President Donald Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus press briefing on Saturday, “This will be the toughest week” in the U.S. fight against the pandemic.
“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately," he said.
The president's comments came as the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to over 300,000, with the number of deaths at more than 8,000, according to NBC News' tally.
Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The CDC is recommending now that Americans wear cloth masks when out in public. And, New York, by far the hardest-hit state, is gearing up for the pandemic to peak there in an expected in four to 10 days. China is donating 1,000 ventilators to the state, and another 140 are coming from Oregon.
Support on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats for an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the outbreak appears to be growing.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- MAPS: Where cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and worldwide.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not doing — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 5 coronavirus news.
Photo: Spanish nuns make face masks
Pelosi hopes to vote on next recovery package this month
In a letter to her colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined plans for the next coronavirus recovery package, calling it CARES 2.
“It is my hope that we will craft this legislation and bring it to the Floor later this month,” she said in the letter Saturday night.
CARES 2 would be a follow-up to the more than $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act signed by President Donald Trump on March 27, Pelosi said, and would "extend and expand this bipartisan legislation to meet the needs of the American people."
The cost of the proposed package has not been determined, but Pelosi said it was needed to aid small business owners, farmers, the unemployed, state and local governments, hospitals, and others "on the frontlines of this crisis."
San Francisco park's 150th birthday celebration goes online
SAN FRANCISCO — Golden Gate Park turned 150 years old on Saturday, but the huge party planned to celebrate San Francisco's beloved treasure had to be postponed.
Originally, city officials planned a yearlong celebration that included free museum admission, concerts and the participation of more than 150 cultural institutions and community groups. A giant Ferris wheel that lifts passengers 150 feet into the sky was brought in for the occasion. But the spread of the coronavirus forced them to hold off for now.
Instead, they launched an online concert series featuring musical sets performed in the park over the years. They include an appearance by Boz Scaggs at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in 2016 and Metallica's headlining performance at the Outside Lands festival in 2017.
“Golden Gate Park has served as a place of inspiration, hope and refuge for San Franciscans for 150 years,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “We hope these virtual experiences will bring some joy and entertainment during this challenging times.”
Earthquake scientists say isolation has calmed the planet
With an estimated one-third of the world's population participating in some form of isolation, trains, trucks and humans aren't pounding the pavement as they would normally, and scientists who measure the earth's vibrations say the calm is palpable.
Since late March, the planet's "seismic noise" has been reduced because of stay-at-home measures, the Royal Observatory of Belgium noted.
"The earth continues shaking," it said on Twitter. "Ground movements at frequencies 1-20 Hz, mainly due to human activity (cars, trains, industries,...) are much lower since the implementation of the containment measures by the government."
2 passengers die aboard Coral Princess cruise ship docked in Miami
Two passengers died from COVID-19 aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship, which arrived in Miami Saturday from South America.
The ship was carrying 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members. At least 12 people tested positive for coronavirus.
"All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened to report that two guests passed away on Coral Princess," the company said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to their family, friends, and all who are impacted by this loss. All of us at Princess Cruises offer our sincere condolences."
Passengers who are "fit to fly" will be allowed to disembark starting Sunday, the company said. Those guests will be transferred directly from the ship to the Miami International Airport for flights home.
Guests who require immediate medical attention will be prioritized, according to Princess cruises. Disembarkation of all guests could take several days.
United to cut flights to Newark, LaGuardia airports
United Airlines is scaling back flights to two New York City-area airports in an effort to reduce the number of employees who report there.
"The goal is to keep our employees safe and play our part in helping to mitigate the spread of the outbreak in the Tri-State area," United said in a statement, adding that all employees at Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport will receive their full salaries and benefits despite the schedule reductions.
United said it will continue to serve all of its domestic and international markets at this time.
NYC sees largest spike in deaths since outbreak started
New York City saw the largest spike in deaths Saturday since the coronavirus outbreak strengthened its grip on the city last month.
The city's death toll is now more than double what it was on Tuesday.
Photo: A funeral in Spain
Wisconsin GOP appeals to Supreme Court on extended voting
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday to block extended absentee voting in Tuesday's primary, despite public health fears about in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans are asking the high court to undo a federal judge's ruling this week that declined to postpone the election but added six days, to April 13, for people to submit absentee ballots.
