200 NYPD Officers Test Positive For COVID-19 As NYC Cements Its Position As 'Epicenter' Of US Outbreak: Live Updates

Summary:

  • Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus
  • House delays stimulus-bill vote until tomorrow
  • Singapore, Tokyo report largest daily jump in new cases
  • 236 NYPD Officers test positive
  • Lombardy cases report another decline
  • Italy reports broader decline in cases
  • Global total ~438k, 19,600 deaths
  • Spain deaths pass mainland China total
  • 1/3 of global population facing movement restriction
  • Spain asks NATO for assistance
  • Trump's approval rating matches personal best
  • Apple donates millions of masks
  • NYC case total nears 18k
  • Spanish deputy PM tests positive
  • France confirms another jump in cases, deaths as police issue 100,000 fines
  • Deal struck on $2 trillion US rescue bill
  • Thailand latest to announce lockdown
  • Treasury to grant more tariff exclusions pertaining to medical products
  • Germany, Japan scramble to pass their own rescue legislation
  • US case total ~55k, death toll ~750
  • Indian governor defies lockdown
  • Pakistan PM facing "increased pressure" to impose lockdown
  • Switzerland tightens borders
  • ECB says it's in favor of activating OMT if necessary
  • Putin tells Russians to stay home
  • Bank of Spain warns about economic fallout
  • Maryland requests disaster declaration after Trump declares La. "major disaster"
  • Taiwan announces 19 new cases
  • WHO expresses concerns about US outbreak
  • 3 Navy sailors test positive
  • Britain's NHS recruits more than 150k volunteers overnight
  • UK shuts Parliament Wednesday night
  • Mali becomes 44th African country to confirm COVID-19

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Update (1940ET): The Treasury is preparing to issue more tariff exclusions pertaining to Chinese-made medical products, though some have pointed out that some exclusions seemingly granted as part of the initiative include consumer tech products.

  • USTR TO GRANT TARIFF EXCLUSIONS ON MORE CHINA MEDICAL PRODUCTS

Some pointed out earlier that a batch of exclusions approved by the Treasury seemed "mostly non-medical", including one related to the Apple Watch.

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Update (1840ET): There are 236 employees of the NYPD who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to numbers provided by the department. Of those, 197 are officers and 39 are civilians.

Meanwhile, during another rambling press conference, President Trump again insisted that large swaths of the country could probably go "back to normal" during the coming days even as health officials and governors warn that doing so could lead to thousands more deaths. Trump also tussled with reporters on Wednesday, with Trump claiming in a roundabout way that the economic crisis at hand was engineered by the media, before insisting that the US has "run more tests than anybody", a statement that is flagrantly false, though the US has caught up with remarkable speed.

Not that it matters: As is typical during a national crisis, Trump's popularity has climbed, with Gallup finding that Trump's popularity has climbed to 49% approval, matching his personal best.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said there are now 198 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state with 35 new cases. There were fewer new cases added Wednesday than Tuesday, he added.

As NYC's outbreak crisis shifts to Queens, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that Elmhurst hospital has seen at least 13 deaths. At least 285 New Yorkers have died from the outbreak so far.

The number of confirmed cases in NYC, now officially the epicenter of the outbreak, as Trump said on Wednesday, reached 17,856 Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. This represents 54% of the cases in New York state and 32% of all cases in the country

"[It] does not apply to anything we’re seeing in New York City," de Blasio said about Trump's goal to restart the country by Easter, which Trump clarified on Wednesday wouldn't apply to NYC, but to areas with far fewer confirmed cases.

In other news, Apple has sourced 10 million masks to donate to US, as well as millions more for the "hardest hit parts of Europe."

On a more somber note, celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz died on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19 a week ago, according to a spokesperson for Hunger Inc. Hospitality, the hospitality company he co-founded.

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Update (1800ET): The White House has just kicked off Wednesday's press conference...notably with Dr. Fauci in tow.

 

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Update (1635ET): Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Governor Phil Murphy have just released new numbers for their respective states.

The total number of deaths in the tri-state area has now climbed to 366.

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Update (1420ET): AFP reports that, by its count, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 has climbed above 20,000.

Shortly after reaching this grim milestone, France added even more cases to the register by confirming 2,931 new cases and 231 new deaths, bringing its total to 25,233 nationwide, with 1,331 deaths.

Meanwhile, as Trump and Bolsonaro push to consider the economic repercussions, the WHO warned against lifting the lockdowns too early as the pandemic intensifies.

