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jarun011/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A global pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed at least 14,262 people in the United States.

The U.S. is among the worst affected countries, with over 419,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide, more than 1.49 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 87,469 of them have died since the virus emerged in China in December. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

Italy has, by far, the world's highest death toll -- over 17,600.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

6:39 p.m.: 6 VA health care workers die from virus

Six health care workers who operated at VA facilities have been killed by the coronavirus, Department of Veterans Affairs press secretary Christina Noel announced.

The unidentified employees worked at Ann Arbor, Michigan; Detroit; Indianapolis; Houston; and Reno, Nevada VA Medical Centers. So far, 1,130 VA employees have contracted COVID-19, the agency said.

A VA facility in New Orleans has had 92 employees test positive, the highest concentration of infected workers, according to the VA.

5:17 p.m.: USDA expands online grocery shopping program for food stamp recipients

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that SNAP recipients in California and Arizona can now shop for groceries online.

The agency approved both states' requests to be added to the USDA's pilot program that was previously available in six states, including Washington and New York.

Participating online retailers include Amazon and Walmart.

4:30 p.m.: Detroit 'seeing the beginning of a glimmer of light'

In hard-hit Detroit, the curve is appearing to flatten, Mayor Mike Duggan said, noting that the daily coronavirus-related death count has been dropping and stabilizing over the past few days.

"We're seeing the beginning of a glimmer of light," Duggan said.

Detroit has 5,830 diagnosed cases of coronavirus, including 170 members of the Detroit Police Department.

At least 247 people in Detroit have died.

But Duggan said Wednesday that hospitals are starting to see an increase in discharges and a slower rate of admissions.

Duggan credited social distancing for the apparent flattening of the curve and urged residents to continue the practice.

Those riding city buses will now be given masks to wear as they get on, he added.

3:52 p.m.: Virginia primary pushed back, governor wants local elections moved to November

The Virginia presidential primary, scheduled for June 9, will be pushed back to June 23, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday.

Over 3,600 people in the state have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 75 people have died.

Northam also said he's recommending all local and in-state elections move from May to November -- though that must be approved by the state legislator when they return on April 22.

3:30 p.m.: Miami requiring masks to be worn in stores at all times

The City of Miami is requiring employees and customers to wear masks at all times in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies and convenience stores.

Homemade masks, such as scarves and bandannas, are permitted.

2:20 p.m.: New Jersey death toll over 1,500

In New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit states, 275 more people died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the state's death total to 1,504.

Over 47,000 in the state have been diagnosed.

"We're not at any plateau," Gov. Phil Murphy warned. "We need to continue to be absolutely vigilant."

"Don't let the warm weather or the holidays fool us," Murphy said. "If we open up too soon, I fear we are placing gasoline on the fire."

Murphy said he is signing an executive order moving the state's primary from June 2 to July 7.

He also is signing an executive order to stop nonessential construction across the state.

1:40 p.m.: New Jersey death toll over 1,500

In New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit states, 275 more people died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the state's death total to 1,504.

While Gov. Phil Murphy said the curve appears to be flattening, he also said New Jersey residents are in the "fight of our lives."

Murphy said he is signing an executive order moving the state's primary from June 2 to July 7.

1 p.m.: Curve is flattening in hard-hit New York

In New York -- the state hit hardest by the pandemic -- the curve has flattened so far, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

"What we have done and what we are doing is actually working," the governor said, but he warned, "if we stop what we are doing, you will see that curve change."

If the hospitalization rate keeps decreasing the way it is now, the hospital system should stabilize over the next few weeks, he said.

However, the death toll is going steadily up, and on Tuesday the state saw the highest single-day death toll yet, with 779 new fatalities, Cuomo said.

The number of deaths may continue to rise as those hospitalized for the longest periods pass away, he said.

While New York state lost 2,753 lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, now the coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 6,000 people in the state, Cuomo said.

Cuomo said he is directing all flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of those lost.


I am directing flags be flown at half-mast in honor of those we have lost to this vicious virus.

They are in our hearts.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 8, 2020


Cuomo also said all New Yorkers can vote absentee for this primary in June.

And as new preliminary data showed the largest percentage of coronavirus deaths in New York City was among Hispanics, the governor called for more testing in minority communities and more data research immediately.

12:15 p.m.: U.K. prime minister remains in intensive care but condition is improving

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care at a London hospital with the coronavirus, but his condition is improving, said Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer.

Johnson, 55, is sitting up in bed and speaking with doctors, Sunak said Wednesday evening local time.

A spokesperson for the prime minister's office said earlier Wednesday that he was "clinically stable," was "responding to treatment" and was "in good spirits."

Johnson has been hospitalized since Sunday evening due to "persistent symptoms" of the novel coronavirus. He was transferred to the intensive care unit on Monday after his condition "worsened," according to a statement from his official residence and office, 10 Downing Street.

The prime minister has been receiving "standard" oxygen treatment in the ICU and has been breathing without any other assistance.

Besides the prime minister, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has also tested positive for the virus.

Wednesday marked the biggest rise so far in the United Kingdom's coronavirus death toll, with 938 fatalities in 24 hours.

The total number of deaths in the U.K. has now reached 7,097.

11:50 a.m.: Mayor tells police to crack down on stay-at-home violators, his wife gets busted

In Alton, Illinois, amid increased reports of large gatherings, Mayor Brant Walker said on Friday he ordered the local police to "more strictly enforce" the statewide stay-at-home order by using citations.

"My wife is an adult capable of making her own decisions, and in this instance she exhibited a stunning lack of judgement. She now faces the same consequences for her ill-advised decision as the other individuals who chose to violate the "Stay At Home" order during this incident," the mayor said in a statement on Monday.

"I instructed the Police Chief to treat her as he would any citizen violating the 'Stay At Home' order and to ensure that she received no special treatment," the mayor said. "I am embarrassed by this incident and apologize to the citizens of Alton."

11:20 a.m.: Broadway shows now canceled through June 7

Broadway will remain dark in New York City with show closures now extending through June 7.

Broadway performances were initially shut down from March 12 to April 12.

11:05 a.m.: Nursing home evacuated due to coronavirus outbreak, staff not coming to work

Eighty-four patients from a Riverside County, California, nursing home will be evacuated to other health care locations Wednesday after employees didn't come to work for two days amid a coronavirus outbreak there.

"For example, one certified nursing assistant of the 13 scheduled showed up to work at the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, which prompted Riverside University Health System and Kaiser Permanente to send a total of 33 licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses to care for the residents at the facility," according to the Riverside University Health System. "Staffing demands, however, require the patients be moved today."

There are 34 known cases of the coronavirus among residents and five cases among employee at the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, according to the Riverside University Health System.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Riverside County has reached 1,016. At least 28 people in the county have died.

10:20 a.m.: NYC's largest percentage of deaths is among Hispanics

In hard-hit New York City, preliminary data shows the largest percentage of coronavirus deaths is among Hispanics, which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called "blatant inequality."

Hispanics make up 34% of coronavirus deaths though they make up 29% of the city's population.

Further, African Americans make up 28% of coronavirus deaths, though they make up 22% of the city's population, the preliminary data shows.

"Folks who have struggled before .. are being hit particularly hard," de Blasio said.

Meanwhile, whites make up 27% of deaths and 32% of the population, and Asians make up 7% of deaths and 14% of the population.

The breakdown, with 63% reporting, was provided by New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The mayor said to confront disparities, the city is enacting initiatives including: grassroots outreach such as calling households and robocalls; PSAs focusing on zip codes with the highest positive cases; and PSAs published in 14 different languages.

De Blasio also said Wednesday there is an urgent need for surgical gowns. He said New York City has asked the federal government for over 9 million.

