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Angela Merkel quarantined, Rand Paul tests positive, Ohio on lockdown

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: The nearly empty 42nd Street in New York on March 22, 2020.
The nearly empty 42nd Street in New York on March 22, 2020.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The number of global coronavirus cases surged past 300,000 on Sunday, with more than 13,000 deaths worldwide, according to John Hopkins University, which reported that China, Italy and the U.S. had the most people diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

The news came as the number of Americans under virtual lockdown grew to over 80 million on Saturday, and Ohio issued new shelter-in-place orders.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is herself in quarantine after a doctor who treated her tested positive for coronavirus, her press office announced Sunday.

And Sen. Rand Paul became the first known U.S. Senator to test positive for coronavirus.

“He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events,“ the senator’s Twitter account said on Sunday.

Elsewhere, China ended a three-day streak of reporting no new coronavirus cases after 46 people tested positive positive for COVID-19. On the same day, China's National Health Commission also reported six new deaths. Five of the deaths occurred in Wuhan in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated late last year.

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Louisiana issues stay-at-home order

869d ago / 7:39 PM UTC

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the state would be under a stay-at-home order beginning Monday at 5 p.m. 

The announcement comes just after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a similar order. 

Nearly 16,000 cases of coronavirus in state of New York

869d ago / 7:22 PM UTC

While announcing that coronavirus cases in the state of New York are almost at 16,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Sunday that New York City has to implement more serious measures to keep people from congregating in large groups, especially in parks and other outdoor spaces.

Cuomo also said that Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center was a possible temporary hospital site as projections estimate the state will need more than double its available hospital beds.

“These temporary hospitals are helpful, but they don’t bring supplies and they don’t bring staff, and that compounds our problem of not having enough medical supplies,” Cuomo said. "And frankly, compounds our problem of not having enough medical staff, because we are trying to increase capacity in our existing hospitals.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that he fears the worst has yet to come as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City inch closer to 10,000. “The truth is, and New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the blunt truth, it is only getting worse. And in fact, April and May are going to be a lot worse,” the mayor told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Photo: Washington National Cathedral, empty

869d ago / 7:00 PM UTC
Image: Sunday Mass from the Washington National Cathedral was delivered via live webcast on March 22, 2020.
Sunday Mass from the Washington National Cathedral was delivered via live webcast today.Patrick Smith / Getty Images
Image: Empty seats during Sunday Mass at the Washington National Cathedral on March 22, 2020.
Empty seats at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday. Patrick Smith / Getty Images

Ohio issues new shelter-in-place order

869d ago / 6:49 PM UTC

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a new stay-at-home order on Sunday for everyone outside of essential workers as part of the state's efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

DeWine announced the order in a press conference and on his official Twitter account.

"There is nothing in the order that we haven't already been talking about," DeWine said. "There is nothing in this that I haven't been asking you to do for the last few weeks."

Though the order urges residents to stay home, it does allow for exceptions such as seeking health services, shopping for necessary supplies and services and limited outdoor activity, according to the governor.

Pelosi on coronavirus relief plan: Democrats will "be introducing our own bill’

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869d ago / 6:32 PM UTC

Top Democrats said Sunday they're not yet ready to sign off on the major coronavirus stimulus package — and will be preparing their own legislation — as Congress attempts to ready the bill for passage as soon as Monday.

Just prior to an 11 a.m. meeting between the top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters "from my standpoint, we are apart."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters ahead of the meeting that "we need a bill that puts workers first, not corporations" and declined to say whether he supports the current bill.

Read the full story here.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in quarantine after her doctor tests positive

869d ago / 5:58 PM UTC
Image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference in Berlin on March 22, 2020.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference in Berlin on March 22, 2020.Michael Kappeler / Pool via AP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in quarantine after a doctor who treated her tested positive for coronavirus, her press office announced Sunday. 

The doctor had given her a vaccination on Friday afternoon and has since tested positive for the coronavirus, her office said. She will continue to perform her official duties from her home during her self-quarantine. 

"She will be tested regularly over the next few days because a test would not yet be fully meaningful," her office said.

The announcement comes just as Germany announced stricter measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including the shut down of nonessential businesses. 