"To slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries have introduced unprecedented measures, at significant social and economic cost," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

"We understand that these countries are now trying to assess when and how they will be able to ease these measures," he said. "The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence."

"How many more [lives are lost] will be determined by the decisions we make and the actions we take."

of course, since WHO followed up this shade by directly praising President Trump for his "real leadership", and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has reportedly been sidelined by the president for disloyalty (according to the Washington press corp rumor mill).

Local French TV celebrated the 'essential' workers who are braving the conditions to keep people fed. France24 reports that while the French public has been ordered to stay home amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of supermarket cashiers, most of them women on small salaries, have continued to man the registers even as the duty puts their health at risk.

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Update (1330ET): As Thailand declares a state of emergency, becoming the latest country to enter a broad lockdown because of the coronavirus outbreak, the nation’s borders will be closed to foreign visitors, social gatherings will be banned, domestic travel restricted and all but essential stores and shops will be shut until the end of April, Bloomberg reports.

"Thailand is at a turning point in the outbreak and the situation could get a lot worse," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said in a televised speech in Bangkok. "It’s important that we impose stricter rules to reduce the spread."

Describing the "unprecedented" challenge ahead, Prayuth said the state of emergency could be extended if needed. He also noted that the central bank had earlier forecast the economic damage by predicting a 5.3% contraction for 2020.

As Americans blast President Trump for suddenly pushing to send Americans back to work by Easter, Brazilian President Bolsonaro took things a step further by claiming that the nation must stand up to the virus by going back to work immediately, adding that because of his "athletic" history, he would likely only suffer a slight cold because of the virus.

As Brazil's largest city went into lockdown on Tuesday, Bolsonaro slammed the "hysteria" over the coronavirus and urged that life must continue and jobs be preserved.

In an address to the nation, Bolsonaro urged mayors and state governors to roll back lockdown measures that have brought Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to near standstills.

"We must return to normality," he said. "The few states and city halls should abandon their scorched-earth policies."

Bolsonaro has faced criticism for his cavalier attitude toward the virus, which he has dismissed as a "fantasy" and a "small flu" even as the global death toll climbs into the tens of thousands.

In his Tuesday night address, he said that Brazil's warmer climate would protect it from a severe outbreak on par with Italy's.

"In my particular case, with my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus, I would have no reason to worry, I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu," he said.

In other news, in the US, several Republican Senators are throwing up a roadblock, claiming the coronavirus relief package includes unintentional incentives for employees to be laid off instead of going to work, a "massive drafting error" that needs to be fixed, Republican Sens. Tim Scott, Ben Sasse, and Lindsey Graham said in joint statement.

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Update (1310ET): Italy has reported another drop in cases nationally to match the drop in cases locally.

  • ITALY DEATH TOLL FROM CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK RISES BY 683 TO 7,503 - CIVIL PROTECTION AGENCY
  • TOTAL NUMBER OF CONFIRMED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS IN ITALY RISES TO 74,386 FROM 69,176 ON TUESDAY

So Italy's total new cases 5,210, down from 5,249 yesterday. Italy total deaths 683, down from 743 yesterday.

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Update (1227ET): According to CNBC's Kayla Tausche, the Republicans caved and agreed to a 'no buybacks or dividends' provision.

And a Politico reporter just reported that the administration has denied rumors about possible tariff relief due to the outbreak as the US seeks to import more critical medical equipment and medicine from China.

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Update (1220ET): The ECB said Wednesday that it's "broadly in favor" of activating its OMT program - aka even more asset purchases - if necessary, as the eurogroup and the European Commission promise to do whatever is necessary to save the European economy.

As a reminder:

In other news, Spanish Deputy PM Carmen Calvo has tested positive for the virus in other news.

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Update (1205ET): Hours after President Trump approved Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edward's urgent request for a "major disaster declaration" in his state, granting it more access to federal aid, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has followed up with a similar request asking for aid from Maryland.

The request for more federal money comes as Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon extended the closure of public schools until at least April 24, though few expect students to return before the summer break.

Hogan delivered his latest update on the situation earlier:

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Update (1145ET): Cuomo has dedicated most of Wednesday's press conference to slamming the federal government - both the White House and Capitol Hill - for not doing enough to help his state.

Cuomo said that he is short on equipment and cash by massive margins, particularly if cases continue to outpace the worst-case projections. Cuomo said the state will have an estimated 40,000 ICU cases, but has only 3,000 ICU beds. As far as ventilators are concerned, the federal government has offered 4k, but Cuomo believes he needs 30k to be completely prepared.

