Coronavirus live updates: Italy to set up ‘immunity passports,’ outbreak swamps NYC 911 system

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  • Global cases: More than 1,721,300
  • Global deaths: At least 104,800
  • US cases: More than 501,700
  • US deaths: At least 18,781

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

12:21 pm: Italy’s daily coronavirus death toll and new cases push higher

GP: Coronavirus Murals: Italy Extends Coronavirus Lockdown
A mural dedicated to all Italian medical workers depicting a nurse cradling Italy and reading ‘To All Of You… Thank You!’, on a wall of Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital on March 25, 2020 in Bergamo, near Milan, Italy.
Emanuele Cremaschi | Getty Images

Deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 619 on Saturday, up from 570 the day before, and the number of new cases climbed to 4,694 from a previous 3,951.

The daily death toll was the highest since April 6 and the rise in infections was the biggest since April 4.

After easing from peaks around the end of March, Italy’s daily death and infection tallies have declined but are not falling steeply, as was hoped by Italians who have been in lockdown for a month.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 rose to 19,468, the Civil Protection Agency said, broadly level with that of the United States, the other country worst hit in terms of absolute numbers.

The number of officially confirmed cases climbed to 152,271, the third-highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain. —Reuters

12:12 pm: Governors Hogan and Cuomo call for additional $500 billion in aid to states

Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland and Andrew Cuomo of New York issued a bipartisan call Saturday for an additional $500 billion in federal aid for U.S. states and territories dealing with the coronavirus.

Hogan, a Republican, is chairman of the National Governors Association and Cuomo, a Democrat, is the vice chair. The two said in a statement Saturday morning that implementing stay-at-home orders and other public health measures have “resulted in catastrophic damage to state economies.”

“In the absence of unrestricted fiscal support of at least $500 billion from the federal government, states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to critically important services all across this country, hampering public health, the economic recovery, and—in turn—our collective effort to get people back to work,” the statement said. —Associated Press

11:55 am: Without a central predictive spread model, states are creating their own hodgepodge of response plans

State leaders are relying on a hodgepodge of statistical models with wide-ranging numbers to guide their paths through the deadly coronavirus emergency and make critical decisions, such as shutting down businesses and filling their inventory of medical supplies.

During hurricane season, coastal states can trust the same set of computer models to warn of a storm’s track. During this pandemic, there is no uniform consensus to predict the toll and direction of the virus that is tearing through communities around the country.

With little agreed-upon information, governors and local officials are basically creating do-it-yourself sources of information with their own officials and universities. —Associated Press

11:48 am: Animal rescues are going to need more help than ever once coronavirus restrictions are lifted

H/O: Meow Parlor interior
Patrons at Meow Parlor pet a cat in the window of the cat cafe.
Meow Parlour

Nestled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan is a shop with a unique table in the window. A simple wood ledge is balanced on four big white letters that spell out the word “MEOW.”

On a typical day, New Yorkers walking the streets can spot adoptable cats sunning themselves, sprawled out on the table or napping under the “M” or inside the “O.”

These days, Meow Parlour, New York City’s first cat cafe, doesn’t house a single cat. Its doors are shuttered, like many small businesses in the city, due to the coronavirus outbreak. The cats that once resided inside have either been adopted or gone to live in foster homes.

“We are basically on pause, which feels really weird,” Christina Ha, owner of Meow Parlour, said, “It looks a little bit like those horror movies where a place has been abandoned. It’s very familiar to you, but it’s not the same.”

Meow Parlour, like other animal rescues across the country, saw a spike in adoptions and foster applications in late February and early March as people prepared for extended stays at home. Now Ha wonders if she’ll be able to reopen once the pandemic ebbs. —Sarah Whitten

11:37 am: Coronavirus forces colleges to try study abroad staying at home

With the coronavirus initiating international travel bans and campuses shut down, colleges and universities are seeking alternative ways to provide students with continued academic opportunities, including the iconic, immersive overseas study experience.

One option: studying abroad from home.