The GOP argued in their brief to Justice Brett Kavanaugh that the absentee extension is “a deeply consequential and disruptive change” that risks confusing voters, comes too close to the election and unfairly creates two different deadlines for voters — one for in-person voting and one for absentees.
Singer Marianne Faithfull hospitalized with COVID-19
Marianne Faithfull has been hospitalized in London with COVID-19, according to her manager manager Ravard Francois.
Faithfull has been shelter in place in London when she developed symptoms, Variety reported Saturday. She checked herself into a hospital and later tested positive for COVID-19.
1,000 military personnel to deploy to NYC
President Donald Trump on Saturday said 1,000 military personnel will deploy to New York City to help COVID-19 response efforts.
Trump's hometown has been reeling with the highest number of infections in the country. As of Saturday, NYC reported more than 63,000 cases. Across the state, more than 100,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus.
Health care workers say they are overwhelmed by supply and test shortages and the overwhelming number of people requiring medical attention. Many have complained that they don't feel safe and described chaos in emergency rooms all over the city.
California governor says will 'do better' on testing
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that he has a responsibility to ensure that testing for coronavirus in the state is improved and expanded.
"Let me just acknowledge on the outset that the testing space has been a challenging one for us and I own that," Newsom said at a news conference. "I have a responsibility as your governor to do better and to do more testing in the state of California."
He announced a changed approach to the coordination and organization of testing for the virus statewide.
After it was broadly publicized that 59,500 tests of more than 126,700 in California still had no results, Newsom said the state focused on bringing that number down and that the backlog is now approximately 13,000 tests.
California has 237 deaths, about 2,300 hospitalizations and 1,008 people in intensive care from coronavirus, Newsom said.
Astros' Justin Verlander to donate MLB checks to charities
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and his wife, model Kate Upton, said they are going to donate his weekly MLB paychecks to various charities helping people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Verlander said Saturday in an Instagram video message with his wife, model Kate Upton, that Major League Baseball announced that players will continue to receive their paychecks while the season is suspended due to the virus.
He and Upton, who married in 2017, said they will donate the money to a different charity each week, "so that we can support their efforts and highlight the great work they're doing during the COVID-19 crisis."
Trump says no plans to delay Republican presidential convention
President Donald Trump said that he was not planning to postpone the Republican National Convention in Charlotte schedule for August.
“We are having the convention at the end of August,” Trump said Saturday at a press briefing. “I think we are going to have a great convention,” he continued, adding that there was no contingency plan.
The Democrats announced earlier in the week that they would delay their convention in Milwaukee from July 1 to Aug. 17.
Watch NYC first responders serenade medical workers with sirens
New York City Fire Department first responders on Friday night serenaded medical workers outside NYU Langone Health, an academic medical center in Manhattan.
Sandra Pérez Baos, a postdoctoral researcher at the New York University facility, tweeted a video of the event, which she later said took place at 7 p.m.
Ladder trucks, rescue rigs and ambulances are lined up, emergency lights flashing, sirens blaring, and air horns sounding — a show of appreciation for an overwhelmed system — as mask-wearing medical workers watch and listen.
On Friday, the city transmitted an emergency alert to cellphones to ask licensed health care workers to volunteer to work at coronavirus-impacted medical facilities. The virus-related death toll in the city Saturday was nearly 1,900.
Trump warns 'there will be a lot of death' in coming week
President Donald Trump warned Saturday that the country was headed for a difficult week.
“This will be the toughest week,” Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus press briefing. “There will be a lot of death, unfortunately.”
Trump claimed that his allocation of resources to states most in need would lead to a "lot less death than if this wasn't done."
“In some cases we are telling governors we can't go there because we don't think you need it and we think someplace else needs it. And pretty much so far we’ve been right about that and we’ll continue to do it," Trump said.
Nearly every state is stretched thin on emergency resources needed to fight the pandemic. Trump has been criticized for directing resources to states that are politically valuable to him, such as Florida, rather than prioritizing harder hit areas like New York, where ventilators are expected to run out within days and hospitals are already out of personal protective equipment.
