At least 495,000 people worldwide -- including more than 75,000 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.
Live updates for Thursday, March 26, continue below:
Canada urges US not to put troops at border
Update 11:25 p.m. EDT March 26: Canada said Thursday it told the Trump administration that a proposal to put troops at the U.S.-Canada border amid the coronavirus pandemic was entirely unnecessary and would damage relations between the two longtime allies.
The Wall Street Journal, citing an unidentified U.S. official, later reported that the Trump administration had dropped its consideration of the plan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government had been in discussions with the White House seeking to persuade the U.S. not to do it.
“Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” Trudeau said.
Trump said the U.S. has troops at the border but then said he would need to find out about that. He then suggested he would deploy troops along the Canadian border to match what is being done at the Mexican border.
Delaware reports its first 2 coronavirus deaths
Update 10:30 p.m. EDT March 26: Officials on Thursday announced Delaware’s first two coronavirus deaths, including one that occurred after the first known outbreak at a long-term care facility in the state.
The death of an 86-year-old man who had lived at Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark was announced Thursday night in a news release from state health officials. The man had underlying medical conditions, officials said. Six residents of the nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort to deploy to New York City
Update 6:15 p.m. EDT March 26: President Donald Trump says he will travel to Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday to see off a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship that will relieve the pressure on New York hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients.
Trump says he told New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the ship will arrive in New York Harbor on Monday.
Trump said in a White House press conference that he’ll “kiss it goodbye” and that the ship is “loaded up to the top” with medical supplies.
The announcement of the USNS Comfort’s planned deployment comes as New York City-area hospitals are clearing out beds, setting up new spaces to triage patients and urging people with mild symptoms to consult health professionals by phone or video chat instead of overrunning emergency rooms.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York had climbed to 3,800 this week, including close to 900 in intensive care, with the peak of the outbreak weeks away.
US overtakes China with highest number of cases in the world
Update 5 p.m. EDT March 26: The United States now leads the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
According to a running count by Johns Hopkins University, the number of people infected in the U.S. topped 82,000 on Thursday. That’s just ahead of the 81,000 cases in China and 80,000 in Italy.
Italy has the most confirmed deaths of any country with more than 8,000. More than 1,000 people have died in the U.S.
Idaho reports first three deathsUpdate
4:30 p.m. EDT March 26: The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced Thursday that three people have died related to COVID-19. These are the state’s first deaths from the outbreak.All three cases were patients over the age of 60. One of the patients had an underlying health issues.
17-year-old dies of COVID-19 in Louisiana; 83 total deaths reported in the state
Update 3:55 p.m. EDT March 26: A 17-year-old from Orleans Parish, Louisiana, was one of 18 people in the state who have died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to numbers released by the Louisiana Department of Health.
Health officials recorded 510 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 2,305. Coronavirus has now been found in 53 of 64 parishes, although Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he believes it’s present in every parish, even as statewide mandates banning crowds and closing businesses continue.
“We won’t see the impact of the distancing and the closing of schools and people staying home for a couple of weeks. ... We are not near the peak of this yet,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, an infectious disease expert and chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
New Hampshire governor issues statewide stay-at-home order
Update 3:50 p.m. EDT March 26: Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire on Thursday announced plans to issue a stay-at-home order for the state, effective beginning 11:59 p.m. Friday.
“This is not a step we take lightly,” Sununu said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Disrupting daily life in (New Hampshire) should be something that is only done in the greatest of emergencies.”
THREAD: Today, I announced that the State of New Hampshire will be issuing a Stay-at-Home order and directing all non-essential businesses that have not already voluntarily closed to end in-person and public-interacting operations by 11:59 PM tomorrow, March 27, 2020. pic.twitter.com/wLO7KZB2hj— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) March 26, 2020
Does your blood type determine your likeliness for getting COVID-19?
