- UK reports more than 700 deaths, mortality rate climbs to record 10.35
- Germany reports smallest batch of deaths in 2 weeks
- NYC reports 249 deaths in evening update
- Spain case numbers pass Italy, after reported lowest deaths in a week yesterday deaths
- Journalist says more than 800 health-care workers infected in Massachusetts
- Trump warns "deadliest week" is ahead for US
- NY reports 10k+ new cases as statewide total nears those of Italy, Spain
- Italian government agrees on emergency business loan program
- About 100 more New Jersey residents have died from COVID-19 than on 9/11 as state reports new cases, deaths
- US cases of COVID-19 near 280k
- Coral Princess reports 2 deaths, presumably from COVID-19
- US death toll tops 7k
- Portugal reported 638 new cases
- Italy reports another small slowdown in cases, deaths
- Belgium reported 1,661 new cases and 140 new deaths
- European death toll tops 45k as France reports ~400 new deaths
- COVID-19 pateints 'accidentally' brought aboard Navy hospital ship 'overflow hospital' docked in Manhattan
- Cuomo authorizes medical students slated to graduate in the spring to start practicing now
- A looting wave has struck NYC businesses
- France says 600 soldiers infected
- UK Health Secretary reminds Britons to stay inside this weekend
- Pop star Pink test positive
- India quarantines 20k people connected to Islamic missionary movement
- Trump uses DPA act to block export of medical equipment
- Tokyo reports more than 100 cases in a day, largest jump yet, as Japan's 2nd wave worsens
* * *
Update (1900ET): NYC reported 349 more deaths since this morning as several hospitals in Manhattan and the outer boroughs report that their ICUs are at, or have breached, max capacity during the deluge of serious cases of the virus.
Across the city, chaos is unfurling. pharmacies are running out of common drugs (including Tylenol), cleaning supplies and other essential items. Around Manhattan, the National Guard is setting up makeshift morgues and hospitals. Thousands of workers are still forced to pack into crowded subway cars, dangerously violating social distancing policy as they commute to their "essential" jobs (and for many it's low paid, hourly work).
Unsurprisingly, some small business owners are starting to get a little frustrated with customers coming in their stores and not respecting social distancing, as most clerks reckon with the reality that they're practically guaranteed to interact with someone who later tests positive for the virus.
God bless NYC pic.twitter.com/yTIQOkSpCg— Noah Hurowitz (@NoahHurowitz) April 4, 2020
As the city and state scramble to make sure hospitals are stocked with supplies and other elements of the response are in place, Fox News reports that several COVID-19 patients were accidentally brought aboard the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan that's supposed to act as a virus-free 'overflow' hospital for NYC patients. The number of patients brought aboard the ship were "fewer than five", and they didn't test positive until after they had been brought aboard.
Though understandable in a time of intense stress while health-care workers are battling a virus that can lay dormant for weeks, the fact that this happened is just another discouraging reminder of how difficult it will be to keep patients from being infected in a medical setting.
As NYC braces for the peak, the city is still dangerously short on ventilators. As the mayor said in a tweet on Saturday, "our city is facing a dire shortage of ventilators. It is unthinkable to leave a single ventilator in a stockpile or in a warehouse when they could save lives in our hospitals. We need these supplies. We have another difficult week ahead, and our single-minded focus is bringing in the ventilators, hospital beds and health care workers we need to save every life we can."
The city is still short on health-care workers and essential equipment. Though they've exchanged some congenial words, it seems like President Trump and Andrew Cuomo are still feuding over it.
If the city doesn't get the ventilators it needs, and people die who could have easily been saved with the necessary equipment, there will be political hell to pay.
* * *
Update (1715ET): President Trump reiterated warnings from the last few press briefings (perhaps the administration should start to think about switching the format to a biweekly?) on Saturday, as the administration task force held its latest post-meeting press briefing. Trump warned that the US should brace for the "toughest week", which Trump said is expected to transpire of the next 7 days as the outbreak 'peaks' in the US.