Mayor of N.J. city hit hard by coronavirus says he can't compete with NYC for supplies
The mayor of a New Jersey city that has been hit hard by coronavirus says his community needs the same supplies and equipment as other hot spots but lacks "the power or resources to compete with New York City."
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka told MSNBC, "We should not be competing on the marketplace for testing, gowns and masks in this difficult, difficult time."
"I believe there needs to be a national response, a uniform national response, so everybody can get a tally of what they need of resources, and people need to be given those resources," said Baraka, whose city of about 280,000 has a median household income of about $35,000 and a 28 percent poverty rate.
Essex County, where Newark is located, has 3,584 positive coronavirus cases and 155 related deaths, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
"We have a lot of people not being tested, folks depending on 911, calling 911, overwhelming 911 and the hospital," Baraka said. "We also treat the emergency rooms as a primary care physician, which has escalated these problems in these communities."
U.S. cases now top 300,000, deaths surpass 8,000
The total number of coronavirus cases in the United States has climbed to more than 300,000, with the number of deaths surpassing 8,000.
New York state has the highest number of cases in the country with 113,704. New Jersey is second, with over 34,000.
Both states also have the highest numbers of fatalities in the country. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Saturday that in the past 24 hours the state has seen an additional 200 deaths, bringing the total to 846.
More than 3,500 people have died from the virus in New York.
The U.S. in total has 300,092 cases and 8,078 fatalities.
Photo: A one-passenger flight
Over 150 crew test positive on USS Theodore Roosevelt, whose captain was removed
More than 150 crew members of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier whose captain was relieved of command after raising concerns about the coronavirus have tested positive.
The U.S. Navy said in a press release on Saturday that 44 percent of the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt have been tested for the virus. The results came back positive for 155 crew members. The ship has a crew of nearly 5,000.
Over 1,500 sailors have been moved ashore.
"As testing continues, the ship will keep enough Sailors on board to sustain essential services and sanitize the ship in port," the Navy said. "There have been zero hospitalizations."
On Thursday, Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of command after he raised concerns about a coronavirus outbreak on his ship in a letter that was leaked to the news media.
Six-year-old 'cystic fibrosis warrior' celebrates recovering from COVID-19
A 6-year-old Tennessee boy who lives with cystic fibrosis survived his battle against COVID-19 after being diagnosed with the disease last month.
“I’m a cystic fibrosis warrior and I beat COVID-19!” Joseph Bostain said in a viral video posted on his mother’s Facebook this week.
Joseph is one of more than 3,000 people in the state of Tennessee who have tested positive for coronavirus.
People with underlying medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, which causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time, are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Sabrina Bostain, Joseph's mother, documented her son's recovery in a series of Facebook posts as Joseph spent weeks quarantined at home after coming down with a fever and cough. He also spent time in a hospital.
In the video announcing his recovery, Joseph thanked everyone who prayed for him and sent him cards and gifts as he was battling the coronavirus.
Puerto Rico discovers protective supply cache amid COVID-19
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The suspected mismanagement of essential supplies during Hurricane Maria turned out to be a boon for Puerto Rico as it fights a rise in coronavirus cases.
Health Secretary Lorenzo González said Saturday that officials discovered a cache of urgently needed personal protective equipment at a hospital in the nearby island of Vieques that remains closed since the Category 4 storm hit the U.S. territory in September 2017.
He said the equipment includes face masks, gloves, gowns and face shields that were in good condition and would be distributed to health institutions.
Puerto Rico has reported 18 deaths related to COVID-19, including that of a nurse, and more than 450 confirmed cases, including several police officers who join health workers in demanding more personal protective equipment.
The discovery in Vieques outraged many on an island still struggling to recover from Maria and from a series of strong earthquakes that hit Puerto Rico’s southern region in recent months. González said he has ordered an investigation into why those supplies were abandoned in Vieques.
New Jersey has nearly 850 deaths, a hundred more than from the 9/11 attacks
New Jersey has lost nearly 100 more residents to the coronavirus pandemic than it did in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the governor said Saturday at a news conference.
Over the last 24 hours, 200 people in the state have died from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 846. In the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, New Jersey lost 750 of its residents.
