(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 19,700 people around the world.
There are more than 441,000 diagnosed cases of the new respiratory illness, known officially as COVID-19, spanning every continent except Antarctica, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
With more than 60,100 diagnosed cases, the United States has the third-highest national total behind Italy and China. The virus has rapidly spread across every U.S. state as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, killing at least 827 people.
Here’s how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:
1:46 p.m.: Calls to 911 skyrocket in NYC
In New York City — where over 17,800 people have tested positive for coronavirus — the 911 call volume has increased dramatically.
On Tuesday alone there were 5,700 calls for medical incidents, a 60% increase over the normal 911 call volume, according to the fire department.
Many of the calls did not ultimately involve coronavirus symptoms, but it shows how nervous people are about any form of illness. The FDNY is urging New Yorkers to only call 911 in a true emergency.
There are 236 members of the New York Police Department and 84 members of the FDNY who have now tested positive for coronavirus.
New York City also still has a higher level of density than there should be, the governor said Wednesday, calling the city parks in particular a problem.
New York City is going to close two streets in each of the five boroughs on Thursday to give more space to joggers and pedestrians.
1:22 p.m.: Italy’s death toll reaches 7,503
Italy, by far the hardest-hit nation for coronavirus fatalities, is reporting 683 more deaths in the last 24 hours.
Italy’s total death toll is now at a staggering 7,503, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency.
Italy’s total number of diagnosed cases has reached 74,386.
But it’s been weeks since all of Italy was locked down, and now the spread of the increase in overall diagnosed cases has decreased to 7.5% — the lowest rate of growth yet.
1:04 p.m.: Maryland extends school closures until April 24
Maryland is extending school closures until April 24 and state officials say it’s too early to determine when schools might reopen after that date.
School closures due to the pandemic have impacted at least 55 million students, according to Education Week.
12:35 p.m.: Air travel plunges to record lows in US
U.S. airline travel is plunging to record lows amid the pandemic. Each of the last seven days set a new record low in the number of travelers screened at checkpoints nationwide since Jan. 1, 2010, according to a TSA spokesperson.
On Tuesday, the TSA screened 279,018 travelers compared to 2,151,913 travelers on the same weekday last year.
12:13 p.m.: Stimulus plan ‘terrible’ for New York, Cuomo says
Infections in New York are still on the rise, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, warning, “we have not turned the trajectory, nor have we hit the apex.”
The state now has over 30,800 people diagnosed with the coronavirus. Of those diagnosed, 12% are in the hospital and 3% are in the ICU, Cuomo said.
At least 285 people have died in the state, he said.
New York now has the greatest need in terms of numbers and in terms of timing, Cuomo said.
The governor criticized the federal stimulus plan that’s being considered by the Senate, calling it a “drop in the bucket” for New York.
That stimulus package “gives us $3.8 billion,” Cuomo said. “How do you plug a $15 billion hole with $3.8 billion? You don’t.”
“It would really be terrible for the state of New York,” Cuomo said.
The governor said he’s asked the White House to send New York the personnel and equipment the state needs, and “as soon as we get past that critical moment, we’ll redeploy that equipment and personnel to the next hot spot. I will personally guarantee it and personally manage it.”
“We can take the personnel from here and the lessons from here,” Cuomo said. “We are going to learn things nobody else has learned. We’ll be the first one through the shoot.”
Cuomo said the numbers are so high in New York in part because “we have one of the most dense, close environments in the country. “
“Our closeness makes us vulnerable,” Cuomo said, but he added, “your greatest weakness can be your greatest strength. That makes us what we are. That closeness is what makes us special. Our acceptance and openness is what makes us so special. It makes us connected to one another, so accepting of one another. “
“I am glad in some ways that we are first with this situation,” the governor said. “We will overcome. We will show other communities across the country how to do it.”
In New York City — where over 17,800 people have tested positive for coronavirus — there’s still a higher level of density than there should be, Cuomo said, calling the city parks in particular a problem.
New York City is going to try closing some streets to cars and opening those streets to pedestrians, he said.
Cuomo also brought good news to Wednesday’s press conference, saying 6,175 mental health professionals have signed up to volunteer to provide mental health services. Free appointments can be scheduled by calling 844-863-9314.
11:20 a.m.: NBA star says his mom has coronavirus, is in medically-induced coma
Karl-Anthony Towns, a player for the Minnesota Timberwolves, says his mother is in a medically-induced coma with coronavirus after days of “deteriorating.”
