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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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977d ago / 11:01 PM UTC

Trump says Americans can use scarves as makeshift masks

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. 

977d ago / 10:24 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 10:11 PM UTC

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. 

977d ago / 9:38 PM UTC

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. 

977d ago / 9:04 PM UTC

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.”

977d ago / 8:37 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 8:35 PM UTC

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

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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.

977d ago / 8:24 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 8:19 PM UTC

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?" 

 

977d ago / 8:07 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 7:20 PM UTC

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.”

977d ago / 7:17 PM UTC

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."

977d ago / 7:13 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 7:04 PM UTC
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977d ago / 6:56 PM UTC

'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. 

977d ago / 6:36 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 6:28 PM UTC

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

977d ago / 6:12 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 6:05 PM UTC

28 University of Texas spring breakers test positive for coronavirus

Image:
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.

977d ago / 5:17 PM UTC

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

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. 

977d ago / 5:10 PM UTC

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

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.

977d ago / 5:09 PM UTC

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
977d ago / 4:57 PM UTC

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."

977d ago / 4:35 PM UTC

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.”

977d ago / 4:20 PM UTC

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."

977d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

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. 

977d ago / 3:54 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 3:53 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 3:48 PM UTC

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
977d ago / 3:45 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 3:28 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 3:26 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 3:13 PM UTC
977d ago / 2:41 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 2:03 PM UTC

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
977d ago / 1:46 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 1:36 PM UTC
977d ago / 1:34 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 1:06 PM UTC

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.

977d ago / 12:11 PM UTC

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

977d ago / 12:10 PM UTC
978d ago / 12:05 PM UTC

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. 

978d ago / 11:41 AM UTC
978d ago / 11:32 AM UTC

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.

978d ago / 11:21 AM UTC

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. 

978d ago / 11:09 AM UTC

Spanish cases soar by more than 9,000 in 24 hours

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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.

 

 

978d ago / 10:53 AM UTC

Robot helps German shoppers follow coronavirus guidance

978d ago / 10:47 AM UTC

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.

978d ago / 10:39 AM UTC

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.

978d ago / 10:18 AM UTC

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.