"We have now lost nearly 100 more of our fellow New Jerseyans to COVID-19 than we did on the September 11th attacks," Gov. Phil Murphy said. "This pandemic is writing one of the greatest tragedies in our state's history and just as we have committed to never forgetting those lost on 9/11, we must commit to never forgetting those we are losing to this pandemic."
The governor then held a brief moment of silence.
New Jersey, the second worst-hit state in the pandemic, now has 34,124 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Murphy also announced that he and State Police Col. Patrick Callahan are giving towns and counties the ability to ban rentals to seasonal tenants and transient guests flocking to the state to escape the pandemic.
"Social distancing does not work by relocating to the Shore," the governor tweeted.
Nearly 3,000 firefighters and EMTs out sick in NYC, but over 100 have returned to work
Nearly 3,000 of New York City's firefighters and Emergency Medical Services workers are still out sick.
But a senior fire department official told NBC News that well over 100 employees who were ill with coronavirus or related symptoms have returned to working on the front lines. That includes EMTs, firefighters and civilians, who are helping to replenish the ranks.
Among those on sick leave are nearly one in four of the city's EMS members.
As of Saturday, 426 members of the city's fire department have tested positive for coronavirus, a department official said.
Stranded Coral Princess cruise ship with coronavirus patients docks in Florida
The Coral Princess cruise ship, which has at least 12 people with coronavirus on board, arrived at Port Miami on Saturday morning after initially being blocked from docking after the U.S. Coast Guard determined the ship lacked a plan for disembarking.
The ship has 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members.
Negin Kamali, public relations director of Princess Cruises, said in a statement to NBC News that "disembarkation for guests who are fit to fly is anticipated to begin on Sunday, April 5. These guests will transfer direct from the ship to Miami International Airport for flights home."
Patricia Abril, press secretary for the Miami-Dade mayor, told NBC News in a statement that two patients in critical condition were taken to a hospital in Hialeah while at least nine others were expected to go to a hospital in Orlando.
Sixty Florida residents will be taken to their homes, and 336 other passengers will be transported home on domestic flights. The remaining passengers, who are British and Australian, will be put on charter flights to London and Los Angeles.
"Timing for all this is being managed by the cruise line," said Abril.
NYC landlord waives April rent for 200 tenants
Mario Salerno, a New York City landlord who owns roughly 80 apartments in Brooklyn, told his 200 tenants that they would not have to pay rent for the month of April.
He told NBC New York that he waived the rent after some of his tenants told him that they were worried about making their payment because they lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I want everybody to be healthy. That's the whole thing," Salerno, 59, said.
Queen Elizabeth to give rare televised address about the coronavirus
Queen Elizabeth II will give a rare televised address on Sunday night to address the coronavirus pandemic, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
It will be the fourth time the Queen has made a special broadcast. The Palace said the speech was recorded at Windsor Castle and will broadcast to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
The only other times the Queen has made a televised address were following the 2002 death of the Queen Mother, ahead of Princess Diana's funeral in 1997, and one about the First Gulf War in 1991.
N.Y. getting 1,000 ventilators from China as state gears up for peak cases in 4 to 8 days
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is getting a donation of 1,000 ventilators from China and another 140 from the state of Oregon.
The news comes as the state gears up for its peak in coronavirus cases, which the governor said is expected in four to eight days.
"In some ways, I want to get to that apex, get to the other side of that apex and slide down that mountain," the governor said. "On the other hand, we have to be ready for that fight and we have to handle that fight."
Cuomo said New York has been stymied in its effort to get an order of 17,000 ventilators.
He also said that the Jacob Javits Convention Center, which has been converted into a 2,500-bed hospital, has begun to receive COVID-19 patients.
Trump says he will ask Congress for more money for small businesses
President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that he would ask Congress for more money for small business loans if the money already allocated runs out.
The rollout of the small business coronavirus relief funds has been off to a shaky start since it opened on Friday. Many small business owners reported the website crashing and banks were unclear of the guidelines and reported being overwhelmed with demand.
Any additional funds would likely have to wait. Congress is currently on recess and is not expected to return until April 20. Lawmakers have indicated that they will not be considering any new legislation before then.
