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Coronavirus Live Updates: Read The Latest About The COVID-19 Outbreak

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects across the world.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

The virus has killed more than 54,000 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.)

Pandemic Ends Nearly 10 Years Of Consistent Job Growth In The U.S. — 4/3/20, 8:52 a.m. ET

For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. economy lost jobs in the month of March, ending a record-breaking streak of job growth, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate climbed to 4.4%, after a 50-year low of 3.5%.

The actual unemployment rate and number of job losses are even higher because the BLS report does not include data from the past two weeks, when more and more businesses have shut down and laid off employees. Nearly 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits during this period.

Read more from the Associated Press.

— Marina Fang

Prince Charles Opens New London Hospital Via Video Link  — 4/3/20, 7:20 a.m. ET

Prince Charles has officially opened a new 4,000-bed temporary hospital at a London exhibition center, after himself being diagnosed with COVID-19 in March. The National Health Service Nightingale Hospital has been built to treat coronavirus patients at the ExCel center in east London.

Speaking from his home in Scotland via video link, the prince paid tribute to workers who built the facility and frontline workers across the UK who are caring for those hit by the coronavirus outbreak. The Nightingale, named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, will need an army of up to 16,000 staff in clinical and ancillary roles to keep it running.

“It is, without doubt, a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction – in just nine days as we’ve heard – to its size and the skills of those who have created it. An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity,” Charles said.

  ΩPrime Minister Scott Morrison has told international visitors in Australia it’s time they returned to their usual place of residence. “As lovely as it is to have visitors to Australia, it is time – as it has been for some while – to make your way home,” the prime minister said in a press conference Friday.

His comments come as Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy remained coy when asked if he believes the coronavirus statistics coming out of China and the U.S. “The only numbers I have total faith in are the Australian numbers,” he told media. “I’m certainly not confident that even the numbers out of the U.S. aren’t much higher than being reported because nobody else in the world has been doing testing like we have.”

At least 5,307 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 28 people have died. Read more on HuffPost Australia 

— Francesca Syrett 

New York Says Javits Center Will Begin Treating Coronavirus Patients ― 4/2/20, 6:03 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the temporary hospital facility at the Javits Center will start treating COVID-19 patients, a change from the facility’s original plan to treat non-coronavirus illnesses spilling over from other hospitals.

“As we all know the growing coronavirus cases are threatening the capacity of our hospital system,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The original plan for Javits was that it be used to take non-COVID patients from hospitals to open up hospital beds. However, the number of COVID positive patients has increased so dramatically that it would be beneficial to the state if Javits could accept COVID positive patients.”

President Donald Trump confirmed at his Thursday briefing that he granted Cuomo’s request to convert the 2,500-bed alternate care facility into a hospital that would take in coronavirus patients. The facility is being run by the U.S. Army.

“The federal government is doing a lot of things it wasn’t anticipating it would do,” Trump said at the briefing.

― Sanjana Karanth

FDA Approves First Coronavirus Antibodies Test In U.S. — 4/2/20, 5:56 p.m. ET

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first test for coronavirus antibodies in the U.S., the agency announced Thursday.

Unlike other coronavirus tests that search for fragments of viral genes that would indicate an ongoing infection, the antibody test can detect whether a patient has ever had exposure to the coronavirus, which would potentially give that person some immunity. Experts expect the test will help them identify people who’ve caught the virus but didn’t experience any of its telltale signs.

“If we don’t know the asymptomatic or mild cases, we won’t know if it’s killing a sizable fraction of the people who have it, or only people who have underlying conditions or are very unlucky,” Dr. Carl Bergstrom, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Washington in Seattle, told The New York Times.

— Lydia O’Connor

70,000 Californians Have Volunteered For Health Care Work — 4/2/20, 3:39 p.m. ET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Thursday that the state has received more than 70,000 job applications from Californians equipped to work in the state’s health care system.

“Today, we have over 70,000 applications,” Newsom said at a press briefing. “It’s just extraordinary.”

The applications came through a new program he announced Tuesday called Health Corps, which allows a variety of eligible health care employees — people who’ve retired or are in the process of getting their licenses — to sign up to work now. The call went out to vocations across the industry, from doctors, nurses and pharmacists to administrators and technicians. 

