Coronavirus live updates: More than 200,000 cases in US; Grand Canyon closes

Samara Heisz/iStock(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 46,800 people around the world, including at least 4,757 people in the United States.

Globally, more than 932,000 people have been diagnosed with the new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19. Over 193,000 of those patients have recovered, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. has by far the highest national tally in the world with over 213,000 confirmed cases.

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

7:02 p.m.: Social distancing would be relaxed when no new cases

During the daily White House coronavirus briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci gave some predictions about when social distancing guidelines could be scaled back.

Fauci cited the curve shown at Tuesday’s briefing and said people could go back to normal when there are essentially no cases or deaths.

“The one thing we hopefully would have in place, and I believe we will have in place, is a much more robust system to identify someone who was infected,” he said. “If you have a really good program of containment that prevents you from ever having to get into mitigation.”

6:33 p.m.: Fountains of Wayne co-founder dies

Adam Schlesinger, the co-founder of the band Fountains of Wayne, as well as a celebrated songwriter for films and theater, has died of coronavirus, his attorney confirmed to ABC News.

The 52-year-old bass player and singer founded Fountains of Wayne with Chris Collingwood in the mid-’90s and had a massive radio hit with “Stacy’s Mom” in May 2003.

Schlesinger was also nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for writing the title track for the Tom Hanks film “That Thing You Do” in 1997.

He won three Emmys and a Grammy in his music career.

6:18 p.m.: Grand Canyon closes to visitors

One of the country’s most recognizable geographic landscapes has closed due to coronavirus.

Grand Canyon National Park will be closed to all visitors on the recommendation of the Health and Human Services director and chief health officer of Coconino County, Arizona, according to a press release. The park is closed indefinitely.

“The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will continue to follow the guidance of state and local health officials in making determinations about our operations,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement. “As soon as we received the letter from the Health and Human Services Director and Chief Health Officer for Coconino County recommending the closure of Grand Canyon National Park, we closed the park.”

5:25 p.m.: Connecticut governor says newborn dies from virus

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said a newborn in his state died last week from the coronavirus.

The 6-week-old baby from the Hartford area was brought to a hospital in an unresponsive state last week and couldn’t be revived, the governor tweeted. A test came back this week and showed the newborn tested positive for COVID-19, according to Lamont.

“This is absolutely heartbreaking. We believe this is one of the youngest lives lost anywhere due to complications relating to COVID-19,” he tweeted.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced a shelter-in-place order for the entire state starting Friday.

The state currently has more than 4,600 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 139 deaths and Kemp noted 1 in 4 residents are likely asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. The order will be in effect until April 13 and includes exemptions for buying groceries, getting medical supplies and essential services.

Kemp also said the state’s kindergarten to 12th grade schools will be closed for the rest of the academic year.

4:50 p.m.: NYC needs 15,000 ventilators by end of April: Mayor

New York City — the U.S. city hit hardest by the pandemic — needs 15,000 ventilators, 65,000 medical beds and 20,000 ICU beds by the end of April, the mayor said.

“What I want to see now is absolute seamlessness in terms of how supplies and equipment go into our hospitals and immediately get distributed where they’re needed,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“There’s also ongoing efforts to get personnel. This is a growing concern as we go forward, but again, one where we see a tremendous response,” the mayor said. “So many New Yorkers have volunteered, folks with medical training of all kinds.”

As of Tuesday night, 1,096 people had died in New York City due to COVID-19, according to the city’s health department.

As the number of cases rise, the city is setting up new hospital facilities from the USNS Comfort hospital ship to the Javits Center in Manhattan to 65 beds in Central Park to up to 350 beds at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.

Meanwhile, the city’s public hospitals are being transformed into all-ICU facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the city health system.

“This virus is no match for the people of New York City,” de Blasio said.

Former New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill is returning to the city to serve as a COVID-19 senior adviser, the mayor announced Wednesday.

O’Neill will oversee the supply and distribution of personal protective and medical equipment within city hospitals.

