Key updates for Friday, April 3:
- The U.S. death toll reached more than 7,000 Friday night. It had passed 6,000 around 1 a.m.
- Worldwide total cases passed 1 million, with more than 58,000 deaths.
- The CDC is recommending Americans cover their faces when leaving home.
- Production of Corona beer is temporarily being suspended in Mexico.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned the U.S. not to block 3M from sending respirators to Canada.
- The U.S. military has flown 3.5 million test swabs for coronavirus from Italy to Tennessee.
- The Navy hospital ship in New York City reportedly filled 20 of its 1,000 beds Thursday.
- Costco begins limiting number of customers Friday.
- The sequel to "Top Gun," as well as Disney's "Mulan" and Marvel releases have been delayed because of coronavirus.
- The Navy aircraft carrier captain who sounded the alarm about the outbreak on his ship has been stripped of his command.
- From Thursday's blog: An Alabama county received 5,000 rotted masks from the national stockpile.
- Asian Development Bank says the pandemic will cost the world about 5% of economic activity.
The number of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 passed 7,000 Friday night after reaching 6,000 early in the morning, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University. More than a quarter of those are in New York City.
The worldwide total of confirmed COVID-19 cases is just over 1 million with roughly 58,000 deaths and 226,000 recoveries.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Singer Pink says she had COVID-19, gives $1M to relief funds
The singer Pink says she had COVID-19 and is donating $500,000 each to two emergency funds. In a pair of tweets posted Friday evening, the singer says she tested positive after she and her three-year-old son started displaying symptoms two weeks ago. She says they were negative when they were tested again “just a few days ago."
She announced she's donating $500,000 to the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund in honor of her mother, who worked there for nearly two decades. She's giving the same amount to the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles' COVID-19 response fund. Her post thanked health care workers and called upon the public to “Please. Stay. Home.”
Chinese man jailed after not reporting travel
A Chinese court has sentenced a man to 18 months in jail for failing to report traveling abroad from March 1-6, refusing to answer phone calls from authorities and having his mother lie about his activities, according to a joint statement from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security.
The statement said the man, identified only by his surname, Guo, went to work by subway in the central city of Zhengzhou on March 8-9. After developing a fever and sore throat, he was confirmed to be infected with coronavirus. Authorities then placed more than 40 people who had been in close contact with him under quarantine.
Most regions of China have required those arriving from overseas or even other parts of the country to undergo a 14-day quarantine, either at home or at a government-designated facility such as a hotel.
China reports 1 new case in Wuhan; 18 among people from abroad
China reported one new confirmed case Saturday in the epicenter of Wuhan and 18 among people arriving from abroad, along with four new deaths, all in Wuhan.
China now has recorded a total of 81,639 cases and 3,326 deaths, although those figures are generally considered to be understated because of a lack of testing and a reluctance to report the scale of the original outbreak.
Trump makes nomination for Treasury special inspector general
President Donald Trump is nominating Brian D. Miller to serve as special inspector general for pandemic recovery at the Treasury Department. Miller currently serves as a special assistant to the president and as senior associate counsel in the Office of White House Counsel.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is overseeing the massive government bailout package that aims to shovel $2.2 trillion into the U.S. economy over the next few weeks to try to cushion its free fall during the coronavirus pandemic. It includes $349 billion in loans for small businesses and a $500 billion corporate rescue fund.
The legislation passed by Congress and signed by Trump last week created the special inspector general position as well as a panel appointed by Congress to monitor how the aid is deployed.
Hobby Lobby closing its stores
Hobby Lobby announced that the ongoing coronavirus crisis is prompting it to close its stores until further notice.
In a statement, the Oklahoma City-based crafts retail chain said it also is furloughing all of its store employees and many of its corporate and distribution workers. Hobby Lobby had resisted efforts to close its stores as nonessential services, saying its sale of fabric was essential. A team enforcing Denver’s shelter-in-place order had issued citations to Hobby Lobby stores. On Thursday, deputies in Dallas County, Texas, served Hobby Lobby with cease-and-desist orders for it to close or be found in violation of the county’s order closing all nonessential businesses to fight the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Hobby Lobby describes itself as the world’s largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer with more than 900 stores in 46 states and over 43,000 employees, according to the chain’s website.
Walmart regulating number of customers in stores
To promote health, safety and consistency for associates and customers in this environment, Walmart is taking some further steps for U.S. stores:
Starting Saturday, April 4, Walmart will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for every 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20% of a store’s capacity.
Trump says administration 'doing our best for New York' as Cuomo warns state ventilators supply in danger
President Donald Trump says his administration is “doing our best for New York” even as Governor Andrew Cuomo warns the state is in danger of not having enough ventilators to help coronavirus-stricken patients in a matter of days.