Faced with their own virus fears, crisis hotline counselors answer surge in calls
At first, coronavirus-related calls to the crisis hotlines at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services came in a trickle: In February, just 22 callers mentioned the virus. By the end of March, that number had skyrocketed to more than 1,800.
With an average of 10,800 calls in any given month, Didi Hirsch’s hotlines are constantly ringing. Based in California, it is one of three crisis centers nationwide that takes calls through the Disaster Distress Helpline, a 24-hour hotline that helps people cope with anything from natural disasters to public health emergencies.
But the coronavirus crisis has felt different than past events that prompted a spike in calls, such as wildfires, mass shootings or celebrity suicides, say those who answer the phones. Unlike the pandemic, which seems to worsen by the day, those tragedies had a clear end to them, and did not necessarily have a direct effect on crisis counselors who take calls or answer online chats.
UK has more than 700 deaths in 24 hours
The United Kingdom has 41,903 people confirmed positive for the virus as of Saturday, out of a total of 183,190 people who have been tested, the Department of Health and Social Care announced. This is up by nearly 4,000 cases since Friday.
The death toll is now at 4,313, an increase of 708 deaths over the day before.
The British government is working to meet a target of conducting 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April, after being criticized for low numbers of testing.
Photo: Social distancing in London
New York has 10,841 new cases in one day, a record high
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday the state has 10,841 new coronavirus cases since Friday, a record, bringing the total to 113,704.
The number of deaths since Friday is 640, which puts the total deaths from the virus in New York at 3,565.
The total number of people hospitalized is 15,905. But, Cuomo said, two-thirds of all people who have been hospitalized have been discharged.
The governor said the state is probably four to eight days from a peak in coronavirus cases and is doing as much as it can to prepare.
"In some ways, I want to get to that apex, get to the other side of that apex and slide down that mountain," the governor said. "On the other hand, we have to be ready for that fight and we have to handle that fight."
Police get creative to stay safe and keep order as virus spreads
Late last month, as officials in Cambridge, Massachusetts, scrambled to defend the city against the coronavirus, Patrol Officer Bob Reardon got an assignment that signaled how suddenly his job had changed. Someone complained about a football game.
There was no violence, no loud noise, no threats — just a group of men playing pickup in violation of a recently enacted prohibition against large gatherings. Reardon pulled up in his cruiser and without getting too close told the men to scatter. They were respectful, and left without a fuss, he said. But the confrontation left an impression on the 30-year-old officer.
“I never thought that on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I’d be sent to a public park to tell people to stop playing a sport,” Reardon recalled thinking. “It’s a new world.”
Enforcing social distancing is one of the many ways the coronavirus pandemic has unexpectedly transformed American policing over the past few weeks, compelling officers to drop their routines and find new ways to protect the public and themselves.
Biden calls for Trump to appoint a 'supply commander' to coordinate critical material distribution
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, is calling for President Donald Trump to appoint a "supply commander" to "coordinate critical materials for all 50 states and U.S. territories" in need as they contend with the coronavirus.
“This public health crisis is foremost a human crisis, but it is also a crisis of supply, logistics and distribution. States, hospitals, and health care providers should not have to bid against one another, or against the federal government to get the supplies that they desperately need," Biden said in a statement on Saturday.
“It is clear that the current structure President Trump has put in place is not working — either because he hasn't fully empowered those in charge or because he hasn't made it clear that the mandate must be to take over the entire supply chain and determine the demand across all of our states, tribes and territories for these critical materials," he continued.
Biden also released his own plan about coordinating and distributing personal protective equipment to all 50 states and territories. He has often publicly called for Trump and his administration to adopt his policy plans.
Non-COVID medical emergencies take a back seat, putting patients at risk
"I would rather die than risk getting coronavirus right now.”
That’s what a patient told Dr. Comilla Sasson, an emergency medicine physician in Denver, after she advised the patient during a telemedicine visit that she was showing signs of a heart attack and should go to a hospital.
“I asked if I could talk to one of her family members and she said ‘no’ — that she had already made up her mind,” Sasson told NBC News. It’s unclear what the woman’s diagnosis turned out to be, because she did not reach out to Sasson again.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, medical emergencies unrelated to COVID-19 still occur. Sasson, who works at three hospitals in the Denver area, is among a number of doctors who worry that people experiencing warning signs of life-threatening conditions are delaying seeking emergency help out of fear of going to coronavirus-strained emergency rooms.