At the University at Buffalo, Dr. Mara Huber, director of the school’s Experiential Learning Network, has brought groups to Tanzania to study women’s empowerment for more than ten years. This fall, in the wake of the pandemic, she’s launching the program virtually.

“I thought it was a good time to be bold and fully embrace the vision we had been working toward,” Huber said. “Universities have relationships with communities all around the world, and i think it’s time to use technology to give students access to these experiences.” —Sully Barrett

11:19 am: SoftBank CEO Son says he will supply 300 million masks per month to Japan

GP: People wearing masks in Tokyo, Japan
People wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus take a walk at Ueno Park in Tokyo on April 11, 2020. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on April 10 that the metropolitan government will request many businesses, including night clubs, karaoke parlors and pachinko pinball parlors to suspend operations from April 11 in light of the state of emergency over the coronavirus epidemic.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son said he has secured a monthly supply of 300 million face masks for Japan from May after reaching a deal with Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Co, which has also started producing masks.

SoftBank will supply two different kinds of mask, initially for medical staff, in cooperation with the Japanese government’s “mask team,” set up to tackle shortages due to the coronavirus outbreak, Son said on Twitter.

Addressing the supply crunch is a priority for the Japanese government, which will begin delivering two washable masks to households next week — a move that has been widely criticized on social media as inadequate. —Reuters

11:05 am: Thinking they won’t qualify for aid, small businesses could miss out on millions in stimulus

“When we got the order we were non-essential, that was the day we cleared house,” said Suzanna Cameron, 30, the owner of Stems, a flower shop in Brooklyn, New York.

After her store was forced to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the single mom said she tried to pivot with virtual flower arranging workshops and free contactless delivery, but the business quickly came to a standstill.

“The next day I let most of my staff go.”

Cameron said she knew the business could not weather two months without work. For florists, spring is the peak season. “From a cash flow basis, that’s detrimental,” Cameron said.

“I am leaning into the fact that I have some savings in the business and basically it’s going to be a bleed out and I hope we make it to the other side,” she said.

There is hope: As a sole proprietor, Cameron is eligible for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program to help survive the economic fallout from Covid-19. —Jessica Dickler

10:42 am: Italy plans more virus testing, contact tracing

GP: Rome Italy Sees Drop In Coronavirus Cases After Weeks Of Lockdown 200409
Italian Red Cross staff use a thermoscanner to check the body temperature of commuters arriving at Termini train station, during the Coronavirus emergency on April 9, 2020 in Rome, Italy.
Antonio Masiello Getty Images

Italy plans to increase testing for the coronavirus and use voluntary contact tracing whenever it exits from a lockdown that’s currently in effect until at least May 3.

Italy’s special commissioner for the virus emergency Domenico Arcuri told SKYTG 24 there will be mandatory blood tests to set up a system of ″immunity passports.″⁣

The voluntary contact tracing mobile apps will allow people to know if they have come in contact with someone who is positive for the virus. Then they can be tested in an effort to limit further spread of the virus.

The blood tests identifying anti-bodies are still being developed. Virologists have cautioned the tests will not prove immunity but will give a snapshot whether a person has been in contact with the virus. If an antibody test is positive, more testing would be needed to know if the virus is still active.

The goal of public health officials is to determine how long immunity to the virus lasts. —Associated Press

10:28 am: Airline cash grants offered by federal government could force carriers to take on more debt

Two weeks after Congress approved a $50 billion bailout of airlines that earmarked carriers receiving $25 Billion in direct cash grants, it turns out those grants could require airlines to take on more debt. Executives at multiple U.S. airlines tell CNBC the preliminary grant offers extended by the federal government on Friday call for 30% of the money offered to come in the form of low-interest loans from the Treasury Department.

The structure of the offers has caught U.S. airlines by surprise. “This is not what Congress approved,” said one industry executive who asked not to be identified given the ongoing discussions between airlines and the Treasury Department. “The aid was supposed to be $25 Billion in cash grants and $25 Billion in loans.”