Update 3:30 p.m. EDT March 26: A research report by scientists in China suggesting that people with certain blood types may be more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus has been shared on social media and reported by media outlets in the past weeks, causing some to wonder if they are more likely to get the virus because of their genetics.
The study looked at more than 2,000 patients in China who tested positive for COVID-19. The study involved patients from three hospitals in Wuhan and Shenzhen, China, the area of the country where it is believed the virus was first transmitted to humans.
Army sending field hospitals to New York City
Update 3:25 p.m. EDT March 26: U.S. Army leaders said Thursday that two field hospitals are on their way to New York City and will be able to begin treating patients at the Javits Center on Monday.
The Army combat units from Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, will include as many as 700 personnel and almost 300 beds. Those medical personnel will also be able to help staff additional beds and medical equipment that are being brought in by state and local authorities.
Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army, said they will begin setting up the units this weekend at the center. Officials expect there will be a couple thousand beds in the center to treat patients that do not have the virus.
An Army combat hospital from Fort Carson, Colorado, will be heading to Seattle. McConville said advance staff are already there, and are working with local officials to review several potential locations to set up the unit.
UK health officials report 115 new coronavirus deaths
Update 2:35 p.m EDT March 26: Health officials in the United Kingdom said 115 new coronavirus deaths have been reported, bringing the country’s COVID-19 death toll to 578.
As of Thursday morning local time, officials said 11.658 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the U.K.
UPDATE on coronavirus (#COVID19) testing in the UK:— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 26, 2020
As of 9am 26 March, a total of 104,866 have been tested:
As of 5pm on 25 March, of those hospitalised in the UK, 578 have sadly died. pic.twitter.com/lHKa29lab7
Pelosi eyes fourth coronavirus package in Congress
Update 2:30 p.m. EDT March 26: The morning after the U.S. Senate unanimously approved an unprecedented $2 trillion economic rescue package to confront the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she was already thinking ahead to the next congressional move to spur economic growth.
“We have to do more,” the Speaker said at a U.S. Capitol news conference, as she told reporters about a phone conversation with Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. “The Chairman of the Fed, Mr. Powell said to me, ‘Interest rates are low, think big.'"
Drew Brees commits $5M to help Louisiana amid COVID-19
Update 2:20 p.m. EDT March 26: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, will donate $5 million over the course of the year to support Louisiana as the state reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time,” Brees said in a post Thursday on Instagram. “Let’s all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together.”
Brees said the money would go toward preparing and delivering more than 10,000 meals each day throughout the state. He said he hopes to fund the program “for as long as it takes to children on meal programs, seniors, and families in need.”
View this post on Instagram
Brittany and I are committing $5,000,000 to the State of Louisiana in 2020. The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time. After considerable research and conversations with local organizations, we will be mobilizing our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana for as long as it takes to children on meal programs, seniors, and families in need. Let’s all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together.
Remington Arms offers to build hospital supplies
Update 1:55 p.m. EDT March 26: Remington Arms has offered to build hospital supplies, including ventilators, surgical masks and beds, as states continue to battle the spread and health industry pressure expected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company offered nearly 1 million square feet of unused manufacturing space at a plant in Ilion, New York, Remington Arms CEO Ken D’Arcy said in a letter Monday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump, the Ithaca Journal reported.
4,492 new COVID-19 cases reported in Italy
Update 1:50 p.m. EDT March 26: Health officials in Italy reported 4,492 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, bringing the country’s total number of cases to 80,539. The cases put the country just behind China, which has thus far reported the most number of 2019 novel coronavirus cases in the world at 81,848 cases.
At least 8,165 people have died of COVID-19 in China, the highest number of deaths connected to the virus in any country in the world.
Globally, more than 495,000 coronavirus cases had been reported by Thurday afternoon, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Indy 500 postponed until August
Update 1:35 p.m. EDT March 26: Organizers announced the postponement Thursday of the Indianapolis 500 until August due to the threat posed by the 2019 novel coronavirus.
