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

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

The virus has killed more than 21,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Daily Fatalities In Spain Hit New Record As Death Toll Nears 5,000  — 3/27/20, 7:40 a.m. ET

 

(Photo: HuffPost US)

More alarming figures are emerging from Spain where officials have announced another 769 deaths overnight, a new record in the number of fatalities recorded in 24 hours.

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that the death toll in the country now stands at 4,858. The total number of those infected rose to 64,059 from 56,188 on Thursday.

— James Martin

Boris Johnson Tests Positive For Coronavirus  — 3/27/20, 7:20 a.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus, Downing Street has announced. No.10 had previously said Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, would take over Johnson’s duties should the prime minister become too ill to remain in charge.

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives.”

Matt Hancock, the U.K. health secretary, also announced today that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

— James Martin

COVID-19 ‘Bringing Out Middle-Class India’s Worst Impulses’ — 3/27/20, 7 a.m. ET

(Photo: HuffPost US)

Delhi has begun placing quarantine stickers on the houses of people suspected of being infected with coronavirus, leading to harassment and vilification of the city’s residents, HuffPost India reports.

A photo of a sticker placed on a flight attendant’s house with her personal details has been circulated on WhatsApp, and a video in which she is identified by her name and falsely called COVID-19 positive has been shared on social media.

“My safety and my image are under attack. People are saying that I’m corona-positive and humiliating me. One can’t live like this. Society will boycott you if they think you are corona-positive,” she said.

HuffPost India reports that the flight attendant is among many victims of public shaming and ostracising occurring in the country as the number of coronavirus cases rises.

— James Martin

An Epidemic Inside The Pandemic In Iran — 3/27/20, 7 a.m. ET

Hundreds have died and more than 1,000 have been sickened in Iran by ingesting methanol in the mistaken belief that it protects against the new coronavirus, AP reports.

“Other countries have only one problem, which is the new coronavirus pandemic. But we are fighting on two fronts here,” said Dr. Hossein Hassanian, an adviser to Iran’s Health Ministry. “We have to both cure the people with alcohol poisoning and also fight the coronavirus.”

The Islamic Republic has reported over 32,300 cases and more than 2,300 deaths from the virus.

Liza Hearon

Nearly Half Of New York City’s Coronavirus Cases In People 44 And Younger — 3/26/20, 10:30 p.m. ET

New York City public health officials said Thursday that nearly half of all coronavirus infections in the city were in residents 44 and younger.

According to data up until 5 p.m., officials said 44% of infections were in the 18-to-44 age bracket, a total of 10,145 cases. And 34% percent were in people ages 45 to 64, with 19% among those 65 and older. The report adds to growing concern that the coronavirus doesn’t primarily affect older people and those with underlying health conditions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released last week showed nearly 40% of people sick enough to be hospitalized were ages 20 to 54.

The risk of dying, however, remains significantly higher in older people and those with underlying conditions.

— Nick Visser

The U.S. Now Has The Most Confirmed Coronavirus Cases In The World — 3/26/20, 6:53 p.m. ET

The United States has hit a grim milestone, becoming the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. 

The U.S. had more than 82,000 reported cases across all 50 states and U.S. territories as of late Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It has now surpassed the coronavirus case totals of China and Italy, previously the highest in the world. After those two nations, the next highest case numbers are in Spain, France, Germany and Iran.

More than 1,000 people in the U.S. so far have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Several countries still have more deaths linked to COVID-19 than the U.S., including Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France, per the World Health Organization.

Read more.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Senate Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Includes Arts Funding Despite Past GOP Disdain — 3/26/20, 6:18 p.m. ET

The $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by the Senate late Wednesday includes some $75 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, despite initial Republican attempts to ax such funding from the proposal. 

The bill also includes $75 million each for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $50 million for museums and libraries, and $25 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The move is surprising as the Trump administration has consistently sought to cut funding to the NEA and other arts organizations, with Republicans dismissing their budgets as frivolous.

But President Donald Trump defended the latest funding for the Kennedy Center — which is closed until at least May 10 — saying the organization does a “beautiful” and “incredible job.” 

