Coronavirus live updates: US death toll tops 4,000; Ill Chris Cuomo goes live; Guam to house Navy sailors

The U.S. coronavirus death toll surpassed 4,000 early Wednesday, hours after a sickened CNN anchor hosted a surreal, prime time program from his basement amidst a public health pandemic that has brought the global economy to its knees.

“Let’s use this example of me having it as proof that you can get it too, God forbid. We have to do everything we can to avoid being sick,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said. “We have to do it for ourselves, our families, and for those on the front lines who are saving the lives of people like me and many of you.”

The current U.S. death toll appears to be a tiny fraction of what the nation faces over the next few weeks, public health officials say. They estimate that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die this year because of the coronavirus.

Nearly 1,100 have died in New York City alone, prompting the city to open temporary hospitals in a convention center and iconic Central Park. While health experts says social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus, there are still states — Florida, most notably — without statewide stay-at-home orders.

Worldwide, there are more than 42,000 deaths and 860,000 confirmed cases. The U.S., which has now surpassed China’s death toll, is closing in on 200,000 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

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Anchor Chris Cuomo gets a consult from CNN’s TV doc

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hosted his program from his basement Wednesday night, hours after announcing he tested positive for the coronavirus. “I feel fine. I’m able to do the show, but you do not want this,” Cuomo told his audience. He discussed his symptoms, including shortness of breath and tightness in his chest, with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN. Gupta said they would talk off the air, saying tightness in the chest is one of the symptoms he “worries about.”

Cuomo, 49, said he is self-isolating in his basement and away from his family. The inability to be with his loved ones, and the possibility that he could cause them to become ill, is “hurting me way more than anything a virus can.”

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For many, rent is due today – and won’t be easy to make

Rent was due Wednesday, the first day of April, for millions of Americans. Rent day comes as a record 3.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment in a crisis that could lead to nearly 50 million people losing their jobs. The federal government took a big step toward protecting renters by issuing a 120-day moratorium on evictions from federally subsidized housing or from a property with a federally backed mortgage loan. And a USA TODAY analysis shows that at least 34 states have issued broader moratoriums on evictions.

“I will be able to pay my April rent, but I don’t know about May or June,” said Phoenix resident Ada Obinway.

– Alan Gomez

Navy working with Guam governor to isolate sick US sailors

Sailors who have tested negative for the coronavirus from the virus-stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt will be quarantined, many off-base in Guam hotels, as soon as possible, authorities said. Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said Wednesday that military personnel already stationed on Guam would act as a buffer between the quarantined sailors and civilians. Dozens of the ship’s 5,000 sailors have tested positive, and the close quarters make social distancing impossible.

“We can protect Guam while being humane to them,” she said. “That is the Guam I know, and we will not abandon who we are out of fear.

– Steve Limtiaco and Jasmine Stole Weiss, Pacific Daily News

More:Captain of aircraft carrier asks US Navy to evacuate crew amid ‘accelerating’ COVID-19 outbreak

US stocks point downward again

U.S. stocks, fresh off one of the worst quarters in history, were primed to fall further Wednesday, with Dow futures down more than 700 points. Asian shares were mixed Wednesday amid continuing worries about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. stocks plunged Tuesday to close out their worst quarter since the most harrowing days of the 2008 financial crisis. The S&P 500 fell 42.06 points to 2,584.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 410.32, or 1.8%, to 21,917.16, and the Nasdaq was off 74.05, or 1%, to 7,700.10.

More economy:Here are the companies mass hiring during the coronavirus pandemic

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis resists statewide stay-at-home order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to issue a statewide “stay-at-home” order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus because the disease has not hit many areas of the state, he said. At least 30 states have issued statewide stay-at-home orders so far. Florida, among eight states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, is the only one without such an order.

DeSantis’ approach in trying to manage the disease without doing undue harm to the economy mirrors comments from President Donald Trump who, on Monday reiterated his belief that a nationwide stay-at-home order is not needed.

– Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News

Some assembly required: Hopkins volunteers make 5,000 shields daily

Dozens of volunteers at Johns Hopkins are gathering at a Baltimore warehouse to  manufacture 5,000 face shields per day for clinicians, the university says. Many are medical students being kept away from patients for now. Thus the hands of future-surgeons are meticulously working with scissors, glue guns, and staplers.

“It’s really important for doctors to have the right protective equipment, especially with a virus like this, and there are shortages everywhere,” sayd third-year med student Lukas Mees. “They don’t want us taking direct care of patients who have the virus, so I was just looking for another way to help.”

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US coronavirus death toll could reach 240,000, according to projections

Estimates of between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans dying this year because of the coronavirus convinced President Donald Trump to extend social distancing guidelines, federal public officials said.

And that grim scenario would be worse without intervention, with a projection of as many as 2.2 million deaths, according to White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx.

The administration’s top health officials, including Anthony Fauci, director of the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that models are not always accurate and will be influenced by how seriously Americans take orders to avoid contact with others. Trump and others have said April could be a particularly deadly month in the ongoing battle with the virus.

– John Fritze

Emergency field hospital opens with 68 beds in New York City’s Central Park

A 68-bed emergency field hospital erected in Central Park was set to receive patients infected with the coronavirus. A team of 72 doctors, nurses and other health care workers from Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian disaster-relief organization, have mobilized the facility, which is equipped with 10 ventilators. 

The hospital has partnered with New York’s Mount Sinai Health System and will prioritize moving overflow patients from the Brooklyn and Queens Mount Sinai branches so they can resume respiratory care treatment.

The relief effort is not without some controversy, however. Because of anti-LGBTQ comments made in the past by Samaritan’s Purse’s founder, Franklin Graham, the group has faced backlash. 

– Lorenzo Reyes

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: FEMA bidding against states for ventilators

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, comparing buying ventilators to online auctions, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency “basically bigfooted” individual states and drove up prices. Cuomo said he believes FEMA “should’ve been the purchasing agent” for medical equipment before becoming the sole distributor to states in need.

“It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator,” Cuomo said. “You see the bid go up ’cause California bid. Illinois bid. Florida bid. New York bid. California rebids. That’s literally what we’re doing. I mean, how inefficient. And then, FEMA gets involved and FEMA starts bidding. And now FEMA is bidding on top of the 50, so FEMA is driving up the price. What sense does this make?”

Cuomo released data indicating his state had more than 75,000 positive cases – including more than 9,000 new cases – with a death toll of 1,550, as of Tuesday morning. He also said New York tests far more than any other state.

– Lorenzo Reyes

Contributing: The Associated Press

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