The race had been scheduled for May 24. Organizers said it will instead be held Aug. 23.
“I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule the Indianapolis 500,” Roger Penske said Thursday in a statement. “However, the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing.”
Month of May update from @INDYCAR and @IMS:— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) March 26, 2020
The Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge has been rescheduled for Sunday, Aug. 23 and the GMR Grand Prix will move to Saturday, July 4.
Full details: https://t.co/WDCpllAZZO pic.twitter.com/p69KMYvD1K
Columbia University to allow medical students to graduate early to help with COVID-19
Update 1:15 p.m. EDT March 26: Columbia University officials told ABC News on Thursday that they plan to allow medical students to graduate early so that they can help in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The university is the second in New York to announce such a decision. On Thursday, officials with New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine announced they would allow select medical students to graduate early.
Excited to share that pending approval from @NYSEDNews and #LCME, @NYUGrossman will allow select medical students to graduate early to get more physicians into the health system more quickly, as we fight the growing spread of #COVID19 #allhandsondeck #NYULangoneHeroes— NYU Grossman School of Medicine (@nyugrossman) March 25, 2020
New York has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 37,258 cases had been reported in the state as of Thursday morning, far more than reported in the second-hardest hit state, New Jersey. Officials in New Jersey had recorded 4,402 cases and 62 deaths from the novel coronavirus as of Thursday.
Cuomo said that as of Thursday, 385 people had died of COVID-19 in New York.
FBI arrests man accused of claiming to have developed COVID-19 cure
Update 12:40 p.m. EDT March 26: The FBI has arrested a Southern California man who officials said falsely claimed to have developed a cure for the coronavirus.
The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement that Keith Lawrence Middlebrook told his 2.4 million Instagram followers that his company would return hundreds of millions of dollars in profit and solicited investments in the company to market the medication.
The statement said Middlebrook claimed he had developed pills to prevent COVID-19 infections and a drug to cure those suffering from the virus.
There are no known cures or vaccinations for the coronavirus. It wasn’t known if Middlebrook has an attorney who could comment.
Georgia schools to remain closed until April 24
Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 26: Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed an executive order Thursday ordering public schools to remain closed until at least April 24 as officials work to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Georgia State Sen. Jen Jordan told WSB-TV that Kemp will make a decision on the remainder of the school year in the next few weeks.
Health officials said that as of Thursday, 1,525 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state, including 48 deaths.
REAL ID deadline postponed by 1 year
Update 12:25 p.m. EDT March 26: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday the that new deadline for Americans to get a REAL ID will be Oct. 1, 2021.
The date was announced after President Donald Trump said earlier this week that the deadline, which was Oct. 1, 2020, would be extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The federal, state and local response to the spread of the coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Thursday in a statement.
“States across the country are temporarily closing or restricting access to DMVs. This action will preclude millions of people from applying for and receiving their REAL ID. Extending the deadline will also allow the Department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes.”
More than 2,000 COVID-19 cases reported in Florida
Update 12:15 p.m. EDT March 26: Health officials in Florida on Thursday announced 378 new novel coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 2,355 cases.
Officials also reported five more deaths, bringing the state’s total to 28.
Officials with the Orange County Fire Rescue Department said one of its firefighters has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, according to WFTV. As a precaution, 15 firefighters were placed under self-quarantine.
Over 37,000 coronavirus cases reported in New York
Update 12 p.m. EDT March 26: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said that as of Thursday, 37,258 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the state.
The number includes 5,327 cases which required patients to be hospitalized, 1,290 of which were being treated in intensive care units. Cuomo said 1,517 people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 have since been discharged.
Health officials reported 100 more COVID-19 deaths in New York on Thursday for a total of 385 deaths. Cuomo said experts expect that number to rise, as several people infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus have been on ventilator for several days. He noted that the longer a person is on a ventilator, the less likely he or she is to recover.