— Nick Visser

Italy Infections Rise Again, Push Global Cases Past Half A Million — 3/26/20, 2:20 p.m. ET

After four consecutive days of falls in new infections had created cautious optimism that containment measures in Italy had begun to “flatten the curve,” the country today reported its highest number of new cases since March 21. The total number of confirmed cases in Italy rose by 6,153 to 80,539, pushing the global total over half a million, based on a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy now has almost as many cases as China.

— James Martin

Indianapolis 500 Postponed Until August — 3/26/20, 1:34 p.m. ET

Organizers for the Indianapolis 500, the world’s longest-standing auto race, have postponed the spectacle until Aug. 23 in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The race was originally scheduled to take place May 24 and typically hosts around 300,000 spectators.

“The Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is my favorite time of year, and like our fans, I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule the Indianapolis 500,” Roger Penske, who bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in January, said. “However, the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing.”

— Lydia O’Connor

UK Announces Emergency Package For The Self-Employed — 3/26/20, 1:20 p.m. ET

The U.K. has announced a support package for self-employed people that will cover 80% of average earnings over the past three years. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak told a press conference in Downing Street that he recognized people who work for themselves were “deeply anxious” as the spread of the virus shut down businesses.

It comes as ministers were under increasing pressure to offer the self-employed a package of support on par with that handed to workers. 

Read more from HuffPost UK.

— James Martin

U.S. Unemployment Claims Skyrocket To 3.3 Million — 3/26/20, 8:43 a.m. ET

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, as nonessential businesses across the U.S. have shuttered to help curb the spread of the virus.

The number is quadruple the previous record set in 1982, the Associated Press reported. Unemployment claims are expected to continue to rise, as the pandemic worsens across the U.S. and much of the world.

Economists said the economy is all but certain to enter a recession, and the U.S. unemployment rate could rise to 13% by May — higher than the 10% it was during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.

Read more from the AP.

— Marina Fang

Federal Reserve Chair: Control Virus Before Reopening Economy — 3/26/20, 8 a.m. ET

Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell said Thursday the federal government should heed the advice of medical experts and focus on curbing the spread of the coronavirus before reopening the economy.

“We would tend to listen to the experts,” Powell told NBC’s “Today.” “I think the first order of business will be to get the spread of the virus under control and then resume economic activity.”

Powell’s statement throws cold water on Trump’s recent push to ease social distancing measures potentially in the next few weeks to boost the economy. “We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem,” the president has said.

Meanwhile, public health experts have warned that lifting coronavirus restrictions now would overwhelm the health care system and could kill millions of people.

― Hayley Miller 

Death Toll In Spain Surpasses 4,000 — 3/26/20, 7 a.m. ET

Spain has recorded 655 fatalities over the past 24 hours as the total death toll from the epidemic in the country rose to over 4,000. The number of reported deaths from the virus rose to 4,089 from 3,434 on Wednesday, while the overall number of coronavirus cases soared to 56,188 from 47,610.

However, the country’s health ministry reported that the daily death toll was down from over 700 on Wednesday, while HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that 7,015 people have now recovered.

Spain is Europe’s second-worst hit country behind Italy, with its death toll passing China on Wednesday.

— James Martin

Tokyo On Verge Of ‘Explosive’ Increase As Infections Surge — 3/26/20, 6:30 a.m. ET

Tokyo has asked people to stay home this weekend to slow the spread of coronavirus after new daily cases in the Japanese capital rose to 41. HuffPost Japan reports (in Japanese) that Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the city is on the verge of an explosive increase in infections and must make the effort to stop them from going out of control.

The 41 confirmed new cases Wednesday was by far the largest single-day rise since the beginning of the outbreak and comes after daily increases of 16 and 17. The surge in infections comes after the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government agreed to put back the Tokyo Olympics to 2021. More than 10 of the cases confirmed Wednesday were from untraceable infection routes — a sign that clusters of local cases are silently expanding, Koike said. Tokyo now has about 200 confirmed cases.

— James Martin

Brazilian Lawmakers Defy Bolsonaro, Maintain Social Distancing  — 3/26/20, 5 a.m. ET

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(Photo: HuffPost US)

The governors of Brazil’s 26 states have defied controversial advice from President Jair Bolsonaro for a “return to normality,” and instead unanimously agreed to maintain policies of social isolation.

