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    Hundreds of dogs living in largely Alaska Native villages in southwest Alaska won’t go hungry this spring after more than 8,000 pounds (3,629 kg) of dog food were delivered, a humanitarian effort coordinated by two of the nation’s largest animal welfare groups in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The 242, 30-pound (13.6-kg) bags arrived in Bethel, a southwest Alaska hub community, late Thursday on a cargo plane from Seattle. The single employee of the Bethel Friends of Canines worked Friday to break the pallets apart and ferry the bags back to their building. There, the food will be stored for eventual distribution to those in need, including dog owners from about 35 communities dotting southwest Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. “Well, it’s definitely needed, and I think we are just very aware that the supply chain might be damaged in the near future,” said Theresa Quiner, the Bethel shelter’s vice president. “So it’s really comforting to know that we have this stash of dog food now in case people aren’t able to get dog food.” The dog food drop from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States was necessary in roadless western Alaska because travel restrictions and dwindling supplies is making delivery of dog food to the region difficult during the coronavirus pandemic. And it's not just dog food. Quiner said she tried to order flour off Amazon and was told it would take a month to arrive. Many people order their dog food through Amazon. “It’s really heartwarming that these organizations thought of us and just immediately knew that the supply chain gets difficult for everybody all over the country, that the communities out here in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta are more vulnerable than elsewhere,” Quiner said. The Bethel group has been a partner of the Humane Society’s Pets for Life program, which focuses on providing access to pet resources for people living in poverty or underserved communities. The group has been providing services and supplies to Yukon Kuskokwim Delta villages, said Amanda Arrington, senior director of Pets for Life. “When the COVID-19 crisis happened, it just made it even tougher for us to get supplies up to Alaska,” Arrington said. “Even during a good time, it’s not easy logistically. It’s definitely not cheap, and so food supplementation is something that is an ongoing need, and it’s even greater right now.” The humane society ordered and purchased the food at cost from FristFruits Feed of Redmond, Washington. Owner Tim Matts agreed to order and sell the 8,000 pounds (3,629 kg) of dog food at cost. The dog food was delivered Wednesday, repacked on 800-pound (363-kg) pallets and delivered to the Seattle airport for transport to Alaska. FirstFruits refers to the company’s philosophy. “We always believe that you should give the first 10 percent of your profit to the community to help animals and to help people, because we recognize that animals are a very important role in people’s lives,” Matts said. “We’re just grateful we could help.' Lou Guyton, an ASPCA vice president, noted 8,000 pounds (3,629 kg) of food is an enormous amount. “Right now, we’re moving that amount of food daily in our other locations. But to get to Alaska is certainly a challenge, and it’s great to know there are people there who can use it,” she said.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance late Friday concerning the wearing of cloth face masks while out in public. The CDC, according to President Donald Trump, said that people, when going to public locations, should now wear “non-medical, cloth face coverings.” The action is voluntary, Trump said in his afternoon press briefing. Since the beginning of the battle against COVID-19, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that people didn’t need to wear masks unless they were sick and coughing, The New York Times reported prior to Trump’s announcement. Thursday evening, Trump had said his administration would have regulations when it came to the general population and the wearing of masks. Some opportunities for wearing masks while in public would be when going to pharmacies and grocery stores, the Times reported. Many people may now be looking for ways to make their own personal protective equipment or to make PPE for those working the front lines. There are many designs to make, from no-sew options to ones that need some needle and thread. No Sew Supplies: A bandanna or piece of finished cloth Hair elastics Sewn versions Supplies: Paper, to make a pattern Cotton fabric Fusible interfacing Elastic Pins Sewing machine The New York Times has an alternate pattern. Click here for step by step instructions. Kaiser Permanente has also shared a design approved by the health system for donation to hospitals, The Washington Post reported.
  • A Brooklyn landlord waived this month’s rent for hundreds of his tenants. Mario Salerno posted signs on the 18 buildings he owns throughout the borough letting tenants know they do not have to pay April’s rent, The New York Times reported. “My concern is everyone’s health,” Salerno told the Times. “I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.” Salerno had not calculated how much he would be losing from not collecting rent on the 80 apartments, but it’s likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Times reported. “I’m really not concerned about the rent right now, I’m concerned about people’s health,” Salerno told Greenpointers.com. “Not only are we up against an epidemic, these poor people have no jobs and they’re worried about getting sick. I didn’t think it was much on a person like me, who God was good to, to help them all out.” It has helped ease the stress for some tenants who are out of work because of the coronavirus. Tenant Paul Gentile has lived four years in one of Salerno’s buildings. He works as an attorney but lost his job when the courthouses closed March 18. “You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City,” Gentile told the Times. “He’s amazing.”
