CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus Live Updates: CDC May Loosen Guidelines For Some Exposed To Virus

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.

There are more than 1.4 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 80,000 people have died from it. 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.)

CDC May Loosen Restrictions For Some People Already Exposed To The Virus, Pence Says — 4/8/20, 10:20 a.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering loosening its self-isolation guidelines to allow people who have already been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 to return to work if they do not have symptoms — especially workers in essential jobs, the Associated Press reported.

Under the proposed guidance, people who are exposed to someone infected would be allowed back on the job if they have no symptoms, test their temperature twice a day and wear a face mask, said a person familiar with the proposal under consideration. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the draft because it had not been finalized and described the proposal on the condition of anonymity.

The announcement could come as soon as Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said.

Read more here.

— Marina Fang

Boris Johnson ‘Responding To Treatment’ In Intensive Care — 4/8/20, 8 a.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “responding to treatment” for his coronavirus symptoms, Downing Street said Wednesday afternoon. Johnson has now spent two nights in intensive care in St. Thomas’ Hospital in London.

“The prime minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment,” Johnson’s spokesperson said. “He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital.”

The spokesperson added that Johnson remained “in good spirits” and was “receiving standard oxygen treatment and is breathing without any other assistance.”

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for the prime minister where necessary, said the day before that he was “confident” Johnson would pull through and that Johnson was a “fighter.”

Read more.

— Ned Simons & Arj Singh

Joyous, Emotional Scenes In Wuhan As Lockdown Lifts — 4/8/2020, 6:30 a.m.

Thousands of Wuhan residents traveled back to their hometowns as the city eased its lockdown restrictions on Wednesday, after 76 days. While some restrictions are still in place, like school closures, city leaders want to bring back social and commercial life to the city.

The government reported no new infections in the city on Wednesday, but there has been some dispute over the veracity of China’s statistics, the AP reports.

“We were too excited to fall asleep last night. I was looking forward to lockdown lift very much. I set up an alert to remind myself. I was very happy,” said Xiao Yonghong, who was waiting for a train.

— Liza Hearon

Deliberate COVID-19 Transmission In Australia Could Result In ‘Imprisonment For Life’ —  4/8/20, 5:10 a.m. ET

Following recent cases of Australians assaulting, threatening or coughing on healthcare workers, the maximum penalty for trying to deliberately spread coronavirus has been announced, HuffPost Australia reports.

“The deliberate transmission of COVID-19 is an offense under the general criminal laws that apply in every state and territory. The most serious of these offenses may carry maximum penalties up to imprisonment for life if somebody was to take a step which led to the death of a healthcare worker,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Hunt said two people had already been charged for “this type of behavior” and the government’s plan supports “stepping up our protection of healthcare workers.”

At least 5,900 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 49 people have died.

— Alicia Vrajlal

14 Transport Workers Die In London —  4/8/20, 4:30 a.m. ET

Fourteen public transport workers have died in the England capital after testing positive for coronavirus, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

“They are in my thoughts and prayers and my condolences to their families,” he told Sky News.

Khan said the death toll includes nine bus drivers, as well as three Transport for London workers, an Underground employee and a worker for one of TfL’s suppliers.

Bus drivers last week told HuffPost UK they were being forced to work without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and worried about being exposed to COVID-19.

“I’m scared about catching coronavirus and what it’ll mean for my family,” one said.

On Monday, a union called for London Underground drivers to be provided with masks and gloves to help protect them from contracting coronavirus.

— Nadine White

Walgreens To Open Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Sites In 7 States ― 04/08/2020, 1:10 a.m.

Walgreens announced on Tuesday that it plans to offer drive-thru testing for the novel coronavirus outside 15 of its stores in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas. 

The tests, which promise results within minutes, will be self-administered outside stores, the company said. Pharmacists will on hand to assist. 

The expansion of Walgreens’ drive-thru testing efforts comes weeks after President Donald Trump announced that four companies — Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens — would be offering drive-thru COVID-19 tests. However, as CBS News reported on Tuesday, to date, only CVS and Walgreens have opened a handful of testing sites. 

