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  • Some of Atlanta’s most iconic touring destinations are closed to the public amid the coronavirus pandemic, but several of the city’s attractions have joined forces offering free, weekly virtual field trips.  Beginning 10 a.m. Friday, Atlanta’s attractions will host “Field Trip Friday,” which allows audience to take a “digital field trip around Atlanta,” according to a website about the event.  Virtual visitors will see interactive attractions from the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Georgia Aquarium, the High Museum and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.  Leading up to the digital field trip, each of the 11 attractions posted interactive material on its social media pages and websites. The weeklong posts culminate Friday morning with their field trips, which visitors can find on the attractions’ website and https://atlmuseumsathome.org/.  “It’s just a way to keep people — families — connected, and teachers and educators from going stir crazy,” Atlanta Botanical Garden spokesman Danny Flanders told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  For the Botanical Gardens’ annual spring bulb festival, Atlanta Blooms, virtual visitors will get a tour of colorful blooms such as tulips, hyacinths and other flowers that bloomed in late February and early March.  “It was a real disappointment we couldn’t share it with people,” Flanders said, but he hopes they can still enjoy the virtual tour of them.  Other attractions included on the virtual field trips are Fernbank Museum, Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, Children’s Museum of Atlanta, Breman Museum, and Zoo Atlanta. The weekly field trips are expected to run until the end of April, Flanders said.  In other news:
  • A team of Georgia Tech researchers is mass producing protective gear to help Atlanta’s medical community fight the spread of COVID-19.  Using 3D printers and laser cutting machines, the researchers made at least 10,000 face shields, which protect clinicians’ eyes and face from the coronavirus spread by the coughs and sneezes of the infected. For the past two weeks, researchers have been working 16-hour days to crank out the easy-to-clean, reusable protective wear, said Chris Saldana, a mechanical engineering professor at Georgia Tech.  As production increased, the initial team of six researchers doubled to crank out the shields which have a removable headband.  “I think the interesting thing about this challenge is we had to start quickly but also met with clinicians and physicians,” Saldana said. “It helped us to understand the urgency of the issue, both immediacy and volume.”   Thursday morning, Saldana delivered 100 devices to Emory University Hospital. Researchers have also sent shields to Grady Memorial Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Piedmont Hospital.  Emory Healthcare received its first shipment — 3,000 shields with 500 reusable frames — last week after testing some of the prototypes.  “I’ve had some people almost in tears because they were touched when Georgia Tech offered us PPEs (personal protective equipment),” said Kari Love, infection prevention director at Emory Healthcare.  Love said the new shields are sturdier and easy to clean.  “The disposable ones would break down after wiping them down a couple of times,” she said. “It’s nice to have something that’s going to last. We will be able to continue to use them as the weeks pass.” Saldana said Georgia Tech is partnering with manufacturers to increase face shield production to 150,000 per week.  “When we started realizing (the scale required), we had to bring in companies to do that,” he said.  Saldana said Georgia Tech researchers are also focused on finding other ways they can help local hospitals, including creating a retrofit ventilator and incubator boxes which serve as a protective barrier between patients and medical staff in the operating room and intensive care unit.  
  • Metro Atlanta school systems have distributed more than 1 million meals to area students since March 13, when many districts closed school their doors and shifted to online instruction in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus. School leaders said Thursday that they plan to continue distributing breakfast and lunch for the rest of the academic year after Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday ordered school buildings closed through summer. Families have made the daily pilgrimages to school distribution sites where they pick up meals children would have ordinarily received in school cafeterias, including fruits, vegetables, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk. And in cases where mobility was a challenge, districts loaded up school buses and brought the food directly to communities. “Our intention is to provide meals for the duration of the closure as long as we can,” Marietta City Schools spokeswoman Jen Brock said. “If the governor or somebody comes out and says we have to cease doing it, obviously we’ll honor those orders. But as long as we’re allowed, that’s one of our No. 1 priorities during all of this and that’s not going to change.” Experts say the support is critical for Georgians, both for children who would not get breakfast or lunch otherwise and for families seeking a sense of normalcy and routine during uncertain times. “Some families look forward to picking up meals so that their children can see their classmates, teachers, and school employees from the car or at a distance,” said Taralyn Keese, a sociology lecturer at Clayton State University. “Meal pick up becomes an ‘outing’ they can look forward to.” Molly Paulson, a registered dietitian and clinical instructor at Georgia State University, said food insecurity is a problem for many children across the region. “A great number of these kids wouldn’t have meals at all,” she said. For most school systems the biggest challenge is logistics. Schools continue to get food deliveries from distributors, and have been forced to quickly put together pick up sites to keep perishables from spoiling. As word of the distributions grew, schools added more sites, sometimes tripling the number of distribution points. “We were anticipating continuing through the end of April, but now we’ll have to reset for the rest of the school year,” Henry Schools spokesman JD Hardin said. “But we are going to keep it going.” An Atlanta Public Schools’ spokesman said the district plans to continue distributing food in the months to come, but will have a more limited schedule. It will deliver food on Mondays only, but each bag will contain five breakfast and five lunch meals. The Atlanta Community Food Bank, which has partnered with school systems in Atlanta, Marietta, DeKalb, Clayton and Fulton, said it may have to evaluate how much it can continue to help given the increased need. “We are concerned about our supply of food given the rapidly growing levels of demand across the region,” Kyle Waide, president and CEO, said in an email. “We will monitor our capacity to serve very closely in the coming weeks and adjust our distribution patterns based on our capacity. “We expect our food inventory will remain under pressure for the next few weeks until the larger food supply chain can return to a more balanced state of supply and demand than it has been the last few weeks,”Waide said.