Though the pace of the outbreak has slowed thanks to early containment measures in Westchester and Long Island, as well as the city, many are anxious that New Yorkers leaving the state might carry the virus with them.

"We have 10x the problem that the next state has, which is New Jersey," Cuomo said. In his opinion, the reason NY has 15x the number of cases of California, has two answers.

The first is that New York 'welcomes people from across the globe'. New York City is a global city, international travelers visit the state at higher rates, and the virus was likely in New York "much earlier than we even know...and much earlier than any other state...because those people come here first."

The second answer: "Because we are close." "We talk about the virus and how it transfers in a dense area...we live close to one another, we're close to one another on the street...because we're close to one another on the bus, or in the restaurant...and we have one of the most dense, close, environments in the country. And that's why the virus communicated the way it did. Our closeness makes us vulnerable," Cuomo said.

New York reported 30,811 cases as of Wednesday, that's +5,146 from Tuesday. In New York City, officials counted 17,856 cases, an increase of 2,952.

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Update (1130ET): Lombardy reported another drop in new cases on Wednesday, according to local health officials.

The region saw declines in both new cases (dropping from 1,942 to 1,643) and new deaths (from 400 to 296).

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Update (1120ET): After a clip of him begging the federal government to release more ventilators from its stockpile to New York State, promising to 'personally deliver' the ventilators to the next state once the apex of New York's outbreak had passed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is preparing to hold his Wednesday news conference:

So far, Cuomo said the number of New Yorkers hospitalized with serious respiratory illnesses due to COVID-19 is outpacing projections, which is...not good.

  • N.Y.'S CUOMO: NEED FOR HOSPITALIZATIONS EXCEED PROJECTIONS
  • N.Y. GOV. CUOMO: 'HAVE NOT TURNED' TRAJECTORY, HIT APEX

Meanwhile, the US case total is right around 55k (just above or just below, depending on whose data one uses), and the death toll is right around 750 (once again, either slightly above or below).

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Update (1117ET): Though it's widely expected and a mere formality at this point, German lawmakers said Wednesday that they're ready to suspend the constitutional 'debt brake' before blowing out the budget deficit with a massive stimulus package to be introduced before the eurogroup during tomorrow's meeting.

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Update (1040ET): After the Senate departed on a "well-deserved break", the House gaveled out a quick session on Wednesday without passing the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, suggesting that the vote on the bill won't come until tomorrow.

A Democratic leadership aide told CNN that the House still has emergency convening authority and can quickly come back into session today, but that it's "more likely" the House vote would wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, by CNN's count, 1/3 of the global population is under lockdown as of Wednesday morning, largely thanks to India's decision to bolt the country closed.

Across, India, officials laid out the strictures of the new lockdown: Essential services like ATMs, gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies would remain open, though a strict requirement for all 'nonessential' workers to remain home with one or two exceptions per day has made India's lockdown among the most strict.

The issue is the pockets of extreme population density in India's slums, which would be ideal breeding grounds for the virus if it were ever to take hold.

As the outbreak worsens in Spain, which is just behind the US now in terms of confirmed cases, while its death toll has already surpassed the 'official' numbers from mainland China, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez has reportedly asked NATO for help.

France, meanwhile, has been under lockdown for a week, and has also been ramping up enforcement with increasing numbers of fines: the country has handed down more than 100k fines already.

Now who's holding the country hostage?

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Update (1000ET):  The global case total has climbed to around 438,000, with roughly 19,600 deaths.

The president of an interest group representing French hospitals said the number of individuals who have died due to the outbreak in France is "much higher" than official figures reflect.

"We only know the data provided by hospitals... The increase in the official data is already major, but the absolute numbers would no doubt be effectively much higher if we aggregated what is happening in retirement homes as well as the people who die at home," Frederic Valletoux, president of the French hospitals federation, said on France Info radio.

Over in Singapore, the city-state situated on the tip of peninsular Malaysia that has been widely celebrated for its efforts to contain the virus early, has just confirmed another 73 cases on Wednesday, its largest daily jump yet. Among other steps, Singapore closed its borders to most foreigners back in January.

Still, most of the cases are imported, as officials blame the decision to lift some restrictions on travelers for the resurgence in new cases. The new figures bring the number of confirmed cases to 631. Among these new cases, 38 are imported. Out of the 35 local cases, 27 are linked to previous cases, while 8 are unrelated, according to Yahoo News Singapore.

