COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.
There are more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 165,000 people have died from it, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 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.)
Sydney Beaches Reopen, Despite Health Warnings — 4/20/20, 4:40 a.m. ET
A council in Sydney reopened its famous beaches on Monday, despite authorities warning the area was still a coronavirus hotspot.
Randwick City Council announced on Sunday it would open some beaches for exercise purposes only. Mayor Danny Said explained that keeping the beaches open would depend on attendance numbers and that restrictions could return if people don’t cooperate. Sitting, sunbathing and congregating in groups was still not allowed.
Australia managed to get its coronavirus epidemic under control before it strained the public health system, reporting just 53 new cases on Sunday. According to the health ministry data, those cases took the total to 6,586, with 71 deaths.
— Carly Williams
U.K. ‘Past The Peak’ But Country Will Be Hit With ‘Further Waves’ — 4/20/20, 4:30 a.m. ET
The U.K. coronavirus lockdown could be lifted in four weeks time given the “damage” it is causing, a leading scientific expert who advises ministers said.
Jeremy Farrar, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said on Sunday the U.K. was “probably just past the peak” in many parts of the country. But he warned there would be “further waves” of the virus in the future and that while a vaccine could be created “towards the end of this year,” there was an “enormous logistics” challenge to produce enough for the entire world.
“We should not see this as a discrete episode. I think the probability of what we must be planning for is that there would be further waves of this in the future,” Farrar told Sky News. “But for this first wave I think the number of new infections stabilized maybe a week or two ago, the number of hospitalizations maybe a week or so ago… we’re probably just past the peak in many parts of this country, as is true in many parts of the world.”
— Ned Simons
U.S. COVID-19 Cases Surpass 750,000 — 4/20/20, 2:01 a.m. ET
The United States has recorded at least 750,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, Reuters reported Sunday. The death toll there has surpassed 40,000.
Although it’s home to about 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. now accounts for more than 30% of the world’s total COVID-19 cases. Spain, which has recorded the second-highest number of cases globally, has reported more than 198,000 cases to date.
— Dominique Mosbergen
Trump Says He’ll Invoke Defense Production Act To Increase Testing Swabs — 4/20/20, 1:51 a.m. ET
President Donald Trump said Sunday that he intends to use the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law, to increase the production of swabs used for coronavirus testing.
Trump said he would invoke the act to compel a U.S. manufacturer to increase its swab production by over 20 million per month. He did not identify the manufacturer, but said the law would allow the U.S. to get swabs “very easily.“
Trump previously invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up U.S. production of ventilators.
— Dominique Mosbergen
U.S. Death Toll Tops 40,000 — 4/19/20, 3:55 p.m. ET
COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of at least 40,000 people in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The death toll in the U.S. is nearly twice as high as that in Spain, the country with the second most virus-related deaths in the world.
With more than 13,000 deaths, New York has by far suffered the highest number of deaths, compared to any other state. Roughly 70% of those deaths were in New York City.
— Hayley Miller
Cuomo: New York ‘Past The Peak’ Of Outbreak, But Not Out Of Woods Yet — 4/19/20, 3:15 p.m. ET
New York appears to be “past the peak” of its devastating coronavirus outbreak, thanks to social distancing and other mitigation measures, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tweeted. However, the infection rate needs to come down more before some restrictions can be eased.
“We believe NY is past the peak and we are now descending the other side of the mountain,” Cuomo tweeted. “The continuation of this positive trend depends on our actions. What each of us does makes all the difference.”
“Think about what we’ve gone through,” he added. “Think about how many New Yorkers we’ve lost and are still losing. We must tread VERY carefully now. The worst thing that can happen is for us to go through this hell all over again.”
Cuomo announced Sunday that New York will undertake next week the “most aggressive statewide antibody testing survey in the nation” in an effort to more accurately gauge what percentage of the population has been exposed to the virus.
Of the more than 740,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., roughly 30% — or about 242,000 people — are in New York state, and more than half of those are in New York City.
— Hayley Miller
Too Early To Tell If And How Long Immunity Lasts, Official Says — 4/19/20, 1:50 p.m. ET
Scientists are still studying whether, and for how long, people who recover from COVID-19 are immune to the coronavirus, Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the country’s most prominent infectious disease experts, said Sunday.
Birx, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that researchers are testing the efficacy of using plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to treat the disease in other patients.
“I will tell you in most infectious diseases, except for HIV, we know that when you get sick and you recover and you develop the antibody, that that antibody often confers immunity,” she said. “We just don’t know if this is immunity for a month, immunity for six months, immunity for six years.”