Among the new policies is one that states people will only be allowed out in public alone, with members of the same family or with only one other person not of the same residence. Police will also be permitted to intervene in any public parties or similar activities that go against the social distancing advice of medical professionals. 

Sen. Rand Paul tests positive for coronavirus

869d ago / 5:49 PM UTC

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Sunday became the first known senator to test positive for coronavirus. "Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19," Paul's account tweeted. "He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person."

"He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time," the thread continued. "Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul."

Paul is the third member of Congress to announce a positive test for coronavirus, following Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Ben McAdams, D-Utah.

Read the full story here. 

At least 23 die in Colombia prison violence as inmates riot over coronavirus fears

869d ago / 5:19 PM UTC

BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities in Colombia said Sunday that 23 prisoners died and another 83 were injured in a riot and attempted escape over poor conditions inmates argue will help spread the new coronavirus.

The violence happened overnight at the La Modelo jail in Bogota — where all of the deaths occurred — along with several other penitentiaries. Officials said seven workers were injured, two of them in critical condition.

Relatives gathered outside the jail Sunday wearing masks and clamoring for information. Videos shared by inmates online showed fires inside several jails, prisoners outside their cells and inmates complaining of conditions.

Colombia has confirmed 231 coronavirus cases. Authorities say none are in jails.

School closures skyrocket, nearly 54 million students sent home

869d ago / 5:12 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — Beyond the health effects and the impact on the economy, the coronavirus has created a long tail of impacts in the United States and the world, and one of the biggest impacts has come in education. The number of K-12 school closures has skyrocketed in the last few weeks with a great deal of uncertainty about when the virus may be tamed and when normal school days will resume.

The affected areas range from classroom instruction to meals for lower-income children and they are spread far and wide around the country.

As of Friday evening, 45 states and Washington D.C. had closed schools for at least several weeks. The state of Kansas went further and closed schools for the rest of the academic year. The last day of school there was slated for May 15. And these closures have come remarkably fast, the first state to close its schools was Ohio, only 10 days ago.

Currently, there are five states that have not closed all schools: Idaho, Iowa, Maine Nebraska and Wyoming – and even in those states, the majority of schools are shuttered.

Read the full story here. 

Nearly a billion people now confined to their homes

869d ago / 4:41 PM UTC

Richard Engel reports on the latest about the coronavirus pandemic, including an AFP report that estimates nearly a billion people are now on lockdown in their homes. 

Photo: The scene in New Delhi

869d ago / 4:09 PM UTC
Image: A man wearing a mask rides a motorcycle on a deserted road in New Delhi, India, on March 22, 2020.
A man wearing a mask rides a motorcycle on a deserted road in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. The Indian government has placed dozens of districts with confirmed coronavirus cases on lockdown until March 31. Yawar Nazir / Getty Images

Grandson, grandfather meet for first time through glass due to coronavirus concerns

869d ago / 3:40 PM UTC

It was an unusual meeting for three generations of one family in Ireland amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A photo posted on Twitter showed baby Faolán, held by his father Micheal Gallachoir, meeting his granddad for the first time through the glass of a window to observe social distancing rules. 

Faolán was born on March 14. His mother, Emma, went into labor on Friday morning, which was the first day of a semi-lockdown in Ireland, Gallachoir told NBC News. 

The family was told by the hospital to not come into contact with anyone and not have any visitors to avoid spreading the virus. The grandfather arrived on Saturday to see his first grandchild, but could only meet him through the window. z

Ireland has confirmed 785 coronavirus cases and three deaths so far. 

38 people test positive for coronavirus in New York City jails

869d ago / 3:11 PM UTC

At least 38 people tested positive for coronavirus in New York City's jails, according to the Associated Press.

“It is likely these people have been in hundreds of housing areas and common areas over recent weeks and have been in close contact with many other people in custody and staff,” Board of Correction interim chairwoman Jacqueline Sherman said in a letter seen by AP.

Sherman warned cases could soon skyrocket for this reason.

Many of the cases are at the Riker's Island Jail and nearby facilities, according to AP. Among the 38 who tested positive, 21 of them are in custody, 12 are Department of Correction employees and five are Correctional Health Services employees.

Dozens of people are currently being monitored in the prison's quarantine units, Sherman said.

The news comes as New York City alone had 6,211 cases as of Saturday, and the state is seeing a 15 percent hospitalization rate among coronavirus cases.

