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iStock(NEW YORK) -- A political battle between Rhode Island and New York's top leaders over new coronavirus precautions ended this weekend after Gov. Gina Raimondo changed her executive order that mandated New Yorkers who traveled to her state be quarantined, regardless of symptoms.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened lawsuits against Raimondo's March 27 order, which issued fines and other penalties for New Yorkers that violated the rule. Rhode Island officers and state troopers were out flagging cars with New York plates at the state border during the earlier part of the weekend, which prompted Cuomo to call his fellow Democrat Raimondo on Saturday.

"We had a conversation. I don't think the order was called for, I don't think it was legal, I don't think it was neighborly," Cuomo said during his daily briefing Sunday morning.

Raimondo issued a new order Saturday night that repealed the quarantine mandate for New Yorkers and issued a quarantine order for "any person coming to Rhode Island by any mode of transportation after visiting another state for a non-work-related purpose."

Troopers and officers said they would now stop all out-of-state visitors and record their information if they were planning to stay in the state.

Raimondo said Rhode Island initially focused on New York travelers, because it was the state with the most COVID-19 cases.

"The rate of infection we are seeing in New York City, we are seeing it in other places," she said at a news conference Sunday.

Raimondo brushed aside any notion that she changed her executive order over Cuomo's threat of a lawsuit.

"He's welcome to sue if he wants, I'm on firm legal ground," she said.

Cuomo said it was normal that people would act out of fear, but said New York would not take actions specifically targeted at its residents lightly.

"New York has what it needs and no one is going to attack New York unfairly and no one is going to deprive New York of what it needs," he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- Social distancing, staying 6 feet apart and cleaning surfaces with anti-bacterial products are some of the tools health experts and government officials have drilled into the minds for everyone around the world to do in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But, for the thousands of inmates on Rikers Island, some detainees say those options were not possible.

"It took two days to get a bed. I had to lie on the floor in intake with about seven other people, not within 6 feet of each other, but 6 inches. Two days of that on a concrete floor. Very unsanitary, no one was taking precautions, no one had masks, no wiping down with antibacterial cleaning supplies," said Bill, who asked that ABC news not use his last name for fear of law enforcement retaliation.

Bill, 62, said he was taken into custody by the police from the airport to Queens County Criminal Courthouse where he learned that there was a December 2017 tampering with public records charge against him in New Jersey that he did not know about. He was denied bail on March 15 by a Queens Criminal Court judge who adjourned his case for 30 days.

A law enforcement source familiar with the case told ABC News that the judge did not have any authority to set bail because it was a fugitive warrant.

That same day, a Rikers correction staffer contracted the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Since New York State's first coronavirus case was reported on March 1, the numbers have swelled into the thousands. The state has become the epicenter of the pandemic virus which was first detected in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31 and hit the United States on Jan. 21 in Washington State.

Rikers Island, which sits in the East River between Queens and the Bronx, is one of the world's largest correctional institutions and has become the target of activists calling to shut it down. It currently houses about 4,800 inmates and can hold up to 15,000.

And some say they are afraid of contracting coronavirus.

"We had heard about the virus being on Rikers on the news. A week later they were handing out one sheet of paper saying not to cough in your hands, to cough into the fold of your arms, wash your hands frequently, clean all main surfaces, door knobs, table tops," said Jimmy, who also withheld his last name to protect his identity from law enforcement.

Jimmy, 55, from Queens, New York, was serving a year sentence for petty larceny when COVID-19 spread to Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island. He said that although inmates were given instructions about cleaning, they weren’t provided supplies to do so.

Both former detainees told ABC News in separate phone interviews that being in jail was bad enough, especially coupled with a viral and possibly deadly infection floating around.

After Bill was transferred to a cell on March 17 in the Vernon C. Bain Center, the next day, the first correction officer and an inmate tested positive.

"There is no cleaning staff, they rely on the inmates to clean," said the retired attorney.

"We took it upon ourselves to use items from commissary to clean. We used shampoo, crushed the soap and added water to stretch it out and clean the surfaces," said Jimmy who said he was housed in a dormitory with almost 50 other inmates.

A spokeswoman with the DOC rebuts the former inmates' claims about their cleaning methods, saying they cleaned and sanitized the facility daily and their preventative cleaning methods started March 3.

Officials put protocols in place like cleaning the showers three times a day, sanitizing all common areas and supply inmates with cleaning supplies for free, the spokeswoman said. A process has also been implemented for supervisors to check and log the housing areas at least three times per shift for cleanliness and need for cleaning supplies, she added.

"The Department is committed to robust sanitation protocols throughout its facilities and transportation vehicles, and has ramped up existing cleaning policies to combat the potential spread of the coronavirus," she told ABC News on Saturday. "The Department has confirmed that its current sanitation formula is effective against the coronavirus."

The DOC also uses a mold and mildew cleaner, an EPA-approved disinfectant, a general cleaner, neutral floor cleaner, and a cleaner without grit, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the facility.

But when it comes to ongoing preventative measures, Jimmy said they should have received gloves and masks as well.

"The COs were wearing gloves and mask, but it made no sense because we, the inmates, aren't going out to court or anywhere they are or the visitors are coming in," said Jimmy, referring to the correction officers.

Social distancing, quarantining and stay-at-home orders are all measures established by local, state and federal authorities to help stop the spread of the virus, according to the CDC, but there is no way to adhere the guidelines while in jail, the former inmates said.

"Everyone is within 3 to 4 feet of each other," said Bill. "The ceilings are very low, stagnant air, people smoking marijuana, exchanging marijuana with each other," said Bill, adding, "We aren't let out except an hour a day. At meals everyone is in 3 inches of each other."

"People were eating where they slept. You are elbow-to-elbow -- right on top of one another," said Jimmy, noting the only privacy available was during shower time.

Ill inmates can get an appointment with a medical professional either at the West Facility on Rikers or at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, but Jimmy says that can sometimes take two weeks because of the "backlog of detainees."

"The guy right next to me had serious respiratory issues, no idea what was wrong with him, but he had trouble breathing and he kept it to himself," said Bill.

Last weekend, The City, an online news outlet that covers New York City, reported that eight inmates at Rikers Island were pepper-sprayed while trying to go to the jail's clinic after an inmate they were housed with was removed from the area for displaying flu-like symptoms.

The incident is under investigation, authorities told ABC News on Saturday.

Even before the virus claimed more than 32,000 lives to date worldwide, advocates like The Legal Aid Society, the City Corrections Officer Benevolent Association (COBA) and elected officials have called for measures to protect officers and inmates from the potential of spreading the coronavirus.

Maryland's Prince George County State Attorney Aisha Braveboy's, announced on March 18 they would release low-level offenders from jail as a proactive measure. As of Tuesday, 62 inmates were released, a spokeswoman with SA Braveboy's office told ABC News.

The Cuyahoga County Court in Ohio announced on March 12 that it was releasing hundreds of inmates under various circumstances from the Cuyahoga County Jail due to coronavirus concerns.

The New York Times first reported on Monday, that New Jersey officials signed an order to release 1,000 inmates across the state. The consent to commute or suspend county jail sentences order was signed on Sunday by the state's Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey and other agencies.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initially announced on March 19, the release of 40 inmates and then increased the amount to 375 on Thursday at a daily COVID-19 press conference. The mass release of inmates brought the Rikers Island population to its lowest since 1949, de Blasio said.

Under the mayor's order, Jimmy's sentence was amended and he was released on March 24. He had a week left to serve. Bill was released on March 20 after the extradition was declined by New Jersey prosecutors, but his case is still pending.

On Friday, Gov. Cuomo announced releasing 1,100 inmates across the state who are in jail for low-level technical parole violations parole.

The Legal Aid Society also filed a lawsuit on Thursday calling for at least 10 juvenile offenders to be released as well.

Now that hundreds of inmates were released from Rikers Island, officials said there will be room to practice social distancing by placing an empty bed in between inmates. They have also reopened an unused facility to place new inmates who show symptoms for the coronavirus and for those in custody who have tested positive for COVID-19.

