash flooding and even localized mudslides.

    In the mountains, up to 3 feet of snow is possible in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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    marcusamelia/iStock(NEW YORK) -- In rural upstate New York, it takes up to two weeks to find out test results for the novel coronavirus. Personal protective equipment is sparse. And there's no medical facility with an intensive care unit.

    This is what officials in Seneca County are trying to remedy as their first COVID-19 case was diagnosed on Monday.

    Government and health officials across New York state have been working to obtain thousands of ventilators and millions of PPE, and are repurposing convention-sized facilities into makeshift hospitals since the first New Yorker was diagnosed with coronavirus on March 1. Meanwhile, residents in the Finger Lakes region, 250 miles north of Manhattan, watched with caution as New York state's confirmed cases rose to more than 92,000 and the state was deemed the U.S. epicenter of the virus.

    "A lot of our customers are wearing masks, wearing gloves, taking the safety precautions seriously, observing social distancing -- and employees are doing the same," said Sue Cirencione, the owner of Ovid Big M, a market in Seneca County. "The customers are watching the news feeling good that the [local] numbers are so low."

    After Seneca County's Health Department announced the area's first case on Monday, four more residents tested positive for COVID-19 within 72 hours.

    The Finger Lakes region as of Tuesday had more than 420 confirmed coronavirus patients, Public Health Director Vickie Swinehart told ABC News.

    "We have anticipated and planned for our first positive case of COVID-19. This was not unexpected as every other county across the state has reported positive cases to date," said Swinehart in a press release issued on Monday about the first case in Seneca County, which has been following all statewide guidance regarding school and business closures.

    Instead of releasing any identifiable data about the positive cases, Swinehart said the agency was able to notify those who may have been exposed and ordered them to be quarantined and monitored for symptoms. Seneca County's population is about 35,000.

    "The residents are handling it well, they are being cautious," said Carl Martin, the manager of Glenwood Foods in Seneca Falls. "There's a lot of talk, people are concerned of getting it, but they aren't panicking."

    Martin, 47, said once COVID-19 cases started appearing in the area, personnel from the county's health department hung up posters in his store and across the region to promote social distancing and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's other guidelines.

    Twenty-four people in Seneca County are under COVID-19 symptom supervision as of Thursday morning, the county's health department said.

    While 105 tests have been administered in Seneca County to date, health officials are concerned that the number of coronavirus cases is underreported because there aren't enough tests and PPE supplies are limited.

    "Because there aren’t many people being tested in Seneca County, we have no idea how many people are actually positive," said Office of Emergency Management Director Melissa Taylor.

    "I have been telling our first responders to assume everyone is positive in order to protect themselves," Taylor said. "Because we were the last county with a positive case, there are concerns about PPE supplies drying up when we need them most. We hope that won’t be the case."

    Because there isn't a hospital in the county, Taylor said she has ordered more testing supplies to set up a drive-thru testing site.

    "In this area, it can take 10 to 14 days to get results. By the time we know someone is positive, they should be ending their isolation period," Taylor told ABC News on Thursday.

    "It's a small county which is adjacent to Ontario County, about 10 miles, a 20-minute drive, away," said Regina, who runs a flower stand along Route NY-89 and declined to give her last name. "We have walk-in clinics that refer us to go hospitals that are about an hour away -- Strong Hospital in Rochester or Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua."

    Swinehart told ABC News that Seneca County's five COVID-19 patients are not "sick enough for hospitalization, are able to remain in isolation in their own homes, and are monitored twice daily by staff of the Seneca County Health Department."

    She also said those residents who live alone and are under quarantine while they await their test results can take advantage of county resources that can assist with meal, grocery and medication delivery.

    "We also can arrange for a mental health professional to contact them if they need some assistance with mental health issues," she said.

    For patients living alone who experience a mild progression of symptoms, it's recommended that they use a telehealth platform or visit an urgent care center, said Dr. Tanvir M. Dara, chief medical officer of WellNow Urgent Care, which has a location in the area.

    For residents who are closer to medical facilities like Geneva General Hospital in Geneva, Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls, or Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, an emergency room health care professional can determine what services the patient will need, Dara said.