The seven-day figure was also used by Gov. Cuomo earlier. Speaking of Cuomo, Trump insisted that he's working with the governor to make sure the state has all the supplies it needs before more hospitals in NYC are overwhelmed.
- TRUMP SAYS THERE WILL BE A LOT OF DEATH, THESE NEXT TWO WEEKS WILL BE THE TOUGHEST
- TRUMP SAYS LARGE NUMBER OF NATIONAL GUARD TO ASSIST
- TRUMP: SOME AREAS NOT HARD HIT MAKING INFLATED SUPPLY REQUESTS
- TRUMP SAYS HE SPOKE WITH CUOMO, WORKING TO GET SUPPLIES TO N.Y.
If you're interested in watching a replay of the briefing, you can check it out here.
* * *
Update (1450ET): Italy's Civil Protection Agency reported another modest drop in new deaths and cases across Italy as the country's hospitals reported the first drop in COVID-19 ICU patients since the outbreak started.
The agency reported 681 new deaths, bringing Italy's death toll to 15,362, while the number of confirmed cases climbed by roughly 5k to 124,632.
That's a modest slowdown, as we said above.
* * *
Update (1400ET): New Jersey just reported its latest figures for deaths and new cases in state, with 200 new deaths bringing its total to 846. That's about 100 more New Jersey residents than died during the 9/11 attacks.
We have 4,372 new positive #COVID19 cases, bringing our total to 34,124.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 4, 2020
• Atlantic: 98
• Bergen: 5,760
• Burlington: 469
• Camden: 481
• Cape May: 50
• Cumberland: 40
• Essex: 3,584
• Gloucester: 215
• Hudson: 3,491
• Hunterdon: 171 pic.twitter.com/i1sdJMZld2
• Hunterdon: 1— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 4, 2020
• Mercer: 13
• Middlesex: 76
• Monmouth: 54
• Morris: 51
• Ocean: 56
• Passaic: 38
• Salem: 2
• Somerset: 24
• Sussex: 9
• Union: 66
• Warren: 6
• Unknown: 14
Meanwhile, France just released its latest numbers, and reported more than 400 new deaths, bringing the nationwide total to 7,560.
In some non-coronavirus news, a town in southeastern France suffered what appears to be a terror attack carried out by an asylum seeker.
The new deaths in France brought the virus death toll in Europe north of 45k.
Two people on the Coral Princess cruise ship died overnight, after the ship reported 12 positive cases of coronavirus on Thursday, according to an announcement from the ship’s captain, who said the ship likely wouldn’t arrive in South Florida on Saturday as planned, but would rather make landfall on Sunday.
The captain didn’t say whether the deceased had tested positive for the virus, but he confirmed they were treated in the ship’s medical center.
The ship is carrying 1,898 people, including 1,020 guests. It left San Antonio, Chile, on March 5.
* * *
Update (1255ET): With the pace of new COVID-19 infections finally slowing in Europe, officials in the US, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the peak still remains weeks away. At least that's what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday after providing the latest update on the outbreak in New York.
As National Guard troops set up a temporary morgue across from the medical examiner's office in Manhattan, Cuomo warned that while nobody knows the number "at the top of the mountain", experts expect that the number of new cases could peak "in the seven-day range," he said. Unfortunately, Cuomo added, his state - the hardest hit in the US - remains short of vital equipment, most importantly ventilators, needed to fight it.
"Nobody can tell you the number at the top of the mountain," Mr. Cuomo said, but estimated that it would be "in the seven-day range." He said the state was not yet prepared for that point.
"It feels like an entire lifetime," he said. "I think we all feel the same, these stresses, this country, this state - like nothing I’ve experienced in my lifetime."
On Saturday, New York State reported 10,841 new coronavirus cases and 630 new deaths for Friday, bringing the number of total cases to 113,704, just shy of the countrywide figures for Italy and Spain, with 3,565 dead.
At the same time, Cuomo urged residents not to lose hope: "This is a painful, disorienting experience," he said. "But we find our best self, our strongest self - this day will end. We will get through it, we will get to the other side of the mountain. But we have to do what we have to do between now and then."