"The health and well-being of every person in our facilities is always our first priority. We are taking every precautionary measure to keep people in custody safe," said Peter Thorne, the deputy commissioner for public information with the DOC, in statement to ABC News on Wednesday. "We will continue to update our COVID-19 guidance as necessary, per the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to keep those in our facilities safe and healthy."

As of Sunday, 114 DOC corrections officers and 139 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- Funeral homes are learning to navigate a new normal of mourning under the novel coronavirus pandemic, as long-cherished embraces have been barred and memorials must be limited in size and scope.

For Thomas Pirro Jr., a funeral director in Syracuse, New York, not being able to comfort mourners has been one of the most challenging aspects.

"To see someone standing by themselves sobbing is heart wrenching," Pirro told ABC News on Saturday. "Losing a loved one is stressful and emotional under normal circumstances. To add this -- the safe-distance factor and limited number of people that are allowed -- it's much more stressful and more emotional than ever."

As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread rapidly throughout the United States, states have responded by closing non-essential businesses, postponing public gatherings and urging the public to practice social distancing, which means individuals should leave 6 feet between themselves and others.

Whether funeral homes are deemed essential businesses is determined state by state. The National Funeral Directors Association put out guidance for homes that remained open to limit memorials to immediate family.

Pirro said that often means just children, spouses or partners, siblings and parents, though they still adhere to guidance from the White House of limiting any sort of gathering to 10 people or fewer. And in moments when Pirro said he would normally embrace someone or find a way to offer comfort, he now finds himself maintaining distance.

"There are people who are so emotional that, normally, if I knew them or had met them, that would be a situation that I would embrace them or hug them," he said. "That can't happen now."

It's no different in other hard-hit countries, such as Italy, where photos have shown just one family member attending a funeral.

In Austria, streaming services have been utilized for funerals after the government temporarily banned any gatherings of more than five people. The new guidelines in the U.S. have also prompted many families to stream services.

Bruce Likly, the president of Tribucast, a company that provides streaming services to funeral homes, said that in the last week he has seen upwards of 30 directors register for his system each day -- about five times what he normally sees.

In New York, the state with the most cases in the U.S., there has been a spike in utilizing streaming services, according to Mike Lanotte, executive director of the state's association.

Pirro said at his funeral home in Syracuse, out of 12 funerals administered last week, 10 chose to stream the service in some way for family members who wouldn't be allowed in.

"For the most part, people understand," Pirro said, "because, obviously, everyone's going through it. That being said, grieving this way is that much more difficult."

Steve Karboski, who owns a funeral home in Utica, said most recent funerals there haven't been coronavirus related.

"A lot of people are having a hard time. I don't want to say they feel like they're punished, but it's hard for them to comprehend that they can't do what they want to do," he said.

Like other funeral directors, he has opted to make streaming an option, whether it be through a service, Facebook Live or Facetime.

Karboski remembered a memorial he organized last week. A former member of the U.S. military had died, and his daughter, who lives in Rochester, wanted to be there but chose to stay home.

He ended up videoing the folding of the flags and gun salute to send to her.

It's in those moments, Karboski said, when he feels connected to families more than ever before.

"Funeral directors and funeral home staff have now become even more in the depths of grief," he said. "It's not as if friends or family are coming over. We're with them."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- More than 33,000 people have been killed around the world as the amount of novel coronavirus cases continues to skyrocket with the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases globally surpassing 710,000 on Sunday.

The number of cases across the globe has grown exponentially in a matter of weeks. Last Thursday there were 500,000 cases worldwide, which was double the number of coronavirus cases from the week before.

The U.S. stood at more than 135,000 diagnosed coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 2,381 deaths in the country.

At least 148,000 people have recovered from the virus during this pandemic.

Today's biggest developments:

-Dr. Fauci says U.S. could see 100,000-200,000 deaths
-'Biggest assistance package in history' may not be enough, Kudlow says
-Global deaths top 30,000
-Trump will not use enforceable quarantine in NY
-US cases cross 124,000; deaths top 2,000

FBI warns of potential surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans amid coronavirus

Here's the latest on the developing situation. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

2:43 p.m.: TSA screenings drop to lowest in decade

The number of people who passed through TSA screenings around the country was 184,027 on Saturday, the second consecutive day of screenings below 200,000, the agency said.

The number represents the lowest number of TSA screenings in over a decade. Nearly 2.2 million people passed through TSA screenings during the same day in 2019, according to the TSA.

Screenings have dropped every day for the last two weeks.

2:30 p.m.: Cuomo says New Yorkers 'feel under attack'

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave some reassuring words to New Yorkers as the coronavirus outbreak has made them a target by other leaders who enforce strict rules against them.

This weekend, Gov. Gina Raimondo reversed an order that mandated only New York residents go into self-quarantine if they visited the state and President Donald Trump toyed with an idea that New York City to go into a quarantine. Cuomo said New Yorkers feel like they're "under attack," but reiterated that they are well in this crisis together.

"We have made it through far greater things. We are going to be OK," he said. "We are strong. We have endurance, and we have stability. We know what we are doing."

The governor said that the state health department did make some progress when it came to detecting COVID-19 cases. The health department has developed a less-intrusive coronavirus test that uses saliva and short nasal swab.

The test requires less PPE and will be ready for use as soon as next week, according to Cuomo.

1:20 p.m.: Deaths climb to 965 in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the death toll in New York state climbed to 965 on Sunday, an increase of 237 from Saturday.

"I can't say you are not going to see people pass away because they are. That is the nature of what we are dealing with and that is beyond our control," Cuomo said at a news conference.

Based on the projections models, Dr. Howard Zucker, the state's commissioner of public Health, said it appears the death toll in the state will rise into the thousands.

"I don't know how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away because remember who its attacking, it's attacking the vulnerable, (people with) underlying illnesses etcetera," Cuomo added.

The bulk of the deaths have occurred in New York City, where the death toll rose from 517 at 10 a.m. on Saturday to 678 at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to data from the city's Health Department.

Cuomo also said that new hospitalizations in the state rose by 1,175 overnight while 3,572 patients were discharged.

A total of 172,000 people have been tested in the state for the coronavirus and more than 59,000 have tested positive with 8,503 hospitalized and 2,037 in intensive care units.

Cuomo also announced that he is extending his "New York Pause" program requiring nonessential state workers to stay home for another two weeks. The new deadline is April 15.

12 p.m.: Number of new coronavirus cases in Italy appears to be dropping

Italian health officials said at a news conference on Sunday that the number of deaths and the number of new coronavirus patients appears to be slowing, an indication that that hard-hit country is approaching or has reached its apex.

For the third straight day, Italy saw the number of daily deaths slightly decline. On Sunday, officials reported 756 new deaths compared to 889 on Saturday and 969 on Friday.

Italy still has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world at 10,779. But the percentage increase in the total number of new cases was the lowest it has been since the start of the pandemic.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy is now at 97,689, but the number of infected people in ICU decreased 5.2% on Sunday to 3,906.

10:50 a.m.: Dr. Fauci says US could see 100,000-200,000 deaths

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, said it is possible that 100,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. will die from the coronavirus

Fauci, who appeared on CNN Sunday morning, was asked about how many cases there will be in the U.S. and estimated there will be anywhere from one to two million cases.

The doctor noted that while his previous experience shows that modeling overshoots to show the best and worst case scenario, the "reality is somewhere in the middle."

Fauci cautioned that the latest model projections are based on "various assumptions" and are "only as good or as accurate as your assumptions."

"I've never seen a model of the diseases that I've dealt with where the worst case scenario actually came out," Fauci said.

"We're going to have millions of (confirmed coronavirus) cases," he added. "But I just don't think we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people."