We mourn the 385 New Yorkers we have lost to Coronavirus-related illnesses.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 26, 2020
Tragically, we expect the number to rise as many patients have been on ventilators for weeks.
NY will keep fighting flat out to save lives.
Help us save lives by staying home.#NewYorkTough
2 Grand Princess cruise passengers die of COVID-19
Update 11:35 a.m. EDT March 26: Two passengers who were on the Grand Princess cruise ship have died due to complications from the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.
The Grand Princess docked earlier this month in Oakland, California, after several people on the ship tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said two men in their 60s who had been on the cruise have died. The first passenger died March 21 and the second died March 23, according to the Chronicle.
Of the 1,103 people who chose to be tested after boarding the grand Princess, 103 tested positive and 699 tested negative, according to KTVU.
NBCUniversal CEO says he tested positive for COVID-19
Update 11:15 a.m. EDT March 26: In a message sent Thursday to employees, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said he’s tested positive for COVID-19, NBC News reported.
NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News.
“I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19," Shell said in the email, according to NBC News. "Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in LA and am improving every day.”
Pelosi: House expected to vote on COVID-19 stimulus bill Friday
Update 11:05 a.m. EDT March 26: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she expects the U.S. House of Representatives to vote Friday on a proposed $2.2 trillion economic aid package aimed at helping Americans struggling with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“I feel certain that we will have a strong bipartisan vote,” Pelosi said Thursday at a news conference.
Late Wednesday, senators voted unanimously in favor of the mammoth economic rescue package, which steers aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.
U.S. sailor in southern Spain tests positive for novel coronavirus
Update 10:50 a.m. EDT March 26: Officials say a U.S. Navy sailor stationed at a naval base in southern Spain has tested positive for the coronavirus.
A statement from Naval Station Rota says an investigation is under way to track who had contact with the sailor.
The base supports U.S. and NATO vessels.
Arnold Schwarzenegger donates $1M toward COVID-19 relief efforts
Update 10:40 a.m. EDT March 26: Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Tuesday in an Instagram post that he pledged $1 million to the Frontline Responders Fund, a GoFundMe campaign that aims to get face masks, gloves and surgical gowns to first responders.
“This is a simple way to protect our real action heroes on the frontlines in our hospitals, and I’m proud to be part of it,” Schwarzenegger wrote.
View this post on Instagram
I never believed in sitting on the couch and complaining about how bad things are, I always believed we should all do our part to make things better. This is a simple way to protect our real action heroes on the frontlines in our hospitals, and I’m proud to be part of it. I donated 1 million dollars, and I hope that all of you who can will step up to support these heroes. Go to the link in my bio to help out.
157 new COVID-19 cases reported in Maryland
Update 10:20 a.m. EDT March 26: Health officials in Maryland reported 157 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, marking the “largest one-day increase to date,” Gov. Larry Hogan said.
The cases bring the total number of novel coronavirus cases to 580 in the state.
“We are only at the beginning of this crisis, in our state, in the National Capital Region, and in America,” Hogan said Thursday, adding that he expects cases to continue to “dramatically and rapidly rise.”
“This battle is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone comprehends," he said. "We have never faced anything like this ever before, and I continue to urge the people of our state to stay in place at home and stay safe.”
The State of Maryland now has 580 confirmed cases of #COVID19—an increase of 157 new cases, which is by far the largest one-day increase to date. There are more than 1,200 confirmed cases in the National Capital Region—in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 26, 2020
Death toll climbs past 4,000 in Spain
Update 9:55 a.m. EDT March 26: Health officials in Spain reported 655 new COVID-19 deaths Thursday, bringing the country’s death toll from the 2019 novel coronavirus to 4,089.
The number reported Thursday was lower than the number of new deaths reported Wednesday -- 738 -- which appears to support comments from health officials suggesting that the rise in the number of daily deaths might be stabilizing in the country, The Guardian reported.
