iStock/MattGush(NEW YORK) -- A Brooklyn man who allegedly coughed on FBI agents and told them he had novel coronavirus, after the agents said they had confronted him about hoarding and selling medical equipment, has been arrested, according to the Justice Department.
Prosecutors said 43-year-old Baruch Feldheim sought to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and equipment shortages at New York's hospitals to make medical workers pay inflated prices for surgical masks, medical gowns and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
On Sunday, FBI agents said they approached Feldheim at his home after observing several individuals walking away from his door with boxes that they believed contained medical equipment.
"After identifying themselves as FBI agents, they told Feldheim that they wanted to stay a distance away from him given concerns over the spread of Coronavirus," the DOJ said in a statement. "When the agents were within four to five feet of him, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth."
Feldheim then told the agents he was infected with COVID-19, according to DOJ.
As a result, Feldheim was arrested and charged with assaulting a federal officer, as well as making false statements after prosecutors said he repeatedly lied about his possession and sale of the equipment. He has not yet made his initial appearance before a judge or entered a plea to the charges, and as of Monday evening did not have a lawyer listed on the district court's docket.
The arrest follows a nationwide campaign encouraged by the DOJ and FBI to crack down on those who may seek to use the current national emergency to hoard much-needed medical supplies and sell them at prices far above market value.
Agents accused Feldheim of doing so on multiple occasions.
According to the criminal complaint against him, Feldheim agreed to sell a New Jersey doctor "approximately 1,000 N95 masks" and other materials for $12,000, "an approximately 700 percent markup from the normal price," prosecutors said. When Feldheim told the doctor the location of the materials, the man went to a repair shop that held enough medical supplies "to outfit an entire hospital," the Justice Department said.
Agents also alleged in a separate instance that Feldheim offered to sell a nurse "a quantity of surgical gowns," and days later received a shipment from Canada containing "eight pallets of medical facemasks."
The Justice Department urges Americans who suspect coronavirus fraud, hoarding or price-gouging to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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narvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 36,000 people across the globe.
The new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19, has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica since first emerging in China in December. There are now more than 766,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. At least 160,000 of those patients have recovered from the disease.
With more than 153,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, the United States has by far the highest national tally in the world. At least 2,828 people have died in the U.S.
Today's biggest developments:
-FDA gives anti-malaria drugs emergency approval to treat COVID-19
-Tokyo Olympics will open in July 2021
-Navy hospital ship arrives in New York
-Nearly 200 aboard Florida-bound cruise report flu-like symptoms
Here's how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
5:45 p.m.: Dozens of Marines test positive at boot camp
Between 35 to 40 Marine recruits and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at its Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, a defense official told ABC News.
The Marine Corps said it would suspend sending recruits to that boot camp, which is the service’s largest camp in the East Coast.
"Recruit training for individuals already at the Depot will continue as planned, with continued emphasis on personal and environmental cleanliness and social distancing," the Marine Corps said in a statement
The Marine Corps will continue to send recruits to its West Coast boot camp, but they are receiving a decreased number "to ensure that there is enough space to provide social distancing and adequate staff to safely screen and evaluate incoming recruits," according to a Marine representative.
4:48 p.m.: GAP to furlough most of its staff
The GAP is the latest retail giant to announce it will furlough most of its North American employees.
Company officials said the move comes as sales from its clothing stores have dropped due to the pandemic.
The chain said it would continue provide its employees with their benefits during the furlough period, which will last until stores reopen. Sonia Syngal, the president and CEO of Gap Inc., said that corporate leaders will be taking a pay cut as well.
"We are doing everything we can to provide support during this time, and we are intensely focused on welcoming back our store teams and customers as soon as we are able," she said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Macy's announced it would furlough the majority of its workforce starting this week.
Nordstrom said last week it was furloughing a portion of its corporate staff, and the company that operates DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse said it was furloughing 80% of its workers, according to the Associated Press.
3:45 p.m.: Renowned doctor dies from coronavirus
Dr. James Goodrich, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at New York City's Montefiore Medical Center, died of COVID-19 complications on Monday, according to the medical center.
Goodrich specialized in children with complex neurological conditions and created an approach for separating twins who are fused at the brain and skull, according to the medical center, where he worked for three decades.
In 2016, he famously led a team of doctors in a 27-hour-long procedure to separate 13-month-old twin boys.
Goodrich was not only a "pioneer" in his field, but also "a humble and truly caring man" remembered for baking holiday cookies and delivering them to the Children's Hospital nurses each year, Montefiore Medical Center officials said in a statement.
"Dr. Goodrich was a beacon of our institution and he will be truly missed," Montefiore Medicine CEO Dr. Philip Ozuah said in a statement. "His expertise and ability were second only to his kind heart and manner."
"Dr. Goodrich was admired by his Montefiore Einstein colleagues and adored by his patients and Montefiore Einstein will not be the same without his presence," Ozuah said.
3:25 p.m.: Pastor arrested for holding services despite safer at home order
A Florida pastor has been arrested after he allegedly held two large services on Sunday despite a safer at home order issued in the state.
Tampa-area pastor Rodney Howard-Browne "intentionally and repeatedly chose to disregard the order set in place by our president, our governor, the CDC, and the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group," Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a news conference Monday.
He was arrested on a charge of unlawful assembly in violation of a public health emergency order.
Chronister said the pastor's "reckless disregard for human life put hundreds" of congregants and thousands of residents at risk.
Since Friday, the sheriff's office was in contact with The River at Tampa Bay Church and received an anonymous tip that Howard-Browne refused the request to stop large gatherings, the sheriff said.
Officers went to the church to speak with Howard-Browne, but according to the sheriff, the pastor would not speak with them. Attorneys for the church told the sheriff's office that they refused to cancel services, according to Chronister.
The church could have opted for livestream services, but instead disobeyed the safer at home order and even provided bus transportation for parishioners, the sheriff said.
Howard-Browne told congregants Sunday, "I know they’re trying to beat me up about having the church operational, but we are not a nonessential service."
2 p.m.: Maryland governor worried pandemic will soon escalate in DC area
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is warning that medical experts say the coronavirus pandemic could escalate within two weeks in the Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland region, where it could resemble the current level of cases in New York City.
Hogan issued a "stay-at-home" executive order on Monday that directs state residents to stay at home unless they have an essential job, need to leave buy food or medicine, or get medical attention.
The governor warned that violators would be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.
He also said that residents should not travel out of state unless absolutely necessary.
Maryland has now surpassed 1,400 cases of COVID-19.
A stay-at-home order was also issued Monday in Virginia where at least 25 people have died.
1:30 p.m.: Over 1,000 dead in New York State
At least 1,218 have died from coronavirus in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
"We've lost over 1,000 New Yorkers. To me we're beyond staggering already," Cuomo said. "The only point now is do everything you can to save every life possible."
Only one county in New York State has no diagnosed COVID-19 cases, Cuomo said.
Over 66,000 people have tested positive in the state, including 9,500 patients in hospitals, Cuomo said. Of those in hospitals, 2,300 people are in intensive care units.
Over 4,200 people have been hospitalized and discharged, he said.
New York City still has too much density, Cuomo said, threatening to close down playgrounds if people do not stay inside or maintain effective social distancing while going outside for fresh air.
12:40 p.m.: Cruise lines extend suspensions
After the coronavirus outbreak quarantined thousands of passengers on massive cruise liners, Carnival Cruise Line said Monday it will continue to suspend operations in North America through May 11.
Holland America, a subsidiary of Carnival, said it will extend its suspension of global ship operations through May 14.
Royal Caribbean has currently suspended global operations through May 11 and Princess Cruise Line has suspended trips until at least May 10.
