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Coronavirus live updates: White House warns US to brace for 'rough two-week period'

Dr. Anthony Fauci said, 'we have to brace ourselves. In the next several days to one week or so, we will continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged.'

Key updates for Tuesday, March 31

  • Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force updates the public
  • U.S. death toll from coronavirus has eclipsed China's official count 
  • 'Pandemic' scientist says his team has discovered potential cure for COVID-19
  • U.S. State Department official has died from virus. 
  • CNN anchor Chris Cuomo says he's tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • New York convention center begins taking patients to ease burden on NYC's overwhelmed health care system. 
  • Elton John-led concert raises $8 million 
  • There are more than 165,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and more than 3,500 deaths.
  • Major League Baseball will continue playing minor league players $400 per week until May 31 
  • Southwest Airlines is temporarily reducing its flight schedule by more than 40%
  • British Airways has halted all flights at Gatwick Airport due to a drop in demand.
  • Spain reported 849 coronavirus deaths Tuesday, the highest one-day total for that country.
  • Japan has extended travel warnings to 49 countries including the United States.
  • A German tennis official says an announcement to cancel the Wimbledon tennis tournament is expected Wednesday.
  • The release of the latest "Ghostbusters" film is on hold until 2021.
  • The NCAA is giving an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes, but not winter athletes whose seasons were canceled.

There are 165,874 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of noon ET Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, more than 3,500 people have died and nearly 6,000 have recovered.

Worldwide, more than 809,000 people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, with 39,000 deaths and 172,000 people recovered.

Bureau of Prisons releases COVID-19 action plan

In a statement released Tuesday, the BOP said it has "ordered the implementation of Phase 5 of its COVID-19 Action Plan, effective ... April 1, 2020." 

In the plan the agency says it will be moving to follow the following guidelines and behaviors in prisons:

  • "For a 14-day period, inmates in every institution will be secured in their assigned cells/quarters to decrease the spread of the virus. This modification to our action plan is based on health concerns, not disruptive inmate behavior." 
  • "During this time, to the extent practicable, inmates should still have access to programs and services that are offered under normal operating procedures, such as mental health treatment and education." 
  • "In addition, the Bureau is coordinating with the United States Marshals Service (USMS) to significantly decrease incoming movement during this time." 
  • "After 14 days, this decision will be reevaluated and a decision made as to whether or not to return to modified operations." 
  • "Limited group gathering will be afforded to the extent practical to facilitate commissary, laundry, showers, telephone, and Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) access." 

White House Coronavirus Task Force holds press briefing 

President Donald Trump warned the U.S. public during the press conference saying, the country is about to enter a “rough two week period.” 

Dr. Fauci gave some optimistic words in his statements, yet urged the American public to stay vigilant for the next month. Fauci said they have been making efforts "to get the hot spot places, the New York's, the New Jersey's." Going on to say it's in an effort "to prevent them from getting to that spike, and the answer to that is mitigation." Dr. Fauci told reporters that these efforts have been working. He says that the additional 30 days of stay at home orders is a necessity. 

Dr. Birx came to the podium and said, regarding the previous estimate of possible deaths given by the White House at 100,000 200,000: “that is a projection.” Birx confirmed that the peak of that will come over the next two weeks, so the first weeks of April. 

Dr. Fauci said that the death rate always lags, so we should be prepared that even though we continue to see deaths, we can still be doing "really, really well" in terms of mitigation. 

Reporters gathered in the Brady Briefing Room Tuesday at the White House as the group of administration officials given the mission of leading the coronavirus battle in the US was set to update the public. 

Reporters at the briefing received flyers promoting a 30 day period to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

President Trump greeted reporters starting out by staying, "15 days ago we published our nationwide guidelines to slow the spread." The White House is asking the public to follow these guidelines for the next 30-days with the president saying this is a matter of "life and death."

U.S. officials are mulling if advice given by the World Health Organization on wearing masks might change. Currently if you are not sick, officials ask that you do not wear a mask, but if the mask shortage that's endangering health workers ends White House officials could broaden their request for who should wear them. 

Worldwide, the top priority for masks goes to health workers, who are in close contact with patients. The WHO also recommends the sick wear them. It has insisted there is no proven benefit for the general population even if there weren't a shortage. 

U.S. officials say any change in advice would have to come once health workers have enough masks.

