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Coronavirus deaths cross 192 in New York City; NYU offers medical students early graduation

National News From ABC

vchal/iStock(NEW YORK) — Over 18,900 people around the world have died from the novel coronavirus — and the World Health Organization warned the pandemic is accelerating.

There are more than 422,000 diagnosed cases globally of the new respiratory virus known officially as COVID-19, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

In the U.S., more than 55,000 people have been diagnosed and at least 796 people have died.

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

12:20 a.m.: Trump approves disaster declarations for Louisiana, Iowa

The White House announced President Donald Trump approved disaster declarations for Louisiana and Iowa late Tuesday.

Louisiana has been particularly hard-hit by coronavirus. The state has had at least 1,388 cases and 46 deaths, according to a governor’s office report Tuesday.

Only New York, Washington and California have more deaths than Louisiana, despite its relatively small size. Iowa has had just one death.

10:10 p.m.: LA County releases inmates, closes gun shops and strip clubs

Los Angeles County announced it has come to an agreement to release a specified list of pretrial inmates from jails, according to the Superior Court of California.

About 1,700 inmates will be released, according to Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV.

The move was made to free up space in order to prevent inmates from acquiring and passing coronavirus to others.

The list of inmates to be released was vetted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also said gun shops and strip clubs would be closing down.

“We’ve received complaints from particular businesses who have not been adhering to the social distancing,” Villanueva said at a Tuesday press conference. “Chief among them has been gun shops, night clubs, bars and strip clubs.”

9:39 p.m.: NYU offers early graduation to med students

New York University senior medical students were informed tonight that if they have met all requirements and credits they will be granted early graduation in an effort to add more doctors to the medical field amid the coronavirus crisis, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

In an email, students were told that details are still being finalized and in some cases they could begin working as early as sometime in April, though no location for employment has been finalized.

The school suspended all in-person classes in early March.

New York and New York City have been especially hard-hit by the virus, with 192 deaths in the city alone, according to new statistics put out by the mayor’s office Tuesday evening.

9:34 p.m.: US crosses 700 deaths total

The United States crossed the grim milestone of 700 deaths nationwide from coronavirus Tuesday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. death toll reached 100 last Tuesday and there were only about 6,300 confirmed cases. Now, in addition to 706 deaths, there are at least 53,740 cases.

8:43 p.m.: 36 TSA personnel have tested positive for coronavirus

As of Tuesday evening, the number of Transportation Security Administration agents who have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past two weeks was up to 36, according to the agency.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske sent Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson and Subcommittee Chairman J. Luis Correa a letter responding to questions they had surrounding the efforts TSA has taken to protect their front line workforce amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pekoske said the TSA is aggressively exploring new technologies that could reduce human to human contact and are evaluating what additional pay flexibilities they could implement that includes options for hazardous duty pay.

8:17 p.m.: James Taylor donates $1 million

Singer James Taylor, and his wife, Kim, have donated $1 million to Massachusetts General Hospital in order to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

The singer-songwriter, whose classics “Fire and Rain,” “Something in the Way She Moves” and “Carolina in My Mind” earned him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will be able to use the money to purchase supplies, treat patients or further research.

“There is no question that it’s a point of pride for New Englanders to claim the MGH as their hospital — our hospital — and this is especially true today with the threat coming from a new and insidious virus,” James Taylor said in a statement. “Kim and I want to be part of this fight. We have been so inspired by the courage and sacrifice of the health care heroes in the trenches who are working so hard to protect us all.”

Taylor was born at Mass General in 1948, and though he moved to North Carolina as a child, returned to Massachusetts for boarding school and is currently a state resident. His wife worked for the Boston Symphony Orchestra when they met.

6:15 p.m.: White House says anyone who leaves NYC should self-quarantine for 14 days

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, recommended that anyone who has recently traveled from or plans to travel from New York City should self-quarantine for two weeks, because of the high number of cases in the city.

New York City’s Health Department said as of Tuesday morning, there were 14,776 confirmed cases and 131 deaths. Birx said 56% of all cases in the U.S., 60% of new cases and 31% of fatalities are coming out of the NYC metro area.

“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York,” she said at the White House briefing.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said the infection rate in the New York City area was eight or 10 times that of other areas, and called the stats “disturbing.”