“It just gives you a sense of this civic moment and how people are doing this extraordinary amount to try to participate in meeting it head on,” Newsom said.

— Lydia O’Connor

COVID-19 Has Now Killed More Than 50,000 Worldwide — 4/2/20, 2:10 p.m. ET

COVID-19’s worldwide death toll surpassed 50,000 as the number of confirmed cases neared 1 million globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Italy has reported the most coronavirus-related deaths of any country at more than 13,500. The U.S. has reported the most confirmed cases with over 226,000 ― nearly double the number of confirmed cases in Italy, which has the second most.

China recorded the first documented case of the virus in December. There have been more than 82,000 confirmed cases of the virus in China since then and at least 3,300 deaths, though the country has reported very few new local infections in recent weeks likely due to the monthslong draconian social distancing measures imposed by the government in some areas.

― Hayley Miller

Louisiana Sees 42% Surge In Cases Amid Testing Backlog — 4/2/20, 2 p.m. ET

Louisiana recorded a 42% jump in confirmed cases on Thursday as a testing backlog began to clear up, according to state officials.

About 9,150 people across the state have tested positive for the virus ― an increase of more than 2,700 confirmed cases from a day earlier, according to data released by the Louisiana Department of Health. There have been at least 310 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the state.

“While extremely upsetting, this increase in COVID-19 cases appears to be less a sign of new exponential growth and more a sign of a logjam from commercial labs,” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) tweeted. “I am pleased to see a ramp-up in testing across the state. We need this energy and commitment to continue.”

Edwards said many of the newly confirmed cases are people who were tested days ago and do not require hospital care. As of Thursday afternoon, Louisiana had the fifth-highest number of confirmed cases in the country. New York has the most known infections of any state with over 92,000.

― Hayley Miller 

Washington Nursing Home Faces $611,000 Fine Over COVID-19 Response: Reports — 4/2/20, 1:15 p.m. ET

A nursing home in Washington state faces a fine of more than $611,000 for a series of deficiencies that led to the country’s first major known outbreak of the novel coronavirus, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported.

Life Care Center of Kirkland, which has been linked to at least 37 coronavirus-related deaths, failed to report an outbreak of respiratory illness to local authorities for two weeks as required by law, gave inadequate care to its residents during the outbreak and failed to provide 24-hour emergency doctor services, federal authorities told the Post.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reportedly told the nursing home that it will no longer be able to participate in the Medicaid/Medicare program if it does not return to full compliance by Sept. 16, 2020.

― Hayley Miller

Britain Sets Target Of 100,000 Tests A Day — 4/2/20, 1:10 p.m. ET

The U.K. pledged to carry out 100,000 tests a day for coronavirus by the end of April amid rising criticism the government has been slow to ramp up its testing regime.

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, himself returning to work after recovering from COVID-19, said testing would be handed to front-line health workers first. 

Britain recorded a further 569 deaths over 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,921 ― an increase of 24% in total deaths over the count of 2,352 reported the previous day. As of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, 33,718 people in the U.K. had tested positive for the virus.

Read more on HuffPost U.K.

— James Martin

FDA Revises Blood Donation Guidelines For Men Who Have Sex With Men — 4/2/20, 1 p.m. ET

Amid a drop in blood drives due to the coronavirus pandemic and following pressure from LGBTQ advocacy groups and lawmakers, the Food and Drug Administration has changed its guidelines for blood donors, lowering the deferral period to donate blood for men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months from their last sexual contact.

Advocacy group GLAAD celebrated the change, but also called the revised guidelines “imperfect.”

“We will keep fighting until the deferral period is lifted and gay and bi men, and all LGBTQ people, are treated equal to others,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

Read more on HuffPost U.S.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Michigan Joins Growing Number Of States Canceling School For Rest Of Semester — 4/2/20, 12 p.m. ET

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that public schools across the state will remain closed for the rest of the school year, affecting some 1.5 million students and their families. Whitmer’s executive order also outlines guidelines for remote learning, which has not begun across much of the state since schools shuttered March 16.

Teachers and staff will still be paid, but it remains unclear whether high school seniors will be able to hold any sort of graduation ceremony. Officials in other states including California, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have all ordered school closures to continue for the foreseeable future.