In better news, the mayor said the city received on Tuesday over 3 million surgical masks, more than 1 million N95 masks and 2 million surgical gloves.

And de Blasio said, "for the first time in awhile ... we will get through this week" in terms of ventilators.

The city has 5,500 ventilators available in hospitals, including 500 received from the state on Tuesday, he said. There are also 135 ventilators in an emergency reserve.

9:07 a.m.: UK prime minister remains 'clinically stable' in ICU

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson "remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment," a spokesperson for his office said Wednesday.

"He continues to be cared for in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital," the spokesperson said in a statement. "He is in good spirits."

Johnson, 55, has been hospitalized at St Thomas' Hospital in London since Sunday evening due to "persistent symptoms" of the novel coronavirus. He was transferred to the intensive care unit on Monday after his condition "worsened," according to a statement from his official residence and office, 10 Downing Street.

The prime minister has been receiving "standard" oxygen treatment in the ICU and has been breathing without any other assistance.

"He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support," Downing Street said.

8:20 a.m.: Spain announces plan to gradually ease lockdown measures

Spain reported Wednesday another uptick in infections and fatalities from the novel coronavirus.

The Spanish Ministry of Health recorded 757 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 14,555 -- a nearly 5.5% jump. There were also 6,180 new diagnosed cases, bringing the national tally to 146,690 -- a 4.4% increase.

But that hasn't stopped the Spanish government from announcing plans to gradually lift the lockdown measures across the country. Spain's finance minister and government spokesperson, Maria Jesus Montero, said at a press conference Tuesday night that "citizens will be able to get back to their normal life" starting April 26.

On March 14, Spain formally declared a state of emergency and issued stay-at-home orders to combat the country's virus outbreak.
A group of experts are drawing up clear guidance for the ease of restrictions, which will be made readily accessible to the public and communicated by government officials.

7:18 a.m.: US may investigate WHO's handling of pandemic, official says

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, indicated Wednesday that the United States would investigate the World Health Organization's handling of the pandemic before deciding whether to withhold its funding to the United Nations' health agency.

"We've done that before with previous outbreaks and previous issues that have occurred at WHO," Birx told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.

During a press briefing Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump blamed the WHO for getting "every aspect" of the novel coronavirus pandemic wrong and threatened to freeze American funding.

The Geneva-based international body started sounding the alarm over the outbreak in China in mid-January and then designated it a global health emergency on Jan. 30. On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic after the virus had spread to every continent except Antartica.

"In the history of the United States and the World Health Organization, we have had times when we've done really in-depth analysis of what has happened. When the president said he was holding funds, he didn't say he was restricting and keeping funds permanently away, but instead said, let's investigate what happened," Birx said. "I think that the president wants to complete an investigation of what happened during this current outbreak."

"Believe me, they already have their continuation funds from last year," she added. "So this is a year-by-year commitment to the WHO, this is our required commitment. There's also voluntary commitments that we've made to the WHO through history, including over the last couple of years for HIV, malaria, TB, so a whole series of diseases."

The United States is, by far, the single largest financial contributor to the WHO.

Birx said the White House coronavirus task force is currently concerned about the metro areas of Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. potentially becoming the next hotspots of the country's outbreak.

"All of our previous areas seem to be steady at least," she added. " And then certainly we're looking very carefully at California and Washington [state] to really understand how they've been able as a community of Americans to mitigate so well."

Birx said they hope to roll out an antibody test "within the next 10 or 14 days" that can detect how many Americans have already had the virus but were asymptomatic.

"This makes a very big difference in really understanding who can go back to work and how they can go back to work," she said. "So all of those pieces need to come together over the next couple of weeks."

3 a.m.: China lifts lockdown in city where pandemic began

Chinese authorities have lifted a months-long lockdown on Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus pandemic began.

The very first cases of the novel coronavirus were detected in Wuhan back in December. The city of 11 million people went on lockdown on Jan. 23 in an effort to control the spread of the virus, the first in the world to do so.

The bulk of the Chinese mainland's nearly 82,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 3,300 deaths have been reported in Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province. However, the strict travel restrictions in the city have been gradually eased in recent weeks as the number of new infections continuously declined.

The final restrictions on outbound travel were lifted Wednesday. Thousands of people streamed out of the city via car, train and plane.

China's National Health Commission on Wednesday reported no new cases in Wuhan nor the greater Hubei province, though questions have been raised over the accuracy of China's figures.
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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Her face wrenched in grief, Zenobia Shepherd said her daughter Leilani Jordan, continued to turn up to work as a supermarket greeter -- until the day she could no longer breathe.

The 27-year-old worked during the initial weeks of the epidemic because she worried no one would be able to help her senior citizen customers walk down the aisle, or package goods, or even find the restrooms at the Giant Supermarket, said Shepherd.

Shepherd described her daughter as a member of an army of unseen workers, the people who stock supermarket aisles, or operate forklifts or work in sanitation -- those who are considered critical workers.

Shepherd, her cheeks streaked with tears, said it is workers like her daughter who are often unnoticed and unprotected.

She called her daughter Leilani, a beautiful "butterfly" whose primary tools on the job were her smile and a cheerful "good morning."

"You see a butterfly ... kinda makes your day," Shepherd told ABC News Tuesday.

She claimed Jordan’s last paycheck totaled about $20. She said she kept her job at the Giant supermarket because she loved people.

"Six years and my baby's gone!" wailed Shepherd, burying her face in her hands. "Because of her passion and her love for people. Her love for helping people and would do anything. And do it with the smile. Twenty dollars and she's in a morgue."

"It wasn't the job. It wasn't the money. It was her heart," she said. "It was helping people. Loving people. Making a difference. But at the same time she was a vulnerable class, just like the seniors. ... She never judged anyone."

But when her COVID-19 symptoms became incapacitating, she recorded a video that she left on her phone for Shepard who said she found the video after her daughter's death.

"She said, 'I love my family. I love my job. I love my friends. I love my mommy.' She said, 'But I can't go back to Giant anymore,'" said Shepherd.

In a statement, Giant confirmed that a store associate from its Campus Way South location had died from COVID-19 though the company didn't identify Jordan by name.

"We were informed of her passing on Thursday morning by her family. We can only imagine the heartache they are experiencing and have offered our support during this difficult time. We have also shared the news with our team at that location and are providing counseling resources through our Employee Assistance Program," the company said.

A disproportionately large number of African Americans, like Jordan, have died from COVID-19, according to various states' data.

On Tuesday, President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, each addressed the disproportionate number of deaths in black communities, which Trump called a "tremendous challenge."

Shepherd said she was angry at Giant supermarket chain and other companies for not protecting those essential workers. Shepherd claimed that her daughter was told to bring her own hand sanitizer and that she and other workers were offered no personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE.

"You have people that are out here doing the job to help to run our country. I don't care what they do. They're there to support us. They’re there to keep the bananas on the shelf. They’re there to keep the fish and the chicken on the shelves. If you can't protect them, then you have just allowed us to be vulnerable," Shepherd said.

During her interview with ABC News, Shepherd, said that Jordan had died quickly in her arms on April 1.

"When she coded in the hospital, she coded in my arms," she said. "I'm grateful that I was able to touch her hands and touch her feet."

You have people that are out here doing the job to help to run our country. I don't care what they do. They're there to support us. They’re there to keep the bananas on the shelf.

Shepherd said Jordan, who loved her job and her family, particularly her little sisters, would be sorely missed by everyone.

"I would trade places with my baby, any day. ...The hole that’s in my heart. It's numb," she said. "My Leilani. I know she'll be in heaven, still helping, but at least there's no disease."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(CROWLEY, Louisiana) -- Police officers in a Louisiana town are apologizing to residents after they alerted them to their coronavirus-related curfew with the sound from a fictional dystopian nightmare.