The cash grant offers extended to the largest airlines on Friday also come with several important provisions including no mass layoffs of airline employees through September 30th, a stipulation airlines expected as Congress was finalizing $50 billion in aid. As a result, all carriers have committed to not laying off employees for the next six months. —Phil LeBeau

10:10 am: New York City public schools will remain closed for rest of academic year

GP: Coronavirus New York City schools closed Russell Sage Junior High School closed, Google Classroom sign
Russell Sage Junior High School closed, Google Classroom sign.
Lindsey Nicholson Education Images | Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Saturday that New York City public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year as the coronavirus spreads.

“Having to tell you that we cannot bring our schools back for the remainder of this school year is painful. But I can also tell you that it’s the right thing to do,” the Mayor said during a press briefing.

To prevent further spread of the coronavirus, 1.1 million students in the nation’s largest school system will continue their education remotely for the next three months. Approximately 1,800 schools in the city shut down on March 16 and were expected to reopen by April 20, after spring break.

“The worst mistake we could make is to take our foot off the gas and end up in a situation where this disease had a resurgence and threatened us even more,” de Blasio said. “We’re not gonna allow the coronavirus to start to attack us even more and to make sure it doesn’t, we have to be cautious. We have to be smart about the moves we make.”—Emma Newburger, Jasmine Kim

9:51 am: England’s coronavirus hospital death toll rises by 823 to 8,937

The coronavirus death toll in English hospitals rose over the past 24 hours by 823 to a total of 8,937, health officials reported on Saturday.

Those who died aged were between 11 and 102 years old, and 33 had no known underlying health condition, NHS England said. —Reuters

9:39 am: Easter and Passover celebrated in a ‘world turned upside down’ as churches and synagogues close due to coronavirus pandemic

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Cathedral of St. John the Divine as pictured on April 7, 2020 in New York.

St. John the Divine is one of many Christian and Jewish houses of worship that are shuttered this week as congregations celebrate the Easter and Passover holidays online, amid shelter-in-place orders and social-distancing measures designed to stop the coronavirus epidemic from spreading even further, particularly in hard-hit New York City. There are 94,409 confirmed coronavirus cases in the city, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, accounting for nearly 20% of the nationwide case total of 501,615.

Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, is broadcasting Shabbat services to congregants in the safety of their homes through a live stream. Senior Rabbi Serge Lippe held a Passover Seder with dozens of participants through video conference on the platform Zoom. While Lippe, 55, was grateful to engage with his community, he compared the experience to being underwater due to the time lag and limitations on hearing.

“Passover has been diminished and limited,” Lippe said. “It’s a holiday that, for Jews, speaks of freedom and liberation, but we’re not feeling particularly freed or liberated this season.” —Spencer Kimball

9:31 am: Spain’s death toll slows ahead of lockdown loosening

Spain registered its lowest one-day increase in deaths from coronavirus since March 23 on Saturday, as thousands of businesses prepared to reopen under a loosening of nationwide lockdown restrictions.

An overnight death toll of 510 brought the total number of fatalities up to 16,353, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Confirmed cases of the infection climbed to 161,852 from 157,022 a day earlier.

The slowdown is an encouraging sign for Spain, which has suffered the third-highest number of deaths from the virus after Italy and the United States.

At the beginning of April, the overnight death tally rose as high as 950, overwhelming the national health service and forcing regional authorities to set up temporary mortuaries in an ice rink and disused public buildings. –Reuters

9:16 am: Every 15 seconds: Outbreak overwhelms NYC’s emergency system

GP: Daily Life In New York City Amid Coronavirus Outbreak - 106484485
A view of a group of nurses going to their shifts in NYU Langone hospital in Manhattan, New York City, USA, during coronavirus pandemic on April 10, 2020.
John Nacion | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The coronavirus crisis is taxing New York City’s 911 system like never before.

Operators pick up a new call every 15.5 seconds. Panicked voices tell of loved ones in declining health. There are multitudes of cardiac arrests and respiratory failures and others who call needing reassurance that a mere sneeze isn’t a sign they’ve been infected.