“If we are not already at the peak, we are very close,” Fernando Simon, head of Spain’s health emergency center, said Wednesday, according to The Guardian.
Officials have recorded 56,188 COVID-19 cases in Spain, making it the fourth-hardest country hit by the virus. Health officials in China have reported 81,782 cases while officials in Italy have reported 74,386 cases and officials in the the U.S. have reported 69,197 cases, according to the latest numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The outbreak is straining Spain’s health care system, with medical staff struggling to treat the infected amid a shortage of protective gear and enough ventilator machines and other medical equipment.
COVID-19 home test kits launch in Washington state
Update 9:30 a.m. EDT March 26: People in King County, Washington, are getting the first rounds of at-home test kits for COVID-19. A new group called the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network is mailing out 300 kits every day.
The group is made up of researchers from the Seattle Flu Study and Seattle King County Public Health. They are testing sick and healthy people, plus both kids and adults.
“By testing a broad sample of people in different communities, we’ll have a more detailed understanding of where the virus exists and who is being affected," Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County, said on the Public Health Insider blog.
“This is important information that can help us learn about the true severity of infection, whether the community measures being taken to reduce its spread are working or need to be adjusted.”
Home #COVID19 test kits are getting shipped to people around Seattle/ King County!— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) March 26, 2020
Talked with someone who just mailed his back to the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network.
They send out ~300 every day & you can sign up at https://t.co/hLgDAPPjYJ but they go fast. #KIRO7 pic.twitter.com/La3AYxhlOa
New York City health care worker dies
Update 9:25 a.m. EDT March 26: A nursing manager who had been treating COVID-19 patients at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital has died, according to reports and hospital officials.
In a statement posted on social media, officials with the Mount Sinai Health System said a member of the hospital’s nursing staff died. He was identified by WNBC as Mount Sinai West nursing manager Kious Jordan Kelly.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of a beloved member of our nursing staff,” Mount Sinai Health System officials said in the statement. “This growing crisis is not abating and has already devastated hundreds of families in New York and turned our frontline professionals into true American heroes. Today, we lost another hero -- a compassionate college, friend and selfless caregiver.”
We are deeply saddened by the passing of a beloved member of our nursing staff. Today, we lost another hero - a compassionate colleague, friend and selfless caregiver. pic.twitter.com/mn9JethD1x— Mount Sinai Health System (@MountSinaiNYC) March 26, 2020
Kylie Jenner donates $1M to get medical supplies to first responders
Update 9:05 a.m. EDT March 26: Reality TV star and cosmetics mogul Kylie Jenner has donated $1 million to provide first responders with face masks and other supplies during the coronavirus pandemic, her doctor said.
According to “Good Morning America,” Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi, a Los Angeles-based obstetrician, shared the news on social media Wednesday.
View this post on Instagram
I am speechless, my eyes are filled with tears of joy and my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. I made a wish to the Universe to gather protective masks for our brave healthcare workers and today my dream came true. One of my patients, a beautiful Living Angel just donated $1,000,000 to help us buy hundreds of thousands of masks, face shields, and other protective gear which we will have delivered directly to our first responders, as too many masks at hospitals are disappearing before making their way onto the faces of our front line heroes. I have never felt more blessed to be a doctor, as helping our brave ER and ICU workers feels just as gratifying as helping my own patients. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU @kyliejenner ❤️. You are my hero. This generous donation will help save many precious lives. Our world is a better place with you in it. I love you so much. Thank you X a million....
US unemployment claims hit 3.3 million
Update 8:40 a.m. EDT March 26: Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.
The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is doing to the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs.
The pace of layoffs is sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession. Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms, and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have close factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they're cutting jobs to save money.
As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.
Global coronavirus deaths surpasses 22K, worldwide cases top 487K
Update 7:49 a.m. EDT March 26: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 22,030 early Thursday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
In the three months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 487,648 people worldwide.
