(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 36,000 people across the globe.
The new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19, has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica since first emerging in China in December. There are now more than 766,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. At least 160,000 of those patients have recovered from the disease.
With more than 153,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, the United States has by far the highest national tally in the world. At least 2,828 people have died in the U.S.
Today’s biggest developments:
-FDA gives anti-malaria drugs emergency approval to treat COVID-19
-Tokyo Olympics will open in July 2021
-Navy hospital ship arrives in New York
-Nearly 200 aboard Florida-bound cruise report flu-like symptoms
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
2:30 p.m.: Arrest warrant issued for pastor who held services despite ‘safer at home’ order
An arrest warrant has been issued for a Florida pastor who allegedly held two large services on Sunday despite a “safer at home order” issued in the state.
Tampa-area pastor Rodney Howard-Browne “intentionally and repeatedly chose to disregard the order set in place by our president, our governor, the CDC, and the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a news conference Monday.
The warrant is for unlawful assembly in violation of a public health emergency order.
Chronister said the pastor’s “reckless disregard for human life put hundreds” of congregants and thousands of residents at risk.
Since Friday, the sheriff’s office was in contact with The River at Tampa Bay Church and received an anonymous tip that Howard-Browne refused the request to stop large gatherings, the sheriff said.
Officers went to the church to speak with Howard-Browne, but according to the sheriff, the pastor would not speak with them. Attorneys for the church told the sheriff’s office that they refused to cancel services, according to Chronister.
The church could have opted for livestream services, but instead disobeyed the “stay-at-home” order and even provided bus transportation for parishioners, the sheriff said.
Howard-Browne told congregants Sunday, “I know they’re trying to beat me up about having the church operational, but we are not a nonessential service.”
Howard-Browne was expected to turn himself in on Monday, the sheriff said.
2 p.m.: Maryland governor worried pandemic will soon escalate in DC area
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is warning that medical experts say the coronavirus pandemic could escalate within two weeks in the Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland region, where it could resemble the current level of cases in New York City.
Hogan issued a “stay-at-home” executive order on Monday that directs state residents to stay at home unless they have an essential job, need to leave buy food or medicine, or get medical attention.
The governor warned that violators would be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.
He also said that residents should not travel out of state unless absolutely necessary.
Maryland has now surpassed 1,400 cases of COVID-19.
A stay-at-home order was also issued Monday in Virginia where at least 25 people have died.
1:30 p.m.: Over 1,000 dead in New York State
At least 1,218 have died from coronavirus in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
“We’ve lost over 1,000 New Yorkers. To me we’re beyond staggering already,” Cuomo said. “The only point now is do everything you can to save every life possible.”
Only one county in New York State has no diagnosed COVID-19 cases, Cuomo said.
Over 66,000 people have tested positive in the state, including 9,500 patients in hospitals, Cuomo said. Of those in hospitals, 2,300 people are in intensive care units.
Over 4,200 people have been hospitalized and discharged, he said.
New York City still has too much density, Cuomo said, threatening to close down playgrounds if people do not stay inside or maintain effective social distancing while going outside for fresh air.
12:40 p.m.: Cruise lines extend suspensions
After the coronavirus outbreak quarantined thousands of passengers on massive cruise liners, Carnival Cruise Line said Monday it will continue to suspend operations in North America through May 11.
Holland America, a subsidiary of Carnival, said it will extend its suspension of global ship operations through May 14.
Royal Caribbean has currently suspended global operations through May 11 and Princess Cruise Line has suspended trips until at least May 10.
Norwegian Cruise Line currently plans to lift its suspension on April 12.
12:26 p.m.: Italy now has over 100,000 reported cases
Italy — by far the hardest-hit when it comes to fatalities — has now reached 101,739 total coronavirus cases, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency.
As of Monday, 11,591 people in Italy have died, officials said
But Italy — which went on a country-wide lockdown on March 9 — is seeing some positive news as the total number of active infected patients rose by only 2.2% over the last 24 hours. There were 1,648 new cases in the last day, as opposed to 3,815 from the day before.
Also, the number of patients reported as having recovered from the illness as of Monday is the highest daily total reported so far with 1,590 no longer infected.
11:50 a.m.: USNS Comfort arrives in New York
The USNS Comfort hospital ship arrived in the harbor of hard-hit New York City Monday morning.
The ship will treat non-coronavirus patients on board to try to lighten the burden on the city’s hospitals where doctors are focusing on combating the pandemic.
At least 776 people have died in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the ship’s arrival a “major moment in this long battle.”
“Our nation has heard our plea for help,” he said. “There could not be a better example of all of America pulling for New York City than the arrival of the USNS Comfort.
The mayor called the ship a “big boost” in the city’s need to triple hospital bed capacity by May.
To all New Yorkers, the mayor said, “We are not alone. Our nation is helping us in our hour of need.”
As the death toll climbs in New York, the mayor warned, “the toughest weeks are still ahead.”
Another hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, has opened for business in the port of Los Angeles, where it’ll be treating non-coronavirus patients on board.
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