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Coronavirus updates from March 29, 2020

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President Trump announced Sunday the nationwide social distancing guidelines will remain in place until April 30, saying the "peak" of the coronavirus pandemic is expected in two weeks. Mr. Trump said he expected the country to be "well on its way to recovery" by June 1.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and one of the most prominent members of the president's Coronavirus Task Force, called the expanded guidelines "prudent." 

The number of U.S. cases has passed 142,000 and the death toll is nearing 2,500. New York remains the epicenter of the U.S. crisis, and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that a 68-bed makeshift hospital tent is being built outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Central Park. 
In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards said the state had the second-highest number of per capita deaths. He said that within the last 24 hours, there have been 225 new coronavirus cases in the state and 2,710 tests run. The total number of cases in the state is 35,040, with 14 new deaths. 
Texas had already set up a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers flying in from New Orleans, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. On Sunday, Texas Governor Greg Abbot announced he was mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone driving into Texas from anywhere in Louisiana and for those flying in from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago, as well as anywhere in California and Washington.
Abbott's mandatory quarantine came one day after similar measures were announced in Florida. That state's governor, Ron DeSantis, announced Sunday checkpoints would be set up along interstates that travelers from New York and Louisiana usually use. Any visitors from those states would have to go into a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
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Visit the CDC's website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention. 


U.S. counties without coronavirus are mostly rural and poor

As the coronavirus rages across the United States, mainly in large urban areas, more than a third of U.S. counties have yet to report a single positive test result for COVID-19 infections, an analysis by The Associated Press shows. Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows that 1,297 counties have no confirmed cases of COVID-19, out of 3,142 counties nationwide. 

Of the counties without positive tests, 85% are in rural areas - from predominantly white communities in Appalachia and the Great Plains to majority Hispanic and Native American stretches of the American Southwest - that generally have less everyday contact between people that can help transmit the virus.

At the same time, counties with zero positive tests for COVID-19 have a higher median age and higher proportion of people older than 60 - the most vulnerable to severe effects of the virus - and far fewer intensive care beds should they fall sick. Median household income is lower, too, potentially limiting health care options.

-- The Associated Press


Big names perform from homes for benefit concert

Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Dave Grohl opened their doors to the world — literally. The musicians performed from their homes for an hour-long benefit concert to raise money during the coronavirus crisis.

Keys kicked off the event Sunday singing her song "Underdog" from a piano in her home. She thanked those "risking their lives to keep us safe." Carey sang "Always Be My Baby" from her home studio in New York.

Elton John hosted the special that aired on Fox and iHeartMedia radio stations and said he hoped "this entertainment will feed and fuel your soul."

The New York Daily News reports $1 million was raised in the opening minutes alone thanks to a $500,000 donation from Proctor & Gamble, which was matched by Fox.



Oklahoma governor orders anyone traveling from 6 states to self quarantine for 14 days

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Sunday issued an executive order requiring anyone traveling to the state from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Louisiana or Washington state to self quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. 

The order comes one day after the CDC issued a travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott issued a similar order Sunday, requiring anyone driving to Texas from Louisiana or flying to Texas from Miami, Detroit, Chicago, California or Washington state. Abbott had already ordered those traveling to Texas from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14 days beginning March 26. 

By Jordan Freiman

Stocks poised to dip when trading begins Monday

Stock markets dropped Sunday night as reassurances from President Trump and promises that stimulus checks were on the way failed to sooth investors worried about the continued spread of the coronavirus.

The stock drop comes after the market rose last week for three days in a row amid hopes the $2 trillion stimulus package, which Mr. Trump signed Friday, would boost spending and carry the economy through the current forced shutdown. But falling markets Sunday night suggested that investors will wake up Monday morning to another rocky week in the market.

Futures markets were indicating that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would drop more than 300 points when stocks begin trading.

Asian markets opened sharply lower Monday as well, with the indices down nearly 4% in Japan, and about 1.5% in Chinese markets. Stocks in Australia were the only bright spot, rising about 2% in morning trading.

On Sunday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said on "Face the Nation," that he expects Americans will begin receiving their stimulus checks within three weeks. Mr. Trump on Sunday night extended the U.S.' social distancing guidelines to April 30, but said he thought the country would be "well on its way to recovery" by June 1.

By Jordan Freiman

Already struggling farmers hit hard by coronavirus

Already struggling farmers hit hard by coronavirus 02:41

The coronavirus pandemic has deeply affected America's farmers. They have already been facing financial hardships, worsened by a trade war and labor shortages.