— Sara Boboltz

Fauci Suggests Need For National Lockdown In The U.S. — 4/2/20, 11:46 a.m. ET

As nearly 40 U.S. states have now issued some form of a stay-at-home order, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested the need for a national lockdown, given the varying degrees of restrictions and enforceability of the orders.

Some states have been slower than others to implement the orders, which generally have mandated closures of “nonessential” businesses and encouraged people to stay at home except for essential needs. Some orders have exempted certain businesses and gatherings, while some businesses have tried to skirt the orders by claiming their workers are “essential.”

In an interview, NBC “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie asked Fauci if a national lockdown would be more effective “than this hodgepodge, piecemeal method.” Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases official and a major fixture in the United States’ coronavirus response, agreed, while acknowledging that he does not have the authority to order one.

To slow the spread of the virus, several countries — including China, Italy, Spain, France and India — have implemented some form of a national lockdown.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly praised his own disastrous response by trying to erase his earlier attempts to downplay the pandemic, has yet to issue a national stay-at-home order, despite calls from public health experts to do.

Read more here.

— Marina Fang

Pelosi Announces New Committee To Oversee Coronavirus Aid — 4/2/20, 11:30 a.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that she’s forming a new House select committee to oversee how the coronavirus aid allocated in the newly adopted $2 trillion stimulus bill is managed and spent.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C) will lead the panel, which will be comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, Pelosi said in a conference call with reporters.

“We face a deadly virus and a battered economy with millions of Americans suddenly out of work,” Pelosi said. “Congress has taken an important step in leading this crisis by passing three bills with over $2 trillion in emergency relief. We need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively.”

— Hayley Miller

University of California Suspends ACT/SAT Requirement For Applicants — 4/2/20, 10:40 a.m. ET

The University of California is dropping its requirement that students applying for fall 2021 admission take the SAT and ACT tests, since the coronavirus crisis has made it impossible for many students to sit for the exams. The groups that govern each test announced last month that spring testing dates would be postponed entirely. 

Students may also submit pass/fail as a substitute for letter grades for their spring classes, since some schools have switched to a binary grading system.

The university, which includes nine campuses across the state and serves some 280,000 students, will work with them through the summer to boost their financial aid packages if their families’ financial situations have been shaken by the crisis.

— Sara Boboltz

Record 6.6 Million Americans Applied For Unemployment Benefits Last Week — 4/2/20, 8:49 a.m. ET

For the second consecutive week, U.S. unemployment claims reached a record high. More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, double the record reported the week before, a sign that more people are being laid off as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Read more from the Associated Press

— Marina Fang

Fauci Says Florida Gov. Needs To Release All Passengers Aboard Stranded Cruise Ships — 4/2/20, 8:15 a.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci said all of the passengers aboard two stranded cruise ships near southern Florida should be able to disembark to receive treatment, after the state’s governor said he would only allow passengers who are residents of the state to do so.

“You have to take care of the people who are ill,” Fauci said on “CBS This Morning.” “You just have an obligation to do that. And as quickly as possible.”

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) had said he would only be willing to release any residents of Florida aboard the two Holland America ships. About 300 passengers are aboard the ships. At least 8 have tested positive for COVID-19, and hundreds have reported symptoms.

“My concern is that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital space in the event of a COVID-19 surge, we wouldn’t want those valuable beds to be taken because of the cruise ship(s),” DeSantis said.

— Marina Fang

UK Doctors Face Agonizing Choices Over Life-Saving Treatment — 4/2/20, 6:10 a.m. ET

Coronavirus patients in Britain could have their treatment withdrawn and offered to others who are more likely to survive, according to new guidance for doctors.

The British Medical Association’s latest ethics advice said medics could be forced to make “grave decisions” should hospitals become overwhelmed with patients.

The document warned that decisions around rationing scarce resources, such as ventilators, could determine whether large numbers of patients will receive life-saving treatment or not. “Health professionals may be obliged to withdraw treatment from some patients to enable treatment of other patients with a higher survival probability,” the guidance states. Read more

— Jasmin Gray

Historical Battle’: Spain Records Highest Ever Unemployment Rise — 4/2/20, 5:50 a.m. ET

Unemployment levels in Spain have increased by more than 300,000 people, a new record, as new figures revealed the country has shed almost 900,000 jobs since going into lockdown in mid-March.

