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    Bracing the nation for a death toll that could exceed 100,000 people, President Donald Trump on Sunday extended restrictive social distancing guidelines through April, bowing to public-health experts who presented him with even more dire projections for the expanding coronavirus pandemic. It was a stark shift in tone by the president, who only days ago mused about the country reopening in a few weeks. From the Rose Garden, he said his Easter revival hopes had only been “aspirational.” The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. He instead decided to extend them through April 30, a tacit acknowledgment he'd been too optimistic. Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings. Trump's impulse to reopen the country met a sober reality check Sunday from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, who said the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic. That warning hardened a recognition in Washington that the struggle against the coronavirus will not be resolved quickly even as Trump expressed a longing for normalcy. “I want our life back again,” the president told reporters. Trump, who has largely avoided talk of potential death and infection rates, cited projection models that said potentially 2.2 million people or more could have died had social distancing measures not been put in place. And he said the country would be doing well if it 'can hold' the number of deaths “down to 100,000.' He said the best case for the country would be for the death rate to peak in about two weeks. 'It's a horrible number,' Trump said, but added, “We all together have done a very good job.” Brought forward by Trump at the outdoor briefing, Fauci said his projection of a potential 100,000 to 200,000 deaths is “entirely conceivable' if not enough is done to mitigate the crisis. He said that helped shape the extension of the guidelines, which he called “a wise and prudent decision.” Americans are now being called on to prepare for another 30 days of severe economic and social disruption, as schools and businesses are closed and public life is upended. One in 3 Americans remain under state or local government orders to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus. Trump acknowledged that he may be forced to extend the guidelines again at the end of April, but expressed hope that by June 1, 'we should be well on our way to recovery.” The federal guidelines recommend against group gatherings larger than 10 and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay home. People are urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips. For more than a week, Trump had been bombarded by calls from outside business leaders who urged him to begin re-opening the nation's economy and warned of catastrophic consequences that could damage his re-election chances if it remained shuttered for much longer. “The president is right. The cure can't be worse than the disease, and we're going to have to make some difficult trade-offs,' Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow had said last Monday, reflecting the thinking of his economic team. That talk alarmed health experts, who urged Trump to keep encouraging people to stay home. The virus was still spreading, with the peak still weeks away, the experts warned. In the end, Trump, in the face of dire projections and increasingly alarming images out of New York, sided with his health experts and backed off the idea of loosening recommended restrictions on less impacted parts of the country. 'They're the best in the profession and they didn't like that idea,” he said of Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force. Trump was clearly moved by the scenes from New York, particularly hard-hit Elmhurst Hospital in his native Queens. “I've been watching that for the last week on television,' he said. ”Body bags all over, in hallways. I've been watching them bring in trailer trucks — freezer trucks, they're freezer trucks, because they can't handle the bodies, there are so many of them. This is essentially in my community, in Queens, Queens, New York,' he continued. “I've seen things that I've never seen before.” Phasing out the recommendations would have been a symbolic nod to business and an affront to public health experts, but may have had little practical impact. States across the country already have their own restrictions in place that, in many cases, are far stricter than the administration's, and those would have remained in place. Birx and Fauci said even those areas yet to face a significant outbreak must prepare for the eventuality that they will. “This can happen anywhere,' Fauci said. 'And that's really one of the issues that we're concerned about and why we were so reluctant to pull back at a time when we need to put our foot on the gas as opposed to on the brake.” The U.S. had more than 139,000 COVID-19 cases reported by Sunday evening, with more than 2,400 deaths. During the course of the Rose Garden briefing, reported deaths grew by several dozen and the number of cases by several thousand. Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. Hospitals in the most afflicted areas are straining to handle patients and some are short of critical supplies. Fauci's prediction would take the death toll well past that of the average seasonal flu. Trump repeatedly cited the flu's comparatively much higher cost in lives in playing down the severity of this pandemic. Trump's change in tone was previewed Saturday, when the president suggested then backed away from instituting an “enforceable” quarantine of hard-hit New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Instead, the White House task force recommended a travel advisory for residents of those states to limit non-essential travel to slow the spread of the virus to other parts of the U.S. The quarantine notion was strongly opposed by the governors of those states, who argued it would cause panic. Even as he opted against the quarantine, Trump on Sunday suggested without evidence that hospitals and hospital systems were “hoarding” ventilators and other medical supplies that were needed in other areas of the state. He also encouraged the Food and Drug Administration to streamline approvals for companies seeking to sanitize badly needed respirators so they can be reused. For weeks, Trump minimized the gravity of the pandemic, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday accused Trump of “denial” in the crisis and called it “deadly.' Asked whether she believes that attitude cost American lives, Pelosi told CNN: “Yes, I am. I'm saying that.' Former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, said he wouldn't go so far as to lay the blame for deaths on the president. “I think that's a little too harsh,' he told NBC.
  • White House candidates aren't usually bashful about asking supporters for money. But as the coronavirus upends everyday life, inundating hospitals, tanking financial markets and putting 3.3 million Americans out of work, President Donald Trump and his likely Democratic rival, Joe Biden, suddenly find themselves navigating perilous terrain. What used to be a routine request for political cash could now come across as tone-deaf or tacky. The two also run the risk of competing for limited dollars with charities trying to raise money for pandemic relief. With a recession potentially on the horizon, there's a question of whether wealthy donors are in a giving mood and whether grassroots supporters who chip in small amounts will still have the wherewithal to keep at it. That presents a delicate challenge as both candidates try to stockpile the massive amounts of cash needed for the general election campaign. “It’s hard to have a conversation with someone right now to ask how they’re getting by, and then ask them for financial support in the next sentence,” said Greg Goddard, a Democratic fundraiser who worked for Amy Klobuchar's presidential campaign before the Minnesota senator dropped out of the Democratic race. To Tim Lim, a Democratic consultant who worked for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, “it's a world where no one has a good answer.'' He said that ”on the fundraising side, we are going to take some massive hits as a party.' The task is particularly acute for Biden. The former vice president is trying to pivot from the primary to the general election in a race essentially frozen by the virus. He lacks Trump's reelection cash reserves, which were built up over the past three years of his presidency. Biden also has yet to clinch the nomination and won't be able to do so until postponed primary contests are held in the months ahead. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, his sole remaining 2020 rival, has given no indication that he will back out, despite Biden's virtually insurmountable lead in the delegate race. The pandemic has put all big-dollar fundraisers on hold, like all in-person political events. That's forced Trump and Biden, for now, to rely on online fundraising. Biden is holding virtual fundraisers via video conferences. But they lack the exclusivity and tactile nature of an in-person event, where donors can network, see and be seen. Biden and Trump continue to send out fundraising emails and texts. “It isn't easy for me to ask you for money today,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a fundraising email Thursday, seeking contributions as low as $5. “There are so many deserving charities and small businesses in your community where your money makes a huge difference right now. And of course, your own needs and the needs of your family take precedence.” But, she continued, 'we have to keep fundraising because we have to keep campaigning. And we have to keep campaigning because it's the only way we can defeat Trump in November.” Trump repeatedly played down the threat posed by the virus in the early days of the outbreak, and his campaign was no exception. It blasted out fundraising texts with familiar themes, such as attacking Biden, Sanders and the media. The campaign enticed donors by offering Trump-themed items, including a set of shamrock whiskey glasses offered up in exchange for a $35 contribution around St. Patrick's Day. But in a March 12 message, his campaign also texted supporters a “coronavirus update,” which reflected Trump's newfound concern over the virus and did not include a request for money. “The safety, security, and health of the American People is President Trump's top priority right now,” the message said. It also urged supporters to visit the U.S government's coronavirus website to “learn ways to keep you, your family, and your community safe.” His campaign has since returned to form, and one recent text excoriated former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whom Trump nicknamed “Mini Mike,” for using a provision in campaign finance law to transfer $18 million leftover from his abandoned presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee. Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany didn't respond to a request for comment. On Saturday, the Biden and Trump campaigns sent out multiple fundraising requests over email and text. Biden asked for $5 while suggesting that Trump's early minimizing of the virus means it 'will hit all of us harder than it otherwise might have, and it will take us longer to recover.' Trump sent out an email with the subject line: “LET'S CRUSH IT.' The email asked supporters to “keep America great” and suggested that donations would help block “radical SOCIALISTS like Crazy Bernie or Quid Pro Joe gain an ounce of momentum.” Sanders has earned praise for turning to his army of small-dollar donors to raise $3.5 million for virus relief instead of his campaign. The senator, whose campaign is fueled by grassroots online donors, has stopped sending out fundraising emails. 'Right now my focus is on this extraordinary crisis,” Sanders told The Associated Press on Wednesday, after declining to discuss the future of his campaign. Bloomberg also shelved plans to leverage his billions of dollars of personal wealth to run an outside group aimed at preventing Trump's reelection. Instead, he recently promoted a $40 million philanthropic effort aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus. While the virus has disrupted many facets of life, Democratic fundraisers are optimistic that a degree of normalcy will return eventually. That will be a benefit to Biden. Trump, as the incumbent, controls the Republican National Committee, giving him a major fundraising edge Biden lacks because he is not the nominee. Fundraising committees controlled by political parties can take in massive sums for candidates, such as Trump, with whom they have entered into joint agreements. The DNC does not yet have a similar arrangement with Biden. His supporters are laying the groundwork for when it does. “People like me are quietly reaching out to the bigger donors to let them know we are about to enter the next phase,' said Steve Westly, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. “There’s not a lot of fundraising going on right now, but the big picture is we're getting near the time when the DNC will be involved and there will be much higher limits.” Many Democrats also think Trump's handling of the crisis will be a clarifying moment and they predicted an outpouring of donations once the campaign resumes. “We are in a life or death situation, and people like the idea of a competent president, like Joe Biden,” said Mathew Littman, a former Biden speechwriter who is the executive director of Win the West, a pro-Biden super PAC that is focusing on Western states. Still, Littman acknowledged that for at least the time being, fundraising might be a little slow. “Not everybody is going to be able to donate to a super PAC, that’s for sure,” he said. ___ Associated Press writer Will Weissert contributed to this report. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • A gun rights group is cheering the Trump administration's designation of the firearms industry, including retailers, as part of the nation's critical infrastructure during the coronavirus emergency. The designation by the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is advisory. The agency notes that the designation does not override determinations by individual jurisdictions of what they consider critical infrastructure sectors. The firearms industry was not part of the federal agency's original list of critical infrastructure issued just over a week ago. The designation in an update released Saturday follows a brewing legal battle between gun rights groups and California officials. The group Gun Owners of America says in a statement Saturday that it is encouraged that the Trump administration is not ignoring what it calls 'the ability to protect yourself' during the emergency stemming from the pandemic. Gun rights groups filed suit last Friday after the Los Angeles County sheriff closed gun stores in the wake of California Gov. Gavin Newsom saying that each of the state's 58 counties could decide for themselves whether to list firearms dealers as nonessential businesses that should be subject to closure while the state seeks to limit the spread of the virus. The lawsuit claims that the designation violates the Second Amendment, but officials cite a public health issue.
  • Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn was stubborn as a mule and conservative to his core. But the Oklahoma family doctor, known for railing against federal earmarks, didn’t let political differences dictate whom he called friends — even if it didn’t sit well with some of his supporters. Coburn, who died early Saturday at age 72, joined the U.S. Senate the same year as President Barack Obama, and the pair became fast friends despite their contrasting ideologies. In Oklahoma, where Obama failed to carry a single county in his 2008 presidential bid, voters took note. But the Republican senator shrugged off complaints in 2009, when the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman, ran a front-page photograph that showed him hugging Obama after the Democratic president gave a speech to a joint session of Congress. “I’m not aligned with him politically. I don’t know what people back home in Oklahoma would be worried about,” Coburn, who was re-elected the following year, said at the time. 'But you need to separate the difference in political philosophy versus friendship. How better to influence somebody than love them?' Coburn's death was confirmed to The Associated Press by cousin Bob Coburn. He did not provide a cause of death, but Tom Coburn had been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer for years. Coburn earned a reputation as a conservative political maverick in Congress. He also delivered more than 4,000 babies while an obstetrician and family doctor in Muskogee, where he treated patients for free while in the Senate. Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford called Coburn “an inspiration to many.' “He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds,” Lankford said in a statement. Known for bluntly speaking his mind, Coburn frequently criticized the growth of the federal deficit and what he said was excessive government spending endorsed by politicians from both political parties. 'I've got a flat forehead from beating my head against the wall,' he told voters in July 2010. First elected to the U.S. House during the so-called Republican Revolution in 1994, Coburn fiercely criticized the use of federal money for special state projects and was among the few members of Congress who refused to seek such earmarks for their home states. He represented northeastern Oklahoma for three terms, keeping a pledge in 2000 not to seek re-election. He returned to his medical practice in Muskogee before asking voters to send him back to Washington in 2004, this time to the Senate, so he could fight big spenders and ensure 'that our children and grandchildren have a future.' Coburn was re-elected in 2010, but left his second term early, in January 2015, after he was diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer. He said he was convinced he could 'best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere.” In the Senate, Coburn released a series of oversight reports detailing what he described as wasteful government spending. A 37-page report in 2011, dubbed “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous,” detailed nearly $30 billion spent annually in government subsidies, tax breaks and federal grant programs to millionaires. “From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous,' Coburn wrote in the report. A joint report issued in August 2010 by Coburn and Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died in 2018, criticized stimulus spending, including $1.9 million for international ant research and $39.7 million to upgrade the Statehouse and political offices in Topeka, Kansas. Coburn’s stubbornness and thwarting of legislation considered worthy by Democrats frustrated then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “You cannot negotiate with Coburn,” Reid, a Democrat, declared in 2008. “It’s just something you learn over the years is a waste of time.” During debate over the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011, Coburn was part of a bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators who supported an alternative plan to cut the deficit by almost $4 trillion over the next decade through budget cuts and increased revenue through changes to the tax code. After leaving the Senate, Coburn continued to crusade against taxes, criticizing the Oklahoma Legislature when it passed increases in 2018 to shore up the state budget. A group led by Coburn attempted to launch a petition drive to overturn the tax hikes, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Born in Casper, Wyoming, on March 14, 1948, Coburn grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma. After graduating from Oklahoma State University, he went to work at his family’s business in Virginia, Ophthalmic Division of Coburn Opticals, from 1970 to 1978. He later attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma. By the time he jumped into politics — a decision he said was based on runaway government spending and his distaste for career politicians — he was married to his wife, Carolyn, with three children and had established a successful medical practice. Coburn had several health scares during his time in office. He was treated for malignant melanoma in 1975, and in 2011, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer. Health woes didn’t seem to damper his contentious attitude. After revealing in 2003 that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy, he told a Tulsa World reporter: “You should be writing about Medicaid and Medicare instead of my health.” ___ Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report. ___ This story has been corrected to reflect that Coburn left the Senate in early 2015.
  • In tiny Munfordville, Kentucky, the closure of the public library has cut people off from a computer used only for filling out census forms online. In Minneapolis, a concert promoting the once-a-decade count is now virtual. In Orlando, Florida, advocates called off knocking on doors in a neighborhood filled with new residents from Puerto Rico. Across the U.S., the coronavirus has waylaid efforts to get as many people as possible to participate in the count, which determines how much federal money goes to communities. The outbreak and subsequent orders by states and cities to stay home and avoid other people came just as the census ramped up for most Americans two weeks ago. Thousands of advocates, officials and others who spent years planning for the U.S. government's largest peacetime mobilization are scrambling to come up with contingency plans for pulling it off amid a pandemic. “Right now, everybody is faced with figuring out how to outreach to our communities not being face to face,” said Jennifer Chau, leader of a coalition of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander organizations in Phoenix that passed out 300 reusable boba tea cartons in January to anyone who signed a card pledging to complete their census form. Nonprofits and civic organizations leading census outreach efforts are pivoting to digital strategies. Texting campaigns, webinars, social media and phone calls are replacing door-knocking, rallies and face-to-face conversations. But it comes at a cost: Experts say connecting with trusted community leaders in person is the best way to reach people in hard-to-count groups that may be wary of the federal government. 'It's making it exponentially more difficult to get the kind of accurate count that is needed for this census. There's no sugarcoating it. It's really tough,' said Arturo Vargas, CEO of NALEO Educational Fund, a Latino advocacy group. “Thank goodness for technology. We wouldn't be able to do what we're doing without it.” Although the U.S. Census Bureau is spending $500 million on outreach efforts, including advertising, it's relying on more than 300,000 nonprofits, businesses, local governments and civic groups to encourage participation in their communities. The groups are recalibrating their messaging to address the upheaval in people's lives, including job losses and stay-at-home orders, and to focus on how census numbers help determine the distribution of federal aid or medical supplies their communities may get during the coronavirus crisis. The groups also are emphasizing that if people answer the questionnaire online, by phone or by mail now, they can avoid having a census taker sent to their house to ask them questions come late spring and summer. “We want people to understand that even though we have this health emergency going on, there's a connection to the census with how the distribution of funds to states is all going to rest on how many people there are in a community,” Minnesota's demographer Susan Brower said. The 2020 census will help determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of some $1.5 trillion in federal spending. The coronavirus has forced the U.S. Census Bureau to delay the start of tallies of homeless people and other transient populations such as racetrack workers, college students, prisoners and nursing home residents. It has pushed back the deadline for wrapping up the count by two weeks, to mid-August. “Of all of our worst nightmares of things that could have gone wrong with the census, we did not anticipate this set of actions,' said Al Fontenot of the Census Bureau. “But our staff has been extremely resilient about looking for solutions.' On the plus side, more people at home now have time to answer the questionnaire, and the deadline extension offers chances to reach out to more people, Brower said. In some places, outreach done well before the virus spread in the U.S. is paying off, but organizers aren't sure it will last. For the first week that people could start answering the 2020 questionnaire, New York City — which had dedicated $40 million to outreach efforts — was well ahead of its 2010 pace of self-responses. But now it's the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, including fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. More than 30% of U.S. residents already had answered the census questionnaire as of Friday. Most of the temporary census takers hired by the government won't be sent out until May to knock on the doors of homes where people haven't yet responded. 'We are trending much better than 10 years ago, even in this craziness,' said Sheena Wright, president and CEO of United Way of New York City. That's despite events meant to generate participation getting canceled or delayed. Pittsburgh had commissioned Jasmine Cho, who uses cookie decorating to highlight Asian American and social justice issues, to lead decorating workshops with a census theme. An October session drew almost 50 people and grabbed attention, but workshops planned for March and April were canceled. “I'm hopeful that under the current quarantine measures, that people will actually pay more attention to their census mailings and take the time to complete it,” Cho said. The self-described “cookie activist” and the city are in talks to make an online instructional video about census-themed cookie decorating. San Francisco was supposed to ring in Census Day on April 1 with one of its famous cable cars rolling through iconic neighborhoods, but that became a casualty of COVID-19. Money from a $3.5 million budget earmarked for food and venues for census form-filling parties and town halls in the Bay Area will now go toward video marketing and printed materials, according to Stephanie Kim of the United Way Bay Area. “It's been hard to have to pivot on all the activities and events they were planning for for a long time,” Kim said. “So many organizations had planned for big community get-togethers.” ___ Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP. Tang reported from Phoenix and is a member of The Associated Press’ race and ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ttangAP.
