- Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre closed
- New York City hospitals report "apocalyptic" surge in cases
- US overtakes China as country with the most COVID-19 cases with 81,321 cases
- Elmhurst Hospital in Queens is overwhelmed with new cases
- More than 500k volunteers sign up to help the NHS in Britain
- 500k COVID-19 cases diagnosed
- Italy reports largest batch of new cases in 5 days
- Abbott Labs submitted application to FDA for point-of-care test
- New Orleans hosts major outbreak
- NJ reports another 2k+ cases, 19 deaths
- Inmate in Washington DC tests positive
- NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell tests positive
- India passes $22.6 billion bailout package
- Tokyo reports 40 cases for 2nd day in a row
- A record 3.3 million Americans file for unemployment
- China bans entry of foreigners
- 157 more deaths reported in Iran
- Putin shuts down Moscow, delays vote on constitutional measures
- Wednesday was deadliest yet in US
- President Xi calls on nations to improve policy coordination to avoid a recession
- Mnuchin says he speaks with Powell up to '30 times a day'
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Update (1835ET): Dr. Birx said Thursday that 86% of tests run in the US so far have been negative, a lower rate than experts had expected. She also listed off a handful of "particularly concerning" counties, like Illinois' Cook County and Michigan's Wayne County.
Additionally, Dr. Birx played down some of the more dire predictions, including an Imperial College study that has circulated widely over the last week or so which called for 500k deaths in the UK. Dr. Birx noted that this number has "already been revised down to 20k".
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Update (1810ET): VP Pence said during Thursday's press conference that Abbott Labs has applied for a point-of-care test that can be done in a doctor's office, with results in 15 minutes.
Pence also advised any travelers from New York to "check their health" and "self-isolate" if they've traveled elsewhere.
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Update (1800ET): Cuomo praised more New York businesses - in this case, hotels - stepping up to house medical workers or the sick.
Proud to see NY's hotels stepping up.@StRegisNewYork, @LotteNYPalace & @Yotel will provide their facilities for non-critical patients (freeing up beds in hospitals).@RoomMateGraceNY & @WytheHotel will offer free rooms to medical workers responding to #COVID.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 26, 2020
NY thanks you.
Tomorrow we will tour the 4 sites that NY has identified for additional temporary hospitals that will add much needed capacity.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 26, 2020
The sites are the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the Aqueduct Racetrack facility in Queens, CUNY Staten Island, and the NY Expo Center in the Bronx.
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Update (1740ET): In a testament both to the US's ability to ramp up testing, and the sheer penetration of the novel coronavirus within the US population, the number of confirmed cases in the US has surpassed China to become the largest outbreak in the world.
According to the NYT, at least 81,321 people have been diagnosed in the US, including more than 1,000 deaths, more cases than China and Italy and any other country. As the Times notes, the US is suffering from a shortage of personal protective equipment and ventilators.
As President Trump said during Thursday evening's press conference, the fact that the US has overtaken China is "a tribute to the amount of testing we're doing - we're doing a lot of testing," Trump said.
He also (again, correctly) pointed out that "you don't really know" the total scope of the crisis in China, where tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of cases are believed to have gone unreported.
Trump is set to speak with President Xi Thursday night via phone.
Watch the task force's nightly presser:
Here's a breakdown of cases by state:
Find more statistics at Statista
Find more statistics at Statista
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Update (1415ET): New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is holding his daily press conference.
Holding a COVID-19 briefing. WATCH: https://t.co/0JHV5xBCXE— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 26, 2020
As we mentioned below, New York hospitals have started 'splitting' ventilators for patients, as some New York coronavirus patients are staying on ventilators for much longer than doctors had expected. While patients typically spend 3 to 4 days on ventilators with other serious lung ailments, COVID-19 patients are spending as long as 30 days on ventilators in New York, dimming hopes that the state will secure enough machines.
After FEMA promised 400 machines, Cuomo's complaints convinced VP Pence to increase the allocation to 4,000. But that's still 26k short of the 30k Cuomo said are needed by hospitals in the state, with Cuomo offering to personally deliver them to the next state that needs them after New York's apex.