10:30 a.m.: Spain records 838 deaths in 24 hours

Public Health officials in Spain said that the country recorded 838 new coronavirus-related deaths in a 24-hour span between Saturday morning and Sunday morning. The total number of deaths in Spain from the pandemic has now grown to 6,528, making it second for the number of fatalities to Italy's 10,023.

As of Sunday morning, there were nearly 79,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain, including 4,907 patients in intensive care units.

10:20 a.m.: Cat tests positive for coronavirus in Belgium

A cat in Belgium has tested positive for COVID-19 after its owner came down with the virus and was quarantined at home, officials said.

Describing it as an exceptional case, officials at the Liege Veterinary University Faculty said they tested the feline after it began to exhibit symptoms similar to humans who have contracted the virus, including respiratory problems, diarrhea and vomiting.

After conducting further research, the officials at the university said they are convinced that there is no evidence that an infected pet can be contagious for human beings but advised people to practice social distancing with their domesticated animals.

The cat has now fully recovered and is coronavirus free, and the owner is also doing well, officials said.

10 a.m.: 'Biggest assistance package in history' may not be enough, Kudlow says

While touting President Donald Trump's signing of "the biggest assistance package in history," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow acknowledged the difficulty in knowing if the funds would be enough to meet the needs of the millions of Americans impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"It may not be perfect, but I think it's going to give a tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months," Kudlow said Sunday on ABC's This Week.

Trump signed the $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday, calling the bipartisan legislation a catalyst to "stabilize the economy."

"It's the largest mainstream financial assistance package in the history of the United States, so it's hard to know if we could get everything, help everybody," Kudlow said.

9:45: President approves disaster declarations for Oregon and Connecticut

The president approved disaster declarations for the states of Oregon and Connecticut late Saturday night, making the states eligible to receive more federal aid to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has already signed disaster declarations for numerous other states reeling from the growing number of confirmed virus cases, including New York, California, Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana and Illinois.

9:21 a.m.: Louisiana governor says health care system could be overwhelmed by April

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said cases of novel coronavirus are expected to surge in Louisiana and overwhelm the state's hospitals within a week.

"We remain on a trajectory, really to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care by the end of the first week of April," he said on ABC's This Week on Sunday.

Edwards announced earlier Sunday that a 33-year-old staffer in his office, April Dunn, died due to complications from the coronavirus.

9 a.m. New Jersey governor responds to proposed travel restrictions

In response to a travel warning President Donald Trump said he was mulling for residents from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday on This Week that residents from his state were already not traveling much as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"A travel warning, we're fine with," Murphy said. "The fact of the matter is we are all in on flattening that curve, social distancing as aggressive as any states in America."

Trump decided not to enforce any quarantine late Saturday night.

6:46 a.m.: UK lockdown will last ‘an extended period,' senior minister says

Michael Gove, a senior U.K. Cabinet Minister, speaking for the government on the Sunday morning TV shows while the prime minister and health minister self-isolate due to testing positive for COVID-19 last week, refused to give a precise timetable for how long the country would be on lockdown.

Asked how long the U.K.'s lockdown will last, he said "I can't make an accurate prediction, but everyone does have to prepare for an extended period."

He added that the U.K.'s peak is "not a fixed point" in the calendar and timing depends how closely people follow the rules.

After Boris Johnson and a number of other MPs tested positive for the virus, Mr. Gove insisted the government had been doing everything to observe the social distancing advice.

"We've been doing everything we can to observe the advice. Within the House of Commons we've been trying to observe that advice."

5:25 a.m.: King County, Washington, health officer warns patients could be detained if they defy isolation orders

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health -- Seattle & King County has signed an order and directive on March 28 making it mandatory for people with a positive COVID-19 test to follow isolation protocols at home or at a recovery facility. The directive requires everyone with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing) who has a test pending to stay quarantined.

Said Dr. Duchin: "Many steps we are taking as a community are helping to decrease the number of people who get sick, need hospital care and who die. However, we cannot stop the outbreak completely and our community will likely remain at risk for months to come. Through my health order and directive today, I am re-emphasizing the requirement for people who are infected with COVID-19 to follow our existing recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others in the community by staying isolated from others while ill, and to stay quarantined with symptoms while test results are pending. Each of us need to do whatever we can to prevent others from becoming ill. Everyone—young and old, whether you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or not—should stay home and avoid all non-essential contact with others."

To protect the public, if an individual with active COVID-19 is not voluntarily remaining isolated, or if an individual who has COVID-19 symptoms with a test pending is not remaining self-quarantined, they may be subject to enforcement actions, which could include legal actions for involuntary detention.

4:25 a.m. Former MLB star Jim Edmonds went to the hospital for coronavirus testing

Former All-Star outfielder Jim Edmonds announced on his Instagram page that he went to the hospital to be tested for the coronavirus after displaying some symptoms.

The 49-year-old Edmonds sent a video update Saturday night on his Instagram Story saying he was back home after testing positive for pneumonia for the first time in his life, but was awaiting results of tests for the coronavirus.

“I’m just trying to rest up and get better,” Edmonds said, adding that he’d provide an update when he heard from doctors.

Earlier Saturday, Edmonds posted a photo of himself in a hospital room with a face mask covering his nose and mouth.

“Held off as long as I could,” he wrote on the post. “I thought I was tough enough to get through. This virus is no joke. #gethealthy.”

He said he was feeling “super sick” and added that he wasn’t “taking any chances because it’s so hard to get tested by the rules of the CDC.”

Edmonds played 17 seasons in the majors, mostly with the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals. He won eight Gold Glove awards, and finished with a .284 career batting average with 393 home runs and 1,199 RBIs. Edmonds also helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006. He also played for the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds late in his career before retiring in 2011.

2:05 a.m.: Louisiana governor announces passing of 33-year-old staffer

Governor John Bel Edwards announced the passing of 33-year old April Dunn who succumbed to complications from COVID-19. April was a dedicated staff member who served in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs and a tireless advocate for people with disabilities.

Gov. Edwards issued the following statement:

“On behalf of Donna and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April,” said Gov. Edwards. “She brightened everyone’s day with her smile, was a tremendous asset to our team and an inspiration to everyone who met her. She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities. April worked hard as an advocate for herself and other members of the disability community. She served as the chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, and when I created the State as a Model Employer Taskforce, April told me how much she wanted to be part of it because of her struggles to find meaningful employment. I was proud to have an advocate like April on the task force and on my staff. She set a great example for how other businesses could make their workforce more inclusive. I ask the entire state to join us in prayer for April’s mother Joanette and her grandmother Gloria.”

11:22 p.m.: Zaandam will pass through Panama Canal

After initially being restricted from passing through the Panama Canal, the country has changed its tune and the cruise ship MS Zaandam will be allowed through.

There are more than 130 people on the ship suffering from "flu-like symptoms," as well as two people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and four elderly passengers who have died.

The MS Rotterdam, owned by Holland America, like the Zaandam, was also waiting to transit the canal.

"We are aware of reported permission for both Zaandam and Rotterdam to transit the Panama Canal in the near future," Holland American said in a statement at 11 p.m. Eastern time. "We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew. This remains a dynamic situation, and we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalize details."

11:02 p.m.: 1st inmate dies in federal prison of COVID-19

An inmate has died from COVID-19 at FCI Oakdale in Oakdale, Louisiana, two sources told ABC News.

This is the first known death inside the Bureau of Prisons.

Patrick Jones, 49, was sentenced to 324 months in prison for or possession of 425 grams of crack cocaine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a junior college, the BOP said in a press release.

Jones was the first inmate inside the BOP to test positive on March 19. He was placed on a ventilator one day later and he died Saturday.

Officials said he had preexisting conditions that contributed to his death.

10:15 p.m.: Knicks, Rangers owner tests positive

Madison Square Garden Company CEO James Dolan has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a spokesperson.

Dolan, 64, took over as CEO of Cablevision, the powerhouse cable company, from his father, Charles, but is most known in New York City for being owner of the NBA's New York Knicks and NHL's New York Rangers.

As chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, he oversees those teams as well as television station MSG Network and owns the world famous Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

Cablevision was sold in 2016 upon which time he left as CEO.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(HENDERSON COUNTY, Ky.) -- A major storm moving through the central U.S. brought at least 17 reported tornadoes to parts of the central U.S., eight in Iowa, three in Arkansas, one in Missouri, four in Illinois and one in Wisconsin.

In Jonesboro, Arkansas, a violent tornado did damage in the town with six reported injuries. In total there have been at least 190 reports of severe weather in the last 24 hours from the Midwest to the South to the Ohio Valley. The same powerful storm system was responsible for a 90 mph wind gust in Henderson County, Kentucky.

The storm also brought very heavy rain with widespread rainfall totals of 1 to just over 2 inches of rain from Iowa to Pennsylvania.

Flash flooding was reported on roadways and surrounded parked cars in parts of the Cleveland metro area overnight. The system also is responsible for bringing snow from Colorado to Minnesota with 10 inches of new snow reported in western Nebraska.

As we head into the last days of March and begin April, we see the severe weather begin to ramp up dramatically. The U.S. averages around 80 tornadoes during March with the greatest chances across the southern Gulf Coast.

April averages 155 tornadoes through the U.S. with multiple hotspots including the southern Gulf, the central and southern Plains and parts of the Midwest. May, ultimately, is the peak time for severe weather in the U.S. with an average of 276 tornadoes.

This morning, radar is showing heavy snow still falling in parts of Minnesota and then two distinct areas of rain and thunderstorms. One area stretches across the Great Lakes into the western Appalachians where locally heavy rain could cause more flash flooding this morning.

The other area is a more pronounced squall line that is moving through the Tennessee Valley and parts of the Gulf Coast. There is still a tornado watch for parts of Tennessee and Alabama but the watch will expire shortly as the tornado threat is winding down.

Behind the cold front, winds will be gusting up to 45 mph in spots and therefore wind advisories have been issued from northeast Kansas to Ohio for today.

This storm will slide eastward today and we could see some strong thunderstorms moving into the western Appalachians and parts of the Great Lakes.

The squall line in the south will fizzle out during the day and there is a possibility some more storms will fire up in parts of the mid-Atlantic and Pennsylvania, but the threat will be only marginal. Any storms that do develop today could have some gusty winds and hail.

Unfortunately, a couple of disturbances will move in from the south and west by tomorrow and another quick moving storm system will bring the next severe threat to the south by Monday afternoon and evening. Heavy rain is expected from Kansas to the Gulf Coast with some strong to severe storms expected in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. Storms tomorrow could have damaging winds, large hail, and brief tornadoes.

Locally, 1 to 2 inches of heavy rain could cause some flash flooding in parts of Arkansas as this storm moves through the region.

By Tuesday, the threat will slide eastward bringing some heavy rain across parts of the southeast. The severe risk region will be from southern Alabama to southeast Georgia and parts of the Florida panhandle. Once again the threat will be damaging winds, large hail and brief tornadoes.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- The amount of novel coronavirus cases around the world and in the U.S. continues to skyrocket. By Saturday morning, the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases around the world surpassed 649,000.

It was just Thursday that the globe reached 500,000 cases, which was double the number of coronavirus cases from the week before.

The U.S. surpassed 115,000 diagnosed coronavirus cases Saturday, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 1,891 deaths in the country.

At least 137,000 people have recovered from the virus during this pandemic.

Today's biggest developments:
-Global cases top 600,000
-US cases cross 100,000
-Italy deaths reach 10,000
-Trump considering enforceable quarantine in NY
-Rhode Island targets New York

Here's how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

3:00 p.m.: Global death toll surpasses 30,000

The global death toll has reached at least 30,249, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Italy has the highest number of reported deaths, at more than 10,000, followed by Spain at more than 5,800.

2:14 p.m.: Trump strikes more assertive tone on GM manufacturing ventilators

President Donald Trump said he had compelled General Motors to manufacture ventilators, after saying the day before that "maybe we won't even need the full activation," referring to using the Defense Protection Act.

"This week, I invoked the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to carry out federal contracts for ventilators and I think they're going to do a great job. I have to say that," Trump said in his speech at Norfolk Naval Base.

The president also said that FEMA has "shipped or delivered" 11.6 million N-95 respirators, 26 million surgical masks and 5.2 million face shields.

2:08 p.m.: New cases in Italy continue to slow, but deaths top 10,000

The number of confirmed cases in Italy continue to slow, with 5,933 new cases reported Saturday -- a 6.8% increase in total new cases, down from Friday's 7.3%.

It was the lowest percentage increase to date in the country. The total number of cases in Italy is now at least 92,472, health officials said.

In the province of Bergamo, the hardest-hit province, there was a nearly 50% drop in new reported cases, from Friday's 602 to Saturday's 289.

However, the number of new deaths in the last 24 hours hit 889, bringing the total death toll to 10,023.

1:44 p.m.: UN to donate 250,000 masks to NYC

The United Nations will donate 250,000 protective face masks to New York City, an area now considered the epicenter of the pandemic.

UN Secretary General António Guterres said the masks would go to medical professionals in the city who have been "working courageously, selflessly, and tirelessly in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the boroughs in the hope that they play some small role in saving lives."

The UN and US Mission personnel are working with Mayor Bill de Blasio's office to quickly get the masks to medical facilities in New York City.

1:26 p.m.: Pope, others in Vatican tested for coronavirus

The Vatican press office confirmed Saturday that the Pope has been tested and neither he nor his closest aides have resulted positive.

12:46 p.m.: Trump considering enforceable quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

President Donald Trump said he may announce an enforceable quarantine in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas.

Trump noted that he "doesn't want to do it, but may have to."

“There's a possibility that sometime today we'll do a quarantine, short-term two weeks, on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn.

The president said that he would restrict travel from those areas because "they're having problems down in Florida, a lot of New Yorkers going down, we don't want that." He later said such a quarantine would not apply to truckers from outside of New York who are making deliveries or traveling through the state.

"It won't affect trade in anyway," Trump said.

Trump said he may do so while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was holding a separate conference. Cuomo said he had not spoken to the president about such a measure and did not know what it would entail.

12:30 p.m.: More than 7,600 new cases reported in New York

There are now 52,318 confirmed cases in New York, after 7,681 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference.

The deaths in the state were up to 728 from 519.

Cuomo did say there was a bit of good news: new hospitalizations and new ICU admissions went down in the last 24-hour period. He cautioned that one day does not prove a trend and the situation certainly could go the other way.

There were 372 people admitted in to an ICU Friday and 172 admitted Saturday. For new hospitalizations, the number Friday was 1,154 and 847 for Saturday.

“The overall line is still up,” Cuomo said. “This is good news on a one day number.”

The governor also announced he was postponing the presidential primary in the state from April 28 to June 23, the date of the states down ballot primary elections.

12:16 p.m.: Trump approves disaster declaration for Massachusetts, Michigan

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Massachusetts and Michigan, ordering federal assistance to the states.

Federal funding will now be available for crisis counseling for those affected in both states.

12:09 p.m.: 1st uniformed NYPD death

A New York Police Department detective has become the department’s first uniformed officer to die after contracting coronavirus, police sources told ABC News.

Detective Cedric Dixon, is the NYPD’s first uniformed officer to die of coronavirus and the third member of the department, after a janitor and an administrative aid.

“We are hurting, we are crying and we continue to fight,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Saturday afternoon.

Dixon was 48. According to police sources he had underlying conditions.

11:46 a.m.: SeaWorld to remain closed

The SeaWorld theme parks will remain temporarily closed, according to a statement from the company. The park had originally planned to open at the end of March.

Animal care experts will still be onsite to care for the animals. "During this time, our animal care experts will continue to look after the health and welfare needs of the animals in our care," a statement from SeaWord read.

"We look forward to welcoming our valued guests back to our parks soon," the statement continued.

