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At least 17 reported tornadoes hit Central US during severe weather outbreak

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iStock(HENDERSON COUNTY, Ky.) — A major storm moving through the central U.S. brought at least 17 reported tornadoes to parts of the central U.S., eight in Iowa, three in Arkansas, one in Missouri, four in Illinois and one in Wisconsin.

In Jonesboro, Arkansas, a violent tornado did damage in the town with six reported injuries. In total there have been at least 190 reports of severe weather in the last 24 hours from the Midwest to the South to the Ohio Valley. The same powerful storm system was responsible for a 90 mph wind gust in Henderson County, Kentucky.

The storm also brought very heavy rain with widespread rainfall totals of 1 to just over 2 inches of rain from Iowa to Pennsylvania.

Flash flooding was reported on roadways and surrounded parked cars in parts of the Cleveland metro area overnight. The system also is responsible for bringing snow from Colorado to Minnesota with 10 inches of new snow reported in western Nebraska.

As we head into the last days of March and begin April, we see the severe weather begin to ramp up dramatically. The U.S. averages around 80 tornadoes during March with the greatest chances across the southern Gulf Coast.

April averages 155 tornadoes through the U.S. with multiple hotspots including the southern Gulf, the central and southern Plains and parts of the Midwest. May, ultimately, is the peak time for severe weather in the U.S. with an average of 276 tornadoes.

This morning, radar is showing heavy snow still falling in parts of Minnesota and then two distinct areas of rain and thunderstorms. One area stretches across the Great Lakes into the western Appalachians where locally heavy rain could cause more flash flooding this morning.

The other area is a more pronounced squall line that is moving through the Tennessee Valley and parts of the Gulf Coast. There is still a tornado watch for parts of Tennessee and Alabama but the watch will expire shortly as the tornado threat is winding down.

Behind the cold front, winds will be gusting up to 45 mph in spots and therefore wind advisories have been issued from northeast Kansas to Ohio for today.

This storm will slide eastward today and we could see some strong thunderstorms moving into the western Appalachians and parts of the Great Lakes.

The squall line in the south will fizzle out during the day and there is a possibility some more storms will fire up in parts of the mid-Atlantic and Pennsylvania, but the threat will be only marginal. Any storms that do develop today could have some gusty winds and hail.

Unfortunately, a couple of disturbances will move in from the south and west by tomorrow and another quick moving storm system will bring the next severe threat to the south by Monday afternoon and evening. Heavy rain is expected from Kansas to the Gulf Coast with some strong to severe storms expected in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. Storms tomorrow could have damaging winds, large hail, and brief tornadoes.

Locally, 1 to 2 inches of heavy rain could cause some flash flooding in parts of Arkansas as this storm moves through the region.

By Tuesday, the threat will slide eastward bringing some heavy rain across parts of the southeast. The severe risk region will be from southern Alabama to southeast Georgia and parts of the Florida panhandle. Once again the threat will be damaging winds, large hail and brief tornadoes.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus live updates: Trump considers enforceable quarantine in NY, NJ; 200 US cities lack face masks

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iStock(NEW YORK) — The amount of novel coronavirus cases around the world and in the U.S. continues to skyrocket. By Saturday morning, the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases around the world surpassed 649,000.

It was just Thursday that the globe reached 500,000 cases, which was double the number of coronavirus cases from the week before.

The U.S. surpassed 115,000 diagnosed coronavirus cases Saturday, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 1,891 deaths in the country.

At least 137,000 people have recovered from the virus during this pandemic.

Today’s biggest developments:
-Global cases top 600,000
-US cases cross 100,000
-Italy deaths reach 10,000
-Trump considering enforceable quarantine in NY
-Rhode Island targets New York

Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

3:00 p.m.: Global death toll surpasses 30,000

The global death toll has reached at least 30,249, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Italy has the highest number of reported deaths, at more than 10,000, followed by Spain at more than 5,800.

