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Coronavirus live updates: US deaths double in 2 days, more than 2,000

The U.S. ranked sixth in deaths Saturday, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy alone had more than 10,000.

WASHINGTON — Key updates

  • Subways, some long-distance train service has reopened in Wuhan, China.
  • President Trump says the CDC will issue a "strong Travel Advisory" for parts of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey in place of quarantines, after talking about possible enforcements in the tri-state area.
  • Trump addressed the public from Norfolk, Virginia, Saturday afternoon, seeing off the Navy hospital ship headed to New York in the virus battle.
  • New York's presidential primary has been moved to June.
  • Trump OKs major disaster declaration to Michigan.
  • Japan says the country is at a critical stage in the virus fight.
  • Health systems in some major European countries are strained.
  • Spain's deadliest day has over 800 deaths, over 8,000 new cases.
  • Italy’s COVID-19 deaths down slightly from previous day.

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 660,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic.

The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed over 30,000 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and lead to death. More than 139,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins. 

The effects of the outbreak have been felt by the powerful and the poor alike. On Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first leader of a major country to test positive for the virus. He said he would continue to work from self-quarantine.

New York City continued to be pummeled, and other cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans also have become hotspots. In parts of Africa, virus prevention measures took a violent turn as countries imposed lockdowns and curfews or sealed off major cities.

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Subways, some train service reopened in Wuhan

The city at the center of China’s virus outbreak has reopened subways and long-distance train service in another step toward ending restrictions that confined millions of people to their homes. 

Subway passengers in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei were required to wear masks and be checked for fever after service resumed Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said signs posted in subway cars tell passengers to sit with empty seats between them. Most access to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended Jan. 23. Bus and subway service within the city was suspended. 

Restrictions have gradually been relaxed. The last controls that block residents of Wuhan from leaving Hubei are due to be lifted April 8. Also Saturday, more than 12,000 passengers arrived by high-speed train as the Wuhan train station reopened, Xinhua said.

Meanwhile, the first cargo train to Europe since the start of the outbreak left for Germany on Saturday carrying auto parts, electronic productions, optical communication fiber and medical supplies, Xinhua reported.

First federal inmate dies, officials say

The Bureau of Prisons says the first federal inmate in the U.S. has died after contracting coronavirus.

Officials tell The Associated Press that the man died Saturday. He had been housed at FCI Oakdale I, a low-security prison in Louisiana. The Bureau of Prisons has said five inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Louisiana prison complex.

Attorney General William Barr said earlier this week that one of the inmates had been hospitalized after showing coronavirus symptoms, including having a fever. He said on Thursday that the man had “significant pre-existing conditions” and was in critical condition.

Advocates and correction officers have been calling for reforms to head off a potential outbreak in the federal prison system. So far, 14 inmates and 13 staff members have tested positive.

Health officials have been warning for more than a decade about the dangers of epidemics in jails and prisons.

China says all but 1 of new cases are from infections abroad

China reported five deaths and 45 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the 24 hours through midnight Saturday.

All the deaths were in Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December, according to the National Health Commission. It said all but one of the new cases were people who were infected abroad.

Some 477 people were discharged from hospitals on Saturday, raising the total number of people declared recovered and discharged to 75,448, according to the health commission.

Credit: AP
A lone jogger run on a partially empty 7th Avenue, resulting from citywide restrictions calling for people to stay indoors and maintain social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Saturday March 28, 2020, in New York. President Donald Trump says he's considering a quarantine affecting residents of the state and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut amid the coronavirus outbreak, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that roping off states would amount to "a federal declaration of war." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Trump approves disaster declaration for Colorado

President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Colorado, allowing additional federal assistance for the state, tribal and local response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Saturday that the declaration ensures that the state "can be on a level playing field with other states that already have this status like New York and Washington when it comes to federal disaster funding and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance,” “

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Colorado jumped by 13 Saturday for a total of 44 deaths, while more than 2,060 people have tested positive, state public health officials said.

RELATED: Colorado coronavirus latest March 28: Colorado reports 13 more deaths, receives Major Disaster status

Canada Prime Minister Trudeau's wife given all clear after contracting COVID-19

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife has been given the all clear from health officials and says she is feeling much better after contracting COVID-19.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau said in a statement on social media Saturday that she is feeling so much better and that she received clearance from her doctor and Ottawa Public Health.

Trudeau's office announced on March 12 that she tested positive after she fell ill upon returning from a trip to London. The prime minister and his family have been in self isolation at home ever since. He and his three children never showed symptoms.

