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Coronavirus updates: U.S. tops 100,000 COVID-19 cases

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Follow along with Saturday's coronavirus live updates

President Trump on Friday signed a massive, $2 trillion stimulus package for American workers and businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic. There are now more than 1,693 deaths and 104,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.  

Globally, more than 595,000 people have caught the virus and it has killed over 27,300. More than 131,000 of those infected have already recovered, but as Mr. Trump conceded on Thursday, "there is still a long battle ahead."

The latest:

  • The U.S. has the most coronavirus cases in the world, surpassing China.
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
  • British PM Boris Johnson became the first world leader to test positive.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

Coronavirus New York City COVID-19
Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus outside St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020. Misha Friedman / Getty
 

Rhode Island governor ramps up measures to stop cases coming from New York

Rhode Island State Police on Friday began pulling over drivers with New York plates so that National Guard officials can collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.
 
Governor Gina Raimondo ratcheted up the measures Friday afternoon, announcing she'll also order the state National Guard to go door-to-door in coastal communities starting this weekend to find out whether any of the home's residents have recently arrived from New York and inform them of the quarantine order.
 
The Democrat had already deployed the guard to bus stations, train stations and the airport to enforce the executive order, which also applies to anyone who has traveled to New York in the last 14 days.
 
"I know it's unusual. I know it's extreme and I know some people disagree with it," she said Friday, adding that she has consulted with state lawyers.
 
"If you want to seek refuge in Rhode Island, you must be quarantined."
 
Raimondo maintains she's within her emergency powers to impose the measures, but the American Civil Liberties Union has called it an "ill-advised and unconstitutional plan."

—The Associated Press

 

FDA approves new rapid coronavirus test

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new rapid test from Abbott Laboratories, which the company says can detect the coronavirus in about 5 minutes.

Medical device maker Abbott announced the emergency clearance of its cartridge-based test in a release Friday night. The company says that its test delivers a negative result in 13 minutes when the virus is not detected.

The U.S. has been trying for weeks to ramp up coronavirus testing after a series of problems with the initial government-designed test. The nation's daily testing capacity has been increasing as more diagnostic makers and large laboratories have developed tests.

Abbott's testing cartridge fits into the company's portable ID NOW device, which is used at hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices. The company said it would launch the test next week to select health care facilities that deliver urgent care.

The Abbott approval follows two other rapid tests cleared by regulators in the past week. Older laboratory-developed tests can take between 4 to 8 hours to deliver results.

—The Associated Press

 

The mystery behind Germany's low coronavirus death rate

Compared to other countries, the number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus in Germany has been surprisingly low. 

According to the country's federal health agency, The Robert Koch Institute, the mortality rate from the virus is currently at less than 0.5%. It's remarkable when compared to the grim numbers in Italy or Spain. Italy has reported more than 86,000 confirmed cases and over 9,000 deaths, which would seem to work out to a mortality rate of roughly 10%. Meanwhile, Germany has reported over 49,000 cases but only 342 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

But how reliable are the figures?

The statistics of individual countries can only be compared to a certain extent, and the simple division of the number of deaths by the number of reported cases is not a very reliable method, according to Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, professor of virology at the University of Hamburg. 

"In each country the number of unreported cases varies because of the different diagnostic capacities," he told CBS News. 

Read more here. 

 

Trump says he wants governors to be "appreciative"

President Trump said Friday that what he wants from governors is for them to be "appreciative," singling out governors who have criticized the federal government's response, particularly when it comes to the procurement of medical equipment like ventilators.

During the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Mr. Trump told reporters that he tells Vice President Mike Pence "don't call the governor of Washington," Governor Jay Inslee, or "the woman in Michigan," Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who, he said "has no idea what's going on." The president shrugged and said that Pence calls them anyway. 

The president had made similar remarks about Whitmer in a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity Thursday night. On Friday, Whitmer told WWJ 950AM she's been "uniquely singled out," even though "I don't go into personal attacks. I don't have time for that."

Read more here.

