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

WASHINGTON — The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus is asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his roughly 5,000 crew members on shore, which would take the warship out of duty in an effort to save lives.

In a memo to Navy leaders, the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt said that the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating and that removing all but 10% of the crew is a “necessary risk” in order to stop the spread of the virus. The ship is docked in Guam.

Navy leaders on Tuesday were scrambling to determine how to best respond to the extraordinary request as dozens of crew members tested positive.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset our sailors,” said Navy Capt. Brett Crozier in a memo obtained by the Associated Press.

A Navy official said Crozier alerted commanders on Sunday evening of the continuing challenges in isolating the virus. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that Crozier wants more isolated housing for the crew and that Navy leadership is reviewing options to ensure the health and safety of the crew.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. John Aquilino told reporters on Tuesday that the Navy is working to get as many sailors as possible on shore, while still maintaining a core crew to monitor the nuclear reactors and keep the ship running. He said the pace may not be as fast as the commander would like, but it will be done on a rotation, with sailors staying on shore in isolation for 14 days, then returning to the ship virus-free so that others can go ashore.

Read more about the plight of the USS Theodore Roosevelt here.

White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths

WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. President Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s social distancing guidelines.

Trump called on Americans to brace themselves for a “rough two-week period” but predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” of the global catastrophe that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more.

“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”

The comments came after Trump announced Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that urged Americans to cease social gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Read the full story about Trump’s comments here.

Hospitals overflowing with bodies in U.S. epicenter of virus

NEW YORK — A surge in deaths in the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. has overwhelmed New York’s permanent morgues and filled storage spaces in many hospitals to capacity. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending 85 refrigerated trucks to serve as temporary morgues, the city said.

It’s been that way for days at Brooklyn Hospital Center, where a worker Tuesday wheeled out a gurney carrying a body covered in white plastic, a forklift operator carefully raised a body into the trailer and undertakers came to claim the remains of yet another of the city’s nearly 1,000 coronavirus dead.

The hospital said in a statement that the “unprecedented crisis calls for extraordinary measures” and that extra storage is needed “to accommodate the tragic spike in deaths, placing a strain on the entire system of care – from hospitals to funeral homes.”

The city’s medical examiner’s office has also started operating a makeshift morgue, as it did after the Sept. 11 attacks, to provide emergency capacity as the city’s permanent facilities fill up.

The city’s coronavirus death toll more than doubled in the past four days, surging from 450 on Friday to 932 as of Tuesday morning.

Read the full story about the death toll in New York here.

 

Chris Cuomo

CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo announced Tuesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. The prime-time host is one of the most visible media figures to come down with the disease. He said he’s experienced chills, fever and shortness of breath. He promised to continue doing his show while in quarantine in the basement of his home. Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo tests positive for the coronavirus

Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s “Prime Time” and brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has tested positive for coronavirus.

Cuomo, 49, said he has felt “fever, chills and shortness of breath” after being exposed to people who have since been diagnosed.

“I just hope I didn’t give it to the kids and Cristina,” he wrote in a Twitter statement Tuesday.

“That would make me feel worse than this illness!”

The anchor said he has been quarantined in his New York apartment basement.

Cuomo has already been hosting from home, as have almost all CNN reporters, and will continue to do so, he said.

Read the story about Chris Cuomo here.

Stocks fall, closing out their worst quarter since 2008

NEW YORK — Stocks fell in subdued trading Tuesday, as Wall Street’s wraps up its worst quarter of performance since the 2008 financial crisis.

The S&P 500 was down in afternoon trading after flipping between modest losses and gains, pushing its loss for the first three months of the year to 20.2 percent. Trading was similarly shaky elsewhere earlier in the day: Global markets initially rose following a stronger-than-expected report on China’s economy, but momentum briefly stalled after the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus outbreak jumped in Spain. Major European indexes shook off the early slide and were headed higher.

The surge of coronavirus cases around the world has sent markets to breathtaking drops since mid-February, undercutting what had been a good start to the year. Markets rose early in the quarter, and the S&P 500 set a record with expectations that the economy was accelerating due to calming trade wars and low interest rates around the world.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil has dropped by roughly two thirds this quarter and hit its lowest price since 2002 on Monday on expectations of a dramatic drop in demand. The price turned a bit higher Tuesday. Germany’s DAX has lost a quarter of its value since the start of the year, and South Korean stocks dropped just over 20 percent.

The big question is if markets will get worse. At this point, no one knows.

Read the full story about U.S. stocks here.

Instacart, Amazon workers walk off job as risks mount

NEW YORK — Some Instacart and Amazon warehouse workers walked off the job Monday demanding greater safeguards against the coronavirus, even as both companies are speed-hiring hundreds of thousands of new workers to handle a surge in delivery orders.

The one-day strikes had little impact on consumers, but the unrest called attention to mounting discontent among low-wage workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic, serving the needs of those who can keep safe working from home. Whole Worker, a workers group for Whole Foods employees, is calling for a nationwide “sick out” on Tuesday.

Many workers in high demand are part-time or contracted employees, lacking in benefits such as paid sick time off or health care. In addition to demands for more protection against coronavirus, workers are citing longstanding grievances over practices that keep wages low and part-time workers from getting more hours.

