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.

More than 3.6 million cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, and more than 257,000 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.)

France’s Back-To-School Plan Divides Parents And Teachers — 5/6/20, 7:10 a.m.

Concerns are growing among teachers and parents in France as the government pushes ahead with plans to reopen schools on Monday.

France is one of a handful of countries in Europe that has reopened schools, with Italy and Spain both delaying the return of students until later in the year, while the U.K. is yet to give a date on the resumption of classes.

HuffPost France reports (in French) that under strict rules imposed by the government, parents will need to take the temperature of their children before arriving at school, lesson times will be staggered and class sizes will be limited to allow for a meter spacing between desks.

Other measures include banning ball games and toy sharing, while masks for teachers and students will be compulsory in all situations where “compliance with the rules of distancing may not be respected.”

However, the government has been accused of forcing local authorities to reopen schools at a “forced march,” while a recent YouGov survey found 76% of French people would have preferred schools to reopen in September.

— James Martin

‘Professor Lockdown’ Scandal Shakes UK COVID-19 Response — 5/6/20, 6:15 a.m.

A key expert in Britain’s coronavirus response who advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned after it was revealed that he broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover.

Professor Neil Ferguson’s research with Imperial College London colleagues warned that 250,000 people could die in the U.K. without drastic action shortly before Johnson imposed the lockdown restrictions.

The Telegraph claimed that Ferguson allowed his lover to visit him at home in London on at least two occasions during the lockdown. Admitting he made an “error of judgment,” Ferguson said he was stepping back from the U.K’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

He told the newspaper: “I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms. I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic. The government guidance is unequivocal, and is there to protect all of us.”

Johnson announced the U.K. lockdown on March 23 ordering the public to stay at home as he shut most shops and gave police unprecedented enforcement powers. Under those measures, partners who do not live together were told they can no longer see each other. Read more

— Graeme Demianyk

Texas Salon Owner Who Defied State Restrictions By Reopening Early Sentenced To Jail — 05/06/20; 5:45 a.m.

Shelley Luther, a Dallas salon owner who made headlines for reopening her business early in defiance of county and state COVID-19 restrictions, was sentenced Tuesday to seven days behind bars. Luther was also ordered by a judge to pay at least $3,500 in fines — $500 for each of the seven days that her salon was open despite orders for nonessential businesses to remain closed.

According to The New York Times, Luther was unrepentant despite the punishment, disagreeing with Judge Eric Moyé’s pronouncement that her decision to reopen was selfish. “I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish, because feeding my kids is not selfish,” she reportedly said. “So, sir, if you think the law’s more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I am not going to shut the salon.”

— Dominique Mosbergen

Hundreds Of Workers At Tyson Foods Factory In Iowa Test Positive For COVID-19 — 5/6/20, 2:45 a.m. ET

At least 730 employees at a Tyson Foods factory in Perry, Iowa have tested positive for coronavirus, The Des Moines Register reported on Tuesday.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, a total of 1,600 workers at meatpacking plants have been infected.

A second Tyson plant in Indiana reported last week that nearly 900 employees had tested positive for the virus. Other meatpacking facilities have emerged as hotspots, including a Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota.

The cases add to a growing concern about the nation’s meat supply. Some stores have already begun placing caps on the amount of fresh beef, pork and poultry customers can buy.

— Nick Visser

New York Reports More Than 1,700 Additional Deaths In Nursing Homes — 5/6/20, 2:30 a.m. ET

New York officials have identified more than 1,700 additional deaths linked to coronavirus in the state’s nursing homes and adult care facilities.

According to The Associated Press, 22 nursing homes in the state have had at least 40 deaths due to the pandemic.

“The nursing homes, we said from day one, are the most vulnerable place,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said during a press conference on Tuesday.

The new figures mean at least 4,813 people have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes since March 1. The toll does not include the number of deaths from those who were transferred from the facilities to hospitals before they died, meaning the statistics are likely much higher.

— Nick Visser

Walt Disney Co. Announces Plans To Reopen Shanghai Disneyland Next Week — 5/5/20, 5:45 p.m. ET

Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Chapek said Tuesday the company plans to reopen Shanghai Disneyland next week — albeit with limits in place aimed at preserving guest safety.

