WASHINGTON — Key updates:
- Our live updates continue for April 2, 2020, at this link
- The U.S. is on pace to pass 200,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, five days after passing 100,000 cases. The U.S. passed 4,000 deaths Wednesday morning.
- Wimbledon is canceled for the first time since World War II.
- The Coast Guard says cruise ships with sick passengers must stay at sea.
- Virus deaths surpassed 1,000 in New York City.
- The White House is projecting that between 100,000 to 240,000 people in the U.S. will die as long as social distancing measures continue to be followed.
- Russia is sending medical supplies to the U.S.
- Louisiana pastor Tony Spell held services for a packed crowd Tuesday despite a ban on large gatherings.
- CNN host Chris Cuomo has tested positive.
Reese Witherspoon's company Draper James announced on social media that it will be giving away free dresses to teachers.
The company said, "We want to say thank you. During quarantine, we see you working harder than ever to educate our children."
Click here to apply to get a free dress. The offer is valid until April 5, at 11:59 p.m. Easter Time.
Mnuchin says Social Security recipients won't have to file tax return to get stimulus payments
In a reversal Wednesday, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced that those who receive Social Security benefits and are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file a "simple tax return" to receive an economic impact payment.
Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts.
“We want to ensure that our senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and low-income Americans receive Economic Impact Payments quickly and without undue burden,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account.”
The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. They will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check.
Before the announcement, the IRS posted guidance on its website that said low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities would need to file a "simple tax return" to receive an economic impact payment.
Los Angeles mayor urges everyone to wear masks
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has recommended that the city’s 4 million people wear masks when going outside amid the spreading coronavirus.
Garcetti on Wednesday said people in the nation’s second-largest city who are performing essential tasks such as food shopping should wear homemade, non-medical face coverings, or even bandannas, as people in other countries hard-hit by the COVID-19 virus have done.
But Garcetti says residents shouldn't use medical-grade masks, which are needed for healthcare workers. He also says people should still stay home as much as possible.
Feds say man intentionally derails train near hospital ship in LA
A train engineer intentionally drove a speeding locomotive off a track at the Port of Los Angeles because he was suspicious about the presence of a Navy hospital ship docked there to help during the coronavirus crisis, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
The locomotive crashed through a series of barriers and fences before coming to rest more than 250 yards (230 meters) from the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Mercy on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a release.
Nobody was hurt.
Eduardo Moreno, 44, was charged with one count of train wrecking, prosecutors said. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.
UN: Pandemic could shrink global economy almost 1% in 2020
The United Nations says the global economy could shrink almost 1% this year due to the new coronavirus, a sharp reversal from the pre-pandemic forecast of 2.5% growth.
A report issued Wednesday by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs warns that the decline could be even deeper if restrictions on economic activities extend into the third quarter and if fiscal stimulus efforts don't support income and consumer spending. By comparison, it says, the world economy contracted 1.7% during the global financial crisis in 2009.
The report says the negative effects of current economic restrictions in richer developed nations will soon spill over into developing countries, which will see lower trade and investment.
Union player tests positive, first in MLS
A player for the Philadelphia Union has tested positive for coronavirus. It is Major League Soccer’s first player case of the virus that has caused the suspension of the season.
The Union did not identify the player. He reported mild symptoms.
MLS suspended all-league and team activities March 12. The Union said no other club players or staff would be tested because the case fell beyond the 14-day window of possible interaction with the player.
A member of the Seattle Sounders’ support staff and a sporting department employee at New York City FC previously tested positive for the virus.
White House Coronavirus Task Force updates public
The White House scheduled an update later Wednesday afternoon to brief the public as the U.S. surpassed 200,000 cases of COVID-19.
Dr. Fauci says that if we get to the part of the curve where there are no new deaths, we might be able to relax the social distancing guidelines.
President Donald Trump is resisting calls to issue a national stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. This is despite his administration's projections that tens of thousands of Americans are likely to be killed by the disease. One by one, though, states are increasingly pushing shutdown orders of their own.
The administration vaguely addressed the accusation that China is manipulating statistics regarding the new coronavirus. First Italy and Spain surpassed China in reported deaths and this week the U.S. and France did. But did they really? That's the question being asked.
Skepticism about China's numbers has swirled throughout the crisis, fueled by official efforts to quash bad news in the early days and a general distrust of the government. There is no smoking gun pointing to a cover-up by China's ruling Communist Party, but intentional or not, there is reason to believe that more people died of COVID-19 than the official tally.
Trump: Federal PPE stockpile nearly depleted
President Donald Trump acknowledged that the federal stockpile is nearly depleted of personal protective equipment used by doctors and nurses to protect themselves from the new coronavirus.
"It is,” Trump told reporters at a press briefing Wednesday, “because we're sending it directly to hospitals.”
Concerns about the stockpile levels were first reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Trump has said that the stockpile has almost 10,000 ventilators but that the administration has been keeping close hold on them so they can be deployed quickly to states that need them. But he said the administration had agreed to ship out 1,000 ventilators.