HuffPost Brazil reports (in Portuguese) that Bolsonaro had claimed that the “cure” of widespread shutdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus is worse than the disease. However, Brazil’s governors claimed Bolsonaro’s instructions would endanger Latin America’s largest population and said they would continue with their strict measures.

— James Martin 

Will The EU Be The Next Victim Of Coronavirus? — 3/26/20, 4:45 a.m. ET

(Photo: HuffPost US)

 

HuffPost France reports (in French) that questions are being raised over the European Union’s effectiveness in managing the coronavirus crisis. A study shows that 88% of people in Italy, the world’s hardest-hit country, consider that the E.U. is not helping them in the face of the epidemic.

Le HuffPost writes that Eurosceptics have rushed into the breach and questions where the “famous solidarity” of pro-EU politicians has gone. European leaders will meet via video conference this today.

— James Martin

Mormon Temples Closed Worldwide — 03/26/20, 12:38 a.m. ET

All Mormon temples worldwide will be shuttered starting Thursday to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints said in a statement.

“After careful and prayerful consideration, and with a desire to be responsible global citizens, we have decided to suspend all temple activity churchwide,” the statement said. “This is a temporary adjustment, and we look forward to the day when the temples will reopen.” 

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, temple weddings, as well as Mormon missionaries’ plans, will be scuttled as a result of the new restrictions.

— Dominique Mosbergen

One Million Californians File For Unemployment As Banks Promise Mortgage Relief — 03/26/20, 12:25 a.m. ET

One million people in California have applied for unemployment benefits this month as businesses across the state are hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

To alleviate some of the economic hardship felt by residents, Newsom said many banks and financial institutions — including Wells Fargo, Citibank, U.S. Bank and JPMorgan Chase — had agreed to delay foreclosures and offer a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments.

— Dominique Mosbergen

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 1,000 — 03/25/20, 11:23 p.m. ET

More than 1,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Almost 300 of those deaths were reported in New York, the current epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. 

The number of cases nationwide has surpassed 68,000, according to the university’s tally, making the U.S. the third worst-hit country. Italy has more than 74,000 cases, and China, where the outbreak began but has since been contained, has reported more than 81,000 infections.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Dr. Fauci Says Americans Need To Be Prepared For Another Cycle Of Coronavirus — 3/25/20, 7:16 p.m.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday at the daily White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic that the virus “very well might” become a “seasonal, cyclic thing.”

Noting that in the Southern hemisphere, more COVID-19 cases are starting to appear in places moving into their winter season, Fauci said: “If, in fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we’ll get a cycle around the second time.”

He emphasized the need to develop a vaccine as well as to run randomized control trials to determine which drugs can treat the virus.

“I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now, but we really need to be prepared for another cycle,” Fauci said.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Trump Accuses Media Of Using Coronavirus To Hurt His Campaign — 3/25/20, 6:53 p.m.

President Donald Trump spent part of his Wednesday evening press conference accusing the media of pushing for social distancing guidelines in hopes that they would hurt his chance of reelection.

“I think there are certain people that would like it not to open so quickly,” he said of the U.S. economy, which has been stunted during the coronavirus outbreak as people stay home from work. “I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls.” 

Directing his accusations at the reporters in the room, he said, “There are people in your profession that would like that to happen. I think it’s very clear. I think it’s very clear that there are people in your profession that write fake news.”

Trump made similar remarks on Twitter earlier Wednesday. “The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success,” he wrote. “The real people want to get back to work ASAP.  We will be stronger than ever before!”

Since the start of the week, the president has emphasized his desire to relax nationwide social distancing guidelines in order to stimulate the economy. His own public health advisers, meanwhile, have urged against rushing back to business as usual or setting a firm date for an end to the guidelines.

— Lydia O’Connor

Idaho, Minnesota Issue Statewide Stay-At-Home Orders — 3/25/20, 3:45 p.m. ET

The governors of Idaho and Minnesota issued statewide “stay-at-home” orders on Wednesday, joining at least 18 other states with similar restrictions. Minnesota’s order will remain in effect for 14 days, while Idaho’s will last for 21 days.