NYC Mayor: If Trump doesn't act, 'people will die who could have lived otherwise'

869d ago / 3:08 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sharply criticized President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic Sunday, arguing that the federal government has not done enough to ramp up production of life-saving medical supplies like masks and ventilators and asking the president to deploy the military across the country to help with the public-health crisis.

“The president of the United States is from New York City and he will not lift a finger to help his hometown and I don’t get it. I don’t get it. Right now, I have asked repeatedly for the military to be mobilized, for the Defense Production Act to be used to its fullest to get us things like ventilators, so people can live who would die otherwise,” de Blasio said Sunday on a special edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Read the full story here. 

Spain reports 394 new coronavirus deaths bringing the total to 1,720

869d ago / 2:36 PM UTC

Spain has reported 394 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 1,720, country's health officials said Sunday. 

Spain has so far confirmed 28,572 coronavirus cases, of which 1,785 require intensive care. 

The country is grappling with Europe’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak after Italy.

 

Italian doctor at epicenter of outbreak warns the world to act now

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869d ago / 2:19 PM UTC

An Italian doctor treating patients at the center of the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe has issued a stark warning to other countries yet hit by the full force of the pandemic: lock down.

“We know what happens," Dr. Emanuela Catenacci told British broadcaster Sky News as she took a break from treating patients in an intensive care ward in the Cremona Hospital in Lombardy. "Don’t think it is happening here and it can’t happen everywhere else … because it will."

The death toll in Italy jumped by 793 to 4,825 on Saturday, by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago in this country.

Last week, the number of those killed in Italy's outbreak surpassed those who died in China, where the disease first emerged late last year.

Read the full story here. 

Pope Francis to hold special service to pray for end of coronavirus pandemic

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869d ago / 1:46 PM UTC

Pope Francis will host a special service to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic later this week. 

The pope announced the service during Sunday mass saying that as "humanity trembles with the threat of the pandemic," he will preside over a prayer at St Peter's Square in Vatican City in the evening of Friday, March 27, inviting Catholics from around the world to join him spiritually.

"Let’s make our closeness be felt by the loneliest and most experienced people," the pope said. "Our closeness to doctors, health workers, nurses and volunteers. Our closeness to the authorities who must take tough measures, but for our own good. Our closeness to the policemen, to the soldiers who always try to maintain order on the road, so that the things the government asks to do, for the good of all of us, are accomplished."

The prayer will be broadcast live, the Holy See Press Office later said. 

Italy, hit hardest by the coronavirus epidemic in Europe, reached the highest daily death toll record on Saturday, with 793 deaths in 24 hours.

Iran's Supreme Leader says country rejected U.S. offer of help

869d ago / 1:34 PM UTC
Image: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking in the capital Tehran
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei AFP - Getty Images

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has refused America’s offer of assistance to tackle the virus and described the U.S. as his country’s “most sinister” enemy.

In a speech aired live on Iranian state TV,  Khamenei said the United States has been accused of producing the virus and the assistance being offered may in fact make it “long-lasting."

Khamenei made his comments after he canceled his regular Persian New Year speech at the Imam Reza Shrine in the city of Mashhad in line with precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Confirmed cases in Iran have reached 21,638 with a death toll of 1,685.

Australian government to consider draconian measures on social distancing

869d ago / 1:22 PM UTC

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday that states and territories will consider draconian measures to enforce social distancing to combat the coronavirus.

After thousands of people flocked to Australia’s beaches in recent days amid an unusually warm autumn spell in defiance of government orders, Morrison said proposals would be considered Sunday.  

Most of Sydney’s main beaches, including Bondi Beach, were closed on Sunday.

Australia has recorded 873 cases of coronavirus and seven deaths so far. 

Image: The empty Bondi Beach after it was closed to help stop the spread of coronavirus in Sydney on March 22, 2020.
The empty Bondi Beach after it was closed to help stop the spread of coronavirus in Sydney on Sunday. Jenny Evans / Getty Images

Powerful earthquake strikes Croatian capital Zagreb amid coronavirus epidemic

869d ago / 12:39 PM UTC

A strong earthquake shook Croatia and its capital on Sunday, causing widespread damage and panic as the country is facing a growing number of coronavirus cases.

