The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic around the U.S. and the world.

Peak of virus cases in New York expected to swamp hospitals

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded his most dire warning yet about the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, saying the infection rate in New York is accelerating and the state could be as close as two weeks away from a crisis that sees 40,000 people in intensive care.

Such a surge would overwhelm hospitals, which now have just 3,000 intensive care unit beds statewide.

The rate of new infections, Cuomo said, is doubling about every three days. While officials once projected the peak in New York would come in early May, they now say it could come in two to three weeks.

“We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own,” he said during a briefing at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. “One of the forecasters said to me we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train.”

New York officials have been racing to essentially double their hospital capacity to up to 110,000 beds. Cuomo now said there could be a peak need of 140,000 beds.

There were more than 25,000 positive cases in New York state and at least 210 deaths, according to state figures. Most of the cases and deaths have been in New York City, an emerging worldwide hotspot in the outbreak.

New York officials are planning to add at least 1,000 temporary hospital beds at the Javits Center for non-COVID-19 patients and thousands of beds elsewhere. But Cuomo said “they’re nowhere near” the number that will be needed. The state also faces shortages of ventilators and protective equipment for medical workers.

New York has 7,000 ventilators and Cuomo says the city needs 20,000 of them in a matter of weeks. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 4,000 ventilators were coming from the federal government in the next two days, with half going to the city. He did not provide details.

Cuomo and de Blasio each sought more federal help, and Cuomo on Tuesday called for a national push to send ventilators to New York now, saying the equipment could then be redeployed to different areas once the peak passes in New York.

“I will take personal responsibility for transporting the 20,000 ventilators anywhere in this country that they want, once we are passed our apex,” Cuomo said. “But don’t leave them sitting in a stockpile.”

India imposes world’s largest lockdown

NEW DELHI — India will begin the world’s largest lockdown on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a TV address, warning citizens to stay inside or risk inviting the pandemic into their homes, and pledging $2 billion to bolster the country’s beleaguered health care system.

“To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out,” Modi said Tuesday night, acknowledging that the 21-day lockdown would be a major blow to the economy, but that the alternative could set the country back 21 years.

The move puts nearly one-fifth of the world’s population under lockdown.

Indian health officials have reported 469 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 10 deaths. Officials have repeatedly insisted there is no evidence yet of communal spread but have conducted relatively scant testing for the disease. In a country where tens of millions live in dense urban areas with irregular access to clean water, experts have said communal spread is inevitable.

For weeks, while the coronavirus wracked neighboring China and other parts of Asia, India’s infection toll stood at just three, all students in the Chinese epicenter, Wuhan, who were treated in their home state of Kerala and recovered from the disease.

But since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, triggering India’s government to invoke a British Raj-era epidemic act giving it sweeping powers to contain the disease, the cases have been growing rapidly and, according to Modi, have the potential to “spread like wildfire.”

In recent days, India has been gradually expanding stay-at-home orders and has banned international and domestic flights and suspended passenger service on its extensive rail system.

Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021

TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics have been officially postponed until 2021.

The International Olympic Committee along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and local organizers have decided that the Tokyo Games cannot go ahead as scheduled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The IOC says the games will be held “not later than summer 2021” but they will still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Abe says IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed “100%” to his proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Bach had previously said the IOC would make an announcement about postponing the 2020 Olympics in the next four weeks.

Stocks rally on hopes of a U.S. stimulus deal

NEW YORK — Stocks around the world rallied Tuesday amid expectations that Congress is nearing a deal to pump nearly $2 trillion of aid into the coronavirus-ravaged economy.

Top congressional and White House officials said they expect to reach an agreement Tuesday, though some issues remain. Investors have been frustrated waiting for the U.S. government to do what it can to help the economy, which is increasingly shutting down by the day, after the Federal Reserve has done nearly all it can.

Signs of optimism radiated around the world. Beyond the better than 5% gain for the S&P 500 within the first few minutes of trading, South Korean stocks surged 8.6% and Germany’s market returned 7%. Treasury yields rose in a sign that investors are feeling less fearful. Even crude oil, which has more than halved this year, rose.

Read the rest of this story here.

U.S. one-day pandemic fatalities hit triple digits for first time

U.S. states on Monday reported more than 100 deaths from the novel coronavirus, pushing the country’s total death toll past 500 and marking the first time single-day fatalities have risen into the triple-digits since the pandemic reached U.S. soil.

The virus has now claimed lives in at least 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and has infected more than 41,000 people nationwide, according to tracking by The Washington Post.

