- Global confirmed COVID-19 cases pass 2m
- US death toll tops 30k
- Singapore reports another record jump in new cases
- Idaho extends stay at home order until April 30
- UK reports daily data
- NYC mayor says normalcy might not return until September
- Lombardy wants to start reopening May 4
- France reports 1,483 deaths, highest single-day jump yet
- Russia reports record-breaking new case batch
- Cuomo says NY to begin antibody testing this week
- NY will require ppl to wear masks on public transit
- Treasury to print Trump’s signature on stimulus checks
- Wild animals return to the streets of Wales
- South Korea holds legislative elections
- European Commission releases ‘guidance’ for EU states plotting a reopening
- World Bank and IMF hold virtual meetings
- Spain reports biggest jump in new cases in nearly a week
- Iran reports lowest number of new cases in a month
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Update (1500ET): More than 30k Americans have now succumbed to COVID-19 after the national death toll doubled in one week, Reuters reports.
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Update (1430ET): For the fourth day in a row, Russia has reported a record batch of new cases, with 3,388, bringing its total to 24,490.
New Jersey reported a record slowdown in new cases, another promising sign that the US might be at or near the peak.
We now have 71,030 confirmed #COVID19 cases.
• Atlantic: 322
• Bergen: 10,848
• Burlington: 1,261
• Camden: 1,587
• Cape May: 178
• Cumberland: 210
• Essex: 8,579
• Gloucester: 602
• Hudson: 8,511
• Hunterdon: 356 pic.twitter.com/gAMXLwY2jx
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 15, 2020
In other news, the Navy has continued to test sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt after one died on Monday from COVID-19. That crewman had been hospitalized for coronavirus-related complications.
The Navy said Wednesday that 94% of the aircraft carrier’s roughly 4,800-member crew have been tested, resulting in 615 positive results, up from 550 last week. Nearly 4,000 sailors have tested negative.
Five sailors from the Roosevelt were brought to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, with one of them remaining in the intensive care unit.
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Update (1330ET): While the UK, Italy and Spain reported slowdowns in new cases and/or deaths, France just reported 1,483 deaths over the last day, shattering the last record to become the highest single-day toll yet.
The governor of Idaho, meanwhile, extended the state’s stay at home order until April 30.
Meanwhile, Lombardy, the northern Italian region that was an early hotbed for the outbreak is asking the government in Rome if locals can start the reopening on May 4. Some parts of the region were effectively under lockdown a week or two before the rest of the country, but the government realized after making it official that a lockdown would only work if applied to the whole country – a valuable early instinct.
A slowing of new cases and deaths has been more dramatic in Lombardy, which is further along the curve than the rest of the country.
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Update (1250ET): New cases declined again on Wednesday as Italy reported 2,667 new cases of coronavirus and 578 new deaths, compared with 2,972 new cases, and 602 deaths, a day earlier. Wednesday’s rate was the lowest since March 13. Confirmed cases in Italy now total 165,155, while deaths have reached 21,645 as the US widens the gap between first and second-place in countrywide deaths.
Even as the opposition in Italy (like the opposition in Spain) tries to accuse the government of undercounting, the numbers have at least renewed confidence that the lockdown might soon be ended, as Italy allowed some more businesses to reopen this week.
Meanwhile, in New York State, Gov Andrew Cuomo began his daily briefing. For the second day in a row, the state reported a drop in total hospitalizations, meaning more beds are opening up.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 15, 2020
Now that the state’s need for ventilators is no longer a major issue, Cuomo said his next focus is acquiring antibody tests to determine who has been exposed to the virus and successfully developed antibodies – and is therefore presumably immune, though some who have been infected have now shown the antibodies one would expect to fine, meaning they might be at risk for reinfection.
Additionally, NY will be sending ventilators to other states – 50 to Maryland and 100 to Michigan – in a sign of solidarity.
Cuomo said he hopes to test all front-line health-care workers in the state. He’d also like to ramp up testing and tracing efforts. But there’s one major problem: He needs $500 billion more from the federal government to make all of that happen. The state hopes to run 2k of these antibody tests per day.
“To do the testing, you need testing equipment. You need swabs, you need vials,” Cuomo said.
Though he didn’t offer any specifics, Cuomo said that the gradually phased reopening will be determined by two factors: how essential an industry is, and what the infection risk is for each industry. The most essential and lowest risk industries will be opened first, he said.
