The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a domestic travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut on Saturday night, the FDA approved a fast new coronavirus test and a naval hospital ship left Norfolk, Virginia, for New York City.
President Donald Trump said earlier Saturday he was considering imposing a two-week quarantine on New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut to deal with the rapid spread of COVID-19. He later tweeted “a quarantine will not be necessary,” saying the CDC’s advisory would follow.
The U.S. counted more than 124,000 cases of coronavirus Saturday, with at least 2,100 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. More confirmations are expected as the U.S. ramps up testing.
About 660,000 people are known to have been infected with COVID-19 globally, and more than 30,000 have died.
Florida governor plans checkpoints to screen Louisianians as New Orleans expects a coronavirus surge
• When will stores reopen in coronavirus pandemic? Not soon. Some are closed indefinitely.
• This is a stunning photo of Pope Francis praying to an empty St. Peter’s Square.
• How is coronavirus spreading so fast? A math lesson you probably forgot holds the answer.
• The basics on the coronavirus: What you need to know as the US becomes the new epicenter of the pandemic.
CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
Trump has decided against imposing a quarantine on New York as the state battles the spread of coronavirus.
Instead, the CDC issued an advisory urging “residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.”
Trump disclosed earlier Saturday that he was considering a short-term quarantine for New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, which also have been hard-hit by the coronavirus. Trump suggested a quarantine would be “enforceable” and would probably last about two weeks.
“On the recommendation of the White House CoronaVirus Task Force, and upon consultation with the Governor’s of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I have asked the @CDCgov to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government,” Trump announced late Saturday on Twitter. “A quarantine will not be necessary. Full details will be released by CDC tonight. Thank you!”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo questioned the need for a quarantine, telling reporters in Albany that he didn’t know what it would entail and how it could be enforced legally. “From a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island State Police on Friday began pulling over drivers with New York plates so that National Guard officials could collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine. Cuomo has threatened to sue Rhode Island if it continues to seek out New Yorkers entering its borders.
— Michael Collins and Joel Shannon
89 infected inside one of America’s largest jail
At least 89 people incarcerated in Illinois’ Cook County Jail have tested positive for the coronavirus, up from 38 confirmed cases Friday, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
Nine tested negative, and another 92 tests were pending as of Saturday evening.
Cook County Jail is in the processing of releasing and screening non-violent, pretrial defendants who are older or have pre-existing conditions, as well as all pregnant women.
More than 2,600 people have tested positive for the virus in Cook County.
– Grace Hauck
New Jersey governor warns against ‘corona parties’
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has issued a warning against “corona parties” a week after ordering nearly all residents to stay home, closing nonessential businesses and canceling gatherings of any number, including parties.
“Can’t believe I have to say this at all, let alone for the second time. But here we are. NO CORONA PARTIES. They’re illegal, dangerous, and stupid. We will crash your party. You will pay a big fine. And we will name & shame you until EVERYONE gets this message into their heads,” Murphy tweeted Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Murphy tweeted that police on Friday night broke up a party where 47 people, including a DJ, were packed into a 550-square-foot apartment. The organizer was charged, he said.
The warning comes days after a similar “coronavirus party” in Kentucky resulted in at least one attendee contracting the virus.
— Joel Shannon, USA TODAY; Ashley Balcerzak, NorthJersey.com
NY hospitals will allow birthing mothers to have visitors
New York clarified its guidance on hospital visitation to require hospitals to allow one support person to accompany women giving birth, and one support person at a time in pediatric emergency or hospitalization settings.
In order to slow the spread of coronavirus in medical facilities, the state Department of Health had previously suspended all hospital visitation except when medically necessary, or when family members or legal representatives had to be present in an imminent end-of-life situation with an individual in the hospital.
While parts of this guidance are still in place, the department clarified its position Friday to ensure hospitals allowed one support person, such as a partner, doula or parent, into labor and delivery settings and pediatric emergency settings, as long as the visitors aren’t showing symptoms of coronavirus.
– Sarah Taddeo, New York State Team
Trump sends off naval hospital ship bound for NYC
Speaking from a pier at Naval Station Norfolk, Trump called the USNS Comfort “a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York.”
The president and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were in Norfolk as part of a send-off for the Comfort, which is going to New York City to help the city combat coronavirus.