  • President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that the CDC was urging residents of the three states “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.” The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travelers from the heavily affected areas to their states. But it drew swift criticism from the leaders of the states in question, who warned it would spark panic in a populace already suffering under the virus. Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three states. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 'to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government.” He added: “A quarantine will not be necessary.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has criticized the federal government’s response as his state became the country's virus epicenter, said roping off states would amount to “a federal declaration of war.” Cuomo said the prospect of a quarantine didn't come up when he spoke with Trump earlier Saturday, adding that he believed it would be illegal, economically catastrophic, “preposterous” and shortsighted when other parts of the U.S. are seeing cases rise, too. “If you start walling off areas all across the country, it would be totally bizarre, counterproductive, anti-American, anti-social,” Cuomo told CNN. He added that locking down the nation’s financial capital would shock the stock market and “paralyze the economy” at a time when Trump has indicated he’s itching to get the economy back on track. Trump made his initial remarks while on a trip to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off a U.S. Navy hospital ship heading to New York City to help with the pandemic. At the event, he spoke to a sparse crowd at the naval base and cautioned Americans to take virus protections, even though he himself, at 73, is in a high-risk category and among those who have been advised to refrain from all non-essential travel. The federal government is empowered to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states, but it's not clear that means Trump can ban people from leaving their state. It has never been tested in the modern era — and in rare cases when any quarantine was challenged, the courts generally sided with public health officials. Courts have ruled consistently for years that the authority to order quarantines inside states rests almost entirely with the states, under provisions in the Constitution ceding power not explicitly delegated to the federal government to states. The federal government, though, would have power under constitutional clauses regulating commerce to quarantine international travelers or those traveling state to state who might be carriers of deadly diseases. Still, “it is entirely unprecedented that governors or the president would prevent people from traveling from one state to another during an infectious disease outbreak,' said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University law professor and public health specialist who questioned Trump's ability to order a quarantine on states. But as Trump traveled to Norfolk, he tweeted: “I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE of developing “hot spots”, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly.” “A lot of the states that are infected but don’t have a big problem, they’ve asked me if I’ll look at it, so we’re going to look at it,” Trump said. When asked about legal authority for quarantine, the incoming White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said officials are “evaluating all the options right now.” Administration officials were discussing less-stringent measures as well. One idea under consideration would be to tell residents of the hard-hit areas to isolate themselves and not travel for two weeks, just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has instructed anyone who recently left New York to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to one person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing deliberations. The measure wouldn't necessarily come with any legal force or penalty, just the hope that people would comply in an effort to try to contain the virus spread. The governors of Florida, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas already have ordered people arriving from the New York area to self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival. In a more dramatic step, Rhode Island police have begun pulling over drivers with New York plates so that the National Guard can collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine. Trump said the idea of isolating many in the trio of Democratic strongholds in the Northeast was pushed by DeSantis, one of the president's most outspoken supporters. It came a day after Trump made clear he wanted governors to be grateful when asking for federal support for the pandemic. Trump said people “go to Florida and a lot of people don’t want that. So we’ll see what happens.' He later clarified it would not affect truckers or people transiting through, and would not affect trade. Florida is a perennial swing state, and one Trump must win come November — plus he recently moved his residence from New York to Florida. It also has a population of 21 million with a large percentage of old people, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. DeSantis confirmed he had spoken with the president about the possibility of a quarantine for the New York City area. Speaking Saturday to reporters, DeSantis said Florida will soon set up a checkpoint along Interstate 95 to screen travelers from that area, similar to one already in place along Interstate 10 to screen people from Louisiana. Many airports in Florida also are screening travelers from certain areas, requiring them to self-isolate for 14 days. The U.S. leads the world in reported cases with more than 121,000. There were roughly 2,000 deaths recorded by Saturday night, according to John Hopkins University. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Saturday night that he's been in communication with Trump and Pence and that their guidance “does not change the rules that have been established and in place for over a week now' in New Jersey. He said the frontline response effort, like health care and supermarket workers, are still needed. “I encourage all New Jerseyans to continue practicing aggressive social distancing and take personal responsibility to help us get through this public health emergency.” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, also a Democrat, said at a news conference that Trump’s words about a quarantine have created a “certain amount of confusion' and that 'confusion can lead to panic.” He said such a quarantine order would be “impossible to enforce given the spider web of roads' and that he hoped the White House would clarify what it wants. After speaking in Norfolk, Trump watched as the USS Comfort slowly made its way out of port. The 1,000-bed hospital ship had been undergoing planned maintenance, but was rushed back into service to aid the city. It is scheduled to arrive Monday at a Manhattan pier days after its sister ship, the USNS Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles to perform a similar duty on the West Coast. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover. ___ Long reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York City, Matt Perrone, Jill Colvin and Michael Balsamo in Washington, Michael Tarm in Chicago, Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, Curt Anderson in Miami and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
  • More than a fifth of Detroit's police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police. For the 2,200-person department, that has meant officers working doubles and swapping between units to fill patrols. And everyone has their temperature checked before they start work. An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection. “I don’t think it’s too far to say that officers are scared out there,” said Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association. Nearly 690 officers and civilian employees at police departments and sheriff’s offices around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an Associated Press survey this week of over 40 law enforcement agencies, mostly in major cities. The number of those in isolation as they await test results is far higher in many places. Anticipating shortages, police academies are accelerating coursework to provide reinforcements. Masks, gloves and huge volumes of hand sanitizer have been distributed. Roll call and staff meetings are happening outside, over the phone or online. Precinct offices, squad cars and equipment get deep cleaned in keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. Yet, many are worried it's not enough. This week, groups representing American police and fire chiefs, sheriffs, mayors and county leaders asked President Donald Trump in a letter to use the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to ensure they have enough protective gear. “We’re in war footing against an invisible enemy and we are on the verge of running out' of protective supplies, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “We’ve got hospitals calling police departments, police departments calling each other, and it’s time to nationalize in terms of our response.” Police are accustomed to meeting staffing crunches by canceling vacations and leave, putting officers on 12-hour on, 12-hour off schedules and, when necessary, by shifting detectives and other specialized personnel to patrol. And officers are used to risk. It's part of the job. But at a time when Americans are being advised to stay six feet from each other to combat an insidious virus that can live on surfaces for days, the perils and anxieties are new. This crisis is unlike any American police forces have dealt with before, said former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “We're in unprecedented territory here,” said Davis, who led the police department when the Boston Marathon bombing happened in 2013. Streets are less crowded as people hunker in their homes. But police must prepare for the possibility of civil unrest among people who become anxious or unhappy about government orders or hospitals that get overrun with patients, he said. In New York, which has rapidly become the American epicenter of the pandemic, more than 500 NYPD personnel have come down with COVID-19, including 442 officers, and the department's head of counter-terrorism was hospitalized with symptoms. Two NYPD employees have died. On a single day this week, Friday, 4,111 uniformed officers called in sick, more than 10% of the force and more than three times the daily average. Leadership at America’s largest police department maintains that it’s continuing enforcement as usual. But they’ve also said that if the disease continues to affect manpower the NYPD could switch patrol hours, or pull officers from specialized units and other parts of the city to fill gaps -- steps also taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. But the U.S. is now leading the world in the number of confirmed cases; more than 100,000. Over 1,700 people have died in the country. And doctors say cases are nowhere near peaking. Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, based in Washington, D.C., said police can't just go out of business. “They need to have ways so that if one person goes down, who’s going to back that person up, so departments are having to be innovative,” he said. In big cities and remote areas alike, officers are being told to issue tickets or summons rather than making arrests for minor crimes. More crime reports are being taken by phone or online. These steps to limit exposure come as police must beef up patrols in shuttered business districts and manage spikes in domestic violence. In Detroit, officials say many of those quarantined should return to duty soon. In the meantime, an assistant chief recently released from quarantine is heading up day-to-day operations while Chief James Craig is out. Many officers are also worried about whether they'll be able to draw workers compensation benefits if they get sick, since the coronavirus is not spelled out in the list of covered conditions. “No one really knows,” said Robert Jenkins, president of the Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police union, which covers 22,000 officers. “Unfortunately, we have to be out there. We don’t have a choice.” While the pandemic has so far hit American cities hardest, rural law enforcement agencies with few staff are in some ways most vulnerable. In the tiny West Texas community of Marfa, Police Chief Estevan Marquez instructed his four officers not to pull over cars for minor traffic infractions, especially if they're passing through from areas already hit by the virus. He can't afford for anyone to get sick. ___ Bleiberg reported from Dallas. Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston; Colleen Slevin in Denver; Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia; Colleen Long in Washington; Dave Collins in Glastonbury, Connecticut; David Sharp in Portland, Maine; Don Babwin in Chicago; Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix; Julie Watson in San Diego; Michael Schneider in Orlando; Mike Sisak in New York and Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles contributed to this report. ___ Follow Jake Bleiberg at www.twitter.com/jzbleiberg
