(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 34,000 people across the globe.
The new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19, has rapidly spread to every continent except Antartica since first emerging in China back in December. There are now more than 723,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, spanning across 177 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. At least 152,000 of those patients have recovered from the disease.
With more than 143,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, the United States has by far the highest national tally in the world, followed by Italy, China and Spain. The virus has spread to every U.S. state as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. At least 2,513 people have died in the United States, according to the latest count by Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:
7:19 a.m.: ‘We will lose more people,’ Dr. Fauci warns
The United States can expect to see more fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic, even if the nationwide social distancing guidelines are extended, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Even if these guidelines are extended, we will lose more people. Exactly how many more we would lose is uncertain, depending upon the efficiency of the mitigation methods,” Fauci told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Monday on Good Morning America.
The 15-day guidelines were set to expire Monday. But President Donald Trump announced during a press conference Sunday that he had decided to extend the guidelines for another 30 days, after suggesting over the past week that he wanted to relax them and reopen the country for business by Easter.
“None of us felt that 15 days was adequate,” Fauci said, adding that they had “intensive conversations” with Trump and that they ultimately “convinced him.”
“To pull back the mitigation methods before you reach the peak and turned the corner I think really would have been imprudent because that would have merely regenerated the spike to go up,” Fauci said. “If we prematurely did it, it would likely rebound and that’s one thing you do not want to happen.”
Fauci said they think “April might do it” but it’s possible the guidelines will have to be extended even further.
When asked about the clinical trials on potential therapeutics to treat COVID-19, Fauci said he hopes by late spring or early summer they’ll “get a signal in one of those drugs to see whether it works or not.”
“And if it does, we’ll widely distribute it,” he added. “And if it doesn’t, we’ll just get it off the shelf, get it off the table, because it wont be useable.”
Fauci said a vaccine will take longer.
“We’re in the phase one trial. We went into it as quickly as we possibly could, the fastest ever,” he said. ” But still the process at rocket speed takes about a year to a year and a half. So if we cycle with this outbreak and it comes back next fall and winter, we might have the early components of a vaccine ready to counter that outbreak likely next winter.”
7:03 a.m.: Tokyo 2020 organizers expect call from International Olympic Committee president on new date
Japanese officials expect to talk with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach this week about potential dates for next year’s rescheduled Tokyo Games.
The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers jointly announced last week that the 2020 Summer Olympics, originally slated to kick off on July 24 in Tokyo, would be postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I anticipate speaking to President Bach this week,” Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori said Monday at the opening of an executive board meeting. “He tends to call me directly, and that puts me in trouble because I don’t have good command of English.”
Both Mori and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto have repeatedly stated that the games will be held no later than next summer.
“Opinions on both sides have been compiled, whether spring or summer,” Mori said. “There are opinions for both options and they both have advantages and disadvantages that are being compared and then will be decided.”
6:23 a.m.: Nearly 200 aboard Florida-bound cruise report flu-like symptoms
At least 189 people aboard a Holland America Line cruise ship are suffering flu-like symptoms, a cruise line spokesperson told ABC News.
Four people have died aboard the MS Zaandam, Holland America Line announced Friday. At least two people tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday, according to the cruise line.
The MS Zaandam set out from Buenos Aires for a South America cruise on March 7, with 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board. The voyage was supposed to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21 but the vessel has remained at sea since the Chilean government refused it permission to dock and disembark.
The ship began passing through the Panama Canal late Sunday night after being moored off the coast of Panama for several days. The country’s government wouldn’t allow the ship to disembark passengers.
In a video message from Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford, which was broadcast to MS Zaandam passengers on Sunday, he apologized that the cruise “turned out to not be the exact the vacation that you initially signed up for,” calling it a “safety and a humanitarian effort.”
Holland America Line on Friday announced plans to move “healthy” people from the MS Zaandam to another one of its ships, the MS Rotterdam. Ashford said he wanted to dispel the myth of a healthy ship versus a sick one, explaining that the intention is for the two cruises to work in tandem so that they can reduce the workload on each vessel, “create maximum flexibility” and move passengers that have been stuck self-isolating inside cabins for a week to cabins that have access to light and fresh air.
Holland America Line previously said the MS Zaandam would travel to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and dock at Port Everglades after transiting through the Panama Canal. But in Sunday’s video message, Ashford told passengers to self-isolate on both the MS Zaandam and the MS Rotterdam “while we figure out where it is that we’re going to take you.”
In a statement to ABC News on Sunday night, the U.S. Coast Guard said: “We are aware of the Zaandam and Rotterdam situations and are monitoring them. The Coast Guard is a member of, and coordinating with, the Port Everglades Unified Command on this situation. Further action may be taken if or when either ship crosses the Panama Canal into our area of responsibility.”
5:11 a.m.: EasyJet grounds all flights due to pandemic
EasyJet, one of Europe’s largest airlines, said it has grounded all aircraft due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, EasyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft,” the airline said in a statement Monday morning. “At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights. We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”
In recent days, the British budget carrier has helped repatriate more than 45,000 people on over 650 rescue flights. The last of those rescue flights were operated on Sunday.
“We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested,” the airline added.
3:00 a.m.: FDA gives anti-malaria drugs emergency approval to treat COVID-19
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a limited emergency-use authorization for two antimalarial drugs to treat those infected with the novel coronavirus.
In a statement released Sunday night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it had received 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated to a national stockpile of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are oral prescription drugs used primarily to prevent and treat malaria, are both being investigated as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.
The statement noted that the FDA had issued an emergency-use authorization to allow both donated drugs “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”
Federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, are working together to plan clinical trials.
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