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Americans warned that as many as 240,000 may die

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
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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CNN's Chris Cuomo completes show from basement after testing positive

The Associated Press

A bleary-eyed Chris Cuomo, saying he wanted to be a cautionary tale for his audience, anchored his CNN show from his basement Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Via remote link, he interviewed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, an emergency room nurse and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who expressed worry about one of Cuomo’s symptoms.

“Brace yourself,” Cuomo told viewers, “not for a hoax. But for the next few weeks of scary and painful realities. This is a fight. It’s going to get worse. We’re going to suffer.”

Cuomo looked pale, his eyes watery and red-rimmed. He took a few deep breaths to compose himself. He repeated himself. Even Gupta said he didn’t look good, and said he’d call later to talk about a tightness Cuomo was feeling in his chest.

Read the full story here

In Turkmenistan, people who talk about coronavirus face arrest

The Associated Press

MOSCOW — An international media freedom watchdog says the autocratic ex-Soviet nation of Turkmenistan has banned the media from using the word “coronavirus.”

Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday the word also has been removed from health information brochures distributed in schools, hospitals and workplaces. The gas-rich Central Asian nation that neighbors Iran so far has reported no cases of the new coronavirus. Iran has reported more than 44,000 cases.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said people wearing face masks or talking about the coronavirus are liable to be arrested by plainclothes police. Ranked last in the group’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan is one of the world’s most closed countries.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has ruled the country since 2006 through an all-encompassing personality cult that styles him as Turkmenistan’s “arkadaq,” or protector.

Biden suggests there may not be physical Democratic convention

There may not be a physical Democratic national convention this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden suggested Tuesday.

"It's hard to envision that," Biden told MSNBC's Brian Williams when asked whether he could see prominent Democrats from around the county gathering in an arena for the convention, which is scheduled for July.

Conventions, primaries and elections have been held during times of national crisis in the past, said Biden, who said officials should listen to the scientists when making decisions. 

"The fact is, it may have to be different," Biden said. "My guess is, there's going to be a great deal more absentee balloting, we used to call it, but paper ballots." He also said that the situation could change by then.

Biden has had a surge of primary victories, but his rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is still in the race.  Sanders earlier this week told "Late Night" host Seth Myers that "there is a path" to the nomination, though "admittedly a narrow path."

One month ago, Chris Austin was running a little-known mom-and-pop business in Texas that fielded a few dozen orders a week for his helmet-style ventilation devices.

He had five employees and a handful of volunteers from the family's church who would pitch in at the workshop behind their home in the small town of Waxahachie.

Then the coronavirus epidemic hit.

Austin's company, Sea-Long Medical Systems Inc., is getting thousands of orders every day, from America's top hospitals to countries as far flung as the United Arab Emirates. Researchers say the device, which costs less than $200, could help hospitals free up ventilators for only the most critically ill coronavirus patients.

Read the full story here

Georgia communities gather outside hospitals to pray for health care workers

Image: Medical workers roof Georgia
Hospital staff stand on the roof of Cartersville Medical Center to join a prayer service held by local residents in the hospital parking lot in Cartersville, Georgia.Kimberly Jefferson

Georgia residents are showing support for health care workers at prayer services outside local hospitals. Large crowds have been gathering in parking lots to pray, sing and wave encouraging signs without ever leaving their cars in adherence to the state's social distancing guidelines.

Across the state this weekend, the faithful gathered in such cities as Fayetteville, LaGrange, and Newnan. Hundreds attended an event in Cartersville, and videos showing hospital staff walking onto the roof to join the worship service have been viewed millions of times.

The organizers told the hospital about the service beforehand but didn’t expect the staff’s rooftop appearance. “We just thought they might come out the bottom or to the window,” organizer Camden McGill said. “Them on the roof was just kind of an amazing random surprise. That was just God.”

Georgia has more than 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 100 confirmed deaths, according to the state's Department of Public Health.

