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

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing coronavirus 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 4.7 million cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, and more than 315,000 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.)

China Pledges $2 Billion In Virus Help At WHO Assembly — 5/18/2020, 8 a.m. ET

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech to the World Health Assembly that China will provide $2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic. China’s pledge comes as the Trump administration has cut off funding to the WHO and the U.S. president is reportedly changing his mind on whether to reinstate limited funding.

At the assembly, EU member states and other countries supported the idea of an independent evaluation of the WHO’s initial response to the pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

— Liza Hearon

Italy’s Next Phase Leaves Retailers In Limbo — 5/18/20, 6:05 a.m.

Almost 2,000 shops will remain closed in Rome today despite Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte giving in to demands by regional leaders to allow restaurants, bars and beaches to reopen weeks ahead of schedule.

“We are confronting this risk, and we need to accept it, otherwise we would never be able to relaunch,” Conte said.

HuffPost Italy reports (in Italian), however, that many business owners in the Italian capital will keep their doors shut amid uncertainty over the hurriedly published rules, and fears they will carry liability if employees become infected.

Italy is finally emerging after being under one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, with hairdressers, places of worship and museums also allowed to open their doors again to the public.

Tight sanitary protocols and social distancing rules will require people to stay one meter apart. Security guards will count how many people are in a store at any one time and clothes tried on in changing rooms will be quarantined for 24 hours.

Almost 32,000 Italians have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21, the third-highest death toll in the world after the United States and Britain.

— James Martin

Health Workers Create ‘Guard of Dishonor’ For Belgian P.M. — 5/18/20, 5:50 a.m.

Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès received a cold reception at the Saint-Pierre hospital in Brussels on Saturday after hospital staff turned their backs on her in a “guard of dishonor.”

HuffPost France reports (in French) that for months local nursing staff have been demanding greater recognition, and demonstrating against the recruitment of what they call “unqualified personnel” to carry out traditional nursing tasks.

Belgium, which has a population of 11 million, has recorded the 8th highest number of infections in Europe at 55,280 and reported just over 9,000 deaths. 

Schools in Belgium will partially reopen Monday after a two-month lockdown, along with markets, museums and zoos.

 — James Martin

UK To Get 30 Million Vaccine Doses By September If Trials Succeed — 5/18/20, 5:30 a.m.

The U.K. will be first in line for 30 million doses of Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine by September if it passes trials, government officials have said.

Business minister Alok Sharma said that a deal struck between the university and AstraZeneca means the pharmaceutical giant will work to make the doses available as part of an agreement to deliver 100 million doses in total, if ongoing trials succeed.

“The U.K. will be first to get access,” Sharma told the government’s daily COVID-19 briefing. Sharma said Oxford was one of the world’s “frontrunners” in the race for a vaccine, with clinical trials “progressing well” and all phase one participants receiving their vaccine dose on schedule earlier this week.

The number of people who have died in Britain rose by 170 on Sunday to 34,636. Sharma said 243,303 people have tested positive for the virus, an increase of 3,142 since Saturday. Read more 

— Arj Singh

Judge: Thousands Of Homeless People Living Near Freeways In Los Angeles County Need To Be Relocated — 5/18/2020; 1:14 a.m. ET

A federal judge has ordered Los Angeles County officials to find alternative housing for thousands of homeless people who live near freeways in the county. 

In his ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter said homeless residents living near freeways are not only at risk of getting hit by cars and being exposed to pollutants but also of contracting COVID-19 and transmitting the disease throughout the community, The Los Angeles Times reported

Some 6,000 to 7,000 homeless people will be affected, the newspaper reported.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Texas Reports Largest Single-Day Increase In Coronavirus Cases As State Eases Restrictions — 5/18/2020; 1 a.m. ET

The Texas Department of Health reported 1,800 new COVID-19 cases in the state on Saturday. According to CBS News, that was the largest single-day increase in cases in Texas since the pandemic began.

To date, more than 47,000 people in Texas have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. Over 1,300 have died.

Despite these numbers, Texas is among a handful of states that have recently started easing lockdown restrictions. Restaurants, retail outlets, movie theaters, museums and libraries have been permitted to open, though at reduced capacities. Churches have also been given the green light to reopen with social distancing measures in place. 

— Dominique Mosbergen

NY Has More Testing Capacity Than Is Being Used, Cuomo Says — 5/17/20, 1:55 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday encouraged more New Yorkers to get tested for the coronavirus, saying the state has more testing capacity than is being used.

Previously, diagnostic testing in New York was often only available for people with severe symptoms of COVID-19, despite President Donald Trump’s declaring early in March that tests were available nationwide for “anybody that needs” one.

“New York has rapidly expanded our testing capacity,” Cuomo, a Democrat, tweeted Sunday. “We have met our earlier target of 40,000 diagnostic tests daily. As a percentage of our population, [New York] has tested more than any other state.”

Anyone with symptoms — and all essential workers — are eligible to get tested at one of more than 700 locations in New York, Cuomo added. He demonstrated how “fast and easy” the test is during a news briefing Sunday.