― Hayley Miller

Tony Awards Postponed — 3/25/20, 2:45 p.m. ET

The 74th annual Tony Awards has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date, organizers for the event announced Wednesday. The awards ceremony to honor excellence in live Broadway theater had been scheduled to air live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 7.

― Hayley Miller

More Than 400,000 U.K. Volunteers Come Forward  — 3/25/20, 1:35 p.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson today thanked the 405,000 people who have answered a call to volunteer for Britain’s National Health Service, exceeding the government’s target of 250,000 in just one day.

Johnson said during a press conference at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s residence, that the volunteers “will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients; they will be bringing patients home from hospital; very importantly they will be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home.”

It comes as the U.K. announced that the public will be able to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home within a matter of days, rather than weeks or months.

Read more at HuffPost UK.

— James Martin

Cuomo: New York’s Ventilator Shortage Remains ‘Single Greatest Challenge’ — 3/25/20, 12:16 p.m. ET

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York currently has enough protective equipment for its hospitals’ health care workers for the next couple of weeks and that the state’s “single greatest challenge” is a ventilator shortage.

The state has 11,000 ventilators but needs 30,000, he said. If extra resources can be provided to New York amid its crisis, Cuomo said, he “will return the favor” and provide the equipment to the next viral hot spot.

“There’s no doubt that we have a greater challenge here in New York ― density, numbers, and one of the most intense economies. So that all needs to be taken into consideration,” he said.

― Nina Golgowski

Cuomo: New York City To Close Some Streets For Pedestrians, May Close Parks — 3/25/20, 11:35 a.m. ET
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York will reduce social density by closing some New York City streets to cars, giving pedestrians more room to walk. To prevent the coronavirus from spreading in city parks, there will be mandatory social distancing at playgrounds and no close contact sports permitted, including basketball. If people don’t comply with this, playgrounds will be closed.

— Nina Golgowski

Antibody Home Testing Kits Available In UK ‘Within Days’ — 3/25/20, 11:15 a.m. ET

Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said kits to test for antibodies to the coronavirus will be available to the public within days, rather than “weeks or months,” HuffPost U.K.’s Ned Simons reported.

The tests will allow doctors and nurses to go back to work if they’ve developed antibodies to the disease, Peacock said. An initial 3.5 million kits have been ordered, with more on the way, and people will be able to order the finger-prick tests on Amazon or go to their local Boots pharmacy to have them done.

— Liza Hearon

Spain’s Death Toll Overtakes China — 3/25/20, 8:30 a.m. ET

The death toll in Spain shot up by more than 700 on Wednesday, surpassing China, and is now second only to Italy. In the steepest increase in deaths since the outbreak hit the country, Spain’s health ministry reported that fatalities rose from 2,696 to 3,434, with the overall number of cases soaring from 39,673 to 47,610 on Tuesday. Despite the growing toll, HuffPost Spain reported that officials do have some hope that data could soon reveal a “flattening of the curve,” but that it was still too early to tell if containment efforts are working. 

— James Martin

Prince Charles Tests Positive For Coronavirus — 3/25/20, 6:50 a.m. ET

Prince Charles, 71-year-old heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Clarence House said. He has been displaying mild symptoms but “but otherwise remains in good health.” Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, was also tested and does not have the virus. The couple are self-isolating in Scotland, HuffPost’s Lee Moran reports.

The Queen and Prince Philip have been spending the coronavirus lockdown at Windsor Castle. Prince Charles last saw his mother briefly on March 12, the BBC reported.

Liza Hearon

Bolsonaro Orders Brazilians Back To Work — 3/25/20, 4:30 a.m. ET

(Photo: HuffPost US)

As Brazil’s largest city went into lockdown, President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday took aim at the “hysteria” over the coronavirus and urged that life must continue and jobs be preserved.

In an address to the nation, HuffPost Brazil reports (in Portuguese) that Bolsonaro urged mayors and state governors to roll back lockdown measures that have brought Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to near standstills. “We must return to normality,” he said. “The few states and city halls should abandon their scorched-earth policies.”