“We will take a phased approach with limits on attendance, using an advanced reservation and entry system, controlled guest density using social distancing and strict government-required health and prevention procedures,” Chapek said on an earnings conference call Tuesday. “These include the use of masks, temperature screenings and other contact tracing and early-detection systems.”

The media and entertainment giant estimates that coronavirus shutdowns have cost it $1.4 billion so far.

― Ryan Grenoble

Death Toll In U.S. Surpasses 70,000 — 5/5/20, 2:55 p.m. ET

At least 70,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nationwide death toll climbed by 10,000 deaths in less than a week after hitting 60,000 on April 30.

More than 1.1 million cases of the coronavirus have been documented in the U.S. — roughly one-third of the total known cases worldwide. A model often cited by the White House reportedly raised its fatality predictions on Monday to more than 134,000 virus-linked deaths in the U.S. by early August.

— Hayley Miller

NYC Asks Doctors To Watch For Mystery Illness In Children Possibly Linked To Virus — 5/5/20, 8:25 a.m. ET

New York City health officials on Monday issued a bulletin asking doctors to keep a lookout for young patients showing symptoms of a mystery illness possibly linked to COVID-19.

At least 15 children, many of whom had the coronavirus, have been hospitalized in the city with a multi-system inflammatory syndrome not yet fully understood by doctors. Cases have also popped in other states, according to the bulletin, and in the United Kingdom and Italy ― two European countries hit especially hard by the coronavirus.

Many of the children, ages 2 to 15, show symptoms of toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare vascular condition in children that involves inflammation of the blood vessels and can cause long-term organ damage, the New York City’s health department said. Other symptoms include a persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

More than half of the reported patients in New York City have required blood pressure support, officials said. Five required mechanical ventilation. No fatalities have been reported among these cases at this time.

— Hayley Miller

London’s West End Theaters Extend Closures Through At Least June 28 — 5/5/20, 8:19 a.m. ET

Theaters on London’s West End will remain dark until at least June 28, and most stage productions will likely continue to be postponed “on a rolling basis,” the Society of London Theatre announced Tuesday.

In a statement, SOLT, which oversees major London theater productions, stressed that the new date, pushed back from May 31, “does not mean theaters will reopen on June 29.”

“If further cancellations are necessary, they will continue to be announced on a rolling basis. Different theaters and productions are likely to reopen at different times,” the group said.

New York City’s Broadway is currently closed through June 7. The Broadway League, which administers productions on the Great White Way, will almost certainly have to extend the closures since city and state officials are unlikely to allow large events and gatherings to resume any time soon.

In an interview Sunday, legendary British theater producer Cameron Mackintosh predicted that theaters in both London and New York are unlikely to reopen until at least early next year because it will be difficult for productions to enact social distancing procedures.

— Marina Fang

Pfizer Begins Human Testing Of Possible Coronavirus Vaccine — 5/5/20, 8:15 a.m. ET

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Tuesday that it has begun testing an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus in the United States.

The U.S.-based company, which is working jointly with Germany drugmaker BioNTech, said that if its tests are a success, a vaccine could be available as early as September.

“The trial is part of a global development program, and the dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed last week,” Pfizer said in a press release.

— Nina Golgowski

UK Now Has Most Confirmed Coronavirus Deaths In Europe — 5/5/20, 6 a.m.

The United Kingdom now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in Europe and the second-highest in the world.

Data released on Tuesday put the total at 29,710 as of April 24, surpassing Italy’s total of 29,079. Since then, it is believed thousands more have died in the U.K., as recorded in the daily statistics released by the government.

Only the U.S. with 68,934 has reported more deaths linked with coronavirus.

On Sunday the head of Britain’s statistics office warned against making comparisons with other countries, saying it was “an unbelievably difficult thing to do.”

“In this country we have...the best reporting, the most transparent reporting, and the most timely reporting, because we include death registrations – we’ve been pushing our death registration reporting as fast as we possibly can,” Sir Ian Diamond told the BBC. Read more

— Chris York

Easing Of Europe’s Longest Lockdown Gets Off To Slow Start — 5/5/20, 4:10 a.m.

