There are more than 2.5 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 177,000 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.)
Lawmakers in Britain have brushed aside hundreds of years of tradition by staging the first-ever virtual session of Prime Minister’s Questions. Under temporary measures drawn up by House of Commons authorities, members of Parliament were able to quiz the acting leader of the government on Wednesday through video chat.
The session took place in a sparsely populated Commons chamber, where tape was placed on the chamber floor to mark out where the small number of lawmakers who attended in person should walk. Cards showing green ticks and red crosses also denoted where MPs should sit in a bid to comply with social distancing rules of keeping a gap of two meters.
Under the temporary measures, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, answered questions for the first time from new opposition leader Keir Starmer.
A number of screens have been placed around the Commons chamber to allow the speaker and MPs in Westminster to see their remote-working colleagues.
— James Martin
California public health officials said local authorities should administer coronavirus tests to people working or living in “high risk settings,” including hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, The Associated Press reported.
State officials said the new guidelines make California the first U.S. state to prioritize testing for people who don’t have symptoms.
Read more here.
— Hayley Miller
Santa Clara county in California said a medical examiner found that two people had died at home of COVID-19 on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17, weeks before the first coronavirus-linked deaths were reported in Washington State around Feb. 26. The findings are significant because it means that the virus was spreading in the U.S. even longer than previously thought.
— Nick Visser
A controversial bar on children leaving the home will be eased in Spain as the government begins to wind down its strict lockdown restrictions. HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that children up to 14 years of age will be given permission to go outside for walks from this Sunday, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
With the world’s second most infections, more than 200,000, and Europe’s second-highest death toll, 21,282, Spain has imposed one of the severest lockdowns. It has begun taking tentative easing steps, including allowing some workers to return from last week, but most restrictions remain in force.
On Tuesday night, the government bowed to public pressure and said children under 14 would be able to take short walks outside under supervision. The cabinet had initially said children would only be allowed to accompany parents to buy food or medicine, provoking criticism on social media and pot-banging protests on balconies.
— James Martin
U.K. trials of a coronavirus vaccine on people will begin Thursday, the government has announced.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government-funded research at the University of Oxford had been accelerated due to the global pandemic. “In normal times, reaching this stage would take years and I’m very proud of the work taken so far,” Hancock said.
However, Britons have been warned that developing any treatment, including vaccines, will require lengthy testing periods on both animals and humans.
Professor Ravi Gupta, told HuffPost UK: “We need to prepare for a world where we don’t have a vaccine. To base public policy on the hope of a vaccine is a desperate measure. We should hope for a vaccine but we shouldn’t expect one in the next year and a half.
“Anyone who says we can is bonkers.” Read more
— Rachel Wearmouth and Chris York
Missouri is the first state to sue China for the country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
State Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed the civil suit on Tuesday, alleging the Chinese government lied and didn’t do enough to prevent the spread of the virus during the early days of the crisis.
“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers and did little to stop the spread of the disease,” Schmitt said in a statement. “They must be held accountable for their actions.”
Legal experts say efforts to hold China accountable for its coronavirus response in U.S. courts aren’t likely to be successful.
— Dominique Mosbergen
Nurses hailing from all over the U.S. held a protest in front of the White House on Monday to call out the unsafe conditions they and their colleagues have had to endure on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the demonstration, which was organized by the National Nurses United union, nurses held photos and read the names of healthcare workers who’ve become infected or died from coronavirus.
“We are not heroes. We’re human beings and we are susceptible just like everyone else is. And if we are dying then we can’t take care of our patients,” said Britta Breenan, a National Nurses member and critical care nurse at Washington Hospital Center, CBS News reported. “We have had nurses from our hospital die from COVID-19. And they are not dignified deaths.”
— Dominique Mosbergen
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director warned that a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus could be far more deadly than the current pandemic if it overlaps with the beginning of the winter flu season.
Government leaders at all levels must use the months ahead to prepare for such a health crisis even as some states are planning to resurrect their economies, CDC Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Redfield told the Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”
The health official said the virus could be more harmful in a potential second wave because having concurrent outbreaks of the flu and COVID-19 would put immense pressure on the nation’s health care system. Both viruses can cause respiratory illness and would require similar protective gear and medical equipment.