Norwegian Cruise Line currently plans to lift its suspension on April 12.
12:26 p.m.: Italy now has over 100,000 reported cases
Italy -- by far the hardest-hit when it comes to fatalities -- has now reached 101,739 total coronavirus cases, according to the country's Civil Protection Agency.
As of Monday, 11,591 people in Italy have died, officials said
But Italy -- which went on a country-wide lockdown on March 9 -- is seeing some positive news as the total number of active infected patients rose by only 2.2% over the last 24 hours. There were 1,648 new cases in the last day, as opposed to 3,815 from the day before.
Also, the number of patients reported as having recovered from the illness as of Monday is the highest daily total reported so far with 1,590 no longer infected.
11:50 a.m.: USNS Comfort arrives in New York
The USNS Comfort hospital ship arrived in the harbor of hard-hit New York City Monday morning.
The ship will treat non-coronavirus patients on board to try to lighten the burden on the city's hospitals where doctors are focusing on combating the pandemic.
At least 776 people have died in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the ship's arrival a "major moment in this long battle."
"Our nation has heard our plea for help," he said. "There could not be a better example of all of America pulling for New York City than the arrival of the USNS Comfort.
The mayor called the ship a "big boost" in the city's need to triple hospital bed capacity by May.
To all New Yorkers, the mayor said, "We are not alone. Our nation is helping us in our hour of need."
As the death toll climbs in New York, the mayor warned, "the toughest weeks are still ahead."
Another hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, has opened for business in the port of Los Angeles, where it'll be treating non-coronavirus patients on board.
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KRDO(MANITOU SPRINGS, Colorado) -- At a time of national crisis, heroes come in all shapes and sizes—furry friends included.
Sundance, Karen Evelth’s dog, is helping neighbor Renee Hellman stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic by dropping off groceries at the door of her home in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Hellmen is over 65 and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which puts her at particularly high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So Evelth thought of a clever way to help her friend stay safe at home.
“I told her, ‘I don't want you going anywhere,'” said Evelth. “When I get groceries, I'll get yours too.”
Each day, Evelth sends her 7-year-old golden retriever, nicknamed Sunny, to pick up Hellmen’s grocery list. Sunny returns a few hours later with bags full of flour, chickens and eggs -- all secured by Sunny’s mouth as he trots across the yard.
“She is so happy and grateful to see him every day at her porch,” said Evelth. “Smiling ear to ear every time.”
Evelth explained it took just one day to train Sunny to execute the routine, although he’s been learning to pick things up around her home for years.
“I have some back and feet issues so he’s learned to pick up my purse and shoes and bring them to me,” said Evelth. “He’s a humble hero, I’m so proud of him.”
Evelth added her dog has been doing the grocery runs for weeks and will continue to do so until Hellmen feels it’s safe again to venture out herself.
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FILE photo - jpgfactory/iStock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- A 14-day trip from Argentina to Chile has turned into a nightmarish, seemingly never-ending cruise for passengers aboard Holland America's Zaandam ship.
After nearly three weeks since passengers departed from Buenos Aires, "73 guests and 116 crew members on Zaandam have reported influenza-like illness symptoms," according to a press release from Holland America dated March 29. "There are 797 guests and 645 crew on Rotterdam. On Zaandam there are 446 guests and 602 crew." Two people have been reported as testing positive for COVID-19.
Among the guests are 138 Americans on the Zaandam, 166 on the Rotterdam.
Four older guests have passed away on Zaandam, according to the cruise line, one of whom was an American citizen.
Sister ship Rotterdam is now traveling with Zaandam, and passengers were transferred from Zaandam to Rotterdam to help distribute the workload among crews. Zaandam has four doctors and four nurses; Rotterdam, two doctors and four nurses.
On Friday, the cruise line started the process to move some passengers, including Laura Gabroni and her husband, Juan Huergo, to its sister ship the Rotterdam, which was sent to deliver supplies and COVID-19 test kits, according to Holland America. The transfers were completed on Sunday.
"We have been quarantined since the 22nd without being able to go outside," Gabroni told ABC News.
On Sunday night the ships finally made their way through the Panama Canal, which had previously blocked ships from entering, and both are bound for Fort Lauderdale awaiting permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to dock, the company said.
Jan Black, another American passenger who was moved with husband Chuck to the Rotterdam, said, "They're trying to limit how much they interact with the passengers."
But others who are still quarantined aboard the Zaandam said they were unable to board the new ship because they showed symptoms of being sick.
"We've just been told we will not be allowed off the ship because we were honest and said we had been coughing," Andrea Anderson explained.
Orlando Ashford, the president of Holland America, delivered a message to passengers on both ships overnight saying that their "intention is for each of these ships to work in tandem, to try to protect the health of those that are healthy, and so that we can create room and space so that we can care for the ones that are sick."
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the ships need to submit a plan and it needs to be approved before these ships enter U.S. waters. Holland America has suspended all its global cruise operations for 30 days and end its current cruises as quickly as possible, according to a press release dated March 29.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
WABC(NEW YORK) -- The operator of a bar in Brooklyn is the first person to be arrested under New York City's executive order banning nonessential gatherings and business as authorities take steps to enforce the mandate amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Police arrested Vasil Pando, the operator of the Miami II Sport Cafe in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn, over the weekend.
New York City has become the new epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., with more than 33,700 confirmed cases and over 770 deaths from the virus.
Authorities said they received several 311 complaints on Saturday about people gathering to drink and gamble inside the club that appeared closed from the outside. The first complaint came in around 5:15 p.m. on Saturday night, and another one came in at 10:30 p.m. that same night.
Police say they found at least a dozen people drinking and gambling inside. Moreover, the establishment had no New York State liquor license to serve alcohol, authorities said.
It is not immediately clear if Pando had obtained an attorney. He was charged with unlicensed bottle club, illegal sale of alcohol, reckless endangerment, promoting gambling and criminal nuisance.
On March 20, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered that 100% of the state's workforce stay home except for essential services.
"Only essential businesses can have workers commuting to the job or on the job," Cuomo said at the time, stressing that this rule "will be enforced."
New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio doubled down with a separate executive order for New York City on March 25, mandating that everyone who can work from home do so and banning nonessential gatherings of any size.
De Blasio also directed the city's police department, fire department and other agencies "as needed to immediately enforce" the directives in the order.
At least 21 U.S. states have implemented or announced statewide closures of non-essential businesses as the outbreak wages on.
Over the weekend, President Donald Trump officially reversed his call to reopen businesses by Easter and said he will extend the nation's coronavirus social distancing guidelines to April 30.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Over the weekend there were 22 reported tornadoes in three states; six in Illinois, 10 in Iowa and six in Arkansas with significant to major damage reported in all three states.
Some of the worst damage this weekend was on Saturday in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where an EF-3 tornado was on the ground for 12.6 miles. It was 600 yards wide and it was on the ground for 16 minutes.
This is the strongest such tornado in Arkansas since 2014. Strong tornadoes like EF-3’s are not that common in Arkansas and since 2000 only 24 such tornadoes have occurred in the state.
The storm that brought all the tornadoes this past weekend is moving through the Northeast and the Great Lakes with rain and some snow, but no severe weather is expected there.
Our attention now turns to the southern Plains and the Gulf Coast where a new storm system will bring more severe weather next two days.
On Monday morning, the storm system is just moving out of the Rockies and joining a warm front along the Gulf Coast.
Later Monday, severe weather is expected from the Plains into the Gulf Coast states from Kansas to Mississippi where damaging winds and large hail will be the biggest threat.