In the heart of Dallas, Bonton Farms planted roots in an often-forgotten neighborhood that's long been a food desert with no grocery store nearby. Daron Babcock started the small urban farm and 40-acre extension to solve a health crisis in the region.

"We have over double the rate of cancer, double the rate of stroke, double the rate of heart disease, double the rate of diabetes and double the rate of childhood obesity than the county we're in," he explained.

The farm provides fresh fruits and vegetables for the community and restaurants across north Texas. However, their two years of successful growth has become stunted by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

"Just day one, when they announced they were gonna quarantine, business dropped 90%," Babcock told CBS News.

Read more here.


Aircraft from China with medical supplies arrives in New York City

Aircraft from China with medical supplies arrives in New York City 01:40

Health officials paint stark image of coronavirus' impact on the U.S.

Health officials paint stark image of coronavirus' impact on the U.S. 03:04

Texas governor expands travel restrictions

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday issued an executive order expanding travel restrictions to include a 14-day mandatory quarantine for drivers coming into the state from anywhere in Louisiana. The previous order, issued on March 26, required people flying into Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans to quarantine. 

While New York remains the epicenter of the U.S. crisis, Louisiana has seen an explosive growth in cases and New Orleans appears poised to become the new epicenter. 

The expanded version of the order also added that anyone flying into Texas from the "hot spots" Miami, Detroit, Chicago, California or Washington state must also quarantine for 14 days, CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV reports

Abbott also issued an executive order stopping the release of "dangerous felons from jails in Texas" because of coronavirus. Just before the conference, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office filed an intervention to prevent the release of more than 4,000 dangerous individuals in Harris County, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth reports

By Caroline Linton

Trump says he will extend social distancing guidelines until April 30

Trump extending guidelines on social distancing until end of April 03:24

President Trump said Sunday the peak in the death rate from the coronavirus pandemic is likely to hit in two weeks and extended guidelines to slow the spread of the deadly illness for 30 days.

"The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end," Mr. Trump said during a briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. "Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread."

The president said his administration would be finalizing social distancing guidelines on Tuesday.

"It's very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines," he said, adding that he believes the country will be "well on our way to recovery" by June 1.

Mr. Trump had previously suggested he wants to reopen the U.S. economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus outbreak, by April 12. On Sunday, he said that date was "aspirational."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the mitigation efforts currently underway are having an impact on combating the spread of the coronavirus and lauded the decision to extend the social distancing guidelines.

"The decision to … extend this mitigation process until the end of April I think was a wise and prudent decision," he said.

Donald Trump coronavirus task force — Rose Garden
President Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Getty

Read more here

By Melissa Quinn

John Prine hospitalized

Songwriters Hall Of Fame 50th Annual Induction And Awards Dinner - Show
 Inductee John Prine performs onstage during the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 50th Annual Induction And Awards Dinner at The New York Marriott Marquis on June 13, 2019 in New York City.  Getty

Musician John Prine is hospitalized with coronavirus, the Prine family said Sunday. 

"After a sudden onset of Covid-19 symptoms, John was hospitalized on Thursday (3/26)," the Prine family tweeted. "He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical."

"This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now," the statement continues. "And know that we love you, and John loves you."

Prine's wife Fiona announced earlier this month that he had been diagnosed with coronavirus. 

By Caroline Linton

Emergency makeshift hospital built in Central Park

Tent hospital being constructed in New York City's Central Park 08:34

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Sunday that Mount Sinai Hospital and relief organization Samaritan's Purse are setting up a 68-bed tent hospital in Central Park to serve overflow patients. It's set to open Tuesday. 

"This is the kind of thing you will see now, as this crisis deepens," de Blasio said. 

The Navy hospital ship Comfort set sail on Saturday for New York City to provide relief. 

By Caroline Linton

Country singer Joe Diffie dies from coronavirus

Pepsi's Rock The South Festival - Day 2
Singer/Songwriter Joe Diffie seen June 4, 2016. Getty

Country music singer Joe Diffie has died from complications of coronavirus, his publicist confirmed Sunday to CBS News. He was 61.

The country music legend was one of the most successful singer-songwriters of the 1990s, having written hits for artists like Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty and Jo Dee Messina. He won a Grammy in 1998 for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals, for "Same Old Train," according to Entertainment Tonight.

Diffie's hits include: "Home," "If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)," "New Way (To Light Up An Old Flame)," "Ships That Don't Come In," "Honky Tonk Attitude," among others. He recently celebrated 25 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

According to Diffie's Facebook page, he had performed in Newark, Ohio, on March 8. He said Friday that he had tested positive for coronavirus. 

