By MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 294,000 people worldwide.More than 4.3 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.3 million diagnosed cases and at least 82,806 deaths. Here’s how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:
1:30 p.m.: NJ reopening retail for curbside pickupIn New Jersey, nonessential retail stores can open for curbside pickup beginning Monday, though customers cannot go inside, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday.Drive-in and drive-thru events, like movies and religious services, will also be allowed, as long as people remain in their cars, Murphy said.The ban on gatherings still applies, Murphy said, as he urged people to continue to stay home as much as possible.Looking forward, the state is working on a plan to reopen facilities for elective surgeries, the governor said.”While we’ve made enormous progress, we’re still not in the end zone,” Murphy cautioned. “As we take these steps, we ask for your continued patience. We’re moving slowly and deliberately because any misstep risks further outbreaks.”New Jersey has over 141,000 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus. The death toll has reached 9,702.
1 p.m.: 75 deaths among NYC’s homelessThe homeless are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, and in New York City, 75 homeless people have now succumbed to the virus, according to the Department of Social Services.There are 920 homeless people in the city who have tested positive.As the New York City subway system shuts down each night for disinfecting, the police are contacting the homeless who take shelter on the subways and trying to bring them to hospitals or shelters.
12:12 p.m.: NYC has 82 cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory SyndromeIn New York City there are 82 confirmed cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19, an inflammatory syndrome which has features that overlap with Kawasaki disease.Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, said last week that “most children with COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms, but in some, a dangerous inflammatory syndrome can develop.”Of those 82 cases, 53 tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.New York City makes up the majority of New York state’s 102 reported cases. Three young people in New York state have died: a 5-year-old boy, 7-year-old boy and an 18-year-old woman.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that 14 other states have reported cases: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C.”This is truly disturbing,” Cuomo said. “We raise it because it’s something parents should be aware of.””There are still unanswered questions,” de Blasio said, like what makes some children susceptible, how long it takes to manifest and the likelihood of it developing. But it is known that if diagnosed early, children can be treated effectively, he said.If a child has symptoms including persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting, the mayor urged parents to call their pediatrician immediately.12 p.m.: In NY, essential workers test positive at lower rate than general populationIn New York City, essential workers are testing positive at lower rates than the general population, which Gov. Cuomo attributes to the general population not wearing masks.New York City’s general population is testing positive at a rate of 19.9%, compared to 12.2% for health care workers and 10.5% for New York City police.”PPE works, masks work, gloves work,” Cuomo stressed.In New York City, the latest tracking progress indicators are a mixed bag.On Monday, 78 people were admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 — up from 51 admissions on Sunday.There were 561 patients in intensive care units on Monday — up from 550 on Sunday.And of those tested citywide on Monday, 13% were positive. One day earlier, 14% were positive.The state recorded an additional 166 deaths on Tuesday.11:50 a.m.: NJ orders testing at all long-term care facilitiesAll long-term care facilities in New Jersey must implement COVID-19 testing for staff and residents by May 26, according to a directive signed by New Jersey Heath Commissioner Judith Persichilli on Tuesday.New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have been particularly hard hit. The state has 90,000 residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nearly 26,000 positive cases have been reported, according to the state.In April, a pilot project tested 4,600 residents and staff at 16 long-term care facilities in the state, and the project found a majority of those who were positive were asymptomatic, according to the state.The New Jersey attorney general’s office started investigating the state’s long-term care facilities in April.”Our investigation was prompted by both the high number of deaths we were seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and by the disturbing reports we were receiving: reports of bodies piled up in makeshift morgues, of nurses and staff without adequate PPE,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said last week.The state asked the public to report any misconduct anonymously through an online portal.
11:25 a.m.: Gyms, pools now open in ArizonaGyms and pools can reopen in Arizona on Wednesday, but Gov. Doug Ducey cautioned Tuesday, “this does not mean a return to normal.”Vulnerable individuals should still stay home, Ducey said, and in-person visits to nursing homes remain prohibited.Schools remain closed and residents should continue to telework when possible and minimize nonessential travel.Retail shopping, barber shops and salons were permitted to reopen on May 8. Dine-in services resumed on May 11.Arizona’s stay-at-home order will expire on Friday and professional sports leagues can restart in the state without spectators after Friday.