On Tuesday, the storm system moves into the eastern Gulf Coast states from Alabama to Georgia and into northern Florida. The biggest treat there will be damaging winds and also a slightly higher tornado threat.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
amphotora/iStock(VINALHAVEN, Maine) -- Police in Maine are investigating an alleged incident in which armed residents used a tree to block a man's driveway in order to quarantine him and his roommates from the coronavirus.
The man, who is renting the house in the town of Vinalhaven in the Fox Islands, left the house to check on a severed cable line Friday afternoon and discovered that a tree was blocking his path, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said.
Several people with guns allegedly approached the resident and yelled at him, according to the sheriff’s office.
The man ran back into the home and he and his roommates used a VHF radio, their only means of communication, to contact authorities, the sheriff’s office said.
“Several law enforcement entities arrived in the area and found the felled tree but no group of people,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post. “It was apparent that the tree had been cut down and dragged into the roadway to block it.”
The town has an order that mandates that anyone who came onto the island recently had to self-isolate. However the man said that he and his two roommates arrived last month, before the cutoff point for the order.
The sheriff’s office said they believe the tree was an attempt to block the exit of those from out of state from leaving the house, and that they will continue to investigate.
“Whether someone is a Maine resident or not, they have the right to free movement and anyone who infringes upon that free movement is potentially violating the law,” the office said in a statement.
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Alyssa Burks/Facebook(NEW YORK) -- Just days after Dr. Jared Burks' wife snapped a photo of him taking a quick break from his hospital duties fighting the coronavirus pandemic to greet their toddler son through a glass door in their Arkansas home, the physician narrowly escaped death on Saturday when a tornado ripped through his community and destroyed his house.
The photo of Burks and his 1-year-old son, Zeke, pressing their palms against the glass door was posted on Facebook by his wife, Alyssa Burks, and quickly went viral as people across the country thanked the doctor and his colleagues for risking their lives to save others during the global health crisis.
But the heartwarming moment turned to horror on Saturday afternoon when a twister tore a path of destruction through northeast Arkansas, leveling the Burks' home.
Burks, who as a health precaution has been living apart from his wife and son, was home taking his first day off in two weeks from his rotation as a first-year resident physician at the University of Arkansas Medical Center in Jonesboro when the tornado struck, Alyssa Burks told ABC News on Sunday.
Alyssa Burks said she had taken Zeke to her parents' house to keep the required social distance from her husband when the funnel cloud touched down. She said she was watching the evening news Saturday and immediately called her husband to warn him of reports of twisters in the area.
“I called him and said there’s a really really big tornado,” said Alyssa Burks, adding that she and her husband concluded that the best thing for him to do was to stay hunkered down in the house.
As they waited for the weather front to pass, Alyssa Burks said she heard a terrifying sound.
“My home alarm started going off,” she said, explaining that she knew the house had been hit.
She frantically waited for word from her husband, uncertain whether he survived. Then the call came that he was OK.
“He got in one of our master bathroom closets,” she said. “Farthest one from glass, from windows.”
The twister touched down in downtown Jonesboro, cutting a swath of destruction and injuring at least 22 people, officials said.
While Dr. Burks was left unscathed, his home was wrecked. Photos Alyssa Burks shared with ABC News showed her home's roof torn off, wooden beams collapsed in the home's interior, brick walls crumbled, and the glass door where she had snapped the viral photo knocked off its hinges.
Alyssa Burks said her husband is determined to head back to work as soon as he can, after taking a day or two to assess the damage to their house.
One silver lining to the young couple's hard-luck story is that Alyssa still has the photo on her cellphone of father and son greeting each other through the glass door.
Besides capturing a touching moment, the photo also caught a milestone achievement for both Zeke and his dad. It was the first time Jared Burks was able to watch his little boy crawl, Alyssa Burks told ABC affiliate KATV in Little Rock.
"As soon as he saw his dad he just raced to the door," Alyssa Burks said. "He got up on the glass because I think he wanted him to hold him, so it was sad, it was cute, but it was really heartbreaking because it's hard."
Alyssa Burks' best friend, Evan Clower, started a GoFundMe page for the now displaced family. As of Sunday afternoon, people had donated nearly $50,000.
"They are going to need help picking up the pieces so that they can find another place to live, collect their items, rebuild, all while Jared is working and fighting for those whose health may be compromised," Clower wrote on the GoFundMe page.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
iStock(NEW YORK) -- More than 33,000 people have died around the world as the amount of novel coronavirus cases continues to skyrocket, with the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases globally surpassing 713,000 on Sunday.
The number of cases has grown exponentially in a matter of weeks. Last Thursday, there were 500,000 cases worldwide, which was double the number of worldwide coronavirus cases from the week before.
The U.S. stood at more than 136,000 diagnosed coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 2,409 deaths in the country.
At least 148,000 people have recovered from the virus during this pandemic.
Here's how the news developed Sunday. All times Eastern:
9:18 p.m.: LA Convention Center to be used as medical station
The Los Angeles Convention Center is being converted into a federal medical station to help relieve area hospitals, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced.
The effort is being led by the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Guard.
The city is expected to experience a surge in coronavirus cases this week, the mayor said.
Los Angeles County had five new deaths since yesterday, bringing the countywide total to 37. Cases jumped by 332 to a new total of 2,136.
Los Angeles joins other cities that are converting large structures to overflow medical facilities, including New York City's Jacob Javits Center and Seattle's CenturyLink Field Event Center.
7:03 p.m.: 15-minute coronavirus test is on the way
A new 15-minute coronavirus test is on its way to doctors' offices and hospitals now, officials announced at Sunday's White House Task Force briefing.
Adm. Brett Giroir said that Abbott Laboratories will be providing 50,000 of the tests per day, starting April 2.
Giroir said that "18,000 of these little toaster-sized machines" are in doctor's offices and hospitals now.
He also said that the test is performed with a self-nose swab, unlike the less comfortable tests that require a swab to go far up the nasal passage.
As of the close of business Saturday, 894,000 coronavirus tests has been performed in the U.S., Giroir said.
6:12 p.m.: Trump extends U.S. coronavirus guidelines to April 30
President Trump officially reversed his call to reopen businesses by Easter and said he will extend the nation's coronavirus social distancing guidelines to April 30.
"The modelling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks," Trump said at his daily briefing at the White House. "Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.”
The guidelines cover work from home directives, travel limitations, business closures and other efforts to combat the virus. Trump said that his office will give more details about the new plans on Tuesday.
"We can expect that by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery," Trump said. "We think by June 1st, a lot of great things will be happening."
The announcement came just days after the president said he hoped that Easter would be a celebration of the virus' defeat.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the new extensions are a “wise and prudent decision.”
In the interim, Trump said that his public health advisers recommended against loosening social distancing restrictions in states or regions that haven't been as hard hit by the virus, as had previously been discussed.
According to the data, up to 2.2 million people would die if nothing was being done to stem the virus, Trump said. Fauci has estimated that even with the measures being taken, it was possible that 100,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. would die as a result of the virus.
Also during the briefing, Trump announced that two of the nation's largest health insurance companies, Humana and Cigna, will be waving copays for anyone treated for the coronavirus.
He was also asked what people suffering financial hardship should do about paying rent with the first of the month approaching.
“I will tell you, I think landlords are going to take it easy," he said. "We may put out a statement on that. I think a lot of people that are owed money are going to take it easy. They don’t sort of have a choice.”
Several cities and states have issued moratoriums on the eviction of tenants for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 crisis.
5:25 p.m.: White House asks hospitals to send daily data updates
The White House is asking the nation's private hospitals to send their coronavirus testing data to the federal government every day by 5 p.m.