10:01 a.m.: Nearly 200 US cities lack emergency equipment: Report

Nearly 200 cities in the United States do not have an adequate supply of tests kits or face masks for medical personnel and first responders, including police, fire, and EMTs, according to a report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

About 88% of cities of the cities surveyed, or 186 cities, don't have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) other than face masks to protect the front-line workers, according to the report.

The staggering statistics "illustrates the scope and severity of the need for COVID-19 emergency equipment in this nation’s cities," according to a letter from the conference's executive director, Tom Cochran.

One-hundred and thirty-one states have reported receiving no emergency equipment from their states, while 84% of those who are receiving help say it is not adequate for their needs.

The report estimates that across the cities surveyed there is a need for 28.5 million face masks, 24.4 million PPE items, 7.9 million test kits, and 139,000 ventilators.

There were 213 cities in 40 states that participated in the survey.

"It is abundantly clear that the shortage of essential items such as face masks, test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other items needed by health and safety personnel has reached crisis proportions in cities across the country," Cochran said in his letter.

9:53 a.m.: More than 8,000 new cases, 832 new deaths in Spain

Spain reported 8,189 new cases of novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, putting the total number of cases at 72,248, according to the Health Ministry.

There have now been 5,690 deaths after 832 new deaths occurred. More than 4,500 still remain in intensive care.

8:55 a.m.: German Aerospace Center to make masks

The German Aerospace Center will make medical equipment using its 3D printers, according to a statement from the agency.

The printers were tested and can successfully produce protective masks and valves for respirators, the statement read.

The German Aerospace Center had been asked by the European Commission to help in producing much needed medical equipment as the world scrambles to combat the pandemic.

The most powerful printer can produce up to 10 protective masks or 15 valves for ventilators per day, according to the agency. However, it's possible to increase the quantity through networking with other institutes and facilities.

6:00 a.m.: Lockdown leads to drop in pollution in Europe

Air pollution has dropped significantly across Europe as lockdowns have been adopted and residents are told to stay home, according to the European Space Agency.

Satellite images from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P show the drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which coincides with the quarantine measures, according to the agency.

The most significant drops were in Milan, Paris and Madrid.

Scientists from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) have been using data from the satellite to monitor both weather and pollution over Europe. The images show the nitrogen dioxide concentrations from March 14 to March 25, comparing it to the averages from last year.

"By combining data for a specific period of time, 10 days in this case, the meteorological variability partly averages out and we begin to see the impact of changes due to human activity," Henk Eskes, from KNMI, said in a statement.

Other countries are also being monitored, including the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Scientists have said that right now there is a larger variability because of changing weather conditions, making it more difficult to observe any changes.

4:43 a.m.: Rhode Island targeting New York travelers

A day after announcing all vehicles with New York license plates will be pulled over by state police and travelers informed they must quarantine if they are staying in the state, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that the National Guard would go door-to-door to make sure New Yorkers are following orders.

"We have a pinpointed a risk that we need to address, and that risk is New York City," Raimondo said Friday during her daily coronavirus media briefing. She said the 14-day quarantine for New York travelers is a law and will be enforced, "it's not a suggestion."

Members of the National Guard will be stationed at bus and train stops, as well as airports to collect personal information form travelers when they arrive. State police officers are doing the same for vehicles they pull over. With that information, Raimondo said authorities would go hotels, vacation homes and any type of residence to keep track of New York travelers.

All these measures, she said, are designed to let the state have time to get ready for the spread of COVID-19. If Rhode Island were to have an outbreak right now, she said the state and its healthcare system would be overwhelmed.

"We are not ready for a surge of cases," Raimondo said.

New York City currently has at least 26,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, with 450 deaths. There are more than 44,000 cases in New York State. As of Friday, only 28 of the 203 diagnosed coronavirus cases in Rhode Island have required hospitalization. The state has no reported COVID-19 deaths.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest aid measure in American history, a $2 trillion stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed into law. Direct payments will be made to Americans to help offset financial hardships incurred during the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and whipsawing financial markets, erasing trillions of dollars in the process.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said at a briefing Friday that the organization, which represents more than 189 countries, is projecting a recession for 2020.

Measures taken in the U.S. hopefully can offset part of that. Here are some of the highlights of the U.S. stimulus package.

ABC Fresno, California, affiliate ABC30 created a calculator to help show how much each individual will receive. According to the calculator, an individual whose most recent tax filing was "married filing jointly," claimed two children under 17 as dependents and has a most recent adjusted gross annual income of $85,000 could expect to receive $3,400.

The calculator can be accessed here.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(HORSESHOE LAKE, Ark.) -- Almost 23 years after an Arkansas mother was murdered by a 16-year-old, the convicted killer allegedly killed her daughter, police said.

Deputies from the Crittenden County Sheriff's Office responded to a call on Wednesday at the historical Snowden House in Horseshoe Lake where they saw a possible suspect fleeing the property.

Police located "a possible suspect who jumped from an upstairs window and ran to a vehicle that he drove across the yard and got stuck in the yard at the Snowden house, the suspect then jumped from the car and ran and jumped into the lake," according to a post from the sheriff office's Facebook page. "He was observed going under the water and never came back up."

Authorities found the body of 63-year-old Martha McKay inside the house and the alleged killer's body was recovered from the water. Both bodies were sent to the state's medical examiner's office to determine the cause and manner of death.

Police identified the alleged killer as 39-year-old Travis Lewis who was on parole since 2018 for the September 1996 murder of McKay's mother and another relative.

Lewis, who was 16 at the time and tried as an adult for the murders, allegedly killed McKay inside the same crime scene from 23 years ago, police said.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Request for further comment from the sheriff's office was not available on Saturday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- The governor of Rhode Island is taking extreme measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in her state by sending law enforcement officers door-to-door to quarantine New York residents.

The effort is to stop the spread of the coronavirus to Rhode Island residents by people who were in the epicenter of the viral disease. The number of confirmed cases in the Ocean State reached over 200 as of Friday which pales in comparison to the over 26,000 in New York City.

"This is an emergency," said Gov. Gina Raimondo on Friday where she specified the 14-day quarantine to people traveling from New York to Rhode Island. "That’s a law. That’s an order. It comes with penalties. It’s not a suggestion."

The 14-day quarantine is part of guidelines by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Raimondo made the announcement at a press conference saying that the National Guard will seek out people who are believed to have traveled from the Big Apple to shore rental homes. The troops are expected to enforce the 14-day quarantine by collecting contact information from people entering the state from all modes of transportation.

The state police are going to monitor the highways by the Newport Bridge and will pull over cars with New York plates, said Raimondo. The officers will ask for the occupants of the vehicle for their contact information and order them into quarantine if they intend to stay.

"What is constitutional in one scenario is different than in another. This is pinpointed, this is targeted, this is a state of emergency, this is limited in time, and it’s going to be enforced in a respectful way," said Raimondo. "And it’s a public health necessity."

Violators are subject to a fine at first and prison time on subsequent offenses.

Raimondo is not the only governor calling for targeted state residents to abide by the quarantine order.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed an executive order to mandate travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14-days once they arrive. He has since extended the order to include Louisiana as their number of coronavirus patients are rapidly increasing.

Fines and criminal charges are also a threat for violators of DeSantis' order.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A major storm is quickly intensifying Saturday morning in the central U.S. and will bring a significant severe weather outbreak to parts of the Midwest Saturday afternoon and evening – including the threat for dangerous, significant, long-track tornadoes.

Radar Saturday morning is showing the organizing storm with a rain shield that stretches from the Great Plains through the Great Lakes and the Mid-Atlantic. Some of the thunderstorms Saturday morning, especially in northern Illinois, are capable of producing 1 to 2 inches of rainfall. There is a flash flood watch issued for parts of Indiana and Ohio, where 1-2 inches of rain is likely in the next 36 hours.

Storms on Friday evening produced greater than baseball-sized hail in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri.