He also offered some more optimistic figures: The rate of hospitalizations in the state has slowed, as the number of patients currently hospitalized increased by just 7% since Friday to 15,905 at the latest count, the smallest jump in at least two weeks. Of those, 4,126 were in intensive care. On average, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by just 27 a day during the week ended on March 28. So far, two-thirds of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have been discharged, Cuomo said. After earlier allowing retired nurses and doctors with expired licenses, as well as practitioners from other states, to practice in the state, Cuomo said Saturday he would sign an executive order allowing med students slated to graduate in the spring to start practicing now.
The governor has warned that the state will need 30K ventilators before the peak arrives. It's unclear how many they have on hand right now: Cuomo is storing a stockpile in a state warehouse and has promised to dole them out to hospitals as they are needed, while he continues to beg Trump for more from the federal stockpile (if there are any available, which he said yesterday he believes there aren't).
Fortunately, China and the State of Oregon have offered ventilators, because the Ford's decision to team up with GE to produce ventilators will help, but those machines will almost certainly arrive too late to treat those seriously sickened during the peak of the outbreak in New York State.
In NYC meanwhile, businesses are being hit by a wave of looting after the mayor let out hundreds of "nonviolent" criminals from Rikers.
* * *
As the scramble for ventilators & PPE continues across the country, President Trump last night finally invoked the DPA to ban "unscrupulous actors and profiteers" (an apparent reference to 3M, the pillar of American manufacturing that has become embroiled in a feud with the administration in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic) from exporting critical medical gear used to protect wearers from the coronavirus. Unfortunately, that won't do anything to increase the availability of badly needed ventilators as hospitals in NYC discover that an alarming number of ICU patients require ventilators. If the number of critical patients starts to overwhelm ICUs, without enough ventilators on hand, nurses and doctors will effectively be deciding who lives and who effectively suffocates to death on their own fluids.
The issue of health-care workers becoming infected has become a major problem in the UK, and was infamously a huge problem in Wuhan during the early days of the epidemic (who can forget the martyrdom of Dr. Li Wenliang?). But now, it looks like it's becoming a growing problem in the US: More than 850 hospital employees in Massachusetts have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a tally being kept by one journalist.
UPDATE: More than 850 hospital employees in Massachusetts have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a tally I've been keeping.— Mike Saccone (@mikesacconetv) April 4, 2020
These includes workers in clinical & non-clinical roles.
The hospitals with the most cases are below.
Full list: https://t.co/JyigvzzBVQ pic.twitter.com/4avirt2LVP
All of this comes as the number of cases confirmed in the US nears 280k, more than the next two countries (Spain + Italy) combined.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed deaths in the US topped 7k (it was 7,134 at last count, to be exact)...
On Friday evening, England's chief nursing officer Ruth May paid tribute to two nurses, Areema Nasreen and Aimee O'Rourke, who succumbed to COVID-19 after catching it on the job. They were "part of our NHS family," May said.
"They were one of us, they were one of my profession, of the NHS family," said Ms May. "I worry that there's going to be more and I want to honour them today and recognise their service."
May urged Britons to resist the temptation to go out and party during the expected beautiful weather this weekend. "But please, I ask to remember Aimee and Areema. Please stay at home for them," she according to the BBC.
Last night, the chair of the surgery department at New York Presbyterian’s Columbia University Irving Medical Center said 98% of ICU patients required ventilators.
During a Friday morning interview on CNBC, 3M CEO Mike Roman said it was "absurd" to suggest his company wasn’t doing all it could to help the U.S. fight the pandemic, and that by banning export of critical gear, it could make it more difficult to acquire these products in the US as more companies start hoarding and banning export in response.
But perhaps the biggest news overnight came out of the UK, where the Department of Health reported the biggest jump in deaths yet. The DoH said early Saturday that 708 patients had died across the UK on Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 4,313. Meanwhile, the 3,735 new cases of COVID-19 reported brought the UK's total above 40k to 41,903 . The drop in new cases combined with the jump in new deaths brought the UK's mortality rate to an all-time high of 10.3%.