The request came in a letter sent by Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Many of the hospitals already send the data to their state governments, but Pence said the CDC needs the data to "better understand disease patterns."
"As you know, partnership is essential as we work together to address the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, we are requesting your assistance with reporting data that is critical for epidemiological surveillance and public health decision making," he wrote in the letter.
During a meeting with supply chain operators, President Trump also accused some hospitals of hoarding ventilators and other equipment.
"We have to release those ventilators, especially those hospitals that are never going to use them," he said.
4:05 p.m.: Texas increases travel restrictions for more states
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state will mandate self-quarantine orders for travelers from several locations.
The state already ordered 14-day self-isolation for any traveler from New York City and New Orleans airports. Now the quarantine mandate will be issued for travelers from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, all California airports and all Washington state airports.
Non-commercial drivers from Louisiana who travel into Texas will also have to self-isolate.
3:32 p.m.: Country music artist Joe Diffie dies after coronavirus diagnosis
Grammy-winning country music star Joe Diffie died from COVID-19 complications, according to his representatives.
He was 61 years old.
Diffie rose to fame in the early 90s with several No. 1 singles including "Home," "If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)" and "Third Rock from the Sun." The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native also wrote songs for other country music artists including Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty and Jo Dee Messina.
3:30 p.m.: Stimulus money will be sent out 'within three weeks': Mnuchin
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Sunday that the direct checks to Americans from the $2 trillion stimulus plan will be deposited into bank accounts "within three weeks."
For those who don't have direct deposit on file with the IRS, a website will be created that will allow Americans to upload their information to receive their money. Mnuchin also urged companies to consider their laid-off employees and give them a second chance.
"Go back and hire your workers because the government is paying you to do that," he said.
3:21 p.m.: Global COVID-19 cases surpass 700,000
The number of coronavirus cases around the world have reached over 710,000, according to Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with 135,499 cases followed by Italy with 97,689 cases and China 82,122 cases, according to the data. Italy has the most COVID-19-related fatalities with 10,779 deaths, followed by Spain with 6,606 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
2:47 p.m.: Moscow orders lockdown starting Monday
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin issued an order that mandates all residents self-isolate starting Monday.
No one will be permitted to leave their homes except for traveling to work, buying groceries or medications, seeking medical care, taking a pet for a walk and throwing out garbage, according to the mayor's office.
Residents who have to take their pets for a walk will only be permitted to go no more than 100 meters from their homes, the mayor's office said.
2:43 p.m.: TSA screenings drop to lowest in decade
The number of people who passed through TSA screenings around the country was 184,027 on Saturday, the second consecutive day of screenings below 200,000, the agency said.
The number represents the lowest number of TSA screenings in over a decade. Nearly 2.2 million people passed through TSA screenings during the same day in 2019, according to the TSA.
Screenings have dropped every day for the last two weeks.
2:30 p.m.: Cuomo says New Yorkers 'feel under attack'
Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave some reassuring words to New Yorkers as the coronavirus outbreak has made them a target by other leaders who enforce strict rules against them.
This weekend, Gov. Gina Raimondo reversed an order that mandated only New York residents go into self-quarantine if they visited the state and President Donald Trump toyed with an idea that New York City to go into a quarantine. Cuomo said New Yorkers feel like they're "under attack," but reiterated that they are well in this crisis together.
"We have made it through far greater things. We are going to be OK," he said. "We are strong. We have endurance, and we have stability. We know what we are doing."
The governor said that the state health department did make some progress when it came to detecting COVID-19 cases. The health department has developed a less-intrusive coronavirus test that uses saliva and short nasal swab.
The test requires less PPE and will be ready for use as soon as next week, according to Cuomo.
1:20 p.m.: Deaths climb to 965 in New York
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the death toll in New York state climbed to 965 on Sunday, an increase of 237 from Saturday.
"I can't say you are not going to see people pass away because they are. That is the nature of what we are dealing with and that is beyond our control," Cuomo said at a news conference.
Based on the projections models, Dr. Howard Zucker, the state's commissioner of public Health, said it appears the death toll in the state will rise into the thousands.
"I don't know how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away because remember who its attacking, it's attacking the vulnerable, (people with) underlying illnesses etcetera," Cuomo added.
The bulk of the deaths have occurred in New York City, where the death toll rose from 517 at 10 a.m. on Saturday to 678 at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to data from the city's Health Department.
Cuomo also said that new hospitalizations in the state rose by 1,175 overnight while 3,572 patients were discharged.
A total of 172,000 people have been tested in the state for the coronavirus and more than 59,000 have tested positive with 8,503 hospitalized and 2,037 in intensive care units.
Cuomo also announced that he is extending his "New York Pause" program requiring nonessential state workers to stay home for another two weeks. The new deadline is April 15.
12 p.m.: Number of new coronavirus cases in Italy appears to be dropping
Italian health officials said at a news conference on Sunday that the number of deaths and the number of new coronavirus patients appears to be slowing, an indication that that hard-hit country is approaching or has reached its apex.
For the third straight day, Italy saw the number of daily deaths slightly decline. On Sunday, officials reported 756 new deaths compared to 889 on Saturday and 969 on Friday.
Italy still has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world at 10,779. But the percentage increase in the total number of new cases was the lowest it has been since the start of the pandemic.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy is now at 97,689, but the number of infected people in ICU decreased 5.2% on Sunday to 3,906.
10:50 a.m.: Dr. Fauci says US could see 100,000-200,000 deaths
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, said it is possible that 100,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. will die from the coronavirus
Fauci, who appeared on CNN Sunday morning, was asked about how many cases there will be in the U.S. and estimated there will be anywhere from one to two million cases.
The doctor noted that while his previous experience shows that modeling overshoots to show the best and worst case scenario, the "reality is somewhere in the middle."
Fauci cautioned that the latest model projections are based on "various assumptions" and are "only as good or as accurate as your assumptions."
"I've never seen a model of the diseases that I've dealt with where the worst case scenario actually came out," Fauci said.
"We're going to have millions of (confirmed coronavirus) cases," he added. "But I just don't think we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people."
10:30 a.m.: Spain records 838 deaths in 24 hours
Public Health officials in Spain said that the country recorded 838 new coronavirus-related deaths in a 24-hour span between Saturday morning and Sunday morning. The total number of deaths in Spain from the pandemic has now grown to 6,528, making it second for the number of fatalities to Italy's 10,023.
As of Sunday morning, there were nearly 79,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain, including 4,907 patients in intensive care units.
10:20 a.m.: Cat tests positive for coronavirus in Belgium
A cat in Belgium has tested positive for COVID-19 after its owner came down with the virus and was quarantined at home, officials said.
Describing it as an exceptional case, officials at the Liege Veterinary University Faculty said they tested the feline after it began to exhibit symptoms similar to humans who have contracted the virus, including respiratory problems, diarrhea and vomiting.
After conducting further research, the officials at the university said they are convinced that there is no evidence that an infected pet can be contagious for human beings but advised people to practice social distancing with their domesticated animals.
The cat has now fully recovered and is coronavirus free, and the owner is also doing well, officials said.
10 a.m.: 'Biggest assistance package in history' may not be enough, Kudlow says
While touting President Donald Trump's signing of "the biggest assistance package in history," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow acknowledged the difficulty in knowing if the funds would be enough to meet the needs of the millions of Americans impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"It may not be perfect, but I think it's going to give a tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months," Kudlow said Sunday on ABC's This Week.
Trump signed the $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday, calling the bipartisan legislation a catalyst to "stabilize the economy."