    "This includes ICU admission and -- if needed -- where to transfer them if an ICU bed is not available," said Dara. "Unfortunately, we are seeing people delay urgent care due to fear of exposure to COVID-19 and, accordingly, fewer people are coming in for treatment. This is concerning as certain conditions can escalate to become more serious if left untreated."

    "In the event symptoms become life-threatening, patients should alert a friend or loved one of their symptoms and visit their nearest emergency room, or call 911 immediately," he said.

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    suratoho/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly four million gun background checks were performed last month, the highest number since the federal government began tracking them, the FBI said.

    And gun safety advocates say they're worried there isn't enough being done to prevent shootings as the coronavirus heightens the public's fears.

    There were roughly 3.7 million background checks performed by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) last month, which is the highest number of one-month checks performed in the system's 21-year history. By comparison, there were about 2.8 million checks performed in February and about 2.6 million checks in March 2019, according to the FBI.

    So far this year there have been more than 9.2 million background checks, according to the FBI data. The FBI notes that the background checks underreport the number of actual gun sales, as some states allow for multiple weapons purchases with a single background check.

    In February, the internet retailer ammo.com reported a 309% increase in revenue and a 222% jump in transactions. Gun stores, which have been declared an essential business by the federal government, have remained open and have seen a jump in customers in states across the country.

    Kyleanne Hunter, vice president of programs for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said she's not surprised by the jump in gun sales, as similar jumps are seen during other major crises such as hurricanes or natural disasters. However, she said she was very concerned by the lack of response by federal and state leaders to push for more gun safety during these trying times.

    "One of our biggest fears is that we will have people, more and more people, in difficult situations because they’re stuck at home with a gun, especially with first-time gun owners," she told ABC News.

    The spread of the virus has led to reports of armed persons threatening others out of fear from the pandemic. Police in Maine were investigating a claim that armed men blocked a resident's driveway with a downed tree branch to prevent him from leaving his home.

    The biggest problem, Hunter said, is that the government's gun inspection services haven't been deemed essential on a national basis, which has opened the door for questionable sales.

    "We don’t know how gun dealers are acting," she said. "Groceries are still open but the FDA is still open inspecting the food. Why aren't agents inspecting the gun stores?"

    Hunter added that gun training and gun safety classes have been canceled across the country because of social distancing rules.

    And while President Donald Trump and elected officials have expressed concerns over increased suicides while people are sheltering in place, Hunter implored state leaders to do more to ensure that increased gun sales don't lead to increased violence.

    States that have their own gun inspection offices should increase their visits to stores, and governors themselves should speak about safety daily during their press events, Hunter suggested.

    "They should use that pulpit to talk about the risks that guns pose at home, especially with friendly fire," she said.

    Hunter suggested that civilians who either know someone who recently purchased a gun or live in the household where a gun was recently purchased should have thoughtful conversations about safety procedures, especially as the pandemic increases household stress.

    "We need to destigmatize the conversation in a very real way," she said. "We are usually hesitant to ask people if they have guns and if they're stored, and we need to normalize that conversation just like we normalize the conversations about drinking too much during stressful times."

    If you or anyone you know have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

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    Nick Gilpin, system medical director for infection prevention at Beaumont Health in Michigan. (ABC News)(DETROIT) -- With rapidly increasing cases of the novel coronavirus in Michigan beginning to overwhelm the hospital system, one Detroit doctor says he's "not sure any level of preparedness would have been enough" to respond to the pandemic.

    "I think it's fair to say that Detroit is getting crushed right now. … We were watching China and trying to anticipate how this would play out," Dr. Nick Gilpin, medical director for infection prevention at Beaumont Health, told ABC News. "But under the circumstances, this has been so fast and heavy."

    On Thursday, there were 10,791 people in Michigan who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 417 have died. The state reported its first two cases on March 10.

    A high concentration of those cases have been in the southeastern part of the state, in Detroit, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland Counties. Gilpin, who said he represents the Beaumont system's hospitals in Wayne and Oakland, speculated that it's Detroit's high density and medically underserved population that has made them vulnerable to COVID-19.

    "I think the Detroit area, as many of us who have practiced here for years know, [has] greater per capita incidents of obesity [and] medical conditions like diabetes and lung disease built up over years," he said.