Crowley Police officers rode around Acadia Parish last week blaring a siren used in the movie franchise "The Purge" to alert residents to their 9 p.m. curfew, ABC affiliate KATC reported.

In the film series, the U.S. government sets up a holiday where all crimes, including murder and assault, are legal for 12 hours, and the event begins with the distinct siren sound.

Parish residents immediately filed complaints about the warning sound, according to KATC.

"I knew they had a curfew but no one was expecting to hear that siren," Ty Abshire told the station.

Crowley Police Chief Jimmy Broussard said he didn't want to use a regular police siren to alert residents to the curfew, and another officer pointed him to an old military siren, which happened to be the same one used in "The Purge."

Broussard, who said he didn't know about the connection to the movies, apologized and said his officers won't be using that siren moving forward.

"It was to remind people that this was a very serious matter," he told the station.

Acadia Parish Sheriff K.P. Gibson issued a statement to KATC reiterating that they did not intend to upset residents.

"We were not involved in the use of the 'Purge Siren' and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose," the statement said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Facebook/Kelley Close(PANAMA CITY, Fla.) -- What teacher Katie Ricca did for a struggling student is touching hearts far from her hometown of Panama City, Florida.

The first-grade teacher at North Bay Haven Charter Academy has been holding live story times online every night for her "very social" class. But one night she noticed one of her students -- whom she called "normally a very cheerful young lady" -- was withdrawn.

"Our class tried talking to her but you could tell something was bothering her," Ricca told "Good Morning America." "She left the meeting early so I texted her mom to check in. My sweet student told her mom she was sad but didn't know why."

Ricca asked the girl's mom, Kelley Close, if she could stop by the next day. Ricca came over and surprised 7-year-old Hannah.

"Mrs. Ricca sat at the end of the driveway and had Hannah sit about six feet away," Close said. "She read several books, they talked about our sidewalk drawings and also talked about all of our feelings during this 'quarantine season.' She reminded Hannah that it's OK to get bummed out every now and then, it's OK to chill out and it's even OK to cry about it if we need to. She reminded Hannah that even though we're separated, we're all going through the same thing at the same time."

The gesture was extra special because of Ricca's own life: she has five children of her own.

"She's now homeschooling all of them as well as managing online classes for 18 students and reading classes for another 18 students," Close said. "She and her husband also run a cake business out of their home. They're busy, really busy. Even with all of that, she sat on the hard concrete of my driveway talking to my daughter for an hour just to make sure her student was OK."

Ricca said her school values relationships above academics.

"Seeing my student upset I knew I had to show her I care. She didn't need more math practice; she needed me to show her I understood her feelings and that she wasn't alone," she said.

And while these times are trying, Close said there have been bight spots.

"With all the craziness in our world right now, these are the things I want to remember about this time," she said. "When my daughter has children of her own, this is what I want her to remember about it. Even though we were all busy and stressed and worried, we made time for the things that mattered."

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Courtesy Miami-Dade Fire Rescue(MIAMI) -- After one of their own fell sick, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue squad found a way to safely pay a visit to their coworker at the hospital.

Kenneth Wood, the battalion chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue 13, helped organize the visit to the unnamed firefighter, who has been hospitalized three times since March 19 due to complications with the coronavirus, according to Wood.

"The lieutenant [in the hospital] is one of mine that I’m responsible for," said Wood, who added a few other members of his crew are also sick with coronavirus-like symptoms. "I set up a text group so that we could see how everybody’s feeling during the day and to keep the [camaraderie] going throughout the whole process. We mess around with each other, to keep things light."

Together, with the help of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Station 37, Station 36, Station 13 and the hospital, Wood said the fire squad used the fire truck ladder to visit the lieutenant on the fourth floor of the Florida hospital, that's left unnamed for privacy, on April 3, 2020.

"You can’t really go visit [the sick firefighters], you’re not allowed to go visit them … [We visited] this lieutenant because he’s been the most sick," said Wood. "I made the appropriate phone calls and we set it in place and set the time and then went out and did it."

Firefighters from each station were able to take turns using the fire truck ladder to visit the sick lieutenant at his hospital window. Emotions were high, Wood said, and everybody could hear how excited and touched the lieutenant was during the visit.

"I think that [visiting him] really put things in perspective for everybody just how serious this whole thing is. He was short of breath the entire conversation and it was chilling the emotion in his voice," said Wood, who has been colleagues with this lieutenant for about 16 years. "[He’s] been cooped up there with stress and he’s been isolated."

Wood said the visit was a welcome break for the crew since most of their recent calls have been coronavirus-related and the crisis has taken a toll.

"Everything’s just been so negative lately," said Wood. "So I think it was nice to finally have a good feeling, opposed to all the bad stuff that’s been happening."

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Courtesy Kyle West(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- A 23-year-old Ohio mailman is delivering more than just letters to many of the people on his route in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kyle West, who has worked for the Postal Service for 2 1/2 years, has become known in his community as "Mailman Kyle."

West said he has 917 deliveries on his daily route, and that he knows each person by name.

"They're my people. That's my route," West says. "I do this six days a week. I know everyone, and you know their kids. Everywhere you look, there's someone waving at you."

West said many of the deliveries on his route are to homes where people have an annual income lower than $30,000 a year. Many homes also are occupied by elderly or disabled people.

The idea to help his community came to West one day while shopping at Walmart. He went to buy toilet paper and found one his customers, a 94-year-old man, standing in front of the two remaining packs on the shelf. He walked away without taking any, telling West he couldn't afford it.

West bought his customer the toilet paper and delivered it the next day.

"I told him to stay his butt in the house, and if he needed anything I could go get it for him," West said. "Then I came up with the idea to make notes."

West printed notes for each of the 917 deliveries on his route that read: "If you are at risk and need help getting essential items let me know. I will do what I can to help." He signed the notes "Mailman Kyle" and included his phone number.

West said he received responses to nearly every single note. Many of them were just said thank you, while about 50 high-risk individuals asked for help.

Other neighbors offered to donate items to those in need. Individuals looking to assist postal workers with donations, including personal protective equipment, can drop them off at a local post office.

When news outlets caught wind of the story, West, at first, turned many of them down.

"I don't like cameras, and that's not why I did it," West said. "I'm doing this because I feel like I'm part of their neighborhood. I spend more hours at the post office than I do at my own house."

West said he hopes the attention his story is getting will inspire other workers on the front lines to go the extra mile for their communities.

"We're already out there exposed, so if we can keep other people from being exposed, we can do that," West said. "Hopefully other mail carriers will step up and help their customers if they need to."

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PeopleImages/iStock(NEW YORK) --  As nursing homes across the country amass heavy casualties from coronavirus outbreaks and some early prevention methods fall short, local officials in two states are devising early action plans to better protect some of the nation’s most at-risk residents.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that that the state would form “strike teams” to mount aggressive interventions that direct military resources to nursing homes breached by the virus. In Los Angeles County in California, health officials are creating a carve-out to the shelter-in-place mantra, calling on families to bring home their elderly relatives from nursing homes if at all possible.

The efforts come as localities are realizing that the initial approach at most nursing homes – restricting access and isolating residents who show symptoms – is not always enough to blunt the killing power of coronavirus once it hits such a vulnerable population. Figures released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate more than 400 nursing homes nation-wide have seen positive cases. But that number has almost certainly risen since.

Just in Maryland, Hogan said the virus has now surfaced in 90 senior living facilities. In one of them, the Pleasant View Nursing home north of Baltimore, the number of infections identified jumped from one confirmed case to 64 in a 24-hour window.

The death toll at nursing homes across the country is mounting. At one facility in Washington state, officials reported 37 death, and a facility in Virginia has reported 32 fatalities in little more than a week.