Earlier on Friday, Cuomo signed an executive order allowing the state to take unused ventilators and personal protective equipment from hospitals within the state. The state, which recorded more than 2,900 coronavirus deaths, has been the hardest hit area in the U.S. by the pandemic.
Trump says New York should have ordered more ventilators years ago. He also notes that the federal government is trying to assist other hot spots, including Louisiana and Michigan.
Supreme Court postpones April arguments
The Supreme Court says it will postpone arguments scheduled for April because of the coronavirus pandemic, but isn't ruling out hearing some arguments within months.
Friday's announcement means a total of 20 arguments scheduled for March and April have now been postponed. That includes fights over subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s financial records. The court says it will consider rescheduling some cases before the end of the term “if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance at the time.”
Trump uses law to prevent export of masks, supplies
President Donald Trump is directing FEMA to prevent export of N95 masks and surgical gloves under the Defense Production Act. He says the move is necessary to assure that the medical supplies are available for domestic medical use.
The move comes one day after the White House announced Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel Minnesota-based 3M to make as many N95 masks as the Federal Emergency Management Agency determines are needed.
CDC recommends cloth face coverings where hard to social distance
The federal government is telling Americans that they should cover their faces in public settings and other places where social distancing is difficult, like grocery stores and pharmacies.
The White House says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that Americans cover their faces when leaving the home, especially around other people. But President Donald Trump is calling it “voluntary” and says he himself won’t wear a mask.
The latest guidance suggests that Americans use makeshift coverings, such as T-shirts, scarves or bandanas to cover their noses and mouths. Medical-grade masks, especially N95 masks, are to be reserved for those on the front lines of trying to contain the pandemic.
The policy change comes as public health officials are concerned that those without symptoms can spread the virus which causes COVID-19.
Pentagon says possibility of COVID-19 patients accepted on hospital ship in New York being looked at
A Pentagon spokesman says Defense Secretary Mark Esper is looking at the possibility of accepting COVID-19 patients aboard the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort in New York harbor.
The ship, which began seeing non-COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, has been intended as a trauma treatment facility to take pressure off local New York hospitals.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman says there have been fewer trauma patients than expected, and the Pentagon, in conjunction with FEMA and New York state and city officials, is considering whether to start accepting COVID-19 patients. He said a decision is “not imminent.” He said the Comfort is not ideally suited to handle virus patients.
“It’s not an environment built for handling infectious diseases en masse,” Hoffman said.
He said it would be “very difficult” to keep the virus from the non-COVID patients on the ship and would limit the Navy’s ability to use the Comfort later elsewhere in the country if needed because it would have to undergo an “extensive deep cleaning” before moving.
Utah's Zion is latest national park to close
The red rock vistas at Zion National Park were closed to the public as the Utah site became the latest national park to lock its gates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Local leaders had called for the closure, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday he consulted with the Interior Department to make the decision.
The Zion closure comes two days after Grand Canyon National Park was closed amid local pressure. The two parks join a growing list of the country’s most popular national parks that have closed, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Arches and Canyonlands.
Google using location data to track which states take social distancing seriously
Google has launched a new website that uses anonymous location data to show which areas are taking social distancing seriously and which ones are not.
The COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports site is meant to show responses over time to social distancing guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic. Each report will show population trends across six different categories: Retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential.
Google explained that it's able to calculate the changes in visits and length of stay at different places using the same kind of data it uses to show popular times for places in Google Maps. Officials said in a blog post that it won't be disclosing an individual's location, contacts or movement.
Lawyers: Feds releasing some detained migrants
Immigration lawyers say the U.S. government has unexpectedly started to release detained migrants in Louisiana amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Several lawyers say they have been notified that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would start releasing their clients, some of whom had been previously denied parole. Nathalia Dickson, a lawyer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says she knows of 16 people who are being released from one jail.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox says the threat of the coronavirus is one factor in an ongoing custody review process, but denied there had been a “policy change.”
The agency has faced pressure to reduce its population of roughly 36,000 detainees, about half of whom are accused of civil violations rather than a criminal offense. Experts have warned that the coronavirus outbreak could particularly harm jails where social distancing and other practices to control the spread are difficult. ICE says six detainees have been confirmed to have COVID-19, none in Louisiana.
American Medical Association urges all governors to impose stay-at-home orders
The American Medical Association is urging all U.S. governors to impose stay-at-home orders to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“It is vital that states keep residents at home to avoid overwhelming our health care systems and depleting the equipment, resources and manpower needed to care for the influx of critically ill patients,”’ the AMA said in a letter to the governors signed by the group’s CEO, Dr. James Madara.
The AMA also wants governors to enact emergency orders to close non-essential businesses, limit non-essential activities and prohibit gatherings. Physical distancing is the only effective mechanism to stop the spread of the virus, the group said.
