Global death toll tops 30,000 as CDC issues travel advisory for 3 states

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A health public information officer looks at beds at a temporary hospital set up by the California National Guard in Indio on March 29, 2020.
A health public information officer looks at beds at a temporary hospital set up by the California National Guard in Indio on Sunday.Apu Gomes / AFP - Getty Images

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The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 30,000, according to John Hopkins University, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, where the coronavirus outbreak has hit the U.S. hardest.

Elsewhere, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote residents urging them to stay home during the country's weeks-long lockdown. Johnson, who recently tested positive for coronavirus, said "things will get worse before they get better." The U.K. has surpassed 1,000 known deaths.

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Two large health insurers waive coronavirus treatment costs

Health insurers Cigna and Humana are now waiving patient cost-sharing on all treatment for coronavirus, including hospitalizations and ambulance transfers, for their insured members and employer plans.

“Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” said David Cordani, Cigna president and CEO, in a statement, adding “while our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.”

The insurers said the waiver applies to all medical costs related to the treatment of coronavirus, including FDA-approved medications and vaccines when they become available. They will apply to their privately insured individual and groups plans, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members.

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Photo: New beginnings in Hong Kong

Newlyweds pose for a photo with family and guests and a wedding ceremony in Hong Kong on Sunday.Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

Trump extends social distancing guidelines to April 30

President Donald Trump on Sunday announced he's extending his administration's guidelines on social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak until April 30.

Trump said last week he wanted to see much of the country return to normal by Easter, April 12, despite warnings from top health experts that easing the guidelines too soon could cause widespread deaths and economic damage.

Trump said Friday he would be consulting with his administration's top medical experts on whether to extend or change the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on slowing the spread of the virus.

But on Sunday, Trump said Easter was “just an aspiration” and he expects “great things to be happening” by June 1.

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Singer-songwriter John Prine in critical condition

John Prine at the Americana Honors & Awards show last year.Wade Payne / AP

Singer-songwriter John Prine is in critical condition after apparently contracting coronavirus, his family said Sunday.

In a statement, Prine’s family said the legendary country and folk singer was hospitalized Thursday night after suddenly developing COVID-19 symptoms. Prine, 73, was intubated on Saturday.

“This is hard news for us to share,” his family said. “But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you.”

The one-time postal worker wrote songs like “Angel from Montgomery” and “Hello in There.” Doctors removed a cancerous lump from Prine’s throat in 1998. He also underwent treatment for lung cancer but continued to write, record and perform.

Dr. Anthony Fauci reaching out on YouTube

Dr. Anthony Fauci at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House last week.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci is a regular feature of President Donald Trump’s daily news conferences on the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

But Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an advisor to every president since Ronald Reagan, is reaching out to a new audience — the social media generation.

After appearing on Instagram with NBA player Steph Curry this week and being interviewed last week by Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook, Fauci has been on a virtual tour of four popular YouTube channels.

"If Fauci is determined to get out best possible information, YouTube lends itself to being the best platform," said David Craig, a communications professor at the University of Southern California, and co-author of the book "Social Media Entertainment."

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Churches use drive-in theaters to host services

Churches are repurposing drive-in movie theaters and renting outdoor screens as the COVID-19 outbreak prompts stay-at-home orders across the country.

In the small Alabama town of Gu-Win, Blue Moon Drive-In is hosting Faith Fellowship Church from nearby Winfield. Birdsong Drive-In, in Camden, Tennessee, will do the same for a local church on Easter Sunday.

And in a Houston suburb, Kingsland Baptist Church is turning its sprawling campus into an outdoor theater with large rented screens and radio transmitters so people can attend services from inside their cars.

“They are looking for somebody to tell them it’s OK, and nobody can really say that yet,” said Todd Pendergrass, the church’s executive pastor. “But we can express that the person we trust in Christ is unchanging.”

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Every segment of U.S. child welfare system affected

NEW YORK — Child welfare agencies across the U.S., often beleaguered in the best of times, are scrambling to confront new challenges that the coronavirus is posing for caseworkers, kids and parents.

For caseworkers, the potential toll is physical and emotional. Child welfare workers in several states, including Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Many agencies, seeking to limit the virus’s spread, have cut back on in-person inspections at homes of children considered at risk of abuse and neglect. Parents of children already in foster care are missing out on weekly visits. Slowdowns at family courts are burdening some of those parents with agonizing delays in getting back their children.

“There are real sad consequences for folks who've been making progress toward reunifying,” said Boston social worker Adriana Zwick, who represents unionized caseworkers with Massachusetts’ Department of Children and Families.

Photo: The scene in California

A lone skateboarder at the skate park in Venice Beach, Calif., on Sunday. Los Angeles County has closed all beaches as a new measure to slow the spread of coronavirus.Mario Tama / Getty Images

Country music star Joe Diffie dies of coronavirus at 61

Joe Diffie performs in Nashville in 2014.Jason Davis / Getty Images file

Joe Diffie, an icon to many country fans for his string of No. 1 hits in the 1990s, has died from complications related to the coronavirus, a spokesperson revealed Sunday afternoon. He was 61.

“Grammy-winning country music legend Joe Diffie passed away today, Sunday, March 29, from complications of coronavirus (COVID-19),” the statement read simply. “His family respects their privacy at this time.”

On Friday, Diffie become the first country star to go public with a coronavirus diagnosis. “I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment,” a statement attributed to him read.

Read the full story here.