Blood tests for coronavirus antibodies are seen as key for reopening parts of the country, but some experts have warned that some of the tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration could be faulty, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
― Hayley Miller
Contamination Caused Critical Delay Of CDC Coronavirus Testing: Report — 4/18/20, 8:17 p.m. ET
A contamination of the first round of COVID-19 testing kits made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slowed the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post and CNN confirmed Saturday.
The Food and Drug Administration told CNN that the CDC did not manufacture its tests under the agency’s standard protocol.
“CDC made its test in one of its laboratories, rather than in its manufacturing facilities,” an FDA spokesperson said. “CDC did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol.”
The Atlanta lab that the CDC manufactured the kits in was also handling synthetic coronavirus material, which likely led to the contamination, the Post reported, citing federal regulators and scientists who knew of the situation.
The Post was the first to report on the contamination of the test kits.
— Carla H. Russo
Testing Troubles Continue To Hobble U.S. Virus Response — 4/18/20, 6:50 p.m. ET
Although President Donald Trump is pushing to reopen parts of the country by May 1, health care officials are warning that they are still having problems ramping up testing capabilities.
Experts agree that the key to lifting distancing restrictions is testing, given that some patients do not show symptoms but can nonetheless pass the virus on to others. Those who test negative could start returning to their jobs and offices. Around 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment since Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus crisis last month.
“There are places that have enough test swabs, but not enough workers to administer them. There are places that are limiting tests because of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] criteria on who should get tested,” Dr. Megan Ranney an emergency doctor and associate professor at Brown University, told The Associated Press. “There’s just so many inefficiencies and problems with the way that testing currently happens across this country.”
The president has shoved all responsibility for testing onto the individual states. But governors and local public health authorities say they will require federal help to secure enough swabs, protective gear and specialized lab chemicals, in part so that states are not competing among themselves.
Trump on Saturday continued to deny any issue with testing, claiming once again that his administration has done a “wonderful” job managing the crisis.
— Sara Boboltz
U.S.-Canada Border Closed To Nonessential Travel For Another 30 Days — 4/18/20, 6:20 p.m. ET
The U.S. and Canada have agreed to keep their shared border closed for another month. Only essential goods and services have been allowed to pass through since March 21.
In a press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said to expect the restrictions to continue for “many, many” weeks. Canada has around 32,000 cases of COVID-19 with 1,340 deaths, while the U.S. has more than 725,000 cases with nearly 160,000 deaths.
— Sara Boboltz
New York Death Toll Lowest Since April 1 — 4/18/20, 4:18 p.m. ET
New York state’s daily coronavirus death toll dipped below 550 for the first time in more than two weeks, with 540 reported deaths on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said.
But the governor stressed on Saturday that the crisis is far from over, saying of the tally, “that doesn’t mean happy days are here again.” New York City remains the nation’s COVID-19 epicenter, which Cuomo has attributed in part to the city’s density. Hospitals in the state are taking in around 2,000 patients per day.
“We are not at a point when we are going to be reopening anything immediately,” Cuomo said. The state extended its lockdown order this week to May 15.
— Sara Boboltz
Hawaii Shuts Down All Beaches, Surfing Still OK — 4/17/20, 8:45 p.m. ET
Gov. David Ige (D) ordered all of the beaches in Hawaii to shut down in an attempt to get residents to follow social distancing guidelines. The new rule bans people from lying down, lounging, sunbathing, sitting or standing on all beaches and sandbars across the entire state. While people are barred from staying on the beach, residents are allowed to walk across the sand to enter the ocean for recreational activities including surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and swimming — as long as social distance is maintained between people.
People are also allowed to access the ocean via boat, but every boat can only contain two people, a family unit or groups of people who live within the same household. Boats have to remain at least 20 feet away from each other. Fishing and food-gathering at beaches is also allowed, though groups of three or more (who do not live within the same household or are not within the same family) are not allowed to engage in these activities together.
The state also reminded residents that they are not allowed to hike in groups. Department of Land and National Resources Chair Suzanne Case said that the agency urged the state to enact “more severe restrictions” after law enforcement officers observed large groups of people on the beach in close proximity. Case also said that the rules do not bar people from going outside to “enjoy nature.” Violations are considered a petty misdemeanor and could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.
Officials in Florida went with a different tactic and opened Jacksonville Beach to the public on Friday. Photos of the beach show a long stretch of the shoreline littered with people.
— Carla H. Russo
Protesters In Southern California Demand State Reopen Businesses Despite Coronavirus’ Spread — 4/17/2020, 8:15 p.m. ET
Dozens of largely right-wing protesters took to the streets in Huntington Beach, California, Friday, flouting the state’s stay-home order and public health guidelines on social distancing to demand the state reopen businesses despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The protesters, most of whom were not wearing face masks, waved American flags, some Trump 2020 banners, and held signs reading “Open Cali Now” and “COVID-19 is a lie.” They echoed similar demonstrations earlier this week in Michigan, Ohio and other states.
