The virus has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.
HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.
Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)
At a White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic late Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that people who leave New York City should self-quarantine for 14 days to avoid spreading COVID-19 further.
“We remain deeply concerned about New York City,” Birx said, noting that about 56% of all new cases in the U.S. are coming out of New York and that nearly one-third of deaths are in that state alone. Vice President Mike Pence then repeated the instruction for those who travel outside New York to self-isolate for two weeks, noting that infection rates for coronavirus in the New York metropolitan area are roughly 1 in 1,000 people.
At the same briefing, President Trump said New York was “definitely a hot spot” for the virus. In New York, there were more than 25,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, as of Tuesday, and more than 200 dead — far surpassing other states.
— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman
Warner Bros. announced it is postponing the release of “Wonder Woman 1984” to Aug. 14 instead of June 5. The studio is also delaying “In the Heights” until further notice. Directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu, the adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut musical was supposed to open in theaters on June 26.
The postponements are the first signs that many industries and cultural events could remain halted until at least June. Up until now, most of the movies that had pushed their theatrical release dates had been movies slated for this spring. But with the pandemic continuing to worsen across much of Europe and North America, it leaves industries like Hollywood in a state of uncertainty. Public health and government officials have warned that the lockdowns and closures of nonessential businesses currently in place could remain for many weeks or even months.
In the U.S. and Canada, most movie theaters have been closed since last week. The two biggest chains, AMC and Regal, shuttered their more than 1,100 locations, with AMC closing for at least six to eight weeks, and Regal closing until further notice.
“We made Wonder Woman 1984 for the big screen and I believe in the power of cinema,” the film’s director Patty Jenkins tweeted in response to the postponement. “In these terrible times, when theater owners are struggling as so many are, we are excited to re-date our film to August 14th 2020 in a theater near you, and pray for better times for all by then.”
— Marina Fang
Nurses and doctors in Spain have demanded action after the country reported its sharpest daily increase in cases on Tuesday, with about 14% of the nearly 40,000 infections among health workers. The SATSE nursing union said Madrid’s hospitals were on “the verge of collapse” and needed urgent support, while a doctors union said it had filed a lawsuit demanding protective equipment within 24 hours. The capital’s Palacio de Hielo mall, home to an Olympic-sized ice rink (link in Spanish), began operating as a makeshift mortuary after authorities said facilities were unable to cope. Spain is Europe’s worst-hit country after Italy and has recorded 2,696 deaths.
— James Martin
President Donald Trump pinned all blame for the shortage of available ventilators in New York state — which has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. — on Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during a Fox News town hall on Tuesday afternoon.
With more than 25,000 cases across the state, Cuomo has said repeatedly that his team is “scouring the globe” for ventilators to treat the most severely affected patients. They are aiming to amass about 40,000 of the devices, but have so far secured just 7,000, Cuomo said Tuesday morning. The governor criticized federal authorities for refusing to release a federal stockpile of 20,000 ventilators, and also for refusing to enforce the Defense Production Act, which would require American manufacturers to begin churning out the devices to help combat the crisis.
Less than two hours later, Trump produced a printout of a headline critical of New York authorities, handing the sheet of paper to Fox News host Bill Hemmer. The printout is believed to reference a column by Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York. According to McCaughey, Cuomo passed up an opportunity to add thousands of ventilators to its stockpile in 2015, years before COVID-19 appeared.
“They can’t blame us for that,” Trump said. He also dug in his heels on his earlier suggestion that the “cure” can’t be worse than “the problem,” saying that the country is “not built to shut down” despite warnings from public health experts that a return to normal would be detrimental to the nation’s health care system.
“The faster we go back, the better it’s going to be,” Trump claimed. Later, he said he wanted to see the country “opened up and just rearing to go by Easter.”
— Sara Boboltz
U.S. President Donald Trump may be focused on restarting the American economy, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government’s objective is to keep people alive and healthy.
In Trudeau’s daily national address, from outside his home where he remains in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, contracted COVID-19, the Canadian leader suggested the two neighboring countries are charting different courses.