 

WNBA player Sydney Wiese tests positive for virus

Los Angeles Sparks guard Sydney Wiese has tested positive for coronavirus, the team said in a statement Friday. Wiese tested positive after returning from playing basketball in Spain.

The team said her symptoms are mild and she's "feeling fine."

"She's been in self-isolation at home in Phoenix since her return and is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus," the statement said. "The Sparks are in direct communication with Sydney and wish her a speedy recovery."

Sparks Basketball
Los Angeles Sparks' Sydney Wiese on August 14, 2019. Tony Gutierrez / AP
By Justin Carissimo
 

90-year-old coronavirus survivor shares her story

One of the first major coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. was inside a nursing home near Seattle. At least 39 people died at the Life Care Center of Kirkland

Geneva Wood has lived a long and feisty life. The 90-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother has lived through wars and recessions — but she nearly died from coronavirus. Her daughter, Cami Neidigh, said she thought her mother's diagnosis was a "death sentence," given her age. Doctors agreed. They said she wasn't going to make it.

But Wood said that prayer and a cup of soup from her children helped her recover. "Well, potato soup. You know, all my life whenever I got sick all I wanted was potato soup," she said. 

Read more here or watch her story below.

Coronavirus survivor shares her story 01:49
By Jonathan Vigliotti
 

Italian hospital is turning scuba masks into ventilators

The coronavirus has claimed nearly 1,000 lives in Italy in the past 24 hours. With ventilators running low, a desperate hospital in the northern part of the country is trying something new: modified scuba masks.

Doctors are using a 3D printer to modify the masks so they connect to oxygen. It's a quick-fix Dr. Franceso Minardi likens to wartime triage.

CBS News was given rare access inside the hospital's ICU unit. Before entering, the team suited up in protective gear.

The virus hasn't been easy on the nation's hospital system. So far, more than 40 doctors in the country have died of the virus. Sandra Rossi, the head of this ICU, said one of the fallen was a doctor and friend. — Chris Livesay

Read more here.

 

Los Angeles beaches close to prevent crowds

Los Angeles County, California, has temporarily closed all of its beaches to prevent crowds of people from spreading the coronavirus. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said that crowds that gathered at beaches last weekend were "unacceptable." She said the closure will lift once "it is safe to do so."

"In order to save lives, beaches in LA County will be temporarily closed. I understand that this is a huge sacrifice for everyone who enjoys going to our beaches. But we cannot risk another sunny weekend with crowds at the beach spreading this virus."

The closure will apply to all LA County beaches, beach bathrooms, piers, promenades, and beach bike paths, CBS Los Angeles reported

By Audrey McNamara
 

Trump signs massive coronavirus relief package

President Trump on Friday signed a massive relief bill in response to the significant economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The bill is enacted as a record number of Americans have filed unemployment claims and the U.S. topped China as the country with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases.

"I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first," Mr. Trump said at the ceremony to sign the bill in the Oval Office. No Democrats were present for the signing, and an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed she wasn't invited.

Read more here.

By Grace Segers
 

14 inmates, 13 staffers test positive in federal prisons

The Federal Bureau of Prisons on Friday confirmed new positive cases for the coronavirus. The bureau said 14 inmates and 13 staffers have tested positive. FCI Oakdale in Louisiana currently has the most cases, with five inmates testing positive. 

Here's where the inmates have tested positive:
MDC Brooklyn: 1
FCI Oakdale: 5
USP Atlanta: 2
MCC New York: 2
RRC Phoenix: 1
RRC Brooklyn: 3

By Clare Hymes
 

NYPD absences spike as police call in sick

The New York City Police Department is seeing a huge spike in absences, even as it has been tasked with helping enforce coronavirus social distancing rules. On Thursday, 3,674 officers called in sick, accounting for about 10% of the force. Typically, about 3% of the force is out sick, New York City police commissioner Dermot Shea told CBS News.

Read more here.

By Erin Donaghue
 

Disney World and Disneyland to remain closed

The Walt Disney Company on Friday announced that Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida will remain closed "until further notice."