Bolsonaro has faced increasing criticism for his cavalier attitude toward the virus, which he has dismissed as a “fantasy” and a “small flu” despite its infecting over 300,000 people worldwide and killing tens of thousands.

— James Martin

Coronavirus ‘Will Tear Like Wildfire’ Through Canada’s Prisons, Activists Say — 3/24/20, 9:05 p.m. ET

Prisons are one of the last institutions in Canada that have not seen a quick, coordinated response to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, an extremely dangerous situation activists are demanding be addressed before it’s too late.

“My fear is there will be asymptomatic transmission [of COVID-19], and it will tear like wildfire through prisons,” Dr. Claire Bodkin told HuffPost Canada Bodkin has experience providing medical care in a Hamilton, Ontario, jail and is part of a research team looking at prison health care.

“We need a coordinated national response to this, but instead it’s every institution doing its own thing, and that’s not an acceptable standard of care.”

In Canada, there are on average 40,000 adults incarcerated in provincial jails or federal prisons every day, according to Statistics Canada. Inmates already have poorer health than the general Canadian population: Research suggests they experience higher rates of tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes and HIV, which makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19’s most severe symptoms of pneumonia and difficulty breathing.

Read more.

— Samantha Beattie

California Governor Urges Young People To Take Social Distancing Seriously — 3/24/20, 8:50 p.m. ET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), in a press conference on Facebook Live late Tuesday, urged everyone, particularly young people, to follow the state’s orders on social distancing to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

“It’s a reminder to everybody to take this seriously,” Newsom said, adding that the statewide “stay at home” directive includes staying off the beaches and out of parks.

“I cannot impress upon young people out there more — how critical they are to getting us to the other side by practicing social distancing.”

The governor noted the state’s first death of someone under 18 from coronavirus: A teenager in Lancaster, near Los Angeles, was confirmed dead of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

“We had the tragic loss of a young life, a teen,” Newsom said, noting that half of those who tested positive so far in the state were 18 to 49 years old. “This health crisis... it can impact anybody and everybody.”

As of early Tuesday, more than 2,100 people in California had tested positive for coronavirus and 40 had died.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Canadians Hold Nightly Balcony Cheer Rallies For Health Care Workers — 3/24/20, 8:55 p.m. ET

Vancouver, Canada, is getting loud in support of essential service workers and frontline health care workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every night at 7, the streets of the city’s West End neighborhood echo with applause and cheers from thousands of residents on their apartment balconies. And their spirit is clearly contagious.

Check it out.

— Andree Lau

Pence Says Apple Is Donating 9 Million N95 Masks — 3/24/20, 6:43 p.m. ET

Vice President Mike Pence announced at a news conference Tuesday that Apple is donating a whopping 9 million N95 masks to hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

“At this moment in time, Apple went to its warehouses and is donating 9 million N95 masks to health care facilities and all across the country to the national stockpile,” Pence said. “There is a level of generosity that I know is inspiring to the president, and it’s truly inspiring to all those who are working on the White House task force.”

It’s not clear why Apple has so many N95 masks, which are capable of filtering out microscopic particles, bacteria and viruses.

Health care workers on the frontline of COVID-19 have been struggling with a nationwide shortage of the N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to safely treat infected patients.

― Lydia O’Connor

People Who Leave New York City Should Self-Quarantine For 14 Days: White House — 3/24/20 6:40 pm ET

At a White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic late Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that people who leave New York City should self-quarantine for 14 days to avoid spreading COVID-19 further.

“We remain deeply concerned about New York City,” Birx said, noting that about 56% of all new cases in the U.S. are coming out of New York and that nearly one-third of deaths are in that state alone. Vice President Mike Pence then repeated the instruction for those who travel outside New York to self-isolate for two weeks, noting that infection rates for coronavirus in the New York metropolitan area are roughly 1 in 1,000 people.

At the same briefing, President Trump said New York was “definitely a hot spot” for the virus. In New York, there were more than 25,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, as of Tuesday, and more than 200 dead — far surpassing other states.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ ‘In the Heights’ Become The Latest Hollywood Movies To Be Delayed — 3/24/20, 3:15 p.m.