GRAMMY®-winning country music legend Joe Diffie passed away today, Sunday, March 29 from complications of coronavirus (COVID-19). His family requests privacy at this time.

Posted by Joe Diffie on Sunday, March 29, 2020
By Caroline Linton

Boris Johnson sends letter to every U.K. resident

Britain's PM Johnson chairs COVID-19 meeting in London
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears on a monitor for the coronavirus meeting in London, Britain, on March 28, 2020. The prime minister chairs the morning update meeting on the coronavirus remotely from Number 11 Downing Street, since self-isolating after testing positive for the virus.  Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus, sent a letter to every resident of the country amid the pandemic, BBC News reports.

"It's important for me to level with you — we know things will get worse before they get better," the letter states. "But we are making the right preparations, and the more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal."

There are now more than 19,700 cases of coronavirus in the U.K., according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 1,230 have died. 

Johnson has been criticized by public health experts for being " "nonchalant" and "slow" to respond to the pandemic and failed to lead by example, according to the Guardian.

By Caroline Linton

Remembering Maria Mercader, CBS News journalist for three decades

Remembering CBS News journalist Maria Mercader 01:43

CBS News is mourning the loss of Maria Mercader, a network veteran who covered breaking news for nearly three decades and, most recently, helped shape strategy for the network's correspondents and reporters. 

Maria was 54 and died from the coronavirus in a New York hospital. She had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since the last week in February. 

Maria fought cancer and related illnesses for more than 20 years, and was an inspiration each time she returned to work after a setback threatened to end her life.

"Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit," said Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and senior executive producer. "Maria was part of all of our lives. Even when she was hospitalized — and she knew something was going on at CBS, she would call with counsel, encouragement, and would say 'you can do this.' I called Maria a 'warrior,' she was. Maria was a gift we cherished."

Read more about Maria here


Biden says he would invoke DPA for masks and gowns

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Joe Biden said that he would invoke the Defense Production Act not only for the production of ventilators but also masks and gowns for hospital workers.

"Why are we waiting? We know they're needed, they're going to be increasingly needed," Biden said.

Biden criticized President Trump's slow response, saying "the coronavirus is not the president's fault, but the slow response, the failure to get going right away"

By Caroline Linton

Fauci warns U.S. deaths could top 100,000

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and one of the most prominent members of the president's Coronavirus Task Force, said millions of Americans are likely to become infected with the coronavirus, with the death toll potentially reaching between 100,000 to 200,000 people.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned against predicting firm outcomes in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, but said models showing millions of deaths in the U.S. were "almost certainly ... off the chart."

"Whenever the models come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario. Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle," he said. "I've never seen a model of the diseases that I've dealt with where the worst case scenario actually came out." 

Still, he said his best estimate of the number of deaths would be at least 100,000.

"It's difficult to present, I mean, looking at what we're seeing now, you know, I would say between 100 and 200,000 cases. But I don't want to be held to that, because it's — excuse me, deaths," he said. "I mean, we're going to have millions of cases."

Fauci, who has been one of the most vocal proponents of severe restrictions to combat the spread of the virus, said models are only "as accurate as your assumptions."

"I just don't think that we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people," he told CNN's Jake Tapper. "What we do know, Jake, is that we've got a serious problem in New York. We have a serious problem in New Orleans, and we're going to be developing serious problems in other areas."

By Stefan Becket

Death toll in New York climbs to 965, Cuomo says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the death toll in his state has climbed to 965 people, and nearly 60,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. The death toll stood at 728 on Saturday.

At his daily press briefing on Sunday, Cuomo said the number of hospitalizations has also increased. More than 8,500 people are currently hospitalized, with 2,037 in intensive care.

The governor warned of a "rolling apex" of infections in the state, with some areas reaching the peak of cases at different times. He extended a statewide shutdown of nonessential workers for an additional two weeks.

By Stefan Becket

WHO expert: "Risk assessment" should guide decisions to lift lockdowns

WHO expert says risk of continued spread should guide decisions to lift coronavirus lockdowns 06:11

Dr. David Heymann, a professor of epidemiology and special adviser to the World Health Organization, said any decision to ease restrictions in the U.S. and around the world to begin re-opening the economy should be made based on the risk of transmitting the deadly coronavirus.

"The general consensus is that it depends on the risk assessment in the country," Heymann said on "Face the Nation." "China has already begun to unlock its heavy industrial sector and also its small business sector, and they're watching very closely to make sure that transmission doesn't increase as a result. That's what other countries need to do as well."

