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Americans warned that as many as 240,000 may die

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image:
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

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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Photo: Public shaming for lockdown violators in Nepal

People defying the lockdown are put inside an enclosure along the street, as a punishment during the eighth day of the lockdown imposed by the government amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Kathmandu
People defying the lockdown in Kathmandu are punished by confinement in a cage on the street Tuesday, the eighth day of the lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

State trooper gives speeding doctor his masks instead of a ticket

When Minnesota State Trooper Brian Schwartz pulled over Sarosh Ashraf Janjua for speeding and saw her license, he asked her what she was doing so far from her home state of Massachusetts. 

She told him she was working as a fill-in cardiologist at a quarantine unit in Duluth, according to a post on Facebook from Janjua and a statement from the Minnesota State Patrol. 

Schwartz scolded Janjua for speeding, she wrote, but instead of a ticket, he gave her a warning and his own supply of five N95 masks.

"This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking," the doctor wrote. "We are going to be ok."

Fifteen percent of the NYPD is out sick

Approximately 15 percent of the New York Police Department’s 37,000-member uniformed workforce has called out sick, Commissioner Dermont Shea said in a Q&A on Periscope Tuesday. The number of sick officers continues to increase.

Seventeen members of the NYPD who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered from their illness, Shea said as he took questions from the public. Those officers have since tested negative and are back on the job.

Despite the roughly 5,500 officers out sick, the NYPD is not extending shifts. "Not yet," Shea told reporters. "We have the reserves, we have the contingency plans.”

Cuomo says state is preparing for 'battle' at apex of the curve

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday his state is working to get ahead of the coronavirus because "you don't win by playing catch up."

The state's number of cases has grown to 75,795, including 1,550 deaths — up from 1,218 deaths the previous day. Cuomo warned that these numbers will continue to climb and that the "main battle at the apex" is far from over. 

"We’re still going up the mountain," the governor said. "The main battle is at the top of the mountain, the apex of the curve."

Cuomo emphasized that it is unclear when life will return to normal, and that he did not feel comfortable laying out a timeline. He said the state is operating with five different models and that they say the distance from the apex is between seven and 21 days away. 

"It is not going to be soon," he said, adding that everyone should stay home as much as possible. "If our apex is 14 to 21 days, that’s our apex. You have to come down the other side of the mountain."

Walmart to begin checking temperatures of store employees

Walmart said it will begin taking the temperatures of employees at its U.S. stores and asking them "basic health screening questions" as the company ramps up efforts to keep workers and customers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Any store associate who comes to work and has a temperature of at least 100 degrees will be asked to return home and seek medical treatment if necessary, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The employee will still be paid for reporting to work.

Walmart said it could take up to three weeks to ship out infrared thermometers to its stores and asked that employees continue to take their temperatures at home in the meantime and to not report to work if they feel ill.

The retail giant also said masks and gloves will be available to workers who want them. 

Biden calls for temporary eviction ban

Joe Biden on Tuesday called for a temporary ban on evictions, citing the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to place a temporary ban on evictions nationwide. No one should be forced out of their home in the middle of a pandemic,” the former vice president tweeted.

While some states and cities have implemented temporary bans and suspensions of evictions due to the economic hardships that the pandemic has caused, the federal government has not. That, in turn, has created additional housing uncertainty for millions of Americans.

Kenyan police under fire for tactics in enforcing early curfew

Violence erupted in Mombasa, Kenya, on Friday after police dispersed large crowds in the city two hours before the country's early curfew time, which was set in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Social media footage verified by NBC News shows police throwing tear gas canisters into the crowd, causing a stampede. Men appearing to wear Kenyan Police uniforms are also seen in the videos beating people on the streets.

Amnesty International and 20 other advocacy groups condemned the violence, calling the incident an "unnecessary and excessive use of force."

The Kenyan Ministry of Health reported 59 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday.

Photo: Delivering oxygen in Italy

A Medigas employee delivers medical oxygen tanks Tuesday to coronavirus patients who are being treated at home in Bergamo, one of the hardest-hit areas in northern Italy.
A Medigas employee delivers medical oxygen tanks Tuesday to coronavirus patients who are being treated at home in Bergamo, one of the hardest-hit areas in northern Italy. Claudio Furlan / LaPresse via AP

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo says he tested positive

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said in a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

He said he has experienced fever, chills and shortness of breath. He added that he plans to host his CNN primetime show from the basement of his home, where he is quarantined.

Gov. Cuomo addressed his brother's diagnosis at his daily briefing Tuesday, saying the broadcast journalist was "gonna be fine."

"He’s young, in good shape, strong — not as strong as he thinks. But he will be fine," the governor said.

911 calls in New York City hit a new record

The volume of 911 calls in New York City continues to hit new records, with 6,527 medical calls Monday, according to the New York Fire Department.

Calls to the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services have been at record levels for nearly a week, 50 percent or more higher than the normal load each day.

At some points in recent days, the FDNY has had to put “hundreds” of ambulance requests on hold, meaning that lower priority sick calls — calls that are not about heart attacks or trouble breathing — have to wait for ambulances. The FDNY continues to urge New Yorkers to call 911 only in the case of true emergency.

FEMA is sending more than 100 ambulances to help the FDNY EMS respond to medical calls.

Fact check: Is the U.S. really testing more people than other countries?

President Trump has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. is doing more testing than anywhere else. But this claim needs more context.

"We have done more tests, by far, than any country in the world, by far," Trump said during a news conference Monday, in response to a question about the U.S. lagging behind in testing residents "per capita."

It is true that the U.S. has run more tests than any other country. But Trump does not acknowledge that the U.S. is not testing the same share of its population as other countries, a key measure. The White House said Sunday that about 894,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered. In a country of 327 million people, that’s about 1 in 366 people who are getting tested. On Monday, the White House said there had been more than a million tests; that's 1 in 327 people who are getting tested.