"While there is still much uncertainty with respect to the impacts of COVID-19, the safety and well-being of our guests and employees remains The Walt Disney Company's top priority," the company said. 

"As a result of this unprecedented pandemic and in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed until further notice. "

By Justin Carissimo
 

France extends lockdown by two weeks

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday announced that the nationwide lockdown will be extended for at least another two weeks. The move had been expected, as the number of deaths from the new coronavirus continues to rise sharply. Philippe said it was clear France was just "at the beginning" of this epidemic.

As of Friday, there were more than 33,400 cases in France, and nearly 2,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The lockdown is in its 11th day and will now continue until at least April 15. The prime minister warned that he would extend it again if needed - the president's scientific advisors have called for six weeks in total.

Philippe also called on people to respect the restrictions and stay home.

TOPSHOT-FRANCE-HEALTH-VIRUS
A man walks his dog at the Champs de Mars on March 21, 2020, in Paris. JOEL SAGET/Getty
By Elaine Cobbe
 

NBA stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell cleared of coronavirus

Utah Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have officially recovered from coronavirus, the team announced Friday. Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the virus on March 11, which prompted the NBA to cancel games indefinitely.

The Jazz said in a statement that all its players and staff were cleared by the Utah Department of Health on Friday after finishing isolation and quarantine measures.

"In accordance with CDC and NBA recommendations, all players and staff will continue to practice social distancing while limiting time outside of their homes to essential activities. The Utah Department of Health has determined that all Jazz players and staff, regardless of prior testing status, no longer pose a risk of infection to others," the statement said.

Virus Outbreak-NBA-Gobert Basketball
This March 7, 2020, photo shows Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz.  Duane Burleson / AP

Read more here.

By Christopher Brito
 

Stocks drop as U.S. tops world in coronavirus cases

Stocks fell on Friday as the U.S. claimed the unwelcome position of being the nation with the most coronavirus infections. The decline ended a three-day rally fueled by optimism that the $2 trillion stimulus package would offset some of the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow shed 920 points, or 4%, to 21,623. Through Thursday, the index had shed 24% of its value since its most recent peak in February. The broad-based S&P 500 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq both lost 3.6%.

Read more here

By Aimee Picchi
 

Maryland's largest county distributes laptops to students for remote learning

As the largest county in Maryland, Montgomery County, prepares to take its classes online for students within days, it is ensuring students who need laptops will have them. Public school staff handed out laptops across the county on Thursday.

At first glance, the parking lot distribution looked like a fast-food line, with dozens of cars idling in an organized fashion. Drivers patiently waited for a signal prompting them to roll forward. But instead of ordering a burger through an intercom, parents held up a piece of paper displaying a student ID number through their car windows. 

Read more here

By Julia Boccagno
 

Tesla's Elon Musk is donating hundreds of ventilators to New York

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he's donating much needed ventilators to New York. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed gratitude to Musk for stepping up. 

Musk offered to help with ventilators earlier this month during the coronavirus pandemic. While replying to a follower about the progress, Musk said the vital devices – which help patients with COVID-19 breathe – were being sent there Thursday night. 

"Working on that with Medtronic." he said. "Given NY pressing needs, we're delivering Resmed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators to NY hospitals starting tonight."

Read more here

By Christopher Brito
 

House passes massive coronavirus relief package

The House approved a massive relief bill to respond to the significant economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic Friday. The $2 trillion bill passed with bipartisan support by a voice vote.

The relief measure passed in a 96-0 vote in the Senate earlier this week after lengthy negotiations between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and White House officials. The bill expands unemployment insurance, provides direct payments to most Americans and includes hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants to corporations, hospitals, state and local governments and more.

The bill is "phase three" legislation to address the pandemic. President Trump has signed two other relief bills and voiced support for this measure. He had said he will sign the bill once it is passed in the House.

Read more here.

By Grace Segers
 

Cuomo thanks National Guard: "The mission is to save lives. That's what you're doing."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke Friday from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, which the National Guard helped convert into a temporary hospital in a matter of days. 