Dr. Fauci says White House may recommend broader use of masks

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the White House coronavirus task force is looking into the idea of recommending broader, community-wide use of masks to deter the spread of the new coronavirus.

Fauci said the task force first wants to make sure that such a move wouldn’t take away from the supply of masks available to health care workers.

“But once we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks,” Fauci said in a CNN interview Tuesday. “We're not there yet, but I think we're close to coming to some determination.”

He said wearing a mask may prevent an infected person from spreading the virus.

Fauci is the director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leader of the U.S. response to the pandemic.

President Donald Trump said Monday he could see broader use of masks on a temporary basis.

“I mean, you know, we want our country back. We're not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time,” Trump said.

The World Health Organization on Monday reiterated its advice that the general population doesn't need to wear masks unless they're sick. Since the epidemic began in China, the WHO has said masks are for the sick and people caring for them.

U.N Secretary General says pandemic could be most challenging crisis since WWII

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that the world faces the most challenging crisis since World War II, confronting a pandemic threatening people in every country that will bring a recession “that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”

The U.N. chief said at the launch of a report Tuesday on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 there is also a risk that the combination of the disease and its economic impact will contribute to “enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict.”

Guterres called for a stronger and more effective global response to the coronavirus pandemic and to the social and economic devastation that COVID-19 is causing.

He stressed that this will only be possible “if everybody comes together and if we forget political games and understand that it is humankind that is at stake.”

“The magnitude of the response must match the scale of the crisis — large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive, with country and international responses being guided by the World Health Organization,” the secretary-general said, noting that not all countries are following WHO guidelines.

Guterres announced the establishment of a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support efforts in low- and middle-income countries, with the aim of swiftly enabling governments to tackle the crisis and promote recovery.

US death toll surpasses China's official count

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has climbed past 3,500, eclipsing China's official count.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported Tuesday that deaths in New York state had risen more than 300 from the day before, reaching about 1,550, mostly in New York City.

That puts the U.S. ahead of China's official death toll of about 3,300.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo tests positive 

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo announced Tuesday morning that he has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Cuomo, the brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, explained on Twitter that he had been exposed to people in recent days who then tested positive and he had "fever, chills and shortness of breath." 

He said he is quarantined in his basement and plans to continue to do his CNN shows from there. Cuomo added that he hopes he didn't give it to his kids or his wife, because that would make him feel worse than the illness.  

A California scientist and his team say they have found a potential cure for COVID-19. 

Dr. Jacob Glanville of Distributed Bio is one of the doctors featured in the Netflix show "Pandemic." His team in the Bay Area has been working around the clock trying to come up with a drug to treat COVID-19. On Monday, he announced he believes they've found one. 

RELATED: 'Pandemic' scientist says his team has discovered potential cure for COVID-19

U.S. State Department official has died from virus

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says a State Department official has died from the coronavirus, the first American fatality among the U.S. diplomatic corps from the pandemic.

Pompeo didn't give details about the official who passed away or where the person contracted the disease. He says about four to five dozen State Department employees had tested positive for the virus, including locally employed staffers at a handful of the 220 U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

Concert raises $8 million

The Elton John-led starry benefit concert that featured Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys on Sunday has raised nearly $8 million to battle the coronavirus.

The musicians performed from their homes for the hourlong event that aired on Fox and iHeartMedia radio stations. The money will go to Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

NY convention center starts taking patients

New York's mammoth convention center started taking patients to ease the burden on the city's overwhelmed health system and the tennis center where the U.S. Open is held was being turned into a hospital Tuesday.

New York has been the nation's deadliest hot spot, with over 1,200 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City — a toll Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “beyond staggering.”

Southwest cuts flight schedule by 40% 

Southwest Airlines said Tuesday it is temporarily reducing its flight schedule by more than 40%. The company said the cuts are now in place for May 3-June 5 and brings the airline to approximately 2,000 flights a day. 

"The cuts proactively address significantly lower passenger demand, operational disruptions, and the ongoing suspension of our international service," Southwest said in its announcement. 

7-Eleven donates masks

7-Eleven said Tuesday it has donated one million masks to FEMA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a release, the company said it supplied all of its stores and franchisees with masks for employees to use and the rest have been donated. 

U.S. virus death toll surpasses death toll from 9/11 attacks

More than 3,000 people have died in the U.S. from the new virus, according to the John Hopkins tracker. This number surpasses the number of people who died in the initial attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The John Hopkins tracker also indicates that almost 6,000 people have recovered from the virus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. 