  • Delta Airlines stepping up to do its part to help out during the Coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has obviously slowed things down for everyone, including Delta. So they decided to use their Delta tech ops employees at Delta Flight Products, to produce and distribute facial shields, not only here in Georgia, but a couple of thousand in hard-hit New York City, as well. This employee tells WSB he is so impressed with Delta and thrilled to be helping out.
  • More than 981,000 people worldwide -- including more than 226,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise.
  • UPDATED: A day after New Birth Missionary Baptist Church announced plans to hold drive-thru coronavirus testing, the church has postponed the event. The church cited Gov. Brian Kemp’s statewide shelter-in-place order that is expected to go into effect Friday. “To remain compliant with Governor Brian Kemp's executive order, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and various medical partners will postpone the COVID-19 testing scheduled for this weekend,” the church said in a statement. “We look forward to coordinating with our local and state officials to support flattening the curve in Georgia and helping to heal our nation and our world from this global pandemic.” The Stonecrest megachurch said New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Texas-based RoweDocs  planned to provide drive-thru coronavirus testing for 1,000 people this weekend on the church’s Stonecrest campus. The testing was planned to be split evenly over Saturday and Sunday and those tested should know the results in about 24 hours. Senior Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant said many churches are no longer doing in-person worship services, however he felt that while “the building is closed, the vision has to keep going on.” That vision includes looking out for the well-being of the community. He said the church planned to transform its parking lot into a mobile health clinic. This initiative began, said Bryant, when he was approached by a Florida lab that wanted to partner with New Birth to provide test kits. Other partners include health professionals around the metro area. The spread of the pandemic is forcing churches to “live out loud and do what we’re called to do, which is to provide a service.” Here’s how it was to happen: Those interested in participating were to register in advance and go through a medical pre-screening before the onsite test can be administered. Pre-screening was to be performed by RoweDocs costs $25 with COVID-19 testing fees at $125. People should check with their insurer.  Established in 2014, RoweDocs is African-American owned telemedicine company. Bryant  said there are so many people of color  living on the margins without adequate access to health services or little or no health issues, that this was the right thing to do. When it comes to testing, these people are “pretty low on the totem pole.” Priority was to be given to those who are displaying symptoms,  at-risk older people and people with compromised immune systems, then the larger community.
  • After getting sobering projections of medical supply shortages and the worst case of 10 to 15 deaths per day in Fulton County from mid-April through mid-May, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners allocated $10 million in COVID-19 aid for residents Wednesday. The county’s 1.1 million residents also learned that leaving their homes could mean a fine or jail time. Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, interim director of the Fulton County Board of Health, signed an order Tuesday saying violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and subject of fines up to $1,000 and/or 12 months in jail per offense. Her order came the day before Gov. Brian Kemp said he was readying a statewide shelter-in-place order to curb the deadly coronavirus, which has left thousands of Georgians sick and 139 dead as of Wednesday. There are 15 cities in Fulton County, which have made various rules to curb the coronavirus. But Ford’s new order applies to every resident in the county. READ | Banned funerals, shuttered shops: Local leaders confront global virus There are exceptions for the homeless and also things like activities related to health, outdoor exercise and trips to the grocery store. The order does not shut down parks or recreational draws like the Atlanta BeltLine. Each city police department, along with county police officers and deputies, can enforce the violation, said Fulton County attorney Patrise Perkins-Hooker. The board of health can normally do things like shut down a restaurant with roaches, but its powers swell during a pandemic — they can limit travel into or within Georgia, impose isolation, close any facility or require vaccination, according to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. Coronavirus in Georgia | Get the latest coverage from The AJC by clicking here. Though the meeting started with technology problems that made the public comment section mostly unintelligible, commissioners approved the $10 million — $4.5 million of which will support residents and fund meals for seniors, $1.5 million to get those homeless and possibly infected into beds, and $4 million to help small businesses and feed the hungry. There are three sources for the money: $2.4 million came from the fund for county employees performance-based bonuses, $2.6 million was deferred debt service related to Grady, and $4 million by delaying bonds to fund a new animal shelter. The allocation followed a jarring presentation from Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency officials on the possible death toll. READ | Coronavirus causes changes to services throughout Fulton and cities “That was one of the most sobering reports I have ever had in my life,” said Commissioner Liz Hausmann. Doug Schuster, with emergency management firm Emergency Management Services International (EMSI), provided the best and worse case scenarios for several