Pope Francis donates thousands to Italian city
Pope Francis donated 60,000 euros (about $65,000) on Friday to Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in the Italian city Bergamo.
Some of the donation will be used to build a new hospital in the city in the northern Lombardy region, the epicentre of Italy’s virus outbreak.
Medical professionals have been hit particularly hard in the country and the death toll for doctors rose to 77 when another four died overnight from the virus, according to the Italy's National Federation of Medical Professionals.
Italy has reported almost 120,000 cases as of Saturday. However, it has started to see infections leveling off after weeks of nationwide shutdown.
Athletes Village for Olympics could house virus patients
The under-construction Athletes Village for the Tokyo Olympics could be used as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has been talking about the possibility of occupying the massive development on Tokyo Bay, which is to house up to 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and staff during the games. The complex, which will eventually include 24 buildings, was expected to remain unoccupied with the Olympics delayed for 16 months.
Despite a rising number of cases in Japan — particularly in its capital city — the government has not declared a state of emergency, causing some unease at the “slow” reaction to the pandemic.
U.K.'s Johnson urges people to stay home despite 'fine weather'
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to "stay at home... and save lives" this weekend, despite the impending “fine weather” on Saturday.
“This country has made a huge effort, a huge sacrifice, and done absolutely brilliantly well in delaying the spread of the virus,” he tweeted Saturday.
Johnson also tweeted a letter addressed to the leaders of opposition parties in the government to “invite them to work together at this moment of national emergency.”
The prime minister himself was recently diagnosed with the virus, and is continuing self-isolation until further notice. In the midst of a three-week lockdown, the U.K. has reported more than 41,000 cases as of Saturday.
Egyptians urged to stay at home until April 10
For the next week until April 10, Egyptians should not "leave the house for any reason...not even to buy bread," health officials in the country said Friday.
This is because "the worst stage will begin soon... and many positive cases will arise and can infect many people, so it is very important to stay home," said Dr. Mahmoud Al-Jaraihi, director of an Egyptian fever hospital.
The Middle East's most populous country has reported almost 1,000 confirmed cases and 66 fatalities.
The warning came after the World Heath Organization said on Thursday that governments in the Middle East need to act fast to limit the spread, after cases rose to nearly 60,000 in the region, almost double from a week earlier.
Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions
The number of confirmed new virus cases across South Asia neared 6,000 on Saturday, even as authorities in some cities tightened restrictions on movement and warned lockdowns could be extended in a bid to rein in the pandemic.
“If people don’t obey the rules seriously and cases continue to rise, then there may be no option but to extend the lockdown,” said Rajesh Tope, the health minister of India's Maharashtra state which includes the financial hub Mumbai, on Saturday. “It could be extended in Mumbai and urban areas of Maharashtra by two weeks.”
The country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week the country will pull out of the national three-week lockdown of some 1.3 billion people — set to end April 14 — in a phased manner, other senior officials said this will depend on an assessment of the situation and that lockdowns would be extended in districts where the outbreak is spreading.
Modi's lockdown has been criticized as being ill-conceived and disproportionately affecting India's poor. The country has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases and 68 deaths.
South Korea extends 'strengthened social distance' for two weeks
South Korea will extend “strengthened social distance” for two more weeks ending on April 19, government officials said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has expressed concern over rising infections linked to recent arrivals amid broadening outbreaks in Europe and the United States.
“We very well know that continuing social distancing comes with massive costs and sacrifice,” Chung said after a meeting on anti-virus measures on Saturday, referring to the economic implications. “But if we loosen things right now, the effort we so far invested could pop and disappear like a bubble.”
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 94 new cases on Saturday, bringing the national total to 10,156 cases. While the country's caseload has slowed from early March — when it reported around 500 new cases a day — there’s alarm over a recent steady rise in infections in the Seoul metropolitan area where around half of the country's 51 million people live.
China pays tribute to those who died in epidemic with day of mourning
China mourned the thousands of “martyrs” who have died in the coronavirus outbreak on Saturday, flying the national flag at half mast throughout the country and suspending all forms of entertainment.