“When they go to another place, for their own safety they’ve got to be careful, monitor themselves,” he said. “Also, the idea about self-isolating for two weeks will be very important because we don’t want that to be another seeding point to the rest of the country wherever they go.”

Florida’s governor issued an executive order Monday that mandates any New York visitor who comes into the state self-isolate for 14 days.

5:45 p.m.: NJ man charged for coughing on employee, claiming he had coronavirus

A New Jersey man has been charged with harassment and making terroristic threats after he allegedly coughed on a Wegman’s employee and claimed he had the coronavirus, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, New Jersey, was shopping at the Manalapan store Sunday evening and was asked by an employee not to stand too close to her while she covered prepared foods, the attorney general’s office said. Falcone allegedly leaned into her, purposely coughed and told her he had the coronavirus, according to the attorney general.

Falcone then told two other employees that they’re lucky to have their jobs, the attorney general said.

“These are extremely difficult times in which all of us are called upon to be considerate of each other — not to engage in intimidation and spread fear, as alleged in this case,” Grewal said in a statement.

A Manalapan Police Department detective who was working security in the supermarket approached Falcone and he allegedly refused to cooperate or provide his driver’s license for 40 minutes, the attorney general said. The detective permitted Falcone to leave the store, however, the suspect was issued summonses Tuesday and has been ordered to appear in court at a later date.

Grewal’s office didn’t immediately have information on Falcone’s attorney.

5:22 p.m.: ICE detainee tests positive in New Jersey jail

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that the first detainee in its custody tested positive for COVID-19.

The agency said the patient, a 31-year-old Mexican national, was being held at the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, New Jersey. The detainee has been quarantined and receiving care, according to ICE.

“Consistent with CDC guidelines, those who have come in contact with the individual have been cohorted and are being monitored for symptoms,” the agency said in a statement,

The American Civil Liberties Union called on ICE to release some of its detainees to prevent further spread of the virus.

“If it doesn’t, it will be to blame for a humanitarian crisis,” Andrea Flores, the deputy director of policy at the ACLU, said in a statement.

5:15 p.m.: Delaware postpones primary election

Delaware became the latest state to postpone its primary election due to coronavirus concerns.

Gov. John Carney said he decided to move the date from April 28 to June 2, following in the footstep of Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

“The additional protections in this order are essential to help support Delawareans – especially our most vulnerable neighbors – as this situation evolves,” he said in a statement.

Twelve states, including Alaska, Georgia and Kentucky, have pushed back their primary elections from their original dates due to COVID-19 concerns.

3:06 p.m.: Tony Award-winning playwright dies from coronavirus complications

Multiple Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally  died on Tuesday at age 81 from coronavirus complications.

McNally was a lung cancer survivor and had chronic inflammatory lung disease.

He accepted a lifetime achievement award at the 2019 Tony Awards.

 

1:00 p.m.: Harvard president tests positive for coronavirus

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow and his wife Adele, tested positive for the coronavirus, he wrote in a letter to the university community.

Their symptoms — coughs, fevers, chills and muscle aches, began Sunday, he said. They were tested Monday and received their results on Tuesday.

“We began working from home and completely limiting our contact with others on March 14,” Bacow wrote. “We will be taking the time we need to rest and recuperate during a two-week isolation at home.”

Bacow ended his letter by telling the Harvard community, “The world needs your courage, creativity, and intelligence to beat this virus—wishing each of you good health.”

11:55 a.m.: Virus moving like a ‘bullet train’ through New York

In New York state, the “rate of new infections is doubling about every three days,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Tuesday. “That rate of increase, that apex, they project at this time could be approximately 14 to 21 days away.”

Cuomo described the virus moving at first as a “freight train,” but now speeding like a “bullet train.”

New York now has over 25,000 diagnosed cases, he said, including over 14,900 in New York City.

The state has “exhausted every option” to combat the spread, Cuomo said, by closing businesses, increasing testing and reducing street density.

Cuomo said New York now must dramatically increase its hospital capacity very quickly.

The greatest critical need are ventilators which “will make the difference between life and death,” Cuomo said.

The state has procured about 7,000 ventilators and needs 30,000 more at a minimum, he said.

In a powerful moment, Cuomo pushed back at FEMA, questioning why the Defense Production Act isn’t being used to produce ventilators.