On Thursday, Cuomo reported 100 more fatalities, for a total of 385, as hospitals brace for more. New York City is even deploying refrigerated trailers for use as temporary morgues as the number of bodies overwhelms some hospitals.
"This is the really bad news," Cuomo said at a news conference Thursday.
Cuomo expressed alarm over the 35% rise in deaths in one day. On Wednesday, he sounded a more hopeful tone.
"The longer they’re on, the more likely they’re not going to come off," he said. "That is what has happened. We do have people who have been on for quite a period of time, and those are the people we’re losing."
In New Jersey, COVID-19 cases increased by 2,492 from a day earlier to 6,876, while another 19 deaths brought the state-wide total to 81, Gov. Murphy said.
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Update (1315ET): China's Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that beginning on Saturday, all foreign nationals, including those with valid visas and residence permits, will be temporarily barred from entering China as Beijing continues to turn the tables on the US and other western countries that barred Chinese nationals in the wake of the outbreak.
Columbia University will let medical students graduate early so they can help with the coronavirus response efforts in New York, university officials told ABC News.
Chicago's popular Lakefront Trail was shut down on Thursday, blocking access to the extensive trail and park, after too many people congregated and violated social distancing guidelines, said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
During Thursday's press conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Congress' $2 trillion stimulus bill "failed to meet the governmental need", adding that it does "absolutely nothing for us" in terms of the massive hit to the state's budget from lost tax revenue, while also not even doing enough to meet the base-level need in New York's hospitals.
He added that he was "disappointed" that Congress passed such a "reckless" bill at a time of such tremendous need.
"I'm disappointed," Cuomo said on Thursday. "I find it irresponsible. I find it reckless. Emotion is a luxury. And we don't have the luxury at this time of being emotional about what they [Congress] did. When this is over, I promise you I'm going to give them a piece of my mind."
"We don't have the luxury at this time to be emotional about what they did...when this is over, I'll give them a piece of my mind. This is an extraordinary time for this nation...this was the time to put politics aside and put partisanship aside."
The fact that lawmakers aren't adequately addressing the problem in the areas with the most acute need is almost unconscionable, Cuomo said.
In other news, the new cases reported out of Italy combined with some other new cases reported Thursday morning have delivered the ~20k cases needed to put the global total over 500k, a major milestone in the outbreak.
Coronavirus pandemic:— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) March 26, 2020
From 0 to 250,000 cases: 4 months
From 250,000 to 500,000 cases: 1 week
Epidemiologists expect 2-3 million cases will be diagnosed eventually, and that's according to the sunnier projections.
* * *
Update (1310ET): Italy's Civil Protection Agency reported the largest jump in new cases in five days on Thursday, dealing yet another blow to hopes that cases might finally be peaking in the current 'epicenter' of the global outbreak.
The 6,153 new cases confirmed for Wednesday represents an 8.3% growth rate compared with the prior day. Fatalities from the outbreak saw a slight dip over the past 24 hours, totaling 662, compared with 683 for the previous day. All told, 8,165 of those diagnosed have died from COVID-19.
Here's a breakdown by region, courtesy of Corriere della Sera, a popular Italian daily newspaper:
Finally, some good news: The number of Italians who have recovered passed 10,000 on Thursday (totale guariti).
* * *
Update (1155ET): Andrew Cuomo is delivering his daily press update, saying that 6,448 new cases were confirmed yesterday in New York State out of 18,650 tests. That brings the state's total to 37,258 COVID-19 cases, with 5,327 currently hospitalized, and 1,290 patients in the ICU.
Here's the breakdown by county.
6,448 new cases in New York State— Steve Lookner (@lookner) March 26, 2020
3,537 new cases in New York City
1,253 new cases in Westchester County
Note: 18,650 tested in past day, roughly 50% more than yesterday pic.twitter.com/FIvOwW8Vop
Cuomo added that hospitals were beginning to experiment with assigning one ventilator between two patients, a setup that can be easily jerryrigged during periods of dire need, according to media reports.