Americans buying more booze during pandemic

The Associated Press

One way Americans are coping with the new coronavirus? Booze.

U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55 percent in the week ending March 21, according to market research firm Nielsen.

Spirits like tequila, gin and pre-mixed cocktails led the way, with sales jumping 75 percent compared to the same period last year. Wine sales were up 66 percent, while beer sales rose 42 percent.

Online sales far outpaced in-store sales. Nielsen said online alcohol sales were up 243 percent.

Danelle Kosmal, a Nielsen vice president, suspects growth rates peaked that week as people loaded up their pantries before state stay-at-home orders went into effect. Kosmal said data for the week ending March 28 will be a better indicator of ongoing demand.

Trump approves Montana, Ohio disaster declarations

President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved disaster declarations for Montana and Ohio related to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said.

The president has approved disaster declarations for many states as they deal with the outbreak, including for Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

The declarations allow for federal assistance.

There have been five deaths in Montana associated with the coronavirus illness COVID-19 and more than 190 cases. In Ohio, there have been 2,199 confirmed cases and 55 deaths, according to the state health department.

What we know about the coronavirus model the White House unveiled

On Monday, the White House coronavirus response coordinator warned that the U.S. could see up to 200,000 deaths from the ongoing outbreak "if we do things almost perfectly."

On Tuesday, the coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, showed how her team came up with that grim projection.

In a task force briefing, the White House offered the first look at the statistical models being used to anticipate how the virus could spread across the U.S., and what drove President Donald Trump to extend his administration's nationwide social-distancing measures until April 30.

Read the full story here.

Maine residents ordered to stay home

Maine Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday issued a "stay healthy at home mandate" that requires people to stay at their residence except for essential work or needs like groceries and health care.

The order is aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus illness COVID-19, which has been linked to five deaths in the state as of Tuesday evening. Other states and local governments have announced similar orders.

Essential businesses that remain open must enforce social distancing and in-person instruction at schools has been stopped until at least May 1.

"We are in the midst of one of the greatest public health crises this world has seen in more than a century," Mills said, and she implored people to stay home. There have been 303 confirmed cases in Maine, with 68 people having recovered, according to the state health department, but the agency notes that is likely an undercount of the true number of cases.

Hawaii reports first death linked to COVID-19

Hawaii has recorded its first death linked to COVID-19, the coronavirus illness that has sickened more than 200 people across the state, officials said.

State health department director Bruce Anderson said that the person who died was an older adult from Oahu who had been hospitalized for multiple medical issues and that the exact cause of death was not clear.

Of the 224 coronavirus cases in Hawaii, 58 have recovered, Honolulu city and county Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on March 23 issued a statewide stay-at-home order that took effect March 25. 

The governor has also expanded a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for travelers to include those traveling between islands in the state, which takes effect Wednesday, NBC affiliate KHNL of Honolulu reported

Federal prisons order lockdown to curb virus spread

Image: Exterior of an Illinois Federal Prison
United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois in 1989.Steven Starr / Corbis via Getty Images file

The Bureau of Prisons ordered a lockdown of its facilities in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. continues to rise. 

Federal prisons will administer "Phase 5" of the department's pandemic plan beginning Wednesday, which includes inmates being secured in their assigned cells for 14 days minimum across all institutions, according to a press release from the Bureau of Prisons.

Though inmates will still have access to services such as education and healthcare, prisons will limit large gatherings as much as possible. 

The Bureau of Prisons said it would reevaluate the lockdown after the initial two weeks.

Pence to visit Virginia Walmart to highlight food supply amid outbreak

Dartunorro Clark

The White House announced that Vice President Mike Pence will visit a Walmart distribution center in Virginia on Wednesday. 

Pence plans to travel to Gordonsville, Va. to visit the local Walmart Distribution Center to tour the facility and highlight the distribution center's supply chain operations, the White House said. 

Pence said at the coronavirus task force briefing on Tuesday it will show Americans "that the food supply is continuing to roll on 18 wheels and through air freight all over America.”

