US coronavirus death toll crosses 1,000; stimulus plan ‘terrible’ for NY, Cuomo says

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jarun011/iStock

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 21,200 people around the world.

There are more than 470,000 diagnosed cases of the new respiratory illness, known officially as COVID-19, spanning every continent except Antarctica, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

With more than 68,500 diagnosed cases, the United States has the third-highest national total behind Italy and China. The virus has rapidly spread across every U.S. state as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, killing at least 1,031 people.

Here’s how the news developed Wednesday. All times Eastern:

11 p.m.: Thune self-isolating as a precaution

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the Senate GOP whip, woke up not feeling well, according to his communications director, Ryan Wrasse, and although he wasn’t advised to take a COVID-19 test, he is returning to his home state “out of an abundance of caution.”

He will also miss voting in the Senate due to him leaving.

Thune, 59, was elected to the Senate in 2004.

10:35 p.m.: US death toll crosses 1,000

The U.S. death toll crossed the grim mark of 1,000 on Wednesday night, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The death toll now stands at 1,031. The most deaths have come in New York state, with 366, well ahead of Washington state, with 133.

The U.S. has also had at least 68,572 confirmed cases.

9:48 p.m.: LDS to close all temples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it is closing all temples temporarily.

“After careful and prayerful consideration, and with a desire to be responsible global citizens, we have decided to suspend all temple activity Churchwide at the end of the day on March 25, 2020. This is a temporary adjustment, and we look forward to the day when the temples will reopen,” the church said in a statement.

There are about 6.6 million members in the U.S. and 81 temples, according to the LDS church.

8:10 p.m.: 1st person tests positive at Pentagon

A U.S. Marine stationed at the Pentagon has tested positive for coronavirus, the first Pentagon employee to do so.

The Marine is now in isolation at his home and his workspace has been cleaned.

Normally 23,000 people work at the Pentagon, but only 6,000 had been coming in with telework becoming the norm. That number has now been lowered further following Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s additional restrictions.

7:07 p.m.: White House says 432,000 tests conducted

Vice President Mike Pence and White House health officials said the U.S. has conducted 432,000 coronavirus tests since the outbreak began.

This number doesn’t include tests done by private labs and hospitals, according to Pence. Dr. Deborah Brix, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, said they are working to get more conducted.

“I think we are close to working through the testing backlog,” she said at Wednesday’s White House briefing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the U.S. could see another cycle of the virus. He noted that countries in the Southern Hemisphere are seeing cases and it could go into their winter seasons

“It emphasizes the need to do what we are doing in developing a vaccine, testing it quickly, and trying to get it ready so we will have a vaccine available for that next cycle,” he said at the briefing.

6:40 p.m.: Colorado issues stay-at-home order

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced an emergency stay-at-home order that will go into effect Thursday morning.

Nineteen people in the state have died from COVID-19 among 1,086 diagnosed cases.

“Now is the time to stay at home,” Polis said at a news conference.

The order provides exemptions for people working in critical businesses and will remain in effect until April 11.

6:15 p.m.: New York City cases rise to nearly 18,000

The number of coronavirus cases in New York City 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. De Blasio cautioned against statements from the president that the economy could open up by Easter and noted that April statistics would be worse than March.

“[It] does not apply to anything we’re seeing in New York City,” the mayor said of the Easter goal.

De Blasio said the city is working to curb the number of cases by enforcing stricter rules on close contact. After receiving reports of people playing basketball in several playgrounds, the mayor ordered park officials to remove hoops from 80 basketball courts.

There are 1,700 courts throughout the city and de Blasio warned he would close more if people didn’t follow social-distancing guidelines.

4:55 p.m.: At least 50,000 Americans stuck overseas

Despite 9,300 Americans having already been returned to the U.S., there are at least 50,000 American citizens who are still stranded overseas by sudden border closures and canceled flights, according to the State Department.

At least 4,000 Americans are left in Peru, between 5,000 and 6,000 are stuck in Ecuador and several thousand are stranded in Honduras, according to Ian Brownlee, the head of the State Department’s repatriation task force.

There will be 66 more chartered flights carrying 9,000 people over the next nine days, said Brownlee.

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

3:37 p.m.: Apple donating millions of masks

Apple has sourced 10 million masks to donate to the U.S., as well as millions “more for the hardest hit regions in Europe,” CEO Tim Cook tweeted.

 2:44 p.m.: Famous chef dies from coronavirus

Chef Floyd Cardoz died on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19 one week ago, according to a spokesperson for Hunger Inc. Hospitality, the hospitality company co-founded by Cardoz.

He is survived by his mother, wife and two sons, said the spokesperson.

