US surpasses half a million coronavirus cases

mrtom-uk/iStock(NEW YORK) — The global novel coronavirus death toll has climbed over 102,000.

The virus has killed more people in the U.S. in a matter of months than those who died in recent years from homicide, according to FBI data.

In the U.S., over 500,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. At least 18,693 people in the U.S. have died.

Worldwide, more than 1.69 million people have been diagnosed since the virus emerged in China in December. 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.

Here’s how the news played out Friday. All times Eastern:

9:25 p.m.: US cases now over 500,000

The U.S. now has half a million confirmed cases of COVID-19, three times more than Spain, the country with the second-most infections.

The country’s case total rose to 500,399 on Friday night, the same day the world death toll crossed into six digits.

There have been over 18,000 deaths in the U.S.

4:40 p.m.: Los Angeles stay-at-home order extended to May 15

Los Angeles County’s “safer at home” order is being extended until at least May 15, officials said Friday.

All indoor and outdoor private gatherings remain prohibited, as well as all nonessential businesses, parks and beaches.

The order also requires essential businesses to post social distancing and sanitation plans.

4:22 p.m.: Antiviral drug may help patients with COVID-19

A small study of the antiviral drug remdesivir showed that it was associated with clinical improvement in 68% of patients with COVID-19, according to a report Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gilead Sciences, the makers of remdesivir, analyzed patients who received the drug from Jan. 25 through March 7 in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Japan.

Of the 53 patients studied, 36, or 68%, saw clinical improvement in their conditions.

Researchers categorized clinical improvement as a discharge from the hospital or decreased oxygen support. Eight of 53 patients (15%) got worse, according to the study.

3:40 p.m.: Some shops in Italy will be allowed to open next week

In hard-hit Italy — the nation suffering the most coronavirus fatalities — the entire country has been on lockdown since March 9.

While the lockdown continues until May 3, some stores — including stationary shops, bookshops and children clothing stores — can begin to reopen on April 14, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Friday.

3:15 p.m.: Louisiana ‘in a better place today’ than this time last week

Despite a slight increase in number of hospitalizations and number of patients on ventilators, Louisiana is “in a better place today than we were at this time last week,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday.

“It is because of you,” he said. “It is because of the people of Louisiana and your compliance with the stay-at-home order.”

Louisiana has over 19,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19. The state has lost 755 lives, including state Rep. Reggie Bagala.

In the wake of data revealing a major racial disparity in COVID-19 deaths, the governor said a Health Equity Task Force will be put in place.

The recently released data showed that while African Americans make up roughly 32% of Louisiana’s population, they account for 70% of the deaths in the state.

“We want to make sure that we have better health outcomes on the other side of this pandemic, as well,” the governor said. “So we need to answer the question: ‘What are the social determinants of health disparity and how do we ensure health equity for all of our citizens?’ And this task force will be meeting this charge.”

Edwards said his state has received additional federal funding for continuing testing sites in the state, some of which were scheduled to close as soon as today. Edwards said he still isn’t satisfied with the testing within the state and that is another issue the task force will tackle.

“There is no region of our state that isn’t currently testing, but we don’t believe that we have adequate testing anywhere,” he said.

2:30 p.m.: Government addressing racial disparity, surgeon general says

Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, cautioned Friday, “We have not reached the peak.”

“You can see for the first time that in the United States we’re starting to level on the logarithmic phase, like Italy did about a week ago,” Birx said at the White House briefing.

“This gives us great heart,” she said, adding, “Everyday we need to continue to do what we did yesterday and the week before and the week before that.”

As data shows that COVID-19 disproportionately kills people of color, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said the government is “taking steps now” to combat the “alarming” trend.

The government is working “on data collection, targeted outreach, and increasing financial employment, education, housing, social and health support so everyone has an equal chance to be healthy,” Adams said at Friday’s briefing.