"It's the largest mainstream financial assistance package in the history of the United States, so it's hard to know if we could get everything, help everybody," Kudlow said.
9:45: President approves disaster declarations for Oregon and Connecticut
The president approved disaster declarations for the states of Oregon and Connecticut late Saturday night, making the states eligible to receive more federal aid to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has already signed disaster declarations for numerous other states reeling from the growing number of confirmed virus cases, including New York, California, Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana and Illinois.
9:21 a.m.: Louisiana governor says health care system could be overwhelmed by April
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said cases of novel coronavirus are expected to surge in Louisiana and overwhelm the state's hospitals within a week.
"We remain on a trajectory, really to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care by the end of the first week of April," he said on ABC's This Week on Sunday.
Edwards announced earlier Sunday that a 33-year-old staffer in his office, April Dunn, died due to complications from the coronavirus.
9 a.m. New Jersey governor responds to proposed travel restrictions
In response to a travel warning President Donald Trump said he was mulling for residents from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday on This Week that residents from his state were already not traveling much as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"A travel warning, we're fine with," Murphy said. "The fact of the matter is we are all in on flattening that curve, social distancing as aggressive as any states in America."
Trump decided not to enforce any quarantine late Saturday night.
6:46 a.m.: UK lockdown will last ‘an extended period,' senior minister says
Michael Gove, a senior U.K. Cabinet Minister, speaking for the government on the Sunday morning TV shows while the prime minister and health minister self-isolate due to testing positive for COVID-19 last week, refused to give a precise timetable for how long the country would be on lockdown.
Asked how long the U.K.'s lockdown will last, he said "I can't make an accurate prediction, but everyone does have to prepare for an extended period."
He added that the U.K.'s peak is "not a fixed point" in the calendar and timing depends how closely people follow the rules.
After Boris Johnson and a number of other MPs tested positive for the virus, Mr. Gove insisted the government had been doing everything to observe the social distancing advice.
"We've been doing everything we can to observe the advice. Within the House of Commons we've been trying to observe that advice."
5:25 a.m.: King County, Washington, health officer warns patients could be detained if they defy isolation orders
Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health -- Seattle & King County has signed an order and directive on March 28 making it mandatory for people with a positive COVID-19 test to follow isolation protocols at home or at a recovery facility. The directive requires everyone with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing) who has a test pending to stay quarantined.
Said Dr. Duchin: "Many steps we are taking as a community are helping to decrease the number of people who get sick, need hospital care and who die. However, we cannot stop the outbreak completely and our community will likely remain at risk for months to come. Through my health order and directive today, I am re-emphasizing the requirement for people who are infected with COVID-19 to follow our existing recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others in the community by staying isolated from others while ill, and to stay quarantined with symptoms while test results are pending. Each of us need to do whatever we can to prevent others from becoming ill. Everyone—young and old, whether you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or not—should stay home and avoid all non-essential contact with others."
To protect the public, if an individual with active COVID-19 is not voluntarily remaining isolated, or if an individual who has COVID-19 symptoms with a test pending is not remaining self-quarantined, they may be subject to enforcement actions, which could include legal actions for involuntary detention.
4:25 a.m. Former MLB star Jim Edmonds went to the hospital for coronavirus testing
Former All-Star outfielder Jim Edmonds announced on his Instagram page that he went to the hospital to be tested for the coronavirus after displaying some symptoms.
The 49-year-old Edmonds sent a video update Saturday night on his Instagram Story saying he was back home after testing positive for pneumonia for the first time in his life, but was awaiting results of tests for the coronavirus.
“I’m just trying to rest up and get better,” Edmonds said, adding that he’d provide an update when he heard from doctors.
Earlier Saturday, Edmonds posted a photo of himself in a hospital room with a face mask covering his nose and mouth.
“Held off as long as I could,” he wrote on the post. “I thought I was tough enough to get through. This virus is no joke. #gethealthy.”
He said he was feeling “super sick” and added that he wasn’t “taking any chances because it’s so hard to get tested by the rules of the CDC.”
Edmonds played 17 seasons in the majors, mostly with the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals. He won eight Gold Glove awards, and finished with a .284 career batting average with 393 home runs and 1,199 RBIs. Edmonds also helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006. He also played for the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds late in his career before retiring in 2011.
2:05 a.m.: Louisiana governor announces passing of 33-year-old staffer
Governor John Bel Edwards announced the passing of 33-year old April Dunn who succumbed to complications from COVID-19. April was a dedicated staff member who served in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs and a tireless advocate for people with disabilities.
Gov. Edwards issued the following statement:
“On behalf of Donna and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April,” said Gov. Edwards. “She brightened everyone’s day with her smile, was a tremendous asset to our team and an inspiration to everyone who met her. She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities. April worked hard as an advocate for herself and other members of the disability community. She served as the chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, and when I created the State as a Model Employer Taskforce, April told me how much she wanted to be part of it because of her struggles to find meaningful employment. I was proud to have an advocate like April on the task force and on my staff. She set a great example for how other businesses could make their workforce more inclusive. I ask the entire state to join us in prayer for April’s mother Joanette and her grandmother Gloria.”
11:22 p.m.: Zaandam will pass through Panama Canal
After initially being restricted from passing through the Panama Canal, the country has changed its tune and the cruise ship MS Zaandam will be allowed through.
There are more than 130 people on the ship suffering from "flu-like symptoms," as well as two people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and four elderly passengers who have died.
The MS Rotterdam, owned by Holland America, like the Zaandam, was also waiting to transit the canal.
"We are aware of reported permission for both Zaandam and Rotterdam to transit the Panama Canal in the near future," Holland American said in a statement at 11 p.m. Eastern time. "We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew. This remains a dynamic situation, and we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalize details."
11:02 p.m.: 1st inmate dies in federal prison of COVID-19
An inmate has died from COVID-19 at FCI Oakdale in Oakdale, Louisiana, two sources told ABC News.
This is the first known death inside the Bureau of Prisons.
Patrick Jones, 49, was sentenced to 324 months in prison for or possession of 425 grams of crack cocaine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a junior college, the BOP said in a press release.
Jones was the first inmate inside the BOP to test positive on March 19. He was placed on a ventilator one day later and he died Saturday.
Officials said he had preexisting conditions that contributed to his death.
10:15 p.m.: Knicks, Rangers owner tests positive
Madison Square Garden Company CEO James Dolan has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a spokesperson.
Dolan, 64, took over as CEO of Cablevision, the powerhouse cable company, from his father, Charles, but is most known in New York City for being owner of the NBA's New York Knicks and NHL's New York Rangers.
As chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, he oversees those teams as well as television station MSG Network and owns the world famous Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
Cablevision was sold in 2016 upon which time he left as CEO.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
iStock(NEW YORK) -- A political battle between Rhode Island and New York's top leaders over new coronavirus precautions ended this weekend after Gov. Gina Raimondo changed her executive order that mandated New Yorkers who traveled to her state be quarantined, regardless of symptoms.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened lawsuits against Raimondo's March 27 order, which issued fines and other penalties for New Yorkers that violated the rule. Rhode Island officers and state troopers were out flagging cars with New York plates at the state border during the earlier part of the weekend, which prompted Cuomo to call his fellow Democrat Raimondo on Saturday.
"We had a conversation. I don't think the order was called for, I don't think it was legal, I don't think it was neighborly," Cuomo said during his daily briefing Sunday morning.
Raimondo issued a new order Saturday night that repealed the quarantine mandate for New Yorkers and issued a quarantine order for "any person coming to Rhode Island by any mode of transportation after visiting another state for a non-work-related purpose."