Heymann said other areas of the world need to know "where the majority of transmission is occurring and then they need to keep those sectors locked down most while unlocking the sectors where transmission is less important."

President Trump has suggested that a target date for reopening the U.S economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus outbreak, is April 12, Easter. But public health officials warn that lifting restrictions too soon could lead to more deaths and further damage the economy.

To limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued social distancing guidelines and called for gatherings of more than 10 people to be canceled, while governors have ordered residents in their states to remain in their homes and ordered nonessential businesses to close.

Heymann said the strategy of containment works if it starts early and continues even as the number of cases grow.

"The objective is to identify people who are infected, either those who are sick or those who are contacts of those people who are sick, and then to isolate those people and stop transmission while at the same time having other measures, such as physical distancing and means to keep people from getting too close together," he said.

By Melissa Quinn

Treasury secretary says checks from coronavirus bill coming "within 3 weeks"

Mnuchin says many Americans will see money from coronavirus bill "within 3 weeks" 07:56

Americans who are eligible to receive one-time payments from the federal government as part of a massive coronavirus economic relief package will see that money deposited into their bank accounts "within three weeks," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.

"We expect that within three weeks, that people who have direct deposit with information with us will see those direct deposits into their bank accounts, and we will create a web-based system for people where we don't have their direct deposit, they can upload it so that they can get the money immediately as opposed to checks in the mail," Mnuchin said on "Face the Nation."

As part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress last week, Americans who make up to $75,000 will receive $1,200 checks, plus $500 per dependent child. The amount gradually decreases for incomes up to $99,000, at which point the payments cut off.

Income levels will be based off of 2019 income tax returns for those who have already filed. Returns for 2018 will be used for those who haven't.

Read more here.

By Melissa Quinn

Louisiana governor calls on federal government to send more ventilators

With Louisiana seeing explosive growth in its number of coronavirus cases and New Orleans poised to become the next epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., Governor John Bel Edwards said the federal government has not yet approved the state's request for more ventilators from the nation's stockpile.

"We haven't yet been approved for ventilators out of the National Stockpile," Edwards, a Democrat, said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "I continue to press that case, and I hope that we will be cut in for a slice of what they have left there and that we get them in the next few days."

Edwards said the state has also reached out for vendors, placing orders for 12,000 more machines from manufacturers who are already stretched to capacity. So far, Louisiana has received just 192, he said.

"That is inadequate to the past because if we stay on this present growth curve that we're on with respect to coronavirus cases, we believe that by about April the 4th or so in the New Orleans area, we will exceed our capacity for ventilators, and obviously that's not where we want to be," Edwards said. 

Read more here.

By Melissa Quinn

First federal inmate dies of COVID-19

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said Saturday that an inmate had died from complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, becoming the first person in federal custody to succumb to the virus.

Patrick Jones, 49, was an inmate at Federal Correctional Complex, Oakdale in Louisiana. He started complaining of a persistent cough on March 19, and died Saturday in the hospital, according to a statement from BOP. The bureau said he suffered from preexisting conditions.

The facility at Oakdale had five coronavirus cases as of the bureau's latest count, the highest number at a federal complex in the country. Advocated and attorneys have urged the Justice Department to release elderly inmates and those with underlying medical issues that make them more vulnerable to the virus.

Attorney General William Barr ordered the bureau on Thursday to increase the use of home confinement for vulnerable inmates in an effort to reduce their risk.

By Clare Hymes

CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Targeting New Yorkers
A member of the Rhode Island National Guard Military Police directs a motorist with New York license plates at a checkpoint on I-95 near the border with Connecticut where New Yorkers must pull over and provide contact information and are told to self-quarantine for two weeks, Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. David Goldman / AP

The CDC on Saturday issued a domestic travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The announcement came after Mr. Trump said he was considering enacting an "enforceable" quarantine in the New York metro area, an idea he backed off of later on Twitter, where he also requested the CDC travel advisory.

"Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately," the CDC said in a statement. "This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply."

The CDC also noted that the governors of the three states would "have full discretion to implement this Domestic Travel Advisory."

By Jordan Freiman

Infant dies of coronavirus in Illinois, health department says

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Saturday that an infant has died from coronavirus, CBS Chicago reports. Ezike said the infant and a state employee were among 13 new deaths in the state from coronavirus.

Ezike said a "full investigation" is underway into the child's death. 

Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker said the death of an infant is rare.

"Upon hearing it, I was immediately shaken. It's appropriate for any of us to grieve today," Pritzker said. 

There have been 3,491 cases in Illinois and 47 fatalities, according to CBS Chicago.

By Jordan Freiman
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