On the colder side of the system, winter weather advisories, and blizzard warnings have been issued for the upper Midwest and the Plains, where locally up to 6 inches of snow is possible this week.

There is a moderate risk area for severe weather in northern Illinois and the extreme eastern edge of Iowa. In Peoria, Illinois, there is a moderate risk for long-track, strong tornadoes.

There is potential that an upgrade to a high-risk alert will be coming later Saturday from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.

In the enhanced risk and slight risk areas, tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail will be possible. Regardless of the risk area, some strong tornadoes are possible Saturday. Some of the cities in the enhanced and slight risk areas include Nashville, Little Rock, Arkansas, St. Louis, Chicago and Indianapolis.

Storms will approach the Midwest and Mississippi River valley by mid to late Saturday afternoon. The increased concern will occur later in the evening as we head towards dusk and first couple hours of night, when the low-level jet will strengthen along the cold front. This low-level jet will greatly enhance the shear with the thunderstorms, and allow the storms to rotate. Therefore, there is a possibility of significant severe weather during the night hours Saturday night.

The storm will be sliding eastward on Sunday and some of the severe weather will try to move into parts of Ohio Valley and Western Appalachians. However, the intensity of the storms is expected to decrease with only general thunderstorms expected for now, with a couple of stronger storms possible.

Additionally, some snow will be possible in parts of the upper Midwest, including Duluth, Minnesota and Minneapolis.

By Monday, the storm will have cleared much of the country, with little weather impact remaining.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- Staying at home has become synonymous with healthy habits in the age of coronavirus, but what's everyone doing to stay entertained indoors?

From insanely intricate puzzles keeping people focused for days to baking loaves of fresh bread, here's a snapshot of what some people are doing to pass the time inside and at a socially responsible distance.


Whether you're an avid puzzler who can master a 1,000 piece puzzle or a novice who needs to start small, people have shared their masterpieces all over social media as we continue to socially distance.

Even celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres have shared a glimpse at their own attempt at a 4,000 piece puzzle that she joked would keep her busy for "at least an hour."

Late-night host Conan O'Brien also hopped on the puzzle train and said the activity is a great way to entertain yourself while staying safe.

He shared a video on Facebook to talk about the booming trend and jokingly advised dropping pieces in boiling water to ensure each one was properly clean.

The largest jigsaw puzzle store in the U.S., the Puzzle Warehouse, said on its Facebook page before they had to close their local storefront in St. Louis that things had gotten "a little crazy over here" with the influx of attention.

The family-run shop sells 1,000 puzzles on an average day, according to the Washington Post, but in one week since coronavirus, it sold as many as 10,000 per day and can still fulfill orders online.


There has been a new food movement on social media this month that would make Oprah proud. It's all about bread.

Compared with the first half of the month, this week twice as many people tweeted about cooking/baking, with around 500K tweets per day, Twitter told ABC News.

Social media has been filled with the sights (and we wish the smells) of fresh-baked bread.

As people sift through their pantry staples, flour and active yeast have become the stars of self-isolation for people looking to try their hand at kneading and baking.

Others have deemed this to be the perfect time to start from scratch. Using just flour and water, people are learning how to foster their very first sourdough starters. After a few days of feeding and ripening, passing a float test and eventually with the right temperature, tools and recipe, they use it to bake a lovely fresh homemade loaf.

Tara Jensen, a professional baker known for her sourdough knowledge, has even shared the journey from start to finish with all the burbling scientific details to better help novice bakers get their starter, well, started.

Video games

From Call of Duty to computer game classics, Americans are jumping at the opportunity to fire up their favorite game consoles.

Can't go outside with friends? That's not a problem for literally anyone who has instead turned to creating their own alternate life simulations on The Sims.

And for any parents who want to make sure their kids aren't spending all day playing video games, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised using this time to let kids practice self-control with their consoles.

"Make a plan about how much time kids can play video games online with friends, and where their devices will charge at night," the AAP said. "Challenge children to practice 'tech self-control' and turn off the TV, tablet, or video game themselves - rather than parents reminding them."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


JMRPhotography/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With the Army's help, the temporary field hospital at New York City's Javits Convention Center will now hold 2,910 beds, making it one of the largest hospitals in America. Established in record time, the temporary hospital is an example of the surge of federal and military resources into New York to help with the novel coronavirus pandemic, including the Army Corps of Engineers, two Army field hospitals, and the Navy’s hospital ship the USNS Comfort.

Over the last week the Army Corps of Engineers has been busy transforming the convention center’s expansive exposition halls into an overflow medical facility that beginning Monday will treat patients who are not infected with the novel coronavirus. The treatment of non-COVID-19 patients is designed to make it easier for medical facilities in New York to focus treatment on patients infected with the virus.

Originally slated to house 1,000 beds composed of four Federal Emergency Management Agency field hospitals, the Army Corps of Engineers took advantage of the convention center's design and the arrival of two Army field hospitals from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Hood, Texas, to expand the number of beds at the temporary hospital.

"We basically took that four [multiplied] by 250 is 1,000. We thought we could expand it by stretching the ratio," Gen. Todd Semonite, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers, told reporters Friday. "So today we're going to plan on having 2,910 rooms up by Monday morning in the Javits Center."

That number of beds will make the Javits Center hospital larger than the 2,600 bed capacity of New York- Presbyterian Hospital, the city's largest hospital.

"The Javits Center is an amazing facility," said Semonite. "Every 10 feet there's a great big steel door in the floor, you open it up in there is all the electrical; there's cold water, there's hot water and there's a place for sewers, so you can actually do things like sinks, right in the middle of a convention center to be able to make that happen."

The hospital will be staffed by 350 medical personnel from FEMA and the two Army hospitals.

Non-COVID-19 patients will be transported from hospitals in the New York City area to the convention center, just as they will be at the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship the USNS Comfort when it is operational in New York Harbor on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, three of the Army’s six field hospitals were ordered to assist in the treatment of non-COVID-19 patients with one of them headed to Washington state and the other two to New York City.

Six hundred soldiers from those the 531st Hospital Center from Fort Campbell and the 9th Hospital Center from Fort Hood flew to the New York on Thursday, ahead of the arrival of their medical equipment that was being transported in 108 tractor trailer trucks

"This is obviously the absolute top priority of the nation right now, and knowing that our very well-trained and capable [531st] Hospital Center is going to be part of this makes us really proud," Maj. Gen. Brian Winski, the commander the 101st Airborne Division, told ABC News in an interview.

"They're well trained, they're prepared and readiness is our watchword; they're prepared to deploy in a moment's notice, which is exactly what they did and they are going to make a huge impact," he added.

While the medical personnel from the 531st Hospital Center will not be treating non-COVID-19 patients, they will still follow guidelines to ensure they do not become exposed to the virus during their deployment.

Prior to their departure, Winski told his soldiers that the length of their deployment to New York will likely be "a matter of months, not weeks" and that his command will do their best to ensure that they and their commands are kept informed of when they will come home.

Their prolonged stay will also have an impact at Fort Campbell’s Blanchfield Army Community Hospital where most of the personnel from the 531st are normally assigned.

"It is requiring us to reorganize," Winski said, acknowledging soldiers' deployment will lead to staff adjustments at Blanchfield to ensure that facility can treat COVID-19 cases at Fort Campbell.

"We're going to adjust how we're organized up there to ensure that we are configured as best as we can possibly be for larger numbers of COVID-19 patients that require hospitalization."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Samara Heisz/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed over 26,900 people around the world.

Globally there are more than 586,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The United States has over 100,000 cases of COVID-19, the highest of any country.

There have been at least 1,544 deaths in the U.S. More than 1,000 people have died in the past week alone.

At least 862 people in the U.S. have recovered.

Here are the latest developments. All times are in Eastern.

7:59 p.m.: Pence says over 685,000 tests done

Vice President Mike Pence said more than 685,000 tests for coronavirus have been done in the U.S. as of Friday morning.

