Americans warned that as many as 240,000 may die

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
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Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 concerns stand outside Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York on March 31, 2020.John Minchillo / AP

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As many as 240,000 people in the U.S. could die from COVID-19 — and that’s only with strict social distancing measures in place, one of the government’s top doctors warned Tuesday.

Dr. Deborah Birx, Vice President Mike Pence’s coronavirus response coordinator, said that between 1.5 and 2.2 million could die without the intervention.

Already, the death toll in the United States has surpassed the number of people killed on Sept. 11, 2001. According to NBC News’ tally, the disease has killed 3,768 people and infected more than 185,000.

The numbers continued to rise as Wall Street ended one of its worst quarters in history. The Dow Jones was down by 400 points — a quarterly loss of 22 percent — while the S&P 500 recorded its worst three months since 1938. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, closed down at just under 1 percent.

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Gov. Pritzker: White House sent 300,000 of the wrong masks to Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that the federal government sent the wrong kind of medical masks to his state in the latest shipment of personal protective equipment. 

Pritzker, a Democrat, said at a press conference that the White House had personally told him that the Trump administration would send 300,000 N95 masks to his state. 

"While we do not have a final count on this yet, I can say with certainty that what they sent were not the N95 masks that were promised, but instead were surgical masks, which is not what we asked for," he said. 

"I can't emphasize enough how much we need the federal government to step up and amplify the size of their PPE (personal protective equipment) deliveries to Illinois," said Pritzker.

How do I get my coronavirus stimulus check ASAP from the IRS?

New information from the IRS on Monday shines more light on what people can do to get the checks from the government as quickly as possible while many families worry about paying the bills and buying food during the coronavirus crisis that has cost millions of people their jobs.

For Americans eligible for stimulus cash under the new relief law, the fastest way to receive it is to make sure they've filed a tax return for 2019 or 2018 with bank information so the government can directly deposit the money.

The IRS says it will use a person's 2019 return to calculate eligibility and automatically send the money to those who qualify. If they haven't filed a 2019 return, it'll be based on the 2018 return.

The agency said it would publish additional information about the new forms soon on irs.gov/coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

WHO warns COVID-19 epidemic in Asia, Pacific 'far from over'

The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that the COVID-19 epidemic in Asia and the Pacific is “far from over.”

“This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard. We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation,” said WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai.

Takeshi also cautioned that countries still need to prepare for large-scale community transmission.

“We need to be clear that even with all of these measures, the risk will not go away as long as the pandemic continues. Rather, these measures can buy us valuable time to prepare,” he said.

Animals roaming deserted towns and cities provide some light relief

Wild animals roaming around deserted towns and cities have provided some distraction from the onslaught of coronavirus updates.

Video clips of goats wandering around the seaside town of Llandudno in north Wales, U.K., have been seen more than a million times in total after they were uploaded by Andrew Stuart, a journalist with the regional newspaper Manchester Evening News.

Elsewhere, a wild boar was apparently spotted in Barcelona, Spain; a town in Poland saw a herd of deer walking around a normally busy town, according to the Krakow Gazette, while a pod of killer whales was spotted near Metro Vancouver's North Shore, CBC reported.

Barcelona soccer stars take 70% pay cut to guarantee staff wages

A picture of soccer star Lionel Messi is reflected in the Barcelona soccer team's emblem outside the club's Camp Nou stadium before a match on March 7.Albert Gea / Reuters file

Players on Barcelona's famed soccer team said they would take a 70% pay cut to ensure the wages of non-sport staff amid economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The club, which counts mega stars like Lionel Messi in its ranks, said in a statement on Monday that its top players agreed to the reduction in their salaries for the entire duration of the lockdown imposed earlier this month. 

The club said the help from the players will allow them "to guarantee 100% of the wages" of the non-sport related jobs with the club. 

The coronavirus pandemic has shut down much of the sport industry, leaving athletes and teams around the world unable to perform in front of the crowds and cutting into their profits.

Belarusian leader bucks coronavirus 'psychosis,' plays hockey

While officials from Montreal to Moscow have placed populations under some form of lockdown designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, one man continues to hold firm to the notion that the rest of the world has lost its mind: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

For weeks now, he has downplayed the threat of COVID-19. Instead of preparing his nation for the worst, he has routinely and openly questioned the world’s response to the virus, using the word “psychosis” to describe the global response several times since early March.

Meanwhile, he has made a point of keeping factories, stores, cultural and sporting events open. The Belarusian Health Ministry has reported just 152 cases of the coronavirus. Neighboring Russia reported 1,836 as of Monday.

Read the full story here.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko plays in an amateur hockey game in Minsk on Saturday.Andrey Pokumeiko / BelTA / via Reuters

Italy to extend lockdown until Easter, honor victims with moment of silence

A man reaches into a basket where people can donate or take food in Naples on Monday as Italy struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus.Ciro De Luca / Reuters

Italy’s government on Monday said it would extend its nationwide lockdown, due to end on Friday, until at least the Easter season in April.

The death toll has risen by 812 in the last 24 hours, the Civil Protection Agency said, reversing two days of declines, bringing the total death tally to 11,591.

The number of new cases rose by just 4,050, the lowest increase since March 17, reaching a total of 101,739. However, the decline in the rise of new infections may be partly explained by a reduction in the number of tests, which were the fewest for six days.

On Tuesday, flags will be flown at half mast across Italy and a minute of silence will be observed to commemorate the victims of the coronavirus.

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Egypt lights up pyramid and encourages people to stay home

The pyramid of Khufu, the largest in the Giza pyramid complex, is illuminated on Monday with text encouraging people to stay home as Egypt ramps up its efforts to slow down the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Supermarkets boom in U.K. as shoppers fill their carts

The United Kingdom is in the midst of a supermarket boom as Britons stock up on groceries during the country-wide lockdown. Retail analysis firm Kantar said in a report Tuesday that supermarket sales had grown by more than 20 percent in March to 10.8 billion pounds ($13.3 billion), making it biggest month for sales on record, eclipsing any pre-Christmas period.

In the 12-week period to date, which gives a more reliable snapshot, overall sales were up 7.6 percent — still the fastest growth in a decade. An extra 200 million pounds ($246 million) was spent on alcohol compared to the previous month, Kantar said.

Separate data from market research firm Nielsen said the U.K. spent at extra 1.9 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) on groceries in the four weeks to March 21.

The U.K. has the 8th most cases of Covid-19 in the world with almost 22,500 and more than 1,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.