The governor also said he would sign an executive order mandating that individuals who are in public, especially where social distancing isn’t possible – ie like on public transit like the subway – must wear a mask or other face covering. Asked about the order, Cuomo said he wasn’t certain on enforcement since it will be up to local officials, but he hoped that New Yorkers would take matters into their own hands and ‘politely’ nudge people not abiding by the rule to find a covering.
Per the data shared by Cuomo, 707 NYers died in hospitals, and 45 in nursing homes, over the last 24 hours. Overall, there have been 11,586 reported virus deaths in the state since the outbreak began. More than 2,200 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state on Tuesday as well.
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Update (1030ET): After several false reports earlier this week, the global coronavirus case count has finally surpassed the 2 million mark, according to Johns Hopkins, while potentially hundreds of thousands of cases – perhaps even a million or more – remain uncounted, health officials warn.
The news comes as Singapore reports its highest daily tally of new cases yet, with 447 recorded over the last day, including 404 infections involving foreign workers staying in foreign worker dormitories that have become hotbeds of the city-state’s second wave. Earlier this month, Singapore’s authoritarian government imposed another lockdown with strict penalties for those who violate it. Still, the new cases have been climbing, with the total now 3,699. Yesterday, officials reported 386 new cases, which was the highest daily total yet – until today.
The NYT published a story yesterday highlighting the situation in Singapore – which won early praise for its response, which included swift tracing of contacts to isolate them – and warning that it could be a cautionary tale for those in the US – including the president – who are pushing to reopen the economy prematurely.
Singapore officials have been screening and quarantining all travelers from outside the country since the beginning of the pandemic. Their contact tracing is second to none. Every time they identify an infection, they commit to determining its origin in two hours. They post online where identified infected people work, live and have spent time so that potential contacts can be identified. They enforce quarantines and isolation of such contacts, with criminal charges for those who violate orders.
And yet, in the last week, they’ve put the entire country into lockdown. All migrant workers are confined to their compounds for at least two weeks. Citizens may leave their homes, but only to buy food or medicine, or to exercise. Anyone who breaks the rules, including spending time with anyone not in their household, can be imprisoned, fined the equivalent of $7,000 U.S., or both.
They did all of that, and the virus is still spreading? Well, yes – but keep in mind: the total number of cases is still below 4k, and that’s since the outbreak began in January.
Meanwhile, Iran reported its lowest number of new coronavirus deaths since March 13 on Wednesday, with 1,512 new cases and 94 new deaths over the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 76,389 cases and 4,777 deaths, both numbers likely well below the true figures.
And new research has been published in the UK warning that social distancing measures might need to remain in place until 2022.
Meanwhile, the IMF and World Bank are holding their annual conferences on Wednesday. While the days-long meetings are typically held in Washington DC and represent an important event on the spring calendar, for the first time, they are being held virtually.
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Update (0935ET): After a week where COVID-19-linked deaths in the UK accelerated sharply, the Department of Health and Social Care reported a slowdown in deaths and new cases on Wednesday. The UK reported 4,605 new cases of coronavirus and 761 new deaths, bringing the nationwide total to 98,476 cases and 12,868 deaths. Deaths ticked higher from a day ago, but remained below their daily-total highs from last week.
As of 9am 15 April, 398,916 tests have concluded, with 15,994 tests on 14 April.
313,769 people have been tested of which 98,476 tested positive.
As of 5pm on 14 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 12,868 have sadly died. pic.twitter.com/Rm19fv4jv0
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 15, 2020
The news comes after the Department reported that one in five deaths recorded last week in England and Wales was attributed to COVID-19, a sign that deaths are surging because of the outbreak, according to the BBC.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has delayed paying his 2019 taxes because of the outbreak, as the Daily News reported on Wednesday, said earlier that mass gatherings in NYC might not return until September, meaning no concerts, shows or anything for the entire summer as the world fights off the novel coronavirus.
De Blasio, who just one month ago dismissed the virus as a minor concern, said the city is going to “take this slow and carefully to make sure we get it right.” It also means that NYC’s famous beaches will likely remain shuttered.
Even if the mayor wanted to reopen the beaches, he likely wouldn’t be able to because of a shortage of lifeguards, the Daily Mail reports.