“FEMA says, ‘we’re sending 400 ventilators.’ Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” Cuomo said. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”

“The president said ‘it’s a war, it’s a war.’ Then act like it’s a war,” Cuomo said.

The president tweeted earlier Tuesday, “We are helping the states to get equipment, but it is not easy. Just got 400 Ventilators for @NYCMayor Bill de Blasio. Work beginning on 4 hospitals in New York! Millions of different type items coming!”

11:00 a.m.: India going on lockdown

India’s prime minister decreed Tuesday that the country of 1.3 billion will go on lockdown for 21 days.

10:02 a.m.: Detroit police dispatcher, 38, dies from coronavirus

A 38-year-old Detroit police dispatcher has died from COVID-19, reported ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ.

There are at least eight confirmed coronavirus cases within the police department, prompting more than 200 officers to self-quarantine, according to WXYZ.

9:42 a.m. Pandemic could cost airlines more than $250 billion

The airline industry could take a hit of more than $250 billion as a result of the steep decline in demand and government travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“Without immediate government relief measures, there will not be an industry left standing,” IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac warned.

8:51 a.m. Japan announces Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until 2021

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee have agreed that the upcoming Tokyo Olympics “will be held by the summer of 2021,” the prime minister’s office announced Tuesday.

“I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100% agreement,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo, referring to Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee.

The Olympics were originally slated to kick off in Tokyo on July 24, but there has been mounting pressure for organizers to postpone or cancel them due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board on Sunday said it would assess the worldwide situation over the next four weeks and make a decision that could include the scenario of postponing the Games. The board, however, emphasized that it has no current plans to outright cancel the 2020 Summer Olympics as such a scenario “would not solve any of the problems or help anybody.”

8:28 a.m. Sen. Klobuchar says husband remains hospitalized on oxygen

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who recently dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, said her husband, John Bessler, remains hospitalized and on oxygen support after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

“The reason he was hospitalized is he had pneumonia. He was coughing up blood and his oxygen levels were dangerously low, so he’s been there for a few days now,” Klobuchar told ABC News in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

“He got a test last Wednesday and we didn’t get the results until yesterday,” she added. “That’s the story of a lot of people, and I think one of the things I want to say is a lot of Americans have this and worse going on, and one of the hardest things about this disease is you can’t go and visit your loved one. As much as I love being on your show, I would rather be there with him right now and I can’t do that.”

Klobuchar said her husband, who is 52, has no preexisting conditions and was “very healthy” prior to falling ill with the virus.”

“We don’t know how he got it and no one around us got it,” she added. “As far as we know, he didn’t infect anyone else.”

Klobuchar’s said her husband began feeling sick with what felt like a cold about 12 days ago and immediately quarantined himself inside their apartment. Bessler stayed put until he started coughing up blood and was hospitalized, she said.

Klobuchar said she hasn’t been tested because she had not come into contact with her husband in the last 14 days and hasn’t shown any symptoms.

“Why would I get a test when other people who are getting sick aren’t getting tests? That’s how I approached it, I’m going to be treated like everyone else,” she said. “I think that’s what everyone has to do right now.”

7:44 a.m. FEMA ‘absolutely ready’ to use Defense Production Act

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor said Tuesday the agency is “absolutely ready” to use the Defense Production Act, as health care workers across the nation sound the alarm over dwindling supplies needed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week invoking the 1950 wartime law, which 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.

“We just want to be careful that we don’t do anything to put it out of balance and counter some other positive efforts that we see,” Gaynor told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

“We will use it, I have no doubt about it,” Gaynor added. “But right now we’re focused on getting those critical items to those states most in need. What I say to all governors out there, if you find a source, go buy it. FEMA will reimburse you.”

Stephanopoulos argued that governors are actually calling on the federal government to use the Defense Production Act now because states are competing with each other for supplies. Gaynor said they are “ready to take action on all of that” but are also “trying to keep the system in balance.”

“We don’t want the federal government scooping up everything,” Gaynor added. “We want to make sure that there’s enough capacity that governors and mayors around the country can order on their own, so it’s a delicate balance.”

“What the governors are saying is that the federal government should scoop it up and distribute it to the states,” Stephanopoulos responded, “and by forcing them to compete with each other, it’s driving the price and hurting their ability to get what they need.”
 