The Mumbai-born chef, 59, is remembered as a pioneer for fine dining Indian fare and changed New York City’s restaurant scene with his critically acclaimed restaurants.

Pete Wells, restaurant critic for The New York Times, tweeted Wednesday, “Floyd Cardoz was an exceptional talent, a chef equally at home with undiluted Indian flavors as he was with the delicious union of French, Indian and American food, a personal idiom that he invented.”

A Bravo spokesperson called Cardoz “a talented chef who competed and won Top Chef Masters. He was thoughtful, kind and his smile illuminated a room. He was an inspiration to chefs around the world and we offer our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”

2:12 p.m.: WHO warns countries against lifting lockdowns too early

As the pandemic intensifies, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned countries against lifting lockdowns too early.
“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,” he stressed.

1:46 p.m.: Calls to 911 skyrocket in NYC

In New York City — where over 17,800 people have tested positive for coronavirus — the 911 call volume has increased dramatically.

On Tuesday alone there were 5,700 calls for medical incidents, a 60% increase over the normal 911 call volume, according to the fire department.

Many of the calls did not ultimately involve coronavirus symptoms, but it shows how nervous people are about any form of illness. The FDNY is urging New Yorkers to only call 911 in a true emergency.

There are 236 members of the New York Police Department and 84 members of the FDNY who have now tested positive for coronavirus.

New York City also still has a higher level of density than there should be, the governor said Wednesday, calling the city parks in particular a problem.

New York City is going to close two streets in each of the five boroughs on Thursday to give more space to joggers and pedestrians.

1:22 p.m.: Italy’s death toll reaches 7,503

Italy, by far the hardest-hit nation for coronavirus fatalities, is reporting 683 more deaths in the last 24 hours.

Italy’s total death toll is now at a staggering 7,503, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency.

Italy’s total number of diagnosed cases has reached 74,386.

But it’s been weeks since all of Italy was locked down, and now the spread of the increase in overall diagnosed cases has decreased to 7.5% — the lowest rate of growth yet.

1:04 p.m.: Maryland extends school closures until April 24

Maryland is extending school closures until April 24 and state officials say it’s too early to determine when schools might reopen after that date.

School closures due to the pandemic have impacted at least 55 million students, according to Education Week.

12:35 p.m.: Air travel plunges to record lows in US

U.S. airline travel is plunging to record lows amid the pandemic. Each of the last seven days set a new record low in the number of travelers screened at checkpoints nationwide since Jan. 1, 2010, according to a TSA spokesperson.

On Tuesday, the TSA screened 279,018 travelers compared to 2,151,913 travelers on the same weekday last year.

12:13 p.m.: Stimulus plan ‘terrible’ for New York, Cuomo says

Infections in New York are still on the rise, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, warning, “we have not turned the trajectory, nor have we hit the apex.”

The state now has over 30,800 people diagnosed with the coronavirus. Of those diagnosed, 12% are in the hospital and 3% are in the ICU, Cuomo said.

At least 285 people have died in the state, he said.

New York now has the greatest need in terms of numbers and in terms of timing, Cuomo said.

The governor criticized the federal stimulus plan that’s being considered by the Senate, calling it a “drop in the bucket” for New York.

That stimulus package “gives us $3.8 billion,” Cuomo said. “How do you plug a $15 billion hole with $3.8 billion? You don’t.”

“It would really be terrible for the state of New York,” Cuomo said.

The governor said he’s asked the White House to send New York the personnel and equipment the state needs, and “as soon as we get past that critical moment, we’ll redeploy that equipment and personnel to the next hot spot. I will personally guarantee it and personally manage it.”

“We can take the personnel from here and the lessons from here,” Cuomo said. “We are going to learn things nobody else has learned. We’ll be the first one through the shoot.”

Cuomo said the numbers are so high in New York in part because “we have one of the most dense, close environments in the country. “

“Our closeness makes us vulnerable,” Cuomo said, but he added, “your greatest weakness can be your greatest strength. That makes us what we are. That closeness is what makes us special. Our acceptance and openness is what makes us so special. It makes us connected to one another, so accepting of one another. “

“I am glad in some ways that we are first with this situation,” the governor said. “We will overcome. We will show other communities across the country how to do it.”

In New York City — where over 17,800 people have tested positive for coronavirus — there’s still a higher level of density than there should be, Cuomo said, calling the city parks in particular a problem.

New York City is going to try closing some streets to cars and opening those streets to pedestrians, he said.

Cuomo also brought good news to Wednesday’s press conference, saying 6,175 mental health professionals have signed up to volunteer to provide mental health services. Free appointments can be scheduled by calling 844-863-9314.

