Coronavirus: All 50 States Report Cases; South America Has Nearly 1,000 Cases
Updated at 8:53 p.m. ET
West Virginia is no longer coronavirus-free.
It was the final state without any reports of infection by the highly contagious coronavirus, but on Tuesday evening Gov. Jim Justice announced officials have confirmed the state’s first case.
“We knew it was coming,” Justice said at a news conference.
“We’ve prepared for this and we shouldn’t panic. We should be cautious. We should be concerned, but we shouldn’t panic. We ought to be West Virginia mountaineer strong always,” he added.
Earlier in the day, President Trump praised Justice for his handling of the spread of the virus, by treating it “differently than a New York or California.” Calling him “Big Jim,” Trump said Justice “must be doing a good job of that. … West Virginia is the only one that has no cases.”
Later Justice, who is a vocal supporter of Trump, attempted to assuage worries that the discovery of a case in the state will disrupt daily life as well as the economy.
“Our nation and our state is going to have to step up and keep you whole as best we possibly can. I can assure you that my real friend Donald Trump is absolutely all on board with trying to do just that,” Justice said.
The governor ordered the closure of bars and restaurants, while still allowing carry-out and drive-through service to continue. He also mandated the closure of the state’s casinos.
He had previously ordered the closure of all public and private schools, effective Monday, as well as, canceling the state’s high school basketball playoffs.
Oklahoma’s Senate put on lockdown for coronavirus testing
Members of Oklahoma’s state Senate were put on lockdown in their offices Tuesday, after the state health department said an employee at the Capitol building tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“In an email, state senators were asked to remain in their offices until they could be tested,” Rachel Hubbard of member station KOSU reports from Oklahoma City. “That email came one hour after Oklahoma health officials issued an update saying that the number of tests for the public remains limited to the point of rationing and that health care providers are being asked to test for other illnesses such as the flu before requesting a COVID-19 test. These tests are being coordinated with a private lab.”
An email sent to senators and staff asked them to “remain in their offices and await a visit from a health professional,” KOSU reports.
Hubbard adds, “On Monday, Oklahoma lawmakers passed rules that would allow them to suspend the legislative session until further notice, but the following morning, the parking lot was full of cars.”
A shortage of testing kits is the reason the effort at the Senate requires a private lab, the Oklahoma Department of Health says. The agency says it has about 350 COVID-19 test kits on hand. The state Senate has 48 members.
“The federal government is advising us it could be 48 hours before test kits can be deployed to restock,” the health department said via Twitter.
The state Senate’s offices will be closed for the rest of the week and employees will telework, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said Tuesday afternoon.
Life is undergoing ‘radical change’
“As of today, 152 countries across the globe are affected by this new virus and over 7,000 people have lost their lives to it,” the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe said Tuesday, describing the reach of a coronavirus that is disrupting lives in countries around the world.
“One-third of globally reported cases are in the European region,” the WHO’s Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge said, reiterating his agency’s recent acknowledgement that the COVID-19 pandemic’s epicenter lies not in China, where this coronavirus was discovered in December, but in Europe.
“The lives of millions of people in our region are undergoing radical change. There is quite simply a new reality,” Kluge said in a briefing that was held in a U.N. building that has been nearly completely abandoned as workers stay home to practice social distancing. As Kluge spoke, a large bottle of hand sanitizer sat on the table in front of him.
The U.S. has more than 5,600 cases of the respiratory virus, as of midday Tuesday, and 94 people have died. New York is reporting some 1,700 cases, and Washington state is reporting nearly 1,000.
South America has nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases
Brazil, Peru and Chile are all reporting hundreds of coronavirus cases, as South American governments tighten restrictions on public life to slow down the spread of the deadly COVID-19 respiratory disease. The continent now has more than 940 cases.
“In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro has announced a nationwide quarantine amid deep concern about the havoc the coronavirus could cause in a nation where the health system’s collapsed and there’s a massive shortage of doctors, equipment and medicine,” NPR’s Philip Reeves reports from Rio de Janeiro for NPR’s Newscast unit.
“Colombia and Argentina have closed their borders to arriving foreigners; Chile follows suit tomorrow (Wednesday). Ecuador and Paraguay have nighttime curfews,” Reeves says, “and in Brazil, firemen using megaphones are patrolling beaches in Rio de Janeiro, asking people to go home. Tourists must cancel plans to visit Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer — like so much else here, they’re now closed.”
Here are the countries in South America reporting the most coronavirus cases as of 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to a dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering:
- Brazil: 321 cases
- Chile: 201
- Peru: 117
- Argentina: 68
- Colombia: 65
- Ecuador: 58
- Venezuela: 33
- Uruguay: 29
Italy: Rate of new cases slows, even as death toll rises
More than 2,500 people have died of COVID-19 in Italy, the heart of the outbreak in Europe, the country’s health ministry announced Tuesday afternoon. Italy is now reporting 31,506 total cases, including nearly 13,000 people who are hospitalized.
Despite the huge numbers of infected people, Italy’s 24-hour rise of 3,500 new cases is the slowest rate of increase the country has seen in weeks.
