Coronavirus updates: Food plant ordered closed, Black mayors demand data

 

AzmanL/iStock(NEW YORK) — More than 2.2 million people have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus worldwide as the spread of the virus continues.

The global coronavirus death toll stands at more than 154,000 people, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers, however, are believed to be much higher.

Many cities and states have begun counting probable deaths caused by COVID-19, including New York City, the epicenter of the disease in the United States.

The U.S. has more cases and deaths than any other country in the world, with over 705,000 diagnosed cases and at least 37,079 deaths.

Today’s biggest developments:

 

  • US coronavirus cases surpass 700,000
  • Illinois food plant to close after outbreak
  • NJ reports 1,530 deaths at longterm care facilities

 

Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

9:37 a.m.: African American Mayors Association asks Trump to fund collection of racial data

As coronavirus appears to disproportionately affect certain races in the U.S., the African American Mayors Association is requesting the Trump administration allocate federal funds to collect a racial breakdown of the data.

The mayors said they, among others, are “on the front lines of this pandemic, and have quickly confronted crucial gaps, which surprisingly includes the availability of basic and accurate data about whom is affected by this virus.”

The letter was signed by Mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Georgia; Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C.; and Hardie Davis, Jr. of Augusta, Georgia.

They noted that some data on race and ethnicity has been made available in California, Georgia, New Mexico, Michigan and Washington, D.C.

“However, to enhance the quality of care and to address ongoing disparities in our health system, federal guidelines for COVID-19 data collection and reporting standards are essential,” the letter reads.

The states currently lack uniformity in both the collection of data and federal reporting standards for the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases they report to the federal government each day.

In addition to a breakdown of race and ethnicity, the mayors requested a report on health indicators, such as insurance, education, employment, disability status, primary language and sex.

6:37 a.m.: Minnesota governor says he tried to call Trump about ‘liberate’ tweet

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he tried to call President Donald Trump after the president tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” on Friday.

For a couple of hours, the governor had tried calling Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and “got no return,” Walz said during a Friday press briefing.

“My first responsibility is protection of Minnesota’s people,” Walz said, while also stating he supports the protesters right to protest.

“When I called to ask what are we doing differently about moving towards getting as many people back into the workforce without compromising the health of Minnesotans or the providers and that will probably take longer than a two-word tweet,” he said.

“I would argue we are doing everything that they’re telling us to do, but the difference is I actually have to do it here,” Walz added.

Minnesota reported its largest daily increase in diagnosed coronavirus cases Friday, and an additional 17 deaths. The state has at least 2,070 COVID-19 cases and 111 deaths.

4:29 a.m.: Illinois food plant forced to close after outbreak

The Ogle County Health Department has ordered the Hormel Foods plant in Rochelle, Illinois, to close immediately due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Health officials say there are at least two dozen cases linked to the facility.

The plant will be forced to close for two weeks.

“Although many essential businesses are open and operating, we will not tolerate them risking the health and safety of their employees or our community during this pandemic or any other time,” Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows said in a statement Friday.

The county health department said it made “several attempts” to help control the outbreak, including recommending additional testing, steps for employee monitoring, new sanitation processes and more.

“My team has spent countless hours in collaboration with Rochelle Foods in an attempt to mitigate the virus spread,” Kyle Auman, Ogle County Health Department administrator, said in a statement. “Since these efforts were unsuccessful, it is my duty to order a complete closure of the facility.”

In a statement, Hormel confirmed it was given a notice of closure on Friday and that it’s “working to further understand the closure order and are consulting with our legal counsel to understand next steps,” according to ABC News affiliate KAAL-TV.

The company said Rochelle Foods team members would continue to be paid during the closure.

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