  • A Michigan sugar company purchased $131,000 worth of gift cards from restaurants in communities where it operates. The Michigan Sugar Co. gave each of its 1,300 employees a $100 gift card from more than 50 restaurants, MLive reported. “We hope this helps ease the pain of this pandemic for those businesses just a little bit,” Michigan Sugar Co. Board Chairman Adam Herford told MLive. The company has also donated personal protection equipment including masks, gloves and safety glasses to Michigan-area health care facilities.
  • A Detroit bus driver who complained about a coughing passenger in a video posted on social media, has died from the coronavirus. Jason Hargrove got sick four days after posting the video on March 21 where he went on a profanity-laced tirade about a woman who coughed repeatedly while on the bus. The bus drivers’ unions said Hargrove, 50, died Wednesday. The coronavirus can spread through the air, health officials have said. “Public workers doing our job, trying to make (an) honest living, take care of our families,” Hargrove said in the video. “For you to get on the bus ... and cough several times without covering up your mouth and you know (we’re) in the middle of a pandemic — that lets me know that some folks don’t care.” The city stopped collecting fares March 17. The buses were to be more thoroughly cleaned and passengers were required to enter and exit from the rear door only. Mayor Mike Duggan expressed condolences and urged others to watch Hargroves’ video. “He was infected before we closed the front doors (on buses),” Duggan said. “Some of his language is graphic, but I don’t know how you can watch it and not tear up. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy ... by someone who didn’t take this seriously and now he’s gone.”
  • More than a million people could swamp the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces in the coming months as employers lay off staff during the coronavirus pandemic. The health insurance markets are a backbone of the Obama-era law that President Donald Trump has tried to demolish. They are now seen as a key option to help protect people from devastating medical bills while they search for another job and new coverage. Nearly 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the final two weeks of March, far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record. Here’s a closer look at the issue. WHAT’S THE RISK OF REMAINING UNINSURED? People would not have an insurer’s leverage to knock down the price of routine care like a doctor visit, but the real financial peril comes from expensive care like emergency room visits and hospital stays. Researchers say a hospital stay of several days could cost well over $20,000 depending on factors like where the patient lives and how much time is spent in an intensive care unit. “Now’s not the time to roll the dice (without insurance) and hope you don’t get sick,” said Peter Lee, executive director of California’s state-based health insurance exchange. WHAT PROTECTION CAN YOU GET? Insurers will typically pick up most of the bill for a hospital stay as long as the care takes place in their coverage network. Several major insurers have recently announced that they also will waive patient out-of-pocket expenses like copayments or deductibles through the end of May or June for coronavirus-related care. That includes hospital stays, which can stick patients with a deductible of several thousand dollars, depending on coverage. Since insurance is complicated, patients should call the 800 number on the back of their card to clarify that coverage. Vice President Mike Pence also said Thursday that the White House will soon announce a plan to implement direct payments to hospitals to cover COVID-19 treatment costs for the uninsured. Last week’s massive rescue package set aside $100 billion in funding for hospitals to handle uncompensated care and other coronavirus-related losses. WHO CAN SHOP ON THE INSURANCE MARKETPLACES? HealthCare.gov and state-run insurance markets normally limit enrollment to a regular sign-up window that starts each fall. But losing your health insurance triggers an opening that allows you to shop for a new plan. In addition to that, several states have started so-called “special enrollment periods” for people who didn’t sign up during the regular window but now want protection in case the coronavirus hits. Those states include Massachusetts, New York and Nevada. Governors and some advocacy groups are calling on the Trump administration to open a similar window for more Americans. But the administration has sent mixed messages on whether it will do so. Consumers may qualify for income-based tax credits to help pay for the coverage. “It’s an important option to try and connect people who are uninsured to some form of coverage during this public health crisis,” said Jennifer Tolbert, state health reform director at the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. More than 11 million people are covered through the health law’s insurance markets, which offer subsidized private policies to people who don’t have coverage on their jobs. The consulting firm Health Management Associates estimates that the individual market could increase by 365,000 to 2.1 million people due to the coronavirus pandemic. That depends on how high unemployment rates climb. Health Management Associates also predicts that the uninsured population could climb from around 29 million people to as much as 40 million with high unemployment. ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS? Some people who have lost jobs might be able to switch to a spouse’s employer-based coverage. Others may see their income levels fall far enough to qualify for a state’s Medicaid program. Employers also may help. The benefits consultant Mercer found through recent online polling that some companies are providing subsidies to help their laid-off workers keep their coverage for a period of time. Mercer also found that many companies that put employees on a temporary furlough will continue to provide benefits, although some may commit to doing so for only a couple weeks. That will vary depending on things like the industry and the financial hit the employer expect to take from the downturn, said Beth Umland, Mercer’s director of research for health and benefits. ___ Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report from Washington, D.C. Murphy reported from Indianapolis. ___ Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy
  • A Pennsylvania man who lost a lung to cancer about a decade ago has survived another health battle -- this time, with the coronavirus. It started as what he assumed was just a cold, but when Richard Botti, 61, started to feel lung pain in early March, he thought his cancer had returned. It turned out to be COVID-19 instead. Because of his previous bout with cancer, he was at higher risk. His family told WPXI they got very concerned when his conditioned started to worsen. “It slowly got worse and he wasn’t getting out of bed,” said Vanessa Venezie, his daughter. “You immediately think the worst because of everything you’re seeing and reading.” He soon tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be hospitalized. However, he pulled through, spending 11 days at Heritage Valley Hospital hooked up to oxygen. Botti’s daughter wanted to share not all coronavirus outcomes are grim. “We’re just really happy and we want people to know there is hope for them,” Venezie said. “Stay focused on the positive. Do things that make you feel good. We can all get trapped in the negative.” Botti was taken back home by medics in an ambulance equipped to handle COVID-19 cases. He has to self-isolate in his room away from his family for two weeks.
  • More than one million people worldwide -- including more than 245,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Friday, April 3, continue below:  Chicago hospital and nurses union agree on hazard pay Update 7:30 p.m. EDT April 3: A Chicago hospital and its nurses union have agreed on hazard pay for nurses working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Illinois Hospital and the Illinois Nurses Association announced the agreement Friday. Depending on assignment, the extra pay ranges from $5 an hour to $15 an hour for registered nurses and from $3.50 an hour to $9 an hour for licensed practical nurses. Nurses on salary also get increases. The agreement will remain in place until either the Illinois stay-at-home order is lifted or the hospital suspends its internal emergency operations. CDC advises public to wear masks as death toll tops 7,000 Update 6 p.m. EDT April 3: President Donald Trump says his administration is encouraging many Americans to wear face masks in public, though he stresses that the recommendation is optional and is conceding that he will not be complying with it. The new guidelines, announced Friday, encourage people to use more rudimentary covering like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks. And President Donald Trump himself suggested scarves could be an good alternative to masks. While these new recommendations were being announced Friday evening, the U.S. death toll increased to 7,077 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Hobby Lobby closes all store locations Update 5:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Hobby Lobby is closing all its stores nationwide and furloughing employees without pay. The arts and crafts store released a statement Friday saying it’s closing its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hobby Lobby also said in the statement that it will be furloughing a large portion of corporate and distribution employees. Hobby Lobby statement: 'As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. The stores will remain closed until further notice. “In order to allow our furloughed employees to take full advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Recovery Rebates provided to eligible employees by the federal government, we are ending emergency leave pay and suspending use of Company provided paid time off benefits (PPTO and Vacation) in accordance with the requirements outlined in the CARES Act (subject to State law requirements). However, we will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, and will pay the cost of employee premiums for these benefits on behalf of employees while furloughed without pay. We encourage furloughed employees to file their claims with their State’s unemployment commissions as soon as possible. Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and any accrued PPTO and Vacation. Our sincere gratitude goes out to our dedicated employees at this difficult time, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them back, once we are able to reopen.” “We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products. Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures. We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores. Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders.” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces stay at home order starting Saturday Update 5:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a shelter-in-place order that will go into effect 5 p.m. Saturday. Republican governors in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia on Wednesday also reversed course and issued stay-home directives after previously resisting such a statewide order. Nationwide death toll approaches 7,000 Update 4:45 p.m. EDT April 3: According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there have been at least 6,889 deaths from the 266,671 cases in the U.S. New York state alone accounts for more than 2,900 dead, an increase of over 560 in just one day. Most of the dead are in New York City, where hospitals are getting swamped with patients. About 15,000 people were hospitalized statewide, most of them in the city. White House to test anyone expected to be near Trump, Pence for COVID-19 Update 3:45 p.m. EDT April 3: The White House is stepping up precautions to protect the president and vice president from contracting the new coronavirus. Starting Friday, anyone who is expected to be in “close proximity” to either President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a quick COVID-19 test “to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,' according to White House spokesman Judd Deere. All