He says, “we have to have the flexibility of moving the ventilators to where the virus is going.”
Nearly 3,000 sailors to leave carrier amid virus outbreak
U.S. Navy officials say nearly 3,000 sailors aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier where the coronavirus has spread will be taken off the ship by Friday as military leaders struggle to quarantine crew members in the face of an outbreak.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is now docked in Guam. Navy leaders say fewer than 100 of the 5,000 sailors assigned to the Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus. But the Navy is moving sailors into various facilities and probably will begin using hotel rooms in the coming days.
Navy leaders are talking with government officials to identify rooms for the crew members.
Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US surpasses 200,000
The U.S. had 206,207 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by late Wednesday afternoon according to Johns Hopkins' Coronavirus Resource Center. Over 7,100 people have recovered.
At the rate the virus is spreading, it's likely the U.S. will pass the 200,000 mark in confirmed cases sometime Wednesday. It took the U.S. 68 days from the first recorded case on Jan. 19 -- according to the New England Journal of Medicine -- to reach 100,000 last Friday. The second 100,000 will be recorded in five days.
The White House on Tuesday projected that the U.S. could have between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths as long as social distancing measures continue to be followed.
Worldwide, there are 860,793 confirmed cases with 42,354 deaths and 178,378 recoveries.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Pence: U.S. outbreak on similar path to Italy
Vice President Mike Pence says the White House’s models for the coronavirus outbreak show the country on a trajectory akin to hard-hit Italy.
Speaking to CNN, Pence says, “We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point."
Pence was referencing the prediction models unveiled by the White House on Tuesday that project 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths in the coronavirus pandemic. Those figures assume that the country maintains rigorous social-distancing practices for the duration of the public health crisis.
Italy’s health system was stretched beyond capacity weeks ago leading to soaring death tolls. U.S. governors and local officials have warned their states need urgent federal help to avoid a similar fate.
Florida governor issues statewide stay-at-home order
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday as federal and local pressure mounted for him to abandon the county-by-county approach he had implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis told reporters that he is issuing the order after consulting with President Donald Trump and White House advisers, who have said that Americans need to stay home throughout April.
All of Pennsylvania now under orders to stay home
All Pennsylvania residents must stay home as much as possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday as he dramatically expanded the footprint of the quarantine to include the entire state.
The Democratic governor added 34 counties to his existing stay-at-home order, meaning that residents of all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties are now asked to stay put unless they have a legitimate reason to go out.
Wisconsin governor deploys National Guard to help at polls
Wisconsin's governor is deploying the National Guard to help staff polling sites for the state's presidential primary.
Election clerks say poll workers are quitting in droves in fear of contracting the coronavirus during Tuesday's election. More than 100 municipalities have reported they lack enough people to staff even one polling site.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers told a federal judge in a filing Wednesday that he'll use Wisconsin Army National Guard members as poll workers. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders issued a statement saying the state should postpone the election. The Democratic National Committee is among groups seeking to have it postponed.
Wimbledon canceled 1st time since World War II
Wimbledon has been canceled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The All England Club announced after an emergency meeting that the oldest Grand Slam tournament in tennis would not be held in 2020.
Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.
It now joins the growing list of sports events scrapped in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
That includes the Tokyo Olympics, the NCAA men's and women's college basketball tournaments and the European soccer championship.
The last time Wimbledon was called off was 1945.
Trump administration rules gun shops 'essential' amid virus
The Trump administration has issued an advisory ruling calling gun shops “essential” businesses that should remain open during stay-at-home directives.
Gun control groups are challenging that advisory. One gun control group has filed a public records request trying to find out if federal authorities considered public health issues or if it simply was swayed by the gun industry.
The Department of Homeland Security this past weekend issued an advisory declaring that firearms dealers should be considered essential services just like grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals and allowed to remain open. The agency said its ruling was not a mandate but merely guidance.
Cruise ships must stay at sea with sick onboard
The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to prepare to treat any sick passengers and crew on board while being sequestered “indefinitely" offshore during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new rules require daily updates on each ship's caseload. They also come with a stiff warning: Any foreign-flagged vessels “that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas" should try first to medically evacuate the very sick to the countries where they are registered.
Many of South Florida's cruise ships are registered in the Bahamas. The Coast Guard says shore-side facilities are stressed and patients may be more comfortable being treated onboard.
Federal inmates to be locked in cells for 14 days amid virus
The federal Bureau of Prisons is locking inmates in their cells at all its facilities for 14 days in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The implementation of a new plan Wednesday comes as a focus shifts to a federal prison complex in Louisiana, where two inmates have died and nearly 20 others are hospitalized. The compound, known as FCC Oakdale, has emerged as ground zero in the federal prison system’s struggle to contain COVID-19 behind bars.