* * *
Update (1130ET): In more news about who's testing positive Thursday, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
News: In an email sent to NBC employees, the CEO of NBC Universal, Jeff Shell, says he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 26, 2020
* * *
Update (1030ET): The Treasury Department has announced new sanctions against several senior Iranian officials and business entities on Thursday, after hinting earlier this month that more sanctions against the Iranians would land soon, and that the US wouldn't hold back because of the coronavirus epidemic.
- U.S. IMPOSES FRESH IRAN-RELATED SANCTIONS -TREASURY WEB SITE
- U.S. IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON 15 INDIVIDUALS, FIVE ENTITIES UNDER IRAN AND TERRORISM-RELATED SANCTIONS PROGRAMS
Earlier, Iranian authorities reported 157 deaths over the last day, raising the total to 2,234, while it confirmed 2,389 new cases, bringing the total official count in Iran to 29,406.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said “fortunately, until today 10,457 of those infected have recovered and been discharged from hospitals," he told a news conference.
During Thursday’s videoconference between G20 leaders, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for nations to improve coordinations in macro economic policies to stave off a global recession.
Xi said nations need to implement strong, effective fiscal and monetary policies; coordination needed to strengthen global financial supervisions, and nations need to work jointly to stabilize global supply chain. He added that China will increase output of raw-material level medicines, living necessities, preventive medical gears, and increase their supplies to the global market.
* * *
Update (0930ET): In the US, stocks have gone vertical at the open. Meanwhile, comments from President Xi are just hitting the tape.
- CHINA'S XI JINPING SAYS CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK HAS HIT GLOBAL PRODUCTION, DEMAND - STATE MEDIA
- XI CALLS FOR JOINT EFFORTS TO STABILIZE SUPPLY CHAIN:XINHUA
Meanwhile, in Italy, the hard-hit Lombardy region reported a jump in cases.
On CNBC, during an interview with an almost overly sympathetic Jim Cramer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that not a day goes by where he doesn't speak with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Mnuchin says he’s approved “every single one of” the Fed’s requests for new lending facilities. On new jobless claims report, he says "these numbers right now are not relevant".
For the second day in a row, health officials in Tokyo reported 40 additional coronavirus cases, matching or possibly exceeding yesterday's total of 41.
Earlier, weekly unemployment claims data showed a massive jump last week, as expected.
* * *
President Trump's hurried demands to get the nation "back to work" before Easter probably couldn't come at a worse time. Across the US, but mainly in a handful of 'hot spots', most notably New York City and the surrounding area, the number of confirmed cases and deaths attributed to COVID-19 is climbing at an alarming rate.
According to John Hopkins data, Wednesday was the deadliest day yet for the US with 233 fatalities reported, taking the US to 65,273 cases and 938 deaths. In New York and California, the number of confirmed cases is doubling every few days.
As Russia reports record growth for a second day, President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country's capital and largest city, Moscow, to close up all restaurants, bars and "non-essential" shops. In an online post, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered the closure of government offices and religious sites - which he urged Muscovites not to visit - and asked all other Russians not to visit the capital during a planned 'nationwide holiday' set to last for all of next week. The Kremlin has also halted all international air traffic, both for airlines and charter flights, excluding repatriation flights bringing Russian citizens back into the country.
Russia reported 182 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours on Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 840, along with 3 deaths.
Last night, President Putin delivered a nationwide address where he delayed a vote on constitutional amendments that would allow him to remain in the Kremlin until 2036, and announced that next week would be a national holiday, urging Russians to stay at home. He didn't declare a national emergency or any other type of special circumstance, but a government medical advisor has reportedly told Putin that given the spread already documented in Moscow, that he must shut the country down to prevent a full-blown outbreak.
The lockdown comes as roughly one-third of the world's population is now facing some degree of movement restriction: Indian PM Narendra Modi followed up his decision to lock down the second-largest country in the world by announcing a $22.6 billion relief package to help the "poor and suffering."
"It’s only been 36 hours since the lockdown was imposed," the country’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a news conference on Thursday. "Now we have come up with a package which will immediately take care of the welfare concerns of the poor and suffering workers and those who need immediate help."