2:14 p.m.: Trump strikes more assertive tone on GM manufacturing ventilators

President Donald Trump said he had compelled General Motors to manufacture ventilators, after saying the day before that “maybe we won’t even need the full activation,” referring to using the Defense Protection Act.

“This week, I invoked the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to carry out federal contracts for ventilators and I think they’re going to do a great job. I have to say that,” Trump said in his speech at Norfolk Naval Base.

The president also said that FEMA has “shipped or delivered” 11.6 million N-95 respirators, 26 million surgical masks and 5.2 million face shields.

2:08 p.m.: New cases in Italy continue to slow, but deaths top 10,000

The number of confirmed cases in Italy continue to slow, with 5,933 new cases reported Saturday — a 6.8% increase in total new cases, down from Friday’s 7.3%.

It was the lowest percentage increase to date in the country. The total number of cases in Italy is now at least 92,472, health officials said.

In the province of Bergamo, the hardest-hit province, there was a nearly 50% drop in new reported cases, from Friday’s 602 to Saturday’s 289.

However, the number of new deaths in the last 24 hours hit 889, bringing the total death toll to 10,023.

1:44 p.m.: UN to donate 250,000 masks to NYC

The United Nations will donate 250,000 protective face masks to New York City, an area now considered the epicenter of the pandemic.

UN Secretary General António Guterres said the masks would go to medical professionals in the city who have been “working courageously, selflessly, and tirelessly in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the boroughs in the hope that they play some small role in saving lives.”

The UN and US Mission personnel are working with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office to quickly get the masks to medical facilities in New York City.

1:26 p.m.: Pope, others in Vatican tested for coronavirus

The Vatican press office confirmed Saturday that the Pope has been tested and neither he nor his closest aides have resulted positive.

12:46 p.m.: Trump considering enforceable quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

President Donald Trump said he may announce an enforceable quarantine in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas.

Trump noted that he “doesn’t want to do it, but may have to.”

“There’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short-term two weeks, on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn.

The president said that he would restrict travel from those areas because “they’re having problems down in Florida, a lot of New Yorkers going down, we don’t want that.” He later said such a quarantine would not apply to truckers from outside of New York who are making deliveries or traveling through the state.

“It won’t affect trade in anyway,” Trump said.

Trump said he may do so while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was holding a separate conference. Cuomo said he had not spoken to the president about such a measure and did not know what it would entail.

12:30 p.m.: More than 7,600 new cases reported in New York

There are now 52,318 confirmed cases in New York, after 7,681 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference.

The deaths in the state were up to 728 from 519.

Cuomo did say there was a bit of good news: new hospitalizations and new ICU admissions went down in the last 24-hour period. He cautioned that one day does not prove a trend and the situation certainly could go the other way.

There were 372 people admitted in to an ICU Friday and 172 admitted Saturday. For new hospitalizations, the number Friday was 1,154 and 847 for Saturday.

“The overall line is still up,” Cuomo said. “This is good news on a one day number.”

The governor also announced he was postponing the presidential primary in the state from April 28 to June 23, the date of the states down ballot primary elections.

12:16 p.m.: Trump approves disaster declaration for Massachusetts, Michigan

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Massachusetts and Michigan, ordering federal assistance to the states.

Federal funding will now be available for crisis counseling for those affected in both states.

12:09 p.m.: 1st uniformed NYPD death

A New York Police Department detective has become the department’s first uniformed officer to die after contracting coronavirus, police sources told ABC News.

Detective Cedric Dixon, is the NYPD’s first uniformed officer to die of coronavirus and the third member of the department, after a janitor and an administrative aid.

“We are hurting, we are crying and we continue to fight,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Saturday afternoon.

Dixon was 48. According to police sources he had underlying conditions.

11:46 a.m.: SeaWorld to remain closed

The SeaWorld theme parks will remain temporarily closed, according to a statement from the company. The park had originally planned to open at the end of March.

