Coronavirus live updates: US has deadliest day yet; jubilant Wuhan ends lockdown; Disney considers temperature checks

The U.S. coronavirus death toll neared 13,000 early Wednesday — less than 48 hours after cresting 10,000 — as the U.S. saw its deadliest day since the outbreak first appeared here almost three months ago. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams retreated from an earlier prediction and said he expected U.S. deaths would be less than the projections of 100,000 to 240,000 issued by the White House task force a week ago.

“That is absolutely my expectation, and I feel a lot more optimistic because I’m seeing mitigation work,” said Adams, who on Sunday warned that this week would be the outbreak’s “Pearl Harbor moment.” He lauded public health officials in California and Washington state, where the curve has flattened on confirmed cases.

Wall Street’s stock market rally fizzled in the final hour of trading Tuesday, but President Donald Trump said a second round of cash payments to Americans as part of another recovery package was “absolutely under serious consideration.”

The U.S. approached 400,000 confirmed cases Wednesday morning, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, there are 1.4 million confirmed cases and more than 83,000 deaths. 

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing. More headlines:

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Tuesday was US’ deadliest day yet due to the coronavirus

Nearly 2,000 people died Tuesday due to complications from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A USA TODAY tracker of new coronavirus related deaths in the United States by day showed at least 1,939 deaths Tuesday. The grim number came as New York’s total coronavirus death count surpassed the 9/11 death toll, too.

76-day lockdown ends in Wuhan, China: Masked crowds fill the streets

Streets in the city of 11 million people were clogged with traffic and long lines formed at the airport, train and bus stations as thousands streamed out of the city to return to homes and jobs elsewhere. Yellow barriers that had blocked off some streets were gone, although the gates to residential compounds remained guarded.

Restrictions in the city where most of China’s more than 82,000 virus cases and over 3,300 deaths from COVID-19 were reported have been gradually eased as the number of new cases steadily declined. The government reported no new cases in the city on Wednesday.

While there are questions about the veracity of China’s count, the unprecedented lockdown of Wuhan and Hubei have been successful enough that other countries adopted similar measures.

The exact source of the virus remains under investigation, though many of the first COVID-19 patients were linked to an outdoor food market in the city.

Black people overwhelmingly dying from coronavirus in cities across US

Black Americans are overwhelmingly dying of coronavirus at much higher rates compared to other Americans in some major cities, but most federal officials and states are not keeping track or releasing racial data on coronavirus victims, raising concerns about care for the nation’s most vulnerable populations. 

President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House briefing Tuesday that African Americans were being hit hard by the coronavirus, representing a “tremendous challenge” for the nation, according to the president. 

“We want to find the reason to it,” Trump said, adding that national data on race and coronavirus cases should be available later this week. 

Fauci said existing health disparities have made the outbreak worse for the African American community. 

“So we are very concerned about that. It is very sad. There is nothing we can do about it right now except to give them the best possible care to avoid complications,” Fauci said.

– Deborah Barfield Berry

What could be in next coronavirus aid package?

Americans have yet to receive their $1,200 stimulus checks from the federal government, but another round of cash payments could be coming their way.

Talks are under way between the Trump administration and Congress on another recovery package to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. A second round of cash payments to Americans is part of the discussions.

“We could very well do a second round,” President Donald Trump said at a White House news conference on Monday.

Among the other provisions that might be included in the next stimulus bill: Hazard pay for health workers, infrastructure spending, mail-in and absentee voting.

– Michael Collins and Christal Hayes

Economic uncertainty spooks investors: ‘No guarantee that the worst is behind us’

Wall Street’s stock market rally fizzled in the final hour of trading Tuesday following another plunge in oil prices, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing down 26.13 points at 22,653.86.

The world markets followed suit on Wednesday, with Asian and Australian shares mostly lower amid continued uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic. Japan’s Nikkei 225 inched up 0.1% in morning trading, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.3% and South Korea’s Kospi lost nearly 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.6%, while the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.4%.

Even though economists say a punishing recession is inevitable, some investors have begun to look ahead to when a peak in new infections would offer some clarity about how long the downturn may last and how deep it will be.

Beloved songwriter John Prine dies after coronavirus hospitalization

Renowned songwriter John Prine died Tuesday, almost two weeks after being hospitalized with coronavirus. Prine, 73, grew up in suburban Chicago before becoming a part of the country folk scene in the 1970s and drawing comparisons to Bob Dylan.

He went on to win two Grammys. His songbook transcended era and genre, earning him a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His songs were covered by a litany of country singers, including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, George Strait and John Fogerty. “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello in There” were among his famous hits.

– Matthew Leimkuehler, Nashville Tennessean

Disney considering temperature checks at parks

Bob Iger, the Disney Chairman and former CEO, described possible new measures Disney parks could take when reopening in order to return to “some semblance of normal.”

In an interview with Barron’s, Iger said park goers will have to feel safe and suggested temperature checks may be part of Disney’s plan.

“Some of that could come in the form ultimately of a vaccine, but in the absence of that it could come from basically, more scrutiny, more restrictions,” he said. “Just as we now do bag checks for everybody that goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that that takes people’s temperatures, as a for-instance.”

Walt Disney World and Disneyland temporarily shut down in March.

