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Florida issues stay-at-home order as cases grow

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
A person stands in line to be tested for the coronavirus at Elmhurst Hospital in New York on April 1, 2020.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

After weeks of resistance, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday to stem the spread of coronavirus, reversing a previous position that left closures up to local officials.

The state has reported nearly 7,000 confirmed cases and 86 deaths.

In Connecticut, a 6-week-old baby who died at a Hartford hospital is thought to be one of the youngest deaths linked to coronavirus. Gov. Ned Lamont said the newborn was brought to the facility last week and couldn’t be revived.

And in Guam, 93 sailors aboard the USS Teddy Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19. Nearly a quarter of the more than 4,000 crew members on the ship have been tested, and nearly half of those results have been reported. The vast majority are negative.

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10 people in New Jersey charged for violating coronavirus order with engagement party

Ten adults, including a 99-year-old man, were charged Tuesday after police in New Jersey shut down an engagement party that violated the state's order against social gatherings, authorities said.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., police in Lakewood Township, near the Jersey Shore, were called to a residence on a report of a social gathering, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and police Chief Gregory Meyer said in a joint statement.

The homeowners who hosted the gathering, an engagement party, Yaakov Kaufman, 47, and Eti Kaufman, 45, were charged with six counts of child endangerment for each of their children who was in attendance and with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor during a state of emergency. 

Eight other Lakewood residents at the engagement party were also charged with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor during a state of emergency.

Read the full story here. 

157 crew members for Royal Caribbean ship docked in France test positive for coronavirus

More than 150 crew members on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in France tested positive for coronavirus.

The French prefecture of Loire-Atlantique announced that 157 crew members on board the Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Apex cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19. No passengers were on board the ship, and it was set to make its maiden voyage in March.

Not all crew members have been tested yet, and complete numbers are expected next week. The ship carried 28 American crew members and 15 non-crew Royal Caribbean employees. The number of Americans who have tested positive is unclear, and Loire-Atlantique did not disclose the number of crew members who were hospitalized.

The ship has been divided into four groups: people who are sick and have tested positive, people who have come in contact with sick people, people who came in contact with those who have had contact with sick people and people who have had no contact in that chain. Those on the ship who exhibit symptoms or have tested positive are confined to their cabins, and everyone else on board remains on the ship. The Celebrity Apex has been disinfected. 

West Virginia presidential primary delayed until June

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday the state's primary will be delayed until June because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The primary, which was scheduled for May 12, will now be held on June 9, Justice told reporters. He said President Donald Trump's "very, very grim" remarks at the White House on Tuesday that over 200,000 Americans could die from the virus influenced his decision. 

"I was absolutely hopeful and very supportive of trying to do our election on May the 12th," but now it's become "ever so apparent that that's just absolutely the wrong thing to do," Justice said.

"At the end of the day I want this to be the biggest turnout of all time because all of us should treasure the opportunity and privilege to vote."

The state, which was the last in the country to report a confirmed case of the virus, had 191 positive cases as of Wednesday, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.  

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Wednesday confirmed 29 new cases of COVID-19 have been officially reported to the state, making the total positive case count 191.


After weeks of resistance, Florida governor issues stay-at-home order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state as it grapples with a rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The order goes into effect Thursday at midnight and will last for at least 30 days, DeSantis said at a briefing on Wednesday. DeSantis had been previously criticized for refusing to implement statewide social distancing guidelines, particularly as beach-goers and students on spring break continued to gather in large groups.

The governor said "it makes sense to do this now" after President Donald Trump announced earlier this week that the administration is extending its social distancing guidelines another 30 days. DeSantis, a Republican, said he took that as a "signal" from the president that this need to be done in the state.

The state has seen nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases and 87 deaths, according to the state health department.

Pennsylvania placed under statewide stay-at-home order

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf placed his entire state under a stay-at-home order on Wednesday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The move, which now includes all 67 counties, comes as state health officials reported its largest single-day increase of more than 960 new cases, bringing Pennsylvania's total to 5,805. At least 74 people have died.

Wolf, a Democrat, has called for residents to remain home except for essential trips. The Pennsylvania State Police also said it will no longer respond in person to some types of calls, including for lost and found items, littering, identity theft and general requests to speak to a trooper.

Cuomo closes NYC playgrounds, says more than 83,000 test positive

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he would be closing playgrounds in New York City since people in those spaces were continuing to violate social distancing guidelines. Open spaces in parks would remain open so that people could "walk around and get some sun," while keeping six feet apart, Cuomo said. 

Other announcements by Cuomo include:

  • New York hospitals would be working together to share equipment and staff, and even shift patients when need be. 
  • 83,172 people have tested positive for coronavirus, an increase of 7,917 statewide since Tuesday. More than 47,000 of those cases are in New York City. 
  • Nearly 400 more people have died in the state since the day before, bringing the toll to 1,941 deaths. 
  • The number of hospitalized people increased from 10,929 to 12,226. About 300 more people were in intensive care, but 1,167 were discharged.

Senators urge people to wear homemade face masks

A pair of senators are urging Americans to begin wearing homemade masks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in order to flatten the curve and buy the U.S. more time to develop an effective treatment.

“If people need to be out in public, and they're likely to interact with other people, some kind of base covering will help to reduce the rate of transmission. It'll reduce the risk of infecting someone,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., told reporters on a conference call Wednesday with Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo.

They said that people should wear homemade face masks like a scarf or bandana and to leave N95 masks to medical professionals. 

People who have no symptoms should wear a face mask because the virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic people, added Toomey, who said he spoke to President Donald Trump Tuesday about their push for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue new guidance on masks. The current guidance advises that only sick people or those caring for a sick person wear masks.

Bennett added, "it is awkward to walk around wearing a mask when everybody else is not wearing one. I think that's part of the reason why it's important for the CDC to weigh in here because it'll give everybody a sense of what their responsibility is to each other."

Restaurant owners demand insurance companies pay up

A group of chefs including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck is calling for insurance companies to pay out to help prevent hundreds of small businesses and restaurants from closing.

While some business interruption insurance clearly states that insurers "will not pay for loss or damage caused by or resulting from any virus, bacterium or other microorganism that induces or is capable of inducing physical distress, illness or disease," even restaurants whose coverage does not contain that specific disclaimer say their claims are being denied. 

Without an insurance payout, a vast number of restaurants across the country will not be able to reopen  and rehire staff, and some owners say they may have to close for good. 

“We need insurance companies to do the right thing and save millions of jobs," said Keller, who oversees a dozen restaurants.

San Francisco Bay Area health officers extend stay-at-home order through May 3

Seven San Francisco Bay Area jurisdictions will extend their stay-at-home orders through May 3, Santa Clara County said in a press release.

The prior order would have expired April 7, but health officers said in a press release that while it had helped reduce the rate of transmission, coronavirus cases in the area have risen and are straining healthcare resources. 

“Extending the stay-at-home order should reduce the number of sick patients seeking care at one time, giving us time to acquire more medical supplies for providers who will be providing care to people sick with COVID-19,” Contra Costa County health officer Chris Farnitano said in the press release.

The order indicates that people in the Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and the city of Berkeley must stay home, but can leave for essential needs such as grocery shopping. Non-essential businesses must remain closed.