visitors to the White House complex already have their temperatures taken when entering the building and if they will be in close proximity to either Trump or Pence. Trump took the new COVID-19 test on Thursday and the White House doctor said results were back in 15 minutes. He tested negative. California reports 10,701 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide Update 3:35 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Friday that 10,701 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the state. Newsom said 2,188 of those infections were serious enough to require hospitalization. He added that 901 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units Friday. “This disease can impact anyone,” he said. “Stay home. Take this seriously.” Supreme Court postpones oral arguments Update 3:30 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials with the Supreme Court on Friday announced the postponement of oral arguments planned for the Court’s April session due to the coronavirus outbreak. Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said officials with consider rescheduling cases from the March and April sessions for later in the Court’s term, if possible. “The Court will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the term,” she said. Arberg added that justices will continue to review cases argued so far this term and post opinions on the Supreme Court’s website. 3,067 COVID-19 cases reported in Tennessee Update 3:10 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Tennessee reported 3,067 total coronavirus cases across the state Friday, WHBQ-TV reported. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Health said 293 of those cases were serious enough to require hospitalization. Thirty-seven people have died of COVID-19 in the state while 248 people have recovered, according to WHBQ-TV. Ohio considering releasing some inmates due to coronavirus Update 3:05 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said Friday that authorities are looking into the possibility of releasing 23 women who are pregnant or have had a child in prison, WHIO-TV reported. Officials said there were also 15 people over the age of 60 who are within 60 days of their planned prison release dates who might also be released. Authorities said all the inmates being considered for early release are non-violent, non-sexual offenders, according to WHIO-TV. Officials with the Ohio Department of Health have reported 3,312 coronavirus cases in the state. The virus has claimed at least 91 lives in Ohio. 1 in 5 Americans killed by COVID-19 middle-aged Update 2:50 p.m. EDT April 3: A first look at recent U.S. death certificate data confirmed that most of the initial American coronavirus deaths were people age 65 and older. But it also notes that about 1 in 5 were middle-aged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the data online Friday. It reflects 1,150 U.S. coronavirus deaths that occurred through the last week of March. That tally is several hundred deaths lower than other totals reported for the same period, because it relies on death certificate information which can come in weeks after other kinds of reports. The new data said 56% of deaths were people 75 and older, and another 23% were people in their late 60s and early 70s. But another 17% were ages 45 to 64, and 3% were 35 to 44. The statistics were smaller for younger adults. One child died. Pennsylvania governor urges residents to wear cloth masks in public Update 2:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and state Secretary of Health Rachel Levine urged people Friday to begin wearing masks in public in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, WPXI reported. Officials stressed that N95 respirator and surgical masks were not necessary. Instead, they suggested people wear cloth masks, a bandanna or something similar to cover people’s noses and mouths, according to WPXI. “Wearing a mask will help us cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander, like the grocery store cashier, the pharmacist, or someone stocking shelves,” Wolf said. “These people are keeping us alive by getting us the supplies we need. We owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them safe. Right now, that means wearing a mask.” Mississippi officials report 181 new coronavirus cases Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 3: Health officials in Mississippi reported 181 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,358, WHBQ-TV reported. Officials also reported three new deaths, according to WHBQ-TV. Statewide, 1,358 people have died of COVID-19, officials said. 2 more federal inmates die of COVID-19, officials say Update 2:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials with the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Friday announced two more inmates have died of COVID-19. Authorities said Wallace Holley Jr., a 56-year-old inmate at the Federal Correction Institution Oakdale I in Oakdale, Louisiana, died Thursday. Officials said Holley, who had long-term,pre-existing medical conditions, tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his death. Margarito Garcia-Fragoso, a 65-year-old inmate at Federal Satellite Low Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio, also died Thursday after he tested positive for COVID-19. He also had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, officials said. COVID-19 cases top 10,000 in Louisiana Update 1:55 p.m. EDT April 3: Health officials in Louisiana reported 1,157 new coronavirus infections Friday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 10,297. Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health also noted the death toll attributed to the coronavirus doubled from the 185 reported Thursday to 370. IMF official: Recession caused by coronavirus ‘a crisis like no other’ Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 3: The head of the International Monetary Fund says the recession sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is “way worse” than the 2008 global recession. IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva described the situation as “a crisis like no other.” “Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill,” she said. “We are now in recession, it is way worse than the global financial crisis and it is a crisis that requires all of us to come together.' Georgieva said 90 countries have already approached the institution for emergency financing. She called on countries to prioritize health expenditures and to make sure doctors, nurses and other health workers are paid. She added that the world’s most fragile countries must be protected, noting that “$90 billion have flown out” and damaged emerging economies. 