3:40 p.m.: California schools closed for rest of the year

California’s school campuses will remain closed for the rest of the academic year and the state will now turn to “distance learning,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

The governor announced a new partnership with Google to provide students with Chromebooks and internet.

“Schools are closed but classes are in,” he said.

Nearly every school district in the state has been surveyed to determine technology needs, officials said.

“It’s a challenge that we must meet” for the state’s six million students, said Tony Thurmond, the California state superintendent of public instruction.

The governor, a father of four, also acknowledged the extra stress the transition to home learning puts on parents, particularly mothers.

“Deep respect and admiration to all the mothers out there, all the parents … I know how difficult it is,” Newsom said.

3 p.m.: West Virginia becomes 15th state to postpone primary

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said the state’s May 12 primary will now be pushed back to June 9 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re still going to proceed ahead on our absentee ballots. At the end of the day, I want this to be the biggest turnout of all time,” Justice said.

West Virginia is now the 15th state to postpone its primary, joining Alaska, Wyoming, Ohio, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Connecticut, Indiana, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Kentucky and New York, as well as Puerto Rico.

Global coronavirus cases climbed over 900,000 on Wednesday, just one day after the number of diagnosed cases topped 800,000.

2:30 p.m.: Global coronavirus cases top 900,000

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday he’s “deeply concerned about the rapid escalation and global spread of infection.”

“Over the past five weeks, we have witnessed a near exponential growth in the number of new COVID-19 cases, reaching almost every country, territory and area,” he said.

He noted that the death toll has more than doubled in the past week and projected that in the next few days “we will reach 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 50,000 deaths.”

WHO officials are also still gathering all available evidence about masks and continue to evaluate the potential use of masks more broadly to control COVID-19 transmission at the community level.

“WHO recommends the use of medical masks for people who are sick and those caring for them,” the director-general said, “however, in these circumstances, masks are only effective when combined with other protective measures.”

“This is still a very new virus, and we are learning all the time,” Dr. Tedros said.

He added that the WHO is continuing to work with governments and manufacturers to step up the production and distribution of personal protective equipment, including masks.

1:35 p.m.: 5 who tested positive die at NJ nursing home

Those in nursing homes are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Among the nursing homes facing COVID-19 outbreaks is CareOne at New Milford in New Jersey, where five residents who tested positive have died, the center said.

As of Tuesday, 16 residents and six staff members had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, CareOne said.

“We are actively testing patients and awaiting results, and screening at higher levels than CDC guidelines,” CareOne said.

Other deaths at the nursing home are being investigated beyond the five who have already tested positive, CareOne added, but did not specify how many other deaths are being examined.

In New Jersey, 93 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one COVID-19 case, officials said Wednesday.

12:45 p.m.: 1,941 dead in New York state

In New York state — the hardest hit by the pandemic — the death toll has climbed to 1,941, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

The second hardest-hit state is neighboring New Jersey, where 267 have died, said Cuomo.

The governor warned that the apex — or top of the curve — is projected to be roughly at the end of April. Cuomo referred to the apex as the top of a mountain where the “next battle” will be.

Over 83,000 people have tested positive in New York state. Of those, 12,000 patients are in hospital, including 3,000 in intensive care units, Cuomo said.

Six-thousand have been discharged from hospitals, Cuomo said.

“Anyone can get this disease. Relatively young people, strong people, people who take a lot of vitamin pills, people who go to the gym a lot,” Cuomo said. “There is no superhero who is immune.”

The governor said rapid testing at home would be the best solution going forward.

“Not only do you get up and get the economy running, you end the anxiety,” he said.

Gov. Cuomo said his younger brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, is “doing fine enough” after testing positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday morning.

“He has a fever, he has chills, symptoms of basically a very bad flu,” the governor said.

The governor admitted that the diagnoses scared him, calling his younger brother his best friend.

“I couldn’t protect my own brother … he couldn’t protect himself,” he said.

But the governor commended the younger Cuomo, calling him “gutsy” for continuing to anchor his CNN show while quarantined in the basement, even on the same day as his diagnosis.

