Saturday, March 28, 2020

Confirmed U.S. coronavirus-related deaths double in two days, hitting 2,000

Live updates: Confirmed U.S. coronavirus-related deaths double in two days, hitting 2,000

Rise in coronavirus patients puts strain on Michigan hospitals' resources


Michigan hospitals are adapting to coronavirus pressures by reusing masks and sharing ventilators as they experience a rise in patients. (John Farrell, Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

By WASHINGTON POST

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Breaking: Confirmed U.S. coronavirus-related deaths double in two days, hitting 2,000. It took about a month from the first confirmed death for the United States to record 1,000. That toll has risen rapidly as officials have been warning the worst is yet to come.

President Trump said Saturday he may announce later in the day a federally mandated quarantine on the New York metro region, placing “enforceable” travel restrictions on people planning to leave the New York tri-state area because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are some significant developments:

The outbreak in New York — the state hit hardest so far — will reach its apex in “14 to 21 days,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) anticipated. The surgeon general warned that Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago are becoming “hotspots.”
Italy has now seen more than 10,000 coronavirus fatalities. More than 600,000 people have been infected worldwide with 30,000 total deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
South Korea marked a new milestone, as more coronavirus patients have been discharged than those undergoing treatment.
Following several days of back-and-forth criticism with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Trump granted her request for a disaster declaration, as well as one for Massachusetts.
7:27 p.m.
The U.S. recorded its first 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a month. The next 1,000 took two days.

Confirmed U.S. coronavirus-related deaths doubled in two days, hitting 2,000 on Saturday evening, based on reporting from state health departments.

It took about a month from the first confirmed death for the United States to record 1,000, but the toll has risen rapidly, and officials say the worst is yet to come. The earliest death was announced in Washington state on Feb. 29.

The sharp rise in fatalities comes as the pandemic’s epicenter has shifted to the United States, where reported infections are approaching 120,000 and where President Trump said the federal government may enforce a quarantine on the hard-hit New York area. Officials and health professionals in New York and around the country have been sounding alarms that hospitals are not prepared for an influx of coronavirus patients.

Globally, confirmed cases now exceed 600,0000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
By Hannah Knowles and Jacqueline Dupree

7:20 p.m.
Rhode Island’s efforts to enforce quarantine on travelers from New York draw pushback

Since Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo called New York a “pinpointed risk” this week, state law enforcement officers have sought out incoming travelers from New York to enforce a 14-day quarantine — prompting New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to say he will sue Rhode Island if Raimondo does not “roll back” the policy.

“I know it’s unusual. I know it’s extreme, and I know some people disagree with it,” Raimondo said at a news conference Friday. “If you want to seek refuge in Rhode Island, you must be quarantined.”

Raimondo mandated the 14-day quarantine for New York travelers on Thursday. She also announced that Rhode Island’s National Guard and state police would help enforce it by monitoring major bus stations and pulling over drivers with New York license plates.

“New York City is a hot spot, their infection rate is skyrocketing, and they are so close to Rhode Island,” Raimondo said.

As of 5 p.m. on Friday, Rhode Island had reported 203 covid-19 cases. As of Saturday evening, New York state had reported 52,318.

Rhode Island’s tactics provoked criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as Cuomo.

“Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be,” said Steven Brown, the executive director of Rhode Island’s ACLU chapter, in a statement.
By Jesse Dougherty

7:16 p.m.
Cuomo strongly rejects Trump’s idea to quarantine New York metro area

Cuomo offered a blistering response to Trump’s suggestion that people in the New York tri-state area be restricted from leaving, calling it “preposterous,” and equating it to imprisonment and “a declaration of war."

“I don’t think it’s plausible. I don’t think it’s legal. It would be total mayhem — I don’t have another word for it. Why you would want to create total pandemonium on top of a pandemic, I have no idea,” Cuomo said during an interview with CNN.

Cuomo said he still hadn’t heard from the president about it and that if Trump was seriously considering it, “I guarantee he would have called me.”

“This is a civil war kind of discussion. I don’t believe he could be serious, that any federal administration could be serious about physical lockdowns of states or parts of states across this country,” Cuomo said. “This would be a declaration of war on states, a federal declaration of war, and it wouldn’t just be New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. Next week it would be Louisiana with New Orleans, then the next week after that Detroit, Michigan and so on across the nation.”

Cuomo also threatened to sue Rhode Island if it carried out a plan to stop cars coming into the state with New York license plates, calling it an idea to the “point of absurdity.”

“I think that’s a reactionary policy, and I don’t think that’s legal, and we’re talking to Rhode Island now,” Cuomo said. “If they don’t hold back that policy I’m going to sue Rhode Island because that’s clearly unconstitutional.”