Warner Bros. announced it is postponing the release of “Wonder Woman 1984” to Aug. 14 instead of June 5. The studio is also delaying “In the Heights” until further notice. Directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu, the adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut musical was supposed to open in theaters on June 26.

The postponements are the first signs that many industries and cultural events could remain halted until at least June. Up until now, most of the movies that had pushed their theatrical release dates had been movies slated for this spring. But with the pandemic continuing to worsen across much of Europe and North America, it leaves industries like Hollywood in a state of uncertainty. Public health and government officials have warned that the lockdowns and closures of nonessential businesses currently in place could remain for many weeks or even months.

In the U.S. and Canada, most movie theaters have been closed since last week. The two biggest chains, AMC and Regal, shuttered their more than 1,100 locations, with AMC closing for at least six to eight weeks, and Regal closing until further notice.

“We made Wonder Woman 1984 for the big screen and I believe in the power of cinema,” the film’s director Patty Jenkins tweeted in response to the postponement. “In these terrible times, when theater owners are struggling as so many are, we are excited to re-date our film to August 14th 2020 in a theater near you, and pray for better times for all by then.”

— Marina Fang

Madrid Ice Rink Becomes Morgue — 3/24/20, 2:30 p.m. ET

Nurses and doctors in Spain have demanded action after the country reported its sharpest daily increase in cases on Tuesday, with about 14% of the nearly 40,000 infections among health workers. The SATSE nursing union said Madrid’s hospitals were on “the verge of collapse” and needed urgent support, while a doctors union said it had filed a lawsuit demanding protective equipment within 24 hours. The capital’s Palacio de Hielo mall, home to an Olympic-sized ice rink (link in Spanish), began operating as a makeshift mortuary after authorities said facilities were unable to cope. Spain is Europe’s worst-hit country after Italy and has recorded 2,696 deaths.

— James Martin

Trump Shirks Blame Over New York Ventilator Shortage, Wants U.S. ‘Opened Up’ By Easter — 2/24/20, 2 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump pinned all blame for the shortage of available ventilators in New York state — which has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. — on Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during a Fox News town hall on Tuesday afternoon.

With more than 25,000 cases across the state, Cuomo has said repeatedly that his team is “scouring the globe” for ventilators to treat the most severely affected patients. They are aiming to amass about 40,000 of the devices, but have so far secured just 7,000, Cuomo said Tuesday morning. The governor criticized federal authorities for refusing to release a federal stockpile of 20,000 ventilators, and also for refusing to enforce the Defense Production Act, which would require American manufacturers to begin churning out the devices to help combat the crisis.

Less than two hours later, Trump produced a printout of a headline critical of New York authorities, handing the sheet of paper to Fox News host Bill Hemmer. The printout is believed to reference a column by Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York. According to McCaughey, Cuomo passed up an opportunity to add thousands of ventilators to its stockpile in 2015, years before COVID-19 appeared.

“They can’t blame us for that,” Trump said. He also dug in his heels on his earlier suggestion that the “cure” can’t be worse than “the problem,” saying that the country is “not built to shut down” despite warnings from public health experts that a return to normal would be detrimental to the nation’s health care system. 

“The faster we go back, the better it’s going to be,” Trump claimed. Later, he said he wanted to see the country “opened up and just rearing to go by Easter.” 

— Sara Boboltz

Trudeau, Trump In Sharp Contrast Amid Pandemic — 3/24/20, 1:44 p.m. ET

U.S. President Donald Trump may be focused on restarting the American economy, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government’s objective is to keep people alive and healthy.

In Trudeau’s daily national address, from outside his home where he remains in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, contracted COVID-19, the Canadian leader suggested the two neighboring countries are charting different courses. 

“We are continuing, in Canada, to base our decisions and our recommendations and our guidelines to Canadians on science,” Trudeau said. “Our priority is keeping Canadians alive and healthy and that is what we will continue to focus on in Canada.”

Read more from HuffPost Canada.

— Althia Raj

London Conference Center To Be Temporary Hospital — 3/24/20, 1 p.m. ET

A new hospital in London will be opened to help the U.K. cope with the coronavirus crisis, the government confirmed. The Excel in the capital’s Docklands area, which is currently used for conferences, will be transformed into the National Health Service Nightingale Hospital, providing space for 2,000 beds.