Trudeau has been giving daily news conferences outside his residence.

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Washington, D.C. announces 38 new infections, more than 340 total

The District of Columbia has announced 38 new positive infections from the coronavirus, bringing the total up to 342. Four people have died, including a senior member of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s staff. Bowser has declared a state of emergency, shuttered all schools and ordered all non-essential businesses to close.

White House and Capitol tours have been cancelled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed. Police have blocked off dozens of streets, bridges and traffic circles to prevent crowds coming to see Washington’s signature blooming cherry blossom trees.

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Trump says he'll issue 'strong travel advisory' for NY tri-state area 

President Donald Trump says he's going to issue a "strong travel advisory" for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in lieu of a quarantine to combat coronavirus.

It wasn't entirely clear whether the president even had the power to, as he suggested earlier, order a quarantine for the East Coast states. New York is the U.S. epicenter for the COVID-19. But Trump said earlier on Saturday that he was considering one after speaking with the governor of Florida, who expressed concern over New Yorkers traveling South.

The suggestion by Trump was met with confusion and anger from the governors of the three states. Trump tweeted later Saturday that a quarantine would not be necessary, after speaking with his coronavirus task for and governors.

The CDC is expected to offer guidance later Saturday.

US COVID deaths double in 2 days, topping 2,000

Confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in the United States doubled in two days, surpassing 2,000 Saturday and highlighting how quickly the virus is spreading through the country.

Johns Hopkins University reported that confirmed deaths rose to more than 30,000 around the world. The U.S. ranked sixth in deaths, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy alone had more than 10,000 dead.

The U.S. death toll has risen abruptly in recent days. It topped 1,000 just Thursday.

Rhode Island announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus, leaving just three states with zero reported deaths: Hawaii, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Vegas-area officials suspend business licenses for defying shutdown

More than a dozen unincorporated Clark County businesses have had their business licenses suspended for remaining open during a government-ordered shutdown in Nevada as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The county Business License Department has issued emergency suspensions between Saturday and Wednesday after each of the businesses disregarded Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak's order to shut down all nonessential businesses in the state.

Sisolak issued the 30-day order March 17 to reduce social activity and interaction as the state of Nevada expects an increase in COVID-19 infections, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

In another development, Las Vegas and Clark County officials announced the opening of a temporary shelter for homeless people in a parking lot to temporarily replace a shelter temporarily closed after a homeless man tested positive for the coronavirus.

As of Saturday, Nevada had 621 coronavirus cases with 10 deaths. The 14 businesses shut down by the county included five liquor establishments, two smoke shops, two car washes, a furniture store, a shoe retailer, and a gym, county officials said.

Chicago-area infant dies, Illinois governor says

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says an infant with COVID-19 has died and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of death.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says there hasn't been a death associated with the new coronavirus in an infant. Officials didn't release other information about the infant, who was from Cook County, which includes Chicago, including whether the child had other health issues.

Children have made up a small fraction of coronavirus cases worldwide. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Chinese researchers earlier this month reported the death of a 10-month-old with COVID-19. The infant had a bowel blockage and organ failure, and died four weeks after being hospitalized.

Separate research published in the journal Pediatrics traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year old. The study found less than 6% of children were seriously ill.

“Upon hearing it, I admit I was shaken, and it’s appropriate for us to grieve today,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

RELATED: Illinois reports first infant death of COVID-19

Memphis' Beale Street Music Fest, World BBQ championship rescheduled

Tourism officials say the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest have been rescheduled for the fall after they were postponed because of the new coronavirus outbreak.

Memphis in May officials said in a statement that the barbecue cooking competition has been reset for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The music festival has been rescheduled for Oct. 16 through Oct. 18.

Both events are the cornerstones of the city's monthlong tourist event in May. They attract music fans and barbecue cooking teams from around the world.

The Great American River Run also had been postponed. It has been reset for Oct. 31.

Meanwhile, Elvis Presley's Graceland said it is extending its closure through April 19.

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Rhode Island has first 2 deaths, State Health Department says

Rhode Island announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus on the same day that the state National Guard was expected to go door to door in coastal communities to find visitors from New York.

One person in their 80s died Friday night, the other person in their 70s died Saturday, the state Department of Health said.

There are now only three states with zero reported deaths: Hawaii, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The Guard was said to be asking people if they are visiting from New York and telling them about the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people from the state. The measure is needed to help control the spread of the new coronavirus because the New York City area is the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday.