Online grocery-delivery service Instacart and Amazon say they are working to equip their workers with sanitation gear and have taken steps to increase pay and extend paid sick time. Instacart said Sunday that it would make hand sanitizer available to its workers upon request and outlined changes to its tip system, but strikers said it was too little too late.

“They need to give us hazard pay right now and it should be guaranteed,” said Shanna Foster, a single mother who stopped working her Instacart gig two weeks ago out of fear of contracting the virus. “It wasn’t worth the risk.”

But a rush of hiring is likely to dilute any attempts by existing workers to organize walk-offs. Many people are applying for the new jobs as layoffs surge in restaurants, retail, hospitality, airports and other industries that have shut down. Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, almost five times the previous record set in 1982.

Read the full story here.

Italy holds minute of silence for virus victims

ROME — Italy has observed a minute of silence and flown its flags at half-staff in a collective, nationwide gesture to honor the victims of the coronavirus and their families.

The Vatican also lowered its flags Tuesday to honor the dead in the country with the greatest toll from the virus, which stands at more than 11,500.

The noon minute of silence was observed in cities and towns around the country.

The office of Premier Giuseppe Conte said the gesture was a sign of national mourning and solidarity with the victims, their families “and as a sign of collective participation in mourning with the hardest-hit communities.”

Chinese officials say epidemic not over there

BEIJING — Chinese officials say the coronavirus epidemic isn’t over in their country and that daunting challenges remain.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that authorities need to make sure that infected people arriving from abroad don’t spread the disease and start new outbreaks.

She hit back at U.S. criticism of her country’s handling of the epidemic, saying that China and the U.S. should work together to fight it.

“We also hope that some U.S. officials can follow through in the spirit of the two heads of states’ call and create more favorable conditions for the two countries to cooperate in the fight against the disease,” she said. The two leaders talked late last week.

Hua noted that some local Chinese governments and companies have provided virus-related medical supplies to the United States, even as the demand for those supplies remains high in China.

Dubai will support airline

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s government says it will inject equity into Emirates airlines as the Middle East’s largest carrier grounds nearly all of its flights due to coronavirus restrictions on travel at its hub in the world’s busiest airport for international travel.

Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a statement Tuesday that liquidity would be given to the state-owned airline “considering its strategic importance” to Dubai and the economy of the United Arab Emirates, but he did not say how much credit would be pumped into the airline.

Emirates carried around 58 million passengers last year, helping to transform Dubai’s airport into the world’s busiest for international travel for several years running.

Also Tuesday, low-cost carrier flydubai became the latest airline to announce pay cuts of its staff of nearly 4,000, though not all staff are being affected the same.

The company told The Associated Press it was reducing salaries to between 25-50% for a three-month period starting in April.

Spain records 849 deaths on Tuesday

MADRID — Spain recorded on Tuesday 849 new coronavirus deaths, the highest number since the pandemic hit the southern European country, according to the country’s health ministry.

With both new infections and deaths up around 11% each, to a total of 94,417 confirmed cases and 8,189 fatalities, Spain is seeing a slight rebound in the outbreak.

That’s despite an overall timid slowdown in its spread for the past week, allowing authorities to focus on avoiding the collapse of the health system. At least one third of Spain’s 17 regions were already at their limit of capacity in terms of intensive care unit usage, while new beds are being added in hotels, exhibition and sports centers across the country.

At least 14% of those infected are much needed medical personnel. Many of them lack proper protective gear.

The government also wants to cushion the social effects of a major economic slowdown. Spain is officially “hibernating,” with new measures halting all but essential economic activity coming into full force on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s left-wing Cabinet is expected to add a new 700-million-euro aid package, including zero interest loans, as well as suspend evictions for families who can’t afford to pay their home rent.

Britain reports higher virus death toll

LONDON — More people with the new coronavirus have died in Britain than previously announced, according to newly published figures that include deaths both in and out of hospitals.

The Office for National Statistics says that 210 deaths recorded England and Wales up to March 20 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. That is 40 more than the 170 deaths among people with the virus reported by the Department of Health for the same period.

The two sets of figures use different reporting methods and timing. The Department of Health statistics record hospital deaths. Tuesday’s higher figure includes people who died in nursing homes and other settings. Some of those are people who were not tested for the virus but were suspected of having it.

German zoos ask government for help

BERLIN — German zoos are asking the government for a $110 million aid package to help cover costs as their revenue has fallen away due to the coronavirus crisis.

Germany has largely shut down public life and introduced a ban over a week ago on gatherings of more than two people in public. The restrictions are expected to remain in place until after Easter. An association representing 56 zoos wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel, her finance and economy ministers as well as state governors on Tuesday.

The group’s chairman, Leipzig zoo director Joerg Junhold, said that “unlike other facilities, we cannot simply shut down our operations – our animals still have to be fed and cared for.”

With zoos closed to visitors, he said that “at the moment we are working without revenues but with expenses at a consistently high level.” He said that a big zoo currently has a weekly revenue shortfall of about 500,000 euros.