• Italy has confirmed 74,386 cases, resulting in 7,503 deaths.
• The United States has reported 69,197 confirmed cases, resulting in 1,046 deaths.
• Spain has confirmed 49,515 infections, resulting in 4,089 deaths.
• Germany has reported 39,355 cases, resulting in 222 deaths.
• Iran has recorded 29,406 cases, resulting in 2,234 deaths.
• France has confirmed 25,604 infections, resulting in 1,333 deaths.
• Switzerland has confirmed 11,027 cases, resulting in 165 deaths.
• The United Kingdom has reported 9,642 cases, resulting in 467 deaths.
• South Korea has recorded 9,241 cases, resulting in 131 deaths.
• The Netherlands has confirmed 6,440 cases, resulting in 357 deaths.
Bosch develops coronavirus test kit
Update 7:26 a.m. EDT March 26: German engineering group Robert Bosch GmbH said Thursday its health care technology unit Bosch Healthcare Solutions had developed a rapid test for COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The test – developed in tandem with molecular diagnostics group Randox Laboratories Ltd. – is touted for producing reliable results within a few short hours that meets World Health Organization standards.
Read more here.
Renowned Congolese human rights lawyer dies from coronavirus
Update 7:12 a.m. EDT March 26: Jean-Joseph Mukendi wa Mulumba, a lifelong defender of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has died of coronavirus.
Mukendi, 73, died in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, The Washington Post reported.
According to the BBC, Mukendi may have contracted the virus which causes COVID-19 while on a recent trip to France for a medical checkup.
Read more here.
NJ nursing home evacuates all 94 residents, presumed positive for coronavirus
Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 26: A nursing home in Woodbridge, New Jersey, was forced to evacuate its entire resident list on Wednesday after all 94 of them are believed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.
According to the Morrison Daily Record, state health officials had ordered St. Joseph’s Senior Nursing Home to transfer its entire residential to another facility.
At least two dozen of the center’s residents have already tested positive, and at least 12 employees are suffering respiratory symptoms consistent with the virus, which causes COVID-19, The Washington Post reported.
Read more here.
Priest living in same Vatican residence as pope tests positive, report says
Update 6:52 a.m. EDT March 26: An Italian priest who lives in the same Vatican residence as Pope Francis has tested positive for the coronavirus, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported Wednesday night.
According to The Washington Post, the Vatican did not confirm the infection nor address if the pope has been tested.
Read more here.
US hospitals weigh universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients
Update 6:40 a.m. EDT March 26: In a bid to protect medical staff from contagion, front-line hospitals are beginning to discuss the possibility of taking drastic measures as the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Washington Post, hospitals are grappling with the possibility – however remote – that adopting universal do-not-resuscitate policies might become necessary to balance equipment and resources against unmanageable patient surge.
Read more here.
UK’s National Health Service attracts 500K volunteers
Update 6:16 a.m. EDT March 26: More than half a million people in the United Kingdom have signed up as volunteers to support the country’s novel coronavirus response, being led by the National Health Service.
Matt Hancock, the UK’s health secretary, tweeted his praise for the response, considering the government expected less than half as many people to volunteer.
Soccer match in Italy linked to epicenter of deadly coronavirus outbreak
Update 5:46 a.m. EDT March 26: A February soccer match appears to be linked to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in Italy’s Bergamo province.
According to The Washington Post, the Feb. 19 Championship League contest in Milan attracted more than 40,000 Bergamo residents, and within weeks Bergamo became the hardest hit province in the hardest-hit region, Lombardi, of Europe’s hardest-hit nation to grapple with virus and its rampant spread.
Giorgio Gori, mayor of the city sharing its name with the Bergamo province, spoke with Agence France-Presse to provide context.
“Some 40,000 Bergamo inhabitants went to Milan to watch the game. Others watched it from their homes, in families, in groups, at the bar,” Gori said, adding, “It’s clear that evening was a situation in which the virus was widely spread.”