Early on, nursing homes around the country recognized they were vulnerable to the disease, which is especially deadly for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, and spreads easily in institutional settings.

"Nursing homes are homes and not just health care settings, so they’re harder to have good infection prevention standards," Dr. Patricia Stone a Columbia School of Nursing professor who researches infection prevention and control in nursing home. "They're also under-resourced."

Early on, nursing homes around the country recognized they were vulnerable to the disease, which is especially deadly for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, and spreads easily in institutional settings.

"Nursing homes are homes and not just health care settings, so they’re harder to have good infection prevention standards," Dr. Patricia Stone a Columbia School of Nursing professor who researches infection prevention and control in nursing home. "They're also under-resourced."

Many homes were quick to cordon off access to the homes, restricting entry to essential personnel. Some, like the nationwide chain HCR ManorCare, rigged up isolation pods, where they could move any residents showing such early symptoms as fever or cough. Some families told ABC News the isolation measures have been hard on them.

Hogan said Tuesday that he believes a still more robust response is needed.

"State teams will provide assistance and care to patients immediately in order to slow the spread of this virus," Hogan said.

Under the Maryland plan, nursing homes and local health officials will be able to call in strike teams that he said can provide quick-turnaround testing, mobilize the National Guard to bring in much needed supplies, and surge doctors and nurses from outside hospitals to stabilize residents inside the facility and to avoid patient transport to hospitals, where the virus can further spread.

"The goal here is not to replace the nursing home's medical and medical team, but to provide immediate support and assistance to help protect residents of these facilities," Hogan said.

Officials in Los Angeles are trying a different approach and taking steps to reduce the populations at the facilities to prevent the spread of infection.

Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County public health director, encouraged people who can provide care themselves to remove their loved ones from assisted living facilities on Tuesday. Ferrer said that some families can now take care of family members who once required the attention of nursing home because many more people are working at home.

More than 120 communal living facilities in Los Angeles -- including nursing homes and assisted living facilities -- now have at least one positive COVID-19 case, Ferrer said.

Last week, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid issued new federal guidance on nursing homes which encouraged states to surge protective equipment to nursing homes and urged nursing homes to implement screenings for residents and staff and to implement separate staffing teams for their facilities. Nursing homes have been advised to restrict visitors for several weeks.

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Raymond Boyd/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the country's largest gothic cathedral, will be turned into a temporary field hospital as the novel coronavirus hammers the city's health care system.

Tents will be erected in the 600-foot-long nave and in the crypt. To start, there will be 50 hospital beds, but that could expand to 200, according to Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical Christian organization that helped erect the Central Park field hospital.

"In the history and tradition of the Church, and following the example of Jesus, Cathedrals have long served as places of refuge and healing in times of plague and community crisis," the Right Rev. Clifton Daniel III, dean of the cathedral, said in a statement. "The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is stepping up now, as we always have, to help support our diverse and beloved community and the community of doctors, nurses and volunteers risking their health and well-being in the service of the people of New York City in our hour of need."

The site would be staffed by doctors and medical personnel from nearby Mount Sinai Morningside.

More than 1.4 million people have been infected with COVID-19, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Confirmed cases in the United States have surged to at least 369,069, the most of any country.

New York has recorded the most confirmed cases of any state, while New York City has seen the highest number of fatalities at more than 5,400.

Samaritan's Purse, which is run by Rev. Franklin Graham, said it was working with the cathedral "to expand our capacity to treat patients with COVID-19."

"Our goal is to do all that we can to prepare for an upsurge in cases, but we continue to pray that the virus subsides so that this hospital is never needed. We continue to stand with the people of New York in the fight against this vicious disease," according to a statement from Samaritan's Purse.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Volusia County Department of Corrections(DEBARY, Fla.) -- A DeBary, Florida, man's intentional cough on a store employee after commenting on the business' efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was deemed a deadly weapon, police said.

Christopher Canfora allegedly went into a Harbor Freight Tools location early Tuesday morning, approached the register and laughed at the tape markers on the floor placed 6 feet apart.

"This is getting out of hand, this is why everywhere I go I cough behind everyone with a mask on," Canfora allegedly said the 21-year-old cashier before intentionally coughing on her and the register, according to the police report.

After Canfora, 49, paid for his three items he allegedly told the cashier that he was going to do the same thing at a nearby grocery store.

Social distancing, wearing masks and gloves are some of the guidelines health experts have recommended for people to take to prevent the spread or contracting the coronavirus. The infectious virus has infected over 14,300 people in Florida as of Wednesday morning, according to the state's health department.

When deputies with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office arrived at Canfora’s home, he denied coughing on anyone and said he did not have any symptoms associated with the coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, according to the police report.

Canfora said he didn’t expect anyone to understand his sense of humor and he couldn’t remember exactly what he said at Harbor Freight Tools store, police said.

Police charged Canfora with third-degree aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony charge.

"Canfora's threat created in the mind of the cashier a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place, and assault was made either with a deadly weapon or with a fully formed conscious intent to commit a felony," according to the police report.

Canfora posted a $5,000 bond, according to online jail records. Attorney information was not made available.

If convicted, Canfora faces up to five years in prison, probation or a fine of up to $5,000.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Severe thunderstorms Tuesday brought damaging winds and huge hail for large parts of the U.S., from Wisconsin to Maryland.

In western Pennsylvania, winds gusts reached 75 mph, which caused a roof to come off a church. No known injuries were reported.

Up to baseball size hail also fell in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.

A new storm system Wednesday will bring more severe thunderstorms to the Midwest and the South, from St. Louis to Nashville, Tennessee and Atlanta.

The biggest threat with these severe thunderstorms will be damaging winds and massive hail. Tornadoes cannot be ruled out with this storm.

Meanwhile along the West Coast, more than 7 inches of rain fell in the last three days in Los Angeles County. This caused localized flash flooding throughout southern California.

This storm also dropped significant snow; up to 14 inches fell in the San Bernardino Mountains outside of Los Angeles.

Record rainfall fell Tuesday in San Diego, where localized flooding of streets and roads was reported.

A flash flood watch continues for southern California through the day Wednesday and into the night.

There is also a winter storm warning for the mountains in southern California for the next 36 to 48 hours.

An additional 1 to 2 inches of rain is expected in southern California over the next 24 hours. In the Mountains, locally, 1 to 2 feet of additional snow is possible.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy Cleyvi(NEW YORK) -- Just like everyone else, Cleyvi, 24, has had to tell her children that life during the age of the novel coronavirus pandemic just isn’t the same.

“Every kid wants to go out to the park, to McDonald’s,” she told ABC News. “And I just told him we can’t right now.”

Cleyvi, whose last name ABC News is withholding because she fears reprisal from the authorities, lives with her husband and three young sons -- ages 5, 3 and 1 -- in Los Angeles. She said her eldest child understands the basics of the novel coronavirus: that it can give people fevers and affect the way people breathe.

“He knows he has to wash his hands every time he touches something, every time he wants to eat, after eating,” Cleyvi said. But for her, “the biggest stress” is figuring out how to pay the bills: rent, electricity, cable, food, diapers, formula and potentially medical expenses.

While the coronavirus has smothered the U.S. economy and families across the nation are learning to deal with isolation, a loss of income, and in some cases grief, the virus has hit Cleyvi's family harder than most. She and her husband are both undocumented, even as their three children are U.S. citizens.

Despite experiencing the same economic downturn, undocumented immigrants -- and even immigrants with tax identification cards -- will not be receiving the same federal help as many Americans, such as the economic impact payment, which is up to $1,200 for an individual or $2,400 for a married couple, plus $500 for each child. Undocumented immigrants also do not qualify for unemployment, which has been expanded and extended due to the crisis.