“We are continuing, in Canada, to base our decisions and our recommendations and our guidelines to Canadians on science,” Trudeau said. “Our priority is keeping Canadians alive and healthy and that is what we will continue to focus on in Canada.”
— Althia Raj
A new hospital in London will be opened to help the U.K. cope with the coronavirus crisis, the government confirmed. The Excel in the capital’s Docklands area, which is currently used for conferences, will be transformed into the National Health Service Nightingale Hospital, providing space for 2,000 beds.
It will be opened and run with the help of the military, health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed at a press conference in Downing Street on Tuesday. The U.K. death toll hit 422 on Tuesday, with 87 more people with the disease having died in 24 hours.
— James Martin
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who leads the state with the most COVID-19 cases in the U.S., issued an urgent plea at his daily press conference, warning that the rate of growth for cases continues to increase and will peak in “14 to 20 days,” making it essential that the state strengthen its hospital capacity and obtain much-needed medical supplies.
“We’re not slowing it, and it’s accelerating on its own,” Cuomo said, explaining that experts describe it not as a “freight train” but a “bullet train.”
“They say ‘flatten the curve, flatten the curve.’ We’re not flattening the curve,” he added. “We have exhausted every option available to us.”
In addition to shutting down nonessential businesses and greatly increasing testing, the state is retrofitting facilities such as New York City’s Javits Center to use them as extra hospitals, recruiting more medical staff and using hotels and empty college dorms for extra beds.
Cuomo estimated the state will need an additional 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators. Warning that the state could not do enough on its own to stem the spread of the virus, the governor did not mince words in criticizing the federal government’s response.
“Where are they? Where are the ventilators?” Cuomo said, after calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to release a federal stockpile of ventilators.
Cuomo also blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency for sending the state only 400 ventilators.
“You pick the 2,600 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators!” he said, practically yelling.
The governor called on the federal government to encourage states to collaborate, as each state will reach its peak in cases at different times and will require the same resources. He called New York “the canary in the coal mine.”
“I will take personal responsibility for transporting the ventilators,” he said. “I’ll send ventilators, I’ll send health care workers, our professionals ... Let’s learn from each other and help each other.”
Without directly mentioning Trump, Cuomo referred to the president’s suggestion Monday that the economy could reopen sooner than expected.
Although he acknowledged the need to consider the economy, Cuomo said it’s important to “focus on the looming crisis” of the growth in COVID-19 cases and ensuing hospital shortages.
“We are not putting a dollar value on human lives. First order of business: Save people’s lives,” Cuomo said, reiterating that there can be an “economic startup strategy that is consistent with a public health strategy.”
On Monday, Cuomo had suggested allowing young people to return to work sooner and testing people who have recovered to ensure they’re no longer carriers of the virus.
— Marina Fang
India To Go Under Complete Lockdown At Midnight — 3/24/20, 11:00 a.m. ET
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the entire country would be placed under a full lockdown for 21 days starting at midnight, insisting that this was the only way to tackle the highly infectious disease. As he explained the concept of exponential transmission through data, Modi said India would pay a high price if people didn’t follow social distancing measures.
However, Modi did not announce any economic relief package, raising concerns about how people with low incomes will survive if they are unable to work for 21 days. News reports have said that poor migrant laborers who have been trying to reach their homes in the midst of the lockdown have been harassed and beaten up by the police. The prime minister also did not clearly outline how Indians could access food, medicine and other essential goods.
Many parts of India have already been under a strict lockdown as the number of COVID-19 patients has risen to 519 across the country. Ten people have died so far.
— Sharanya Hrishikesh
The International Olympic Committee and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to delay the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo until the summer of 2021 at latest, Abe told reporters after speaking with IOC President Thomas Bach. It’s the latest global event to be upended by the pandemic. Read more here.
— Marina Fang
An Arizona man has died after consuming a toxic, non-medicinal version of chloroquine, an active ingredient in drugs touted last week by President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” for treating COVID-19, which also appears in a product used to clean fish tanks.