In a Twitter rant on Friday morning, Trump called for several states that have seen recent protests to “LIBERATE,” apparently urging governors to reopen businesses. Health experts have warned that loosening restrictions too early could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases. With the U.S. still leading the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, California had over 27,000 confirmed cases and nearly 1,000 deaths as of Friday.
— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman
70,000 Animals At Risk As Vancouver Aquarium Faces Closure — 4/17/20, 1:10 p.m. ET
Canada’s largest aquarium is struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, and could face a permanent closure in the coming months. The Vancouver Aquarium, which houses over 70,000 animals from spiders to sea lions, warns it will be forced to close permanently unless it secures new funding in the next two months.
It has lost $3 million in monthly revenue from admissions, cafe sales and event revenues. Meanwhile, maintaining the animal facilities even with a skeleton staff still requires roughly $1 million a month.
— Melanie Woods
U.K. Launches Coronavirus Vaccine Task Force To ‘Accelerate’ Research — 4/17/20, 12.20 p.m. ET
A new task force to accelerate the development and manufacture of a coronavirus vaccine has been announced by the U.K. government, following a warning that Britain could end up with the highest death rate in Europe from the disease.
The Department of Health and Social Care said a total of 14,576 patients have now died in hospitals after testing positive for the illness in the U.K.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said on Friday the new body would aim to “rapidly accelerate” the creation of a vaccine to make sure it was “widely available to patients as soon as possible.”
The task force, which ministers said will bring together government and private business, will be led by Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam.
— Ned Simons
New York City Opens Economic Relief Fund For Undocumented Immigrants — 4/17/20, 11:21 a.m. ET
New York City will provide temporary economic assistance to undocumented immigrants, who do not receive the federal government’s stimulus checks that were sent out this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced.
The $20 million New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief fund is supported with a donation from the Open Society Foundations.
Under the program, individuals will receive a $400 payment, couples or single parents with children will receive $800, and families with multiple adults and children will receive $1,000, with more depending on need and availability. The city estimates that as many as 20,000 undocumented workers and their families will benefit from the fund.
Earlier this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) established a similar fund for undocumented immigrants in the state. When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was asked Thursday whether he would do something similar statewide, he said it was under consideration but not certain, citing the state’s budget deficit.
In addition to being economically vulnerable, many immigrants are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 because they work in services considered essential and cannot stay home. In New York City and across the country, data has shown that Black and Latinx people are disproportionately dying from the coronavirus.
— Marina Fang
Pandemic Turning Into ‘Child-Rights Crisis,’ United Nations Warns — 4/17/20, 8:58 a.m. ET
The global ripple effects of the COVID-19 crisis will be “potentially catastrophic for millions of children” and could “effectively reverse the last two to three years of progress in reducing infant mortality within a single year,” turning into a “child-rights crisis,” a new report from the United Nations warns.
The effects will be particularly dire for children living in slums, detention centers, refugee and displacement camps and conflict zones, and for children with disabilities, the report said, as many social services are being curtailed or redirected because of the pandemic.
In a video message Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged world leaders to “protect our children.”
Guterres’ warning follows a similar one earlier this month about the rise of domestic violence reports worldwide, as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders mean that many survivors of domestic violence are isolated at home with their abusers and cut off from family, friends and support systems. He advised world leaders to take steps to combat domestic violence as part of their larger plans to address the public health crisis.
On Thursday, Guterres noted that domestic abuse can unduly affect children, as they are often both survivors of it and witnesses to it.
Read more from the Associated Press.
— Marina Fang
Wuhan Raises Coronavirus Death Toll By 50% — 4/17/20, 4 a.m. ET
Officials in Wuhan, China have revised the coronavirus death toll by 50%, increasing the number of fatalities by 1,290 to the 2,579 previously counted and bringing the total to 3,869.
State media reported on Friday that the undercount was due to admission facilities at hospitals being overwhelmed during the peak of the crisis.
The number of total cases in the city of 11 million people was also raised by 325 to 50,333, accounting for approximately two-thirds of China’s total 82,367 announced cases.
Questions have long swirled about the accuracy of China’s case reporting, with Wuhan, in particular, going several days in January without reporting new cases or deaths ― leading to accusations that officials were seeking to minimize the impact of the outbreak.
