Coronavirus live updates: NYC morgues are almost full amid mounting death toll

narvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than a million people across the globe, a quarter of whom are in the United States.

The new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19, has spread to dozens of countries on every continent except Antarctica since it was first detected in China last December. More than 219,000 people diagnosed with the disease worldwide have recovered, while over 55,000 have died, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

With more than 245,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the U.S. has by far the highest national tally in the world. At least 6,068 people in the U.S. have died from the disease.

Here’s how the story is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

11:12 a.m. Temporary hospitals at US convention centers will now treat COVID-19 patients

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Friday that three temporary medical facilities at convention centers in Dallas, New Orleans and New York, which were originally intended to treat non-coronavirus patients, will now also take those diagnosed with the disease.

“At the request of FEMA, the Department of Defense will expand its medical support to include COVID-19 positive patients at the Javits Federal Medical Station (FMS) in New York City, the Morial FMS in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Kay Bailey Hutchinson FMS in Dallas, Texas,” the Pentagon said in a statement Friday. “These three DoD-supported locations will now provide support to COVID-19 positive patients in convalescent care, as well as low-acuity patients. These patients, who require a lower level of medical care, must first be screened at a local hospital.”

The facilities were initially set up to ease the strain on overloaded hospitals and expand overall capacity.

“As it turns out, we don’t have non-COVID people to any great extent in the hospitals,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing Friday. “So we wanted to turn Javits from non-COVID to COVID.”

The Department of Defense said it is also making changes to the USNS Comfort’s process for taking in patients. Screening for care on the U.S. Navy hospital ship docked in New York City will now occur pier-side “in an effort to reduce the backlog at some of the nearby New York hospitals.” A patient will no longer require a negative COVID-19 test in order to be admitted, but rather each individual will be screened by temperature and a short questionnaire.

Previously, a patient had to go to a local hospital, be referred to the USNS Comfort and receive COVID-19 screening prior to being transferred there.

“This assistance will further unburden the local hospital and ambulance systems in these areas, allowing them to focus on the more serious COVID-19 cases,” the Pentagon said. “We will immediately implement this action and work with local officials in each area on the details of patient arrival.

9:45 a.m.: Queen Elizabeth to address pandemic in rare special broadcast this weekend

Queen Elizabeth II has recorded a special broadcast to the United Kingdom and the televised address, which was recorded at Windsor Castle, will be broadcast Sunday at 8 p.m. local time, according to the statement from the royal household.

 

 

It will be just the fourth time in the queen’s 68-year reign that she has delivered a special address to the nation.

The queen’s oldest child and heir apparent to the British throne, Prince Charles, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March.

9:15 a.m.: US cuts 701K jobs in March, unemployment rate jumps to 4.4%

U.S. employers slashed 701,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate climbed to 4.4% from 3.5%, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Friday’s report offered more details on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the U.S. labor market.

About 90% of the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic and many businesses are closed. At least 45 U.S. states have issued or announced statewide closures of all non-essential businesses to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

8:43 a.m.: Florida-bound cruise ship confirms 12 positive cases

At least 12 people aboard the Florida-bound cruise ship Coral Princess have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Those infected include seven guests and five crew, according to Princess Cruises, the California-based cruise line that operates the ship.

Princess Cruises said it “proactively” collected 13 test samples from the ship and sent them to a lab in Barbados on March 31 “in response to a reported small cluster of cases of respiratory illness and in an abundance of caution.”

The Coral Princess is scheduled to arrive in Florida’s Port Everglades on Saturday.

7:59 a.m.: New York City morgues are running out of space

New York City morgues are almost full amid a mounting death toll from the coronavirus pandemic, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency records reviewed by ABC News.

The city has ordered 85 refrigerated trucks from the U.S. military to use as makeshift morgues to hold the dead. The trucks are expected to arrive by mid-April.

ABC News has reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense as well as New York City’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner for comment.

So far, at least 1,562 people in New York City have died from COVID-19, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

6:32 a.m.: New poll shows less than half of Americans believe their daily routine will return to normal by June

Fewer than half of Americans believe their regular daily routine will return to normal by June 1, amid sharply rising concerns over contracting the novel coronavirus, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

In the new poll, just over nine in 10 Americans now say that the outbreak has disrupted their daily routine, showing the reach of the pandemic’s impact. Among those, 44% say they think they will be able to resume their regular routine by June 1 — including 13% who say by May 1 — while a combined 84% believe that will happen by the end of the summer.

Still, concern over the pandemic continues on an upward trajectory, with 89% of Americans now saying they are concerned that they or someone they know will be infected with the virus, compared to 79% in a poll conducted from March 18-19 and 66% in a poll in the field from March 11-12. The steady increase in anxiety includes nearly twice as many Americans who are now very concerned (now at 50%) in the new poll, compared to the earliest poll in March when it was only 26%.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in partnership with ABC News, using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, on April 1-2, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 559 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.8 points, including the design effect.

5:48 a.m.: Google launches ‘community mobility reports’ during pandemic

Google is launching a tool that will publicly track people’s movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, allowing health officials to check whether their communities are abiding by social-distancing measures.

The California-based tech giant says it will publish and regularly update the “community mobility reports,” which are broken down by location and display the change in visits to public places such as grocery stores and parks. The tool, announced by the company late Thursday, uses “aggregated, anonymized sets of data” that Google has collected on users, including through Google Maps.

Google says the reports “were developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and protecting people’s privacy.”

“No personally identifiable information, such as an individual’s location, contacts or movement, will be made available at any point,” the company says.

3 a.m.: US death toll tops 6,000

The mounting death toll from the novel coronavirus in the United States surpassed 6,000 early Friday morning, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

A vast majority of those deaths have occurred in New York state, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people in New York City alone.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the U.S. Department of Defense for 100,000 body bags due to the possibility that funeral homes across the country will become overwhelmed, a Pentagon spokesman told ABC News on Thursday.

About 90% of the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders, and many businesses are closed.

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