    With his hospitals 70% to 80% occupied by COVID-19 patients, Gilpin said the challenges they face change every day.

    "A week ago, my challenges were all about supply," Gilpin said, pointing specifically to personal protective equipment, which he said they've resorted to reusing in hopes of easing the strain.

    "Now, my real challenge is staffing," he added. "I worry a lot about my staff. It frankly keeps me up at night. … Are they sick? Are they psychologically and emotionally burdened from what they are seeing each day that it's difficult to keep coming to work?"

    "The mantra has become: 'We have to protect the staff, we have to preserve the PPE at all costs.' And that is obviously in addition to making sure we're doing the right thing for the patients," he said.

    Gilpin echoed sentiments from Mary Macdonald, an emergency room nurse in Michigan whose Instagram video explaining issues she's seen in hospitals, went viral last week. In the video, Macdonald said she had been called to work on her day off for an overnight shift during which she put someone on the hospital's last available ventilator. She said the N95 mask she's been using is "signed out for the entire year" when they're meant to be single-use.

    "We are completely out of resources," Macdonald said. "There are no masks, there are no gowns. They're running low on gloves. … We cannot stay safe and we cannot care for all these people that are coming in."

    Staffing shortages, Gilpin said, will likely become the biggest challenge over the next few weeks if the surge in cases carries on. He offered one strategy to remediate this potential issue, which he called "load balancing."

    "We have a significant amount of COVID concentrated in metro Detroit," he said. "But if you drive 30 minutes away, you see considerably less COVID in that part of the state. So we could take some of our existing patients and potentially move them to other facilities for care, or perhaps we could take some ventilators or resources from areas less affected and fairly balance the load between us."

    He said Beaumont Health is already doing this "on a micro level" among its campuses and with neighboring health systems, but that it needs to be done statewide.

    At the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been brought to Detroit to ease the burden on hospitals by building an alternate care facility in the TCF Center in downtown Detroit.

    Lt. Col. Greg Turner, who has been leading the effort, said the facility would hold up to 1,000 COVID-19 patients and that certain precautions would be built in to ensure the virus doesn't spread, such as gearing the ventilation system up for negative pressure and specialized areas for dressing and undressing PPE.

    Like Gilpin, Turner said that staffing has been a concern among the medical experts with which he's been consulting.

    "The state of Michigan acknowledged that there is a staffing shortfall," Turner said, noting that the facility's capacity had been planned with this shortage in mind. "Regardless of how much staff ... there is only a certain number [of patients] that they can really effectively manage."

    The team has been working hard to get the facility construction done by April 9 or earlier, said Turner, who hopes it'll be operational by mid-April.

    Turner said that although he's been through many crises, none have been like this.

    "This reminds me of my time spent in New Orleans [in] 2005 responding to Hurricane Katrina, when I was ... helping out down there providing distribution and keeping that place safe," Turner said. "The corps itself responded to Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy -- a lot of other large-scale disasters. Now, this is different, cause it's nationwide and it's something that we're not used to. But we're ready for this."

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    jarun011/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has killed at least 5,949 people in the United States and more than 53,000 worldwide.

    Worldwide, more than 1 million people have been diagnosed with the new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19. Over 210,000 of those diagnosed have recovered, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

    With more than 245,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the U.S. has by far the highest national tally in the world.

    Here's how the story developed Thursday. All times Eastern:

    9:13 p.m.: LA asks residents to cover faces

    Joining New York City, which made the announcement hours earlier, Los Angeles County citizens have been asked to cover their faces in public as well.

    Mayor Eric Garcetti and Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the L.A. County Health Department, asked residents to use cloth masks, bandanas or a scarf, but not use commercial masks.

    Face coverings, she said, should be worn by the general public, not to protect themselves, but to protect others by keeping their respiratory droplets to themselves. Commercial face masks are in short supply and should be reserved for those on the front lines for their own protection, she said.

    There were 534 new cases in Los Angeles County in the last day -- a 15% increase -- for a total of 4,045.

    Garcetti also announced 11 new deaths for a total of 78.

    8:25 p.m.: Washington extends stay-at-home another month

    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the powerful step of extending the state's stay-at-home order for more than a month -- to May 4.

