Coronavirus updates: More cases in New York than any single country

narvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) — A global pandemic of the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of at least 16,129 people in the United States and at least 94,567 people worldwide.

In New York state, over 160,000 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.

The number of cases in New York alone is now higher than any other country.

In the U.S., over 452,000 have been diagnosed.

Worldwide, more than 1.57 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 is developing. All times Eastern.

8:12 p.m.: 2 more NYPD employees die

There have now been 2,204 uniformed members and 408 civilian members of the New York Police Department who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

More than 500 officers who had tested positive have now returned to duty, Police Commissioner Shea said Thursday.

The NYPD announced two additional deaths.

Traffic enforcement agent Richard Austin, who had worked with the NYPD for 35 years, and Police Officer Eric Murray, assigned to the 25th Precinct, both died from complications related to the coronavirus. Murray had been with the department for over 14 years.

6:54 p.m.: Trump doesn’t push for nationwide coronavirus testing

President Donald Trump said the country doesn’t need nationwide testing for COVID-19 before reopening it. Although he called the move a “nice thing,” he said it would be too impractical with the country’s population.

“We’re talking about 325 million people, and that’s not going to happen, as you can imagine,” he said. “It’s not necessary, but it would be a good thing to have.”

Trump, who spent a shorter time than usual in the daily task force briefing, reported that the U.S. has now completed 2 million tests.

“There are certain sections of the country that are in phenomenal shape already,” Trump asserted. “What we’re going to be doing in the very near future is going to certain areas of our country and doing massive testing.”

5:27 p.m.: Georgia woman arrested for selling phony anti-coronavirus products: Feds

Rong Sun, aka Vicky Sun, 34, of Fayetteville, Georgia has been charged with selling an illegal pesticide as a coronavirus protective product, according to the Justice Department.

Sun sold “Virus Shut Out” and “Stop the Virus” on eBay claiming it provided an “extra layer” of protection from the virus, the criminal complaint said. In reality, the products were an unregistered pesticide known as “Toamit Virus Shut Out,” which were allegedly smuggled from Japan, according to the complaint.

In one picture from the criminal complaint, it shows a packet of “Virus Shut Out” sitting next to a sleeping baby with the caption, “Mothers no longer have to worry about children’s exposure to various bacteria.”

4:40 p.m.: More than 1,200 dead in NY nursing homes

The coronavirus has spread through nursing homes in New York, infecting more than 4,100 residents and killing more than 1,200, new figures show.

There are positive COVID-19 cases in more than half of the state’s 613 licensed nursing homes, which collectively are home to about 100,000 people.

There have been 1,231 deaths among nursing home residents, which is more than 1% of the total nursing home population in New York, according to state health department data.

The state has declined to identify which nursing homes have confirmed cases. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday there were no plans to put all positive cases into select nursing homes.

Meanwhile, 39 patients have died from the coronavirus at the Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, a home in Richmond, Virginia, the center said Thursday.

Six of the deaths were in the last 24 hours.

Eighty-four residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and are being treated at a hospital or at the Canterbury center, the center said.

All staff members were tested; 25 tested positive and some results are outstanding, the center said.

4:15 p.m.: Michigan creates task force to look at racial disparity of COVID-19

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she’s creating a task force to examine the racial disparity of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Although African Americans make up 14% of Michigan’s population, they account for 40% of the coronavirus deaths.

“This virus is holding up a mirror to society and reminding us of deep inequity in our country,” Whitmer said.

Michigan is not alone.

Coronavirus is disproportionately killing the black community in many states across the U.S., including Maryland.

About 30% of Maryland’s population is African American and about 60% of the population is white, The Baltimore Sun reported, citing census data.

African Americans make up at least 2,064 of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, and at least 55 of the deaths.

Whites make up at least 1,540 of those who have tested positive in Maryland, and at least 39 of the fatalities.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted Thursday that this data “shows troubling disparities and points to a persistent public health challenge that we must address.”

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

2:30 p.m.: UK prime minister out of intensive care

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in a London hospital battling the coronavirus, was moved out of the intensive care unit Thursday evening local time, a spokesman for his office said.

Johnson, 55, “is in extremely good spirits,” and is now back in “the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery,” a spokesman said.

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,” according to a statement from his official residence and office, 10 Downing Street.

Besides the prime minister, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, was also diagnosed with the coronavirus, and has since ended his self-isolation.

2 p.m.: 702 deaths in Louisiana, ventilator usage drops

In Louisiana, the death toll has climbed to 702 as the number of confirmed cases reaches 18,283.