New York City deaths top 1,000

Image: Coronavirus
A body wrapped in plastic at Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York on March 31, 2020.John Minchillo / AP

More than 1,000 New Yorker have died from coronavirus, officials said Tuesday night, as America's biggest city crossed yet another grim milestone.

New York City's virus-related death toll was at 1,096, as of 5 p.m. EDT, according to the Department of Health. 

There were 41,771 reported cases with an estimated 8,549 people hospitalized, the health department said Tuesday night.

New York City's death toll had been reported at 914 on Monday night and 776 a full day earlier. 


'They need to have something': Delaware friends band together to sew fabric face masks for health care workers

Image: face masks
A group of friends in Delaware have banded together to sew fabric face masks to donate to local hospitals and health care facilities amid a national shortage of PPE.Megan Jackson

A group of friends in Delaware have joined a face mask sewing movement that's been growing across the United States in light of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for health care workers. 

Friends Megan Jackson, Jennifer Brzezicki and Lindsey Cooke were compelled to start sewing masks for donation to local Delaware hospitals in honor of Jackson's mother who died last year. She worked as a receptionist at a home health care facility and was hospitalized at Kent General during her final days. Jackson said the ICU staff at the hospital were "absolutely incredible" during her mother's time there. They plan to donate some of the masks to that hospital, the home health care facility her mother worked for, and any other local facility that's in need and will accept the donations. 

"The fabric ones we make are used as a last resort but they’re taking anything they can get at this point," Jackson said.

Brzezicki said the group won't stop making the masks until there's no longer a need for them. "They [health care workers] need to have something that is going to give them the ability to keep themselves safe," she said.

Larry David coronavirus PSA: Stay home, watch TV and stop 'hurting old people like me'

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David appeared in a public service announcement Tuesday that urged California residents to take advantage of the opportunity to stay home and binge television amid the coronavirus pandemic.

David, 72, was featured in a short clip from the California governor’s office that urged people to take coronavirus seriously and practice social distancing. The state has been under a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom since March 19.

“I basically want to address the idiots out there — and you know who you are. I don't know what you're doing, you’re going out, you’re socializing too close — it’s not good,” David said. “You’re hurting old people like me.”

Read the full article here.

Trump says Americans can use scarves as makeshift masks

Dartunorro Clark

President Trump on Tuesday said Americans could use scarves as makeshift protective masks as the nation grapples with a shortage of protective gear amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

"You know, you can use a scarf, a lot of people have scarves," Trump told reporters during a news conference at the White House. "My feeling is if people want to do it there is certainly no harm to it. I would say do it rather than going out to get a mask." 

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, including surgical and N95 masks, are in short supply in the U.S., and tensions have arisen between hospital systems and staff in many states over a lack of proper PPE for medical workers.

An increasing number of U.S. residents are choosing to cover their noses and mouths with makeshift masks, including bandannas, scarves or other wraps, when going into public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines indicate that wearing a mask is unnecessary for healthy individuals, but the agency is now considering changing those recommendations. 

White House expert says up to 240,000 U.S. deaths predicted, even with mitigation

During the White House coronavirus task force briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx broke down the estimated deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 if the federal social distancing regulations are followed through April 30.

She said 1.5 to 2.2 million Americans could've died without intervention measures, but still says 100,000 to 240,000 could die.

South Carolina closes non-essential businesses

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an order Tuesday to close all non-essential businesses in the state. 

McMaster's order comes after millions of other Americans are under orders from their local authorities to stay at home as part of an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus as the world fights the pandemic. The governor insisted Tuesday that many of the state's residents have followed social distancing guidelines without authorities needing to issue a shelter-in-place order.  

The non-essential business order comes a day after McMaster ordered public beaches closed. He cited "behavior observed" over the weekend that violated social distancing guidelines put forth by public health officials.