    "We hope May 4 will be the end … but no one can guarantee that," he said.

    Inslee said through Wednesday there have been 262 deaths in the state and 6,585 cases.

    He did say, however, that he believed the state has begun to "flatten the curve."

    6:11 p.m.: eBay to launch new program to support struggling small businesses


    Auction site eBay announced it will be pledging up to $100 million to assist small businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The site will launch the "Up and Running" accelerator program that's aimed at helping businesses that don't have a strong online presence.

    The company will give a retailer a free basic online store for three months, and waive fees. New users will also receive free marketing tools, discounted shipping supplies and webinars through the program.

    5:28 p.m.: Javits Center temporary hospital opens

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the temporary hospital at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan will now treat COVID-19 patients.

    When the U.S. Army built the 2,500-bed emergency facility, initially it was used for non-coronavirus cases, however Cuomo said the rapid rise in positive cases forced a change of plans.

    "I asked President Trump this morning to consider the request and the urgency of the matter, and the president has just informed me that he granted New York's request," the governor said in a statement.

    5:26 p.m.: Trump tests negative again

    President Donald Trump again tested negative after taking a second COVID-19 test Thursday morning, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

    Trump's first negative test was in March.

    5:12 p.m.: New York City advises residents wear face coverings

    New York City's Health Department and Mayor Bill de Blasio issued new guidance to residents urging them to wear face coverings outside.

    The coverings can be as simple as a scarf or a bandana, but they must cover the mouth and nose, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

    De Blasio said the new guidelines, which are made to complement social distancing rules, were issued because of new data on the coronavirus.

    "I want to emphasize this … the reason for this guidance is studies show some asymptomatic people may be transmitting the disease," he said at his daily briefing.

    De Blasio said New Yorkers who aren't health workers or first responders should not use a surgical mask.

    "Leave those alone, leave those to the people who need it to save lives," the mayor said.

    Barbot advised that face coverings should be cleaned with soap and water and dried daily. The health department put further details about the face covering advisory on its website.

    Later in the evening, the city released new data on the number of cases. As of Thursday evening, there were 49,707 confirmed cases, and 1,562 COVID-19 related deaths.

    About 1,400 people have died in New York City, with tens of thousands more testing positive.

    3:20 p.m.: Cruise ships with sick passengers allowed to dock in Florida

    A pair of cruise ships carrying dozens of people with flu-like symptoms, including at least nine who have tested positive for COVID-19, will be allowed to dock at Port Everglades in Florida, says Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

    Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said it would be a mistake to bring the passengers from the MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam ashore because the state's hospitals need to be saved for residents and not "foreign nationals."

    The decision to let the ships dock was made by the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, health officials and Broward County officials, said Trantalis.

    He said Holland America, which operates the ships, has "agreed to a strict set of protocols ... intended to protect our community by ensuring there is no contact with local residents."

    "The vast majority of passengers are not ill and have no symptoms, they will be placed on private chartered buses, taken directly to the airport" for chartered flights, the mayor said

    "A small number of critically ill passengers will go to local hospitals," he said, while some who are mildly sick or have symptoms will quarantine on the ships.

    The illnesses began aboard the MS Zaandam, which set out from Buenos Aires for a South America cruise on March 7, with 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board. The voyage was supposed to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21 but the vessel has remained at sea since the Chilean government refused it permission to dock and disembark.

    The ships later passed through the Panama Canal and the government of Panama also denied approval to disembark guests.

    At least four people on board the ship have died and several have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Holland America.

    Last week, the cruise line announced plans to move "healthy" people from the MS Zaandam to another one of its ships, the MS Rotterdam. Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford said he wanted to dispel the myth of a healthy ship versus a sick one, explaining that the intention was for the two cruises to work in tandem so that they can reduce the workload on each vessel, "create maximum flexibility" and move passengers that have been stuck self-isolating in inside cabins for a week to cabins that have access to light and fresh air.

    There are now 442 guests and 603 crew aboard the MS Zaandam, and 808 guests and 583 crew on the MS Rotterdam, including a total of 311 U.S. citizens. Since March 22, at least 97 guests -- 83 on Zaandam and 14 on Rotterdam -- and 136 crew -- all on Zaandam -- have presented with influenza-like symptoms, according to Holland America Line.