“We’re trying to identify sources around the globe. If it’s in China, we’re ready to fly it back to the United States today,” Gaynor said. “Again, we’re focused on making sure that those governors that are most critical in need, no matter where it comes from, the federal government or another source directly, we are enabling that today.”

7:28 a.m. Spain reports over 500 deaths in past 24 hours

Spain’s health ministry on Tuesday reported 514 deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

The country’s death toll from the COVID-19 virus is now at 2,696. Spain has the third-highest number of recorded deaths in the outbreak, following China and Italy.

With nearly 40,000 diagnosed cases, Spain is behind the United States and Italy in the highest national total outside China.

6:14 a.m. U.S. Senate on the cusp of a stimulus deal

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they are “very close” to an agreement on a massive stimulus package to save the national economy from the detrimental impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

After emerging from a series of late-night meetings on Capitol Hill, Mnuchin and Schumer told reporters around midnight that they hope to come to a final agreement on the nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package by Tuesday morning.

“We expect to have an agreement tomorrow morning,” Schumer said. “We still have a few little differences, but neither one of us expect it will get in the way of a final agreement. Secretary Mnuchin called the president and he told them we were very, very close to the agreement.”

Schumer said the Senate will “hopefully” vote on the legislation Tuesday evening.

Mnuchin told reporters he had spoken with U.S. President Donald Trump a number of times, updating him on the progress.

“Today we’ve been working incredibly hard, both sides have been working around the clock,” Mnuchin said. “There are still documents that are going to be reviewed tonight and turned around, there’s still a couple of open issues, but I think we’re very hopeful that this can be closed out tomorrow.”

5:37 a.m. Thailand decrees state of emergency to control coronavirus

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Tuesday that his cabinet has agreed to declare a state of emergency to implement stricter measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The one-month state of emergency, which takes effect Thursday, will give Thailand’s government enforcement powers that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

There were just under 900 diagnosed cases of the virus in the Southeast Asian country as of Tuesday afternoon local time.

5:10 a.m. Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Finnish president tests positive

Martti Ahtisaari, a Nobel laureate and former Finnish president, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The office of Finland’s current president, Saul Niinisto, said in a press release Tuesday that Ahtisaari, 82, was diagnosed with the virus on Monday and that he was “doing well under the circumstances.” His wife also tested positive just three days earlier.

Ahtisaari, a United Nations diplomat and mediator who was awarded the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve international conflicts, served as Finland’s head of state for one six-year term from 1994 until 2000.

3:43 a.m. Hawaii governor issues statewide stay-at-home order

Hawaii residents will soon join the millions of other Americans who are being ordered to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a proclamation on Monday night, ordering the entire state to stay at home and work from home, starting Wednesday after midnight and lasting through the end of April. Essential workers are exempt.

“The threat of COVID-19 is unprecedented and requires aggressive action,” Ige said in a statement. “I have been in discussions with our county mayors who are developing their own plans to meet the unique needs of their counties. We also agree that a statewide order is necessary for cohesion and consistency.”

Residents can leave their homes for various needs, including to seek healthcare, purchase food, take care of the elderly, minors and those with disabilities, and to exercise outdoors.

Those who do not comply with the order could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or a jail sentence of up to one year behind bars, or both.

At least 21 U.S. states have implemented or announced statewide closures of non-essential businesses.

2:52 a.m. China to lift lockdown on Wuhan on April 8

Chinese authorities plan to lift the draconian travel restrictions imposed on the city of Wuhan next month.

The city, in China’s central Hubei province, was placed under lockdown on Jan. 23 as thousands of residents became infected with the novel coronavirus before it spread to other parts of the world.

The Hubei provincial government announced Tuesday that those control measures will be lifted on April 8 and cleared residents will finally be allowed to leave the city. Those who wish to enter the city will also need clearance, according to a statement from the provincial government.

Officials have already begun to slowly relax some of the strict measures put in place in Wuhan. Road checkpoints are being removed and some private vehicles have returned to the streets. The city’s subway system remains shut down but has begun trial runs as workers disinfect the subway trains and stations in preparation for the restoration of public transport.

After several consecutive days without any local transmission of the virus, Wuhan reported one new case of confirmed infection on Monday, according to China’s National Health Commission.

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