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, walked the corridor of a nearly completed makeshift hospital at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York on Friday. (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)
By Colby Itkowitz

7:01 p.m.
Federal civil rights office tells health-care providers not to deny care to coronavirus patients based on disability or age

The Department of Health and Human Services’s civil rights office on Saturday urged health-care providers to not ration care for covid-19 patients based on disability or age, a practice recently endorsed by two states.

“Persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence or absence of disabilities,” according to a bulletin.

Alabama’s response plan, dated for April 2020, says that hospitals should consider not offering ventilator support to people with certain disabilities or medical conditions. The state’s protocol states that “persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support.”

Washington state’s protocol says that triage teams should consider transferring patients with certain disabilities or medical conditions to outpatient care.

The Office of Civil Rights said that such discrimination by HHS-funded programs is prohibited by both law and regulations.

“HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during an emergency, and this guidance is designed to help health-care providers meet that goal,” Roger Severino, the Office of Civil Rights’ Director, wrote in the bulletin. “Persons with disabilities, with limited English skills, or needing religious accommodations should not be put at the end of the line for health services during emergencies.”
By Jesse Dougherty

6:46 p.m.
Bauer shifts production to medical gear, calls on others to join them

An employee of Bauer Hockey Corp. models a medical face shield. The hockey equipment manufacturer has begun creating such face shields to help those treating the coronavirus pandemic. (AP)

After Bauer, a U.S.-based company that manufactures hockey gear, announced Wednesday it would shift from making helmet visors to start mass production on face shields amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, it didn’t take long for the calls, emails and other messages to start rolling in.

Medical professionals have contacted Bauer, asking for gear as they continue to work on the coronavirus front lines, according to the company. Since starting production of the face shields less than 48 hours ago, Bauer has received interest in more than 1 million medical shields. It is already set to produce 300,000 units — its current maximum capacity.

“We are one company and we are not going to be able to make a dent to this thing, but one thing we can do is make a call for action for other companies,” Bauer Chief executive Ed Kinnaly said in a telephone interview Saturday afternoon.

By Samantha Pell

6:37 p.m.
Trump says he may put New York area on quarantine; governors and N.Y. mayor say they don’t know what that means

Cuomo says he hasn’t discussed possible quarantine with Trump

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) responded to President Trump’s earlier comments on possible travel restrictions on March 28. (Reuters)

President Trump on Saturday raised the prospect of ordering a mandated quarantine on the New York metro region later in the day, placing “enforceable” travel restrictions on people planning to leave the New York tri-state area because of the coronavirus outbreak.

But governors from New York and New Jersey said they had not spoken to Trump about a potential federal quarantine.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) was giving a news briefing when Trump announced the possible quarantine measures. “I haven’t had those conversations,” Cuomo said when asked about Trump’s comments. “I don’t even know what that means.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he saw the news “as I was walking into this room” to hold a news conference. Though he had spoken with the president as recently as Friday, Murphy said, “nothing like a quarantine came up.”

“We don’t have any details and aren’t sure what the president means by his comment,” said Freddi Goldstein, spokeswoman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “What we know is that while New York City is the epicenter of this crisis right now, it’s in all 50 states. What we need is more supplies for our hospitals — that’s how we can save lives.”

In a gaggle with reporters early Saturday afternoon, Trump said he was considering the measure because New York had become a viral hot spot. He spoke to reporters again about an hour later and said governors from other states had asked him to consider it.

By Colby Itkowitz and Shayna Jacobs

5:48 p.m.
Ill. governor says infant with coronavirus has died

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday that an infant who tested positive for the novel coronavirus has died, the youngest person in the country believed to have succumbed to the illness.

An autopsy will determine whether the virus caused the death, state officials said. No other details were announced.

“I want everyone to take covid-19 serious. If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call,” Illinois public health chief Ngozi Ezike said. “People of all ages and people, even healthy, will and have contracted the virus and can develop serious illness, including death.”

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Dr. Ezike, Illinois public health chief: "There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the actual of death."
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The infant was among 13 deaths Saturday attributed to the virus, Pritzker (D) said. Illinois has reported 3,491 total known cases and 47 deaths.

Although older people are more vulnerable to the illness, there have been numerous cases of youthful victims. Louisiana health officials announced Thursday that a 17-year-old from Orleans Parish died of covid-19, the disease the coronavirus causes.

Two days earlier, Los Angeles County officials said they believed a teenager without preexisting conditions died of the illness, though additional test results were pending.
By Steven Goff

5:45 p.m.
Yale responds after New Haven mayor blasts school for not opening its dorms to first responders

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, a Yale University alumnus, slammed the prestigious Ivy League school on Friday for being unwilling to open its dorms to city workers.

Elicker, speaking during a virtual news conference, said he called the university last week and requested dormitory space for police officers, firefighters and their families should there be any exposure or symptoms of the novel coronavirus. The university told him “no,” he said.

He received a more welcoming response from University of New Haven President Steve Kaplan, who said “yes” in the first five minutes of their conversation, Elicker said.