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Had the novel coronavirus never escaped Wuhan, most Americans would be scrambling to finish filing their tax returns on Wednesday, since it’s April 15 – aka tax day in the US. But since the deadlines for filing and payments have been delayed, most Americans probably won’t get around to it for a few more months.
But that doesn’t mean the IRS has been entirely removed from the public conversation. In a decision that is angering virtually all of his political opponents and even many of his supporters, who are bristling at the notion of a White House deliberately delaying badly needed checks, the Washington Post dropped a bombshell report last night when it revealed that the Treasury Department has ordered President Trump’s name to be printed on stimulus checks as the IRS scrambles to send checks to every American who doesn’t have direct deposit already enabled.
It will be the first time a president’s name has been printed on checks sent from the IRS, and officials disputed claims that the payments to 70 million Americans would be delayed so that Trump’s name could be printed on the checks. Trump had been pushing Steven Mnuchin to substitute Trump’s signature on the check, but there were some legal roadblocks. Instead, the president’s name will appear on the left side of the check below a heading that reads “Economic Stimulus Check”. The White House claimed that this batch of checks will be released more quickly than the stimulus checks ordered by President George W Bush after the financial crisis.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that 80 million Americans will have their stimulus checks in-hand by next Wednesday.
Over in Europe, as Spain and Italy start the process of sending more workers back to work, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said EU countries should use a “gradual tailor-made approach” to lifting lockdown restrictions. EU countries must make sure they meet three important preconditions before re-opening can proceed:
- Significant decrease in the spread of the coronavirus
- Sufficient health system capacity
- Adequate surveillance and monitoring capacity
Meanwhile, Spain, which has the highest death toll per capita in Europe, reported the biggest increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in six days. The more than 5k new cases brought Spain’s confirmed total to 177,633, according to the Health Ministry. The number of fatalities rose by 523 to 18,579, compared to Tuesday’s increase of 637.
As socialist PM Pedro Sanchez touts data showing that the virus’s spread has slowed thanks to social distancing and the lockdown policies put in place by his government, members of the opposition confronted his government during a Parliamentary exchange on Wednesday where they accused Sanchez of undercounting the number of deaths linked to the virus across Spain.
“Nobody trusts you anymore,” one member of the opposition exclaimed. This is because Spain, like many other countries, only counts patients who have tested positive among the official figures. Yesterday, after criticisms published in the NYT, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered health officials to count all deaths suspected of being caused by COVID-19, even if they hadn’t been officially diagnosed.
That prompted a nearly 4k surge in NYC’s official death toll, driving the citywide total north of 10k, and driving total US casualties north of 25k (per JHU, the US had 26,059 confirmed deaths as of Wednesday morning).
And as Trump’s critics in the press continue to hammer the administration’s response to the virus (the NYT followed up WaPo’s big hit piece from last week with one of its own this week to keep the conversation alive), ignoring the fact that few governments were truly prepared for the virus, and that the Trump Administration did more during the early days of the outbreak to stanch the spread than most of its peers abroad, the FT reports that the European Commission is holding a “donation drive” this week to try and raise funds for virus research.
After acknowledging a few weeks back that it neglected to count ‘asymptomatic’ patients in its total coronavirus patient tallies, China for the first time released a cumulative count of asymptomatic coronavirus cases. The number? 6,764 – which instinctively seems well below the total number of cases that were excluded from China’ national count.
The German government is set to extend its COVID-19 restrictions until May 3rd, according to Handelsblatt, though details of the Interior Ministry’s plan to reopen the German economy have already leaked.
As the number of confirmed cases in Japan nears 10k, the government has released a dire sounding warning claiming that some 850,000 Japanese could be seriously sickened by the coronavirus, with almost half of them in danger of dying if harsher steps aren’t taken by the Japanese government – which has already declared a state of emergency – to implement more social distancing requirements.
South Koreans headed to the polls on Wednesday after the government decided not to delay a legislative election set for Wednesday.
Before we go, with half the global population facing some level of lockdown or movement restrictions, animals are beginning to venture out into abandoned human territory. In parts of Wales, goats can be seen walking the streets of the town.
“The goats absolutely love it,” said Andrew Stuart, a resident of Llandudno, Wales…”They’re taking the town back. It’s now theirs. Nothing is stopping them,” he said.