Even Iran is worried about a second wave, as the first wave of infections, which Iranians helped spread all around the region, hammered the country.

The Swiss government said Wednesday it would expand its border controls to include all countries in the EU's Schengen open border zone. The move comes after Switzerland last week introduced controls at its borders with Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Spain and all countries not in the Schengen zone.

"Since midnight, the tightened entry requirements have also been applied to flights from all remaining Schengen states with the exception of the Principality of Liechtenstein," the government said in a statement.

The Schengen area is a 26-country passport-free zone.

As more countries unfurl lockdown orders around the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on all residents to stay home next week, while announcing that a vote on constitutional reforms that had been set to take place on April 22 would be postponed.

While President Trump presses Americans to get back to work by Easter, Putin tells Russians "health, life and safety of the people is an absolute priority for us," as Russian authorities count 658 total confirmed cases of the virus on Wednesday, with 163 of them new cases reported within the last day. Putin addressed Russians directly in a speech on Wednesday.

In Pakistan, the government of Pakistani PM Imran Khan has been criticized for not declaring a national lockdown - Khan has argued it would harm 25% of Pakistani workers who are the poorest and most vulnerable. However, the Pakistani military has taken steps to combat the outbreak, while flights have been cancelled and highways have been closed.

Pakistan crossed the 1,000-case threshold on Wednesday, and has recorded at least 7 deaths.

After the Senate voted to pass the stimulus bill, lawmakers went on recess for just under a months, leaving the House to pass the bill it has in its hands now, or leave Americans badly in need of money high and dry.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Portugal increased 27% to 2,995, up from 2,362. That compares with a daily increase of 15% reported on Tuesday and a 29% gain on Monday. The total number of deaths increased by 10 to 43.

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The American press and the progressives who make up most of its journalists have so far focused on how the novel coronavirus will inevitably harm the poor and vulnerable. But so far, that's not what we've seen - at least not in the West. Connecticut's Fairfield County and New York's Westchester County, two havens for wealthy businessmen, doctors, lawyers and other rich professionals, have been especially hard hit by the virus, both becoming hot zones in their own right.

Over in the UK, the Royal Palace announced Wednesday morning that Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the virus.

This is hardly a new trend. Since the start of the crisis, numerous government officials from Iran, to Canada, to the US and over in Europe, have caught the virus, as have famous professional athletes and others who travel. Dozens of politicians and leaders have tested positive (and that's just in Iran).

During the early hours of Wednesday morning, Democrats finally dropped enough of their 'Green New Deal'-type demands to strike a deal on the $2 trillion "largest bailout package in American history". In addition to a $500 billion pool of 'emergency liquidity' for American corporations that will be administered by the Fed and a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, the legislation will include a one-time $1,200 transfer to all Americans making less than $70,000 a year.

Mitch McConnell celebrated the news in an early-morning tweet, and promised that legislation would pass in the early morning.

As President Trump pushes to bring the economy back on-line by Easter, close American ally South Korea, a country lauded for its swift and widespread testing program that managed to test roughly 10,000 a day, agreed to send the US spare medical equipment in response to Trump’s request for 'reagents' - a critical component for COVID-19 tests that was missing or damaged in the first iteration of the CDC's test.

The number of confirmed cases in the US had topped 55k by Wednesday morning, with 55,225 cases exactly as of 7amET, according to Johns Hopkins. The number of deaths climbed to 782.

Yesterday, the WHO warned that the rapid number of confirmations in the US would soon qualify it as the new 'epicenter' of the global outbreak, and on Wednesday, the organization reiterated that warning.

After Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte threatened Italians who break the quarantine with possible prison time as the numbers of new cases and deaths continued to climb despite the government's best efforts - Italy's mortality rate, at roughly 10%, is the highest in the developed world - Spain released some unpleasant news.

Spanish authorities warned on Wednesday that they expect the crisis to worsen, despite imposing strict measures in line with what Italian officials have adopted. As WSJ explained, one reason why quarantine orders in the west haven't been as effective in suppressing the outbreak is that officials aren't taking enough time to trace the contacts of confirmed cases.

Many foreign governments that initially ruled out lockdowns, saying they wouldn’t work in democracies, are now implementing similar, though less draconian, restrictions, but without corresponding efforts to identify and isolate cases, WSJ said.