Troopers and officers said they would now stop all out-of-state visitors and record their information if they were planning to stay in the state.
Raimondo said Rhode Island initially focused on New York travelers, because it was the state with the most COVID-19 cases.
"The rate of infection we are seeing in New York City, we are seeing it in other places," she said at a news conference Sunday.
Raimondo brushed aside any notion that she changed her executive order over Cuomo's threat of a lawsuit.
"He's welcome to sue if he wants, I'm on firm legal ground," she said.
Cuomo said it was normal that people would act out of fear, but said New York would not take actions specifically targeted at its residents lightly.
"New York has what it needs and no one is going to attack New York unfairly and no one is going to deprive New York of what it needs," he said.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
iStock(NEW YORK) -- Social distancing, staying 6 feet apart and cleaning surfaces with anti-bacterial products are some of the tools health experts and government officials have drilled into the minds for everyone around the world to do in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But, for the thousands of inmates on Rikers Island, some detainees say those options were not possible.
"It took two days to get a bed. I had to lie on the floor in intake with about seven other people, not within 6 feet of each other, but 6 inches. Two days of that on a concrete floor. Very unsanitary, no one was taking precautions, no one had masks, no wiping down with antibacterial cleaning supplies," said Bill, who asked that ABC news not use his last name for fear of law enforcement retaliation.
Bill, 62, said he was taken into custody by the police from the airport to Queens County Criminal Courthouse where he learned that there was a December 2017 tampering with public records charge against him in New Jersey that he did not know about. He was denied bail on March 15 by a Queens Criminal Court judge who adjourned his case for 30 days.
A law enforcement source familiar with the case told ABC News that the judge did not have any authority to set bail because it was a fugitive warrant.
That same day, a Rikers correction staffer contracted the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
Since New York State's first coronavirus case was reported on March 1, the numbers have swelled into the thousands. The state has become the epicenter of the pandemic virus which was first detected in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31 and hit the United States on Jan. 21 in Washington State.
Rikers Island, which sits in the East River between Queens and the Bronx, is one of the world's largest correctional institutions and has become the target of activists calling to shut it down. It currently houses about 4,800 inmates and can hold up to 15,000.
And some say they are afraid of contracting coronavirus.
"We had heard about the virus being on Rikers on the news. A week later they were handing out one sheet of paper saying not to cough in your hands, to cough into the fold of your arms, wash your hands frequently, clean all main surfaces, door knobs, table tops," said Jimmy, who also withheld his last name to protect his identity from law enforcement.
Jimmy, 55, from Queens, New York, was serving a year sentence for petty larceny when COVID-19 spread to Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island. He said that although inmates were given instructions about cleaning, they weren’t provided supplies to do so.
Both former detainees told ABC News in separate phone interviews that being in jail was bad enough, especially coupled with a viral and possibly deadly infection floating around.
After Bill was transferred to a cell on March 17 in the Vernon C. Bain Center, the next day, the first correction officer and an inmate tested positive.
"There is no cleaning staff, they rely on the inmates to clean," said the retired attorney.
"We took it upon ourselves to use items from commissary to clean. We used shampoo, crushed the soap and added water to stretch it out and clean the surfaces," said Jimmy who said he was housed in a dormitory with almost 50 other inmates.
A spokeswoman with the DOC rebuts the former inmates' claims about their cleaning methods, saying they cleaned and sanitized the facility daily and their preventative cleaning methods started March 3.
Officials put protocols in place like cleaning the showers three times a day, sanitizing all common areas and supply inmates with cleaning supplies for free, the spokeswoman said. A process has also been implemented for supervisors to check and log the housing areas at least three times per shift for cleanliness and need for cleaning supplies, she added.
"The Department is committed to robust sanitation protocols throughout its facilities and transportation vehicles, and has ramped up existing cleaning policies to combat the potential spread of the coronavirus," she told ABC News on Saturday. "The Department has confirmed that its current sanitation formula is effective against the coronavirus."
The DOC also uses a mold and mildew cleaner, an EPA-approved disinfectant, a general cleaner, neutral floor cleaner, and a cleaner without grit, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the facility.
But when it comes to ongoing preventative measures, Jimmy said they should have received gloves and masks as well.
"The COs were wearing gloves and mask, but it made no sense because we, the inmates, aren't going out to court or anywhere they are or the visitors are coming in," said Jimmy, referring to the correction officers.
Social distancing, quarantining and stay-at-home orders are all measures established by local, state and federal authorities to help stop the spread of the virus, according to the CDC, but there is no way to adhere the guidelines while in jail, the former inmates said.
"Everyone is within 3 to 4 feet of each other," said Bill. "The ceilings are very low, stagnant air, people smoking marijuana, exchanging marijuana with each other," said Bill, adding, "We aren't let out except an hour a day. At meals everyone is in 3 inches of each other."
"People were eating where they slept. You are elbow-to-elbow -- right on top of one another," said Jimmy, noting the only privacy available was during shower time.
Ill inmates can get an appointment with a medical professional either at the West Facility on Rikers or at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, but Jimmy says that can sometimes take two weeks because of the "backlog of detainees."
"The guy right next to me had serious respiratory issues, no idea what was wrong with him, but he had trouble breathing and he kept it to himself," said Bill.
Last weekend, The City, an online news outlet that covers New York City, reported that eight inmates at Rikers Island were pepper-sprayed while trying to go to the jail's clinic after an inmate they were housed with was removed from the area for displaying flu-like symptoms.
The incident is under investigation, authorities told ABC News on Saturday.
Even before the virus claimed more than 32,000 lives to date worldwide, advocates like The Legal Aid Society, the City Corrections Officer Benevolent Association (COBA) and elected officials have called for measures to protect officers and inmates from the potential of spreading the coronavirus.
Maryland's Prince George County State Attorney Aisha Braveboy's, announced on March 18 they would release low-level offenders from jail as a proactive measure. As of Tuesday, 62 inmates were released, a spokeswoman with SA Braveboy's office told ABC News.
The Cuyahoga County Court in Ohio announced on March 12 that it was releasing hundreds of inmates under various circumstances from the Cuyahoga County Jail due to coronavirus concerns.
The New York Times first reported on Monday, that New Jersey officials signed an order to release 1,000 inmates across the state. The consent to commute or suspend county jail sentences order was signed on Sunday by the state's Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey and other agencies.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initially announced on March 19, the release of 40 inmates and then increased the amount to 375 on Thursday at a daily COVID-19 press conference. The mass release of inmates brought the Rikers Island population to its lowest since 1949, de Blasio said.
Under the mayor's order, Jimmy's sentence was amended and he was released on March 24. He had a week left to serve. Bill was released on March 20 after the extradition was declined by New Jersey prosecutors, but his case is still pending.
On Friday, Gov. Cuomo announced releasing 1,100 inmates across the state who are in jail for low-level technical parole violations parole.
The Legal Aid Society also filed a lawsuit on Thursday calling for at least 10 juvenile offenders to be released as well.
Now that hundreds of inmates were released from Rikers Island, officials said there will be room to practice social distancing by placing an empty bed in between inmates. They have also reopened an unused facility to place new inmates who show symptoms for the coronavirus and for those in custody who have tested positive for COVID-19.
"The health and well-being of every person in our facilities is always our first priority. We are taking every precautionary measure to keep people in custody safe," said Peter Thorne, the deputy commissioner for public information with the DOC, in statement to ABC News on Wednesday. "We will continue to update our COVID-19 guidance as necessary, per the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to keep those in our facilities safe and healthy."
As of Sunday, 114 DOC corrections officers and 139 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
iStock(NEW YORK) -- Funeral homes are learning to navigate a new normal of mourning under the novel coronavirus pandemic, as long-cherished embraces have been barred and memorials must be limited in size and scope.