    "We have seen a significant decline in the presentation of new cases on Zaandam, with only one new case reporting in the past 24 hours," the cruise line said Wednesday.

    2:50 p.m.: Louisiana cases jump 42% in 1 day

    Coronavirus cases in Louisiana jumped 42% in one day. On Wednesday, there were 6,424 cases statewide and now the state is reporting 9,150 cases.

    There are 1,639 patients in hospitals, including 507 individuals on ventilators, said state officials.

    The death toll in Louisiana has climbed to 310.

    Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted Thursday, "We are doing everything we can to source ventilators and increase our medical capacity & we need everyone else to do everything they can to slow the spread and stay at home. This is going to get worse before it gets better, but how much worse depends on all of us."

    2:30 p.m.: 6 charged for coughing, spitting on cops and claiming to have coronavirus


    Six people have been charged in New Jersey for allegedly spitting or coughing on police officers while claiming to have the coronavirus, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday.

    "We are taking a zero-tolerance policy against anyone who acts so stupidly and puts others in danger or makes them fear for their health," the governor tweeted. "If you engage in such behavior, you’re going to face – at the least – fines of up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in jail."

    In New Jersey, over 25,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 537 of them have died.

    12:36 p.m.: FDA loosens restrictions for gay men to donate blood

    The FDA is loosening restrictions that have blocked men who have sex with men from donating blood within 12 months of their last sexual encounter, citing concerns dating back to the 1980’s about the transmission for HIV or AIDS through the blood supply.

    The new restrictions will be to defer men from donating if they have had sex with another man within the last 3 months.

    The FDA's change follows urging from gay rights activists and Democratic senators who cited the recent blood shortages caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic as a catalyst for change.

    12:04 p.m.: Democratic National Convention postponed to Aug. 17


    The Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, initially set for July 13, has been pushed back to Aug. 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic,  according to senior convention and party officials.

    "Ultimately, the health and safety of our convention attendees and the people of Milwaukee is our top priority," said DNC Chair Tom Perez. "And we will continue to be in contact with local, state, and federal health officials as we monitor this fluid situation."

    11:45 a.m.: More than 50,000 cases in NYC

    New York City -- the U.S. city hit hardest by the pandemic -- has over 51,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

    New York state has 92,000 diagnosed cases. Of those, 13,000 are hospitalized, including 3,396 patients in intensive care units, Cuomo said.

    Over 7,000 people have been discharged from hospitals in the state.

    New York state now has lost 2,373 lives, Cuomo said.

    The apex in New York will depend on social distancing, Cuomo said. Depending on the model, the apex could be anywhere from 7 to 30 days away, he said.

    10:50 a.m.: 100-year-old charged for attending large funeral

    A 100-year-old is among 15 people charged for attending a funeral in Lakewood, New Jersey, in violation of the governor's executive order banning large gatherings.

    About 60 to 70 people had gathered for the Wednesday funeral, and when officers tried to disperse the crowd, some "became unruly and argumentative," according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and the Lakewood Township Police.

    The 15 people -- including the 100-year-old -- were charged with Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor During a State of Emergency.

    10:50 a.m.: 100-year-old charged for attending large funeral

    A 100-year-old is among 15 people charged for attending a funeral in Lakewood, New Jersey, in violation of the governor's executive order banning large gatherings.

    About 60 to 70 people had gathered for the Wednesday funeral, and when officers tried to disperse the crowd, some "became unruly and argumentative," according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and the Lakewood Township Police.

    The 15 people -- including the 100-year-old -- were charged with Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor During a State of Emergency.

    10:25 a.m.: FEMA asks Defense Department for 100,000 body bags

    FEMA has requested that the Defense Department make 100,000 body bags available to help state health agencies with mortuary affairs, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to ABC News.

    The request comes as the White House revealed this week that as many as 200,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus.

    Bloomberg, which was first to report on FEMA's request, said the Department of Defense will initially draw from its stockpile of 50,000 bags before having to purchase more.