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New Orleans asks for protective equipment donations

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell's administration is asking for donations of protective equipment.

The donations can be dropped off at Salvation Army drop boxes next to New Orleans Fire Department stations. Items being accepted include masks, gloves, disposable medical gowns, goggles and face shields.

“Like many places around the world, orders of PPE equipment made back in November 2019 have yet to be filled and our supply is running low. Any additional equipment the public can donate at this time will help keep our first responders safe and out on the streets,” New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Collin Arnold said.

New Orleans is one of the nation’s hot spots for coronavirus.

RELATED: Louisiana sees largest single-day spike in coronavirus cases

U.S. Navy hospital ship heading to NYC for coronavirus aid

 A 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship is being rushed back into service to provide medical help to New York City, now the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak. 

It is scheduled to arrive Monday at a Manhattan pier a week after its sister ship, the USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles to perform similar duty on the West Coast. President Donald Trump will send off the ship Saturday as he aims to highlight the federal response to the pandemic.  

The ship has 12 operating rooms as well as radiology suites and a CT scanner. It also has ICU beds, a lab and a pharmacy.    

Defense Secretary Mark Esper introduced the president and said military personnel are eager to begin their mission and head to New York. 

President Trump said, "we are here for you." The U.S. Navy hospital ship will be met in New York harbor by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The mission will be to care for New Yorkers who don't have the virus, but to give them a place to be treated. "People with the virus will not be on the ship," Trump said. 

Trump raises idea of quarantines affecting NY, NJ and Connecticut 

President Donald Trump says he has spoken with some governors and is considering some type of an enforceable quarantine to prevent people in New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut from traveling. 

He tells reporters at the White House that it would be for a “short period of time, if we do it at all.”  The president says he's spoken with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and New York's Andrew Cuomo. New York is the country's epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. But Cuomo says at a briefing in New York that he didn't talk about any quarantine during a conversation Saturday with Trump.  

Credit: AP
President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, right, walk as the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort takes off from the pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va., Saturday, March 28, 2020. The ship is departing for New York to assist hospitals responding to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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New York governor moves presidential primary from April to June

The governor of New York had delayed the state's presidential primary moving it from April to June. In a tweet Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote, "we will move our presidential primary to June 23rd. Public health is our number one priority and we will carry out this vital democratic process at a safer date." 

President Trump has also been reportedly considering a two week quarantine for the state, as WNBC New York reports. In addition to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are also being considered as well as the number of COVID-19 cases in that tri-state area continue to rise. 

Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. But some scientists have challenged their accuracy.

As WGN Chicago reports, the FDA has cleared a new rapid test made by Abbott Laboratories. The company says it can detect the coronavirus in about 5 minutes. 

Trump boosts virus aid, warns governors to be 'appreciative'

President Donald Trump is willing to help governors in their struggle with a virus outbreak, if they ask nice. 

He has taken a round of steps to expand the federal government's role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic after desperate pleas from the nation’s governors. 

Yet he also rejected any criticism for the federal government's response to a ballooning public health crisis that a month ago he predicted would be over by now. Trump on Friday signed an order aimed at compelling General Motors to prioritize the production of ventilators under the Defense Production Act.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the country is at a critical stage

Japan is dealing with coronavirus infections but not at a point to declare a state of emergency.

Japan's Prime Minister says Japan has managed to keep clusters under control by carefully following infection routes. But the initial strategy is now having a difficulty, with a rise of infections that are no longer traceable -- an early sign of infection explosion.

The virus has put health systems in Italy, Spain and France under extreme strain

Lockdowns of varying severity have been introduced across Europe, nearly emptying streets in normally bustling cities, including Paris where drone photos showed the city's landmarks eerily deserted. 

Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, said Germany — where authorities closed nonessential shops and banned gatherings of more than two in public — won't relax its restrictions before April 20.

Spain, where stay-at-home restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks, reported 832 more deaths Saturday, its highest daily count yet, bringing its total to 5,690. Another 8,000 confirmed infections pushed that count above 72,000.

Spain has struggled to get coronavirus tests and protective gear for health workers 

The government has started flights to transport the supplies directly from China to reduce waiting times. 

As the epicenter has shifted westward, the situation has calmed in China, where some restrictions have been lifted. Six subway lines restored limited service in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, after the city had its official coronavirus risk evaluation downgraded from high to medium on Friday. Five districts of the city of 11 million people had other travel restrictions loosened after their risk factor was downgraded to low.

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