The data showed 898,822 Spaniards have now lost their jobs since the start of the lockdown, including around 550,000 temporary workers. The tourism and construction sectors are the hardest hit.

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that the previous biggest increase in unemployment was during the financial crisis more than 10 years ago when the jobless rate shot up by 200,000 in a month.

However, today’s data does not include temporary layoffs under which companies in financial difficulties can suspend a worker’s contract.

The dramatic rise in unemployment comes as Spain’s death toll surpassed 10,000 after a record 950 people died overnight.

— James Martin

Gov. Ron DeSantis Says Florida Will Only Accept State Residents Aboard Stranded Cruise Ships — 4/02/2020, 4:05 a.m.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that he would be willing to allow Floridians aboard two stranded Holland America cruise ships to disembark in his state. But the fate of the other passengers — hundreds of whom have reported flu-like symptoms and at least eight of whom have tested positive for COVID-19 — remain uncertain. 

There are reportedly more than 50 Floridians — and about 300 Americans — aboard the MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam cruise ships. President Trump said Tuesday that he would speak to DeSantis about whether the governor should allow the vessels to dock in his state. “They’re dying on the ship,” Trump said.

DeSantis, however, has thus far refused to consider allowing anyone other than Floridians to disembark. “My concern is that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital space in the event of a COVID-19 surge, we wouldn’t want those valuable beds to be taken because of the cruise ship(s),” the governor said, per USA Today

— Dominique Mosbergen

Grand Canyon National Park Closes To Visitors — 4/02/2020, 3:45 a.m. ET

Arizona’s Grand Canyon became the latest national park to shutter indefinitely to visitors on Wednesday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is a relief to a lot of the people in the park and community members,” Grand Canyon spokeswoman Joelle Baird told AP of the closure. “We’ve heard from a lot of people being angry and frustrated and uncertain of the direction the Park Service was going.”

— Dominique Mosbergen 

Wednesday’s Coronavirus Death Toll In The U.S. Surpassed 1,000 — 04/02/2020, 12:26 a.m. ET

At least 1,040 people in the United States died of COVID-19 on Wednesday. 

As USA Today noted, the grim tally was about double the average daily death toll of two of America’s most deadly illnesses — the flu and lung cancer. 

Lung cancer kills about 433 people daily in the U.S., according to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America. During the 2017-18 flu season, an estimated 508 people in the U.S. died of the illness daily.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Italy Extends National Lockdown As Death Toll Dips — 04/02/2020, 12:08 a.m. ET

The COVID-19 death toll and infection rate appear to be dipping in Italy, but the country’s leaders have said it would be premature and “unforgivable” to assume the battle against the disease was won.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday the country “cannot lift the lockdown now” and must extend it to at least April 13. “We realize we’re asking for more sacrifices, but we’re facing an acute emergency,” Giuseppe said, NPR reported.

Italy recorded 837 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday — the lowest tally in over a week — and 2,397 new active cases, part of a declining trend, The Guardian reported

Roberto Speranza, the country’s health minister, said Italy appeared to be “on the right track, and the drastic measures we have taken are starting to yield results” — but he stressed it would be “unforgivable to assume this was a definitive defeat” of the virus.

— Dominique Mosbergen

L.A. Mayor Recommends Every Resident Wear A Mask To Combat Coronavirus ― 4/1/20, 9:37 p.m. ET

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that every resident in the nation’s second-largest city should wear some form of a mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The mayor stressed that Angelenos should cover their faces when leaving the house for essential activities but not use the type of masks that health care workers desperately need.

“Early data suggests many who are infected are not symptomatic, which is why we are recommending you use cloth face coverings plus physical distancing for essential activities,” Garcetti said. “Do not use surgical and N95 masks, which are reserved for first responders and medical workers.”

Los Angeles is the first city in the U.S. to apply such recommendations.