“We’re here for you, we’re fighting for you, and we always will be,” Trump said.
Trump said the naval hospital ship is equipped with 12 operating rooms, 1,000 hospital beds, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, radiology, CAT-scan equipment, two oxygen-producing plants and a helicopter deck. “It’s stocked to the brim with equipment, medicines and everything you can think of,” he said.
The ship was not scheduled to leave for New York Harbor for another three weeks, but officials pushed up its departure date because of the rapid spread of the virus.
The USNS Mercy, another naval hospital ship, arrived Friday in Los Angeles to help in the city’s response to the global pandemic.
– Michael Collins
New coronavirus test could be a ‘game changer’
A five-minute, point-of-care coronavirus test could be coming to hospitals next week.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Emergency Use Authorization to Abbott Labs on Friday for a coronavirus test that delivers positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes, the company said.
The company expects the tests to be available next week and expects to ramp up manufacturing to deliver 50,000 tests per day.
“This is big news and will help get more of these tests out in the field rapidly,” said FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn in a statement. “We know how important it is to get point of care tests out in the field quickly. These tests that can give results quickly can be a game changer in diagnosing COVID-19.”
– Grace Hauck
Illinois reports death of infant coronavirus patient
An infant younger than one year – who tested positive for the virus in Chicago – has died, the Illinois Department of Public Health said Saturday.
“There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant,” department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call.”
Ezike said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of death.
Older adults and those with preexisting conditions are most at risk of serious illness and more than 85% of deaths in Illinois have been among individuals 60 and older. However, COVID-19 affects people of all ages. Earlier this week, a 17-year-old in New Orleans died after contracting the virus.
– Grace Hauck
Pennsylvania sees surge in cases
The number of coronavirus patients in Pennsylvania grew from 170 to 316 in two days. Also, the number of patients in ICU care has grown from 56 on Thursday to more than 300 on Saturday.
If hospitalizations and ICU care continues to grow at this pace, the number of patients will exceed ICU beds in the state in about a week.
As of Saturday morning, 316 coronavirus patients were in Pennsylvania hospitals, with 97 percent of them in intensive care units, according to Maggi Mumma, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.
–York Daily Record
Could MLB season go to Thanksgiving?
No one knows when the Major League Baseball season will start this year, or if it is played at all.
If there is a season, there’s no telling whether games will be played in front of fans, in empty stadiums or at neutral sites. There could be more scheduled doubleheaders than ever before, prolonged stretches with no days off, and for the first time since World War II, no All-Star Game.
No one has the answers yet, but players union chief Tony Clark said Friday that no matter what the conditions – provided it’s safe – the players want to play baseball as soon and for as long as possible.
Yes, even up until Thanksgiving.
“Players want to play,’’ Clark said, “That’s what we do. Being able to get back on the field and being able to play, even if that means their fans are watching at home.”
– Bob Nightengale
Former All-Star sick: Jim Abbott hospitalized with symptoms, being tested for COVID-19
Last-minute stimulus revision allows more low-income Americans to get $1,200 checks
Americans with little or no tax liability will now be able to receive $1,200 ($2,400 for joint tax returns) under the historic, $2 trillion economic recovery package.
The original legislation had directed that one-time payments of up to $1,200 be made to most Americans who file individual tax returns but included a $2,500 minimum income threshold to earn any rebate. That meant that individuals with little income tax liability would have gotten a minimum of $600 ($1,200 for joint filers).
But a subsequent version of the bill – approved by the Senate on Wednesday and the House on Friday – dropped the minimum income threshold so that all low-income individuals will now be eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 for joint returns).
A caveat: To qualify, they must have filed tax returns in either 2018 or 2019 or receive Social Security or veterans’ benefits so the Internal Revenue Service can calculate their rebate, said Garrett Watson of the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. Read more here.
– Michael Collins
Daily coronavirus updates: Get USA TODAY’s Daily Briefing in your inbox.
Dozens of most popular stores say they will be closed for weeks – or more
Some of America’s most iconic stores that temporarily shut down are now saying closures will last for many weeks – and possibly indefinitely.