The system is so overwhelmed, the city has started sending text and tweet alerts urging people to only call 911 “for life-threatening emergencies.”

As the city staggered through its deadliest week of the pandemic, its emergency response system and army of operators, dispatchers and ambulance crews is being pushed to the brink.

The Fire Department said it has averaged more than 5,500 ambulance requests each day — about 40% higher than usual, eclipsing the total call volume on Sept. 11, 2001.

“When you hang up with one call, another one pops in,” said 911 operator Monique Brown. “There’s no time for a minute’s rest.”

“It’s back-to-back, nonstop,” said dispatcher Virginia Creary. —Associated Press

8:55 am: Boris Johnson making ‘very good progress’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making “very good progress” in his recovery from Covid-19, his office said.

Johnson was moved out of intensive care after three nights on Thursday and Downing Street said on Friday he had managed to start walking, although his recovery was at an early stage.

“The Prime Minister continues to make very good progress,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said. —Reuters

8:39 am: Why states are bidding against each other and the federal government to get important medical supplies

As manufacturers struggle to keep up with the surging demand for masks, gloves and gowns for medical professionals, states are bidding against each other — and the federal government — for supplies.

The situation has slowed down states’ ability to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) during a time of intense need, while also driving up costs.

“Everybody trying to purchase the same things is not an efficient way to do this,” said Casey Tingle, deputy director of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. During past emergencies like Hurricane Katrina, the state has worked closely with regional officials for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and relied on the agency to procure supplies. But in an unprecedented situation that impacts not just Louisiana, but the entire country, the roadmap is murkier.

“There’s a real lack of clarity of whether or not the federal government will be able to push from their level down at least to our state,” Tingle said. —Lauren Feiner

8:32 am: S&P 500 has rebounded 25% in less than three weeks with improving outlook on the outbreak

The stock market’s rapid plunge into a bear market this year has been nearly matched by a blistering rally off its lows.

Through Thursday’s close, the S&P 500 has rallied nearly 25% from a low reached on March 23. The broader market average has also retraced half of its initial drop from its record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 28% from its late-March low while the Nasdaq Composite has jumped 19.1% in that time.

As we’ve seen some hope that the coronavirus crisis may be peaking and unwavering Fed support, investor sentiment has turned,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest, in a note. “This latest move up has been a welcome form of market volatility. But the world is moving fast. We believe the markets may need to get through the obstacles ahead before this bear truly ends.” —Fred Imbert

8:24 am: Coronavirus ravages storied New Orleans Mardi Gras group

In a city ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak, members of the Zulu krewe, one of the groups that sponsors Mardi Gras parades and balls, have paid a heavy price. Four of the fraternal organization’s members have died from coronavirus-related complications, said Zulu President Elroy A. James. Two others have also died since the pandemic began, though it’s not known if their deaths were caused by the virus, he said.

An additional 20 have tested positive. Some are self-quarantining at home, some were hospitalized and released, while others are still hospitalized, James said.

“Members are calling every day checking on each other: ‘How’s this member doing? How’s this family member doing?’” he said.

It’s also taken a financial toll. Many Zulu members work in the hospitality sector and are out of work, James said, a widespread problem in a city with an economy closely tied to the restaurants, bars and nightclubs now largely shuttered due to the statewide stay-at-home order.

“Zulu is really a microcosm of the city of New Orleans,” said state Sen. Troy Carter, a longtime Zulu member. “We’re made up of every social and economic background that you can imagine. Our members come from all different walks of life.” —Associated Press

8:15 am: India to extend nationwide lockdown

GP: Coronavirus Religion: Amritsar, India
Devotees, wearing facemasks amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, arrive to pray at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on March 13, 2020.
Narinder Nanu | AFP | Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to extend a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the Delhi state’s chief minister said, without saying how long the extension would be for.

Modi earlier in the day held a video conference call with several state ministers. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Modi had “taken (a) correct decision to extend (the) lockdown”, without sharing further details.

“If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is imp (important) to extend it,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.

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