― Sanjana Karanth

U.S. Government Requests 100,000 Body Bags In Preparation For Coronavirus Death Toll ― 4/1/20, 6:20 p.m. ET

The Pentagon is working to provide 100,000 military-style body bags for potential civilian use in preparation for the possibility of hundreds of thousands of coronavirus deaths in the U.S., according to Bloomberg News.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reportedly requested the body bags through an interagency group that directed it to the Department of Defense. FEMA has not given a specific delivery date request for the body bags, but Bloomberg reports that the agency wants them as soon as they’re ready.

The Pentagon plans to draw at first from its own stockpile of 50,000 green nylon body bags managed by the Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support unit, two people familiar with the request told Bloomberg. The department is also looking into buying more bags.

Public health experts have warned that U.S. fatalities could rise in the coming weeks from the pandemic. The White House recently projected 100,000 to 240,000 coronavirus deaths even if the country adheres to current social distancing guidelines ― though officials say taking stricter precautions could help keep those numbers down.

― Sanjana Karanth 

The 2020 DNC Probably Won’t Happen As Planned In July ― 4/1/20, 6:00 p.m. ET

The 2020 Democratic National Convention will almost certainly be postponed, CBS News reported Wednesday, citing interviews with more than 40 Democratic Party leaders. It’s not clear whether the convention will be simply pushed back or held online in some capacity.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, expressed doubt for the first time Tuesday that the party will move forward with the convention, currently scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee. It’s “hard to envision” that happening, Biden said, adding that while the party managed to hold its conventions during the Civil War and World War II, “the fact is it may have to be different.”

Joe Solomonese, CEO of the 2020 convention, issued a statement Wednesday to say the coronavirus crisis “require[s] us to be deeply thoughtful about the important and unprecedented moment in which we’re living.” However, he did not commit to postponing the convention or attempting to hold it virtually.

In New York, the state hardest hit by the disease, experts have expressed hope that cases will peak at the end of April, but care will need to be taken to ensure the caseload doesn’t start increasing again.

Sara Boboltz

Florida Governor Issues Stay-At-Home Order — 4/1/20, 3:16 p.m. ET

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has issued a statewide stay-at-home order for Florida. 

The order, which takes effect at midnight Thursday, directs Floridians to “limit movements and personal interactions outside the house” to only those deemed “essential,” DeSantis said at a news conference. The restrictions will remain in place for 30 days.

Unlike governors of other states with burgeoning COVID-19 outbreaks, DeSantis for days resisted mounting pressure to act ― including from state lawmakers. The governor said Tuesday that he was waiting for the White House’s coronavirus task force to recommend a statewide stay-at-home order.

Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t called for a national stay-at-home order, even as the U.S. has surpassed other nations in the number of cases and has become the epicenter of the pandemic.

Read more here.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Strategic National Stockpile Is Nearly Depleted: Report — 4/1/20, 2:45 p.m. ET

The Strategic National Stockpile, the government’s emergency stash of masks, gloves and other medical supplies, is running low, Homeland Security Department officials told The Washington Post.

“The stockpile was designed to respond to handful of cities,” said one official. “It was never built or designed to fight a 50-state pandemic. ... This is not only a U.S. government problem. The supply chain for [personal protective equipment] worldwide has broken down, and there is a lot of price gouging happening.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) told reporters on Tuesday that the stockpile had been depleted. President Donald Trump denied the claim later that day. 

“It’s not empty,” Trump said during a news briefing. “Let me explain something: What we’re doing ― I thought I said it accurately, I certainly meant to ― rather than having it put into the stockpile ... we’re trying to have supply sent directly to the states.”

― Hayley Miller 

New York City Playgrounds To Close As Cuomo Tells Residents To Prepare For ‘New Normal’ — 4/1/20, 12:50 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City playgrounds will close while the state grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

“I warned people,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “You can’t play basketball.” He had initially hoped people would observe proper distancing protocol in public spaces.

The city’s parks will remain open, and Cuomo acknowledged that it is still fine to go for a walk in the sun as long as people steer clear of one another.

The crisis in New York is currently the most severe in the country, with a death toll nearing 2,000. Earlier in the week, bodies of the dead were seen being loaded by forklift into refrigerated trucks in public view.

“This is going to be transformative,” Cuomo warned. “When’s it going to get back to normal? I don’t think it’s going to get back to normal. I think we get to a new normal.”