Dr. Linda Bell, the state's epidemiologist, said Tuesday that South Carolina is at 54 percent capacity of hospital beds as the state hits 1083 confirmed cases and 22 deaths due to coronavirus. 

New York man hid symptoms to visit wife in maternity unit of hospital

Image: Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.
Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.Google Maps

A husband who was exposed to the coronavirus hid that he was feeling ill so he could visit his wife in the maternity unit of an upstate New York hospital.

The man told the truth only after his wife also began showing symptoms. UR Medicine said Monday it will begin taking the temperature of visitors to its hospitals' maternity units.

"It was purely an honor system before," spokesman Chip Partner told the Democrat and Chronicle, which first reported the incident. "Now we're adding the temperature check."

Read the full story here. 

NYC medical students start organization to help distribute PPE to local hospitals

A group of medical students in New York City are working to help distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to area hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After confirmed cases of the virus began popping up in the US, medical student Sami Lux started collecting extra respiration masks from the lab where she worked in order to give them to local hospitals; from there the organization “PPE2NYC” was created. 

PPE2NYC works with donors both locally and across the world, to help connect them with NYC-area hospitals who are in need of PPE.

Dr. Fiona Shehaj, a cardiologist at Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island, was one of the recipients of the PPE. She said, “It’s been amazing that everyone, even our neighbors have been willing to help. We’re very appreciative and very touched that everyone has been able to help so much.”

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, a growing number of Americans are opting to cover their noses and mouths with makeshift masks, including bandannas, scarves or other wraps, when venturing into public.

While the science behind whether masks can prevent a person from catching the coronavirus hasn't changed (a mask does not help a healthy person avoid infection), public guidance may be shifting.

Read more here.

Biden campaign, pro-Biden group release ads hitting Trump over pandemic response


Marianna Sotomayor

Mike Memoli, Marianna Sotomayor and Adam Edelman
Image: Joe Biden
Joe Biden delivers remarks at his primary night election event in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 29, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

A pair of new ads released Wednesday in support of Joe Biden draw contrasts between how the former vice president would handle the coronavirus pandemic with President Trump's response. 

In one, a digital ad released by Biden’s presidential campaign, Biden says the country is heading to “war” against the virus and calls on Americans to do more to protect their fellow “soldiers” on the front line — specifically the doctors, nurses, health care workers, first responders, firefighters and police who are “caring for others more than themselves.”

Another ad, released by the pro-Biden Super PAC “Unite the Country,” argues that Trump has failed the presidential test of leadership, allowing the Coronavirus to “spread unchecked across America.”

The 30-second ad, which does not mention the former vice president, will air nationwide on both broadcast and cable television, according to Unite the Country. It is the first significant move by any Democratic entity to use the pandemic in a significant paid advertising campaign.

Louisiana pastor charged with defying coronavirus order against large gatherings

A Louisiana pastor who continues to flout a ban on large gatherings was issued a summons from police for violating the governor's executive order.

The pastor, Mark Anthony Spell, who goes by Tony Spell, of Life Tabernacle Church, told NBC News in a brief phone interview Tuesday afternoon that police had visited his home and gave him a summons for the six services he has held since March 16 when Gov. John Bel Edwards announced an order against gatherings of more than 50 people.

"Mr. Spell made his intentions to continue to violate the law clear," Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran said. "Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion."

Read the full story here.

25,000 healthcare professionals volunteer to help California combat coronavirus

More than 25,000 retired doctors, medical and nursing students and more signed up within 24 hours for a California effort to boost ranks of healthcare providers during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

The state is working frantically to confirm the licenses and qualifications for those who signed up for the California Health Corps program.

"I've never been more damn inspired in my life," Newsom told reporters. "To see that number, just 25,000 yesterday alone, of professionals that are willing to come out of retirement to put their lives back on the line knowing the PPE (personal protective equipment) may not be there when they go back out in the field?" 