Animal care experts will still be onsite to care for the animals. “During this time, our animal care experts will continue to look after the health and welfare needs of the animals in our care,” a statement from SeaWord read.

“We look forward to welcoming our valued guests back to our parks soon,” the statement continued.

10:01 a.m.: Nearly 200 US cities lack emergency equipment: Report

Nearly 200 cities in the United States do not have an adequate supply of tests kits or face masks for medical personnel and first responders, including police, fire, and EMTs, according to a report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

About 88% of cities of the cities surveyed, or 186 cities, don’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) other than face masks to protect the front-line workers, according to the report.

The staggering statistics “illustrates the scope and severity of the need for COVID-19 emergency equipment in this nation’s cities,” according to a letter from the conference’s executive director, Tom Cochran.

One-hundred and thirty-one states have reported receiving no emergency equipment from their states, while 84% of those who are receiving help say it is not adequate for their needs.

The report estimates that across the cities surveyed there is a need for 28.5 million face masks, 24.4 million PPE items, 7.9 million test kits, and 139,000 ventilators.

There were 213 cities in 40 states that participated in the survey.

“It is abundantly clear that the shortage of essential items such as face masks, test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other items needed by health and safety personnel has reached crisis proportions in cities across the country,” Cochran said in his letter.

9:53 a.m.: More than 8,000 new cases, 832 new deaths in Spain

Spain reported 8,189 new cases of novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, putting the total number of cases at 72,248, according to the Health Ministry.

There have now been 5,690 deaths after 832 new deaths occurred. More than 4,500 still remain in intensive care.

8:55 a.m.: German Aerospace Center to make masks

The German Aerospace Center will make medical equipment using its 3D printers, according to a statement from the agency.

The printers were tested and can successfully produce protective masks and valves for respirators, the statement read.

The German Aerospace Center had been asked by the European Commission to help in producing much needed medical equipment as the world scrambles to combat the pandemic.

The most powerful printer can produce up to 10 protective masks or 15 valves for ventilators per day, according to the agency. However, it’s possible to increase the quantity through networking with other institutes and facilities.

6:00 a.m.: Lockdown leads to drop in pollution in Europe

Air pollution has dropped significantly across Europe as lockdowns have been adopted and residents are told to stay home, according to the European Space Agency.

Satellite images from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P show the drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which coincides with the quarantine measures, according to the agency.

The most significant drops were in Milan, Paris and Madrid.

Scientists from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) have been using data from the satellite to monitor both weather and pollution over Europe. The images show the nitrogen dioxide concentrations from March 14 to March 25, comparing it to the averages from last year.

“By combining data for a specific period of time, 10 days in this case, the meteorological variability partly averages out and we begin to see the impact of changes due to human activity,” Henk Eskes, from KNMI, said in a statement.

Other countries are also being monitored, including the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Scientists have said that right now there is a larger variability because of changing weather conditions, making it more difficult to observe any changes.

4:43 a.m.: Rhode Island targeting New York travelers

A day after announcing all vehicles with New York license plates will be pulled over by state police and travelers informed they must quarantine if they are staying in the state, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that the National Guard would go door-to-door to make sure New Yorkers are following orders.

“We have a pinpointed a risk that we need to address, and that risk is New York City,” Raimondo said Friday during her daily coronavirus media briefing. She said the 14-day quarantine for New York travelers is a law and will be enforced, “it’s not a suggestion.”

Members of the National Guard will be stationed at bus and train stops, as well as airports to collect personal information form travelers when they arrive. State police officers are doing the same for vehicles they pull over. With that information, Raimondo said authorities would go hotels, vacation homes and any type of residence to keep track of New York travelers.

All these measures, she said, are designed to let the state have time to get ready for the spread of COVID-19. If Rhode Island were to have an outbreak right now, she said the state and its healthcare system would be overwhelmed.

“We are not ready for a surge of cases,” Raimondo said.