— Sarah Turnnidge
China’s Economy Shrinks For First Time In Decades ― 4/16/20, 11:20 p.m. ET
China’s economy plummeted by 6.8% in the first three months of 2020 compared with a year earlier, according to data released Thursday by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, ending a decades-long period of growth.
It’s the country’s first contraction since at least 1992, when China first began reporting its quarterly GDP, Reuters reported.
The historic slump comes as the world’s second-largest economy starts to re-emerge from the coronavirus crisis after it came to a near standstill to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The drop was larger than the 6.5% decline forecast by Reuters analysts and a reversal of a 6% expansion in last year’s fourth quarter. The data is a stark sign of the challenges ahead in restoring the global economy.
“What is really important was that before March, everybody was expecting China to have a V-shaped recovery because it was actually [about] China supply disruption, but now we are seeing this demand shock,” Bo Zhuang, chief China economist at TS Lombard, told CNBC.
“The internal demand shock was massive. That tells us that after coronavirus, even after the lockdowns have been lifted, people are cautious to consume. Shopping malls are open but they are not consuming, and that is the key.”
― Josie Harvey
Daily Coronavirus Death Rate Hits 4,591 In U.S., Nearly Double Previous Record — 4/16/20, 10:55 p.m. ET
The number of coronavirus deaths reported in a single 24-hour period in the United States skyrocketed on Thursday to 4,591 people, according to several reports.
Both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, citing data released by Johns Hopkins University, said the death rate was more than double the previous record set on Wednesday. A reported 2,569 people died that day after being infected with COVID-19, many in New York, an epicenter of the pandemic.
More than 662,000 people in America have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 33,000 have died. Cases globally topped 2 million this week.
— Nick Visser
Black People Are Dying From COVID-19 At Disproportionately High Rates In California, Per Early Data — 4/16/20 2 p.m. ET
Early data on coronavirus cases in California shows that Black people are dying at disproportionately high rates from COVID-19, per the state’s Department of Public Health.
While Black people make up 6% of California residents, they represent 7% of reported COVID-19 cases in the state and 12% of deaths so far, per CDPH data released Wednesday.
It’s worth noting this data analysis reflects only 65% of total COVID-19 cases and 87% of deaths reported to the state department. Overall, California has seen over 27,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 880 deaths, as of Thursday.
The disproportionate rate of death from COVID-19 among Black people matches reports from other localities, including Michigan, Louisiana, Chicago, Milwaukee and more.
Earlier this week, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers introduced legislation to require the federal government to report data on race and ethnicity in coronavirus cases nationwide.
— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman
Harris’ ‘VoteSafe’ Legislation Seeks To Expand Access To Voting During Coronavirus Pandemic — 4/16/20, 12:40 p.m. ET
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced new legislation on Thursday, called the VoteSafe Act, which seeks to expand access to voting during the pandemic. The legislation would expand vote-by-mail and early voting and provide funds to states to implement curbside voting and other initiatives.
Earlier this month, voters in Wisconsin were forced to stand in long lines and gather in large groups in order to vote, despite public health guidelines of social distancing, after Republicans in the state and U.S. Supreme Court overruled efforts to postpone the election.
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the obstacles many already face when voting,” Harris said in a press release. “Even before the pandemic, Native Americans, Black and Latinx voters, and voters with disabilities too often faced long lines, inaccessible voting locations, and outright hostility by election officials.”
Harris’ bill would spend $5 billion on improving access to voting, compared to the $400 million committed to the task in the coronavirus stimulus package that Congress passed in late March.
— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman
New York Extends Stay-At-Home Order For At Least Another Month — 4/16/20, 12:18 p.m. ET
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is extending the state’s stay-at-home order, NYS on PAUSE, until May 15, and neighboring states are expected to follow suit, he said at his daily press conference Thursday.
“What happens after then?” he said. “I don’t know. We will see based on what the data shows.”
The state reported another day of stabilizing infections. The three-day average rate of change in hospitalizations sharply decreased on Wednesday, and the rate of intubations also decreased. Both indicators have dropped for several consecutive days. However, about 2,000 people are still being hospitalized each day, and on Wednesday, the state reported 606 more deaths.
On Wednesday, Cuomo announced an executive order mandating the use of masks and other face coverings in places where it is difficult to practice social distancing, such as public transit and grocery stores.
During his press conference Thursday, he outlined some possible approaches to gradually reopening the economy, such as evaluating business reopenings based on whether they are more or less essential and their risk of infection. A key obstacle to figuring out when and how to reopen is the lack of widespread testing and contact tracing.
— Marina Fang
For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.
- What happens if we end social distancing too soon?
- What you need to know about face masks right now
- How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
- Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
- Everything you need to know about coronavirus and grief
- The HuffPost guide to working from home
- What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
- Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.