Only one of Louisiana’s 64 parishes does not have a confirmed case.

Last week, nearly 18% of those diagnosed were in hospitals in the state, and now just 11.6% of those with coronavirus are in hospitals.

While nearly a quarter of those in hospitals are on ventilators, according to Nola.com, ventilator usage has fallen for five-straight days.

The rate of new deaths has also gone down each day this week. On Monday, there was a 38.3% increase in the amount of new deaths but on Thursday it was 7.6%.

12:50 p.m.: Data shows racial disparities among Maryland cases

Coronavirus is disproportionately killing the black community in the U.S., and new data shows Maryland is no exception.

About 30% of Maryland’s population is African American and about 60% of the population is white, The Baltimore Sun reported, citing Census data.

African Americans make up at least 2,064 of those who have tested positive in the state, and at least 55 of the deaths.

Whites make up at least 1,540 of those who have tested positive in Maryland, and at least 39 of the fatalities.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted Thursday that this data “shows troubling disparities and points to a persistent public health challenge that we must address.”

Louisiana recently released data showing that while African Americans make up roughly 32% of the population, they account for 70% of the deaths in the state. In Michigan, African Americans have died at more than eight times the rate of white people despite making up only 14% of the state’s population.

11:50 a.m.: Death toll reaches daily record of 799 in NY state

In New York, the state hit hardest by the pandemic, the hospitalization rate is down and the change in ICU admissions is the lowest since March 19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Statewide,18,000 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus, far below the worst-case projections, he added.

“We are flattening the curve by what we’re doing,” Cuomo said, adding, “you can’t relax.”

Despite the improvements, 799 lives were lost in New York state on Wednesday — a daily record during the pandemic, Cuomo said.

To put the striking death toll into context, Cuomo said New York state has lost 7,067 lives to the coronavirus, while the state lost 2,753 lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

New York City, the most hard-hit part of the state, is among the areas seeing some improvement, which Mayor Bill de Blasio says shows sheltering in place and social distancing are working.

“If we continue to make progress,” the mayor said, for the dense city of 8.6 million residents, the month of May “might be easier than what I originally feared it would be.”

“Let’s double down” on social distancing and sheltering in place, he added, stressing that New Yorkers “have to earn our way out of this horrible situation.”

11 a.m.: Pennsylvania schools closed for rest of year

Pennsylvania schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday.

Learning will continue online and families can still pick up meals at designated sites.

10:40 a.m.: Georgia’s primary postponed until June 9

Georgia’s primary will now be postponed until June 9, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said on Thursday.

This is the second time the state’s presidential primary has been pushed back (it was originally scheduled for March 24).

“I certainly realize that every difficulty will not be completely solved by the time in-person voting begins for the June 9 election, but elections must happen even in less than ideal circumstances,” Raffensperger said in a press release. “Just like our brave healthcare workers and first responders, our county election officials and poll workers are undertaking work critical to our democracy, and they will continue to do this critical work with all the challenges that the current crisis has brought forth.”

10:15 a.m.: In NYC, May ‘might be easier than what I originally feared’

New York City, hit hard by the pandemic, is now seeing some improvement, which Mayor Bill de Blasio says shows sheltering in place and social distancing are working.

“If we continue to make progress,” the mayor said, for the dense city of 8.6 million residents, the month of May “might be easier than what I originally feared it would be.”

“Let’s double down” on social distancing and sheltering in place, he added, stressing that New Yorkers “have to earn our way out of this horrible situation.”

9:43 a.m.: New York cases primarily from Europe, not Asia

Though the first positive coronavirus case in New York was on March 1, the virus probably circulated in and around the city at least two weeks earlier — and most cases were transmitted from Europe, not China, where the virus originated, according to new research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The research shows the pandemic in New York City and surrounding area was predominately set off through untracked transmission between the U.S. and Europe, with limited evidence supporting direct introductions from China or other locations in Asia.

7:19 a.m.: New York may be reaching its peak in outbreak, Dr. Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic, said Thursday he thinks the U.S. death toll will end up being far less than the original projection and that New York may be reaching its peak in the outbreak.

A revised model by the University of Washington, often cited by the White House, now predicts that 60,000 people will die from the novel coronavirus in the United States by Aug. 4. The White House coronavirus task force previously projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, even if the current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

“Even though it’s good news and encouraging, we got to make sure, as I always say, we keep our foot on the accelerator when it comes to mitigation,” Fauci told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Thursday on Good Morning America.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there’s “some indication” that parts of the country are beginning to see a bend in the upward curve of the virus outbreak, particularly New York, the U.S. epicenter, which in recent days has seen a drop in the number of patients being hospitalized and needing intensive care.