    9:44 a.m.: Vatican reports 7th positive case

    One new positive case of COVID-19 has been reported in Vatican City, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement Thursday that a Holy See employee has tested positive for the coronavirus. The employee has been in isolation since mid-March, after his wife contracted the virus from an Italian hospital where she works, according to Bruni.

    This brings the total number of positive cases in the Vatican to seven. The city-state is surrounded by Rome.

    "On this occasion it is useful to clarify that, like all institutions, the various entities and departments of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State continue only in essential, mandatory and indifferent activities," Bruni said, "clearly adopting to the maximum extent possible the appropriate measures that have already been communicated, which include remote work and shift criteria, in order to safeguard staff health."

    9:07 a.m.: Florida reaches conditional approval on Carnival's entry plan for two cruise ships

    The U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Department of Health have reached a conditional agreement with Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise line, on an entry plan for two ships carrying dozens of people with flu-like symptoms.

    The commissioner of Florida's Broward County, Michael Udine, said via Twitter Thursday morning that Carnival's plan is still subject to approval from Broward County, where the ships would dock. Until then, the pair of vessels will remain outside U.S. waters.

    It's unclear how many passengers would be allowed to disembark.

    Both cruise ships -- the MS Zaandam and the MS Rotterdam -- are operated by Holland America Line, a subsidiary of Carnival.

    Since March 22, a total of 97 guests and 136 crew on board have presented influenza-like symptoms, while at least nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Four people on board have died, according to Holland America Line.

    8:59 a.m.: Record 6.6 million Americans file for unemployment

    A record-smashing 6,648,000 people filed for unemployment in the United States in the week ending March 28 amid the coronavirus crisis, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday.

    Thousands of businesses across the country have been forced to close due to government-mandated stay-at-home orders.

    8:28 a.m.: Spain sees new record in coronavirus-related fatalities

    Spain has again reported the highest single-day death toll from the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began.

    The Spanish Ministry of Health on Thursday recorded 950 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 10,003 -- a nearly 10.5% jump. It's the largest one-day, in-country increase of fatalities so far, surpassing the record set by Spain last week.

    The Spanish health ministry also recorded 8,100 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nationwide tally to 110,238 -- a nearly 8% increase.

    Spain has one of the highest nationwide death tolls from COVID-19 in the world, second only to Italy. Spain also has the third-highest national tally of diagnosed cases, behind Italy and the United States.

    7:53 a.m.: New England Patriots plane carrying N95 masks from China to arrive in Boston

    A private jet owned by the New England Patriots professional football team carrying much-needed medical supplies from China will land in Boston on Thursday, according to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

    Patriots CEO Robert Kraft coordinated with officials to send the National Football League team's plane to pick up personal protective equipment that Massachusetts had bought from China. The U.S. state has purchased over a million N95 masks, and the ones arriving Thursday at Boston's Logan International Airport represent a partial shipment, according to the governor.

    “As I said before, ordering vital equipment like this is only one part of the challenge and I am incredibly grateful that the Krafts worked this issue relentlessly alongside our Command Center staff to get these critical supplies to Massachusetts," Baker said in a statement Thursday. "The Krafts, our partners Ambassador Huang Ping, Dr. Jason Li, Gene Hartigan and our COVID-19 Command Center personnel teamed up to get this job done and we eagerly await the plane landing at Logan Airport soon. Our administration will keep pursuing the PPE necessary to support our brave front-line workers who are working tirelessly to save lives during this pandemic."

    7:25 a.m.: FEMA cargo plane with medical supplies from China lands in Ohio

    A planeload of medical supplies from China has landed in the United States.

    The cargo plane touched down early Thursday at Rickenbacker International Airport near Columbus, Ohio.

    "The shipment includes supplies from Shanghai, connecting the global market with local medical distributors," airport officials told ABC News.

    The relief shipment, coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contains masks, gowns, ventilators and other supplies, all of which will go to medical distributors "in areas of greatest need," officials said.

    6:46 a.m.: Over 95% of those who died in Europe were over 60, WHO says

    The head of the World Health Organization's regional office in Europe said Thursday data shows that more than 95% of people who have died from the novel coronavirus on the continent were over the age of 60.

    More than half of them were older than 80, Dr. Hans Kluge said.