  • For many in the public health and political worlds, Dr. Deborah Birx is the sober scientist advising an unpredictable president. She's the data whisperer who will help steer President Donald Trump as he ponders how quickly to restart an economy that's ground to a halt in the coronavirus pandemic. Others worry that Birx, who stepped away from her job as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator to help lead the White House coronavirus response, may be offering Trump cover to follow some of his worst instincts as he considers whether to have people packing the pews by Easter Sunday. In coming days, immunologist Birx will be front and center in that debate along with the U.S. government's foremost infection disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as Vice President Mike Pence. Birx will bring to the discussion what she fondly refers to as her sheet music — data on testing, mortality, demographics and much more. “What the president has asked us to do is to assemble all the data and give him our best medical recommendation based on all the data,” Birx told reporters. “This is consistent with our mandate to really use every piece of information that we can in order to give the president our opinion that’s backed up by data.” But will Trump listen? The president has sent mixed messages on that. He plans to meet with the two doctors and Pence on Monday to review the latest data on the spread of the disease. His administration's original 15-day guidelines promoting social distancing expire Tuesday. Over a matter of weeks, Trump has veered from playing down the virus threat to warning Americans it could be summer before the pandemic is under control. And in more recent days, he's talked eagerly about having parts of the country raring back by Easter in two weeks. As the president’s message has vacillated, Birx has emerged as one of the most important voices laying out the administration’s pandemic response. She has a way of spelling out the implications of the virus to Americans in personal terms while offering reassurances that the administration is approaching the pandemic with a data-driven mindset. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who helped shepherd Birx’s ambassadorial nomination through the Senate in the Obama administration, said it’s like Birx and Fauci have become a tag team for science in the midst of calamity. “I can’t imagine how complicated it is to have a boss –- if you will — who insists on saying things on a regular basis that are just not true and aren’t based on any science,” Sebelius said. In her public comments, Birx has taken pains to avoid publicly contradicting Trump when he’s offered some decidedly unscientific riffs, unlike Fauci, a professional mentor, who has been known to push back pointedly. Instead, her messaging has toggled between providing digestible interpretations of what the data is saying about the spread of the virus and offering relatable pleas to the American public to practice social distancing to help stem the disease. In recent days, Birx has received praise from Trump backers and pushback from some fellow scientists after she minimized what she called “very scary” statistical modeling by some infectious disease experts. One study, published this month by Harvard University epidemiologists, found that the need to maintain social distancing remains crucial in the weeks ahead to prevent the American healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed by new cases. “The scenario Dr. Birx is ‘assuring’ us about is one in which we somehow escape Italy's problem of overloaded healthcare system despite the fact that social distancing is not really happening in large parts of the US,” Marc Lipsitch, a co-author of the study, wrote on Twitter. Birx also has drawn criticism for asserting that there are still beds in intensive care units and a “significant” number of ventilators available in hospitals around New York City -- the area hardest hit by virus. That message doesn't jibe with the dire warnings of city hospital workers, who in recent days have said they're ill-equipped and in danger of being overwhelmed by patients stricken with the virus. Birx’s friends and colleagues say she is one of the adults in the room who is providing the president with clear-headed advice and giving Americans the information they need to stay safe. “She’s a tough cookie,” said Michael Weinstein, who heads the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and got to know Birx professionally after she was named the global AIDS coordinator in 2014. “She’s 100% about the data.” In the sea of men in dark suits who have been appearing with Trump for daily briefings, the 63-year-old mother of two with a fondness for colorful scarves stands out. Her seemingly endless scarf collection was even fodder for comedian Paula Poundstone recently on the NPR quiz show “Wait Wait...Don’t tell me!” Birx’s resume is impressive: She is a U.S. Army physician and recognized AIDS researcher who rose to the rank of colonel, head of the global AIDS program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a rare Obama administration holdover as the State Department’s ambassador-at-large leading a U.S. taxpayer-funded worldwide campaign to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Birx has also developed a reputation as a tough boss. Some who fall under her watch at the global effort known as PEPFAR have complained that the leadership of her office has been“dictatorial' and “autocratic,” according to a State Department Office of Inspector General audit released earlier this year. “She has somewhat of a reputation of being a hard task-master,” said John Auerbach, head of the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health.. “She is incredibly hard-working, someone who was driven and would drive other people to work really hard and to do their best work.” Birx has also been perhaps the most outspoken in calling for Americans to be mindful in how they are interacting with others. And she’s made the case in personal terms. The doctor says she’s avoided visiting with her young grandchildren as she practices social distancing, and she's spoken in admiring tones of her two millennial daughters when making the case that younger Americans’ actions will play a key role in determining how quickly the country can contain the virus. She also has spoken of her grandmother living with a lifetime of guilt, because she caught the flu at school as a girl and, in turn, infected her mother — one of an estimated 50 million people worldwide who died in the 1918 influenza epidemic. “She never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently bought that flu home,” Birx said of her grandmother. Birx, who declined to be interviewed for this article, told a Christian TV network popular with Trump’s evangelical base that she’s confident that the president is, like her, a student of data. “He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data,” Birx told CBN. “I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues because in the end, data is data.”
  • Republicans who have spent the past decade howling about the danger of ballooning deficits embraced the coronavirus rescue package approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, shrugging off past concerns about spending in the face of a public health crisis. In many cases, the conservatives who backed the $2 trillion bill — the largest economic relief measure in U.S. history — were the very same who raged against the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package backed by the Obama administration. But facing the unprecedented threat of a global pandemic — and working under a Republican president who has largely brushed off concerns about debt and deficits — the GOP was willing to overlook an unprecedented flood of taxpayer spending. Leading budget hawk Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who insisted in 2009 that government cannot spend its way out of a recession, this week joined a unanimous Senate majority that approved what he described as “the biggest government intervention in the economy in the history of the world.” “This is a response to an invasion,' he told reporters. “This is the kind of thing you’d have to do if we were at war.” Like other conservatives, he noted that much of the nation's current economic distress was caused by the government's social distancing orders, while the Obama stimulus was in response to a crisis created by the private sector. Failing to take dramatic action now, Toomey said, 'would be a wildly imprudent thing, and it would probably result in such a severe recession — it might very well be a depression — and it could take decades to come out of this.” Even before the health crisis struck, the Republican-aligned fiscal conservative movement had dramatically diminished under Trump, who has pushed the nation's budget deficit to heights not seen in nearly a decade. That's prompted arguments that the GOP is hypocritical when it comes to government spending. Mick Mulvaney, Trump's outgoing chief of staff and a former Republican congressman aligned with the tea party, told a private audience last month that the GOP only worries about deficits “when there is a Democrat in the White House,” according to a report in The Washington Post. For the first time in the modern era, Republicans are on record supporting direct cash payments to most American adults — a government-backed measure more likely to be found in socialist countries. While a 2008 stimulus package offered tax rebates to many taxpayers, the 2020 legislation offers all Americans making less than $100,000 grants of up to $1,200 each with an additional $500 for each child. Also in the bill: a massive expansion of unemployment benefits, $500 billion in loans to businesses and local governments, and tens of billions more for the airline industry, hospitals and food assistance. David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, Washington's preeminent fiscal conservative watchdog, which Toomey previously led, raised the possibility that the coronavirus package could push this year's budget deficit to $4 trillion. The largest annual deficit in U.S. history was $1.4 trillion in 2009. “The spending is just outrageously high,” McIntosh said in an interview. “But on the short-term basis, we’re pleased.” He opposed the direct payments to Americans but was satisfied that a significant portion of the taxpayer-funded package consists of loans likely to be repaid. He added that Congress rejected what he called the Democrats' list of unrelated “political goodies.' “Yes, it's too much, and we’re worried about overall spending, but we recognize something has to be done,” McIntosh said. “That’s the kind of comment I’m hearing from conservatives who would normally oppose big spending bills.” What remains of the tea party movement, which sprang up early in Barack Obama's presidency to oppose government spending, has largely been silent. One major exception: Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who upset congressional leaders — and Trump himself — on Friday by unsuccessfully trying to force a formal House vote on the historic legislation. Massie tweeted that the $2 trillion rescue package, in addition to $4 trillion in stimulus from the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department, would create roughly $17,000 in new debt for every American citizen. “Not a good deal,” he wrote. Trump, in a rare public rebuke of another Republican, punched back on Twitter: “Throw Massie out of the Republican Party.” The Congressional Budget Office reported weeks before the coronavirus outbreak that the national debt was already on track to reach nearly 100% of the gross domestic product in just 10 years. The current package, and a subsequent round of government intervention already being discussed, will substantially escalate that timeline. The budget office did not release specific projections on the fiscal impact of the legislation before it passed. Not including the rescue package, the current national debt exceeds $23.5 trillion, which is $3.5 trillion more than when Trump took office. The coronavirus spending surge will put heightened pressure on lawmakers to cut the social safety net in the coming year, including Social Security and Medicare. Trump and leading Democratic rival Joe Biden have both promised not to touch the popular entitlement programs, yet they consume a disproportionate share of government spending. “The future will be more painful,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Still, she added: “This is definitely not the time to worry about the deficit. This is the time to be borrowing as much as we need to deal with the huge health crisis.” Grover Norquist, one of Washington's most notorious fiscal hawks, praised a series of temporary deregulations in the legislation that he hopes might permanently eliminate bureaucracy controlling such things as medical professionals' ability to work in other states, the use of health savings accounts and liquor store deliveries. He predicted that the rescue package could actually lead to a “more open society with more freedom.' “There's no permanent damage,' Norquist said. “On balance, it seems to have been the best you could do under the circumstances.”
