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.
- 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.
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African health care systems could collapse under added weight of pandemic, ICRC warns
Health care systems across Africa could collapse under the added weight of the new coronavirus pandemic, the International Committee of the Red Cross has warned.
So far, Africa has been the continent least affected by the contagious virus. However, if measures to contain the virus are not taken immediately it could be devastating for the continent’s people, Patrick Youssef, the ICRC’s incoming regional director for Africa, has warned.
Many African countries have closed their borders and introduced curfews and confinement rules, but some conflicts are continuing unabated, already straining nations’ health care systems with some even destroyed, the group added.
Mayor Bill De Blasio on TODAY: Worst is yet to come in NYC
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that the worst is yet to come in his city and it could potentially continue into May.
“We have to look at this pattern and conclude that the worst is certainly in the next few weeks, minimum. I could see it going into May," De Blasio said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the "TODAY" show.
De Blasio said that he has a very blunt projection for what will happen as the crisis worsens.
"We have about 20,000 hospital beds in all of New York City — that's where we were, say, the beginning of this month, normal times. We project the potential that all of those beds, all 20,000, will have to be turned into intensive care beds to focus on COVID-19 patients who are really really sick," he said.
Pope Francis prays for the homeless amid coronavirus pandemic
Pope Francis on Tuesday asked during his morning mass for the faithful to pray for the homeless who don't have place to stay at a moment when people are being told to stay at home to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
"In this moment when everyone is supposed to be at home, may society help them and may the Church welcome them," he tweeted on Tuesday.
The death toll in Italy, which has been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, reached 11,591 on Monday.
Spanish cases soar by more than 9,000 in 24 hours
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Spain soared soared Tuesday, increasing by more than 9,000 in the last 24 hours, according to the country's Ministry of Health. The total number of cases now stands at more than 94,000.
Spain also recorded 849 new coronavirus deaths in the past day, the highest number since the pandemic hit the country, according to the Associated Press. The total death toll from coronavirus in the country now stands at 8,189 people, according to the Spanish health ministry.
Italy and Spain account for more than half of the nearly 38,000 COVID-19 deaths worldwide, and the United States has the most confirmed cases in the world at more than 160,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. However, due to differences in testing strategies between countries, it can be difficult to compare the outbreak country-by-country.
Spanish authorities were quick to stress that there were positive trends too. The percentage increase in the number of cases has declined from 20 to 12 percent, said María José Sierra of Spain’s emergency coordination center. Sierra said the increase in new cases over the past 24 hours was due to an “accumulation of cases” over the weekend that weren’t reported on Monday night.
Robot helps German shoppers follow coronavirus guidance
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.
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.