— Dominique Mosbergen

China Ends Wuhan Lockdown ― 4/7/20, 12:30 p.m. ET

The Chinese city of Wuhan has ended its lockdown, a major step for the first reported city to have a COVID-19 outbreak.

The news came as China reported no new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the first such day since the outbreak began. China’s National Health Commission said there were 32 confirmed cases in Wuhan, down from 39 on Monday, according to the BBC.

Despite the city’s reopening, the recovery for businesses and people will be a long one. Wuhan, a city of 11 million, has been sealed off since late January. At least 55,000 people are expected to leave the city by train on Wednesday, The New York Times reported.

“Wuhan people experienced it firsthand,” Yan Hui, a Wuhan native in her 50s who recovered from the coronavirus, told the Times. “Their friends got sick. Their friends and friends’ relatives died. Right before their eyes, one by one, they left us.”

The Chinese government has said more than 80,000 people in the country have been infected with the coronavirus, with nearly two-thirds of the cases coming from Wuhan.

― Sebastian Murdock

U.S., State Supreme Court Rulings Force In-Person Elections In Wisconsin Despite Warnings ― 4/7/20, 10:40 a.m. ET

Conservative majorities on the U.S. Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed down decisions Monday shutting down efforts by Wisconsin’s governor and civil rights groups to ease voting restrictions or delay Tuesday’s primary and local elections due to the coronavirus.

By Tuesday morning, there were reports of long voter lines and large gatherings of people, just as advocates pushing for the delay had warned.

The state Supreme Court ordered the election back on after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced an executive order Monday to postpone it until June. Later on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled a lower court’s decision that would have allowed Wisconsin to extend absentee voting an extra six days to encourage voting by mail. Voting by mail would comply with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has urged Americans not to gather in large groups during the pandemic.

Eyeing the reelection of a Donald Trump-backed conservative justice on the state Supreme Court, Wisconsin Republicans have fought against efforts by civil rights groups and some Democrats in the state to mail each voter a ballot or postpone the vote to a later date.

As a result, thousands of voters headed to the polls Tuesday morning to cast ballots, several of them practicing social distancing but also wary of whether they were contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

― Ja’han Jones

Boris Johnson Awake And Breathing Without Ventilator — 4/7/20, 8:00 a.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is breathing without a ventilator and is in “good spirits” while being treated in intensive care for coronavirus symptoms, Downing Street has said. Johnson was transferred to the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Monday evening as his condition worsened.

On Tuesday afternoon, Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “The prime minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits. He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and is breathing without any other treatment. He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.”

Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, is currently standing in for the prime minister.

The pressure on the government was underlined this morning when it emerged that Michael Gove – one of the senior ministers leading the government’s response to the crisis – had been forced to self-isolate after a family member displayed symptoms.

— Ned Simons & Arj Singh

Spain ICUs Back From The Brink Of Collapse — 4/7/20, 7:50 a.m. ET

After dire warnings just seven days ago that the country’s intensive care units were at risk of being overrun, Spain has now achieved a “balance” between admissions and discharges.

The pace of coronavirus deaths in Spain ticked up slightly for the first time in five days today, with 743 people succumbing overnight to reach a total of 13,798.

However, after ICU capacity reached almost 200% in some areas, almost all regions of Spain, the country with the second-highest toll of fatalities, are at or past the peak.

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that ICUs are beginning “to see the light,” with an increase of just 1% in patients (70 people) to ICU between Sunday and Monday.

— James Martin

India Lifts Hydroxychloroquine Export Ban After Trump Threat — 4/7/20, 7:30 a.m. ET

A day after Donald Trump said India could face retaliation if it doesn’t clear the export of hydroxychloroquine — an anti-malarial drug that has not yet been proven safe for use on people infected with the coronavirus — the Indian government said it had lifted its export ban “in view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic.” 

India’s ministry of external affairs said it had decided to license paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities “to all our neighboring countries who are dependent on our capabilities,” HuffPost India reports.

“We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic,” the ministry said.

Last week, Trump said he had sought help from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the sale of hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the U.S. to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in his country, hours after India banned the export of the anti-malarial drug. Trump is deeply invested in the idea that the malaria drugs will show a benefit, and has personally pressured U.S. federal health officials to make them available, Reuters reported Saturday.