Britain orders shops closed, bans public gatherings of more than 2 people 

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the public Monday night to “stay at home” for all but a few exceptions and ordered shops that don’t sell essential goods to shut down as he ramped up restrictions imposed by the U.K. government in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an address to the nation from 10 Downing Street, Johnson said it was critical to prevent the virus from spreading between households and that police would be authorized to break up gatherings of more than two people in public during what he termed a “national emergency.”

“I must give the British people a very simple instruction,” the prime minister said. “You must stay at home.”

Under the measures, the most draconian restrictions the British state has ever imposed in peacetime, people will only be allowed to leave home for a few “very limited purposes” to relieve the pressure on the National Health Service, Johnson said.

These include shopping for basic necessities “as infrequently as possible,” one form of exercise a day done alone or with household members, medical reasons or travelling to work that cannot be done from home or that is “absolutely necessary.”

“That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home,” he said. “To ensure compliance with the government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises, including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.”

Johnson said the police will have the power to enforce the new requirements, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, will also be stopped. Funerals are exempt. Parks will also remain open for exercise, but any gatherings will be broken up.

Johnson has come under mounting pressure to introduce tougher measures in response to the virus pandemic after many people were seen out in public over the weekend not properly observing the government’s social distancing recommendations.

Read more about actions taken by the British government here.

Germany to take in virus victims from Italy

BERLIN — Germany’s hardest-hit state of North Rhine-Westphalia will take in 10 COVID-19 patients from Italy, which has been struggling to treat all those sickened by the virus.

The move, announced by governor Armin Laschet, follows a decision by Germany’s eastern state Saxony to treat eight patients from Italy. Three German states bordering France have also begun taking in French patients in small numbers.

Laschet says the patients would be airlifted to Germany by the Italian air force in the coming days. He told lawmakers in the regional parliament that “It’s only a small drop. But we want to send a signal: you’re not alone.”

North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of almost 18 million, has registered 8,745 cases of COVID-19 and 45 deaths — about a third of Germany’s total.

Defense Department fighting conspiracy theories on National Guard deployment

The Defense Department’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has expanded to include the expected deployment of tens of thousands of National Guardsmen, and a growing effort to stamp out conspiracy theories that the United States will adopt martial law.

Senior U.S. officials have addressed the issue in briefings, a Pentagon official rebutted speculative online posts, and a new government website is titled “Coronavirus Rumor Control.”

More than 8,000 National Guardsmen were on duty as of Monday to respond to the spread of the virus, with tasks ranging from delivering needed supplies to disinfecting public areas.

The chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, said in a phone call with reporters on Sunday night that he had “seen things on Facebook and the like” that depicted military equipment moving on trains and suggested the Guard was going to launch “some quarantine operation.”

“There is just no truth to this rumor that people are considering, that governors are planning, that anybody is conspiring to use National Guard … to do some sort of a military action to enforce, you know, shelter in place and quarantine,” Lengyel said. “I don’t know how to say that any more clearly than that.”

Read the full story.

Spain sets new record for positive tests

MADRID — Health authorities say Spain has registered a daily record increase of 6,584 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 39,673.

The number of deaths also increased by more than 500 to 2,696.

WHO says reported deaths will increase considerably

GENEVA — A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization says case counts and deaths globally from the new coronavirus are expected to increase “considerably” when global figures are published later Tuesday.

Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said overnight reporting showed 85% of the new cases were being reported in Europe and the United States.

Speaking at a regular U.N. Geneva briefing, Harris also cited a “glimmer of hope” in hard-hit Italy after two days of slight declines in the number of new cases and deaths, while cautioning it’s “early days yet” — and the trend needed to be monitored.

Global figures compiled by WHO at 17:00 GMT Monday showed more than 334,000 total cases globally, Harris said, “but in fact the outbreak is accelerating very rapidly and the case numbers we received overnight will put that up considerably.”

She said she did not have the exact figures to hand.

The latest WHO Situation report issued late Monday cited 14,788 deaths worldwide, including 1,727 over the latest 24-hour span.

“Just to put it in proportion: It took two years in the worst Ebola outbreak we ever had, the West African outbreak, to reach 11,000 deaths,” Harris said. “So we are really seeing an enormous outbreak here.”

Harris said an increasing in the rollout of testing for new coronavirus infections could partly explain the surge in case counts.

Australia may parole prisoners

CANBERRA, Australia — Prisoners regarded as vulnerable to the new coronavirus and low risk to society in Australia’s most populous state would be eligible for early parole under emergency legislation passed by the New South Wales Parliament.

It is unclear how many of the state’s 14,000 prisoners could walk free under the legislation proposed by New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman.

The emergency legislation includes a raft of reforms that Speakman said will provide public authorities with the powers they need to respond appropriately to this once-in-a-century crisis.

“The threat posed by COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and the needs of families, businesses, workers and governments are changing every day,” Speakman said in a statement.


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