Coronavirus in Florida: Sunshine State travelers with coronavirus visited 46 U.S. states, 75 foreign destinations before diagnosis

– Sara M. Moniuszko

An election day unlike any other: Wisconsin votes in the middle of a pandemic

Milwaukee resident Jennifer Taff holds a sign as she waits in line to vote at Washington High School in Milwaukee on Tuesday. “I’m disgusted. I requested an absentee ballot almost three weeks ago and never got it. I have a father dying from lung disease and I have to risk my life and his just to exercise my right to vote." She said she had been in line for almost two hours.

It was an election day for the history books, unprecedented and unimaginable.

After Gov. Tony Evers tried to delay it, and the state Supreme Court declared the vote must go on, Wisconsinites went to the polls in Tuesday’s spring election and cast ballots carefully, deliberately and defiantly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

At Milwaukee’s five polling sites, 18,803 voters came to vote in person. That number is expected to be dwarfed by absentee balloting when the numbers are counted Monday.

“People died for my right to vote, so if I have to take a risk to vote that’s what I have to do,” said Michael Claus, 66, who was among several hundred people waiting in an early morning line to vote at Milwaukee’s Riverside University High School.

An hour after polls closed statewide at 8 p.m., there was still a long line of voters outside the high school. Voters expressed frustration with the circumstances of Tuesday’s voting and being funneled through such a limited number of polling sites in the city.

Across the state, in schools, churches and town halls, poll workers risked their health to make sure democracy worked. Members of the National Guard also pitched in. Workers donned face masks and rubber gloves, handed out black pens to voters, wiped surfaces clean and kept the lines moving as best they could even as the state remained under a safer-at-home order.

– Bill Glauber, Molly Beck and Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Hawaii mayor to Florida man who didn’t quarantine for 14 days: ‘Covidiot’

A mayor in Hawaii has a choice word for the Florida man accused of trying to flout Hawaii’s traveler quarantine: “covidiot.”

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami isn’t taking credit for coining the word borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said, “I may be the first elected official to bust it out in public.”

Bobby Edwards, of Boynton, Florida, was arrested last week after police say he landed on the island without proof of accommodations. A statewide order requires those who arrive in the islands to quarantine for 14 days.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly out after USS Theodore Roosevelt flap

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned after mishandling the firing of the captain of the COVID-19-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday.

Esper accepted Modly’s resignation letter Tuesday morning and said it was voluntary on Modly’s part. 

“He resigned on his own accord, putting the Navy and sailors above self so that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy as a whole, can move forward,” Esper said in a statement.

Esper named Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson, a retired admiral, to succeed Modly as acting Navy secretary until a permanent secretary is confirmed by the Senate.

– Tom Vanden Brook

Donald Trump says he never saw aide Peter Navarro’s warning memos 

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has not seen memos in which one of his top advisers warned earlier this year that a coronavirus pandemic could endanger millions of Americans, but that even if he had, it would not have changed his response to the crisis.

Peter Navarro, the top trade and manufacturing aide to the president, laid out the warning in two memos – one on Jan. 29 and another on Feb. 23 – while Trump played down concerns about the coronavirus, according to reports from the New York Times and Axios.

Trump said he didn’t know about the memos until a couple of days ago. “I asked him about it a little while ago because I read something about a memo,” Trump said Tuesday during a White House coronavirus briefing.

Trump downplayed Navarro’s warnings, arguing that he already had started to move to shut down U.S. borders by the time the memos were written.

– Michael Collins, John Fritze and Rebecca Morin

British PM Boris Johnson remains in ICU, getting ‘oxygen treatment’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized Sunday as he continued to experience COVID-19 symptoms 10 days after testing positive, remained in intensive care Tuesday. Johnson, 55, had been moved to ICU so he would be near a ventilator if needed, the BBC reported. Johnson’s spokesman said Tuesday the prime minister does not have pneumonia.

“The prime minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits,” his office said in a statement. “He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance. He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.”

Britain appears to have become Europe’s deadliest hot spot, recording more than 600 deaths Sunday and nearing 6,000 total deaths from the outbreak.

Maryland launches first-in-nation nursing homes ‘strike teams’

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan introduced statewide “strike teams” on Tuesday to respond to nursing home coronavirus outbreaks, calling it a first-of-its-kind approach.

The teams — composed of the National Guard, local and state health officials, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems and hospital systems — will bring triage, emergency care, supplies and equipment to overburdened nursing homes.

“The goal here is not to replace the nursing homes’ medical and clinical team, but to provide immediate support and assistance to help protect residents of these facilities,” said Hogan, adding that Maryland is the first state in the country to launch such a coordinated response effort.

The top concern of state officials, Hogan said, are clusters of cases identified at 90 nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state.

– Lucas Gonzalez and Rose Velazquez, Salisbury (Md.) Daily Times

Coronavirus news from USA TODAY

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• Are you overeating in quarantine? You’re not alone.

• Donald Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine. Here’s what we know about the malaria drug.

​​​​​​​• How the 50 states are responding to coronavirus: Here’s why eight states haven’t issued stay-at-home orders.

​​​​​​​• Is coronavirus spreading ‘quickly’ on gas pumps? That claim is partly false, and here’s why.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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