He said to the National Guard: "You are the best of us. And whenever we call on you, you are there. And what you did in this facility in one week, creating a hospital, is just incredible."

Cuomo said the coronavirus is "a different beast that we're dealing with. This is an invisible beast. It is an insidious beast."

"This is not gonna be a short deployment," he said. "This is not gonna be that you go out there for a few days, we work hard, and we go home. This is gonna be weeks and weeks and weeks. This is gonna be a long day. And it's gonna be a hard day. And it's gonna be an ugly day. And it's gonna be a sad day."

"This is a rescue mission that you're on," he said. "The mission is to save lives. That's what you're doing."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Cuomo says he will ask Trump to authorize 4 more temporary hospitals

New York state is seeking to build four more temporary hospitals to deal with the expected rise in coronavirus cases - adding to four hospitals that are already in the works in New York City and surrounding areas. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will ask President Trump on Friday to authorize the four additional temporary hospitals, which would provide another 4,000 hospital beds.

Cuomo says 140,000 beds are expected to be needed at the peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations but that current capacity in the state is 53,000. 

Officials are looking at the New York Expo Center in the Bronx, the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the College of Staten Island as possible locations.

USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, is expected to arrive in New York Harbor on Monday, according to Cuomo. The state is also looking at hotels, college dorms and nursing homes as possible locations for additional capacity. 

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

North Dakota reports state's first coronavirus death

North Dakota's health department has reported the state's first coronavirus death. It said in a tweet the patient was a man in his 90s from Cass County. He had underlying health conditions and the source of his COVID-19 infection was unknown.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

New York state reports more than 44,000 confirmed cases

There have now been more than 44,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York state and 519 people have died there from the new coronavirus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

6,481 patients are currently hospitalized in the state and 1,583 are in ICUs. 2,045 people have been discharged from hospitals.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

School closures extended for another 2 weeks in New York state

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that schools across the state will close for at least another two weeks, extending closures that were in effect until April 1.

"I don't do this joyfully but I think when you look at where we are ... it only makes sense to keep the schools closed," Cuomo said. 

Officials will reassess the need for possible continued closures following the new two-week period. 

New York City schools are closed to students until at least April 20

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Iron Man 2 actor arrested over alleged coronavirus treatment fraud

Actor Keith Middlebrook, who had a role in Marvel's 2010 film Iron Man 2, has been arrested by the FBI and charged with fraud for allegedly seeking investments in his company, which he claimed would be used to mass produce pills that could prevent people from contracting the coronavirus.

He said the investments would also help produce an injectable medicine capable of totally curing the COVID-19 disease in a matter of days. A complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on one count of attempted wire fraud, ultimately leading to Middlebrook's arrest.  

Though work on both has been ramped-up significantly, there are currently no medicines approved to treat COVID-19, and a proven, effective vaccine is not expected for at least a year.  

-This report originated on CBSNews.com's sister website comicbook.com. 

 

U.N. official warns of possible longer-term coronavirus "boomerang" threat

The U.N.'s humanitarian aid chief, Under Secretary-General Mark Lowcock told CBS News on Friday that the world needs to watch for a coronavirus "boomerang" effect. He said that if the countries in the throes of the pandemic now start to get over it just as the poorest countries are hit, it could come back to batter the U.S. and other developed nations for a second round.

"The point really is that as more developed countries, including those in East Asia, including Europe, including North America, gradually, as I think will happen over time, get the virus under control… it will not make those countries safe, because if the virus is allowed to get a grip in the unstable places, it's going to be a permanent threat to everybody," he said.

"Human beings move around and, as we've seen, this virus is carried by people who may not have symptoms," Lowcock told CBS News, adding there was also a risk that if the disease becomes, "embedded in places, it could mutate or evolve and be progressively hard to deal with."