For Thomas Pirro Jr., a funeral director in Syracuse, New York, not being able to comfort mourners has been one of the most challenging aspects.
"To see someone standing by themselves sobbing is heart wrenching," Pirro told ABC News on Saturday. "Losing a loved one is stressful and emotional under normal circumstances. To add this -- the safe-distance factor and limited number of people that are allowed -- it's much more stressful and more emotional than ever."
As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread rapidly throughout the United States, states have responded by closing non-essential businesses, postponing public gatherings and urging the public to practice social distancing, which means individuals should leave 6 feet between themselves and others.
Whether funeral homes are deemed essential businesses is determined state by state. The National Funeral Directors Association put out guidance for homes that remained open to limit memorials to immediate family.
Pirro said that often means just children, spouses or partners, siblings and parents, though they still adhere to guidance from the White House of limiting any sort of gathering to 10 people or fewer. And in moments when Pirro said he would normally embrace someone or find a way to offer comfort, he now finds himself maintaining distance.
"There are people who are so emotional that, normally, if I knew them or had met them, that would be a situation that I would embrace them or hug them," he said. "That can't happen now."
It's no different in other hard-hit countries, such as Italy, where photos have shown just one family member attending a funeral.
In Austria, streaming services have been utilized for funerals after the government temporarily banned any gatherings of more than five people. The new guidelines in the U.S. have also prompted many families to stream services.
Bruce Likly, the president of Tribucast, a company that provides streaming services to funeral homes, said that in the last week he has seen upwards of 30 directors register for his system each day -- about five times what he normally sees.
In New York, the state with the most cases in the U.S., there has been a spike in utilizing streaming services, according to Mike Lanotte, executive director of the state's association.
Pirro said at his funeral home in Syracuse, out of 12 funerals administered last week, 10 chose to stream the service in some way for family members who wouldn't be allowed in.
"For the most part, people understand," Pirro said, "because, obviously, everyone's going through it. That being said, grieving this way is that much more difficult."
Steve Karboski, who owns a funeral home in Utica, said most recent funerals there haven't been coronavirus related.
"A lot of people are having a hard time. I don't want to say they feel like they're punished, but it's hard for them to comprehend that they can't do what they want to do," he said.
Like other funeral directors, he has opted to make streaming an option, whether it be through a service, Facebook Live or Facetime.
Karboski remembered a memorial he organized last week. A former member of the U.S. military had died, and his daughter, who lives in Rochester, wanted to be there but chose to stay home.
He ended up videoing the folding of the flags and gun salute to send to her.
It's in those moments, Karboski said, when he feels connected to families more than ever before.
"Funeral directors and funeral home staff have now become even more in the depths of grief," he said. "It's not as if friends or family are coming over. We're with them."
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
iStock(HENDERSON COUNTY, Ky.) -- A major storm moving through the central U.S. brought at least 17 reported tornadoes to parts of the central U.S., eight in Iowa, three in Arkansas, one in Missouri, four in Illinois and one in Wisconsin.
In Jonesboro, Arkansas, a violent tornado did damage in the town with six reported injuries. In total there have been at least 190 reports of severe weather in the last 24 hours from the Midwest to the South to the Ohio Valley. The same powerful storm system was responsible for a 90 mph wind gust in Henderson County, Kentucky.
The storm also brought very heavy rain with widespread rainfall totals of 1 to just over 2 inches of rain from Iowa to Pennsylvania.
Flash flooding was reported on roadways and surrounded parked cars in parts of the Cleveland metro area overnight. The system also is responsible for bringing snow from Colorado to Minnesota with 10 inches of new snow reported in western Nebraska.
As we head into the last days of March and begin April, we see the severe weather begin to ramp up dramatically. The U.S. averages around 80 tornadoes during March with the greatest chances across the southern Gulf Coast.
April averages 155 tornadoes through the U.S. with multiple hotspots including the southern Gulf, the central and southern Plains and parts of the Midwest. May, ultimately, is the peak time for severe weather in the U.S. with an average of 276 tornadoes.
This morning, radar is showing heavy snow still falling in parts of Minnesota and then two distinct areas of rain and thunderstorms. One area stretches across the Great Lakes into the western Appalachians where locally heavy rain could cause more flash flooding this morning.
The other area is a more pronounced squall line that is moving through the Tennessee Valley and parts of the Gulf Coast. There is still a tornado watch for parts of Tennessee and Alabama but the watch will expire shortly as the tornado threat is winding down.
Behind the cold front, winds will be gusting up to 45 mph in spots and therefore wind advisories have been issued from northeast Kansas to Ohio for today.
This storm will slide eastward today and we could see some strong thunderstorms moving into the western Appalachians and parts of the Great Lakes.
The squall line in the south will fizzle out during the day and there is a possibility some more storms will fire up in parts of the mid-Atlantic and Pennsylvania, but the threat will be only marginal. Any storms that do develop today could have some gusty winds and hail.
Unfortunately, a couple of disturbances will move in from the south and west by tomorrow and another quick moving storm system will bring the next severe threat to the south by Monday afternoon and evening. Heavy rain is expected from Kansas to the Gulf Coast with some strong to severe storms expected in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. Storms tomorrow could have damaging winds, large hail, and brief tornadoes.
Locally, 1 to 2 inches of heavy rain could cause some flash flooding in parts of Arkansas as this storm moves through the region.
By Tuesday, the threat will slide eastward bringing some heavy rain across parts of the southeast. The severe risk region will be from southern Alabama to southeast Georgia and parts of the Florida panhandle. Once again the threat will be damaging winds, large hail and brief tornadoes.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
iStock(NEW YORK) -- The amount of novel coronavirus cases around the world and in the U.S. continues to skyrocket. By Saturday morning, the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases around the world surpassed 649,000.
It was just Thursday that the globe reached 500,000 cases, which was double the number of coronavirus cases from the week before.
The U.S. surpassed 115,000 diagnosed coronavirus cases Saturday, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 1,891 deaths in the country.
At least 137,000 people have recovered from the virus during this pandemic.
Today's biggest developments:
-Global cases top 600,000
-US cases cross 100,000
-Italy deaths reach 10,000
-Trump considering enforceable quarantine in NY
-Rhode Island targets New York
Here's how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
3:00 p.m.: Global death toll surpasses 30,000
The global death toll has reached at least 30,249, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Italy has the highest number of reported deaths, at more than 10,000, followed by Spain at more than 5,800.
2:14 p.m.: Trump strikes more assertive tone on GM manufacturing ventilators
President Donald Trump said he had compelled General Motors to manufacture ventilators, after saying the day before that "maybe we won't even need the full activation," referring to using the Defense Protection Act.
"This week, I invoked the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to carry out federal contracts for ventilators and I think they're going to do a great job. I have to say that," Trump said in his speech at Norfolk Naval Base.
The president also said that FEMA has "shipped or delivered" 11.6 million N-95 respirators, 26 million surgical masks and 5.2 million face shields.
2:08 p.m.: New cases in Italy continue to slow, but deaths top 10,000
The number of confirmed cases in Italy continue to slow, with 5,933 new cases reported Saturday -- a 6.8% increase in total new cases, down from Friday's 7.3%.
It was the lowest percentage increase to date in the country. The total number of cases in Italy is now at least 92,472, health officials said.
In the province of Bergamo, the hardest-hit province, there was a nearly 50% drop in new reported cases, from Friday's 602 to Saturday's 289.
However, the number of new deaths in the last 24 hours hit 889, bringing the total death toll to 10,023.