4,372 new coronavirus cases reported in New Jersey Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Friday that 4,372 new COVID-19 cases have been reported, bringing the statewide total to 29,895. In addition, Murphy said 113 new fatal coronavirus cases were identified. In all, 646 people have died of COVID-19 in the state. Murphy identified one of the victims as James Brown, the principal of Grover Middle School in Caldwell. He was 48 years old. CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin tests positive for COVID-19 Update 1:15 p.m. EDT April 3: CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin announced Friday on Instagram that she’s been diagnosed with COVID-19. “I am OKAY,” she wrote Friday. “It came on suddenly yesterday afternoon. Chills, aches, fever. I’ve been social distancing. Doing ALL the things we’re being told to do. Still -- it got me.” She said she has no underlying health conditions and that overall, she feels “like one of the lucky ones.” “I look forward to being back on (television) and seeing you real soon,' she wrote. She also thanked health care workers for their efforts on the front line of the coronavirus battle. Baldwin is at least the second CNN anchor to test positive for coronavirus. Earlier, reporter Chris Cuomo said he was self-isolating after being diagnosed with the viral infection. Special small business loans available beginning Friday Update 1:10 p.m. EDT April 3: Beginning Friday, small businesses struggling to stay afloat as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the United States can apply for the nearly $350 billion in loans set up through the CARES Act passed by Congress last month. Four programs are now in place to help small businesses to stay in business until the public health crisis triggered by COVID-19 abates. The programs came from the CARES Act which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27. 109 new coronavirus cases reported in Oklahoma Update 12:45 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Oklahoma said 109 new coronavirus infections were reported Friday, raising the total number of cases in the state to 988, according to KOKI-TV. Four new coronavirus-related deaths were also reported in the state, bringing Oklahoma’s COVID-19 death toll to 38. The four new fatal cases involved patients who were all over 65 years old. Pennsylvania officials report 1,404 new coronavirus cases Update 12:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Pennsylvania reported 1,404 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the state’s total to 8,420, WPXI reported. In addition, officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 12 more deaths. Statewide 102 people have died of COVID-19, according to WPXI. 104 new coronavirus infections reported in DC Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Washington D.C. said 104 new coronavirus infections have been reported, bringing the total in the district to 757. Mayor Muriel Bowser said three new fatal cases were also reported Friday. In all, 15 people have died due to COVID-19 in Washington D.C. Delta Air Lines giving passengers 2 years to rebook flights Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Delta Air Lines announced Friday that the company is extending its window to redeem travel credits from one to two years amid the coronavirus outbreak. The change will allow for travel credits to be used through May 2022. “Just as our business is changing, we know that events in our customers’ lives are being changed and canceled, too,” airline officials said Friday in a statement. “Whether customers have been affected by recent schedule adjustments or want additional reassurance about upcoming travel, we’re now extending the ability to plan, re-book and travel with us for up to two years – giving Delta customers some extra breathing room.” Temporary military hospitals to begin taking COVID-19 patients, Pentagon says Update 11:55 a.m. EDT April 3: The Pentagon said it will begin accepting COVID-19 positive patients at Pentagon-supported medical facilities in Dallas and New Orleans that previously had been designated as non-COVID hospitals. COVID-19 positive patients in convalescent care and those deemed non-urgent cases will be accepted at the Morial federal medical station in New Orleans and at the Kay Bailey Hutchison federal medical center in Dallas. These patients must first be screened at a local hospital. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he had approved New York’s request that COVID-19 patients be accepted for care at the Pentagon-supported Javits center, which previously had taken on non-COVID patients. The Pentagon also said Friday that screening for care of non-COVID-19 patients on the hospital ship USNS Comfort in New York harbor is being modified in an effort to reduce a backlog at some New York hospitals. Instead of requiring patients to be tested for COVID-19 at the hospital from which they are being transferred, each patient transferred to the Comfort will be screened by temperature and given a short questionnaire pier-side. The Pentagon also announced that the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the active-duty military had risen to 978 as of Friday morning. That is up 85 from a day earlier. New York reports 562 new fatal COVID-19 cases Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the state saw its “highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started” on Friday. Officials reported 562 new deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,373. 102,863 coronavirus infections reported in New York Update 11:20 a.