New York City currently has at least 26,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, with 450 deaths. There are more than 44,000 cases in New York State. As of Friday, only 28 of the 203 diagnosed coronavirus cases in Rhode Island have required hospitalization. The state has no reported COVID-19 deaths.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Stimulus check calculator: How much will you receive?

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iStock(NEW YORK) — The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest aid measure in American history, a $2 trillion stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed into law. Direct payments will be made to Americans to help offset financial hardships incurred during the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and whipsawing financial markets, erasing trillions of dollars in the process.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said at a briefing Friday that the organization, which represents more than 189 countries, is projecting a recession for 2020.

Measures taken in the U.S. hopefully can offset part of that. Here are some of the highlights of the U.S. stimulus package.

ABC Fresno, California, affiliate ABC30 created a calculator to help show how much each individual will receive. According to the calculator, an individual whose most recent tax filing was “married filing jointly,” claimed two children under 17 as dependents and has a most recent adjusted gross annual income of $85,000 could expect to receive $3,400.

The calculator can be accessed here.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Arkansas woman murdered by same person who murdered her mother 23 years ago: Police

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iStock(HORSESHOE LAKE, Ark.) — Almost 23 years after an Arkansas mother was murdered by a 16-year-old, the convicted killer allegedly killed her daughter, police said.

Deputies from the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call on Wednesday at the historical Snowden House in Horseshoe Lake where they saw a possible suspect fleeing the property.

Police located “a possible suspect who jumped from an upstairs window and ran to a vehicle that he drove across the yard and got stuck in the yard at the Snowden house, the suspect then jumped from the car and ran and jumped into the lake,” according to a post from the sheriff office’s Facebook page. “He was observed going under the water and never came back up.”

Authorities found the body of 63-year-old Martha McKay inside the house and the alleged killer’s body was recovered from the water. Both bodies were sent to the state’s medical examiner’s office to determine the cause and manner of death.

Police identified the alleged killer as 39-year-old Travis Lewis who was on parole since 2018 for the September 1996 murder of McKay’s mother and another relative.

Lewis, who was 16 at the time and tried as an adult for the murders, allegedly killed McKay inside the same crime scene from 23 years ago, police said.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Request for further comment from the sheriff’s office was not available on Saturday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Rhode Island's governor calls to quarantine New Yorkers to prevent the spread of COVID-19

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iStock(NEW YORK) — The governor of Rhode Island is taking extreme measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in her state by sending law enforcement officers door-to-door to quarantine New York residents.

The effort is to stop the spread of the coronavirus to Rhode Island residents by people who were in the epicenter of the viral disease. The number of confirmed cases in the Ocean State reached over 200 as of Friday which pales in comparison to the over 26,000 in New York City.

“This is an emergency,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo on Friday where she specified the 14-day quarantine to people traveling from New York to Rhode Island. “That’s a law. That’s an order. It comes with penalties. It’s not a suggestion.”

The 14-day quarantine is part of guidelines by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Raimondo made the announcement at a press conference saying that the National Guard will seek out people who are believed to have traveled from the Big Apple to shore rental homes. The troops are expected to enforce the 14-day quarantine by collecting contact information from people entering the state from all modes of transportation.

The state police are going to monitor the highways by the Newport Bridge and will pull over cars with New York plates, said Raimondo. The officers will ask for the occupants of the vehicle for their contact information and order them into quarantine if they intend to stay.

“What is constitutional in one scenario is different than in another. This is pinpointed, this is targeted, this is a state of emergency, this is limited in time, and it’s going to be enforced in a respectful way,” said Raimondo. “And it’s a public health necessity.”

Violators are subject to a fine at first and prison time on subsequent offenses.

Raimondo is not the only governor calling for targeted state residents to abide by the quarantine order.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed an executive order to mandate travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14-days once they arrive. He has since extended the order to include Louisiana as their number of coronavirus patients are rapidly increasing.

Fines and criminal charges are also a threat for violators of DeSantis’ order.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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