"As a great credit to our partnership with commercial laboratories across the country, this morning it was reported that more than 685,000 tests have already been performed, and we are particularly grateful to the American Hospital Association whose members are now reporting in to the CDC and FEMA in real time, giving our experts more visibility on those that have contracted the disease around the country," Pence said.

The number is an increase of 133,000 from Thursday, and includes private testing.

6 p.m.: US cases top 100,000

The number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has now topped 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins.

There are now 100,717 cases, most in the world by over 14,000, and 1,544 deaths.

Meanwhile, the number of cases worldwide is creeping closer to 600,000, now standing at 590,594.

4:48 p.m.: 2 more congressmen test positive

Two more congressmen, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., have tested positive for coronavirus.

Neither was there for today’s stimulus package vote.

There are now four members who have announced they’ve received positive tests, including Ben McAdams, D-Utah, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

4:45 p.m.: 25-year-old with no underlying conditions dies

A 25-year-old pharmacy technician with no underlying health issues has died from COVID-19, said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the Riverside County, California, public health officer.

The 25-year-old had been self-quarantining. The victim's body was found Wednesday in a home in La Quinta, officials said.

"This is a deeply saddening reminder that COVID-19 kills the young and healthy too," Kaiser said in a statement. "Stay safe. Keep travel and errands to essentials, and observe social distance no matter how young or well you are. Our condolences and thoughts are with everyone this pandemic has touched."

4:20 p.m.: Trump uses Defense Production Act for 1st time, compelling GM to make ventilators

President Donald Trump for the first time on Friday used the authorities granted by the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to produce ventilators.

"Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course," Trump said in a written statement. "GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives."

Trump said in the memo that the Secretary of Health and Human Services “shall use any and all authority available under the Act to require General Motors Company to accept, perform, and prioritize contracts or orders for the number of ventilators that the secretary determines to be appropriate.”

A GM spokesperson said, "Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for over a week to meet this urgent need. Our commitment to build Ventec’s high-quality critical care ventilator, VOCSN, has never wavered. The partnership between Ventec and GM combines global expertise in manufacturing quality and a joint commitment to safety to give medical professionals and patients access to life-saving technology as rapidly as possible."

Trump signed the COVID-19 relief package in the Oval Office Friday afternoon.

The historic measure was passed by the House of Representatives earlier Friday.

The $2 trillion package, which the Senate approved on Wednesday, is the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history.

3:50 p.m.: Disney World, Disneyland closed until further notice

Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort will stay closed until further notice.

The company said it's been paying its cast members since the parks closed and will now extend paying hourly parks and resorts cast members through April 18.

(Disney is the parent company of ABC News.)

3:32 p.m.: New Jersey offering exclusive testing to health care workers, first responders

New Jersey will offer exclusive COVID-19 testing to health care workers and first responders this weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday.

Beginning Saturday, the Bergen County College and PNC Bank Arts Center drive-through sites will be reserved for health workers and first responders only. On Monday, the two sites will reopen again to anyone in need of a test.

The state has at least 8,825 confirmed cases. The virus has killed 108 people in New Jersey, including 27 people in the last 24 hours.

Although the state is working hard to expand testing to more people, officials can only commit to testing those who are symptomatic, Murphy said.

3:15 p.m.: LA County beaches to close

Los Angeles County beaches are all closing to the public immediately because the crowds there last weekend "were unacceptable," said LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

"We cannot risk another sunny weekend with crowds at the beach spreading this virus," Hahn said.

The county is also closing public trails and beach bike paths.

LA County has at least 1,465 diagnosed cases and five deaths.

2:18 p.m.: Italy’s death toll climbs over 9,000

Italy -- by far the hardest-hit nation for coronavirus fatalities -- recorded over 900 deaths in one day, a daily record, said Domenico Arcuri, the national commissioner for the emergency.

Italy's death toll is now over 9,000, according to the Johns Hopkins data.

Despite the grim numbers, officials with the Italian Higher Health Institute said Friday that the nationwide lockdown continues to show a reduction in the rate of new cases each day.

Overall there was a 7.3% growth in the spread of the virus from Thursday nationwide. This is the fifth day in a row of single-digit percentage growth in the overall number of new cases, according to Italy's Civil Protection Agency.

The total number of cases in Italy is now over 86,000, according to the civil protection agency.

12:29 p.m.: Pennsylvania becomes 13th state to delay primary

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Friday to move the state's presidential primary from April 28 to June 2.

Pennsylvania marks the 13th state to delay its nominating contest over coronavirus concerns. Pennsylvania joins Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wyoming, as well as Puerto Rico.

12:06 p.m.: 519 deaths in New York

Diagnosed coronavirus cases have jumped to 44,685 in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Of those diagnosed, 6,481 are hospitalized, including 1,583 people in the ICU, Cuomo said.

New York has by far the most cases of any state in the nation. In second is New Jersey with 6,800, according to Cuomo.

At least 519 have died in the state. Cuomo warned, "That is going to continue to go up."

"The reason why the number is going up is because some people came into the hospital 20 days, 25 days ago and had been on a ventilator for that long a period of time," Cuomo said. "When somebody is on that ventilator for a prolonged period of time, the outcome is usually not good."

As the pandemic escalates, New York state schools will remain closed until April 15, and Cuomo said he will re-assess from that point. New York City schools are closed until at least April 20.

Hospitals in the state have 53,000 beds but need 140,000 beds, the governor said. Hospitals have to increase capacity by 50%, Cuomo said, adding that he hopes hospitals can increase capacity by 100%.

The state is also looking to build temporary emergency hospitals and is scouting sites, he said.

11:28 a.m.: Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy arrives in Los Angeles

The Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived in the port of Los Angeles Friday morning where it'll help ease the burden on the city's hospitals.

With 1,128 active duty medical personnel on board, the USNS Mercy will treat non-COVID-19 patients.

Another Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, will depart Virginia on Saturday to head to New York City's harbor.

11:09 a.m.: Mark Zuckerberg commits $25 million to accelerate coronavirus treatments

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he and his wife are giving $25 million to accelerate the development of coronavirus treatments.

"We're partnering with the Gates Foundation and others to quickly evaluate the most promising existing drugs to see which ones might be effective at preventing and treating the coronavirus," Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Friday morning. "Since these drugs have already gone through clinical safety trials, if they're effective, it will be much faster to make them available than it will be to develop and test a new vaccine -- hopefully months rather than a year or more."

10:12 a.m.: Man arrested for making threats toward Dems, Speaker Pelosi

A 27-year-old Texas man has been arrested for allegedly making death threats against Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, related to their work on Congress' coronavirus stimulus bill, according to the FBI.

Gavin Perry was charged with making threats over Facebook in which he allegedly described Pelosi as part of a "satanic cult" and said that "Dems of the establishment will be removed at any cost necessary and yes that means by death."

In a separate post that featured a photo of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Perry allegedly wrote, "If youre a dem or apart of the establishment in the democrats side I view you as a criminal and a terrorist and I advise everyone to Go SOS [shoot on sight] and use live rounds... Shoot to kill. This is a revolution.”

Perry appeared in court Thursday but has not entered a plea.

9:52 a.m.: 911 calls reach record high in NYC

In New York City -- the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic -- the fire department handled more than 6,000 911 calls on Thursday, the busiest day ever in terms of individual medical incidents.

That number is nearly double the normal amount of 911 calls for the department.

The record-high call volume is largely being driven by calls from people who are scared or concerned they have coronavirus, officials said.

The FDNY is imploring people not to call 911 if they feel sick. Instead, they should ring a doctor and call for an ambulance only in a true emergency.

There are 2,000 New York City firefighters and paramedics out sick, or about 17% of the department, officials said.

At least 170 members of the FDNY have tested positive for COVID-19.

9:18 a.m.: UK Prime Minister, UK Health Secretary test positive for COVID-19

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday morning that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," Johnson said in a tweet. "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this."