It will be opened and run with the help of the military, health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed at a press conference in Downing Street on Tuesday. The U.K. death toll hit 422 on Tuesday, with 87 more people with the disease having died in 24 hours.

Read more on HuffPost U.K.

— James Martin

‘Where Are The Ventilators?’ New York Governor Pleads — 3/24/20, 12:06 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who leads the state with the most COVID-19 cases in the U.S., issued an urgent plea at his daily press conference, warning that the rate of growth for cases continues to increase and will peak in “14 to 20 days,” making it essential that the state strengthen its hospital capacity and obtain much-needed medical supplies.

“We’re not slowing it, and it’s accelerating on its own,” Cuomo said, explaining that experts describe it not as a “freight train” but a “bullet train.”

“They say ‘flatten the curve, flatten the curve.’ We’re not flattening the curve,” he added. “We have exhausted every option available to us.”

In addition to shutting down nonessential businesses and greatly increasing testing, the state is retrofitting facilities such as New York City’s Javits Center to use them as extra hospitals, recruiting more medical staff and using hotels and empty college dorms for extra beds.

Cuomo estimated the state will need an additional 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators. Warning that the state could not do enough on its own to stem the spread of the virus, the governor did not mince words in criticizing the federal government’s response.

“Where are they? Where are the ventilators?” Cuomo said, after calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to release a federal stockpile of ventilators.

Cuomo also blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency for sending the state only 400 ventilators.

“You pick the 2,600 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators!” he said, practically yelling.

The governor called on the federal government to encourage states to collaborate, as each state will reach its peak in cases at different times and will require the same resources. He called New York “the canary in the coal mine.”

“I will take personal responsibility for transporting the ventilators,” he said. “I’ll send ventilators, I’ll send health care workers, our professionals ... Let’s learn from each other and help each other.”

Without directly mentioning Trump, Cuomo referred to the president’s suggestion Monday that the economy could reopen sooner than expected.

Although he acknowledged the need to consider the economy, Cuomo said it’s important to “focus on the looming crisis” of the growth in COVID-19 cases and ensuing hospital shortages.

“We are not putting a dollar value on human lives. First order of business: Save people’s lives,” Cuomo said, reiterating that there can be an “economic startup strategy that is consistent with a public health strategy.”

On Monday, Cuomo had suggested allowing young people to return to work sooner and testing people who have recovered to ensure they’re no longer carriers of the virus.

— Marina Fang

India To Go Under Complete Lockdown At Midnight — 3/24/20, 11:00 a.m. ET
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the entire country would be placed under a full lockdown for 21 days starting at midnight, insisting that this was the only way to tackle the highly infectious disease. As he explained the concept of exponential transmission through data, Modi said India would pay a high price if people didn’t follow social distancing measures. 

However, Modi did not announce any economic relief package, raising concerns about how people with low incomes will survive if they are unable to work for 21 days. News reports have said that poor migrant laborers who have been trying to reach their homes in the midst of the lockdown have been harassed and beaten up by the police. The prime minister also did not clearly outline how Indians could access food, medicine and other essential goods.

Many parts of India have already been under a strict lockdown as the number of COVID-19 patients has risen to 519 across the country. Ten people have died so far.

Sharanya Hrishikesh

Tokyo Olympics Delayed By Up To A Year, Japanese Prime Minister Says — 3/24/20, 8:46 a.m.

The International Olympic Committee and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to delay the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo until the summer of 2021 at latest, Abe told reporters after speaking with IOC President Thomas Bach. It’s the latest global event to be upended by the pandemic. Read more here.

 

— Marina Fang

Arizona Man Dies After Self-Medicating With Toxic Version Of Possible Treatment Touted By Trump — 3/24/20, 8:15 a.m.

An Arizona man has died after consuming a toxic, non-medicinal version of chloroquine, an active ingredient in drugs touted last week by President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” for treating COVID-19, which also appears in a product used to clean fish tanks.

His wife, who had been in critical condition but is now recovering after taking the substance, told NBC News that the couple decided to self-medicate with chloroquine phosphate, an aquarium cleaning product they had in their home. During a press conference last week, Trump referred to two anti-malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, as a possible COVID-19 remedy.