“One week after the government put the country in lockdown, health officials stress that they do not expect to see a substantial decline in the number of positive cases until the end of next week,” NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome. “After consultations with unions and business leaders, the government has announced a large economic aid package dubbed ‘Heal Italy’ to help families, workers and industries. It includes suspended tax payments, workers’ compensation and export credits.”
Poggioli adds that the Lombardy region, which is the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus cases, has just received a large shipment of medical gear, including respirators and protective clothing, from China.
Uber and Lyft cancel shared rides
Uber and Lyft will no longer offer users the option of sharing or pooling rides, as the companies try to limit customers’ potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Both of the ride-hailing companies announced the temporary change on Tuesday.
“The health and safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we’re dedicated to doing what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Lyft said via Twitter.
Lyft is halting the use of shared rides “across all markets.” Uber is suspending its “Pool” option in the U.S. and Canada, as well as in London and Paris.
“Uber and Lyft let passengers carpool, in exchange for cheaper fares,” NPR’s Shannon Bond reports from San Francisco. “These features are being put on hold as cities tell people to avoid nonessential travel and stay at least 6 feet away from each other. The companies are still operating their regular ride services, and UberEats is still offering food delivery.”
Bus drivers in Detroit refuse to work, citing lack of protections
Bus service was canceled in Detroit on Tuesday, after many drivers refused to work out of concern for the coronavirus. Their complaints range from the capacity of buses to carry far more than the 10 people federal health experts currently recommend as a maximum for public gatherings to insufficient cleaning and sanitizing measures.
“Due to the driver shortage, there will be no DDOT bus service today,” the Detroit Department of Transportation announced.
The city says it’s working to address the drivers’ concerns.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says that in addition to worries directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the drivers are also coping with the loss of many of their restroom break sites. Because of new restrictions at hospitals and restaurants, drivers who relied on those facilities at the end of their routes “found themselves unable to wash up and use restrooms as they came back,” Duggan said, according to local TV station Click On Detroit.
Michigan has reported 58 coronavirus cases, as of midday Tuesday ET.
Hospital in Massachusetts will be dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients
The Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Mass., is being remade into what is believed to be the first U.S. hospital devoted entirely to caring for COVID-19 patients, in a process that will begin on Tuesday.
“The 135-bed hospital on Dorchester Avenue will be converted immediately to enhance ‘patient isolation protocols’ and to marshal equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment on site,” member station WBUR reports.
Steward Health Care, which operates Carney Hospital, says the changes will also include the creation of negative pressure patient wards.
Steward, which is based in Dallas, “operates 35 hospitals in nine states and serves more than six million patients annually,” according to its website.
The company says its all-COVID-19 conversion has two main goals: to establish a model for care that’s dedicated to fighting the pandemic and to free up other medical facilities, including emergency rooms, to help people with other urgent conditions. Steward also says it’s working to set up more drive-through testing sites.
“While we have only treated 10 confirmed COVID-19 inpatients across our more than 7,000 beds nationwide to date, we are prepared for an influx,” the company says.
All but 1 U.S. states have reported a coronavirus case
As of late Monday, West Virginia was the only state that has not reported a coronavirus case. But the state was also among the last to gain the ability to test for the virus that causes COVID-19 — reflecting a wider problem in the U.S., where the rollout of a national testing system has been slowed by critical problems at the federal level.
West Virginia’s public health lab “has tested 84 residents for COVID-19, with 80 results coming back negative and four tests pending,” the state Department of Health and Human Resources said Monday afternoon.
Like many other states, West Virginia’s public lab is now being bolstered by the testing efforts of commercial laboratories and some hospitals.
UEFA postpones Euro 2020 tournament
The Union of European Football Associations is postponing its biggest tournament, Euro 2020, for 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition, which pits national teams against one another, was to have been played in June and July.
UEFA has 55 member countries. In announcing the decision to put off the Euro tourney, it said the decision to put off the popular tournament was made not only out of concern for the safety of fans of players, but also to avoid the strain its matches would put on public services and infrastructure. In recent days, Europe has emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic, with tens of thousands of new cases in the past week.
“We are at the helm of a sport that vast numbers of people live and breathe that has been laid low by this invisible and fast-moving opponent,” UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said. “It is at times like these that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism.”
Under the plan, UEFA playoffs and international friendly matches that had been scheduled for the end of this month will now be played in early June, the league says, although it acknowledged that the dates are subject to further scrutiny.
Kentucky Derby is postponed
The Kentucky Derby had been scheduled to be run on May 2 – but the crown jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown will instead be postponed until September, the Churchill Downs racetrack announced Tuesday.
The race traditionally takes place on the first Saturday of May; this year, it’ll happen on Sept. 5.
People who have already bought tickets for the race will automatically have those tickets transferred to the September date; anyone who’s unable to attend can seek a refund online, the racetrack said in a statement posted on its website.
Churchill Downs attracts more than 150,000 spectators for the race. But new federal guidelines recommend limiting public gatherings to a much smaller size – on Monday, the Trump administration advised Americans to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more.
“The most recent developments have led us to make some very difficult, but we believe, necessary decisions and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said of the decision.
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