At 10 a.m. local time, the country observed three minutes of silence to mourn those who died, including frontline medical workers and doctors. Cars, trains and ships sounded their horns and air raid sirens wailed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders paid silent tribute in front of the national flag, with white flowers pinned to their chest as a mark of mourning, state media reported.
The day of mourning coincided with the start of the annual Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors. More than 3,300 people in mainland China have died in the epidemic as of Saturday.
Pressure grows on U.K. soccer stars to cut pay as crisis deepens
After days of mounting pressure, the top soccer clubs in Britain said Friday they would ask their players to take a 30 percent pay cut as the sport grapples with the damaging fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
"The overriding priority is to aid the health and wellbeing of the nation and our communities, including players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters," the Premier League said in a statement following a pivotal meeting earlier in the day.
It remains to be seen how players — whose wages span a wide spectrum in a league with no salary cap — will respond to the request following calls from government ministers to cut their often-astronomical wages.
After resisting efforts to shut doors, Hobby Lobby has closed all stores
OKLAHOMA CITY — Hobby Lobby announced that the ongoing coronavirus crisis is prompting it to close its stores until further notice.
In a statement, the Oklahoma City-based crafts retail chain said it also is furloughing all of its store employees and many of its corporate and distribution workers.
Hobby Lobby had resisted efforts to close its stores as nonessential services, saying its sale of fabric was essential. A team enforcing Denver’s shelter-in-place order had issued citations to Hobby Lobby stores. On Thursday, deputies in Dallas County, Texas, served Hobby Lobby with cease-and-desist orders for it to close or be found in violation of the county’s order closing all nonessential businesses to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Hobby Lobby describes itself as the world’s largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer with more than 900 stores in 46 states with more than 43,000 employees, according to the chain’s website.
Hospital at NYC's Javits Center starts taking patients
A 2,500-bed emergency medical facility being run by the U.S. Army in New York's the Javits Center began taking COVID-19 patients Friday night, the governor's office said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the center, which had initially been planned to take non-virus patients, would instead take only those suffering from the coronavirus illness.
The New York City area has been called the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States, and as of 5 p.m. Friday it had more than 56,000 cases with 1,867 deaths in the city itself, according to the city's health department.
Cuomo said in a statement Thursday that he asked President Donald Trump to allow the Javits Center facility to take COVID-19 patients, and the president agreed to the request. Cuomo thanked Trump for his quick action in the matter.
The Defense Department said Friday that in addition to the Javits Center, COVID-19 patients would also be taken at federal medical stations set up at convention centers in New Orleans and Dallas.
Americans stranded in Russia after last flight canceled just before takeoff
Hundreds of Americans are stranded in Russia after the last flight scheduled to leave the country was canceled as they sat on the plane Friday.
Aeroflot flight 102, which was scheduled to fly from Moscow to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, was preparing to depart when the pilot announced that the trip had been called off.
“A couple of people just started shouting,” said Joe Democritos, an English teacher trying to get back to New Jersey. “They were saying ‘I refuse to leave the plane. I will not leave the plane,’ in Russian, then they got the police to escort people off the plane.”
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued several alerts this week encouraging citizens to book the Aeroflot flight, noting that it “may be the last flight available this month” due to strict travel restrictions from the Russian government.
Embassy spokesperson Rebecca Ross called the cancellation “inexplicable” in a series of tweets. “To those of you who were boarded on Aeroflot 102 today only to have it canceled moments before takeoff, we understand and share your frustration.”
Renowned ballet dancer Julian Mackay was on the plane and took to social media to document the confusion. Videos posted to the Montana native’s Instagram account show bewildered travelers trying to get information from airport staff.
The airline claimed that it received late word from the Russian government that it could not fly. "We were forced to cancel the flight and return passengers to the terminal following a decision by Russian aviation authorities to suspend all permits previously granted to carriers for charter flights to repatriate Russian and CIS citizens," the airline said in a statement. "Aeroflot stands ready to resume flights, and we hope that passengers will be able to return home in the near future."
The State Department is working to organize a charter flight for citizens, but it requires the approval of the Russian government, according to an alert on the Embassy website. Passengers have been encouraged to seek lodging for the time being.