Wall Street just ended one of the worst quarters in stock market history

Wall Street just ended one of the worst quarters in stock market history, with all three major averages reflecting the devastating economic impact of the pandemic that has ground global activity almost to a halt.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by just over 400 points by the closing bell on Tuesday, a quarterly loss of 22 percent for the blue-chip index and its worst Q1 performance ever.

The S&P 500 ended the day lower by around 1.85 percent, its worst first quarter since 1938, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed down by just under 1 percent.

Investor sentiment was further dampened Tuesday by newly released consumer confidence data that reflected a nosedive in spending, but economists said the worst was yet to come.

Read the full story here.

Captain of U.S. aircraft carrier begs Navy for help with coronavirus outbreak on ship

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in the Philippine Sea on March 18, 2020.Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas V. Huynh / U.S. Navy

The commanding officer of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt sent a letter to the Navy on Monday begging for help addressing the coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship, which has nearly 5,000 people on board and was forced to dock in Guam last week.

As first reported in The San Francisco Chronicle, Capt. Brett Crozier said his crew members need to be placed in isolation to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

In a statement, the Navy said Crozier wanted help with “continuing challenges in isolating the virus."

"The ship’s commanding officer advocated for housing more members of the crew in facilities that allow for better isolation. Navy leadership is moving quickly to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt, and is pursuing options to address the concerns raised by the commanding officer.”

Judge revives Texas abortion ban ordered in response to coronavirus

Image: Texas AG Ken Paxton
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton holds a joint press conference on February 18, 2015 with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc / Corbis via Getty Images file

A  Texas ban on abortions during the coronavirus pandemic is back on,  at least for now. 

By a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday granted a request from Texas to put the ban back in place while an appeal moves forward.

The ban was halted by federal Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday, who said the order was too broad and violated the constitutional guarantee of a woman's right to choose.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week ordered doctors to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary. Attorney General Ken Paxton then said that would include "any type of abortion."

3 employees at same Massachusetts UPS facility test positive

Image; A UPS driver unloads packages from a truck in Chicago in 2019.
A UPS driver unloads packages from a truck in Chicago in 2019.Christopher Dilts / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Three employees at a large UPS facility in the greater Boston area have tested positive for the coronavirus and two dozen more have been quarantined on a doctor’s orders, according to their union, Teamsters Local 25.

A UPS spokesperson would not confirm or deny the assertion, or answer questions about infected employees at any UPS location. The spokesperson told NBC News that the company is “not confirming employee cases for employee privacy reasons,” and that information about any cases that need to be disclosed for public health reasons will come from government authorities.

Read the full story here.

'Schitt's Creek' cast uses lead up to series finale for coronavirus fundraiser on Instagram

The cast of "Schitt's Creek" will be hosting a series of Instagram Live events in the week leading up to the show's series finale to raise money for Feeding America and Food Banks Canada. 

Actor and "Schitt's Creek" co-creator Dan Levy announced on Tuesday that the cast wanted to share the love they've been shown over the years in an effort to help those who might need help feeding their families during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Beginning Tuesday night, the cast will be livestreaming every night until the show's series finale on April 7.

"And all we ask is that if you join the Instagram Live, that maybe you consider donating small or big," Levy said. "I know this is a tough time financially for a lot of people, so if you can't donate that's OK too." The cast's GoFundMe campaign raised more than $2,000 in the first 20 minutes after Levy's post. 

Pennsylvania food bank sees spike in those needing assistance during pandemic

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank told NBC News it's filling a growing demand for food assistance for Americans with drive-up distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are responding now during the crisis and since it’s an ever-changing and ongoing situation, we’re adjusting to this crisis on the fly,” said Brian Gulish, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne.

Over 5,109 cars were served two boxes of food, including canned goods like soup and vegetables along with rice and pasta and frozen meat through four distribution sites in the last two weeks. 

“We have staff that are packing food at double shifts every day,” he said.

ANALYSIS: Trump's war between the states creates eBay-like fight for supplies

President Trump says he's a "wartime president" in the coronavirus era. In fighting that battle, he has spurred wars between and with the states over lifesaving medical equipment.