“She’s the head of our household. She’s the boss,” the NBA star said in an emotional YouTube video overnight. “It’s rough. Day by day we’re just seeing how it goes. We’re being positive.”
To his followers, Towns said, “the severity of this disease is real. Please protect your families … practice social distancing.”
“I know she’ll beat this,” he said of his mom. “We’re gonna rejoice when she does.”
11:04 a.m.: Miami, Wisconsin, Vermont join growing list of places where residents must stay home
On Wednesday morning, Miami residents woke up to a shelter-in-place order in effect. Non-essential travel is now banned and those who are exercising outside must practice social distancing.
In Wisconsin, a “Safer at Home” order went into effect Wednesday morning and will last until April 24.
In Vermont, a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. All non-essential businesses are closing and the governor is telling Vermont residents to only leave their homes if it’s critical to health and safety.
8:48 a.m.: Spain’s death toll now higher than China
The COVID-19 death toll in Spain has now reached 3,434, which is higher than the number of fatalities in China.
China — where the coronavirus first emerged in December — has reported 3,163 deaths, according to the data from Johns Hopkins.
The Spain death toll is now only second to hard-hit Italy, where the death toll has skyrocketed to 6,820.
7:34 a.m.: Attorneys general call on Trump to use Defense Production Act
A coalition of 16 attorneys general are calling on President Donald Trump to fully use the Defense Production Act to prioritize the production of masks, respirators and other critical items needed by health care workers, first responders and law enforcement officers across the country amid the coronavirus crisis.
The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin sent a joint letter to Trump on Wednesday.
“We are on the brink of catastrophic consequences resulting from the continued shortage of critical supplies,” the letter states. “The federal government must act decisively now and use its sweeping authority to get as many needed supplies produced as soon as possible for distribution as quickly as possible.”
Trump signed an executive order last week invoking the Defense Production Act, a 1950 wartime law that requires private companies to prioritize any product orders from the federal government over others. But the government has apparently yet to make any orders for medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment.
6:47 a.m.: Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19
Charles, Prince of Wales, who is first in line to the British throne, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a spokesman for his official royal residence, Clarence House.
“He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual,” a Clarence House spokesman said in a statement Wednesday morning.
His wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has tested negative for the virus, according to the spokesman.
“In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland,” the spokesman added. “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”
Charles is the first child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is the heir apparent to the British throne.
6:21 a.m.: Federal official who crossed paths with Pence at FEMA headquarters tests positive
A federal official who was working at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters on the same day that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited has since tested positive for the novel coronavirus but did not at any point come within 6 feet of Pence nor members of the task force, a White House official confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday.
The news was first reported by The New York Times.
Pence’s press secretary said Saturday night that the vice president and his wife had both tested negative for COVID-19.
5:39 a.m.: Netherlands reports spike in deaths
The Netherlands has reported a 30% jump in fatalities from the novel coronavirus.
The densely populated European country saw the number of deaths rise by 63 to 276, according to Tuesday’s update from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The deceased victims range in age between 55 and 97 years old.
Meanwhile, the national tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 17% to 5,560.
3:04 a.m.: U.S. death toll tops 800
More than 800 people in the United States have now died from the novel coronavirus.
The U.S. death toll topped 800 early Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science.
At least 192 of those fatalities have occurred in New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic.
2:58 a.m.: Senators and White House clinch deal on stimulus package
After a marathon of closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill, Senate leaders and White House officials clinched a bipartisan deal early Wednesday on a massive stimulus package to save the national economy from the detrimental impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the legislation as “a wartime level of investment in our nation.”
“At last, we have a deal,” McConnell told reporters. “We’re going to pass this legislation later today.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the deal “an outstanding agreement.”
“Help is on the way,” Schumer told reporters. “Big help and quick help.”
When asked if U.S. President Donald Trump will sign the legislation, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters resoundingly, “absolutely.”
“Spoken to the president many times today,” Mnuchin added, “he’s very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have.”
Negotiators from the Senate and the White House have been meeting for the past five days, working to reach a bipartisan agreement on the sweeping measure that will deliver government aid to American families, hospitals and businesses reeling from the virus outbreak and the resulting economic fallout. At roughly $2 trillion, it’s the largest economic stimulus package in modern American history.
At least 23 states have enacted policies to close nonessential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus on U.S. soil.
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