Coronavirus live updates: US has largest number of deaths in 24-hour span

iStock(NEW YORK) — The death toll amid the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to skyrocket as more than 9,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 as of Sunday afternoon, a day after the U.S. recorded its largest number of deaths in a 24-hour span.

There are now more than 324,000 diagnosed cases in the U.S. and more than 1.2 million around the world. The actual number is 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.

Over 67,000 have died across the globe and more than 252,000 people have recovered, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Today’s biggest developments:

-US death toll crosses 9,000 as cases exceed 300,000
-NYC hospitals may reach total capacity by this week: FEMA report
-Spain records lowest daily death toll in 8 days
-Italy reports decrease in ICU patients for 1st time

Here’s the latest on the developing situation. All times Eastern.

1:32 p.m.: NJ to receive refrigerated trailers as temporary morgues: Report

New Jersey has ordered 20 refrigerator trailers that will act as temporary morgues, according to a report issued by the state, which was reviewed by ABC News.

The order is “to support a strategy to address the surge in bodies resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the report.

The trailers will provide space for 1,600 bodies, the report said and five trailers will be delivered on Friday, the report said.

12:54 p.m.: NYC hospitals may reach total capacity by this week: FEMA report

A FEMA report reviewed by ABC News says New York City’s hospitals are expected to be at or near total capacity during the coming week.

As of Saturday afternoon, 30 of the hospitals in the city were at or near ICU bed capacity, according to the report. Officials caution the number has fluctuated from hour-to-hour as patients are admitted, discharged and transferred to other hospitals.

The temporary hospitals at Javits and USNS Comfort will have substantial beds available, the report said.

12:31 p.m.: UK death toll near 5,000

Health officials in the United Kingdom said 621 people died of coronavirus-related complications over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 4,934.

Matt Hancock, the health minister, said the country’s National Health Service currently has 9,000 ventilators and its target is double that amount. He urged residents to obey social distancing precautions.

“Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” he said

11:54 a.m.: Italian COVID-19 cases near 129,000

Italian health ministers released updated data on the country’s coronavirus cases, and while there are 128,948 confirmed contractions, they said the numbers show hopeful signs.

The new cases since yesterday were 4,316, which represented a 3.5% growth, the lowest percentage since the pandemic hit Italy. There were 525 new deaths reported in the country, bringing the overall death count to 15,887, according to health officials.

The daily death toll continues to decline each day, health officials said.

11:54 a.m.: Louisiana may run out of ventilators by Thursday: Governor

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned that his state could run out of working ventilators by Thursday and ICU beds by next weekend.

Edwards told CNN’s Jake Tapper that his recent projections are better than last week’s model that showed the ventilators would be used up by Tuesday, because the rate of COVID-19 contractions was declining as more people practice social distancing.

“We hope we can continue a downward trend on the rate of transmission of new cases. That buys us a little more time,” he said.

Edwards reiterated that if more people stay at home, the date for the ventilator shortage would continue to be pushed back, however he said the situation in the state is still serious.

11:30 a.m.: Cuomo says New York state could be ‘near apex’

While the number of deaths in the state of New York rose to 4,100 on Sunday morning, up 594 from the previous day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the numbers suggest the state could be “near the apex” of the crisis.

The majority of the deaths have occurred in New York City, where the number of COVID-19 fatalities surpassed 2,600.

He said the number of daily deaths statewide was down from 630 on Friday.

Cuomo said the total number of hospitalizations in the past 24 hours was also down to 574 from a high just five days ago of 1,412. He said the downward trend was “partially a function of more people being discharged.” He said 75% of the people who have gone into the hospital system have recovered and have been discharged.

“We’re looking at this seriously now because by the data we could be very near the apex or the apex could be a plateau and we could be beyond that plateau right now,” Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday morning. “We won’t know until we see the next few days, does it go up or does go down, that’s what the statisticians will tell you today.”

But he said the state’s health care system is at “overcapacity across the board” and hospital’s risk running out of much-needed supplies in “two, three or four days.”

“That is putting a tremendous amount of stress on the health care system,” Cuomo said. “You’re asking a system to do more than it has ever done before, more than it was designed to do, with less.”

10:45 a.m.: Spain records lowest daily death toll in 8 days

While the death toll in Spain from the coronavirus rose by 674 in a 24-hour span to 12,418 on Sunday, health officials said it was the lowest daily count of virus-linked fatalities the country has seen in eight days.

Spain is second only to Italy in the number of COVID-19 deaths, but the lower number of people who have perished in a single day could suggest the country has reached it apex point. On Thursday, Spanish authorities reported 950 deaths, the highest number of deaths in a single day.

10 a.m.: Pope leads Palm Sunday service in near-empty St. Peter’s Basilica

With a choir practicing social distancing and his aides, a few nuns and prelates spaced out in cavernous St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis led Palm Sunday service, telling young people specifically to “feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line.”

“The tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others.  For life is measured by love,” the pontiff said in his homily to kick off the holy week of Easter.

Normally, Francis would have addressed his Palm Sunday remarks to the masses clutching olive branches and palm fronds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. But due to Italy’s stringent social distancing rules to blunt the virus that has ravaged the country, a more subdued service was held inside the basilica.

The pope specifically aimed his homily at young people.

“Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others,” Francis said. “Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line. Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others; it pays!”

9 a.m.: First responders get fast-lane service at some grocery stores

In an effort to support those on the front lines in the battle against the pandemic, some grocery stores in New York are creating “express lanes” for first responders.

PSK Market, Foodtown and Pathmark stores have already established the special first-responder lanes and announced they will hand out $100,000 in gift cards to people who work in hospitals.

“After a 12-hour shift, we should get them through the aisles, and let them get what they need,” said Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president who is a former police officer, told ABC station WABC in New York City.

Adams said he hopes the first-responder supermarket “express lanes” will catch on across the state and nation.

“All first responders should simply be brought to the front of the line,” says Adams.

8:30 a.m.: Joe Biden offers again to speak with President Trump

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nominee, said on Sunday that President Donald Trump has yet to take him up on his offer to have a phone conversation about the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Well, it hasn’t happened. I’m happy to talk to him and I’d just tell him what we found is important to do … and that is to move swiftly and … we have to move more rapidly,” Biden told ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning on “This Week.”

Biden currently leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by more than 300 delegates in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination — a lead that is expected to grow as Wisconsin voters cast their ballots in the primary on Tuesday.

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

4:38 a.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweets thanks to the British public for staying home

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, tweeted his thanks to the British public for staying home and saving lives.

Johnson himself is still in isolation after testing positive for the novel coronavirus on March 26. Yesterday it was announced that his pregnant fiancee, 32-year-old Carrie Symonds, has been self-isolating after suffering from symptoms of coronavirus and has been in bed for the past week.

2:01 a.m.: City in New Jersey now requiring all employees of essential businesses to wear face covers

Ravinder Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, announced in a statement that all employees of essential businesses still operating in the city are now required to wear face covers or masks while working.

The directive, issued by the Hoboken Office of Emergency Management, came on the same day that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey had suffered its worst day since the coronavirus outbreak began. The death toll in the Garden State has so far reached 846 with 34,124 positive cases reported.

“Today, the Hoboken Office of Emergency Management issued a directive requiring that all employees of essential businesses, including but not limited to supermarkets, pharmacies and all restaurants and food establishments, wear a face cover and gloves while at work and serving customers,” read the statement from Mayor Bhalla. “Face covers can include a bandana or scarf, or similar material. Face masks are also permitted, however, N95 masks and other PPE are urged to be left for medical professionals and first responders.”

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