South Korea, for instance, has done 410,564 tests as of Tuesday. But South Korea has a population of 51 million people, which means they’re testing a much larger share of the population — one in every 124 people.

Trump argued Monday that the U.S. is a large country and there are areas that wouldn't need ramped-up testing. But even in the hardest hit areas — like New York City — many cannot get tested.

U.K. sees a spike in coronavirus deaths

The U.K. saw a spike in the number of daily deaths Tuesday, with health officials reporting 381 new fatalities — more than double the number of new deaths seen the day before.  

There are now a total of 1,789 deaths nationwide. The number of cases has gone up by more than 3,000, bringing the total to 25,150. 

The U.K. has been under nationwide lockdown for over a week.

Photo: Italy honors its dead with minute of silence

Spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Rome
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi observes a minute of silence Tuesday as part of a nationwide gesture to honor the victims of the coronavirus and their families.Remo Casilli / Reuters

Pelosi: 'I kept my distance' from members at Capitol, including one presumed to have coronavirus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday that she kept her distance from all of her congressional colleagues last week and doesn’t need a test for coronavirus despite being in close quarters with a member who is presumed to be infected.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Pelosi was asked whether she’s concerned that when she was at the Capitol on Friday for the vote on the third coronavirus relief package, she stood near Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who said Monday that she was “diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection.”

“No,” Pelosi said. “In terms of my situation, I kept my distance. You know, I said we all had to be six feet apart, and I kept my distance from all of the members.”

Read the story here.

U.S. ambassador to Albania warns Americans last flight leaves tomorrow

America’s ambassador to Albania warned U.S. citizens in the country on Tuesday that the last chartered flight out of the capital, Tirana, would leave the next day on April 1. 

“If you wish to be on that flight, if you are not prepared to remain in Albania for the indefinite future, please contact us immediately so we can help you,” Ambassador Yuri Kim said in a video message posted on the embassy’s official Twitter account. 

Kim said there were no more commercial flights departing Tirana.

It was not immediately clear who had chartered the flight or its exact destination.

New Jersey parents hosted a party, got charged with child endangerment

A New Jersey couple is facing multiple child endangerment charges after throwing an event with dozens of people in violation of a state emergency order against gatherings, authorities said.

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office said Eliezer Silber, 37, and Miriam Silber, 34, of Lakewood, a town of about 100,000 near the Jersey Shore, threw a party Sunday. Police were called to the family's home and ordered 40 to 50 people gathered in the front yard to disperse.

The incident comes after repeated pleas by Gov. Phil Murphy for residents to abide by the order against gatherings.

Read the full story here.

Distillery makes hand sanitizer for London police officers on the front lines

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

Image: Pope Francis celebrates the morning mass at the Santa Marta Chapel in the Vatican on Tuesday.
Pope Francis celebrates the morning mass at the Santa Marta Chapel in the Vatican on Tuesday.Vatican Media / AFP - Getty Images

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.

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

Image: 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.
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.

Image: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko plays in an amateur hockey game in Minsk on Saturday.
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

Image: 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.
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

Image: The pyramid of Khufu, the largest of Egypt's Giza pyramid complex, is illuminated with text encouraging people to stay home on Monday.
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.

France records its highest death toll in a single day

Image: Employees of a funeral company install 15 new burial vaults in a cemetery near Bethune, France on Monday.
Employees of a funeral company install 15 new burial vaults in a cemetery near Bethune, France on Monday. DENIS CHARLET / AFP - Getty Images

France reported 418 new deaths from the coronavirus on Monday, marking the highest number of deaths in a single day. 

The country’s Director General of Health Jerome Salomon said the total death toll stood at 3,024, making France the fourth country to top 3,000 fatalities after China, Italy and Spain.

The overall number of confirmed cases has risen to 44,550, with 4,276 new cases reported. Salomon said more than 5,000 patients are in critical condition in intensive care. 

He added that France is on course to be performing 20,000 daily tests by the end of the week. 

Empire State Building celebrates 'heroic emergency workers'

China's manufacturing rebounds as virus controls ease

BEIJING — China’s manufacturing rebounded in March as authorities relaxed anti-disease controls and allowed factories to reopen, an official survey showed Tuesday, but an industry group warned the economy has yet to fully recover.

The ruling Communist Party is trying to revive the world’s second-largest economy after declaring victory over the coronavirus even as the United States and other governments shut down businesses.

The purchasing managers’ index issued by the Chinese statistics bureau and the official China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing rose to 52 from February’s record low of 35.7 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity increasing.

The federation and private sector economists cautioned the economy still faces challenges as manufacturers rebuild supply chains and authorities try to prevent a spike in infections as employees stream back to work.

NYC doctor: Feels like a tsunami is about to hit us

11 vets die at Massachusetts Soldiers' Home

The superintendent of a veterans facility in Massachusetts was placed on leave Monday, the same day it was reported that 11 residents had died, including at least five who had tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19.

A state official said that test results are pending for five others who died at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. The status of the 11th person who died was unknown.

Eleven other residents have tested positive as well as five staff members, and an additional 25 veteran residents are awaiting test results. NBC affiliate WWLP of Springfield reported the deaths at the Soldiers' Home earlier Monday.

Read the full story here

Los Angeles County sheriff reverses decision on closing gun stores

Los Angeles County's sheriff said Monday night that he will no longer seek to have gun stores closed under government orders requiring "non-essential" businesses to be shuttered.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement that the change is due in part to federal guidelines about what are essential critical infrastructure workers. But the move also comes after the National Rifle Association and others sued.

The orders are designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus illness COVID-19. Villanueva said his office will investigate reports of any business that is not observing social distancing rules.