Officials said there were injuries, but gave no other immediate details.

The earthquake struck amid a partial lockdown of the capital because of the spread of the coronavirus. People were told to avoid public areas, such as parks and public squares, but had no choice as they ran out of their apartments.

The country has so far recorded 206 coronavirus cases and one death. 

Singapore to ban on all short-term visitors

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869d ago / 12:18 PM UTC

Singapore will not allow any short-term visitors to transit or enter the city-state from Monday to curb the spread of the coronavirus and conserve health care resources. 

The measure was taken in view of the heightened risk of importation of coronavirus cases into Singapore, its ministry of health said Sunday, adding that nearly 80 percent of new cases in the last three days were imported, most of them Singapore residents returning home from abroad.

The city-state, with a small and open economy, reported its first fatalities from the virus on Saturday and has confirmed 432 cases of the infection.

 

 

Global coronavirus cases top 300,000 as 13,000 deaths recorded

869d ago / 11:34 AM UTC

The number of global coronavirus cases surged past 300,000 on Sunday, with more than 13,000 deaths worldwide, according to John Hopkins University.

China, Italy and the United States, were the three countries with the most cases according to the university's coronavirus resource center. 

Italy has recorded 4,825 deaths, followed by China, where the pandemic began, with 3,144, and Iran with 1,556. 

India starts 14-hour curfew to curb coronavirus spread

869d ago / 10:56 AM UTC

India launched a 14-hour long curfew on Sunday to limit the fast-spreading coronavirus epidemic in the country, where 315 people have so far been found to have contracted the disease.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an address to the nation last week urged citizens to stay indoors from 5 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. ET) until Monday morning  - a move that he said would be a crucial test for a country to assess its abilities to fight the pandemic.

“Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against the COVID-19 menace,” Modi tweeted minutes before the curfew commenced. “The steps we take now will help in the times to come. 

So far, 195 coronavirus cases and four deaths have been confirmed in India. 

First coronavirus cases confirmed in Gaza

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869d ago / 10:05 AM UTC

Health officials in the densely-populated Gaza Strip confirmed the first cases of coronavirus Sunday. 

Two Palestinians who had traveled from Pakistan and entered Gaza through Egypt had tested positive for the virus late on Saturday and have been in quarantine in Rafah, a town near the Egyptian border, since their arrival on Thursday, the Gaza health ministry said.

Schools and public markets have all been shut in Gaza over the past two weeks to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The coastal enclave, measuring 145 square miles is home to around 2 million Palestinians.

U.K.'s Johnson urges Brits to avoid 'unnecessary physical contact' on Mother's Day

869d ago / 9:35 AM UTC
Image: British PM Johnson gives daily address to nation on coronavirus in London
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on during a coronavirus news conference inside 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday, March 19. Leon Neal / Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised the public to “avoid any unnecessary physical contact” on Mother’s Day.  

“This time the best thing is to ring her, video call her, Skype her, but to avoid any unnecessary physical contact or proximity,” Johnson said in an open letter published in The Sunday Times newspaper. “And why? Because if your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus, or COVID-19. We cannot disguise or sugarcoat the threat.”

Johnson told reporters Friday he hoped to see his own mother on Sunday, but he later changed his mind, according to media reports in the country, where his government told restaurants, pubs, gyms and cinemas to close down on Friday in a bid to contain the epidemic.

Inside hard-hit Italian hospital as coronavirus death toll surges

869d ago / 9:01 AM UTC

Spanish PM warns 'worst is yet to come' as country's death toll tops 1,300

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869d ago / 8:33 AM UTC
Image: SPAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS
Health workers wave during a break outside a hospital in Burgos, Spain on Friday, March 20. Cesar Manso / AFP - Getty Images

Spain's prime minister warned "the worst is yet to come" for his nation Saturday, as the country's death toll topped 1,300. 

"These past days, regional leaders have said that this situation is the most critical we have lived since Second World War. I think they're right," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in televised national address Saturday evening. "These circumstances are putting us to the test."

Sanchez said Spain, which has recorded 1,326 deaths and nearly 25,000 confirmed cases, has implemented the toughest measures in Europe, and one of the toughest in the world. The country's 47 million inhabitants were put under partial lockdown last week as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the coronavirus epidemic.