  • After days of desperate pleas from the nation’s governors, President Donald Trump took a round of steps to expand the federal government’s role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic even as he warned the leaders of hard-hit states not to cross him. “I want them to be appreciative,” Trump said Friday after the White House announced that he would be using the powers granted to him under the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to try to compel auto giant General Motors to produce ventilators. Yet Trump — who hours earlier had suggested the need for the devices was being overblown — rejected any criticism of the federal government's response to a ballooning public health crisis that a month ago he predicted would be over by now. “We have done a hell of a job,' Trump said, as he sent an ominous message to state and local leaders who have been urging the federal government to do more to help them save lives. Trump said he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to call the governors of Washington or Michigan — two coronavirus hotspots — because of their public criticism. “If they don’t treat you right, I don't call,” Trump said. The comments came after Trump unveiled a slew of executive actions to bolster states' capacities to respond to the pandemic, including authorizing Defense Secretary Mark Esper to call up an unspecified number of federal reservists to help with the coronavirus response. Friday's invocation “should demonstrate clearly to all that we will not hesitate to use the full authority of the federal government to combat this crisis,' Trump said. Trump had been saying for more than a week that he was reluctant to use the Defense Production Act — even after he invoked it — because companies were already doing what he wanted and he didn't need arm-twisting to make them comply. Yet Trump continued to suggest that states' own failures were to blame for the needed intervention. “Normally these would be bought for states, just so you understand,” he said. The nation's governors have been exerting growing pressure on the president to do more to bolster supplies, despite the perceived risks of speaking out. From New York to Washington, they have pleaded with him to use the DPA to force companies to manufacture critical equipment. And they have begged for help in obtaining supplies like masks and testing agents, saying that states have been forced to compete against one another as well as the federal government on the open market, driving up prices, even as federal officials have pledged their help if states fail. The notoriously thin-skinned Trump has not taken well to their criticism. Instead, he has lashed out at the governors, continued to diminish the risk posed by the virus and insisted that the federal government was only a “backup” as he looked to avoid political costs from a pandemic that has reshaped his presidency and tested his reelection plans. In a Thursday night interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump declared that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “should be doing more” and “shouldn't be relying on the federal government.” He dismissed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s requests for additional ventilators to keep patients alive, saying, “I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000” of the devices, which force air into the lungs of those too sick to breathe. And he said he was still weighing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's request for a disaster declaration, saying, “We've had a big problem with the young, a woman governor from, you know who I'm talking about, from Michigan.” “You know,' he added from the White House, 'we don't like to see the complaints.” On Saturday, however, the White House announced that Trump had approved Whitmer's request on Friday and ordered federal assistance be provided to Michigan. The administration's mantra, frequently articulated by Mike Pence, has long been that the fight against the virus must be “locally executed, state managed, and federally supported.” But Trump has show little public empathy for the states' predicament, with his emphasis skewed toward the 'locally executed' portion of that trifecta. Whitmer, in particular, has criticized the administration’s response to the pandemic –- including on national cable TV shows -- saying that the federal government should do more and that Michigan’s allotment of medical supplies from the national stockpile is meager. “It’s very distressing,” the Democratic governor told radio station WWJ. “I observed early on, like a lot of governors on both sides of the aisle, that the federal preparation was concerning. That apparently struck a nerve, and I’ve been uniquely singled out despite my voice not being the only one that observed that,' she said. “I don’t go into personal attacks. I don’t have time for that,” she said. 'I need partnership out of the federal government. We have to be all hands on deck here.” Cuomo has also been on the forefront, some days criticizing the administration's failure to act and at other times commending federal assistance. But the New York Democrat has remained clear that the state, which is now the epicenter of the crisis, needs many more ventilators than it has at the ready. 'That's what the data and the science said,” Cuomo said Friday as he defended his ask for additional ventilators and issued a new request to Washington for an additional 41,000 beds in temporary hospitals. “What is unclear to me is why the federal administration refuses to direct industries to manufacture critical PPE,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said Wednesday, referring to personal protective equipment. “I’m not exaggerating when I say this outrageous lack of action will result in lost lives. Including those of our health care workers.” “The governors have been very gracious, for the most part,' Trump said Friday. But he complained that, “There are a couple that aren't appreciative” of the “incredible job” he claimed to be doing, adding: 'They have to do a better job themselves, that's part of the problem.” Just a month ago, Trump was predicting the U.S. was days away from being “close to zero” coronavirus cases. Now, the country has more than 100,000 cases nationwide. The Friday order Trump signed on General Motors instructs his administration to explore forcing the company to accept and prioritize federal contracts to produce ventilators. He also sent a letter to Congress on Friday that said he had authorized Esper to order units and individual members of the Selected Reserve, as well as certain Individual Ready Reserve members, to active duty. They are separate from, and in addition to, National Guard members who have been mobilized by state governors. The reserve call-up likely is intended to fill gaps in medical expertise as the military deploys field hospitals to cities hard hit by COVID-19 and provides other forms of medical support to state and local authorities. Trump also named trade adviser Peter Navarro to lead the government's production effort. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority recover. ___ Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., Tom Krisher in Detroit, Andrew Selsky in Salem, Ore., and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Nearly 705,000 people worldwide – including more than 135,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. Live updates for Sunday, March 29, continue below: Insurers Cigna, Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs Update 11:18 p.m. EDT March 29: Two of the country’s largest health insurance companies said they will waive customers coronavirus treatment costs. Cigna and Humana said they would cover costs, including hospitalizations, ambulance transfers and co-pays, CNBC reported. “Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” David Cordani, Cigna president, said in a statement. “While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.” The waiver will also include medications and vaccines when they are available, CNBC reported. “We’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus,” Bruce Broussard, president of Humana said in a statement. Michigan Rep. Isaac Robinson dead from suspected coronavirus infection Update 10:44 p.m. EDT March 29: Michigan state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who represented part of Detroit, died from a suspected coronavirus infection. He went to the hospital Sunday morning after having trouble breathing the last couple days and died hours later, WXYZ reported. “He wouldn’t go to the hospital. I kept insisting the last three days. I kept saying, ‘You should go to the doctor, go to the hospital.’ Of course, he resisted,” his mother, Rose Mary Robinson, told Crain’s Detroit Business. “Tough guy.” Robinson, 44, had not been tested for the coronavirus, Crain’s reported. Robinson, a Democrat, was elected in 2018. He was serving his first term in the seat previously held by his mother, the Detroit Free Press reported. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered her condolences. “He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come,” Whitmer said on social media. “Rep. Robinson will be missed by many, including me. It was an honor to serve the people of Michigan alongside him.” There are more than 1,500 confirmed cases in Michigan, according to state health officials. Amazon workers plan strike at New York facility  Update 8:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walkout Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. First person in West Virginia dies from virus Update 7:39 p.m. EDT March 29: The first person in West Virginia has died from the coronavirus, health officials said Sunday. An 88-year-old woman from Marion County died, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a release. No other details were released. “We extend our sincere condolences to this family,” department Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a statement. West Virginia was the last U.S. state to report a confirmed case. Hawaii and Wyoming are the only states that have no reported coronavirus deaths. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Trump extends social distancing guidelines another 30 days Update 6:36 p.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the federal guidelines for isolating for an additional 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines were set to expire Monday. Health officials said the rollback would increase transmission of the virus. Trump said last week he hoped to have the country “reopened” by April 12. The Associated Press contributed to this report.  Musician John Prine hospitalized with virus symptoms, ‘critical’  Update 5:49 p.m. EDT March 29: Musician John Prine is hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus. He was taken to a hospital Thursday and was intubated Saturday, the Prine family said on social media. “His situation is critical,” the Prine family said in a statement. “This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now.” Resident at Maryland nursing home dies from virus Update 5:36 p.m. EDT March 29: A resident at a Maryland nursing home where an outbreak of the coronavirus infected 66 people has died. The 90-year-old man was a resident at Pleasant View Nursing Home. He died Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Health officials said Sunday that the number of cases has not changed. There are still 66 residents who have tested positive and 11 who were hospitalized. The nursing home is seeing staff shortages, as employees are not coming into work. No staff member has tested positive. Country music star Joe Diffie dies from complications caused by virus Update 4:39 p.m. EDT March 29: Oklahoma-born country music star Joe Diffie died Sunday from coronavirus-related issues, according to his Facebook page. His family has asked for privacy at this time. Worldwide cases top 700,000; US cases at 135,000 Update 3:29 p.m. EDT March 29: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus topped 710,000 Sunday, according to the Coronavirus Resources Center at Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases in the United States has now passed 135,000, the website reported. The total number of cases passed 705,000 worldwide, and more than 33,000 people have died from COVID-19. according to the Resources Center. Sunday morning, the World Health Organization reported 638,146 confirmed cases across 203 countries, with 30,105 deaths. Moscow mayor issues quarantine order Update 2:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Moscow’s mayor issued a citywide quarantine starting that will begin Monday, The Washington Post reported. The stay-at-home order by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin came after the Russian capital’s confirmed cases of coronavirus topped 1,000, the newspaper reported. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for groceries or to pick up medical supplies, the Post reported. People are also allowed to take out their trash or walk their dogs within 100 feet of their residences, the newspaper reported. Cuomo: Death toll in New York state approaching 1,000 Update 2:02 p.m. EDT March 29: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s death toll because of the coronavirus is approaching 1,000, The New York Times reported. Cuomo put the number of disease-related deaths at 965, an increase from 728 in the last 24 hours, the newspaper reported. The majority of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in New York City. At a news conference, Cuomo said figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, the Times reported. Justin Trudeau will continue to self-isolate at home Update 1:33 p.m. EDT March 29: Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. Trudeau said he will continue to remain in isolation because he was living with someone who tested positive, the newspaper reported. Trudeau said his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, took their three children to the prime minister’s summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec, the Times reported. Plane evacuating patient crashes at Manila airport, killing 8 Update 12:34 a.m. EDT March 29: An plane on a medical evacuation mission headed for Tokyo crashed at Manila airport Sunday night, killing all eight people on board, The Washington Post reported. One American, one Canadian and six Filipinos were killed, according to Richard Gordon, the Philippines’ Red Cross chairman and a member of the Senate. Details of the medical mission were unclear, authorities said. “There was no confirmation or denial about the situation of the passenger,” Ed Monreal, general manager of Manila International Airport Authority, told the Post. Mnuchin: Expect stimulus check deposits within 3 weeks from Sunday Update 11:28 a.m. EDT March 29: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that Americans can expect direct deposit of their checks from the stimulus bill in their accounts within three weeks from Sunday, CNN reported. Mnuchin also said small businesses should “Go back and hire your workers because the government is paying you to do that.' “(My) number one objective is now delivering to the American workers and American companies the needed money that will put this economy in a position where it get through the next eight-10 weeks,” Mnuchin said. Fauci predicts US could have more than 100K deaths Update 10:30 a.m. EDT March 29: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday the United States could have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths, according to an Associated Press report. Fauci made the prediction while speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday morning. The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,700 cases and more than 2,100 deaths, the AP reported. UK announces 209 more deaths in past 24 hours Update 10:18 a.m. EDT March 29: There have been another 209 coronavirus related deaths in the United Kingdom over past 24 hours, Public Health England said Sunday. That puts the total death toll at 1,228, and there are 19,522 confirmed cases in the UK. US civil rights office working to prevent discrimination Update 9:57 a.m. EDT March 29: Roger Severino, the director of the U.S. health department’s civil rights office, said his department is opening investigations to ensure states do not allow medical providers to discriminate in deciding who receives medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The New York Times, the probes will examine whether providers have been discriminated against on the basis of disabilities, race, age or certain other factors. “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” Severino said in a statement. People with disabilities “should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” the statement said. Severino told the Times his office had heard from “a broad spectrum of civil rights groups, pro-life groups, disability rights groups, from prominent members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, from ordinary people who are concerned about their civil rights in this time of crisis.” India’s prime minister apologizes to nation’s poor Update 9:46 a.m. EDT March 29: India’s prime minister asled the nation’s poor for forgiveness after a nationwide lockdown forced thousands of jobless laborers to walk from cities to their home villages. “I extend a heartfelt apology to all countrymen,” Narendra Modi said in a nationwide radio address, The Washington Post reported. “When it comes to my underprivileged brothers and sisters, they must be wondering about the kind of prime minister they have, who has pushed them to the brink. My wholehearted apologies, especially to them.” Modi’s government announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan Thursday, the newspaper reported. Vietnam plans to halt incoming flights for 2 weeks Update 9:28 a.m. EDT March 29: to a government report released Sunday, Vietnam will halt incoming passenger flights over the next two weeks, CNN reported. Flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other locations will also be reduced, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said. Netherlands rejects 600K defective masks made in China Update 8:52 a.m. EDT March 29: Health authorities in The Netherlands rejected approximately 600,000 Chinese-made masks from hospitals after learning they did not adequately protect health workers from the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. Dutch health authorities that represented about half of a recent shipment of 1.3 million masks, according to NOS, the Dutch public broadcaster. “Due to shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where the only protective equipment that is available does not meet the highest standards. This is an issue in all countries,” the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said in a statement to NOS. The number of people who have tested positive in The Netherlands topped 10,000, the Dutch Ministry of Health said Sunday. Mexico tells citizens to stay home until April 19 Update 8:41 a.m. EDT March 29: Mexican health authorities asked citizens to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by staying home until April 19, according to CNN. “This can’t be postponed, it is our last chance to do it and do it now,' Mexican deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell said. 'And this requires that we massively restrict ourselves and stay at home.” Health authorities said there are 848 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16 deaths in Mexico. Spain reports record-high 838 deaths in one day Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 29: Spain has reported that 838 people died from coronavirus in one day, marking a new, grim daily record for the country, officials said Sunday. According to The Associated Press, Spain saw more than 6,500 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 78,797. The country’s 6,528-person death toll is the second-highest worldwide, the AP reported. Italy has reported the highest number of deaths, with 10,023, according to Johns Hopkins University. Canadian PM Trudeau’s wife recovers from virus Update 5:36 a.m. EDT March 29: The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Update 4:46 a.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump has decided against seeking a quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, opting instead to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong travel advisory” for the states, he tweeted Saturday night. “A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump added. >> See the tweets here The advisory, which now appears on the CDC’s website, “urges residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” “This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply,” the advisory reads. The states’ governors “will have full discretion to implement” the advisory, the website says. >> See the CDC’s tweets here Nordstrom partners with furniture store to produce more than 100,000 face masks Update 3:46 a.m. EDT March 29: After Seattle-based Providence Health put out a global request for more personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and other health care workers, Washington state manufacturer Kaas Tailored and retail giant Nordstrom partnered together to answer the high demand. As part of Providence’s 100 Million Mask challenge, Kaas and Nordstrom are producing daily personal face masks and face shields at their facilities. Nordstrom recently partnered with Kaas, a Mukilteo furniture store, to make the masks. Members of the Nordstrom alteration teams in California, Oregon, Texas and Washington will be sewing more than 100,000 masks to be distributed to Providence Health in Seattle. Kaas Tailored typically makes furniture for aerospace clients. Founder Dan Kaas told KIRO-TV earlier this week it didn’t take long to setup an action plan after answering Providence’s call. “I said, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ and about five minutes later she texted me saying, ‘Yeah, we want to talk.’ And that was Wednesday, and there was a plan put in place by the end of the day,” Kaas said in an interview with KIRO′s Rob Munoz. In an online video posted to the Kaas Tailored website, Kaas details its new Essential PPE Network Equation, how it’s going about meeting the demands of the mask production and the structure working with other manufactures who also want to help. Kaas Tailored is continuing to make thousands of masks a day, but said it’s working at full capacity and cannot fill new orders at this time. Providence is referring manufacturers in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Washington that are interested in making PPEs to reach out to Kaas. Manufacturers in other states that want to help make face masks can reach out to the American Hospital Association. Nordstrom will continue to offer additional support to local partners the Seattle Foundation, YouthCare and Hetrick Martin Institute. Nordstrom is also donating 1% of its gift card sales to support community grants and programs during the coronavirus relief efforts. Country singer Joe Diffie tests positive for COVID-19 Update 3:08 a.m. EDT March 29: Country music star Joe Diffie has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced on social media. In a Friday Instagram post, the Grammy Award-winning singer said he's being treated for the virus, which had infected about 665,000 people worldwide and more than 124,000 in the United States by Sunday morning. 'My family and I are asking for privacy at this time,' the statement read. 'We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.' >> See the post here According to The Associated Press, Diffie, 61, is best known for songs such as 'Honky Tonk Attitude' and 'Third Rock From the Sun.' He joins a growing list of celebrities and public figures who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Harvey Weinstein, Jackson Browne, Placido Domingo, Britain's Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Samaritan’s Purse helps New York amid coronavirus pandemic Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 29: The North Carolina-based organization Samaritan’s Purse is now bringing relief to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York’s hospital system is already overwhelmed with patients. The group shipped a 68-bed field hospital with a special respiratory care unit Saturday. The organization said an advanced team got to New York on March 27 to begin assessments and prepare the site. “People are dying from the coronavirus, hospitals are out of beds and the medical staff are overwhelmed,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are deploying our emergency field hospital to New York to help carry this burden.” This comes a week after Samaritan’s Purse opened an identical unit in Cremona, Italy. U.S. cases soar past 124,000, including more than 2,100 deaths Update 12:49 a.m. EDT March 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 124,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 124,464 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,191 deaths. Worldwide, there are 664,695 confirmed cases and 30,847 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 92,472 reported in Italy and the 82,057 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 834 have occurred in New York, 189 in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey and 137 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 53,520 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 11,124 and California with 5,636. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Michigan: 4,658, including 112 deaths • Washington: 4,310, including 189 deaths • Massachusetts: 4,257, including 44 deaths • Florida: 4,038, including 56 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois and Louisiana have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walk out Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map.
  • The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau, 44, tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau, 48, and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. As of Sunday morning, more than 5,600 coronavirus cases and 61 deaths have been reported in Canada, according to Johns Hopkins University. Read more here.