1:44 p.m.: UN to donate 250,000 masks to NYC
The United Nations will donate 250,000 protective face masks to New York City, an area now considered the epicenter of the pandemic.
UN Secretary General António Guterres said the masks would go to medical professionals in the city who have been "working courageously, selflessly, and tirelessly in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the boroughs in the hope that they play some small role in saving lives."
The UN and US Mission personnel are working with Mayor Bill de Blasio's office to quickly get the masks to medical facilities in New York City.
1:26 p.m.: Pope, others in Vatican tested for coronavirus
The Vatican press office confirmed Saturday that the Pope has been tested and neither he nor his closest aides have resulted positive.
12:46 p.m.: Trump considering enforceable quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
President Donald Trump said he may announce an enforceable quarantine in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas.
Trump noted that he "doesn't want to do it, but may have to."
“There's a possibility that sometime today we'll do a quarantine, short-term two weeks, on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn.
The president said that he would restrict travel from those areas because "they're having problems down in Florida, a lot of New Yorkers going down, we don't want that." He later said such a quarantine would not apply to truckers from outside of New York who are making deliveries or traveling through the state.
"It won't affect trade in anyway," Trump said.
Trump said he may do so while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was holding a separate conference. Cuomo said he had not spoken to the president about such a measure and did not know what it would entail.
12:30 p.m.: More than 7,600 new cases reported in New York
There are now 52,318 confirmed cases in New York, after 7,681 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference.
The deaths in the state were up to 728 from 519.
Cuomo did say there was a bit of good news: new hospitalizations and new ICU admissions went down in the last 24-hour period. He cautioned that one day does not prove a trend and the situation certainly could go the other way.
There were 372 people admitted in to an ICU Friday and 172 admitted Saturday. For new hospitalizations, the number Friday was 1,154 and 847 for Saturday.
“The overall line is still up,” Cuomo said. “This is good news on a one day number.”
The governor also announced he was postponing the presidential primary in the state from April 28 to June 23, the date of the states down ballot primary elections.
12:16 p.m.: Trump approves disaster declaration for Massachusetts, Michigan
President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Massachusetts and Michigan, ordering federal assistance to the states.
Federal funding will now be available for crisis counseling for those affected in both states.
12:09 p.m.: 1st uniformed NYPD death
A New York Police Department detective has become the department’s first uniformed officer to die after contracting coronavirus, police sources told ABC News.
Detective Cedric Dixon, is the NYPD’s first uniformed officer to die of coronavirus and the third member of the department, after a janitor and an administrative aid.
“We are hurting, we are crying and we continue to fight,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Saturday afternoon.
Dixon was 48. According to police sources he had underlying conditions.
11:46 a.m.: SeaWorld to remain closed
The SeaWorld theme parks will remain temporarily closed, according to a statement from the company. The park had originally planned to open at the end of March.
Animal care experts will still be onsite to care for the animals. "During this time, our animal care experts will continue to look after the health and welfare needs of the animals in our care," a statement from SeaWord read.
"We look forward to welcoming our valued guests back to our parks soon," the statement continued.
10:01 a.m.: Nearly 200 US cities lack emergency equipment: Report
Nearly 200 cities in the United States do not have an adequate supply of tests kits or face masks for medical personnel and first responders, including police, fire, and EMTs, according to a report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
About 88% of cities of the cities surveyed, or 186 cities, don't have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) other than face masks to protect the front-line workers, according to the report.
The staggering statistics "illustrates the scope and severity of the need for COVID-19 emergency equipment in this nation’s cities," according to a letter from the conference's executive director, Tom Cochran.
One-hundred and thirty-one states have reported receiving no emergency equipment from their states, while 84% of those who are receiving help say it is not adequate for their needs.
The report estimates that across the cities surveyed there is a need for 28.5 million face masks, 24.4 million PPE items, 7.9 million test kits, and 139,000 ventilators.
There were 213 cities in 40 states that participated in the survey.
"It is abundantly clear that the shortage of essential items such as face masks, test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other items needed by health and safety personnel has reached crisis proportions in cities across the country," Cochran said in his letter.
9:53 a.m.: More than 8,000 new cases, 832 new deaths in Spain
Spain reported 8,189 new cases of novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, putting the total number of cases at 72,248, according to the Health Ministry.
There have now been 5,690 deaths after 832 new deaths occurred. More than 4,500 still remain in intensive care.
8:55 a.m.: German Aerospace Center to make masks
The German Aerospace Center will make medical equipment using its 3D printers, according to a statement from the agency.
The printers were tested and can successfully produce protective masks and valves for respirators, the statement read.
The German Aerospace Center had been asked by the European Commission to help in producing much needed medical equipment as the world scrambles to combat the pandemic.
The most powerful printer can produce up to 10 protective masks or 15 valves for ventilators per day, according to the agency. However, it's possible to increase the quantity through networking with other institutes and facilities.
6:00 a.m.: Lockdown leads to drop in pollution in Europe
Air pollution has dropped significantly across Europe as lockdowns have been adopted and residents are told to stay home, according to the European Space Agency.
Satellite images from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P show the drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which coincides with the quarantine measures, according to the agency.
The most significant drops were in Milan, Paris and Madrid.
Scientists from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) have been using data from the satellite to monitor both weather and pollution over Europe. The images show the nitrogen dioxide concentrations from March 14 to March 25, comparing it to the averages from last year.
"By combining data for a specific period of time, 10 days in this case, the meteorological variability partly averages out and we begin to see the impact of changes due to human activity," Henk Eskes, from KNMI, said in a statement.
Other countries are also being monitored, including the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Scientists have said that right now there is a larger variability because of changing weather conditions, making it more difficult to observe any changes.
4:43 a.m.: Rhode Island targeting New York travelers
A day after announcing all vehicles with New York license plates will be pulled over by state police and travelers informed they must quarantine if they are staying in the state, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that the National Guard would go door-to-door to make sure New Yorkers are following orders.
"We have a pinpointed a risk that we need to address, and that risk is New York City," Raimondo said Friday during her daily coronavirus media briefing. She said the 14-day quarantine for New York travelers is a law and will be enforced, "it's not a suggestion."
Members of the National Guard will be stationed at bus and train stops, as well as airports to collect personal information form travelers when they arrive. State police officers are doing the same for vehicles they pull over. With that information, Raimondo said authorities would go hotels, vacation homes and any type of residence to keep track of New York travelers.
All these measures, she said, are designed to let the state have time to get ready for the spread of COVID-19. If Rhode Island were to have an outbreak right now, she said the state and its healthcare system would be overwhelmed.
"We are not ready for a surge of cases," Raimondo said.
New York City currently has at least 26,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, with 450 deaths. There are more than 44,000 cases in New York State. As of Friday, only 28 of the 203 diagnosed coronavirus cases in Rhode Island have required hospitalization. The state has no reported COVID-19 deaths.
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iStock(NEW YORK) -- The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest aid measure in American history, a $2 trillion stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed into law. Direct payments will be made to Americans to help offset financial hardships incurred during the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus outbreak has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and whipsawing financial markets, erasing trillions of dollars in the process.
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said at a briefing Friday that the organization, which represents more than 189 countries, is projecting a recession for 2020.
Measures taken in the U.S. hopefully can offset part of that. Here are some of the highlights of the U.S. stimulus package.
ABC Fresno, California, affiliate ABC30 created a calculator to help show how much each individual will receive. According to the calculator, an individual whose most recent tax filing was "married filing jointly," claimed two children under 17 as dependents and has a most recent adjusted gross annual income of $85,000 could expect to receive $3,400.
The calculator can be accessed here.
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