— Meryl Sebastian

The White House Knew: Memo Warned ‘Millions’ Were In Danger — 4/7/2020, 6:30 a.m. ET

President Trump has repeatedly said that “no one” saw the coronavirus pandemic coming. But the New York Times and Axios reported that trade adviser Peter Navarro sounded the alarm in January and February about the potential devastation of the pandemic. Read Dominique Mosbergen’s story here.

— Liza Hearon

Senior UK Minister In Self-Isolation — 4/7/20, 6:15 a.m. ET

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has become the latest member of the U.K. government to go into self-isolation after someone in his family began experiencing coronavirus symptoms, HuffPost UK reports.

Gove, one of the most senior figures in government, is understood not to be displaying any symptoms himself. He had earlier spent the morning updating the media on the condition of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

“He is not on a ventilator. The prime minister has received some oxygen support,” Gove said. Johnson spent the night in intensive care, after being moved there last night as his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has returned to work after testing positive for COVID-19 in March, while the chief medical officer Chris Whitty as also recovered.

— James Martin

Dozens Of U.S. Customs And Border Protection Employees Diagnosed With COVID-19 — 04/07/2020, 1:29 a.m.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday that at least 160 of its employees, including customs officers and border agents, have contracted the novel coronavirus

More than 50 of these cases were in the New York City metro area, the agency said on its website. Twenty-six employees working at the U.S.-Mexico border also tested positive for the virus.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Almost 20% Of NYPD Officers Out Sick Amid Pandemic — 04/07/20, 1:25 a.m.

As the coronavirus crisis continues to rage in New York, the virus’ epicenter in the U.S., the New York City Police Department announced on Monday that 7,000 of its officers — or almost one-fifth of its force — had called out sick, the New York Post reported

More than 2,200 officers have been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, the NYPD said. Thirteen members of the department, including one detective, have died due to complications from the virus.

Dominique Mosbergen

The First Coronavirus-Themed, Socially Distanced TV Episode Is Coming — 4/6/20, 5:46 p.m.

While Hollywood’s movie and television production has halted in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic began to escalate in the U.S., it was only a matter of time before someone attempted a coronavirus-themed and socially distanced TV episode.

The CBS legal drama “All Rise” is giving it a shot, planning to return to the air May 4 with an episode set during the outbreak and promising that the production will adhere to social distancing guidelines. CBS says the show’s cast and crew will use video conferencing tools like FaceTime, Zoom and WebEx to film the episode, and producers will take footage shot from the actors’ homes and add visual effects to create the backgrounds.

It’s the first scripted television show to announce it’s working on an episode produced remotely. Elsewhere on TV, most of the major late-night shows have returned, with hosts filming from their homes, and some reality shows have also planned coronavirus-themed spinoffs that will document contestants’ lives under quarantine. Read more here.

— Marina Fang 

Navy Has Taken In Coronavirus Patients — 4/6/20, 5:42 p.m. ET

The U.S. Navy has taken in some coronavirus patients aboard the USNS Comfort, officials confirmed Monday.

“Comfort will continue to accept trauma, emergency and urgent care patients, irrespective of their COVID status,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said of the ship docked in New York Harbor.

However, he noted the department’s “current preference” would be for New York to use beds at the Javits Center for COVID-19 patients before moving them to the hospital ship.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) also said Monday that President Donald Trump had granted his request for the ship to treat coronavirus patients, calling it a “major relief.”

— Lydia O’Connor

Boris Johnson Admitted To Intensive Care —  4/6/20, 3:45 p.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened, Downing Street has confirmed. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will “deputize where necessary” while the prime minister is in intensive care with COVID-19, a spokesperson said.

Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ hospital in London on Sunday after his coronavirus symptoms persisted for 10 days. After time in the hospital for tests and observation, his doctors advised that he be admitted to intensive care. He does not require ventilation.

Raab had earlier faced questions at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference about Johnson’s apparent decision to keep running the government from his hospital bed instead of handing over the reins.

Read more here.