Spain extends coronavirus-induced state of emergency
Update 4:13 a.m. EDT March 26: The Spanish government will extend the country’s current state of emergency until April 12 after Wednesday’s novel coronavirus death toll surpassed China’s.
By early Thursday morning, Spain had confirmed a total of 49,515 infections, which have resulted in at least 3,647 deaths.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez reiterated to the public Wednesday that “social isolation is the only way to stop this virus” and encouraged residents to remain vigilant.
Bolivia enacts nationwide lockdown, state of emergency, border closings
Update 4:02 a.m. EDT March 26: Jeanine Anez, Bolivia’s interim president, declared a nationwide lockdown and state of emergency on Wednesday, expected to last through April 15, CNN reported.
In an address to the nation late Wednesday, Anez said Bolivians hadn’t followed the government-ordered mandatory quarantine measures, so the risk of infection is now higher and more stringent containment measures are needed, the network reported.
"No one leaves, nor does anyone enter the country, except for security and health reasons," Anez said.
Bolivia has confirmed 39 coronavirus cases and zero deaths.
New Zealand records largest single-day spike in coronavirus cases
Update 3:47 a.m. EDT March 26: The New Zealand Ministry of Health confirmed 73 new coronavirus patients and identified five additional presumptive cases in the past 24 hours, CNN reported.
"Of our new cases today, the majority still have a link to overseas travel, including being in the same household as someone who has returned from overseas, have attended a known event or linked to a cluster of other cases or are close contacts of a confirmed case," the ministry said.
To date, New Zealand officials have confirmed a total of 262 infections.
Florida-bound cruise ship reports 77 passengers with possible coronavirus symptoms; safe harbor elusive for other vessels
Update 3:26 a.m. EDT March 26: Seventy-seven people aboard Holland America’s Zaandam cruise ship are reporting flu-like symptoms as the vessel continues its course to Florida, CNN reported.
The Zaandam left Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7, before the cruise operator announced it would be suspending global cruise operations for a month in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among those reported ill, 30 are passengers, and 47 are crew members.
“Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time,” Holland America said in a news release posted to its website.
The cruise line has, however, dispatched a support ship to deliver supplies, staff and coronavirus testing kits to the Zaandam.
• The Artania is carrying 800 passengers, mostly Germans, seven of whom have the coronavirus.
• The MSC Magnifica has refueled in Fremantle and remains in waters off the coast of Western Australia.
• The Vasco da Gama is carrying around 800 Australians, including 200 Western Australians, 109 New Zealanders, and 33 UK citizens and other foreigners, according to the WA government.
Gilead rescinds orphan-drug request for Remdesivir to treat coronavirus
Update 3:04 a.m. EDT March 26: Gilead Sciences Inc. withdrew its application on Wednesday to gain orphan-drug status for Remdesivir, its investigational coronavirus drug, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press reported.
The decision appeared to be in direct response to public outcry after the company looked poised to capitalize on the national pandemic.
“COVID-19 is anything but a rare disease,” a letter, attributed to more than 50 consumer and patient advocacy groups, sent to the company earlier in the day Wednesday stated.
Gilead said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that it asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to rescind its request because the company “recognizes the urgent public health needs posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the AP reported.
Read more here.
California's coronavirus cases soar; officials warn San Francisco on track to rival New York levels
Update 2:24 a.m. EDT March 26: Health officials are sounding the alarm in California as the rate of novel coronavirus infections outpaces projections and the medical community braces for an undetermined patient surge in the coming weeks, CNN reported.
“We originally thought [the infection rate] would be doubling every six to seven days and we see cases doubling every three to four days,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency, said at a Wednesday news conference.
To date California has confirmed more than 3,100 coronavirus cases, resulting in 67 deaths.
Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor London Breed warned residents on Wednesday that the city’s medical facilities will become overwhelmed if more residents fail to take stay-at-home recommendations to heart.