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Friday said he too has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.

Hancock said his symptoms are "very mild" and he would continue to work from home.

8:20 a.m.: NYC mayor projects half of city will be infected

In New York City -- the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic -- Mayor Bill de Blasio projects "over half the people in this city will ultimately be infected."

"For over 80% [there] will be very little impact," de Blasio told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. "But 20% of the people infected, it's going to be tough, and for some of them, it will be fatal."

New York City has over 23,112 diagnosed cases -- more than a quarter of the confirmed cases in the country.

At least 365 people have died in New York City, twice as many deaths as any state.

The mayor said the city has enough hospital supplies to get through this week and next week but "that's all I can guarantee, and after that unfortunately, we think this crisis is going to grow through April into May. "

"We need help now. When the president says the state of New York doesn't need 30,000 ventilators, with all due respect to him, he's not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis," de Blasio said. "A ventilator means someone lives or dies ... if they don't get a ventilator, a lot of people won't make it."

The city needs 15,000 ventilators, he warned.

"We have some, and I'm thankful for that, but it has to keep coming," de Blasio said. "The president has to make that contract happen with the companies that can create ventilators not just for New York City and New York state, but for the whole country. This is going to get worse before it gets better ... all parts of this country are going to need them."

De Blasio called the president's goal to reopen the country for Easter "a false hope."

"It would be better for the president to be blunt with people that we've got a really tough battle ahead," the mayor said. "Throw in the military who are not yet being fully engaged, and they're ready, but the president has to give the order. Build those ventilators, get the supplies all over this country. People are going to need it in April and in May."

7:29 a.m.: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday morning that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," Johnson tweeted. "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this."

Johnson was tested on the advice of England's chief medical officer, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

"We will get through it," Johnson said in a video message Friday.

5:19 a.m.: Michigan health system develops contingency plan to deny ventilators and ICU treatment

A Michigan health system has come up with a contingency plan for doctors to make life-or-death decisions when treating patients in the coronavirus pandemic.

A draft letter from Henry Ford Health Systems outlining the plan to families was widely shared on Twitter late Thursday night. The plan, typed on what appeared to be hospital letterhead, said that coronavirus patients with the best chance of surviving will be "our first priority," while those who are "extremely sick and very unlikely to survive" will receive "pain control and comfort measures" rather than ventilators and intensive care treatment.

"Treating these patients would take away resources for patients who might survive," the letter stated. "This decision will be based on medical condition and likelihood of getting better."

Responding to a flurry tweets about the letter, Henry Ford Health Systems confirmed its accuracy but clarified that the policy has not yet been implemented.

“With a pandemic, we must be prepared for worst case,” the company tweeted. “With collective wisdom from our industry, we crafted a policy to provide guidance for making difficult patient care decisions. We hope never to have to apply them. We will always utilize every resource to care for our patients.”

4:37 a.m.: South Africa cases top 1,000 as country begins three-week lockdown

The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in South Africa has topped 1,000, the country's health minister said Friday.

Africa's most industrialized economy has the highest national total of known cases on the continent.

South Africa also recorded its first two deaths from COVID-19, both of which occurred in the Western Cape province.

"This morning, we South Africans wake up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19,” South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhizethe said in a statement Friday.

Friday marked the start of a three-week nationwide lockdown in South Africa, aimed at curbing the rising number of cases.

3:30 a.m.: Trump and Xi discuss coronavirus crisis

U.S. President Donald Trump said he spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump posted about the telephone conversation on Twitter early Thursday morning, saying they discussed the situation "in great detail."

"Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China," Trump tweeted. "Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much [and] has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!"

Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020

 Xi told Trump that "China and the United States should unite to fight the epidemic" and that he hoped "the United States will take substantive actions to improve Sino-U.S. relations," according to Chinese state television network CCTV.

The Chinese president also emphasized that the relationship between their two countries is "at a critical juncture" and that "cooperation is the only right choice," according to CCTV.

Trump has clashed with China over the global fight against the novel coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. The U.S. president reportedly angered Beijing officials this month when he repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as "the Chinese virus."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


strevell/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The only thing people seem to be talking about besides coronavirus is baking.

As Americans stay home to "flatten the curve" and practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most tweeted about activities for those at home has been cooking and baking. The hashtag #QuarantineBread emerged, according to Twitter, where twice as many people as usual tweeted about cooking and baking this week.

The baking trend carried over onto Google where a trending search of the week was "How to make banana bread."

Look no further.

Taste of Home shared their recipe for the "best ever" banana bread, sent in from their reader Gert Kaiser of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"Whenever I pass a display of bananas in the grocery store, I can almost smell the wonderful aroma of my best banana bread recipe," she wrote. "It really is that good!"

Get the recipe for this highly rated banana bread below.

Best-ever banana bread

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Yield: one loaf (16 slices)

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts


In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla; add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in nuts.

Pour into a greased or parchment-lined 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan.

If desired, sprinkle with additional walnuts.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minute or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack.

One slice: 255 calories, 12g fat (1g saturated fat), 27mg cholesterol, 166mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (21g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's daily press briefings have become a source of comfort, calm and inspiration as the novel coronavirus pandemic intensifies.

New York has become the epicenter of the pandemic. With over 44,000 diagnosed cases, New York has by far the most cases of any state in the nation.

At least 519 have died in the state, and Cuomo warned, "That is going to continue to go up."

The battle against the virus will "be weeks and weeks and weeks," the governor said Friday, adding, "I'm proud to fight this fight with you."

Here's a partial transcript of the governor's Friday remarks:

I want to make two points to you and I want to make two promises to you. This is a different beast that we're dealing with. This is an invisible beast. It is an insidious beast. This is not going to be a short deployment. This is not going to be that you go out there for a few days. We work hard and we go home. This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks. This is going to be a long day and it's going to be a hard day, and it's going to be an ugly day, and it's going to be a sad day.

This is a rescue mission that you're on - the mission is to save lives. That's what you're doing. The rescue mission is to save lives and as hard as we work, we're not going to be able to save everyone. And what's even more cruel is this enemy doesn't attack the strongest of us. It attacks the weakest of us. It attacks our most vulnerable which makes it even worse in many ways. Because these are the people that every instinct tells us we're supposed to protect.

These are our parents and our grandparents. These are our aunts, our uncles. These are a relative who was sick and every instinct says protect them. Help them, because they need us. And those are the exact people that this enemy attacks. Every time I've called out the National Guard I have said the same thing to you: I promise you I will not ask you to do anything that I will not do myself. And the same is true here. We're going to do this and we're going to do this together.

My second point is, you are living a moment in history. This is going to be one of those moment they're going to write and they're going to talk about for generations. This is a moment that is going to change this nation. This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people -- make them stronger, make them weaker -- but this is a moment that will change character.

Ten years from now, you'll be talking about today to your children or your grandchildren and you will shed a tear because you will remember the lives lost. You'll remember the faces and you'll remember the names and you'll remember how hard we worked and that we still lost loved ones. And you'll shed a tear and you should because it will be sad.

But, you will also be proud. You'll be proud of what you did. You'll be proud that you showed up. You showed up when other people played it safe. You had the courage to show up. You had the skill and the professionalism to make a difference and save lives. That's what you will have done.

At the end of the day, nobody can ask anything more from you. That is your duty, to do what you can when you can. You will have shown skill and courage and talent. You'll be there with your mind, you'll be there with your heart and you'll serve with honor. That will give you pride and you should be proud. I know that I am proud of you.

And every time the National Guard has been called out, they have made every New Yorker proud. I am proud to be with you yet again. I'm proud to fight this fight with you. And I bring you thanks from all New Yorkers who are just so appreciative of the sacrifice that you are making, the skill that you're bringing, the talent that you're bringing. You give many New Yorkers confidence.

So I say, my friends, that we go out there today and we kick coronavirus' a--, that's what I say. And we're going to save lives and New York is going to thank you. God bless each and every one of you.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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