His wife, who had been in critical condition but is now recovering after taking the substance, told NBC News that the couple decided to self-medicate with chloroquine phosphate, an aquarium cleaning product they had in their home. During a press conference last week, Trump referred to two anti-malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, as a possible COVID-19 remedy.
As HuffPost’s Dominique Mosbergen reports: “The product they consumed contained the same active ingredient as the two anti-malaria drugs Trump referred to — but unlike the medicine taken by humans, the product they ingested is used to get rid of algae and a parasite that causes a condition known as white spot disease in fish.”
“Be careful and call your doctor,” the woman, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her family’s privacy, told NBC News. “This is a heartache I’ll never get over.” Read more here.
— Marina Fang
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said his state would hold primary elections as scheduled for April 7 despite pressure to postpone due to coronavirus concerns. He pointed out that there were also local races on the ballot for offices that would go unfilled for weeks or months, such as mayoral and county seats who would be crucial decision-makers as the crisis continues.
Evers encouraged voters to mail in ballots from the safety of their homes, saying that he and his wife had already sent theirs.
— Liza Hearon
From today, people in the U.K. must stay at home, with few exceptions. Tens of thousands of nonessential shops are to close. Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship. Hotels and campsites will now join pubs, cafes and restaurants in being closed to slow the disease’s spread.
And, while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue.
— James Martin
China To Lift Lockdown In Most Of Virus-Hit Hubei Province — 3/24/20, 3:40 a.m. ET
Chinese authorities announced Tuesday they would end a two-month lockdown of most of the virus-hit Hubei province at midnight, The Associated Press reported.
People with a clean bill of health will be allowed to leave, the provincial government said. The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8.
China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting Jan. 23 in a surprise middle-of-the-night announcement and expanded it to most of the province in succeeding days. Train service and flights were canceled and checkpoints set up on roads into the central province.
The drastic steps came as a new coronavirus began spreading to the rest of China and overseas during the Lunar New Year holiday, when many Chinese travel. The virus raged for weeks in Wuhan; however, the outbreak has gradually been brought under control there, and Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week.
— James Martin
Johns Hopkins Official Attacks Trump For Wanting To Ease Restrictions Meant To Curb Coronavirus ― 3/23/20, 10:45 p.m. ET
The director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security criticized President Donald Trump and his allies in a lengthy Twitter thread on Monday for wanting to ease economic and social restrictions meant to ease the spread of coronavirus.
“In last 24 hrs there’ve been prominent US voices calling for a stop to social distancing, citing rationale that they’re worse than impact of COVID itself,” Tom Inglesby tweeted. “These big social distancing measures take time to work. … To drop all these measures now would be to accept that COVID pts will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the US health care system could bear.”
The remarks came hours after the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing, in which Trump claimed that the U.S. will see more deaths by keeping the restrictions in place than by COVID-19 itself.
― Sanjana Karanth
Trump Claims U.S. Will See More Death By Keeping Economy Shut Than By Coronavirus ― 3/23/20, 9:55 p.m. ET
President Donald Trump’s insistence on downplaying the coronavirus risks reached dangerous levels on Monday as he scoffed at medical advice and proposed opening up the economy despite skyrocketing case numbers.
There are “certain hot spots like New York,” and the federal government has to work on those spots, “but at the same time, at a certain point, we have to get open, and we have to get moving,” Trump said. He added that “we can do two things at one time” before again bringing up flu deaths and motor vehicle fatalities.
“We have a very active flu season, more active than most. It’s looking like it’s heading to 50,000 or more deaths ― deaths, not cases. Fifty-thousand deaths ― which is, that’s a lot,” he said. “And you look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars. So we have to do things to get our country open.”
As reporters pushed the president on why he would open up businesses when the country is seeing COVID-19 deaths occur at a faster rate, Trump said that more people would die from economic and social restrictions than from allowing the virus to spread.
“You have suicides over things like this, when you have terrible economies,” he said, adding that “the cure has been very tough.”
― Sanjana Karanth
For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.
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