Roughly 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants live in the United States, and before the coronavirus financial crisis they made up roughly 4.6% of the labor force, according Pew Research Center.

“What causes the most difficulty for them is that they’re also experiencing loss of income, but without the subsidized support that is being offered,” said Michelle Rhone-Collins, CEO of LIFT, an organization that helps lift families out of poverty using both financial and holistic approaches. “Their voices aren’t even part of the conversation.”

While Cleyvi's family has been doing their best to save and come up with contingency plans, they’re worried. She told ABC News she wonders about what will happen if one of them gets sick and must self-isolate. Will they have enough to pay the bills, and enough left over to buy diapers and formula? And what about the possibility of authorities coming and knocking on their door?

“This is traumatic,” said Rhone-Collins. “It is traumatic for a group that already is experiencing – and already has experienced – heightened trauma.”

The impact of the COVID-19 financial crisis

The outbreak of COVID-19 caused a significant decline in the U.S. economy -- with thousands of "non-essential" businesses closing around the country in a matter of days to facilitate stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures. According to an analysis done by the federal reserve bank of St. Louis, as many as 47 million workers could be laid off -- potentially making the unemployment rate a staggering 32.1%. But this does not include the number or rate of undocumented immigrants who have also been laid off.

Cleyvi's husband works in plumbing, but since the coronavirus crisis began, most of his clients have cancelled home visits and appointments and his family’s source of income is running dry. Cleyvi spends her days raising her three children, and her nights taking online classes getting her high school diploma through the Los Angeles Public Library program.

“The jobs that our members were working primarily in are hospitality and in education and healthcare, and also within the restaurant and hotel industries,” said Rhone-Collins. “So yeah, they’re not working.”

According to Department of Labor data, the service industry -- including accommodation and food services -- was among the hardest-hit by the impact of the coronavirus. Manufacturing, retail and construction have also been heavily affected as well.

LIFT provides help to nearly 1,000 low-income families across the United States in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York -- roughly 30% of which are undocumented, according to Rhode-Collins. Cleyvi's family is one of them.

When the crisis was beginning to pick up, already 70% percent of LIFT members had lost their jobs. Now, nearly 90% of LIFT families have reported a significant loss of income. LIFT has been able to provide $500 to each of its families and is hoping to provide more relief soon.

But $500, without any additional government relief, is not enough for a family of five. Cleyvi said to cover the cost of living -- including paying rent, the electricity bill, and food -- her family would need at least $1,000. Because her children are citizens, she has been approved for food stamps, but she's concerned this may not cover all her family's needs.

“I don’t know that people are really aware that there are a lot of people that are left out that are also contributors to our economy,” Rhone-Collins said. “And the strength of our economy is only as good as those who are at the edges of it.”

The CARES ACT, the $2.2 trillion bill signed into law in March, will be providing Americans with unprecedented relief during this crisis. Many will receive a $1,200 deposit or check, and small businesses can apply for loans -- which essentially become grants -- if no employees are laid off. But this does not apply to the millions of undocumented immigrants who live in the United States, even if they’ve lived here for most of their lives.

Cleyvi has been living in the United States for almost 20 years -- she was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 5. She said she even tried applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) when she was younger, but her family couldn’t afford the application process because she grew up in a single-parent, single-earner household.

“It’s unearthing the inequality that was already there,” Rhone-Collins said of the coronavirus, saying most of LIFT's members were already living paycheck to paycheck before the crisis began. “I think that the people who are going to feel the impact of the economic downturn the most are the ones who have already been in the hole. And the reason that they are in the hole is because of a lot of systemic barriers built into the way that our policies operate that don’t help them in productive ways.”

The extra toll of being undocumented

For Cleyvi's family, a simple task for many -- like picking up groceries or finding diapers -- can be exhausting. Cleyvi, unable to find certain supplies at local markets, tried recently to go to Costco. But Costco requires a valid government-issued identification card.

“This is our only option – to come to regular markets,” said Cleyvi. “We can’t really go to big places like those. So that’s hard to be running around to different markets to see if we find certain things.”

But Cleyvi says they have the essentials to try and keep everyone safe.

But some children are not so lucky.

As of April 2, five unaccompanied undocumented children in federal custody in two facilities in New York were declared either presumptive positive or are confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS has temporarily stopped putting unaccompanied minors into facilities in New York, California and Washington, which are coronavirus hot spots. There are over 3,000 unaccompanied undocumented children in the care of custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

When ABC News reached out for comment, HHS responded saying "the situation remains extremely fluid and can change rapidly."

There are at least eight detention center facilities across the United States, four of which are government operated, that have reported cases of COVID-19, according to Freedom for Immigrants.

But despite the severe loss for many, Rhone-Collins believes this is a moment to be “less exclusionary” and include the “people who need it the most.”

“We do not have to continue to plan in a way that increases the racial wealth gap,” she said. “This is an opportunity for us to close it by doing what’s right and that's by holding the people who are most vulnerable at the center, not at the edges and fringes.”

“I think that with COVID, the hope and the opportunity is to actually learn around how a response can be quick,” she later continued. “It can be empathetic. It can be simple. It can make sense.”

Cleyvi has noticed in her "Mommy and Me" classes that other mothers are facing similar issues. Rather than hoarding their own supplies, her community has come together to share resources -- whether that be formula for their babies, vegetables, diapers, or cleaning supplies.

“I know we aren’t the only family struggling right now,” she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy Kirby Wallin(BRIGHTON, Colo.) -- In an incident caught on video, a former Colorado State Patrol trooper said he was handcuffed in front of his 6-year old daughter on a near-empty softball field Sunday by Brighton police officers enforcing social distancing rules.

The department apologized Tuesday afternoon, calling the incident an "overreach by our police officers."

Matt Mooney, 33, told ABC News he walked with his wife and daughter from their home to a nearby park Sunday to play softball.

"We're just having a good time, not near anybody else. The next closest person is at least 15 feet away from me and my daughter at this point," Mooney told ABC News.

Police arrived soon after, Mooney said, telling him and others in the area to leave because the park was closed.

Mooney said he told officers that he was familiar with the posted rules and believed he and his family were in compliance and practicing proper social distancing. He said he refused to provide his identification when officers asked for it because he had not broken any law.

"Well, they didn't like that idea. They then proceeded to make a threat against me saying, 'If you don't give us your identification, if you don't identify yourself, we're going to put you in handcuffs in front of your 6-year-old daughter,'" he said.

Mooney said officers handcuffed him and placed him in a patrol car for about 10 to 15 minutes while they phoned a supervisor for guidance. The incident was captured on cellphone footage by former Brighton City Councilman Kirby Wallin.

"Yeah, it's Sunday and the Brighton police are apparently arresting a dad for throwing a ball to his daughter," Wallin is heard saying on the video.

In a statement, the Brighton Police Department said it was "deeply sorry" for the incident and is conducting an internal investigation.

"While the investigation sorts through the different versions of what took place by witnesses who were at the park, it is evident there was an overreach by our police officers," the statement said. "It is imperative that we improve communication with our front line first responders so they are up to date on the latest rules in place regarding COVID-19 for addressing public safety."

Mooney, who said he's hired an attorney and is considering legal action against the city, declined to comment on the apology.

The former state patrol trooper, who now runs a construction company, said officers eventually let him go without issuing a citation.

Mooney said his 6-year-old daughter was scared to see her father placed in handcuffs, but said she learned a valuable lesson.

"She's learned that our constitutional rights are something worth standing up for," Mooney said. "She got to witness a violation of civil rights. She got to witness an unlawful order by the police."

In addition, Mooney said none of the officers were wearing protective gear, although he saw a face mask hanging from an officer's belt.