The easing of Europe’s longest lockdown began cautiously on Monday as 4.4 million Italians were allowed to return to work.

Despite fears that there would be a chaotic start to life after lockdown, HuffPost Italy reporter Gabriella Cerami writes (in Italian) that people returning to work acted responsibly and respected social distancing guidelines, while transport systems largely ran to plan.

Italy’s “Phase 2” allows for construction sites and manufacturing operations to resume, while parks reopened and flower vendors returned to the Campo dei Fiori market for the first time since March 11. Mourners are allowed to attend funerals, with services limited to 15 people, while restaurants can offer take-out services. Italy was the first European country hit by the pandemic and has one of the world’s highest death tolls at more than 29,000 deaths.

— James Martin

Britons Urged To Download New Tracing App ‘To End Lockdown’ — 5/5/20, 3:15 a.m.

Trials of a new contact-tracing app which ministers say will save lives and help lift Britain out of lockdown begin in the U.K. today.

Everyone on the Isle of Wight, an island off the south coast of England, which has a population of about 140,000, will be able to download the app from Thursday, while health service and council staff will have access from Tuesday.

If the tests are successful it could be rolled out across the country within weeks as ministers seek to shape a strategy to allow some economic activity to resume, with the long-awaited “roadmap” for easing lockdown being published on Sunday.

So far, 28,734 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the U.K. Read more

— Chris York

Australia And New Zealand Hold Talks On New ‘Travel Bubble’ — 5/5/20, 3 a.m. ET

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says getting people back to work is “the curve we need to address,” as new figures revealed the country may have lost almost a million jobs between mid-March and mid-April.

The call comes as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday became the first world leader to join an Australian Cabinet meeting in more than 60 years as the countries held talks on creating trans-Tasman “travel bubble.”

Australia and New Zealand have for more than a month closed their borders to all non-citizens and imposed mandatory quarantines on anyone returning home from overseas. Both countries have a COVID-19 mortality rate of just 1%, well below most other countries, with the number of new cases just a fraction of their March peaks.

Morrison said travel across the Tasman Sea between the neighbors would be the first international route re-started and would likely begin around the time domestic air travel restarts in earnest. Ardern, however, said the move would take some time to work through.

“When we feel comfortable and confident that we both won’t receive cases from Australia, but equally that we won’t export them, then that will be the time to move,” Ardern told reporters in Wellington.

Australia has recorded around 6,800 infections and 96 deaths, and New Zealand 1,137 cases and 20 fatalities. Rules on social distancing have been eased slightly in New Zealand and in some Australian states and territories but restrictions on large gatherings and non-essential travel remain.

— Alicia Vrajlal

New COVID-19 Predictions Show Nearly 135,000 Deaths In U.S. By August ― 5/4/20, 10:16 p.m. ET

Researchers from the University of Washington said Monday evening that new COVID-19 forecasts for the U.S. project nearly 135,000 deaths by August.

The university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an influential model cited by government officials, revised its projections Monday to account for increasing mobility as states begin reopening the economy and easing restrictions. At least 31 states are expected to ease social distancing measures by May 11.

Researchers now estimate 134,475 deaths through the beginning of August, with a range of 95,092 to 242,890. The projection is nearly double what IHME was estimating as of Monday morning, which was roughly 70,000 deaths.

“Increases in testing and contact tracing, along with warming seasonal temperatures factors that could help slow transmission do not offset rising mobility, thereby fueling a significant increase in projected deaths,” the institute said in a statement.

IHME’s model assumed that restrictions currently in place would stay in place until infections were minimized. Starting Monday, IHME will forecast U.S. numbers based on a new hybrid model to better predict a resurgence if and when social distancing guidelines are relaxed. The hybrid will combine the IHME’s model used to estimate hospital resource demand and its model used to estimate disease transmission.

— Sanjana Karanth

Japan Extends State Of Emergency Restrictions Through May — 5/4/20, 2:10 p.m. ET

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the country’s state of emergency restrictions would be extended through the end of May. They had previously been set to expire Wednesday.

Japanese official Yasutoshi Nishimura had said earlier that while the number of new cases had decreased, “unfortunately the decrease has not reached the targeted level.”