12:15 p.m.: Negative number of ICU admissions for 1st time in NY

In New York, the state hit hardest by the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is “cautiously optimistic we are slowing the infection rate.”

The hospitalization rate is down, and for the first time, New York has registered a negative number of ICU admissions, Cuomo said at his Friday press briefing. There were 17 fewer people in intensive care units statewide than there were previously, Cuomo said.

In New York state, over 160,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 — that’s more than any other state in the U.S. and country in the world.

Over 7,000 people in the state have died.

“The death toll is going up. And I understand the logic to that,” Cuomo told “Good Morning America” anchor Michael Strahan Friday. “These are people who came into the hospital a couple of weeks ago, they didn’t recover, they were put on ventilators and once you’re on a ventilator, the longer you’re on a ventilator, the worse it gets.”

As preliminary data showed the largest percentage of coronavirus deaths in New York City was among Hispanics, the governor on Wednesday called for more testing in minority communities.

Hispanics accounted for 34% of COVID-19 deaths though they make up 29% of the population. Twenty-eight percent of those who have died from COVID-19 in NYC have been African-American.

“Are we shocked that the rates are higher in the African-American/Latino community? We shouldn’t be, Michael, if we’re being honest,” Cuomo told “GMA.” “We know that there’s inequality in the health care system. We know that the poorer communities often pay the highest price for these types of emergency situations because they’re really just bringing to light that systemic racism and discrimination in the system.”

“Let’s learn from this moment,” Cuomo said. “It’s testing and understanding why the minority community has a higher rate. Is it because they work in public sector jobs and they were essential workers and they didn’t have the luxury, Michael, of staying home? And they didn’t have the luxury of going to stay at their second house? Or staying with a relative in their home in the suburbs?”

“There has to be some lesson that we take from this,” he said.

11:40 a.m.: Boris Johnson ‘at an early stage’ of recovery, UK sees deadliest day so far

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in a London hospital battling the coronavirus, is “continuing his recovery, which is at an early stage,” according to a statement from his official residence and office, 10 Downing Street.

Johnson, 55, remains “in very good spirits,” the statement added.

“The Prime Minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest,” a spokesman said. “He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received.”

A spokesman said Friday, “I am told he was waving his thanks towards the nurses and doctors that he saw as he was being moved from the intensive care unit back to the ward.”

Johnson has been hospitalized since Sunday evening due to “persistent symptoms” of the novel coronavirus. He was transferred to the intensive care unit on Monday after his condition “worsened,” and released from intensive care on Thursday, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, on Friday the U.K. saw its deadliest day from the coronavirus so far, with 953 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

11:20 a.m.: DOJ investigating conditions at nursing home where more than 30 died

After a COVID-19 outbreak left more than 30 dead at a Massachusetts nursing home, the Justice Department’s civil rights division is investigating whether the facility violated its residents’ rights by failing to provide adequate care during and before the pandemic.

“The federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act specifically protects the rights of those confined in state facilities like the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home,” located in Holyoke, said U.S. attorney Andrew Lelling.

“It would be difficult to overstate our obligation to the health and well-being of elderly and disabled military veterans and, by extension, to their families,” Lelling said in a statement.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called for an independent investigation into the Soldiers’ Home. This probe is the first publicly-announced federal investigation of a nursing home since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

10:50 a.m.: Wisconsin Dept. of Health tracking if new cases emerge from Tuesday’s election

The Wisconsin Department of Health said it plans to track whether new cases of COVID-19 arise from Tuesday’s in-person election, which was held despite the pandemic.

Public health officials said they expect to see any cases from exposure begin to appear next week.

“We will continue this important work to ensure that every case is followed up on, contacted, and anyone who may have been exposed notified,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We hope the extraordinary efforts taken by local clerks, public health, voters and poll workers helped minimize any transmission but we stand prepared to respond if that isn’t the case.”

10:10 a.m.: Boris Johnson ‘at an early stage’ of recovery, UK sees deadliest day so far

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in a London hospital battling the coronavirus, is “continuing his recovery, which is at an early stage,” according to a statement from his official residence and office, 10 Downing Street.