By Pamela Falk
 

Italians told virus control measures are working, but too soon to drop the guard

There's hope, but Italy's coronavirus epidemic hasn't peaked yet. Silvio Brusaferro, President of the country's Higher Institute of Health, acknowledged Friday that Italy was seeing "positive signals" —  in particular the decrease in the rate of new daily infections rates.

"We are not in a downward phase, but in a phase of the slowing down of growth," he explained, adding that the peak was expected in the coming days. 

Brusaferro attributed the decelerating growth rate directly to the "stay at home" measures adopted throughout Italy. "We are observing clear signals of the clear efficacy of the containment measures, he said."  He warned Italians, however, not to lower their guard now.

COVID-19 intensive care unit at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan
Members of the medical staff in protective suits treat a patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy, March 27, 2020. FLAVIO LO SCALZO/REUTERS

In the same press conference, the president of the Ministry of Health's research arm, Franco Locatelli, dismissed rumors that the new coronavirus could have been created in a lab as "bio-terrorism" science fiction. 

"We have clear indications that there is no possibility that the SarsCoV2 was generated in a laboratory," he said, noting a lack of any scientific basis for such theories.

Anna Matranga

 

Actor Mark Blum, of "Law & Order," dies of COVID-19 complications

Longtime actor Mark Blum has died at the age of 69 of complications from the coronavirus, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) said Thursday in a statement. He was known for his roles in the television shows "Succession" and "Law & Order" as well as movies "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Crocodile Dundee." 

By Christopher Brito
 

U.K. Health Secretary confirms COVID-19 diagnosis right after PM Boris Johnson

Matt Hancock, Britain's Health Secretary, has confirmed his own positive test for the COVID-19 disease right on the heels of his boss, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, doing the same. 

Johnson became the first world leader to confirm his coronavirus diagnosis Friday morning, in a video message posted to Twitter. Less than two hours later Hancock posted a very similar video saying he, too, was working from home and experiencing only mild symptoms.

Click here for the full story on the COVID-19 cases in Britain's government

By Tucker Reals
 

Girl, 16, with no known pre-existing conditions becomes France's youngest COVID-19 victim

A 16-year-old girl has become France's youngest victim of COVID-19. The high schooler lived in Essonne, an outer Paris suburb that's been one of the hardest-hit regions in a country where almost 1,700 have died of the coronavirus.

Her sister told the local edition of Le Parisien newspaper that Julie — only her first name has been released  — had no pre-existing conditions. She said that she had a light cough last week but didn't think it was serious. By Monday, Julie was feeling worse and went to see a doctor, who diagnosed breathing difficulties and sent her to the hospital.

There her condition deteriorated rapidly, and she died in the early hours of Wednesday.

Her sister told the newspaper: "We have to stop believing it only affects old people. No one is invincible against this virus."

By Elaine Cobbe
 

Customer tips $10,000 on day before restaurant's coronavirus-linked layoffs

The owner of a southwest Florida restaurant is trying to figure out who left a $10,000 tip for its employees just before the state's eateries were ordered to close their dining rooms during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 20 staff members at the restaurant were able to split the cash, each taking home an extra $500 the day before they were laid off from their jobs.

Ross Edlund, who the Naples Daily News says owns the Skillets restaurant chain, told the newspaper the man who handed a manager the wad of cash is a regular customer, and he thinks his name might be Bill or Bob. He says the man likes to eat on the patio on weekdays and on weekends he often brings his family for brunch. They'd like to thank him.

-Associated Press

 

Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan and Bill Gates to fund $25M coronavirus research group

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan are stepping up to help battle the coronavirus pandemic through their charitable group, The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. They announced plans to partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "contributing $25 million with Gates and others" to begin exploring possible COVID-19 treatments. 

"I'm really proud to share that CZI's gonna be joining Gates and others to put together something they're calling the 'therapeutics accelerator to fight coronavirus," Chan told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King in an exclusive interview. 

Chan explained that the collective's goal will be "to fund a group to screen all the drugs that we know have potential effects against coronavirus." 

 

Uncertainty rules for many Americans hit by COVID-19 economic woes

Many of the nearly 3.3 million Americans who filed for unemployment last week are worried about paying bills, and what comes after the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control.