The relief package includes medical insurance coverage of up to $66,400 per person (a considerable sum in India) for those battling the virus on the front lines, incuding medical workers, sanitation workers and community health workers.
The measure is expected to cover 2 million people, a tiny fraction of the country's population. Firefighters have been repurposed to spray disinfectant around the country, and police have been acting aggressively to enforce the lockdown.
More importantly, the government will provide 800 million people, roughly two-thirds of the country’s population, with 5 kilograms of rice or wheat each month for the next three months for free.
"We do not want anyone to go hungry," Sitharaman said.
Other measures announced include fast-tracking subsidies and benefits for farmers, construction workers, widows and the disabled as well as increasing the minimum wage. Workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which guarantees 100 days of unskilled manual work per year, will see their wages rise by $26. Of course, like Russia and most other major countries at this point, India has also banned international flights.
Across the UK, as Britons trudge through their first full week of lockdown, more than half a million people in the UK have signed up as volunteers to support the NHS, according to the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Globally, the number of coronavirus cases topped 480k on Thursday, and at its current pace, will likely top 500k by Friday, according to Johns Hopkins data. The total number of cases in the US, at last check, was 69,197, a sliver behind Italy, leaving the US in third place globally for number of cases, and far lower down the rankings for number of deaths. The US has recorded 978 deaths as of Thursday morning, leaving behind Spain and France in terms of death toll.
The death toll in coronavirus-ravaged Spain continued to climb on Thursday, with more than 600 additional fatalities reported so far. In total, more than 4,000 people have been killed by the novel coronavirus in Spain so far. Only Italy has recorded more deaths during the outbreak, and only Spain and Italy have recorded more deaths than mainland China - though we suspect the US will join them soon enough.
Yesterday, we discussed the boom in cases in the tri-state area, the suburban area around New York City. Now, on Thursday, the tally of known coronavirus cases in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia - the Greater DC area, as it's known - stands at 1,051 as of Thursday morning after Maryland reported an additional 74 cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 424, Virginia reported 101 more cases for a total of 392, and DC reported 48 new cases Wednesday, bringing its total to 235. Yesterday, Maryland extended its school closures another four weeks out to April 24.
An inmate at a Washington DC jail has tested positive for the virus, the first to do so, as the US fears an outbreak inside its prisons similar to what happened in Italy and China.
In Florida, the total number of confirmed cases is climbing rapidly. Last night, the Miami City Commission unanimously voted to implement a citywide curfew from 10 pm to 5 am beginning on Friday.
The situation in NYC is growing increasingly dire, while Louisiana also experiences a sudden surge in cases, as the NYT pointed out. According to one study, Louisiana is experiencing the fastest growth in new cases in the world, which is why President Trump approved Gov. John Bel Edwards' request for a major disaster declaration, which unlocked additional federal funding to combat the outbreak.
The situation in and around New Orleans is particularly acute, with the city reporting 827 confirmed cases as of Wednesday night, more than the total number of cases in all but 15 states, while Orleans Parish, which is the same boundary-wise as the city of New Orleans, has reported the largest number of deaths per capita in the country.
Find more statistics at Statista
In New York, city hospitals are being overrun as they report an "apocalyptic" surge in patients who are seriously ill from COVID-19, as Elmhurst Hospital in Queens reported 13 deaths in one day on Wednesday.
Across the world from New York, Israel was an early mover in terms of restricting citizens' movement when there were only a few cases confirmed. And as group prayers are postponed, mass and Sunday church gatherings are suspended and pilgrimages like the Hajj are temporarily halted, religious sites are also being closed to delay the spread of the virus.
In Jerusalem, the sacred Church of the Holy Sepulchre was shuttered Wednesday night in keeping with tighter restrictions on movement as Israel attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, church officials said.
The church, the holiest site in Christianity, is believed to mark the place where Jesus was crucified, buried and later resurrected. The sprawling compound, which is home to some clergy custodians, is shared by six Christian denominations: The Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Orthodox churches are the primary custodians, while the Syrian, Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox churches have lesser responsibilities.