As HuffPost’s Dominique Mosbergen reports: “The product they consumed contained the same active ingredient as the two anti-malaria drugs Trump referred to — but unlike the medicine taken by humans, the product they ingested is used to get rid of algae and a parasite that causes a condition known as white spot disease in fish.”

“Be careful and call your doctor,” the woman, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her family’s privacy, told NBC News. “This is a heartache I’ll never get over.” Read more here.

— Marina Fang

Wisconsin To Go Ahead With April 7 Primary Election — 3/24/2020, 6:15 a.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said his state would hold primary elections as scheduled for April 7 despite pressure to postpone due to coronavirus concerns. He pointed out that there were also local races on the ballot for offices that would go unfilled for weeks or months, such as mayoral and county seats who would be crucial decision-makers as the crisis continues.

Evers encouraged voters to mail in ballots from the safety of their homes, saying that he and his wife had already sent theirs.

Liza Hearon

UK Begins First Day Of Life Under Lockdown  — 3/24/20, 5:15 a.m. ET

 

HPUK March 24 (Photo: HuffPost US)

From today, people in the U.K. must stay at home, with few exceptions. Tens of thousands of nonessential shops are to close. Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship. Hotels and campsites will now join pubs, cafes and restaurants in being closed to slow the disease’s spread.

And, while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue. 

Here is a full guide to the U.K. lockdown.

— James Martin

China To Lift Lockdown In Most Of Virus-Hit Hubei Province — 3/24/20, 3:40 a.m. ET

Chinese authorities announced Tuesday they would end a two-month lockdown of most of the virus-hit Hubei province at midnight, The Associated Press reported.

People with a clean bill of health will be allowed to leave, the provincial government said. The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8.

China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting Jan. 23 in a surprise middle-of-the-night announcement and expanded it to most of the province in succeeding days. Train service and flights were canceled and checkpoints set up on roads into the central province.

The drastic steps came as a new coronavirus began spreading to the rest of China and overseas during the Lunar New Year holiday, when many Chinese travel. The virus raged for weeks in Wuhan; however, the outbreak has gradually been brought under control there, and Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week.

— James Martin

Johns Hopkins Official Attacks Trump For Wanting To Ease Restrictions Meant To Curb Coronavirus ― 3/23/20, 10:45 p.m. ET

The director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security criticized President Donald Trump and his allies in a lengthy Twitter thread on Monday for wanting to ease economic and social restrictions meant to ease the spread of coronavirus.

“In last 24 hrs there’ve been prominent US voices calling for a stop to social distancing, citing rationale that they’re worse than impact of COVID itself,” Tom Inglesby tweeted. “These big social distancing measures take time to work. … To drop all these measures now would be to accept that COVID pts will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the US health care system could bear.”

The remarks came hours after the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing, in which Trump claimed that the U.S. will see more deaths by keeping the restrictions in place than by COVID-19 itself.

― Sanjana Karanth

Trump Claims U.S. Will See More Death By Keeping Economy Shut Than By Coronavirus ― 3/23/20, 9:55 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump’s insistence on downplaying the coronavirus risks reached dangerous levels on Monday as he scoffed at medical advice and proposed opening up the economy despite skyrocketing case numbers.

There are “certain hot spots like New York,” and the federal government has to work on those spots, “but at the same time, at a certain point, we have to get open, and we have to get moving,” Trump said. He added that “we can do two things at one time” before again bringing up flu deaths and motor vehicle fatalities.

“We have a very active flu season, more active than most. It’s looking like it’s heading to 50,000 or more deaths ― deaths, not cases. Fifty-thousand deaths ― which is, that’s a lot,” he said. “And you look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars. So we have to do things to get our country open.”

As reporters pushed the president on why he would open up businesses when the country is seeing COVID-19 deaths occur at a faster rate, Trump said that more people would die from economic and social restrictions than from allowing the virus to spread.

“You have suicides over things like this, when you have terrible economies,” he said, adding that “the cure has been very tough.”

Sanjana Karanth

For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.

A HuffPost Guide to Coronavirus

 

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.