11:20 a.m.: NBA star says his mom has coronavirus, is in medically-induced coma

Karl-Anthony Towns, a player for the Minnesota Timberwolves, says his mother is in a medically-induced coma with coronavirus after days of “deteriorating.”

“She’s the head of our household. She’s the boss,” the NBA star said in an emotional YouTube video overnight. “It’s rough. Day by day we’re just seeing how it goes. We’re being positive.”

To his followers, Towns said, “the severity of this disease is real. Please protect your families … practice social distancing.”

“I know she’ll beat this,” he said of his mom. “We’re gonna rejoice when she does.”

11:04 a.m.: Miami, Wisconsin, Vermont join growing list of places where residents must stay home

On Wednesday morning, Miami residents woke up to a shelter-in-place order in effect. Non-essential travel is now banned and those who are exercising outside must practice social distancing.

In Wisconsin, a “Safer at Home” order went into effect Wednesday morning and will last until April 24.

In Vermont, a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. All non-essential businesses are closing and the governor is telling Vermont residents to only leave their homes if it’s critical to health and safety.

8:48 a.m.: Spain’s death toll now higher than China

The COVID-19 death toll in Spain has now reached 3,434, which is higher than the number of fatalities in China.

China — where the coronavirus first emerged in December — has reported 3,163 deaths, according to the data from Johns Hopkins.

The Spain death toll is now only second to hard-hit Italy, where the death toll has skyrocketed to 6,820.

7:34 a.m.: Attorneys general call on Trump to use Defense Production Act

A coalition of 16 attorneys general are calling on President Donald Trump to fully use the Defense Production Act to prioritize the production of masks, respirators and other critical items needed by health care workers, first responders and law enforcement officers across the country amid the coronavirus crisis.

The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin sent a joint letter to Trump on Wednesday.

“We are on the brink of catastrophic consequences resulting from the continued shortage of critical supplies,” the letter states. “The federal government must act decisively now and use its sweeping authority to get as many needed supplies produced as soon as possible for distribution as quickly as possible.”

Trump signed an executive order last week invoking the Defense Production Act, a 1950 wartime law that requires private companies to prioritize any product orders from the federal government over others. But the government has apparently yet to make any orders for medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment.

6:47 a.m.: Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19

Charles, Prince of Wales, who is first in line to the British throne, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a spokesman for his official royal residence, Clarence House.

“He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual,” a Clarence House spokesman said in a statement Wednesday morning.

His wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has tested negative for the virus, according to the spokesman.

“In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland,” the spokesman added. “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”

Charles is the first child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is the heir apparent to the British throne.

6:21 a.m.: Federal official who crossed paths with Pence at FEMA headquarters tests positive

A federal official who was working at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters on the same day that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited has since tested positive for the novel coronavirus but did not at any point come within 6 feet of Pence nor members of the task force, a White House official confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday.

The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Pence’s press secretary said Saturday night that the vice president and his wife had both tested negative for COVID-19.

5:39 a.m.: Netherlands reports spike in deaths

The Netherlands has reported a 30% jump in fatalities from the novel coronavirus.

The densely populated European country saw the number of deaths rise by 63 to 276, according to Tuesday’s update from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The deceased victims range in age between 55 and 97 years old.

Meanwhile, the national tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 17% to 5,560.

3:04 a.m.: U.S. death toll tops 800

More than 800 people in the United States have now died from the novel coronavirus.

The U.S. death toll topped 800 early Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science.

At least 192 of those fatalities have occurred in New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic.

2:58 a.m.: Senators and White House clinch deal on stimulus package

After a marathon of closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill, Senate leaders and White House officials clinched a bipartisan deal early Wednesday on a massive stimulus package to save the national economy from the detrimental impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the legislation as “a wartime level of investment in our nation.”

“At last, we have a deal,” McConnell told reporters. “We’re going to pass this legislation later today.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the deal “an outstanding agreement.”

“Help is on the way,” Schumer told reporters. “Big help and quick help.”

When asked if U.S. President Donald Trump will sign the legislation, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters resoundingly, “absolutely.”

“Spoken to the president many times today,” Mnuchin added, “he’s very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have.”

Negotiators from the Senate and the White House have been meeting for the past five days, working to reach a bipartisan agreement on the sweeping measure that will deliver government aid to American families, hospitals and businesses reeling from the virus outbreak and the resulting economic fallout. At roughly $2 trillion, it’s the largest economic stimulus package in modern American history.

At least 23 states have enacted policies to close nonessential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus on U.S. soil.

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