The country has more than 14,800 confirmed coronavirus cases and around 500 deaths so far — not nearly as high as those in the United States or several nations in Europe.

Japan’s restrictions have so far included shuttering schools, closing businesses and urging residents to stay home and respect social distancing. Later this month, libraries, museums and other institutions may be allowed to reopen using certain distancing measures, and some regions deemed at lower risk for infections may be able to open other businesses, Agence France-Presse reported.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Broadway, West End Theaters May Not Reopen Until At Least Early Next Year, Top Theater Producer Predicts — 5/4/20, 1:27 p.m. ET

New York City’s Broadway and London’s West End may have to remain dark until at least early next year, legendary theater producer Cameron Mackintosh said, because it will be extremely difficult to enact social distancing procedures to keep theatergoers, performers and staff safe.

“The truth is, until social distancing doesn’t exist anymore, we can’t even plan to reopen,” Mackintosh, who produced “Phantom of the Opera,” “Cats” and “Les Misérables,” said Sunday in a BBC radio interview. “We will be back, but we need time to get back. If we don’t hear [about lockdowns lifting] in a few weeks, I think the truth is we won’t be able to come back until early next year. I think that’s quite clear. And the longer it is until we can say social distancing is gone, the longer it’ll be for the theater to come back.”

In New York, theaters and stage productions are set to remain closed until at least June 7, and in London, until at least May 31. Theater officials will likely have to extend those closures, since lawmakers in those cities — both hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic — seem unlikely to allow large events to resume anytime soon.

Read more here.

— Marina Fang

Huge UK Hospital Built To Treat COVID-19 Patients Will Close — 5/04/20, 8:45 a.m. ET

A temporary hospital built in London will be mothballed as demand for intensive care beds in the U.K. falls.

The 4,000-bed Nightingale Hospital, opened by Prince Charles in London, was the largest critical care unit in the world. It will remain on “standby” in the event of a second wave of coronavirus cases.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the news Monday.

“It is not likely that, in the coming days, we will need to be admitting patients to NHS Nightingale London while coronavirus in the capital remains under control,” the spokesperson said. “That is obviously a very positive thing. We are grateful to everyone in London for following the government’s advice.”

Meanwhile, doctors have been told that emergency cover across some parts of the U.K. is being stood down during the upcoming bank holiday weekend in a further tentative sign that the worst of the crisis may be over.

Read more here.

— Nadine White

J. Crew Becomes First Big Retailer To Fail During Coronavirus Pandemic — 5/4/20, 7:15 a.m. ET

New York-based chain J. Crew filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, as the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the retailer’s financial difficulties amid consumers’ shift to online shopping.

The retailer, known for its preppy fashions, will hand over control to its creditors in exchange for eliminating its debt. It will also permanently close some stores. The brand Madewell will continue as part of the group.

— Liza Hearon

Questions Over UK Lockdown As Europe Enters Next Phase — 5/04/20, 6:10 a.m. ET

HuffPost US

Europeans are finally beginning to get “a little air” as 15 countries on the continent relax their lockdowns today, HuffPost France reported. Italy, Spain, Portugal and Slovenia are among the countries that will see their lockdowns lightened.

In Spain, which has experienced one of the toughest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe, preparatory “phase 0” for the first two weeks of May will see hairdressers and other businesses that offer service by appointment reopen, restaurants able to offer take-away services and professional sports leagues can go back to training.

France will begin to ease its lockdown on May 11, while U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a statement this week signaling what steps Britain will take to get the world’s fifth-largest economy back to work.

The U.K. government is obliged to review the lockdown by May 7 and Johnson has said he would like to set out a roadmap and a menu of options for easing restrictions.

— James Martin

Chinese leaders “intentionally” concealed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak from the world in early January, and increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies to build up a stash, a Department of Homeland Security report obtained by the Associated Press alleges.

The criticism comes as Trump officials accuse China of being responsible for the spread of the disease. Trump opponents say the administration is lashing out at China to deflect criticism at home. There’s currently no public evidence of China’s missteps in disseminating information being an intentional plot to hoard medical supplies.

Liza Hearon

For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.

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