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Friday that 10,481 new coronavirus infections have been reported, bringing the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 102,863. New York has been the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. UK prime minister to continue self-isolating Update 11 a.m. EDT April 3: Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom said Friday that he will continue to self-isolate past the recommended seven-day period as he deals with a “minor symptom” lingering since his COVID-19 diagnosis. Johnson said he continues to have a fever. “In accordance with government advice, I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes,' he said. “But we’re clearly working the whole time on our program to defeat the virus.” Mayor tells New York City residents to wear face coverings in public Update 10:50 a.m. EDT April 3: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said Friday that residents should wear face coverings while around people who are not part of their families or households to stymie the spread of the new coronavirus. He said in a video posted Friday to Twitter that he’s been asked several times recently whether masks are appropriate for people in the general public. “The masks -- the surgical masks, those N95 masks -- we want to keep those for the health care workers, for the first responders,” he said. “We’re now advising all New Yorkers, when you go outside and you’re close to other people -- not your own family and people under your same roof, but when you’re close to other people -- have a bandanna, a scarf, some kind of face covering you can use when you happen to be in close proximity to people.” He emphasized that the mask does not protect against coronavirus and urged people to continue keeping at least 6 feet of space between each other. “(This) will help make sure that if, God forbid you’ve contracted the disease, even if you’re not yet symptomatic, that you won’t inadvertently spread it to someone else,” he said. “It’s a precaution to protect others.” Cruise ship en route to Florida confirms 12 COVID-19 cases Update 10:20 a.m. EDT April 3: Health officials have confirmed a dozen coronavirus infections on a Princess Cruise Lines ship headed toward Fort Lauderdale, Florida, company officials said Thursday. Princess Cruise Lines said that on Tuesday, crew members on the Coral Princess sent 13 COVID-19 test samples to health officials in Barbados. Of those, samples from seven guests and five crew members tested positive for the viral infection. The Coral Princess had set sail March 5 from Chile, one week before Princess Cruises announced a 60-day pause of operations. It was scheduled to travel to Argentina, where passengers were set to disembark March 19. Stocks open lower after US government reports 700,000 job losses Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 3: Stocks wavered in early trading on Wall Street after the U.S. government reported that more than 700,000 jobs were lost last month. Businesses have shut down across the country and the world as people stay home in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 was up 0.4% in the first few minutes of trading. European markets were down Friday after losses in most of Asia. The price of oil continued to rise on hopes for a global deal to limit overproduction, which helped boost energy stocks. The price of benchmark U.S. crude rose 7%. Grupo Modelo to halt production of Corona beer Update 9:45 a.m. EDT April 3: Grupo Modelo, the Mexican company that brews Corona beer, said Friday in a statement that it will halt production of the drink and others it brews to comply with Mexico’s closure of non-essential businesses. U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March Update 9:15 a.m. EDT April 3: A new report from the Labor Department on Friday showed the economic storm associated with the coronavirus battering the U.S. economy in March, causing the loss of 701,000 jobs, and pushing the jobless rate up by almost one percent -- the largest monthly increase in over 45 years. The unemployment rate was at 4.4 percent in March, not far under the 4.7 percent rate when President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the highest jobless rate of his presidency. 'Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places,' the Labor Department reported. “Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction,” the report added. UK officials report 684 new fatal coronavirus cases  Update 9:05 a.m. EDT April 3: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 684 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 3,605. The number is slightly higher than the 569 deaths reported Thursday. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced 4,450 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases. In all, officials said 33,718 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. Germany becomes 4th nation to surpass China’s total coronavirus count Update 7:53 a.m. EDT April 3: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 54,137 early Friday, and Spain’s total number of infections surpassed that of Italy, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 1,030,628 people worldwide. Four countries – the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany – have now confirmed total infection counts well above China’s 82,509 tally. • The United States has reported 245,573 cases, resulting in 6,058 deaths. • Spain has reported 117,710 infections, resulting in 10,935 deaths. • Italy has confirmed 115,242 cases, resulting in 13,915 deaths. • Germany has reported 85,063 cases, resulting in 1,111 deaths. • China has recorded 82,509 cases, resulting in 3,326 deaths. • France has confirmed 59,929 infections, resulting in 5,398 deaths. • Iran has recorded 53,183 cases, resulting in 3,160 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 34,192 cases, resulting in 2,926 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 19,145 cases, resulting in 573 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 18,135 cases, resulting in 356 deaths. UK field hospital NHS Nightingale opens less than 2 weeks after project began Update 7:41 a.m. EDT April 3: Less than two weeks after crews began repurposing London’s ExCel conference center to accommodate overflow novel coronavirus patients, the NHS Nightingale field hospital stands ready to serve. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, called the timely transformation a “spectacular and almost unbelievable feat.” “(It’s) an example – if ever one was needed – of how the impossible could be made possible,” he said Friday via a video-link from Scotland, where he has been self-isolating after being diagnosed with the virus in March. “In this dark time, this place will be a shining light,” Prince Charles said, adding, “It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings, with countless individuals throughout the United Kingdom.” To date, the United Kingdom has reported 34,192 cases, resulting in 2,926 deaths. Coronavirus cases continue mounting in Brazil, Japan Update 6:56 a.m. EDT April 3: With more than 1 million novel coronavirus cases now recorded worldwide, new – and some old – hotspots are emerging as the pandemic continues its global spread. • Brazil confirmed Thursday its third consecutive day logging at least 1,000 new cases. The South American country now reports a total of 7,910 infections, which have resulted in at least 299 deaths. • Japan confirmed early Friday that 235 additional novel coronavirus cases have brought the East Asian country’s total to 3,329, resulting in at least 63 deaths. • Tokyo reported its largest single-day increase in new cases on Friday with 97. Japan’s capital city has now confirmed a total of 684 cases. Portion of famed Paris market repurposed as makeshift morgue Update 6:33 a.m. EDT April 3: A portion of the Rungis food market on the outskirts of Paris has been converted into a temporary morgue to handle the swelling number of novel coronavirus fatalities reported in the region. According to The Washington Post, the Paris Police Prefecture is converting one isolated building in the world’s largest meat and vegetable market into a makeshift morgue, capable of accommodating between 800 and 1,000 coffins. “This location will permit the coffins of the deceased to be kept in the most dignified and acceptable conditions from a health point of view, pending their burial or cremation in France or abroad,” the prefecture said in a statement, circulated widely among French media. According to a tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, France has recorded at least 59,929 COVID-19 infections since the global pandemic began, resulting in 5,398 fatalities. Libya confirms 1st coronavirus-related death Update 4:35 a.m. EDT April 3: Libya’s National Center for Disease Control confirmed the country’s first novel coronavirus-related fatality in a statement released Thursday. The patient, who was not diagnosed until after hear death, was an 85-year-old woman. According to a tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the North African nation has reported a total of 11 infections to date. Lenders question Friday rollout of $349B small business coronavirus relief program Update 4:23 a.m. EDT April 3: The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program is slated to launch today, but banks tapped to disperse the emergency federal small business loans told The Washington Post they are skeptical the plan is rollout-ready. “Having just received guidance outlining how to implement a $349 billion program literally hours before it starts, we would ask for everyone to be patient as banks move heaven and earth to get a system in place and running to help America’s small businesses and the millions of men and women who work at them,” Richard Hunt, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Bankers Association, said in a statement. The Paycheck Protection Program, considered a key element of the $2.2 trillion economic relief package approved by Congress one week ago, is intended to deliver a “sharply streamlined, same-day approval process unheard of in the history of federally backed small business lending,” the Post reported. Several participating lenders indicated in interviews with the Post as late as Thursday, however, that they are still awaiting finalized program guidelines from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration before processing any applications despite today’s launch date. Amid coronavirus crisis Disney to furlough employees ‘whose jobs aren't necessary at this time’ Update 3:28 a.m. EDT April 3: Walt Disney Co. has officially notified employees that those “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” will be furloughed beginning April 19. The global entertainment empire shuttered all 12 of its theme parks on March 12 and has been paying its employees salaries in the interim. Per the latest announcement, those payments will cease on April 18. The company said in its statement it has been “forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees” because there is “no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses.” All furloughed workers will remain employed by Disney and retain their benefits. Mexico’s Grupo Modelo halts production of Corona beer Update 2:54 a.m. EDT April 3: Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo announced late Thursday it will temporarily halt production of Corona beer as the novel coronavirus pandemic pits essential products against those deemed nonessential. In a news release, Grupo Modelo said the move is in response to the Mexican government’s Tuesday directive that suspends temporarily most industries not deemed “essential” services such as health care and agriculture. In turn, the company plans to cease producing its brews on Sunday with no clear timeline outlined for a return to production. Supplies seized from suspected Brooklyn hoarder donated to medical staffs fighting coronavirus Update 2:32 a.m. EDT April 3: Some New York and New Jersey medical personnel are slightly better stocked after a Brooklyn man’s arrest led authorities to a stockpile of hoarded medical supplies, CNN reported. Prosecutors contend in court documents that Baruch Feldheim, 43, sold N95 masks to doctors and nurses at substantially inflated prices. In turn, the roughly 192,000 in-demand respirator masks and assorted other supplies are being