"They could very simply be asymptomatic, not even know they're sick, and now I've been exposed. My daughter's been exposed; my wife's been exposed," said Mooney.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(TEANECK, N.J.) -- In Teaneck, New Jersey, volunteer EMTs are constantly answering potential and confirmed COVID-19 calls, sometimes wearing mechanics overalls to protect themselves from being exposed.

"We have never seen anything like this before ever in our history," said Jacob Finkelstein, captain of Teaneck Volunteer Ambulatory Corps. "We've been around for a long time since 1939. I've heard from members who've been here through other, similar, situations through AIDS, through SARS. Nothing compares to what we are seeing now in Teaneck."

ABC News spent a few hours with the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulatory Corps as its members responded to calls in the community.

On Monday, EMTs responded to an elderly woman with a suspected case of COVID-19 who died before they arrived; a man in his 70s with a high fever and cough whose family said he'd tested positive for the virus but had been sent home; and two more older men who were taken to the hospital with fevers.

In March, Mohammed Hameeduddin, the mayor of Teaneck, called the town "ground zero" for the infections in the state.

At that time, he told ABC News that he had asked the town's more than 41,000 residents to self-quarantine and only leave their homes for food and medicine. Schools, municipal buildings, parks and other places people could congregate were also closed.

From suiting up in full personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE, to decontaminating their ambulances after a call, members of the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulatory Corps said they treated every emergency 911 call as a potential COVID-19 case.

The team said the city had seen at least 500 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 20 deaths.

They also said they were receiving double the amount of calls these days -- an average of 25 a day -- with less than half of their staff on duty.

Eric Orgen, a member of the corps since 1994, said normally the volunteer group had about 120 active members. The team is currently down to about 40 to 50.

Orgen said some members, who ranged in age from 15 to 75, were considered high risk or had family members who were high risk. These members helped in other ways, including holding a drive last week to collect food and equipment.

Orgen said that some of the volunteer EMTs had even tested positive for coronavirus after being exposed while responding to calls.

The EMTs wear full PPE when they respond to calls. Finkelstein, however, said some PPE items like gowns were not available. Members even turned to wearing mechanics overalls to protect themselves.

"We've had to come up with some creative solutions to fill in for those missing items," said Finkelstein, who noted that other volunteer EMT squads had been forced to stop answering calls due to the pandemic.

Orgen had worked with the group since 1994 and recently came out of retirement to help. He said his wife was a pharmacist and both worried about bringing the virus home to their children.

"I'm here for the residents," he said. "I'm here for the team at TeaVac. We're a family. Everyone here's 100% dedicated to just helping out the town, helping out the residents and doing some good for the world."

In the last two weeks, the corps said it has responded to at least 150 COVID-19 calls.

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he would extend the state’s public health emergency by 30 days as New Jersey reported its deadliest day so far from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to more than 1,232.
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Becky Perlow / ABC News(BALTIMORE) -- At its very core, Judaism is community and community service.

So when the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic threated the very foundation of the Baltimore Jewish community, religious leaders across the county rushed to find ways to stay connected.

“This is an incredible moment of reinvention, a challenge like we have never seen and realities like we've never seen before. But our religion always teaches us that no matter what the circumstances: adapt, reinvent and then do something spectacular,” said Rabbi Shmuel Silber, leader of the Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim in Pikesville, Maryland.

“So our synagogue has kind of adopted [a saying of] physically apart but spiritually connected,” he continued.

“And we've used that as the mantra for everything. For praying together, learning together, helping our elderly and helping those who are isolated with acts of kindness,” Silber said, adding that Baltimore hosts multiple organizations, like Ahavas Yisrael, that are dedicated to “acts of kindness.”

Sometimes, an act of kindness can be found in the simplest of places -- a shopping cart, even.

Since the pandemic exploded in America, several Baltimore synagogues have banded together and launched an initiative to protect those grocery shoppers who would be at risk due to older age or pre-existing conditions.

The initiative, run by 38-year-old Dovi Ziffer, gathers a dozen volunteers at one of the kosher supermarkets in town and sends them running around the stocked aisles with a shopping list in one hand and a shopping cart in the other.

Between the bins of fresh fruit and the Passover food aisle, Dovi reiterates the rules to the volunteers and hands out the grocery lists. A few people ask questions, followed by a wave of screeching wheels as everyone heads in different directions. The volunteers weave through the aisles, pulling down cereal boxes, reaching for cartons of milk or sorting through the bushels of apples to find the best one.

“I try to pick as if I’m picking for my own family,” said volunteer Zevi Daniel as he reached for a shiny Honey Crisp apple.

“Or as if my wife is scrutinizing this,” he added with a laugh.

With his team spread out through the store, Ziffer stops to survey the land. He’s quick to note the precautions they are taking to keep both themselves and their community safe.

“We are trying to come here late in the evening when we know there's not going to be a big crowd,” said Ziffer, speaking behind a blue hospital mask in the baking aisle at Pikesville’s Market Maven.

“We're wearing gloves, wearing masks,” he added, continuing, “and there's a clear vetting process that gives clear criteria for ensuring that our people are not immunocompromised, that they don't have seasonal allergies, that they are not living in a home with somebody who’s 60 years old or that they are not traveling out of the state within the past 14 days.”

Ziffer’s team isn’t the only act of kindness in town, though.

After discovering that one of the local restaurants was struggling to make ends meet, community member Ari Gross sat down with some friends and colleagues to discuss how they as a community could help out their beloved deli, the Knish Shop. They decided to kill two birds with one stone -- buy dozens of sandwiches from the deli, but then take those sandwiches and deliver them, free of charge, to the hardworking medical team at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.

“Really within minutes, though, we had such an overwhelming response of people who wanted to be a part of it,” said Gross, who believes it’s ingrained in people to give back.

The owner of the Knish Shop, Mosie Treuhaft, said Gross’ idea couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Catering was a business we always thought was recession-proof, but we were wrong. COVID changed us,” said Treuhaft, standing behind the deli counter making a tuna wrap.

“Our main business was Bar Mitzvahs, weddings and business lunches… and all that is now [coming to] a screeching halt,” he added.

According to Gross, it costs about $1,000 a day to feed the emergency room’s morning and night shifts.

“It’s just incredible. The community’s been unbelievable,” added Treuhaft, thanking Gross not just for helping his business but also for taking care of those fighting the disease on the front line.

But it’s not only the community helping the hospital -- it’s also the medical staff helping the community.

Jamie Rubin, a nurse at Sinai Hospital, is part of a team that has been working with religious and community leaders to spread awareness about the novel coronavirus, and how individuals can protect themselves.

“Anything from enhanced cleaning protocols to better access to hand-hygiene supplies, facilitating curbside delivery of goods and services like grocery stores, and even advice on how to limit the number of people that are allowed entry into public spaces, like the busy grocery stores, which are typically packed in these weeks leading up to Passover,” Rubin said.

Another member of the advice team includes Dr. Jonathan Ringo, a senior vice president and COO at Sinai Hospital.

“Sinai Hospital was established over 150 years ago by members of the Jewish community in Baltimore… [so] the relationship between the Jewish community and Sinai has remained strong throughout its history,” said Ringo, who added that members of his medical staff have also given advice on social distancing, the importance of closing synagogues and even educational services.

One of those educational services includes a newly launched website, The online platform, Silber said, is helping to spread information about what the local Jewish community is doing to battle the deadly coronavirus, as well as ways people can volunteer.

“Everything we do, even our religious institutions, must adhere to the protocol that Governor Hogan is giving us,” said Silber.

“In many respects, we've actually gone beyond the requirements. For example, technically speaking, we could hold prayer services of less than 10 people. We as a community have chosen not to, though, because we recognize that the best chance we have to flatten the curve is to be able to stop everything,” he added.

So how does a community that can no longer pray together stay together?