“Since then, UNH has rolled out the red carpet for us,” he said. “They’ve worked to quickly get students’ belongings out of the dorms. And they’ve worked with us to address other logistical and liability hurdles.”

A final agreement will soon be finalized and city workers are expected to move into the dorms in the coming days, he said.

On Thursday, Yale launched the Yale Community for New Haven fundraising tool, which has a $5 million goal to help health care and local businesses, the Yale Daily News reported. The university has already given $1 million to the fund, which is a partnership with the United Way of Greater New Haven and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Spokeswoman Karen Peart told the New Haven Register on Friday that the dorms simply aren’t ready.

“We are pursuing schemes that involve professional movers and packers, and using temporary storage. The process will take weeks, as all of the residence hall rooms on campus are filled with student belongings,” she told New Haven Register. “As soon as we have been able to clear any space, we have informed the mayor that we will let him know.”

On Saturday, the school said it would make 300 beds available by the end of this coming week to first responders and hospital personnel.
By Lateshia Beachum

5:06 p.m.
Ohio governor calls on FDA to swiftly approve technology to sterilize PPEs for reuse

Facing protective equipment shortage, Ohio governor calls for donations

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced a statewide call out for personal protective equipment, or PPE, in order to address immediate local need on March 28. (The Ohio Channel)

An Ohio research company has developed technology to sterilize personal protective masks for reuse, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said during a Saturday news conference. He urged the Food and Drug Administration to sign off quickly on the technology, which was created by the Columbus-based research and development nonprofit, Battelle. If approved, the technology could be used in other states, such as Washington and New York, that are experiencing critical protective gear shortages — and much higher infection totals than Ohio.

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. mayors who responded to a national survey Friday said their cities lack adequate protection, which global health officials acknowledge is vital to containing the spread of the coronavirus.

In Ohio, DeWine said state health officials are projecting the apex of outbreak to hit in the next 14 days; other governors, such as Andrew M. Cuomo (D) of New York, have projected similar timelines for their state.

“We believe in two weeks we’re really gonna start getting hit hard and won’t peak out until May,” DeWine said, noting the state’s health reporting indicated local hospitals will have to double or even triple capacity to meet the projected demand.

Ohio was among the earliest states to take action, with DeWine moving to ban large gatherings and shutter retail and social hubs well before it became a nationwide trend.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton offered the rare sliver of good news amid the crisis when she said Ohio’s early and aggressive interventions have helped to flatten the curve. Acton likened the apex of the outbreak to a hurricane making landfall, with an ability to forecast big-picture movements that get clearer as it approaches.
By Kim Bellware
4:43 p.m.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home

Beloved actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, are back in their Los Angeles home, after recovering from the novel coronavirus infection in Australia.

“We’re home now and, like the rest of America, we carry on with sheltering in place and social distancing,” the 63-year-old actor tweeted, thanking medical staff in Australia for his and Wilson’s return.

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The Oscar-winning actor and Wilson, 63, revealed to fans on March 11 that they both had tested positive for covid-19 after experiencing fatigue, chills and body aches. The couple had been placed in isolation before returning home, eating Vegemite and playing Gin Rummy, according to Hanks’s posts.

By Lateshia Beachum
3:21 p.m.
The CDC wants people to stop ingesting non-pharmaceutical chloroquine products

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory on Saturday warning against use of non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine.

The health agency was alerted about an Arizona couple in their 60s who put a fish tank-cleaning chemical, chloroquine phosphate, into a soft drink and ingested it to stave off infection of the novel coronavirus. The husband died in a hospital and his wife was last reported to be in critical condition.

“Clinicians should advise patients and the public that chloroquine, and the related compound hydroxychloroquine, should be used only under the supervision of a healthcare provider as prescribed medications,” the CDC said. While President Trump has been endorsing the promise of the antimalarials based on anecdotal reports, there is currently no FDA-approved prevention of covid-19, the agency reminded the public.
By Lateshia Beachum
3:19 p.m.
Kansas, Rhode Island join 22 other states with stay-at-home orders

The governors of Kansas and Rhode Island announced stay-at-home orders Saturday, bringing the number of states under such a measure to 24.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) issued the order after the state recorded its first two deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Officials have confirmed 239 cases of the virus, she said during a news conference, and 29 people are in the hospital.

“The potential for the loss of life has loomed over us for weeks,” Raimondo said. “Today are the first two. There will be more to come."

In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) cited projections from state health officials that the state’s 200 confirmed cases could jump to 900 in the next week, telling reporters that “positive cases are appearing everywhere at this point.”

Both governors said they believe their states have more cases of coronavirus than have been confirmed. They said their hospital systems need time to prepare for an anticipated swell.

The orders require residents to remain home unless they are traveling for essential purposes, such as picking up food, seeking medical care or reporting to an essential job. Rhode Island’s is effective immediately and set to remain in place until April 13, while Kansas’s starts Monday and continues through April 19.

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