“In some ways this can be very instructive,” the governor said, to “show the country what it means to have coronavirus”

“My pop would be proud. I love you little brother,” Gov. Cuomo said.
‘Draft Cuomo 2020’ groundswell emerges amid the New York governor’s coronavirus response

The governor also announced Wednesday that he’s closing down New York City playgrounds after residents failed to comply with social distancing rules.

“No density, no basketball games … no violations of social distancing,” he said.

Open spaces in New York City parks will remain available, he said.

12:21 p.m.: 10 charged for holding engagement party in violation of distancing orders

Ten Lakewood, New Jersey, residents have been charged for holding an engagement party Tuesday, disobeying the governor’s executive order which bans social gatherings.

The couple who hosted the party at their home, along with eight guests, were charged with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor during a state of emergency, said Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer.

The couple who hosted the gathering were also charged with six counts of child engagement because six children were in attendance.

The engagement party marked the third day in a row for charges in Lakewood in connection to disobeying the executive order.

On Monday, two men were charged with maintaining a nuisance after they hosted a gathering of about 35 people, said police.

On Sunday, a couple was charged with five counts of child endangerment after their five children were at a gathering of about 40 to 50 people at their home.

11:10 a.m.: Wimbledon canceled due to pandemic

The 2020 Wimbledon championships has been canceled due to the escalating worldwide coronavirus pandemic and will next be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, said in a statement, “This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen.”

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships,” Hewitt said.

10:22 a.m.: United Kingdom death toll jumps by over 500 in 24 hours

The United Kingdom’s death toll has climbed to a total of 2,352 — an increase of 563 in the past 24 hours, the country’s highest single-day rise in fatalities since the pandemic began.

This comes after the U.K.’s death toll jumped by 381 on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Charles, Prince of Wales (who is first in line to the British throne) are both among the 29,474 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the U.K.

9:45 a.m.: 1,400 NYPD members test positive for coronavirus

In hard-hit New York City, 1,400 members of the police department have tested positive for the coronavirus, says New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

About 17% of the department — 6,172 employees — are now out sick, Shea said.

“We are scrambling but that shouldn’t have a negative connotation,” Shea told CNN. “We’ve added a lot to our repertoire: reaching out to New Yorkers who need help, delivering food.”

Despite the large percentage of sick calls, Shea said there are still plenty of cops on corners and in cars. He did concede the department is “planning for all eventualities” should the number of infections within the NYPD climb.

As of Tuesday night, 1,096 people had died in New York City due to COVID-19, according to the city’s health department.

9:27 a.m.: FBI Academy suspends classes

While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies continue to insist their security posture has not been hindered by the spread of the coronavirus, the crisis has now led to a temporary pause in training classes for the bureau’s next generation of leaders at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

The FBI said training classes will resume “when safe and appropriate as recommended by our chief medical officer.”

8:02 a.m.: Spain’s diagnosed cases top 100,000

The number of diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus in Spain surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday.

The Spanish Ministry of Health recorded 7,719 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 102,136 — an 8% increase.

The health ministry also reported 864 new fatalities from the disease, bringing the country’s death toll to 9,053 — a 10.5% increase.
 
Spain has the second-highest nationwide death toll from COVID-19 and the third-highest national tally of diagnosed cases, according to the latest count from Johns Hopkins University.

7:18 a.m.: US Surgeon General says extended social distancing guidelines may not be enough

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams acknowledged Wednesday that the additional 30 days of nationwide social distancing guidelines may not be enough time for some states and cities to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, “depending on where they are on the curve.”

“We’re looking at this next 30 days as an opportunity for the entire country to really understand if we do the right things, then we can flatten our curve in our own different areas and actually get to the other side,” Adams told ABC News in an interview on Good Morning America.

“The most important thing to know is that if you are aggressive about mitigation, you can get through to the other side and usually in about three weeks or so to hit your peak and start to see cases come down,” he added. “I feel confident that we can get through to the other side if we all cooperate and do our part together.”

Adams said they’ve asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “take another look” at whether having more people wear masks will help prevent transmission of COVID-19. But he emphasized that “the most important thing right now to do is for people to stay at home.”