“We had a choice when we closed down our synagogue,” said Silber. “We’re coming up now on three weeks – we could just shut down operations, or we could figure out how to reinvent our community.”

For 13-year-old Betzalel Tusk, it meant making some last-minute changes to his coming-of-age ceremony.

“My original Bar Mitzvah was supposed to be at the Knish Shop, which has a party room. And there were going to be like 60 people there with a DJ and a photographer, and all my friends would be there. And it was going to be a lot of fun,” said Tusk, sitting on a couch in his family’s home in Pikesville, Maryland.

Having studied and trained for over a year, Tusk was understandably disappointed when they had to change venues.

“But I got over it and I thought that maybe there would be something else happening,” he said.

That “something else?” A virtual Bar Mitzvah on Zoom, a video conferencing platform.

Tusk said it was strange, reading his portion from the Torah in a room filled only with his immediate family members.

“But there were over, like, 150 people there [too],” said Tusk.

“So many people were watching in, like people that I didn't even know,” he added. “And it just made me feel amazing. And I'm just grateful to everyone who watched that.”

His gratefulness didn’t go unnoticed. Right as Rabbi Silber began his speech to those watching the Bar Mitzvah on Zoom, Tusk gently interrupted him.

“The Bar Mitzvah boy said [to me], ‘Rabbi Silber, can I just say one thing? I just want to thank everyone for coming to my bar mitzvah. So many of you don't even know me. But yet you're here to celebrate with me,’” said Silber, recalling Tusk on his Bar Mitzvah day.

“I learned more from a 13-year-old boy in that moment, than I have learned from all of my teachers throughout my life,” said Silber. “About the need for positive disposition, the need for optimism, the need for hope, and the need to make the best of your circumstances even if it's not what you expected.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Samara Heisz/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A global pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed at least 12,893 people in the United States.

The U.S. has more cases than any other country, with over 398,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide, more than 1.42 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 82,074 of them have died since the virus emerged in China in December. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

Italy has the world's highest death toll -- over 17,100.

Here's how the news developed on Tuesday. All times Eastern:

10:01 p.m.: John Prine dies of coronavirus

Longtime singer-songwriter John Prine has died of coronavirus, his representative told ABC News.

"Widely lauded as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, John’s impact will continue to inspire musicians for years to come," the Recording Academy said in a statement. "We send our deepest condolences to his loved ones."

The 73-year-old had recently been checked into Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, suffering from COVID-19, his family said in late March.

Prine was nominated for 11 Grammy Awards in his career and took home two trophies and he was just announced as a 2020 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. He won awards for best contemporary folk album for The Missing Years in 1992 and another for Fair & Square in 2006.

He earned praise from a litany of legendary singers, including Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, both of whom cited him as one of their favorite artists.

9:52 p.m.: San Diego moves to curb spread of virus among homeless

San Diego officials announced an ambitious plan to curb the spread of COVID-19 among its substantial homeless population.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the city is directing millions of dollars to a shelter-at-home operation that will turn the San Diego Convention Center into a temporary home for hundreds of people currently living in the streets.

San Diego has the fourth-highest homeless population in the country, behind New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

9:03 p.m.: LA to mandate face coverings for essential employees

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city is implementing a policy effective Friday requiring workers in grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, hotels, taxi and ride-share companies and construction sites to wear nonmedical face coverings while at work. In addition, customers entering their businesses must also wear face coverings or they could be refused service.

There were 550 new confirmed cases in Los Angeles County in the past 24 hours -- a 9% increase from the day before -- bringing the total to 6,936 confirmed cases.

The death toll rose to 169 overall with 22 reported in the last day, an increase of 15% from the prior day.

Garcetti also appointed a chief logistical officer who will be in charge of procuring PPE for medical staff and first responders.

8:41 p.m.: Utah converting brushfire trucks into ambulances

Concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases have led first responders in Utah to seek an usual solution.

Members of Utah's Unified Fire Authority have begun converting specialized trucks used for fighting brushfires into ambulances for responding to COVID-19 calls.

"What we have done is prepare them for medical response calls, which is something we have never used them for before," said UFA’s Matthew McFarland.

The retrofitted vehicles are being stocked with ambulance equipment and supplies -- but they won't be used for transporting patients.

"It is not going to compromise your transport," McFarland said. "If they show up and immediately determine that someone needs transport ... we are going to have a transport rig there by the time their assessment is done."

7:27 p.m.: Florida sees spike in cases, deaths
Florida saw a jump in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths over the last 24 hours, according to the state's health department.

About 1,118 people were diagnosed in the past day, with the total number of COVID-19 patients rising to 14,747, the health department said. There were 42 coronavirus-related fatalities in the last 24 hours, which represented a 16.5% jump in deaths, according to the health department data.

A total of 296 Florida residents have died from the disease, the health department said.

6:20 p.m.: Trump, Fauci acknowledge larger share of cases in minority communities

President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, acknowledged that data shows minorities have higher rates of coronavirus infections.

Fauci said higher rates of pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and asthma within black and minority communities were a factor, as well as their higher use of public transportation.

"We are very concerned about that. It is very sad. There is nothing we can do about it right now except to give them the best possible care to avoid complications," Fauci said.

Trump said the White House would release data on coronavirus cases by race shortly.

6:15 p.m.: NYPD announces 14th death

Nearly a fifth of New York Police Department members called out sick as the force lost another member to the coronavirus, police officials said.

The NYPD had 7,060 uniformed members, about 19% of the force, call in sick on Tuesday. The department said 2,006 uniformed members and 338 civilian members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ava Walker, a communications technician and 20-year veteran of the force, died March 31. Walker is the 14th NYPD member lost to the virus.

6:00 p.m.: 110,000 ventilators to be shipped out by end of June: President
President Donald Trump said the federal government will be sending 110,000 ventilators to states over the next few months.

"We have 8,675 ventilators right now in stock ready to move," he said during this daily press briefing. "In addition to the 8,675 ventilators, we have 2,200 arriving on April 13. We have 5,500 arriving on May 4."

The remaining ventilators will be shipped out throughout May and June, according to the president.

Trump added that 1.87 million coronavirus tests have been conducted so far in the country.

4:20 p.m.: Early signs curve starting to flatten in Louisiana, governor says

In Louisiana, hard-hit by the pandemic, the death toll reached 582 Tuesday -- but there are early signs that the curves is starting to flatten, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

The number of people on ventilators decreased from 552 on Monday to 519 on Tuesday, which the governor said he thinks "reflects improvements on the way we are dispensing medical care."

Over 16,000 people in the state have now been diagnosed with coronavirus. Louisiana is now first in the nation per capita for testing, the governor said.

Edwards said all parishes have received personal protective equipment and that Apple has sent Louisiana 400,000 masks.

The New Orleans area is not expected to run out of ventilators or hospital beds in the next two weeks, he said.

2:55 p.m.: France's COVID-19 death toll tops 10,000

With 1,417 new fatalities, France's COVID-19 death toll has now reached 10,328, Health Ministry Director Jerome Salomon said.

The daily death toll is appearing to spike because authorities are now recording fatalities that had occurred outside hospitals and previously were unknown. Out of the newly reported 1,417 deaths, 607 occurred in hospitals in the last day, while the other fatalities were previously unreported deaths outside hospitals.

Meanwhile, Paris is now banning residents from jogging and other outdoor exercise between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. in an effort to improve social distancing.

Jogging will still be permitted at night.

France's total number of diagnosed cases is now over 78,000.

1:20 p.m.: NJ state, county parks close as cases top 44,000

In New Jersey, 1,232 people have died from the coronavirus, a number Gov. Phil Murphy called "almost unfathomable."

The state has a total of 44,416 confirmed cases, Murphy said Tuesday.