To put the virus death numbers into context, according to the CDC, it's predicted that 24,000-62,000 people have died from the flu between October 2019 and March 2020.

Walmart announces additional steps for worker safety

Walmart has announced it will be taking additional health and safety measures to keep its workers safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a letter on the Walmart website, the company said it would begin taking the temperatures of associates as they come to work. Employees running a temperatures of 100 degrees or higher will be paid for reporting to work and asked to go home. The company has also ordered masks and gloves for employees to use. 

"As our company and country continue to deal with the spread of COVID-19, we remain focused on the health and safety of our associates." John Furner, President & CEO said in a statement.

MLB extends support to minor leaguers through May

Major League Baseball is extending its financial support to minor league players through May while suspending their contracts because of the new coronavirus pandemic. 

Minor league contracts have a provision allowing them to be suspended during any national emergency. MLB is giving allowances to the minor leaguers, who are not being paid salaries. 

MLB announced March 19 that it was giving minor leaguers $400 weekly allowances through April 8. The commissioner's office said Tuesday that the allowances will now continue through the earlier of May 31 or opening day.

NYC reports 1st coronavirus death of a person under 18

New York City has recorded its first coronavirus death of a person under 18 years old, according to the city Health Department.

The city's 914 deaths from the pandemic include one person in the 0-17 age group, the department reported Monday. Details including the person's exact age were not disclosed.

More than 1,200 have died of COVID-19 across New York state, and 9,500 people are hospitalized with the disease statewide. More than 2,300 are in intensive care, and more than 66,000 have tested positive for the virus.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he expects the crisis to stretch at least into May. “For the weeks ahead, let’s not kid ourselves, it gets a lot worse before it gets better,” he said on NBC's “Today.”

World virus infections top 800,000; Spain sees record deaths

Spain's coronavirus deaths have jumped by a record number as the country's medical system strains to care for its tens of thousands of infected patients and the world total climbed to more than 800,000 cases. In the United States, New York's governor begged for health care reinforcements, saying up to 1 million more workers were needed. Spain and Italy are still struggling to avoid the collapse of their health systems, with Spain saying hospitals in at least half of its 17 regions are at or very near their ICU bed limits. Spain also has more than 13,000 infected medical workers.

China warns epidemic isn't over for their country

Chinese officials say the coronavirus epidemic isn’t over in their country and that daunting challenges remain.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that authorities need to make sure that infected people arriving from abroad don’t spread the disease and start new outbreaks.

She hit back at U.S. criticism of her country’s handling of the epidemic, saying that China and the U.S. should work together to fight it.

Spain records 849 new deaths in one day

Spain recorded on Tuesday 849 new coronavirus deaths, the highest number since the pandemic hit the southern European country, according to the country’s health ministry.

With both new infections and deaths up around 11% each, to a total of 94,417 confirmed cases and 8,189 fatalities, Spain is seeing a slight rebound in the outbreak.

That's despite an overall timid slowdown in its spread for the past week, allowing authorities to focus on avoiding the collapse of the health system. At least one third of Spain's 17 regions were already at their limit of capacity in terms of intensive care unit usage, while new beds are being added in hotels, exhibition and sports centers across the country.

British death toll higher than previously thought

More people with the new coronavirus have died in Britain than previously announced, according to newly published figures that include deaths both in and out of hospitals.

The Office for National Statistics says that 210 deaths recorded England and Wales up to March 20 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. That is 40 more than the 170 deaths among people with the virus reported by the Department of Health for the same period.

The two sets of figures use different reporting methods and timing. The Department of Health statistics record hospital deaths. Tuesday’s higher figure includes people who died in nursing homes and other settings. Some of those are people who were not tested for the virus but were suspected of having it.

Russia cases spike

Russia registered 500 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Tuesday in the biggest spike since the beginning of the outbreak that brought the country's total to 2,337 cases.

The report comes as Russia edges closer to declaring a state of emergency, with many regions and cities ordering lockdowns and sweeping self-isolation protocols.

Moscow, the country's capital, has been on lockdown since Monday, with most businesses closed and residents not allowed to leave their apartments except for grocery shopping, buying medicines, taking out trash or walking their dogs. Similar regimes are in place in more than 30 Russian regions.

Denmark considering gradual lift of restrictions

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Denmark could start lifting some restrictions next month if the coronavirus curve continues to flatten out.