10:15 a.m.: NYC has 82 cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory SyndromeIn New York City there are 82 confirmed cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19, an inflammatory syndrome which has features that overlap with Kawasaki disease.Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, said last week that “most children with COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms, but in some, a dangerous inflammatory syndrome can develop.”Of those 82 cases, 53 tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.One of those young people in New York City has died, the mayor said. “There are still unanswered questions,” like what makes some children susceptible, how long it takes to manifest and the likelihood of developing it, de Blasio said. But it is known that if diagnosed early, children can be treated effectively, he said.If a child has symptoms including persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting, the mayor urged parents to call their pediatrician immediately. 9:15 a.m.: UK ‘cannot now go back to square 1,’ prime minister warnsAs some people in the United Kingdom returned to work Wednesday for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned that the country must not “proceed too fast or too recklessly.””What we are doing is entirely conditional and provisional,” Johnson told lawmakers in British Parliament on Wednesday. “The U.K. has made a huge amount of progress. The people of this country have worked incredibly hard to get the [virus reproduction rate] down. We cannot now go back to square one. We can’t risk a second outbreak, and we will do everything to avoid that.”While the rules on social distancing remain in place, Wednesday marks the first day that people are allowed to return to work if they cannot do their job from home. People are now also allowed to leave their homes for unlimited amounts of exercise, to sunbathe and to drive to other destinations. Fines for those who break the rules, which are still limited to spending time with members of your own household, will be increased, according to Johnson.The prime minister announced the modifications to the nationwide lockdown and a phased plan to reopen society during a televised address on Sunday, but the measures were roundly criticized as lacking clarity. Johnson said that England had changed its formal government slogan to “Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives,” from the previous guidance which said that people must “stay at home” to stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect the National Health Service (NHS). The new messaging puts England at odds with the three other countries of the United Kingdom.The national governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have indicated they will continue to adhere to the previous official advice of “Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives,” despite the modifications announced by Johnson. Although Johnson is the prime minister, public health legislation is devolved to national governments within the United Kingdom.The United Kingdom currently has one of the world’s highest national death tolls from COVID-19, second only to that of the United States. More than 227,000 people in the European island nation have been diagnosed with the disease and at least 32,769 have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
8:23 a.m.: UNICEF warns 6,000 additional children could die a dayAn additional 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries with already weak health systems, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned Wednesday. The estimate is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the findings of which were published Tuesday in The Lancet Global Health journal. Based on the worst of three modeled scenarios in 118 low- and middle-income nations, the analysis estimates that an additional 1.2 million children under the age of 5 could die in just six months due to reductions in routine health service coverage levels and an increase in child wasting.These potential child deaths will be in addition to the 2.5 million children who already die before their 5th birthday every six months in the 118 countries included in the study, threatening to reverse nearly a decade of progress on ending preventable under-five mortality. “Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement Wednesday. “We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus. And we must not let decades of progress on reducing preventable child and maternal deaths be lost.”
7:25 a.m.: ‘We’ll never be completely open until we have a cure,’ Los Angeles mayor saysLos Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the city will “never be completely open until we have a cure,” as county health officials recommend stay-at-home orders remain in place for months longer to help suppress the spread of the novel coronavirus. “I think we have to all recognize that we’re not moving beyond COVID-19, we’re learning to live with it,” Garcetti told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.Garcetti urged residents “not to overreact” to the comments made Tuesday by Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the public health director of Los Angeles County, who recommended that the county extend stay-at-home orders for at least three more months. The county’s original stay-at-home order is set to expire Friday. “But it’s important to take this serious because [the virus] is as dangerous today as it was the first day that it arrived in our cities and our country,” Garcetti added. “So quite frankly, there’s no so-called open state or open country that doesn’t continue to have health orders telling us to cover our faces, physically distance and to tell people that you’re safest working from and staying at home. That’s all that the county health director was saying, and we can’t expect that to disappear in a matter of weeks or even a few months.”The mayor said he hopes the city’s K-12 school will be able to reopen in “some sense,” though he cautioned “it won’t be in the way that we’ve known school in the past” and vulnerable children won’t be able to go back “for some time.” “It might be fewer days a week, it might be staggered because we have to maintain that physical distance,” Garcetti said. “Look, we have to tell the hard truths and protect our people. At the same time, we take steps forward.” “We’ve never been fully closed. We’ll never be completely open until we have a cure,” he continued. “I do believe that we can take steps but monitor those numbers, listen to the scientists and the medical professionals and make the tough calls even when there’s criticism.” More than 32,000 people in Los Angeles County have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 1,570 have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Garcetti said he was proud of how his city and the county has stood up its own testing centers, which he said is essential for reopening. “We have a capacity of 20,000 tests a day just in Los Angeles County, whereas the country is doing 300,000 tests a day and we’re just 3% of the population,” he said. “We’ve got to keep that going and we have to make it regular. For kids to go back to school, we need testing. For workers to get back to work, we need testing.” “We were the first city in America to offer widespread testing to people with and without symptoms,” he added, “because we’ve got to find the silent spreaders that are amongst us as well.”