― Graeme Demianyk

California Will Send 500 Ventilators To National Stockpile For Other States — 4/6/20, 2:50 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Monday that the state plans to lend 500 state-owned ventilators to the national stockpile, so they can go to states in more dire need, like New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

“California is stepping up to help our fellow Americans in New York and across the country who are being impacted the hardest right now by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Newsom said. He added that while the state is “aggressively preparing for a surge” in cases in its own region, “we can’t turn our back on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now.”

Several governors across the country have made it clear they need more ventilators to treat the most severe cases of COVID-19. New York, which is expected to hit its peak number of cases in the coming week, has had more than 4,700 deaths from the virus, with about 600 people dying per day over the past three days.

Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Wisconsin Becomes Latest State To Postpone Primary Election — 4/6/20, 2:35 p.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) declared that the state’s primary election, originally scheduled for Tuesday, will now be held on June 9, unless state legislators approve a different date for in-person voting.

HuffPost’s Tara Golshan reports:

The order comes just days after Evers told Wisconsinites that his “hands are tied” in changing the election date. Evers has already declared a public health emergency in the state, but state laws aren’t clear whether that gives him the authority to change the election date without a law passed by the state Legislature.

Since mid-March, when the pandemic began to worsen in the U.S., most states with primary elections in March or April have postponed them until at least May or June, given that in-person voting would violate social distancing recommendations and put voters in danger. But the decisions to postpone have created much confusion.

Last month, Ohio moved its primary election to June 2. To do so, the governor declared a statewide health emergency, essentially overriding a judge’s ruling that blocked his original request to postpone the election because he technically did not have the authority to do it, according to state law.

Read more here.

Marina Fang

Former Fed Chair Says U.S. Unemployment Could Reach ‘Depression Levels,’ But Recovery Will Likely Be Much Swifter — 4/6/20, 1:50 p.m.

Janet Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, predicted more job losses and economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis that could rival the devastation of the Great Depression ― but, she said, Americans should remain hopeful for a much swifter recovery, given the strength of the U.S. economy prior to the pandemic.

“Unemployment rates for a time may go to Depression levels. But this is very different than the Great Depression or the recession in the U.S. economy that we experienced in 2009 and after,” Yellen, who chaired the Fed under President Barack Obama, said on CNBC.

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that nearly 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the previous two weeks combined. Its jobs report for March noted the first decline in U.S. job growth after nearly a decade of gains, and an unemployment rate of 4.4%, up from a 50-year low of 3.5% in February.

The actual unemployment rate is likely much higher, because the report does not include the job losses in the last half of March, when the pandemic forced most businesses across the country to close, putting millions of Americans out of work.

Read more here.

Marina Fang

New York Gov. Asks That Navy Ship Be Used For COVID-19 Patients ― 4/6/20, 12:50 p.m.

During his daily press conference on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he will call President Donald Trump to request that the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort, currently docked in Manhattan to assist patients who do not have the coronavirus, be converted into a facility for patients with the virus.

The USNS Comfort has been docked in Manhattan since it was deployed on March 30.

To date, the ship has been used to provide relief to New York hospitals overwhelmed by the rapid influx of patients due to the coronavirus. Hospitals have been transferring patients without the virus to receive care on the ships in order to treat coronavirus patients more rapidly.

“We don’t need the Comfort for non-COVID cases,” Cuomo said Monday.

The governor said the USNS Comfort, along with the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, should be used to help hospitals treat patients with the disease.

“If we had those two facilities as a relief valve, that would make a significant difference,” Cuomo said.

He added that the expanded capacity to treat COVID-19 patients would help New York maintain the current rate of treatment.

“We would feel much better knowing that we can sustain this pace if we can start to offload patients to these two facilities,” he said.

Ja’han Jones

United Nations Chief Urges World Leaders To Combat ‘Horrifying Global Surge In Domestic Violence’ — 4/6/20, 10:28 a.m.

As countries around the world try to slow the spread of COVID-19 with lockdowns, quarantines and stay-at-home orders, forcing most people into prolonged home confinement, those with abusive partners and family members face a greater danger of domestic abuse.