redistributed to medical personnel across New York and New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Sony launches $100 million global coronavirus relief fund Update 2 a.m. EDT April 3: Sony is preparing to launch $100 million fund to provide global relief to those affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Sony extends its condolences to the families of those who have passed away as a result of the coronavirus crisis and extends its sympathies to all those who have been impacted,” Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony’s president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement, adding, “In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community.' US coronavirus deaths hit 6,053, total cases top 245K Update 12:30 a.m. EDT April 3: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 245,000 early Friday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 245,540 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 6,053 deaths. U.S. cases now more than double the 115,242 reported in Italy and the 112,065 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 2,374 – or roughly 40 percent of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 537 in New Jersey and 417 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 92,720 confirmed cases – or more than three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 25,590 and California with 11,042. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • Michigan: 10,791, including 417 deaths • Louisiana: 9,159, including 310 deaths • Florida: 9,008, including 144 deaths • Massachusetts: 8,966, including 154 deaths • Illinois: 7,695, including 163 deaths • Pennsylvania: 7,268, including 90 deaths • Washington: 6,588, including 271 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia and Texas each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections; Connecticut, Colorado and Indiana each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Two canoeists missing since Thursday night have been identified as members of the iconic Kennedy family. Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, 8, disappeared Thursday afternoon while in a canoe on Cheasapeake Bay, The Washington Post reported. David McKean told the Post the family had gathered at a house owned by his wife’s mother, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Children were playing with a ball and accidentally kicked it into the water. Maeve and Gideon got into a canoe and went after the ball. “They just got farther out than they could handle and couldn’t get back in,” David McKean told the Post. The U.S. Coast Guard said wind gusts were up to 30 mph and there were nearly 3-foot waves on the water, the Post reported. A search is still ongoing.
  • For the first time in more than 70 years, top leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will deliver speeches at the faith's signature conference this weekend without an in-person audience in the latest illustration of how the coronavirus pandemic is altering worship practices around the world. The twice-yearly conference normally brings some 100,000 people to the church conference center in Salt Lake City to attend five sessions over two days. This event, though, will be only a virtual one. Church leaders will be inside a small auditorium with only a few other people as the speeches are broadcast live online in 33 different languages. Even the faith's well-known choir will stay at home. The music will be prerecorded. Leaders from the Utah-based faith that counts 16 million members worldwide utilize the conference to provide spiritual guidance, underscore the religion's key beliefs and, sometimes, announce new initiatives or rules. The last time the church conference was held without people in attendance was during World War II because of wartime travel restrictions. Flu epidemics forced the church to postpone the conference in 1919 by two months and cancel the conference in the fall of 1957, according to a church history of the conference. Staying home and watching the speeches on TV or their computers or tablets won't feel much different for many church members, since most watch from their living rooms and attend only occasionally or on special occasions because tickets are limited. The religion has been planning since last year to use this conference to commemorate the 200th anniversary of when their founder Joseph Smith, then a teenager, says he had a vision of God and Jesus Christ in the woods of upstate New York that led to the formation of the church 10 years later. That will likely still be the centerpiece theme of the weekend, with leaders also providing message of reassurance to weary members, said Patrick Mason, a religious scholar who is the Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University. “I expect that we are going to hear a lot of messages of reassurance, like ‘God is still in charge,’ ‘God still loves us,’ ‘God is still taking care of us,’” Mason said. “I think they are going to do a lot to ease people’s fears, ease people's anxieties.” Like most religions, the faith known widely as the Mormon church has taken significant steps to prevent gatherings and religious activities that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19. The faith has shut down its temples that are used for the most sacred rituals including weddings, shuttered normal Sunday worship services at churches and brought home thousands of young people who were serving missions in foreign countries. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia. More than 56,000 people have died from the virus while more than 220,000 people worldwide have recovered, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Mason said it will be interesting to see if the church takes any precautions to adhere to social distancing guidelines for the leaders who will be speaking and in attendance, many of whom are 75 or older. Church President Russell M. Nelson is 95, his first counselor Dallin H. Oaks is 87 and his second counselor Henry B. Eyring is 86. They usually sit side-by-side on stage along with the other members of the top governing board called The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.