— Sara Boboltz

West Virginia Delays Primary Election, Extends School Closures — 4/1/20, 11:36 a.m. ET

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that the state’s primary election will take place on June 9 instead of May 12, as previously scheduled.

“It’s ever so apparent that’s absolutely the wrong thing to do,” Justice said of holding the election on its original date.

He also said school closures have been extended to April 30. Schools were previously scheduled to be closed until April 20.

Paige Lavender

Wimbledon Tennis Tournament Is Latest Sporting Event Axed  — 4/1/20, 11:15 a.m. ET

Wimbledon has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers confirmed Wednesday. The world-famous tournament, previously due to begin on June 29, was called off completely by the All England Lawn Tennis Club. The possibility of holding the competition behind closed doors was deemed infeasible. More than half a million people descend upon southwest London every year to watch the sport’s top stars compete.

Read more.

— Kate Forrester

UK Sees Highest Jump In Deaths — 4/01/2020, 11:00 a.m. ET

The United Kingdom has recorded 563 more deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 2,352, HuffPost U.K. reported. With an increase of 31%, it’s the highest daily jump in the region so far.

As of 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday, 29,474 people in the U.K. had tested positive for COVID-19, out of a total 152,979 tests conducted.

HuffPost U.K.’s Chris York took a deeper look at how the U.K. arrives at its figures, and what the different sets of data actually tell us.

— Liza Hearon

Surgeon General Asks CDC To Consider Mask Use — 4/1/20, 8:10 a.m. ET

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday that he has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider whether people should wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He said this request follows new data on asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, which he did not specify.

“But if you choose to wear a face covering, this can’t come at the expense of social distancing,” Adams said on Twitter. He added that masks for the general public do not need to be N95, which are tight-fitting and medical grade.

Advising people to wear masks would be a reversal of his earlier plea to the public back in February to stop buying masks. He had insisted, again in a Twitter post, that masks are “NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching” the virus and that their purchase was limiting resources that health care providers needed. 

— Nina Golgowski

There are signs the infection rate is beginning to stabilize in Spain, even as the country becomes the third nation behind the U.S. and Italy to record more than 100,000 cases.

The daily death toll in Spain, which is two-and-a-half weeks into a national lockdown, rose to 9,053 from 8,189 on Tuesday, a new record, though the increase was lower in percentage terms than during the previous days. Total infections hit 102,136.

But the 24-hour increase of 7,719 was 1,500 fewer than the increase from the previous day, offering hope that the infection rate is slowing. However, HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that ICUs are at risk of being overrun in up to six of the country’s autonomous regions.

— James Martin

HPIT April 1
HPIT April 1

HuffPost Italy reported that the country will extend its lockdown until at least April 13.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of positive cases, reduce deaths and prevent our national health system from being hit by a further tsunami,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Wednesday.

After days of steep rises in cases, data this week has suggested the pace of growth in the number of total cases in Italy is slowing, with new infections coming in at 4,053 on Tuesday. Deaths have remained largely steady at over 800 a day. Italy was the first Western country to introduce quarantine measures and is nearing a month since being placed under lockdown.

— James Martin

HPAU April 1
HPAU April 1

Doctors in Australia are pleading with the government for coronavirus assistance in Indigenous communities, including basic masks and isolation facilities, in order to avoid hundreds of deaths. Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues, such as diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease, while Indigenous people over 50 have been advised to stay home “to the maximum extent practical.” The same advice was issued for people in the wider community with chronic illnesses over 60.

The Aboriginal community of Yarrabah is not only dealing with the shock of a government-enforced lockdown but is also grappling with the potential reality of what will happen if the virus reaches the town, just 45 minutes from the North Queensland city of Cairns. “If we don’t get to this, for a community like Yarrabah, that could be deaths in hundreds, and we need to avoid that at all costs,” Yarrabah Senior Medical Officer Dr. Jason King told HuffPost Australia. At least 4,860 cases have been confirmed in Australia and 21 people have died. Read more

— Carly Williams

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is the “greatest test” and challenge the world has faced since World War II, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.

The pandemic is “attacking societies at their core,” Guterres said, adding that the world’s leading economies need to take “coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action” to tackle the crisis — and to offer support for the “poorest and most vulnerable people and countries.”

— Dominique Mosbergen

For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.

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