12-year-old girl dies in Belgium

BRUSSELS — Belgian authorities say a 12-year-old girl has died of the coronavirus, by far the youngest person among the more than 700 victims in the country.

Announcing the news Tuesday, national crisis-center coronavirus spokesman Emmanuel Andre said it is “an emotionally difficult moment, because it involves a child, and it has also upset the medical and scientific community.”

“We are thinking of her family and friends. It is an event that is very rare, but one which upsets us greatly,” Andre said. No details about the girl were provided.

He said that 98 people had died from the disease over the last 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 705 in a country of around 11.5 million people. More than 12,705 cases have been confirmed in total so far.

Andre said that Belgian authorities expect the spread of the disease to reach its peak in coming days, and that “we will arrive at a point where we’re close to saturation point at our hospitals.”

Virus cases spike in Russia

MOSCOW — Russia registered 500 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Tuesday in the biggest spike since the beginning of the outbreak that brought the country’s total to 2,337 cases.

The report comes as Russia edges closer to declaring a state of emergency, with many regions and cities ordering lockdowns and sweeping self-isolation protocols.

Moscow, the country’s capital, has been on lockdown since Monday, with most businesses closed and residents not allowed to leave their apartments except for grocery shopping, buying medicines, taking out trash or walking their dogs. Similar regimes are in place in more than 30 Russian regions.

Human rights advocates and lawyers in Russia argue that, in accordance with the Russian legislation, such lockdowns can’t be legally enforced until the state of emergency is declared by the president. The Kremlin has so far said that Moscow authorities have been within their rights to impose a lockdown.

On Tuesday, the State Duma, Russia’s lower parliament house, hastily adopted a law allowing the Cabinet to declare the state of emergency, rubber-stamping it through all three required readings in one day.

China will delay college entrance exam

BEIJING — China will delay the national college entrance exam by a month to ensure the health of students and allow more time for them to prepare, the education ministry announced Tuesday.

Amid sharply declining numbers of virus cases, the hugely important exam will now be held on July 7 and 8. However, the capital Beijing and hardest-hit Hubei Province “can put forward their proposals on the exam dates for their regions” and publish the schedule after gaining approval from the ministry, the announcement said.

More than 10 million students plan to take the exam this year. Schools in some regions have begun to reopen, although ministry officials say the restart of classes will happen gradually, under tight hygienic conditions and only in areas where the threat of the virus is lowest.

China “has passed through the most dangerous, most critical stage of the crisis,” but can’t afford to let its guard down, Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission, told reporters at a separate news conference Tuesday.

Denmark considers relaxing restrictions in 2 weeks

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Denmark could start lifting some restrictions next month if the coronavirus curve continues to flatten out.

Frederiksen said late Monday that if Danes continue to stand together — at a distance — the government will consider gradually opening up in two weeks’ time.

She underlined that the crisis was far from over but there was growing evidence that Denmark, which started a gradual lockdown on March 11, had “succeeded in delaying the infection,” adding it gave “a rise to optimism.”

Also in the Nordic region, Finland has decided to extend by a month the duration of the emergency conditions in the southern part of the country affecting the daily lives of some 1.7 million people, nearly a third of Finland’s population.

The measures set by the Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government were originally set to expire April 13 but the restrictions, now extended to May 13, were aimed at slowing “down the spread of coronavirus infections and to protect those at risk.”

British supermarkets have busiest month

LONDON — British supermarkets had their busiest month in history as demand soared from people preparing to stay at home to avoid the new coronavirus.

New figures from market research firm Kantar show that British grocery sales jumped by 20.6% in March compared with a year earlier, making it the fastest rate of growth on record.

As Britain prepared for a lockdown, images of supermarket shelves stripped of essentials like pasta and toilet paper circulated on social media, prompting British supermarkets to take out newspaper ads urging people not to panic buy.

Grocery sales totaled 10.8 billion pounds ($13.3 billion) over the past four weeks, surpassing the level seen during the busy Christmas season, Kantar said. The average household bought the equivalent of five extra days of groceries, it found.

Indian neighborhood sealed off entirely

NEW DELHI — A neighborhood in the Indian capital where a religious sect is headquartered has been sealed off from outsiders after police evacuated more than 1,000 people believed to have been exposed to the coronavirus during a religious gathering earlier this month before the government imposed the world’s largest lockdown.

Police said on Tuesday that hundreds of people, many of them foreign nationals, carried the virus to several other parts of India after attending a mosque in the crowded majority-Muslim enclave of Nizamuddin West.

Paramedics have transported hundreds of Muslim worshippers to nearby quarantine facilities. Officials say at least 300 people have symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.

Officials in other Indian states raced to confine others who attended the Nizamuddin mosque.

India has 1,200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across the country, including 32 deaths, a quarter of which have been linked to the gathering.

A 21-day long nationwide lockdown that began last week has resulted in the suspension of trains and airline services and effectively kept 1.3 billion Indians at home for all but essential trips to places like markets or pharmacies.

The overall number of known cases in India is small compared with the United States, Italy and China, but health experts say India could be weeks away from a huge surge that could overwhelm its already strained public health system.

 


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