Johnson, 55, remains “in very good spirits,” the statement added.

Johnson has been hospitalized since Sunday evening due to “persistent symptoms” of the novel coronavirus. He was transferred to the intensive care unit on Monday after his condition “worsened,” and released from intensive care on Thursday, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the U.K. saw its deadliest day from the coronavirus so far, with 953 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

9 a.m.: Amid racial disparity, Cuomo says ‘let’s learn from this moment’

In New York, the state hit hardest by the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo thinks “we’re on what they call the plateau, as opposed to the apex.”

“The hospitalization rate is down. The number of new people coming into the hospitals is down,” Cuomo told ABC News’ Good Morning America anchor Michael Strahan Friday. “It’s making it easier for the emergency rooms to deal with this because they’re at overcapacity to begin with. “

In New York state, over 160,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 — that’s more than any other state in the U.S. and country in the world.

The virus has claimed 7,000 lives in New York.

“The terrible news is the death toll is going up. And I understand the logic to that,” Cuomo said. “These are people who came into the hospital a couple of weeks ago, they didn’t recover, they were put on ventilators and once you’re on a ventilator, the longer you’re on a ventilator, the worse it gets.”

He continued, “The whole system is overcapacity, but we built in some relief valves. We have a 2500-bed capacity at the Javits Center [in Manhattan] that we did with the federal government and the military. We have the U.S. Navy ship Comfort [in Manhattan] which has 500 beds available as an overflow.”

As preliminary data showed the largest percentage of coronavirus deaths in New York City was among Hispanics, the governor on Wednesday called for more testing in minority communities.

Hispanics accounted for 34% of COVID-19 deaths though they make up 29% of the population. African-Americans made up 28% of the deaths and 22% of New York City’s population.

“Are we shocked that the rates are higher in the African-American/Latino community? We shouldn’t be, Michael, if we’re being honest,” Cuomo told GMA. “We know that there’s inequality in the health care system. We know that the poorer communities often pay the highest price for these types of emergency situations because they’re really just bringing to light that systemic racism and discrimination in the system.”

“There has to be some lesson that we take from this,” he said.

5:35 a.m.: IMF anticipates worst economic fallout since the Great Depression

In a preview of its World Economic Outlook event next week, the International Monetary Fund says the world should be prepared for the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression due to the novel coronavirus.

“Today we are confronted with a crisis like no other. COVID-19 has disrupted our social and economic order at lightning speed and on a scale that we have not seen in living memory,” Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, said in a statement Thursday.

Three months ago, the IMF said it expected at least 160 countries would see positive per capita income growth in 2020. As of Thursday, the organization now predicts over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.

“The bleak outlook applies to advanced and developing economies alike. This crisis knows no boundaries. Everybody hurts,” Georgieva said. “In fact, we anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression.”

In the U.S., more than 16 million people have filed for unemployment insurance in just three weeks, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The 2020 World Economic Outlook event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14.

4:25 a.m.: FDA, FTC send warning to Infowars

The Food and Drug Administration, along with the Federal Trade Commission has sent a notice to Alex Jones’ Infowars website to stop selling products it claims can help “mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19.”

Officials not only warned against selling alleged treatments for coronavirus, but it also asked consumers not to use the products since none are approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19.

Among the items the FDA said the conspiracy theory website was selling include, “Superblue Silver Immune Gargle,” “SuperSilver Whitening Toothpaste,” “SuperSilver Wound Dressing Gel” and “Superblue Fluoride Free Toothpaste.” The products were sold on the website and promoted on Infowars videos, the FTC letter said.

The FDA has sent 26 warning letters to companies and organizations claiming to have COVID-19 treatments since March 6. Of those, 14 have been labeled as corrected.

While there are trials running across the world, there is no known treatments or vaccines to cure or prevent COVID-19.

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