Disney overhauls Marvel release calendar, 'Mulan' moves to late July
The Walt Disney Co. has overhauled its release schedule, moving the dates of half a dozen Marvel movies. On Friday it also announced a new date for the previously delayed live-action adaption of “Mulan” and pushed the fifth “Indiana Jones” film another year, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Black Widow,” the Marvel entry starring Scarlett Johansson, had been set to kick off the summer movie season. Instead, Disney says it will now open Nov. 6. Such delays have unique ramifications for Marvel movies because of their interconnection. With “Black Widow” on the move, that meant a domino effect, pushing all other upcoming Marvel releases back about three months.
Protection for Trump, Pence stepped up
The White House is stepping up precautions to protect the president and vice president from contracting the new coronavirus. Starting Friday, anyone who is expected to be in “close proximity” to either President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a quick COVID-19 test “to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission.” That’s according to White House spokesman Judd Deere.
All visitors to the White House complex already have their temperatures taken when entering the building and if they will be in close proximity to either Trump or Pence. Trump took the new COVID-19 test on Thursday and the White House doctor said results were back in 15 minutes. He tested negative.
CDC data on coronavirus deaths
A first look at recent U.S. death certificate data confirms that most of the initial American coronavirus deaths were people age 65 and older. But it also notes that about 1 in 5 were middle-aged.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the data online Friday. It reflects 1,150 U.S. coronavirus deaths that occurred through the last week of March. That tally is several hundreds deaths lower than other totals reported for the same period, because it relies on death certificate information which can come in weeks after other kinds of reports.
The new data says 56% of deaths were people 75 and older, and another 23% were people in their late 60s and early 70s. But another 17% were ages 45 to 64, and 3% were 35 to 44. The statistics were smaller for younger adults. One child died.
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin tests positive
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin announced Friday that she has tested positive for coronavirus.
Baldwin posted a statement on her Instagram explaining that she is doing okay and that it "came on suddenly yesterday afternoon."
"Chills, aches, fever. I've been social distancing. Doing ALL the things we're being told to do. Still -- it got me. I'm healthy... no underlying conditions...Honestly, I feel like one of the lucky ones," she wrote.
Baldwin is now the second CNN anchor to test positive for coronavirus. On Tuesday, Chris Cuomo, brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, revealed he had tested positive and planned to continue filming his shows from home, where he was quarantined.
Trudeau warns US to allow 3M shipments of PPE
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it would be a mistake for the United States to block 3M from sending respirators to Canada.
3M said Friday the Trump administration has requested 3M cease exporting respirators that they currently manufacture in the U.S. to Canada and Latin America. The company says there are significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where 3M is a critical supplier of respirators.
Trudeau noted the U.S. also receives essential medical supplies and personnel from Canada and says they are making that point to the Trump administration. He says that message is getting through.
The prime minister says he is confident that the close and deep relationship between Canada and the U.S. will hold strong and that will not have to see interruptions in supply chains in either direction.
Corona beer stops production due to coronavirus
Mexico's Grupo Modelo said Thursday it will temporarily stop brewing Corona beer, and other brands, because its business was declared non-essential under an order to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The company said in a statement posted to Twitter that the suspension would go into place Sunday and it was already scaling down production. It added that if the Mexican government clarifies that beer is an "agro-industrial product," then Grupo Modelo would resume brewing.
US has flown 3.5 million test swabs from Italy to Tennessee
A senior U.S. general says the military has now flown 3.5 million swabs used to test for the coronavirus from Italy to Memphis, Tennessee.
Lt. Gen. Jon Thomas is deputy commander of the U.S. military’s Air Mobility Command. He says a shipment arrived Thursday night and another one is scheduled to arrive Friday with 500,000 more swabs for national distribution.
He says there will be another shipment next week.
Thomas also says the military is preparing for the possibility that it will be needed to transport infected patients. He says there have been no requests for transport yet.
Medical professionals from the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine are training medics at Joint Base Charleston on the use of an isolation system that can be used on aircraft to transport infected patients.
The system is a containment unit that would protect aircrew and other medical personnel while also allowing them to provide care during the flight.
WNBA postpones start of season
The WNBA has postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. There is no indication when play would begin. The league was scheduled to open training camps April 26 and the regular season was set to begin May 15. The WNBA will still hold a “virtual” draft April 17. Two WNBA cities are major hot spots for the virus: New York and Seattle. The WNBA was was set to begin its 24th season. It is longest running professional women’s sports league.
Delta to allow rebookings to flights impacted by virus for up to 2 years
Delta is giving its customers up to 2 years to rebook flights that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Delta tickets normally expire one year after purchase. However, change fees have been waived for customers who have upcoming travel booked in April or May 2020. New tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31 can be changed without a fee for up to a year from the date of purchase.