The latest casualties from the coronavirus economic deluge include Apple, Express, Urban Outfitters and Guess? stores, all of which are closed “until further notice.” Nike, meanwhile, says company stores “will remain temporarily closed in multiple countries around the world.”
L Brands, parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, announced Friday it “is not currently able to predict the timing of store reopening.”
Nordstrom extended its two-week closures “for at least one week, through April 5,” the department store chain said March 25. Kate Spade and Coach stores will stay closed an “additional two weeks” through April 10 while Men’s Wearhouse locations are closed “until at least May 4.”
– Kelly Tyko
Coronavirus cases soar in rural America
Metropolises like New York City and New Orleans have seen a recent explosion of coronavirus cases. But rural counties in Georgia, Colorado, Utah and Idaho are also experiencing some of the highest rates of coronavirus cases per capita in the nation, threatening to overwhelm local hospitals and challenging perceptions of the virus’ reach.
In Dougherty County, Georgia,, the rate of confirmed cases was the nation’s 12th highest at 179.7 per 100,000 people, higher than many metro areas, with 164 testing positive for the illness and six deaths. The county is about three hours south of Atlanta and has a population of about 90,000.
Its local hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, is maxed out of intensive care beds and on Thursday only had four remaining hospital beds, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Kitchen. Patients who come into the emergency room and require an ICU bed are being directed to other facilities in the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers Dougherty County “extremely vulnerable” on the Social Vulnerability Index. The federal Health Resources & Services Administration also nationally ranked the county in the worst third of counties in a list of medically underserved areas.
– Adrianna Rodriguez, Rick Jervis, Deborah Berry, Matt Wynn
USA TODAY investigates
• Chloroquine treats malaria: Will it work against coronavirus? The side effects are risky, experts say.
• The US had a chance to learn from anthrax, SARS, H1N1 and Ebola. So why is the federal coronavirus response so messy?
• ‘On-the-job emergency training’: Hospitals may run low on staff to run ventilators for coronavirus patients.
• A secretive cache of medical supplies to save Americans from deadly disasters for years lacked the funding to prepare for a pandemic, former managers of the stockpile told USA TODAY.
• Americans are suffering today because officials botched the rollout of testing, derailing containment. Federal officials misled scientists about problems with their test, wasting weeks before letting others fix. Hospitals and labs are paying the price. Read our investigation.
Stranded Americans brought home on US immigration jets
Nearly 300 Americans stranded in Central America have returned to the U.S. this week aboard flights used by U.S. immigration authorities to deport people back to their home countries.
The Americans have been brought back to the U.S. on the return legs of three separate removal flights to Central America, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. Those return flights usually are empty except for pilots and staff.
Since Sunday, 273 Americans have flown back to the U.S. on removal flights, said Mary Houtmann, an ICE spokesperson.
The total includes 128 Americans flown back from Honduras to Alexandria, Louisiana, on Sunday, 81 Americans flown back from El Salvador to San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday and 64 Americans flown back from El Salvador to Mesa, Arizona, on Wednesday.
– The Arizona Republic
U.S. Census remains on hold
The U.S. Census Bureau announced late Saturday it would continue its suspension of field operations for two more weeks, until April 15. The bureau said in a statement that it is working to protect the health and safety of the public, its employees and temporary workers.
Earlier this month, many job fairs, where census bureau officials were hoping to find about 500,000 temporary employees by late May to help reach people who haven’t filled out the 2020 census, were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Disney parks to stay closed indefinitely
Citing an “increasingly complex crisis,” Disneyland and Disney World are going to stay closed “until further notice” due to the pandemic, the Walt Disney Company said Friday.
The decision dashes hopes that the theme parks would reopen by next month, as had been previously announced. Earlier this week, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood announced they were extending their closures through April 19.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and employees remains the Walt Disney Company’s top priority,” Disney said in a statement.
The company said the decision was “in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials.”
– Bryan Alexander and Chris Woodyard
British PM Boris Johnson is self-isolating after testing positive
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is self-isolating after announcing he tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. He’s the first world leader to contract COVID-19.
Johnson, 55, said he developed mild symptoms over the last 24 hours. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” he said.
Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II’s son and heir to the British throne, tested positive for the coronavirus this week and was self-isolating in Scotland, according to his office. He only displayed mild symptoms, his office said.
– Kim Hjelmgaard