Michelle Jarol, of Chicago, is normally focused on fitness. But these days the 42-year-old mother of two is worried about her family's finances. The studio where she works as a fitness instructor shut down last week. Her husband's pay has been cut, too.

"I'm very scared," she told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. 

Click here for Duncan's full report on the strain many Americans are feeling under the COVID-19 shutdown. 

Americans open up about economic uncertainty 02:46
 

House expected to pass massive coronavirus relief package

The House of Representatives is expected to approve a massive relief bill Friday to respond to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The vote is expected at the end of a week that saw a record number of Americans file unemployment claims as the U.S. topped China as the country with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The bill is expected to pass with bipartisan support.

By Grace Segers
 

"Beautiful and sad at the same time": Drone video shows an eerily empty Paris

The streets of Paris are eerily empty. All of France has been under a strict lockdown since March 17, ordered by President Emmanuel Macron in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. On Friday the Paris police posted drone video online that perfectly captures the atmosphere: the grand avenues and boulevards of the French capital completely deserted.

The aerial video shows iconic landmarks isolated — not a human being in sight, and almost no traffic. The Arc de Triomphe, usually at the center of scores of cars jostling for position, stands in solitary splendor; the Place de la Concorde is deserted; and just a few dozen vehicles are visible on the 1.2 miles of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.

The police tweet brought numerous replies, including one comparing the empty streets to Paris under Nazi occupation in 1940. Others remarked on the magnificent images, and one summed up the scenes well: "beautiful and sad at the same time."

By Elaine Cobbe
 

U.K.'s Boris Johnson is 1st world leader to confirm positive coronavirus test

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the U.K. has become the first world leader to confirm he's tested positive for the new coronavirus disease. 

In a tweet sent Friday morning, Johnson said in a video statement that he had only mild symptoms and that he would continue to lead Britain's COVID-19 response while adopting the necessary isolation measures.

Johnson said he had "a temperature and a persistent cough. And on the advice of the chief medical officer, I've taken a test that has come out positive. So I am working from home, I'm self isolating, and that's entirely the right thing to do."

"But be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fight back against coronavirus," he said.

By Tucker Reals
 

NYC mayor says Tesla's Elon Musk "donating hundreds of ventilators to New York City and State"

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said early Friday that Tesla boss Elon Musk was "donating hundreds of ventilators to New York City and State, including our public hospitals."

In a tweet, de Blasio said Musk had made the pledge in a phone call Friday evening, for which the mayor said he was "deeply grateful. We need every ventilator we can get our hands on these next few weeks to save lives."

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with more than 39,000 cases and at least 457 deaths. Hospitals in hard-hit New York City have already been overwhelmed with patients, forcing the set-up of makeshift tent facilities outside some wards.

President Trump, however, said Thursday that he didn't believe the state needed the 30,000 ventilators Governor Andrew Cuomo has requested. 

By Tucker Reals
 

Safe grocery shopping tips for a coronavirus-weary nation

Roughly half of Americans are under stay-at-home orders as coronavirus cases climb, with officials urging the public to go out only for groceries and other essentials. 

So how can you keep your grocery trips safe and efficient? Carolyn Cannuscio, director of research at the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, offers six tips for food shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.  

 

R. Kelly cites coronavirus in seeking release from jail pending trial

R&B singer R. Kelly cited the novel coronavirus in asking a federal judge Thursday to free him from a federal jail in Chicago as he awaits trial on child pornography and other charges, a court filing by his lawyers saying scant precautions to stem the spread of the disease behind bars are putting Kelly's life at risk.

Sanitizer and even soap are hard to come by in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, with most of its 700 inmates held in small, two-man cells that make the kind of social distancing called for to thwart the transmission of COVID-19 impossible, the filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago says.

Kelly, 53, faces several dozen counts of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York, from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying him with girls. The Grammy Award-winning singer has denied ever abusing anyone.