"Taking care of customers is at the center of everything we do. In these times of rapid change, we know our customers want the value of their tickets to be secure and redeemable for a longer period," the airline said in a statement.
UK's Johnson remains in isolation, still has fever
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson still has a fever and will remain in isolation.
Johnson tested positive for the new coronavirus on March 26 and spent seven days in quarantine as recommended by U.K. health officials.
Johnson said Friday that although he is “feeling better,” he still has a fever and is following guidance to stay in isolation until his temperature has returned to normal.
Johnson in a video message warned people not to break the national lockdown on what is expected to be a warm, sunny weekend across much of the U.K.
He acknowledged people may be bored but urged Britons not to flout rules against gathering in groups of more than two people who don’t live together.
Johnson said “this country has made a huge effort, a huge sacrifice” and people should continue to follow the rules in order to save lives.
Florida finally takes cruise passengers, some on stretchers
Passengers from an ill-fated cruise are being allowed to touch dry land for the first time in weeks.
They'll be disembarking in Fort Lauderdale all day Friday following the removal of 14 critically ill people, who were wheeled off to Florida hospitals bracing for an onslaught of coronavirus patients.
The exodus from the Zaandaam and Rotterdam will be followed by the Coral Princess, which arrives Saturday. Buses will be taking people healthy enough to travel directly to the airport, where they’ll board chartered flights home without going through the terminal. Hundreds of crew members will remain on dozens of cruise ships docked or waiting around Florida.
Prince Charles opens fast-tracked London hospital
Prince Charles remotely opened Friday the new Nightingale Hospital at London’s main exhibition and conference center, a temporary facility that will soon be able to treat 4,000 people who have contracted the COVID-19 disease.
Charles said he was “enormously touched” to be asked to open the hospital, created in the ExCel exhibition center in east London, and paid tribute to everyone involved in its construction, which took a “spectacular and almost unbelievable” nine days.
The new National Health Service hospital will only care for people suffering from COVID-19 and patients will only be assigned there after their local London hospital has reached capacity. Other temporary hospitals across the U.K. are being planned.
Navy hospital ship in NYC has 1,000 beds, 20 patients
A Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, is docked in Manhattan with 1,000 beds available to help New York City hospitals which are being overrun with coronavirus patients. As of Thursday night, 20 of those beds were reportedly being used since arriving on Monday.
In a telephone news briefing Thursday morning, commanding officer Capt. Patrick Amersbach said three of the beds were occupied. A Navy spokesperson later updated that number to 20, according to multiple news outlets.
The Comfort has been designated for patients who don’t have the virus but need care for other reasons. Amersbach reportedly said his orders are to only take patients who have tested negative for the coronavirus. He said if he was ordered to start accepting them, the ship could be reconfigured to allow that. But there is concern that if there is an outbreak of the virus on the ship, the medical staff could become infected.
Costco begins limiting customers
Costco will start limiting how many customers can come into its stores beginning Friday in a temporary effort to encourage social distancing.
The company said on its website that only two people per membership card will be allowed to enter. That means parents who normally haul their whole family to the store may have to leave some of them at home.
Costco on Monday also announced its stores will close at 6:30 p.m. on weekdays temporarily -- two hours earlier than normal. Gas stations will close at 7 p.m. on weekdays and 6:30 p.m. on weekends.
Bank says virus could cost world $4.1 trillion
The Asian Development Bank forecasts that the coronavirus pandemic will cost the world economy as much as $4.1 trillion, or nearly 5% of all economic activity.
In an update Friday, the regional lender said growth in developing Asia would likely fall to 2.2% in 2020 from 5.2% last year. The Manila, Philippines-based bank said that Southeast Asia, a market of more than 600 million that has been rapidly growing, will likely log 1% growth this year.
'Top Gun: Maverick' postponed to Christmas
"Top Gun: Maverick" is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to get pushed off its upcoming release date because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Paramount Pictures is moving the sequel to the 1986 Tom Cruise hit from June 24 to December 23.
Several films have been forced to postpone their release dates due to the virus. Many movie theaters are shut down in an effort to increase social distancing amid a growing number of "stay home" orders from governors and mayors.
Navy fires captain who sought help for virus-stricken ship
The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus on his ship was fired Thursday by Navy leaders who said he created a panic by sending his memo pleading for help to too many people.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the ship's commander, Capt. Brett Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis. He said the captain copied too many people on the memo, which was leaked to a California newspaper and quickly spread to many news outlets.
Modly's decision to remove Crozier as ship commander was immediately condemned by members of the House Armed Services Committee, who called it a “destabilizing move” that will “likely put our service members at greater risk and jeopardize our fleet’s readiness."