Part of the preparation for a potential second wave of COVID-10 includes persuading Americans to get their flu shots in the coming summer months so that public health officials can minimize the number of people requiring hospitalization during two respiratory outbreaks. Redfield said that getting vaccinated for influenza “may allow there to be a hospital bed available for your mother or grandmother that may get coronavirus.”
― Sanjana Karanth
The Justice Department could join legal actions against states if it thinks that their coronavirus-related orders, including social distancing and stay-at-home rules, go “too far,” Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday.
Barr said he was wary of speaking about “hypothetical” situations, but that the Justice Department would have to intervene if governors “impinge” on civil rights or the economy.
“To the extent that governors ... impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce ... then we’ll have to address that,” the attorney general said in an interview with “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
Barr acknowledged that stay-at-home orders were necessary to fight the pandemic, but said they were “strong measures” that had a “limited purpose of slowing down the spread.”
“These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties right now. ... The idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest,” Barr said. “I’m not saying it wasn’t justified. I’m not saying in some places it might still be justified. But it’s very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.”
If the Justice Department determines that a state has gone “too far” with its coronavirus-related orders, Barr said, it may “try to jawbone” governors into “rolling them back.”
If that doesn’t work, the attorney general indicated that federal prosecutors could weigh in on civil lawsuits brought by state residents against their local orders. He said the Justice Department could file a “statement of interest” siding with the plaintiffs.
— Carla H. Russo
Some American citizens expecting federal stimulus payments won’t receive them because their spouses are undocumented immigrants, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
The benefit requires a Social Security number, barring millions of tax-paying undocumented immigrants, as well as their spouses if they file taxes jointly, from receiving it. About 1.2 million immigrants who lack legal status are married to a U.S. citizen, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Only citizens, legal permanent residents and some immigrants with work authorization can expect stimulus payments, The Texas Tribune reported last week.
“It’s just fundamentally unfair, and it’s really, really targeted to hurt,” Randall Emery, president of American Families United, a nonprofit that advocates for U.S. citizens married to immigrants, told the LA Times.
“It’s such a basic thing that the government would protect its own citizens, and the government is really abandoning U.S. citizens when they need help the most,” Emery added. “A lot of people really need this just to survive.”
— Hayley Miller
For the first time since World War II, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is canceling its national finals due to the “uncertainty around when public gatherings will be possible or advisable,” after initially postponing this year’s event indefinitely.
Organizers for the U.S. national spelling competition for middle school students, typically held each spring in Washington, D.C., said in a statement that they had “determined there is no clear path to safely set a new date in 2020.”
“Our thoughts immediately go to our spellers and their families. The students have dedicated time and effort to their passion for learning. They should be proud of all they have accomplished by winning spelling bees at the classroom, school and regional level,” executive director Paige Kimble said in the statement. “Nevertheless, our first priority has to be the health and well-being of our spellers and their families and the hundreds of staff and spectators that come together for Bee Week.”
— Marina Fang
During a White House protest on Tuesday, a handful of nurses urged President Donald Trump and Congress to take emergency measures to provide more personal protective equipment for health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The protest was organized by National Nurses United, the largest U.S. union representing nurses.
The nurses held up photos and read the names of dozens of nurses who have died from COVID-19, pushing Congress to implement a federal emergency standard that would ensure health care workers’ safety in its next stimulus bill, and pushing Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to order the mass production of PPE, provide more ventilators and widen testing capacity.
Medical employees nationwide have reported shortages of protective gear and unsafe conditions, as hospitals are stretched thin because of the pandemic. On Monday, nurses in New York filed three lawsuits against the state’s health department and two hospital systems, alleging an insufficient supply of N95 masks, being denied testing, getting asked to work while experiencing coronavirus symptoms and having to use their personal paid time off instead of paid sick leave. At one of the hospitals, the nurses said they have been asked to return to work after only seven days instead of the recommended 14 days of self-quarantine if they’ve being exposed to the virus.
The New York State Nurses Association, the union representing the New York nurses, said more than 1,000 of its members have tested positive for COVID-19, at least 84 have been hospitalized and at least eight have died.
— Marina Fang
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that the city will host a ticker tape parade to honor health care workers and first responders in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The first thing we will do, before we think about anyone else, is we will take the time as only New York City can do to throw the biggest, best parade to honor these heroes,” he said at a press conference. “This parade will mark the beginning of our renaissance, but it will also be, most importantly, a chance to say thank you to so many good and noble people.”