Frederiksen said late Monday that if Danes continue to stand together — at a distance — the government will consider gradually opening up in two weeks’ time.

She underlined that the crisis was far from over but there was growing evidence that Denmark, which started a gradual lockdown on March 11, had “succeeded in delaying the infection,” adding it gave “a rise to optimism.”

Also in the Nordic region, Finland has decided to extend by a month the duration of the emergency conditions in the southern part of the country affecting the daily lives of some 1.7 million people, nearly a third of Finland's population.

British Airways suspends all flights at Gatwick Airport

British Airways has suspended all its flights at Gatwick Airport amid a collapse in demand.

The carrier says that “restrictions and challenging market environment,” led to the decision.

The aviation industry has been hard-hit by the pandemic that has prompted travelers around the world to stay home.

Airports themselves are also slowing down. Just 33 flights were due to take off or land at Gatwick on Tuesday, according to aviation data provider FlightStats. Beginning Wednesday, Gatwick's runway will only be open for scheduled flights between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. and will close one of its two terminals.

'Ghostbusters,' 'Morbius' postponed to 2021

Sony Pictures on Monday cleared out its summer calendar due to the coronavirus, postponing the releases of Jason Reitman's “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and the Marvel movie “Morbius” to 2021.

Hollywood's summer season — the film industry's most lucrative time of year — is increasingly shutting down because of the pandemic. Theaters nationwide have closed and major film productions have halted with no clear timeline for resuming.

“Ghostbuster: Afterlife," set 30 years after “Ghostbusters II,” had been scheduled for July 10, but it will now open March 5 next year. The Jared Leto-starring “Morbius," slated for July 31, will now be released March 19 next year. “Greyhound,” a World War II drama starring Tom Hanks, is now to-be-determined instead of opening June 12.

Tenor Placido Domingo feels 'fine' after coronavirus

Tenor Placido Domingo said Monday he is resting at home after catching the new coronavirus.

Domingo said in a statement that he is "at home and I feel fine."

The 79-year-old was reportedly hospitalized in Mexico after publicly acknowledging on March 22 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and said he was going into isolation.

Domingo, who has longstanding ties to Mexico, had suffered from a fever and a cough.

Domingo wrote on Monday that “from the very first symptom I was, as usual, under medical supervision, given my age and my comorbidity.”

WHO warns `far from over' in Asia and Pacific

The World Health Organization warns that while attention has shifted to epicenters in Western Europe and North America, COVID-19 epidemics are “far from over” in Asia and the Pacific.

Urging governments at all levels in the region to stay engaged in efforts to combat the virus, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai says, “This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard. We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”

He said the WHO realizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach but there are common tactics. “Those are: finding, isolating and testing case early, tracing and quarantining contact quickly, and putting in place multiple public health interventions to place physical distance between people to slow and stop transmission.”

Japan extends travel warnings to 49 countries

Japan has extended its highest travel warnings to 49 countries, including the United States, Canada and Britain, as well as all of China and South Korea.

The country is urging Japanese citizens not to visit places where coronavirus infections are escalating, the foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. The ministry also said returnees and visitors from those nations will be tested for the virus at airports when they arrive and requested to self-quarantine at home or designated facilities for 14 days.

The number of confirmed cases among people arriving at Tokyo’s international airports has surged recently, officials said, citing them as the main sources of infections in Japan.

Japan now has about 2,700 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 67 deaths.

RELATED: VERIFY: A comparison of COVID-19 totals to common causes of deaths leaves out context

Wimbledon canceled?

German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordorff says an announcement is coming Wednesday that Wimbledon will be canceled.

"There is no doubt about it. This is necessary in the current situation," Hordorff told Sky Sports Germany.

The tournament is scheduled to start June 29.

It would be the first cancellation for the tournament for a reason other than war. It was not held in 1915-1918 because of World War I and in 1940-1945 due to World War II.

The French Open announced two weeks ago it was moving its tournament from May to the end of September.

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NCAA gives extra year of eligibility to spring athletes

The NCAA will permit Division I spring-sport athletes — such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players — who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give spring-sport athletes regardless of their year in school a way to get back the season they lost, but it did not guarantee financial aid to the current crop of seniors if they return to play next year.

Winter sports, such as basketball and hockey, were not included in the decision because many athletes in those sports had completed all or most of their regular seasons, the council decided.

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