7:06 a.m.: Hong Kong reports locally-transmitted cases for first time in 23 daysHong Kong reported two new locally-transmitted infections of COVID-19 on Wednesday, after 23 straight days with only imported cases.Health officials are working to trace any close contacts of the two new patients.
“We are all very concerned,” Dr. Chui Tak-yi, undersecretary of Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau, told a press conference Wednesday. “We must heighten our alertness. Citizens cannot let their guards down and must continue to carry out anti-epidemic measures.”The semiautonomous Chinese city now has 1,051 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including four deaths.
6:13 a.m.: California authorities says Tesla can reopen factory with new safety measuresTesla can reopen its sole U.S. vehicle factory in California as soon as next week, so long as the electric carmaker adopts extra safety recommendations amid the coronavirus pandemic, local officials said.The Alameda County Health Department released a statement late Tuesday announcing that the plant in Fremont, some 40 miles southeast of San Francisco, will be allowed to go beyond basic operations this week and start manufacturing vehicles on Monday if Tesla holds up its part of the agreement.”We reviewed the plan and held productive discussions today with Tesla’s representatives about their safety and prevention plans, including some additional safety recommendations,” the health department said in the statement. “If Tesla’s Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve, we have agreed that Tesla can begin to augment their Minimum Business Operations this week in preparation for possible reopening as soon as next week.”The Alameda County Health Department noted that it will be working with the Fremont Police Department to verify whether Tesla “is adhering to physical distancing and that agreed upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers as they prepare for full production.”Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter earlier this week that he was restarting production at the Fremont factory in defiance of the county’s ordinance. Operations at the plant apparently continued into Tuesday, although the company met a Monday deadline to submit a site-specific plan for worker safety.”I will be on the line with everyone else,” Musk tweeted. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”It’s unclear whether Tesla would face any punishment for the reopening.
5:10 a.m.: Russia reports over 10,000 new cases for 11th straight dayRussia reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday for the 11th day in a row, as the country emerges as a new hot spot in the coronavirus pandemic.There were 10,028 new infections confirmed in Russia over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 242,271, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.Russia has the second-largest national tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the United States. The country reported a record 11,656 new infections on Monday.Russia also has one of the world’s fastest rates of new infections in the coronavirus pandemic, second only to the U.S.However, the country’s death toll from the disease remains relatively low with just 96 new fatalities reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 2,212, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.
4:41 a.m.: Pakistan reports record daily spike in COVID-19 casesPakistan saw more than 2,000 new infections of the novel coronavirus in a single day for the first time since the outbreak began.The country’s health ministry said Wednesday there were a record 2,255 new cases of COVID-19 registered over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 34,312.The spike comes just days after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan began a phased reopening of the nation after a weekslong lockdown.Khan has argued that the country’s poorest were worst-affected by the coronavirus restrictions, as a vast majority of the population earn barely $75 a month, mostly doing daily wage work. 3:28 a.m.: Fresno City Council president cited for three counts of assault after confrontation with protestersFresno City Council President Miguel Arias was cited for three counts of assault after a group of anti-lockdown protesters approached his home Tuesday afternoon, police said.The unarmed protesters showed up at Arias’ residence to demand the reopening of businesses and the lifting of social-distancing restrictions in the California city. A spokesman for the Fresno Police Department told ABC News there was sufficient evidence that Arias committed assault against the protesters.Video allegedly taken by one of the protesters purportedly shows the city council president shoving a man down a staircase away from the front door of his apartment.Arias claims the protesters tried to break into his home and refused to leave.”Not only did they go into private property that’s gated that requires security to get through, but they showed up to my front door and banged on my front door,” Arias told Fresno ABC station KFSN-TV. “Folks didn’t want to give way to my private property, so I moved them out of the way.”Investigators are still trying to determine whether there was an attempted break-in. Police said they are beefing up security at the homes of other city leaders at this time as a precaution. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.