“If people who are out on the streets continue to congregate with one another, continue to interact with one another, which increases the spread of this virus, we will not have enough beds, enough ICU units, enough ventilators to support the people that we know are going to need them,” Breed told CNN.
Breed estimated the city, alone, will require at least 1,500 additional ventilators and 5,000 extra hospital beds to accommodate the expected influx of patients,
“It is plausible that despite all these efforts we could have a scenario similar to the one that is playing out in New York this very day,” San Francisco Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax told CNN, adding, “If that happens our capacity, our surge capacity will be far exceeded.”
State-by-state breakdown of 65,131 US coronavirus cases, 1,000 deaths
Update 1:10 a.m. EDT March 26: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 69,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands late Wednesday night.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 69,018 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 1,000 deaths.
At least 233 deaths were recorded on Wednesday, alone, making it the deadliest day on U.S. soil since the pandemic began.
Of the confirmed deaths, 285 have occurred in New York, 130 Washington state and 65 in Louisiana.
In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with nearly 30,811 confirmed cases – more than seven times any other state – followed by New Jersey with 4,402 and Washington with 2,586.
Nine other states have now reported at least 1,000 novel coronavirus cases, including:
• California: 2,535
• Michigan: 2,295
• Florida: 1,971
• Illinois: 1,865
• Massachusetts: 1,838
• Louisiana: 1,795
• Georgia: 1,387
• Pennsylvania: 1,127
• Colorado: 1,086
The figures include 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and 49 repatriated citizens. The repatriations include 46 sickened aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and three others retrieved from the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China.
The state-by-state breakdown – including presumptive cases – of at least 65,131 cases detected on U.S. soil is as follows:
• Alabama: 386, including 1 death
• Alaska: 42, including 1 death
• Arizona: 401, including 6 deaths
• Arkansas: 308, including 2 deaths
• California: 2,535, including 53 deaths
• Colorado: 1,086, including 19 deaths
• Connecticut: 875, including 19 deaths
• Delaware: 119
• District of Columbia: 183, including 2 deaths
• Florida: 1,971, including 22 deaths
• Georgia: 1,387, including 47 deaths
• Guam: 37, including 1 death
• Hawaii: 95
• Idaho: 123
• Illinois: 1,865, including 19 deaths
• Indiana: 477, including 14 deaths
• Iowa: 145, including 1 death
• Kansas: 126, including 3 deaths
• Kentucky: 198, including 5 deaths
• Louisiana: 1,795, including 65 deaths
• Maine: 142
• Maryland: 423, including 4 deaths
• Massachusetts: 1,838, including 15 deaths
• Michigan: 2,295, including 43 deaths
• Minnesota: 287, including 1 death
• Mississippi: 377, including 5 deaths
• Missouri: 356, including 8 deaths
• Montana: 65
• Nebraska: 64
• Nevada: 321, including 6 deaths
• New Hampshire: 137, including 1 death
• New Jersey: 4,402, including 62 deaths
• New Mexico: 112, including 1 death
• New York: 30,811, including 285 deaths
• North Carolina: 504, including 2 deaths
• North Dakota: 45
• Ohio: 704, including 10 deaths
• Oklahoma: 164, including 5 deaths
• Oregon: 266, including 10 deaths
• Pennsylvania: 1,127, including 11 deaths
• Puerto Rico: 51, including 2 deaths
• Rhode Island: 132
• South Carolina: 424, including 7 deaths
• South Dakota: 41, including 1 death
• Tennessee: 784, including 3 deaths
• Texas: 974, including 12 deaths
• U.S. Virgin Islands: 17
• Utah: 346, including 1 death
• Vermont: 123, including 8 deaths
• Virginia: 391, including 9 deaths
• Washington: 2,586, including 130 deaths
• West Virginia: 39
• Wisconsin: 585, including 6 deaths
• Wyoming: 44
The Associated Press contributed to this report.