“You never want to, you know, claim victory prematurely,” he said. “But when you see those kinds of trends, you hope that we’ll see that curve go down and then can start to think about gradually getting back to some sort of steps towards normality.”

New York recorded its largest daily death toll from COVID-19 on Wednesday, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state’s outbreak appeared to be stabilizing based on the recent decline in hospitalizations.

When asked whether he thinks New York has hit its peak, Fauci said “it’s tough to tell” but “we may very well be there.

Fauci warned that people shouldn’t assume warm weather will drive the virus away, and he urged everyone to continue practicing social distancing and regularly washing hands, even when things return to normal.

“There’s precedent with other infections like influenza and some of the common more benign coronaviruses that when the weather gets warmer, that the virus goes down, its ability to replicate, to spread, it doesn’t like warm, moist weather as much as it likes cold, dry weather,” he said. “But having said that, one should not assume that we are going to be rescued by a change in the weather. You must assume that the virus will continue to do its thing.”

7:01 a.m.: Washington inmates cause disturbance after learning six tested positive for COVID-19

More than 100 inmates caused a disturbance at a men’s prison in Washington state on Wednesday night, after six prisoners tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The demonstration erupted in the recreation yard at Monroe Correctional Complex. The inmates set off fire extinguishers within two housing units within the prison’s minimum security unit, according to a press release from the Washington state Department of Corrections.

All measures to bring the individuals into compliance were initially ignored, officials said, including verbal directives, pepper spray and sting balls, which release light, noise and rubber pellets.

An emergency response team was deployed and gave verbal directives, which were obeyed by over half the inmates. Sting balls were then discharged into the area and the other inmates stopped the destruction of two housing units and came into compliance, officials said.

There were no injuries to staff or the incarcerated men, officials said.

“It is believed at this time that the incident was caused by recent positive test results of COVID- 19 among six men within the Minimum Security Unit,” the Washington Department of Corrections said in a statement. “Those six men were transferred from the Minimum Security Unit on Sunday to the facility’s isolation unit. The facility health care team is providing clinical monitoring and supportive care for the individuals in the isolation unit.”

6:02 a.m.: Pandemic drives sub-Saharan Africa toward first recession in 25 years

The global pandemic of the novel coronavirus is driving sub-Saharan Africa toward its first recession in 25 years, according to a World Bank report published Thursday.

Economic growth in the region is forecast to fall sharply from 2.4% in 2019 to as much as -5.1% in 2020, according to the report. An analysis shows that the pandemic will cost sub-Saharan Africa “between $37 billion and $79 billion in output losses for 2020 due to a combination of effects,” the World Bank said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the limits of societies and economies across the world, and African countries are likely to be hit particularly hard,” Hafez Ghanem, World Bank’s vice president for Africa, said in a statement Thursday.

The World Bank also warned that the pandemic could spark a food security crisis in Africa due to a potentially substantial decline in agricultural production and food imports.

A number of African nations have reacted “quickly and decisively” to curb the spread of the virus, the World Bank said. However, the report notes several factors that could hinder the containment and mitigation measures, in particular the region’s fragile health systems, poor access to safe water and sanitation facilities, and the large and densely populated urban informal settlements.

5:32 a.m.: ‘We have reached the peak,’ Spain’s prime minister says

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Thursday that the government would soon start relaxing the national lockdown measures that were put in place to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We have reached the peak and now the de-escalation begins,” Sanchez told Spanish Parliament, noting that the process would be “gradual.”

“The climb has been difficult, as the descent will also be,” he said.

Spain is among the worst affected countries in the global pandemic, with more than 148,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19. At least 14,792 people have died from the disease there, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

3:58 a.m.: USNS Mercy crew member tests positive for COVID-19

A crew member aboard the USNS Mercy hospital ship moored in Los Angeles has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

U.S. Navy Lt. Andrew Bertucci told ABC News the crew member “is currently isolated aboard the ship, and will soon transfer to an off-ship isolation facility where they will self-monitor for severe symptoms.”

“This will not affect the ability for Mercy to receive patients,” Bertucci said in a statement late Wednesday. “The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board.”

After docking in the Port of Los Angeles last month, the USNS Mercy began treating non-coronavirus patients from area hospitals to help free up resources for COVID-19 patients.

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