While there are signs the curve may be flattening, Murphy stressed, "We cannot be happy with only reaching a plateau. We need to keep strong ... to see that curve begin to fall and ultimately get to zero."
Coronavirus death toll in US likely worse than numbers say

Murphy said he's closing all state and county parks in an effort to enforce social distancing.

"Don't think that I take this action lightly," he said. "We must not just flatten this curve, we must crush this curve." 

12:32 p.m.: UK death toll climbs over 6,000; prime minister in 'good spirits'

United Kingdom's coronavirus death toll climbed to 6,159 as of Monday night, marking a massive daily leap.

As of Sunday night, the death toll was at 5,373, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Over 55,000 people in the U.K. have tested positive for coronavirus, including Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, as well as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson, 55, has been in an intensive care unit at a London hospital since Monday.

He was "stable" and in "good spirits" Tuesday morning, according to a statement from his official residence and office, 10 Downing Street.

The statement noted that Johnson is receiving "standard" oxygen treatment while in the ICU and is breathing without any other assistance.

"He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support," Downing Street said.

The prime minister has been hospitalized since Sunday evening due to "persistent symptoms" of the coronavirus. He was transferred to the ICU Monday after his conditioned "worsened," according to Downing Street.

11:25 a.m.: New York death toll sees largest single-day jump

New York -- the state hit hardest by the pandemic -- saw its largest single-day death toll jump from Monday to Tuesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 731 people lost their lives in the state in the last 24 hours, bringing New York's total number of coronavirus fatalities to 5,489.

Over 138,000 people in the state have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

However, the three-day hospitalization rate in New York is moving down, a sign the state is reaching a plateau.

"It still depends on what we do," Cuomo warned Tuesday. "This is not an act of God ... it's an act of what society actually does."

Cuomo compared the coronavirus pandemic to the 1918 flu pandemic which he said peaked in New York for six months, killing about 30,000 people in the state.

"They didn't react the way we did and they didn't know what we know today," he said.

10:15 a.m.: Nation’s largest Gothic cathedral to be converted to hospital

The nation’s largest Gothic cathedral, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is being converted this Holy Week into a temporary field hospital.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is in New York City -- the U.S. city hit hardest by the pandemic.

Beds and medical supplies are in the process of being moved into the Cathedral in an effort to lessen the pressure on New York City’s overburdened health care system.

The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III, dean of the Cathedral, said, "The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is stepping up now, as we always have, to help support our diverse and beloved community and the community of doctors, nurses, and volunteers risking their health and well-being in the service of the people of New York City in our hour of need."

9:47 a.m.: TSA screenings reach 'lowest since the days after Sept. 11'

U.S. plane travel has plunged to "the lowest since the days after Sept. 11," a Transportation Security Administration spokesperson told ABC News.

TSA screenings reached another record low Monday with only 108,310 travelers passing through checkpoints nationwide.

On the same weekday last year, TSA screened 2,384,091 passengers.

8:23 a.m.: UK prime minister is 'stable' in ICU

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was "stable" and in "good spirits" on Tuesday morning after spending a night in the intensive care unit of a London hospital, according to a statement from his official residence and office, 10 Downing Street.

The statement noted that Johnson is receiving "standard" oxygen treatment while in the ICU and is breathing without any other assistance.

"He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support," Downing Street said. "The prime minister has not had a pneumonia diagnosis."

Johnson, 55, has been hospitalized at St. Thomas' Hospital in central London since Sunday evening due to "persistent symptoms" of novel coronavirus infection. He was transferred to the ICU on Monday afternoon after his conditioned "worsened," according to Downing Street.

7:30 a.m.: 'There is a light at the end of this tunnel,' US Surgeon General says

While still maintaining that this will be a difficult week for Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Tuesday that he feels "a lot more optimistic" as he reassured citizens "there is a light at the end of this tunnel."
"I absolutely believe this is going to be an incredibly sad and an incredibly hard week for our country, but we've had tough times in this country before and we always come out stronger," Adams told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.

"The good news is that when you look at Italy, when you look at Spain, when you look at Washington and California, and even New York and New Jersey, they have truly started to flatten their curves," he added. "They've seen cases level off and start to come down, and that's what I want people to understand -- that it's going to be a hard and tough week, but the American people have the power to change the trajectory of this epidemic if we come together like we have after past tragedies in this country."

Adams said the latest data shows U.S. states like Washington and California have successfully flattened the curves of their outbreaks "because they were aggressively mitigating from the start."

"The most important thing for the American people now is to really focus on these 30-days-to-slow-the-spread guidelines because we have proof that they work," he said. "But we need you all to cooperate, we need you to continue doing your part -- and most people actually are. Over 90% of the country is actually doing the right thing right now."

As of Tuesday morning, eight U.S. states have still not issued or announced stay-at-home orders. Adams said the federal government doesn't really have "a good mechanism" to enforce stay-at-home orders as much as state authorities do.

"We're working with governors, talking with them every single day, working with states to give them the information they need to make the right choices," he said. "And that's really what this comes down to, it's got to happen at the community level."

Whenever the country does start to reopen, Adams said it'll still be a "different normal" than what Americans are used to. There will be a greater sense of normalcy once testing becomes more widely available, a vaccine and therapeutics are approved, and there's a strong public health infrastructure in place, he said.

"But I want the American people to know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel," Adams added, "and we feel confident that if we keep doing the right thing for the rest of this month, that we can start to slowly reopen in some places."

7:09 a.m.: France has not yet peaked, health minister warns

The number of patients hospitalized in intensive care for the novel coronavirus in France has been steadily decreasing for the past five days. But French Health Minister Olivier Veran warned Tuesday that the country has not yet reached the peak of its outbreak.

"We are still in a worsening phase of the pandemic," Véran told French broadcaster BFM TV, adding that the nationwide lockdown would last as long as necessary.

Almost 99,000 people across France have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and nearly 9,000 of them have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Close to 30,000 patients infected with the novel coronavirus are currently hospitalized, according to the French health ministry.

6:25 a.m.: Positive cases top 10,000 in Africa

At least 10,075 people across Africa have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to figures released Tuesday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, 487 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died.

The Northern Africa region has, by far, the largest cluster of cases on the continent, with 4,485 confirmed infections. However, with 1,686 positive cases, South Africa now has the highest national total, surpassing that of both Algeria and Egypt, according to the Africa CDC.

5:05 a.m.: Japan declares state of emergency for seven prefectures

Japan on Tuesday declared a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the order in a brief televised statement, saying the country's outbreak was threatening to gravely impact people's lives and the economy.

The declaration, effective through May 6, empowers governors of the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka to take more preventative measures, such as requesting citizens to stay home, calling for businesses to close as well as shuttering schools and other public facilities. Supermarkets and other essential businesses are allowed to remain open.

However, the declaration is not expected to lead to drastic urban lockdowns like the ones seen in Europe as Japan's post-World War II constitution limits the central government's powers.

At least 3,906 people in Japan have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 92 of them have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The Japanese government has admitted that infection routes cannot be traced in an increasing number of cases.

3:30 a.m.: China reports no new deaths for first time since January

China on Tuesday reported zero new deaths from the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours.

China's National Health Commission recorded 32 new cases of confirmed infections across the mainland, all of which were imported from abroad, as well as 30 new asymptomatic cases. However, it's the first time the country has reported no new deaths since the commission began publishing daily figures in late January.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has seen its number of confirmed infections more than double in recent weeks. The Chinese special administrative region on Tuesday reported 1,331 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the National Health Commission.

The very first cases of COVID-19 were detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December before the disease spread around the globe.

Since then, a total of 81,740 people on the Chinese mainland have been diagnosed with the disease and 3,331 of them have died, according to the National Health Commission.

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