In a video message Sunday night, the United Nations secretary-general warned that “we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence” and urged world leaders to include protective measures in their pandemic plans.

“Violence is not confined to the battlefield. For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes,” António Guterres said. “I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.”

As HuffPost U.S.’s Melissa Jeltsen has reported, lockdowns and other restrictions create prime conditions for domestic violence because victims are stuck at home with their abusers and are cut off from family, friends, co-workers and support services.

Read more on HuffPost U.S.

— Marina Fang

Walmart Guard Allegedly Dragged By Driver Angry About COVID-19 Policies — 4/6/20, 9:20 a.m.

A Walmart security guard in Canada is fighting for his life after being struck and dragged by a driver who was allegedly enraged by social distancing policies aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19, local police said.

Police in Sherbrooke, Quebec, said the 25-year-old suspect tried to enter the Walmart with his partner, only to be told just one person per vehicle was allowed inside at once. He allegedly got angry, and at some point ran into the guard with his vehicle, “even dragging him on the hood” for a distance, said police.

The 35-year-old guard is in critical condition with a serious head injury.

— Andree Lau with additional reporting from Canadian Press

U.S. Withholding N95 Masks, Turning Away Canadians On Cruises Sparks Outrage On Social Media — 4/6/20, 8:53 a.m.

In light of the news that President Donald Trump pressured manufacturer 3M to stop exporting N95 masks to Canada, Canadians are reminding the U.S. what kind of country Canada has always been when its neighbor needed help.

“Dear America,” reads one of the messages flooding Twitter. “On 9/11 we were there for you. In Afghanistan, we were there for you. We’re here for you now. We’ll be here for you in the future. Even if you don’t send us the masks.”

— Sima Shakeri

Trump: Passengers On Coronavirus-Stricken Ships Allowed To Disembark — 4/6/20, 8:51 a.m.

President Donald Trump on Monday said that passengers on two cruise ships infected with the new coronavirus have been allowed to disembark once they receive medical treatment onboard.

Trump, who shared the news on Twitter, said the decision was made for “humanitarian reasons” and that the passengers will be “under strict supervision.”

“People were dying & no other countries would allow them to dock!” he tweeted.

The president did not specify which cruise ships had received the approval, though two Holland America ships, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, were given permission last week to dock in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after an initial refusal from the state governor. It was reported over the weekend that the passengers were allowed to leave the ship.

― Nina Golgowski

HPES April 6
HPES April 6

The pace of Spain’s coronavirus deaths slowed again on Monday as 637 patients died overnight, taking the total to 13,055. Though Spain has the second-highest death toll in the world after Italy, the number of deaths each day has been falling since Thursday’s peak of 950, according to health ministry figures.

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that admissions to ICU are also stabilizing, with the increase of patients just 1% higher than the previous day.

The Spanish government announced today plans to widen testing to include people without symptoms as a first step towards slowly easing the lockdown in the nation. Spain has been in lockdown since March 14 and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at the weekend that would remain in place until April 26.

— James Martin

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is expanding its study of remdesivir as patients rush to join the trials. The experimental drug has shown promise against some other types of coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, when tested on animals early on in the course of the illness. The drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences, is also expanding its trials of the drug, AP reports.

“There’s so much anxiety about the disease that the patients are quite interested” and no one offered the chance has refused, said Dr. Arun Sanyal, the study leader at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

— Liza Hearon

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spent the night in hospital after he was admitted for tests as his coronavirus symptoms persist.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said he will stay for “as long as needed” in the London hospital where he was taken as a “precautionary step” on the advice of his doctor – rather than as an emergency.

Johnson, 55, tested positive for the virus 10 days ago, and had been in self-isolation inside his Downing Street flat since.

The news came Sunday, just an hour after the Queen delivered a message of hope to the nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “we will overcome it” although we “may have more still to endure.”

— Francesca Syrett

A Malayan tiger at New York City’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, zoo officials said.

The 4-year-old female named Nadia is among seven big cats that have developed a dry cough at the park. The other animals showing symptoms are Nadia’s sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions. All are expected to recover, the park said.

“We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus,” the park said in a statement.

—Nina Golgowski

For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.

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