    Still, he warned that age is not the only risk factor. About 10% to 15% of people under 50 who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have moderate or severe symptoms, according to the WHO, the global health arm of the United Nations.

    "The very notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually wrong," Kluge said during an online press conference Thursday in Copenhagen. "Young people are not invincible."

    More than four in five of those who have died in Europe had at least one other chronic underlying conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or hypertension.

    "On a positive note," Kluge added, "there are reports of people over the age of 100 who were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 and have now since made a complete recovery."

    5:39 a.m. Cruise ships with sick passengers to arrive off Florida coast

    A pair of cruise ships carrying dozens of people with flu-like symptoms, including at least nine who have tested positive for COVID-19, were expected to arrive off the coast of Florida early Thursday.

    It's still unclear whether passengers will be allowed to disembark.

    The illnesses began aboard the MS Zaandam, which set out from Buenos Aires for a South America cruise on March 7, with 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board. The voyage was supposed to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21 but the vessel has remained at sea since the Chilean government refused it permission to dock and disembark. At least four people on board the ship have died and several have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Holland America Line, which operates the cruise.

    Last week, the cruise line announced plans to move "healthy" people from the MS Zaandam to another one of its ships, the MS Rotterdam. Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford said in a video message that he wanted to dispel the myth of a healthy ship versus a sick one, explaining that the intention is for the two cruises to work in tandem so that they can reduce the workload on each vessel, "create maximum flexibility" and move passengers that have been stuck self-isolating in inside cabins for a week to cabins that have access to light and fresh air.

    There are now 442 guests and 603 crew aboard the MS Zaandam, and 808 guests and 583 crew on the MS Rotterdam, including a total of 311 U.S. citizens. Since March 22, at least 97 guests -- 83 on Zaandam and 14 on Rotterdam -- and 136 crew -- all on Zaandam -- have presented with influenza-like symptoms, according to Holland America Line.

    "We have seen a significant decline in the presentation of new cases on Zaandam, with only one new case reporting in the past 24 hours," the cruise line said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

    Both ships are heading to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after passing through the Panama Canal. The government of Panama also denied approval to disembark guests.

    Holland America Line said it hopes to disembark the nearly 1,200 guests on the two ships who are "well" and fit to travel per guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guests fit for travel will be transferred straight from the vessels to flights for onward travel home, the majority on charter flights.

    "Out of an abundance of caution, these guests will be transported in coaches that will be sanitized, with limited person-to-person contact and while wearing masks," the cruise line said in its statement Wednesday. "These provisions well exceed what the CDC have advised is necessary for their travel. Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have self-isolated in their staterooms since March 22."

    The approximately 45 guests who still have "mild illness" and are unfit to travel at this time will continue to isolate on board until recovered, according to Holland America Line. For the estimated less than 10 people who need immediate critical care shoreside, the cruise line has secured approval from a local health hospital in Florida's Broward County that has agreed to accept the patients for treatment.

    "This small number is the only group that will require any support from medical resources in Broward County," the cruise line said, "and is necessary to prevent further harm to their health."

    Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said it would be a mistake to bring the passengers ashore because the state's hospitals need to be saved for residents and not "foreign nationals."

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Holland America Line was still awaiting confirmation from Florida authorities to disembark the guests in Fort Lauderdale. Both ships will remain outside U.S. waters while awaiting clearance to enter.

    "Holland America Line calls for compassion and reason in the review and approval of our disembarkation plan by Florida officials," the cruise line said, "and we are grateful for those that have supported our efforts."

    4:11 a.m.: Dr. Fauci forced to ramp up personal security due to threats

    The U.S. government has ramped up security for Dr. Anthony Fauci, as the nation’s top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic faces threats to his personal safety.

    Upon recommendation of the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Justice in recent days approved a special deputization request from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for more than half a dozen special agents to provide protective services to Fauci, a Justice Department official told ABC News.

    Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force and has become the face of the nation's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    The Washington Post first reported the threats to Fauci and the increased security.

    When asked during Wednesday's White House press briefing whether he or the task force coordinator had received any threats or if they had been given a security detail, Fauci said he was not able to answer and referred the reporter's question to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Trump quickly chimed in, saying, "He doesn't need security, everybody loves him."

    Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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