  • Nearly 622,000 people worldwide -- including nearly 105,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, March 28, continue below: First federal inmate dies from virus Update 10:17 p.m. EDT March 28: The first federal inmate in custody has died from the coronavirus, officials said on Saturday. Patrick Jones, 49, an inmate at the Federal Corrections Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, complained of a persistent cough March 19, CBS News reported. While at the hospital, he tested positive March 20 for the coronavirus. Jones, who has pre-existing conditions, was put on a ventilator. He died Saturday. He was serving a 27-year sentence for possession with intent to sell crack cocaine. More than 10 inmates have been taken to the hospital and at least 60 others are in isolation, The New York Times reported. Instacart employees plan strike over safety fears Update 10:17 p.m. EDT March 28: Instacart employees are planning to strike Monday over fears that they are exposing themselves to risk of the coronavirus and are not being adequately protected or compensated by their company. “Instacart has a well established history of exploiting its Shoppers, one that extends years back before our current crisis,” Instacart employees and Gig Workers Collective, an activist organization, wrote in a letter posted on Medium. “Now, its mistreatment of Shoppers has stooped to an all-time low. They are profiting astronomically off of us literally risking our lives, all while refusing to provide us with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits.” Employees are asking for an additional $5 on each order and personal protection equipment provided at no cost, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays. It not unclear how many employees would participate. More than 200,000 people work as shoppers for the company, The New York Times reported. The company had plans to hire thousands more amid demand for delivery while people are quarantined and isolating. Instacart announced earlier this week new safety guidelines and said it would increase bonuses for its shoppers and extend sick and quarantine pay. “The health and safety of our entire community – shoppers, customers and employees – is our highest priority,” the company said in a statement, KNTV reported. 66 residents at Maryland nursing home test positive for virus Update 9:07 p.m. EDT March 28: A coronavirus outbreak has doubled the cases in Maryland after 66 residents at a nursing home tested positive for the deadly virus. Eleven of the 66 residents at Pleasant View Nursing Home have been hospitalized, WBAL reported. “Multiple state agencies are on the scene and working closely with the local health department & the facility to protect additional residents and staff who may have been exposed,” Gov. Larry Hogan said on social media. There have been 10 deaths in the state. US death toll surpasses 2,000, doubling in two days Update 6:39 p.m. EDT March 28:  More than 2,000 U.S. citizens have died from the coronavirus as of Saturday, the death toll doubling in about 48 hours, the Washington Post reported. The time between the first confirmed death and the 1,000th was about a month. There are nearly 120,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. More than 30,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins. Columbia Sportswear CEO cuts salary to $10,000 Update 5:59 p.m. EDT March 28: Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle has cut his salary to $10,000 while employees will continue to receive their regular pay. At least 10 other top executives took a voluntary 15% pay cut, The Oregonian reported. The company’s nearly 3,500 employees are receiving their regular paychecks through a “catastrophic pay” program while its stores are closed amid the coronavirus outbreak. The stores closed March 16 and will remain shuttered at least another two weeks. Boyle was paid $3.3 million in total compensation in 2018, The Oregonian reported. Infant in Illinois dies from virus Update 4:24 p.m. EDT March 28: An infant less than a year old died from the coronavirus in Illinois. The child is one of 13 new deaths in the state, health officials said Saturday. “There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death,” state Health Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.” In China, a 10-month-old died from the coronavirus, the New England Journal of Medicine reported March 18. There are 3,491 cases of the coronavirus and 47 deaths in Illinois, according to health officials. Ireland imposes strict lockdown order Update 3:42 p.m. EDT March 28: Ireland’s prime minister announced a lockdown with strict restrictions in the country Saturday, The New York Times reported. “Freedom was hard-won in our country, and it jars with us to restrict and limit individual liberties, even temporarily,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in an address to the nation. As of early Saturday, Ireland had reported 2,121 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 22 deaths, the Times reported. From midnight until at least April 12, Ireland’s residents have been ordered to stay at home except to travel to essential jobs, medical appointments, family care or “brief” exercise, according to the newspaper. Trump goes to Virginia, sends off Navy ship bound for NYC Update 2:49 p.m. EDT March 28: President Donald Trump spoke in Front of the USNS Comfort in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, before the Navy hospital ship before it departed for New York City. “This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York,” Trump said. Trump said the ship would not treat patients with coronavirus, but will provide aid for people with other urgent care needs, CNN reported. “Their mission will be to care for New Yorkers who do not have the virus but who require urgent care,' Trump said. “In other words, they’ll be using this, people will be coming out of hospitals who don’t have the virus and they’ll be on this ship where they have great operating rooms and great facilities and the places in-bound, on land will be where people that have the virus will be.” RI governor confirms 2 deaths, issues stay-at-home order Update 2:06 p.m. EDT March 28: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo confirmed the first two deaths in the state and issued a stay-at-home order, telling citizens they could still make necessary trips for food, gasoline or medicine, the Providence Journal reported. Raimondo also ordered anyone entering the state by any means to self-quarantine for 14 days, she said at a news conference. The governor also said all “non-essential” retail outlets will close Monday until April 13, “These are the first deaths and certainly will not be the last two,” Raimondo said. “This is for me and for all of us, this a reminder of the stakes that we face.” Kansas gov. Kelly issues stay-at-home order Update 1:32 p.m. EDT March 28: At a news conference, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a stay-at-home order for the state beginning Monday at 12:01 p.m. “As we speak, well over half of Kansas’ population falls under a local stay at home order of some kind. Even without the executive order I’m issuing today, Kansas’ most populous counties have already issued local state orders to their communities,' Kelly said at the news conference. “As governor, I left these decisions to local health departments for as long as possible. But the reality is that a patchwork approach is a recipe for confusion in our statewide fight to slow the spread of coronavirus that statewide uniformity will ensure. We’re all playing by the same rules, and it would help prevent an influx of new cases for local health departments, many of which are already stretched to max.” Cuomo: NY presidential primary moved to June 23 Update 12:39 p.m. EDT March 28: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference that the state’s presidential primary, scheduled for April 28, will be postponed until April 28. Cuomo said the prospect of many people congregating to vote in April was not wise. “I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote,” Cuomo said. “A lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen, whatever you call the new device on the ballots.” Cuomo also extended the tax filing deadline in the state to July 15. “This is good news for individuals, for businesses. You don’t have to file your state tax return. You file it with the federal tax return on July 15,' Cuomo said. “It’s bad news for the state of New York on a parochial level. That means we receive no revenue coming in until July 15.' UN to donate 250K protective masks to hospitals in NYC Update 12:29 p.m. EDT March 28: United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said the organization will donate 250,000 protective face masks to medical facilities in New York City, CNN reported. The masks will be given to medical professionals “who have been working courageously, selflessly, and tirelessly in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the boroughs in the hope that they play some small role in saving lives,” Guterres said in a statement Saturday. UK death toll tops 1,000; Johnson tweets, ‘We’ll beat this' Update 11:02 a.m. EDT March 28: The death toll from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom passed the 1,000 mark, according to figures released by the country’s Department of Health and Social Care. That is an increase of 260 people, with the total at 1,019, according to the BBC. On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, “We’re going to beat it, and we’re going to beat it together.' Johnson tested positive for coronavirus Friday. “Thank you to everybody who’s doing what I’m doing, working from home and stopping the virus spreading from household to household,' Johnson tweeted. Death toll surges in Spain, Italy Update 9:31 a.m. EDT March 28: Spain and Italy reported record numbers in the death tolls in their countries. Spanish officials reported 832 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing its total to 5,690, The New York Times reported. Spain also reported that 12,248 people have recovered from the virus, the newspaper reported. Italian officials said 969 people have died in the past day, bringing its total to 9,134, the Times reported. Trump approves Michigan’s request for disaster relief Update 9:31 a.m. EDT March 28: The White House announced Saturday that President Donald Trump approved Michigan’s request for a disaster declaration. “Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Michigan and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected,” the White House said in a statement. The declaration means federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments, the statement said. Certain private nonprofit organizations also will be eligible for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for areas in Michigan impacted by coronavirus. South Korea says 3 test-kit makers win FDA preapproval Update 8:42 a.m. EDT March 28: South Korea’s foreign ministry said three test-kit makers in the country have won preapproval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The move paves the way for kits to be sent to the United States, The New York Times reported. The ministry did not name the manufacturers but said the preapproval, under emergency use authorization, allowed the products to be sold in the United States, the newspaper reported. Global coronavirus deaths top 28K, worldwide cases near 608K Update 7:35 a.m. EDT March 28: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 28,125 early Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the three months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 607,965 people worldwide. • The United States has reported 104,837 confirmed cases, resulting in 1,711 deaths. • Italy has confirmed 86,498 cases, resulting in 9,134 deaths. • China has recorded 81,996 cases, resulting in 3,299 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 65,719 infections, resulting in 5,138 deaths. • Germany has reported 53,340 cases, resulting in 395 deaths. • Iran has recorded 35,408 cases, resulting in 2,517 deaths. • France has confirmed 33,414 infections, resulting in 1,997 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 14,754 cases, resulting in 761 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 13,187 cases, resulting in 240 deaths. • South Korea has recorded 9,478 cases, resulting in 144 deaths. Japanese PM warms of ‘explosive spread’ of coronavirus threatening urban hubs Update 7:20 a.m. EDT March 28: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a stern warning during a Saturday news conference, urging citizens to prepare for a “long-term battle” as the novel coronavirus threatens an “explosive spread” across the country. The Washington Post, citing Japanese media coverage of the news conference, reported Abe said cases of unknown origin are spiking, especially in the urban hubs of Tokyo and Osaka. “An uncontrollable chain of infection could lead to explosive spread somewhere,” he said. Abe’s comments came one day after Japan recorded its largest single-day spike in new cases of 123, bringing the nationwide total to 1,499 and 49 deaths. Nearly half of those newest cases were detected in Tokyo. New coronavirus cases spike in South Korea following steady decline Update 5:13 a.m. EDT March 28: Following a week of significantly decreased volume, South Korea reported a spike of 146 new coronavirus infections on Saturday. According to the nation’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the new cases bring South Korea’s total infections to 9,478, but Friday’s uptick stood in stark contrast to the fewer than 105 cases reported each day for the past week. On a more positive note, the country’s CDC confirmed only about 4,500 coronavirus patients remain isolated for treatment, while more than 4,800 patients have been deemed recovered and discharged from isolation. Italy’s coronavirus cases surpass those in China Update 5:07 a.m. EDT March 28: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Italy has reached 86,498, making it the second nation in as many days to surpass China’s total of 81,946. The United States eclipsed China’s infection total on Thursday – and currently reports slightly under 105,000 confirmed cases – but Italy’s death toll continues to climb as the outbreak ravages Europe.  