-Associated Press

 

Japanese PM blasted after wife photographed partying under cherry blossoms

At the height of Japan's cherry blossom season, as Tokyo residents were being asked to give up their cherished annual rite of picnicking under the cherry trees, another headache for Prime Minister Abe was a-bloomin'. A photo on the NEWS Post Seven website showed wife Akie Abe right smack where her fellow citizens would love to be — partying with friends under a lush bower of pink blossoms.

In parliament today, the prime minister was sharply questioned over the actions of Mrs. Abe, who, to add insult to injury, was described as enjoying an evening with a model, a pop star and other celebrities.

"This did not constitute hanami in a public park, but a photo snapped in the garden of a restaurant," the prime minister said, arguing the activity did not flout the no-hanami rule. 

"Do you really feel this behavior is appropriate," an opposition member retorted, "when citizens are being asked to exercise restraint?"

While some online commentors sympathized with Mrs. Abe, many said it appeared not only tone-deaf, but that it undercut the government's exhortations to avoid poorly ventilated rooms. "Isn't it safer to party outdoors, at a park, than in an enclosed space like a restaurant?" one said.

By Lucy Craft
 

Trump says he spoke with China's president about the pandemic

President Trump tweeted early Friday that he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the coronavirus.

Mr. Trump wrote, "Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!"

Chinese State TV said Xi told Mr. Trump that Beijing is willing to work with all parties on stopping the disease's spread, including the U.S., according to the Reuters news service.

Mr. Trump has been criticized for referring to COVID-19 as "the Chinese virus," which some see as racist. When pressed by reporters on his use of the term, he's countered by pointing out that China is where COVID-19 originated.

Relations between the two nations have been strained in recent months over numerous issues, including the pandemic.

By Brian Dakss
 

JetBlue to fly medical volunteers to New York for free

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo commended JetBlue on Thursday for donating flights to medical volunteers heading to New York to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. "So grateful for the help," Cuomo said in a tweet.

The airline told CBS News it "remains committed to meeting travel needs, some of which are critical."

"JetBlue is currently working with many of our community non-profit partners and government agencies to help get medical professionals and much-needed supplies to the places where they are needed most," the airline said.

Cuomo said Wednesday that more than 40,000 doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other medical professionals have signed on to join a surge health care force to help battle the outbreak. 

By April Siese
 

Trump questions New York's need for 30,000 more ventilators

Calling ventilators "very expensive" and comparing buying them to purchasing a car, President Trump has questioned New York's need for thousands more of the devices to handle a surge in coronavirus cases. 

"I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," Mr. Trump said in an interview with Sean Hannity Thursday night. 

"You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they'll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they're saying, 'can we order 30,000 ventilators?'"

"Think of this, you know you go to hospitals that have one in a hospital and now all of a sudden everyone's asking for these vast numbers," Mr. Trump continued.

Mr. Trump also slammed the governors of Michigan and Washington, claiming they should be doing more for their states. He mocked Washington Governor Jay Inslee's failed presidential bid and criticized Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for "[sitting] there and [blaming] the federal government."

By April Siese
 

Dr. Fauci calls Trump's plan to reopen the country by Easter an "aspirational projection"

The country's top infectious disease doctor on Thursday night called President Trump's desire to reopen the country for business by Easter "aspirational."

"I think what the president was trying to do, he was making an aspirational projection to give people some hope. But he's listening to us when we say we've got to reevaluate in real time and any decision we have to make has to be based on the data," Fauci said on CNN. 

He noted that with cases increasing in areas like New York City and New Orleans, lifting the national restrictions on businesses wasn't necessarily the best plan to combat COVID-19, at least not everywhere.

After issuing an earlier caution this week that Mr. Trump's suggested Easter timeline would be tempered by medical data and the spread of the virus, Fauci told Fox News that the president was remaining "flexible" and listening to his coronavirus task force.

Mr. Trump, in a briefing this week, said while he would like to see life return to normal by Easter, "we'll only do it if it's good." He said the administration was "very in touch" with medical experts and would follow "whatever they would do."   

By April Siese
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