Ticker tape parades are held in lower Manhattan in an area called the Canyon of Heroes. The last such parade was held last summer for the U.S. women’s national soccer team to celebrate its fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship.
— Nina Golgowski
The annual San Fermin bull-running festival in Spain has been canceled because of coronavirus. The festival in the northern Spanish town of Pamplona, which draws thousands of participants each July, was made famous in Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises.”
HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that this is the first cancelation of San Fermin in more than two centuries caused by an epidemic. The running of the bulls was last suspended, albeit for a single day, in 1997, due to the murder of a local politician by the Basque separatist group ETA.
— James Martin
Germany’s southern state of Bavaria said Tuesday that it’s canceling the Oktoberfest Beer Festival due to the coronavirus, a decision that will surely disappoint the 6 million revelers who gather in Munich every year to drink vast quantities of beer and dance to oompah bands.
“We have decided the risk is simply too great,” state premier Markus Soeder said, according to Reuters. “It hurts, it is a huge shame,” he added.
Some areas of Germany have started to relax lockdown measures and gradually reopen society as they pursue a strategy of contact tracing. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday urged people to remain disciplined. Germany has reported just over 4,800 deaths from the virus.
— Liza Hearon
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order on Monday creating a task force meant to help address how the pandemic has disproportionately infected and killed Black and brown Americans.
The Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities is expected to study and investigate the causes of the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 and recommend immediate actions to address the disparities and the systemic racial inequities behind them.
The order cited data showing Black residents make up a staggering 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan despite representing 13.6% of the state’s population.
The task force will be led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and include a diversity of health experts and community leaders. Michigan appears to be the first state to create a task force to address such disparities during a pandemic, but the issue is a nationwide problem.
“The deep inequities people in communities of color face, like basic lack of access to health care or transportation or protections in the workplace, have made them more susceptible to COVID-19,” Whitmer said during a news conference on Monday. “We’ve seen heartbreaking stories come out of Detroit. Many who have lost their parents, and children, and friends and neighbors. Michiganders need leaders who are going to do everything they can to lower their risk of catching this virus, no matter their community, their race or socioeconomic status.”
― Sanjana Karanth
It was a quiet 4/20 in the cities that typically play host to the annual celebration of all things marijuana.
Following pleas from local officials not to break social distancing orders, pot smokers stayed home Monday and left the popular 4/20 gathering spots vacant.
Hippie Hill, San Francisco’s usual venue for the celebration in Golden Gate Park, was empty, surrounded by fencing and police and largely closed off to cars. In Denver’s Civic Center Park, police patrolled the empty grounds, which would normally be filled with thousands of people counting down the seconds to 4:20 p.m.
Instead, 4/20 event organizers held virtual events with live music and COVID-19 relief fundraisers.
― Lydia O’Connor
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced Monday that their states’ stay-at-home orders will soon expire, and that they will begin to reopen parts of the economy as soon as Friday.
Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group, made up of 30 industry leaders, is creating specific guidance to help businesses reopen safely, Lee said. The governor said Tennessee’s stay-at-home order will expire April 30, and that most businesses in 89 counties are expected to reopen by May 1.
“While I am not extending the Safer At Home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible,” Lee said. “Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it.”
At the same time as Lee’s announcement, Kemp said businesses in Georgia, including gyms, barbers and hair stylists, will be allowed to reopen starting Friday. Theaters and restaurants can open starting Monday, April 27. Churches may resume in-person services but have been asked to maintain social distancing, and hospitals will be allowed to resume elective medical procedures.
The announcement comes as governors across the country grapple with when and how to best reopen their economies in a way that won’t cause another wave of coronavirus cases. Many states have seen anti-safety protesters violating social distancing orders by rallying to end the restrictions, something President Donald Trump has encouraged in both his tweets and his daily briefings.
— Sanjana Karanth
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the widely expected decision Monday that permits for nonessential events in the month of June have been canceled, including the annual Pride March and Puerto Rican Day Parade. While there may be opportunities to hold events toward the end of the year, de Blasio said at the press conference that he would take a “cautious, steady approach” to reopening the city.
But he also acknowledged that reopening the city could take “weeks, if not months” due to lack of widespread testing.
— Liza Hearon
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
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
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
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
For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.