Europe's fourth-largest economy has been struggling with the second-worst outbreak on the continent after Italy. The outbreak, which accelerated following an International Women's Day march in Madrid earlier this month, claimed 738 Spanish lives on Tuesday, according to figures released Wednesday morning by Spain's public health officials. That's the largest daily jump in deaths yet, bringing Spain's death toll to 3,434, an increase of 27% over Tuesday's figures.

Spain now has 47,610 cases in total. In mainland China, 3,281 people have died, according to the 'official' numbers. Top Spanish health official Fernando Simon said Wednesday that he expects the number of Covid-19 cases to continue increasing in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Spain, the country's central bank and a constituent of the ECB said coronavirus outbreak mitigation measures have caused severe disruptions of the economy since March, and the impact on jobs will most likely be very significant in the near-term.

Once Prince Charles was confirmed positive for COVID-19, attention turned immediately to the Queen: The Monarch "remains in good health", according to palace officials. Charles and his wife Camilla are now isolating in Scotland.

In other UK news, HMG is planning on shuttering Parliament beginning Wednesday night in another effort to slow the spread.

In recent days, speculation about Japan's relatively small number of confirmed COVID-19 cases ranged from Japanese culture being a mild form of 'social distancing' to other quirks of life in modern Japan that have potentially helped to defend its people from viral outbreaks like the novel coronavirus. But on Wednesday, officials in Tokyo confirmed 41 new cases, the biggest daily jump in Japan since the crisis began, Nikkei reports.

In other Japan-related news, officials announced that the Diamond Princess cruise ship is expected to leave Yokohama port on Wednesday after scientists confirmed that samples of the virus had apparently survived on the ship for weeks.

Taiwan's government announces 19 new cases on Wednesday, all imported, bringing the total number of infected people on the island to 235. Thailand health officials report 107 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 934.

China's re-opening continued on Wednesday, with officials in Beijing warning local party functionaries around the country not to tamper with the data anymore (enabling Chinese officials to act quickly to stop a resurgence). After announcing yesterday that the Wuhan lockdown would end on April 8, health officials said they now expect to resume domestic passenger flights to and from Wuhan starting on the same date, April 8, when travel restrictions placed on the original epicenter of the viral outbreak are to be lifted.

Following the US deal on the coronavirus package, parliaments in Germany and Japan continued to battle over their own fiscal stimulus packages, according to CNN.

Britain’s National Health Service announced that it is waging a "war on coronavirus" and called for a quarter of a million volunteers. Overnight, nearly 200k registered via the NHS's website. Meanwhile, the death toll from coronavirus in the United Kingdom jumped on Tuesday by 87 to a total of 422 on Wednesday - the biggest daily increase since the crisis began.

In the latest news from the Pentagon, three Navy sailors aboard a ship in the Pacific Ocean tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said Tuesday, becoming the first example of sailors testing positive for the virus while at sea. Per Stars & Stripes, the number of ventilators in the government reserve designated to strengthen overwhelmed hospitals in the event of a national medical crisis is critically low, according to the Center for Public Integrity. That number - 16,600 in the Strategic National Stockpile - is a small supplement to the national health system’s estimated 160,000 ventilators, which are mostly already in use.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, went into lockdown Wednesday, suspending all nonessential services and severely restricting movement to halt the spread of coronavirus cases. But not all officials equally respected the order: hours after the lockdown's start, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state in north India, Yogi Adityanath, participated in a ceremony at a temple marking the start of a nine-day Hindu festival, highlighting the challenge the nation of 1.3 billion faces in implementing the drastic containment measures.

Photos and videos shared by Adityanath on Twitter show him performing rituals surrounded by police and local officials. Later, addressing the gathering, he asked citizens to follow the government lockdown directives, which explicitly ban religious ceremonies, among other things, for 21 days.

As doctors get a better sense of mortality across the world, they found that the mortality rate in Italy is nearly 10%, while fatalities in France were just 4.3%, while in Germany and Austria, the number dead is 0.4%. The number of cases in Germany climbed to 31,554 on Wednesday, compared with 149 deaths.

Finally, in Africa, Mali has reported its first coronavirus cases, becoming the 44th country to record a case in Africa which has seen its spread speed up in recent days. Health experts have warned that Africa is the region least prepared to deal with the pandemic because of widespread equipment shortages and generally weak healthcare infrastructure. The continent now has roughly 2,400 cases and many countries have implemented stringent social distancing restrictions.

And as President Trump continues to push a common malaria drug for treatment of COVID-19, a brief study in France found that the malaria drugs Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (an analogue of Hydroxychloroquine) had little additional benefit while treating infected patients, BBG reported.