"Sadly, the worst is yet to come," Sanchez said. "We have very tough days ahead."

Outdoor exercise banned in new restrictive order in Italy's Lombardy region

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869d ago / 7:54 AM UTC

The governor of Italy's Lombardy region, one of the hardest hit areas in the coronavirus epidemic, signed a new order Saturday imposing even more stringent restrictions on residents.

The order, signed by Attilio Fontana and valid until at least Apr. 15, banned outdoor exercise and implemented temperature checks at supermarkets and pharmacies. 

The new, tougher measures come as the number of coronavirus deaths across Italy reached 4,825, with 53,578 cases confirmed to date.

Meanwhile, country's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte addressed the nation in a Facebook live stream Saturday night to announce that every plant in the country that's not absolutely necessary to guarantee essential goods and services will be shuttered effective Sunday. 

Police in Arizona say man stole 29 test kits

869d ago / 5:13 AM UTC

A man was wanted by authorities in Tucson, Arizona, for allegedly walking off with 29 coronavirus test kits, police said Saturday.

The suspect was dressed as a delivery driver and made off with the kits as the city's El Rio Health Center was just about to close Friday night, Tucson police said in a statement.

The move was all for naught, authorities said, as the kits are virtually useless outside a lab, and the center has already replaced them. 

"Do not buy kits from anyone claiming to have Corona Virus Test Kits or COVID-19 Test Kits," the department said. "It is a scam! There are currently no home test kits for the virus."

China reports 46 new COVID-19 cases, ending 3-day streak

869d ago / 5:11 AM UTC

China ended a three-day streak of reporting no new coronavirus cases on Saturday after 46 people tested positive positive for COVID-19. 

On the same day, China's National Health Commission also reported six new deaths. Five of the deaths occurred in Wuhan in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated late last year.

China said 45 of the new cases were imported. 

Colombia reports first COVID-19 death

869d ago / 4:42 AM UTC

Colombia reported on Saturday the country's first death from COVID-19.

The patient was a 58-year-old taxi driver from the coastal city of Cartagena, health minister Fernando Ruiz said in a tweet.

The driver had recently transported Italian tourists and developed symptoms two days later on March 16, Ruiz said. He was first tested on March 13 but two tests came back negative.

Multiple people who came into contact with the taxi driver, including his sister, a doctor and a passenger, also tested positive for coronavirus, according to Martha Ospina, director of Colombia's National Institute of Health.

More than 200 people have tested positive for the virus in Colombia, according to the health ministry.

L.A. police could start 12-hour shifts, raising COVID-19 fears among rank and file

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869d ago / 4:21 AM UTC

LOS ANGELES — As residents settle in for weeks of isolation, police Chief Michel Moore has told officers he hopes the city’s stay-at-home initiative designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus can be gently enforced.

He said most residents were following the "Safer at Home" order, which allows essential businesses to remain open and critical public functions to continue but directs most other people to stay home and avoid gatherings.

“Enforcement of it is through awareness, through education, through outreach,” Moore said in a video message and an internal memo to Los Angeles Police Department officers, which also directed the rank-and-file to begin providing security at emergency shelters for the homeless.

He told officers the city is entering a new phase in its response to the pandemic and could begin to move officers to 12-hour shifts with fewer days off as soon as Monday.

Read the full story here.

New Jersey issues stay-at-home order

870d ago / 2:30 AM UTC

New Yorkers tie the knot at park after marriage bureau closes

870d ago / 2:26 AM UTC

The New York City marriage bureau shut down Friday as part of the city's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. But that didn't stop some New Yorkers from finding a way to tie the knot anyway. 

Alex Brook Lynn and her husband, Adam Levy, planned to have a normal wedding. But as COVID-19 cases rose and the illness was declared a pandemic, they decided to speed up the process to get Lynn on Levy's insurance. Upon hearing the news of the marriage bureau's closure, the pair knew they had to figure out a plan B. So, they went to the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse and found a judge to marry them in Collect Pond Park, right across the street. 

"There's no one I would rather go through dystopia with," Lynn told NBC News.

A few friends were there to witness them say their vows, Lynn said. And following the ceremony, the judge ended up marrying another couple that was in the park. 

"There's this constant hustle in the city and when it's working for good, it can be really good and it can feel safe in the city," Lynn added.