The brutal competition for everything from ventilators to masks to personal protective equipment comes at a time when scarcity provides lucrative business opportunities in the private sector and power to the deep-pocketed federal government, but puts states and cities at risk of helplessly watching their health systems become overwhelmed and their citizens die.

"It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator," a frustrated New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, adding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's bids are pushing the cost of medical supplies higher.

Read more about the fight for supplies here

Air travel in the U.S. has cratered because of coronavirus

Image: A woman wears personal protective equipment (PPE) as she rides the air-train at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York
A woman wears protective equipment (PPE) at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on March 20, 2020.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

The TSA processed just 154,080 air travelers Monday at U.S. airports, which it says is the lowest total in the 10 years it has been keeping records.

The number has fallen nearly 90 percent from Monday, March 16, when it was 1,257,823, and is less than half the Monday, March 23 total of 331,431.

On the same day one year ago, March 30,  2019, TSA screened 2,360,053 passengers.  

The TSA also says that 57 screening officers have tested positive for COVID-19.

28 University of Texas spring breakers test positive for coronavirus

A woman runs up a hill in Austin, Texas on March 25, 2020.Eric Gay / AP

28 University of Texas Austin spring breakers tested positive for coronavirus following a spring break trip to Mexico, Austin public health officials said on Tuesday.

A group of 70 young adults traveled together on a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, about a week and a half ago, the Austin Public Health Department said in a statement. Now, many have COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, and "dozens more are under public health investigation.”

City officials said that four of the confirmed cases showed no symptoms and that they have launched an investigation into the the entire cluster.

Read the full story here.

‘I hate COVID-19’: Kids with disabilities struggle to adjust as schools close

Caroline Preston, The Hechinger Report

JoAnna Van Brusselen with her 11-year-old daughter, Iolani.
JoAnna Van Brusselen with her 11-year-old daughter, Iolani.JoAnna Van Brusselen

Children who receive special education services because of their disabilities are particularly vulnerable as schools shut down and turn to remote learning, experts say. 

In San Francisco,  JoAnna Van Brusselen is concerned about her 11-year-old daughter, Iolani, who usually works with two teachers, three instructional aides and seven therapists. Iolani quickly got frustrated about being cooped up at home and unable to go to school, and her mother is terrified that her daughter’s progress will evaporate.

“I’m not a therapist; I’m not a nurse,” Van Brusselen said. “I’m just a mom.”

Read the full story here. 

OPINION: What Trump and the media are getting wrong about coronavirus

James Carville

A few days ago, a good friend of mine, the brilliant John Barry, called me giddy about his op-ed in the New York Times illustrating the historical bridges between the COVID-19 crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu. The op-ed was excellent, a singularly informative read. Too bad the people who need to read it never will.

My logic is simple: We are at war and in this war it does not matter how many informed people we can reach, it only matters how many uninformed Americans we can reach before it is too late.

The media is doing a great job, generally, offering insightful coverage. President Donald Trump, on the other end of the spectrum, is holding near-daily press conferences where he mixes fact, fiction and hyperbole. Increasingly, people are arguing that the media should stop carrying these press conferences live because they are so often filled with misinformation. This debate, while understandable, misses the forest for the trees. How many Americans do you know — who aren’t journalists — tune in to White House briefings in the middle of the day?

Read the full THINK piece here.

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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

Associated Press

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


Associated Press

Hernan Muñoz Ratto

Saphora Smith, Associated Press and Hernan Muñoz Ratto

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

NBC News

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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

Read the full story here.

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

Associated Press

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.

Peter Jeary

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

Matthew Bodner

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


Lidia Sirna

Reuters and Lidia Sirna
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.

What steps can help a small business?

NBC News

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

Nancy Ing

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'

NBC News

China's manufacturing rebounds as virus controls ease

The Associated Press

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.