— Hayley Miller


Feeding America CEO Says 60% Increase In Demand — 5/17/20, 12:20 p.m. ET

The head of Feeding America, a nationwide hunger relief charity, said Sunday that the group has seen a 60% increase in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re seeing a marked increase in demand to the tune of on average 60% more people showing up in need of our services,” Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“At the time that we’re having that increase in demand, we have a decrease in donations. We have an increase in cost of food, and we have a decrease in volunteers,” Babineaux-Fontenot added. “So it is, in fact, a perfect storm.”

More than 36 million Americans have filed unemployment claims since mid-March as the pandemic continues to devastate the U.S. economy.

Food banks nationwide have reported longer lines, with many first-time visitors, Babineaux-Fontenot said. Feeding America needs more donations from individuals and manufacturers to keep up with the demand.

Babineaux-Fontenot also called on Congress to increase funding for SNAP, the federal nutrition assistance program, to help those in need. “Some of the people who were donors are now in line in need of our services,” she said. “We’ve had a challenge for a while. This pandemic has just heightened that challenge.”

— Hayley Miller

CDC Now Projects More Than 100,000 Deaths From The Coronavirus By June — 5/15/20, 8:45 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now estimating that over 100,000 people could die of the coronavirus in the U.S. by June 1.

In recent days, several states have reopened nonessential businesses and activities that had been shut to slow the spread of the coronavirus — a move Trump has been pushing. Most of those states are flouting public health experts’ advice by opening before they see coronavirus cases steadily decline.

Trump has repeatedly revised the expected U.S. death toll upward in his public statements, saying in mid-April that the U.S. could see 50,000 to 60,000 dead, then saying later that month that the country could reach 70,000 dead. Earlier in May, he said total U.S. deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic could reach up to 100,000. All of those figures are lower than the current CDC projections of 100,000 dead by June 1.

― Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Brazil’s Health Minister Resigns After Just Weeks In The Job — 5/15/20, 12 p.m. ET

Brazil’s health minister has quit after less than a month in the role, the latest setback in the country’s chaotic response to coronavirus.

HuffPost Brazil reports (in Portuguese) that Nelson Teich, a doctor who was an adviser to President Jair Bolsonaro’s 2018 election campaign, took office on April 17. Teich and his predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, also a doctor, had rejected pressure from Bolsonaro to expand the use of chloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment.

Last week, Teich said he was not consulted before Bolsonaro issued a decree allowing gyms, beauty parlors and hairdressers to open for business. Bolsonaro’s handling of coronavirus has been criticized globally, as he has minimized the severity of COVID-19 and told Brazilians to ignore lockdown guidance.

Brazil has now surpassed Germany and France in the number of coronavirus cases. More than 200,000 people were infected with the virus as of Thursday, when the health ministry reported 844 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 13,933.

— James Martin

China Marks One Month Without Any Announced Deaths — 5/15/2020, 5:50 a.m. ET

It’s been a month since China has announced any deaths from the coronavirus, and there are fewer than 100 patients in treatment for COVID-19, The Associated Press reported. The last day the National Health Commission reported a death was April 14.

China has maintained social distancing measures and bans on foreigners entering the country, but has been opening up both large and small businesses to get the economy going again.

The central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, is currently attempting to test all 11 million inhabitants in 10 days after six new cases were detected last weekend.

— Liza Hearon

Coronavirus Could Reduce 260 Million Indians To Poverty — 5/15/20, 3:45 a.m. ET

HPIN 15 May
HPIN 15 May

At least 260 million people in India could be pushed into poverty due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus, putting at risk historic gains made in poverty reduction, according to new estimates.

India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, according to a United Nations study last year. This was the fastest absolute reduction in poverty among 10 countries encompassing close to 2 billion people, researchers noted, even as 369 million Indians remained poor, the highest globally.

But as the coronavirus batters India’s economy and hundreds of millions of Indians struggle to make a living under a punitive national lockdown, more than 260 million Indians — who are presently classified as vulnerable to poverty — are at risk of becoming the new poor, according to researchers from the U.N. and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown on March 24 —which has since been extended twice as COVID-19 cases continue to increase in India — putting an immediate freeze on economic activity and disrupting India’s huge informal sector workforce.

Coronavirus infections in India reached 78,000 on Thursday, while 2,549 have died, according to official estimates. 

— Rohit Inani

HPAU May 15
HPAU May 15

Restaurants, cafes and bars in Australia’s most populous state reopened on Friday after a two-month shutdown under coronavirus lockdown measures, boosting the federal government’s bid to get people back in work.

The easing of quarantine measures in New South Wales (NSW) comes just a day after the national statistics office reported unprecedented record-high job losses and Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that worse was still to come.

In Sydney, locals braved a cold, wet morning to catch up with friends and family over a coffee.

“It is such a treat,” said Jess Best, who met up with a friend in a cafe in the city’s eastern suburbs. “To be able to sit down with other people around and chat to my friend. I can have a normal morning, not hiding away in my home.”

NSW officials reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest daily tally in just over a week. The national daily increase has slowed to an average of less than 20 a day.

Officials have credited lockdown measures adopted in March, including closing the country’s borders and ordering people to stay home unless on essential business, with constraining the spread of the virus. Australia has recorded about 7,000 COVID-19 cases, including 98 deaths, significantly below the levels reported in North America and Europe. 

— James Martin

For more on the pandemic, go here.

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