Americans warned that as many as 240,000 may die

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Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 concerns stand outside Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York on March 31, 2020.John Minchillo / AP

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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.