Put another way:
New UK coronavirus deaths reported:— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) April 4, 2020
Meanwhile, with London looking eerily empty as citizens finally obey the lockdown, Health Secretary Matt Hancock reminded the country on Saturday that the order for Britons to stay indoors this weekend was "not a request."
As deaths in the UK climbed, Germany reported its smallest batch of deaths in two weeks. Health officials recorded 6,082 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours in Germany, bringing its total to 85,778, while the number of deaths rose by just 141 to 1,158, only a 14% jump, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
Outside Europe, perhaps the most startling numbers reported overnight was another jump in confirmed cases in Tokyo: More than 110 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed, the largest daily jump since the outbreak began, a record that has been broken over and over these last two weeks.
In India, more than 20,000 people linked to Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat or having had recent 'contacts' with its members have been quarantined as authorities struggle to stay well "ahead of the curve" to prevent uncontrollable outbreaks across the world's second-largest country, and one that's pockmarked with pockets of densely populated slums, per the FT.
We suspect the decision will be cited as yet another example of the Modi government's unkind treatment of the country's Muslim minority.
In Italy and Spain, officials reported another promising decline in new cases, suggesting that the lockdowns imposed by both countries are finally working. However, as the number of confirmed cases in Spain surpassed the number of total cases in Italy, the government of PM Pedro Sanchez ordered a two-week extension of Spain's mandatory lockdown.
More than 20,000 people linked to Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat and their contacts have been quarantined in India as authorities work to contain COVID-19.
"I understand it’s difficult to extend the effort and sacrifice two more weeks," Sanchez said in a televised speech on Saturday. "These are very difficult days for everyone." At this point, a longer lockdown would need the approval of Spain's cabinet and congress.
The number of confirmed cases climbed by 7,026 over the last day to 124,736, according to the Health Ministry. Deaths rose by 809 to 11,744. That 809 number was the actually the lowest number of deaths in a week.
Despite Spain officially moving into the No. 2 spot in terms of total confirmed cases (right behind the US at No. 1, though China likely saw the largest number of cases, as possibly hundreds of thousands went uncounted). Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Friday that the goal of slowing the epidemic was “within reach," as Spain's government has imposed some of the most restrictive lockdown measures in Europe.
In Italy, Parliament and the ruling government approved an additional €200 billion ($216 billion) of emergency loans for businesses, according to the local press. It said the moves, part of a new aid decree, will be approved by Monday and will let companies seek state-backed bank loans for as much as 25% of their revenue (with, we suspect, a generous handout to Italy's struggling banks).
Meanwhile, the number of cases, at 119,827, with the number of deaths at 14,681.
Meanwhile, Portugal reported 638 new cases of coronavirus and 20 new deaths, bringing it to a total of 10,524 cases and 266 deaths. Belgium reported 1,661 new cases and 140 new deaths, bringing it to a total of 18,431 cases and 1,283 deaths.
As Joe Biden and dozens of Democrats bash the administration for the abrupt firing of Capt. Brett Crozier, who circumvented the chain of command to insist that his sailors be saved from an inevitable outbreak onboard his ship, the American military is learning that it isn't alone. After bringing several infected soldiers from abroad, the French Army Minister said that around 600 French soldiers have now tested positive for the virus.
The problem of active military troops being infected is vexing the US military, as it bases around the world cut off exercises with local military forces and limit training and exercises for US troops as well. Navy officials fear the virus might already have found its way aboard other Navy vessels. Widespread infection could quickly become a massive headache for the US military, since once the virus enters a ship, it's bound to spread, given that social distancing in that environment is virtually impossible.
In the US, pop singer Pink announced late Friday that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, with markets closed, investors will still be keeping a close eye out for any progress in the US's $2.2 trillion stimulus, as well as any news about the 'Part 4' deal that's purportedly being worked out.