“Initially, the CDC, the World Health Organization and my office recommended against the general public wearing masks based on the best available science at the time, in terms of whether or not it prevented the wearer from catching coronavirus,” he said. “Now, we’ve learned about this disease — and we’ve always said, we’re going to learn more, we’re going to adjust — and we’ve learned that there is a fair amount of asymptomatic spread.”

Adams noted that members of the general public do not need to wear N95 masks.

“If you take one of those N95 masks, you may be taking it out of the hands of a health care worker who desperately needs it to care for patients,” he added.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a press briefing Tuesday that both CDC and White House officials are having a “very active discussion” about whether to recommend the broad use of masks in the United States.

6:35 a.m.: Congo’s former president dies from COVID-19

The former president of the Republic of Congo, Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango, has died in Paris from complications related to the novel coronavirus, officials said Wednesday. He was 81.

Yhombi-Opango’s family reportedly said he had been ill before contracting the virus.

Yhombi-Opango was an army officer who rose to power as Congo-Brazzaville’s head of state in 1977, following the assassination of the previous president. He was ousted in 1979 by the country’s current leader, Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The former president later spent several years in prison after being accused of taking part in a plot to overthrow Sassou Nguesso.

Yhombi-Opango served as prime minister between 1994 and 1996 during Pascal Lissouba’s presidency. And when the country spiraled into civil war in 1997, Yhombi-Opango fled into exile in France.

5:47 a.m.: Turkmenistan bans the word ‘coronavirus’

The government of Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most closed countries, has reportedly banned the word “coronavirus.”

The word has been removed from health information brochures distributed in schools, hospitals and workplaces, and state-run media are no longer allowed to use the word, according to independent news website Turkmenistan Chronicle, which is blocked within the country.

Police in plainclothes are arresting people wearing face masks or talking about the coronavirus pandemic on the street, according to Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

So far, Turkmenistan has not reported any cases of the novel coronavirus. The country’s president has ordered public spaces to be disinfected as a protective measure.

“The Turkmen authorities have lived up to their reputation by adopting this extreme method for eradicating all information about the coronavirus,” Jeanne Cavelier, head of Reporters Without Borders’ Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement Tuesday. “This denial of information not only endangers the Turkmen citizens most at risk but also reinforces the authoritarianism imposed by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. We urge the international community to react and to take him to task for his systematic human rights violations.”

3:30 a.m.: China reports 1,541 asymptomatic cases under observation

There are at least 1,541 people with asymptomatic infections of the novel coronavirus under medical observation in China, including 205 people from overseas, according to the Chinese National Health Commission.

China began publishing the number of asymptomatic cases on Wednesday. The infected individuals, who show no symptoms but are still believed to be contagious, were excluded from the official tally of confirmed cases.

“Monitoring data has shown that some asymptomatic people have caused second-generation transmission among their close contacts, and they have set off a small number of clusters of infections,” Chang Jile, head of the National Health Commission’s disease control bureau, said on Tuesday, as quoted by state-run newspaper China Daily.

Those with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 as well as their close contacts will be quarantined in centralized facilities for 14 days. The asymptomatic individuals won’t be released until they test negative for the virus twice, according to Chang.

More research is needed to understand the length of the contagion period of asymptomatic individuals as well as the strength and pathway of their transmission, according to China’s National Health Commission.

“Some experts believed that because asymptomatic people show no symptoms of coughing or sneezing, the chance of them spreading the virus is relatively small compared to confirmed patients,” the commission said in a statement Tuesday, noting how difficult it is to detect these cases and prevent them from spreading. “It is infeasible to make the discovery and isolation of asymptomatic cases as the dominating virus-control measure, so we will continue to focus on confirmed cases and their close contacts.”

Since the first cases emerged in the city of Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province back in December, the country has reported 81,554 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, as of Tuesday. It’s unclear whether that figure includes asymptomatic cases.

A total of 76,238 patients have recovered from the disease and have been released from hospitals, while another 3,312 patients have died. Seven new deaths were reported Tuesday, all but one in Hubei province, according to the National Health Commission.

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