Health officials confirmed 969 virus-related deaths in Italy on Friday, alone, making it the largest single-day death toll recorded by an country since the pandemic began. To date, the nation has reported a total of 9,134 fatalities, followed by Spain with 5,138 deaths and China with 3,295. U.S. Navy locks down Yokosuka base after sailors test positive for coronavirus Update 3:31 a.m. EDT March 28: The U.S. Navy has ordered a lockdown of its Yokosuka base after recording its second and third cases of novel coronavirus on Friday. The strategic Pacific base houses the Seventh Fleet. In a video posted to Facebook, Yokosuka Capt. Rich Jarrett encouraged residents on base to remain in their quarters “maximum extent possible.” “This is not a time to do lawn maintenance, take the dog for a long walk or go for a run. Time outdoors should be for necessities only and should be conducted as quickly as possible,” Jarrett posted in a Saturday morning update. Ginnie Mae poised to ease mortgage firms’ coronavirus fallout Update 3:18 a.m. EDT March 28: Mortgage firms are bracing for the crunch when borrowers begin falling behind on their payments, and Ginnie Mae sits poised to assist them in weathering the financial fallout of he novel coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. Ginnie Mae, which already guarantees more than $2 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, told the Journal late Friday it will help companies such as Quicken Loans Inc. and Mr. Cooper Group Inc. with their anticipated cashflow interruptions. The agency will leverage a program typically reserved for natural disaster response. Read more here. Duke University develops N95 mask decontamination method to assist coronavirus fight Update 3:03 a.m. EDT March 28: Duke University researchers in North Carolina have developed a method for cleaning used N95 respirator masks, CNN reported. By Friday night, Duke’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory team had already decontaminated hundreds of used N95 respirators without damaging them, so they can be re-worn several times, the network reported. More importantly, the researchers published their decontamination protocol, encouraging other medical centers and research facilities to follow suit. Specifically, the method uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide to kill microbial contaminants, CNN reported. Read more here. Trump issues order allowing Pentagon to reactivate former troops for coronavirus response Update 2:40 a.m. EDT March 28: U.S. President Donald Trump issued an order late Friday allowing the Pentagon to return certain troops to active duty in response to the mounting coronavirus crisis, The Washington Post reported. According to the Post, the order allows for the reactivation of former U.S. troops and members of the National Guard and Reserve to bolster the military’s ongoing efforts to help contain the virus’ spread. “Generally, these members will be persons in Headquarters units and persons with high demand medical capabilities whose call-up would not adversely affect their civilian communities,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said in a statement released early Saturday morning. Read more here. MLB, players strike deal should coronavirus cancel 2020 baseball season Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 28: Major League Baseball owners and players ratified a deal Friday that sets terms should the novel coronavirus pandemic postpone or even cancel the 2020 season. According to NPR, players will be paid $170 million in advanced salaries over the next two months, and should the season ultimately be canceled, the advances will not have to be paid back. Meanwhile, players will receive “service time” credit for an entire year even if they only play portions of the 2020 season. The season had been slated to open Thursday and run through late October, NPR reported. Delta offering medical volunteers free flights to emerging US coronavirus hotspots Update 1:57 a.m. EDT March 28: Delta Air Lines announced Friday it will fly select medical workers to areas of the country hardest hit by the novel coronavirus for free. By early Saturday morning, the company had confirmed free, round-trip Delta flights will be offered to certain medical volunteers bound for Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan during the month of April. State-by-state breakdown of 101,242 US coronavirus cases, 1,588 deaths Update 12:44 a.m. EDT March 28: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 104,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Saturday morning. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 104,661 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 1,706 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation, including the 86,498 reported in Italy and the 81,946 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 519 have occurred in New York, 175 Washington state and 119 in Louisiana.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 44,635 confirmed cases – more than five times any other state – followed by New Jersey with 8,825 and California with 3,801. Five other states have each confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Washington: 3,723, including 175 deaths • Michigan: 3,657, including 92 deaths • Massachusetts: 3,240, including 35 deaths • Florida: 3,192, including 45 deaths • Illinois: 3,026, including 34 deaths Meanwhile, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Georgia each has confirmed at least 2,000 novel coronavirus infections, while Colorado, Texas, Connecticut, Tennessee and Ohio each has confirmed at least 1,000 cases. The figures include 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and 49 repatriated citizens. The repatriations include 46 sickened aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and three others retrieved from the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China. CNN’s state-by-state breakdown – including presumptive cases – of at least 101,242 cases detected on U.S. soil is as follows: • Alabama: 638, including 3 deaths • Alaska: 69, including 1 death • Arizona: 665, including 13 deaths • Arkansas: 386, including 3 deaths • California: 3,801, including 78 deaths • Colorado: 1,734, including 31 deaths • Connecticut: 1,291, including 27 deaths • Delaware: 163, including 2 deaths • District of Columbia: 267, including three deaths • Florida: 3,192, including 45 deaths • Georgia: 2,198, including 65 deaths • Guam: 49, including 1 death • Hawaii: 120 • Idaho: 230, including 4 deaths • Illinois: 3,026, including 34 deaths • Indiana: 981, including 24 deaths • Iowa: 235, including 3 deaths • Kansas: 202, including 4 deaths • Kentucky: 302, including 7 deaths • Louisiana: 2,746, including 119 deaths • Maine: 168, including 1 death • Maryland: 774, including 5 deaths • Massachusetts: 3,240, including 35 deaths • Michigan: 3,657, including 92 deaths • Minnesota: 398, including 4 deaths • Mississippi: 579, including 8 deaths • Missouri: 670, including 9 deaths • Montana: 109, including 1 death • Nebraska: 89, including 2 deaths • Nevada: 535, including 10 deaths • New Hampshire: 187, including 2 deaths • New Jersey: 8,825, including 108 deaths • New Mexico: 191, including 1 death • New York: 44,635, including 519 deaths • North Carolina: 763, including 3 deaths • North Dakota: 68, including 1 death • Ohio: 1,137, including 19 deaths • Oklahoma: 322, including 8 deaths • Oregon: 414, including 12 deaths • Pennsylvania: 2,218, including 22 deaths • Puerto Rico: 64, including 2 deaths • Rhode Island: 203 • South Carolina: 539, including 13 deaths • South Dakota: 58, including 1 death • Tennessee: 1,203, including 6 deaths • Texas: 1,731, including 23 deaths • U.S. Virgin Islands: 19 • Utah: 480, including 2 deaths • Vermont: 184, including 10 deaths • Virginia: 604, including 14 deaths • Washington: 3,723, including 175 deaths • West Virginia: 96 • Wisconsin: 842, including 13 deaths • Wyoming: 70
  • American Airlines flight attendants are sharing their concerns after one of their co-workers tested positive for the coronavirus and then died. Paul Frishkorn, 65, was a Philadelphia-based flight attendant for American Airlines. Officials said he had other health issues that made him a higher-risk patient. On Friday, two separate American Airlines flight attendants told Channel 9 they have major concerns about the safety of employees and customers. They believe the airline should suspend flights for a few weeks to help the nation fight the virus. “They’re completely out of the hand sanitizing wipes, the Clorox wipes that we get on board,” said one American Airlines flight attendant, who asked to remain anonymous. “So, we have nothing to clean surfaces.' Both flight attendants said it wasn’t until this week that the airline limited food and drink service to passengers and allowed them to wear gloves and face masks. They said the changes come too late. In a written statement, one flight attendant said, “I’m scared to bring something home to my family.' American announced a decision Friday to reduce its schedule due to reduced customer demand. A spokesperson said wearing face masks and gloves isn’t recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the airline relaxed the rules to help flight attendants. It also took several steps to reduce flight attendant interaction with customers: Regarding cleaning supplies, a spokesperson said, 'Though these items are in high demand, we are currently provisioning these necessary products to our flight attendants for use while flying.' However, workers said halting service for a few weeks is the only option to keep employees and the public safe. “They need to shut down because we’re carriers. We are carriers,' said a flight attendant. American Airlines officials said their hearts go out to Frishkorn’s family. They also said employees with health issues and most mainline team members can consider a voluntary leave during this time or a voluntary early-out option. Frishkorn joined American Airlines in 1997 and was honored as a Flight Service Champion twice during his career. Statement from American Airlines: 'Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family, who tested positive for COVID-19. Paul Frishkorn joined us as a flight attendant in 1997 and was based in Philadelphia. “Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his excellent service to our customers. “He was also a knowledgeable benefits consultant and servant leader for his colleagues through his work with the Association of Flight Attendants while at US Airways and later, with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American. We are working directly with them to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by the customers he cared for and everyone at American who worked with him.

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