key variables in Fulton over the next two months. The projections, which account for how good of a job people do at social distancing, are based on Fulton already having 15% of the state’s cases and deaths. Best case? Needing 20 ventilators, no hospital bed shortage and 215 deaths. Worst case? A shortage of 128 ventilators, having no hospital beds for 721 sick folks and 602 people dying. Among the most likely scenarios, Schuster said, was being short 480 hospital beds starting in a week. He said the county will likely be 75 ventilators short every day for a month, starting Monday. READ | Resident at Cobb senior living facility tests positive for coronavirus EMA Director Matthew Kallmyer said that if all this seems like an over-reaction but lives are saved, “that would be something we take pride in.” John Haupert, the CEO of Grady Memorial Hospital, said their internal predictions show that Grady is set to lose $78 million due to the coronavirus. “It puts Grady into a loss position. We haven’t seen that in years, but we haven’t had a pandemic either,” Haupert said. Haupert warned commissioners that this might ripple out to their desks. “I would not at this point rule out Grady needing to go to its two county partners for assistance,” he said. Like North Fulton County News Now on Facebook | Follow on Twitter
  • A federal judge has granted a request by a medical sterilizer in Cobb to resume full operations immediately by issuing a temporary restraining order against the county, which had sought to limit its activities.  The order expires after 14 days. Cobb Spokesman Ross Cavitt said the county had no immediate comment.  The company, Sterigenics, welcomed the decision in a statement. “This ruling enables Sterigenics to serve the urgent needs of health care workers and patients, without product limitation, as we begin the proceeding to establish our right to continue the safe operation of our longstanding facility in the interests of public health,” the company said. Sterigenics became the focus of local protests after a July report by WebMD and Georgia Health News highlighted possible increased cancer risk for surrounding neighborhoods due to the facility’s use of ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic gas.  The plant has been closed since summer, at first to install new pollution controls and later pending the issuance of new permits by the county. Last week, County Chairman Mike Boyce, under pressure from the federal government, signed an emergency order allowing the plant to reopen on a limited, temporary basis in order to sterilize personal protective equipment to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  The company sued shortly thereafter to remove any restrictions on its operations, arguing that Cobb lacked the authority to compel it to seek a new occupancy permit to comply with fire safety regulations.  The restraining order comes a day after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General issued a report criticizing the EPA’s failure to inform communities living near “high-priority ethylene oxide-emitting facilities,” including Sterigenics in Cobb and Becton Dickinson in Covington, of potential health risks and actions being taken to address those risks. The report points out that EPA officials only met with residents in Georgia after the public learned of their cancer risks through news media, almost a year after the release of the federal National Air Toxics Assessment highlighting those risks.  The EPA has argued that public outreach should be left to states, the report says.  “We agree that the Agency should continue its ongoing efforts to conduct additional, more refined investigations of risks for communities near the 25 high-priority facilities and the census block facilities,” the IG’s report reads. “However, these efforts should not preclude the Agency and the respective states from promptly informing the communities near the high-priority facilities about the [National Air Toxics Assessment] results and the actions that the EPA and the states are taking to address public health concerns associated with ethylene oxide emissions.” The inspector general concluded that the office’s recommendation is “unresolved,” and officials are requesting a meeting within 30 days with the EPA’s associate deputy administrator. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler responded in a statement, saying “The tone and substance of this report indicates a disconnect in the US EPA IG’s office.”  “Most surprising is that in our final meeting with the IG’s office on this matter they provided no indication that there would be any unresolved issues,” he said. “As a result, we are formally requesting the EPA IG rescind the report so it can be appropriately updated.” This is a developing story...Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that he is issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order as the state continues to battle the coronavirus.

News

  • 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.”
  • 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:  Face masks recommended, though Trump says he won’t wear one Update 6 p.m. EDT April 3: The Trump administration has provided new guidance that many people in the United States should start wearing face coverings when out in public is raising concern that it could cause a sudden run on masks. Though some people already have begun acquiring or creating face masks on their own, the administration’s new guidance would test the market’s ability to accommodate a surge in demand. It was expected to be limited to people in areas of the country hit hard by the coronavirus, not nationwide, as some health experts had urged. 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. The new recommendations were announced at a time when states are bracing for critical shortfalls like those that other parts of the world have experienced. They’re scrambling to stockpile all manners of equipment. 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.