The local health department told the federal government there was no need to test inmates there anymore for the coronavirus. Those showing symptoms should just presume they have it.
Disney Parks gives ponchos, masks to medical workers fighting coronavirus outbreak
Charles Redding, MedShare CEO and President said, "We have to find ways to pool our resources and work together to help the healthcare workers who are doing their very best to treat patients and contain COVID-19. We appreciate Disney partnering with us to support hospitals and healthcare workers on the frontlines."
Disney Parks says it has also donated over 100,000 N95 masks to New York, Florida and California.
Virus deaths in NYC top 1,000
Deaths from the coronavirus topped 1,000 in New York City as officials warned that the worst of the virus' toll is yet to come.
The city's Health Department reported late Tuesday that nearly 1,100 people have died of the virus in the city. There are more than 1,500 deaths across New York state. Data released by the city shows that the virus is having a disproportionate effect in certain neighborhoods, mainly in Brooklyn and Queens.
The city’s ambulance system is under increasing stress from the pandemic. Nearly a quarter of the city’s emergency medical service workers have been out sick.
Nearly 16% of the New York Police Department's uniformed force is now out sick. More than 1,000 officers have tested positive for the virus.
Authorities are racing to build temporary hospitals in locations including Central Park, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a cruise ship terminal and a sports complex to handle an expected surge in patients.
Russia sending medical supplies to US
Russia has sent a planeload of medical aid to the United States amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.
A military aircraft loaded with medical equipment and masks took off from Moscow early on Wednesday morning, according to the Defense Ministry.
Footage from the Russian Defense Ministry showed boxes of equipment inside an Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft at Moscow’s Chkalovsky Airbase.
The delivery follows a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, when the two leaders discussed cooperation in the fight against the new coronavirus. A Kremlin statement said the call took place at Washington's initiative.
More than 50 infected with virus at California nursing home
A Southern California nursing home has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with more than 50 residents infected — a troubling development amid cautious optimism that cases in the state may peak more slowly than expected.
Cedar Mountain Post Acute Rehabilitation in Yucaipa has been told to assume that all of its patients have the COVID-19 virus, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Director Trudy Raymundo said. As of Tuesday, 51 residents and six staff members had tested positive. Two patients have died, including an 82-year-old woman who had existing health problems.
The nursing home east of Los Angeles isn't accepting new residents and the facility has been closed to visitors under Gov. Gavin Newsom's two-week-old stay-at-home order, Raymundo said.
Russia cracks down on virus postings
Russian authorities have declared war on what they are calling “fake news” about the coronavirus.
The crusade began about a month ago, when Russia was reporting only a few cases, prompting speculation from some critics that authorities might be underreporting the scale of the outbreak.
Now lawmakers have approved fines of up to $25,000 and prison terms of up to five years for those who spread what is deemed to be false information.
Pastor packs Louisiana church despite virus ban
Buses and cars filled a church parking lot as worshipers flocked to hear a Louisiana pastor who is facing misdemeanor charges for holding services despite a ban on gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A few protesters turned out Tuesday evening, too, including a man shouting through a bullhorn against the gathering at the Life Tabernacle Church. Another demonstrator held up a sign reading: “God don't like stupid."
Afterward, as people began leaving the church, some chatted outside the front doors and many appeared to not be adhering to social distancing recommendations to remain at least six feet apart. Hugs and handshakes were shared freely as people said their goodbyes and departed.
Hours earlier, Pastor Tony Spell was issued a summons for holding services previously at the church in violation of the governor's order banning gatherings.
Japan to stop mail deliveries to 150 countries
Japan's post office says deliveries will stop to more than 150 nations beginning Thursday as flights carrying mail get canceled because of the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Mail will continue to the U.S., France, Australia, Hong Kong and a handful of other places, although delivery may be delayed, Japan Post said. Mail from Japan to China had already ceased last month.
CNN's Chris Cuomo tests positive
A bleary-eyed Chris Cuomo, saying he wanted to be a cautionary tale for his audience, anchored his CNN show from his basement Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Via remote link, he interviewed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, an emergency room nurse and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who expressed worry about one of Cuomo's symptoms.
“Brace yourself,” Cuomo told viewers, “not for a hoax. But for the next few weeks of scary and painful realities. This is a fight. It's going to get worse. We're going to suffer.”
Rochester man accused of hiding COVID-19 symptoms to gain entry into hospital maternity center
A man in Rochester, New York is accused of hiding COVID-19 symptoms so that he could visit his wife in the Strong Memorial Hospital maternity center. The man reportedly confessed only after his wife is said to have started showing symptoms.
Rochester hospitals will now tighten policies and require staff, visitors and patients to wear surgical masks while in public areas. University of Rochester Medicine says it will also take the temperatures of maternity ward visitors, reports the Democrat & Chronicle.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin announced that a 6-week-old baby along with three others died from COVID-19 complications. The mayor said there have been over 70 confirmed cases in that city this week.
The city is moving additional residents in shelters to hotels.