Coronavirus headlines: Coronavirus-related deaths in US doubled in two days


Saturday, March 28

7:45 p.m. update:

(AP) — 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.

The risk of death from COVID-19 is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. In most cases, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough and milder cases of pneumonia.

5:00 p.m. update:

CHICAGO (WGN) — An infant in the state has died related to COVID-19, Gov. Pritzker announced Saturday.

The state now has 3,491 COVID-19 cases and 47 deaths after the governor announced 465 new cases of the virus Saturday. 13 more deaths were announced, including an infant and a state worker.

The infant lived in Cook County.

During his update, Gov. Pritzker reiterated that experts have told him that mortality risk among children with COVID-19 is very low. Older adults are at higher risk of severe illness, and more than 85% of deaths in Illinois are among individuals 60 years of age and older.

The governor also announced that McCormick Place will be used as the state’s first field hospital. 3,000 hospital beds will be installed by the end of April.

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday.

4:00 p.m. update:

(CNN) — Thousands of grounded planes. Nearly empty flights. Airports that look like ghost towns.

That is the picture of aviation in an era where approximately 200 million Americans are under directives to stay at home and limit their travel due to the coronavirus.

A CNN review of the latest airline-related data gives a clearer picture of how air travel has ground to a halt, a result of isolation measures around the country.

The latest announcement on Friday from American Airlines reflect the trends around the industry: Over the next two months, it expects to fly as little as 20% of its domestic schedule and between 10% and 20% of its international schedule.

Many of those planes have just a handful of passengers. American CEO Doug Parker said his planes are about 15% full. US airlines started the year filling about four of five available seats, but are now, on average, filling just one of every five seats, according to data from Airlines for America, an industry group.

The sliver of usual traffic that is now trickling through airport security checkpoints show how few people are packing their bags. The Transportation Security Administration on Thursday screened just 8% of the travelers that it did on the equivalent day in 2019 — the first day since the coronavirus pandemic reached the US when that number has dropped below 10%.

As the number of travelers nationwide has dropped, TSA has cut back on the number of checkpoints it operates, particularly at medium- and large-sized airports, according to an aviation official familiar with the matter.

In some cases, the official said, the reductions have been linked to a reduced availability of officers to work. More than 60 TSA officers have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to agency data compiled by CNN. The union representing them said dozens more have needed to stay home due to the possibility of exposure.

The official noted that the drop in traffic means multiple security lanes are not needed and can be consolidated. The closures have also allowed the agency to space out the number of lanes that are operational.

The stark figures underscore why the nation’s passenger and cargo airlines requested a $58 billion federal relief package, divided between grants to pay employees and loans for other expenses. Parker said his airline expects to receive “about $12 billion” of the package.

An additional $10 billion is for airports, and $3 billion is reserved for the companies whose employees stock and clean aircraft between flights.

Across the industry, airlines have slashed from their schedules. Two operators of regional jet service that work for American, Delta and United Airlines, are closing their doors because the cuts and passenger declines were too deep.

When Delta Air Lines unveiled one round of cuts, CEO Ed Bastian told employees in a memo obtained by CNN that “the speed of the demand falloff is unlike anything we’ve seen.” Days later, the airline made even steeper cuts — and is now flying only 30% of its usual schedule.

United says it is currently operating at only 68% of its schedule. Earlier this month, it cut its international schedule by 95%, then added a few flights back to its roster, adapting to the plight of Americans overseas who were “displaced and still need to get home.”

Southwest is eliminating 1,500 of its 4,000 daily flights.

The schedule cuts have snowballed as the US and other governments rolled out travel restrictions. Some of the latest flight cancellations are linked to quarantine restrictions in Hawaii. The infrastructure around tourism and travel — including conferences, hotels, sightseeing, cruises and restaurants — have cut operations and staff.

Airlines are similarly closing lounges for premium travelers and cutting back on amenities for travelers, such as poured drinks on aircraft. Southwest, for example, is shifting to serve passengers only water in individual cans.

The schedule cuts mean the airlines need to operate far fewer planes. Delta has grounded 600 planes — more than half its fleet. American says its grounded jets are congregating at airfields in Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Roswell, New Mexico, and Mobile, Alabama.

Airlines for America says about 1,200 planes in the US fleet of 6,215 have been grounded due to the coronavirus outbreak — not including planes like the Boeing 737 MAX that were grounded a year ago, or are awaiting delivery.

Airlines rarely ground planes because it not only means no revenue, but losses. Planes in short-term storage require regular maintenance to remain ready to return into service.

Worldwide, nearly a third of the 17,750 passenger jets in operation are parked, according to the aviation data firm Cirium. That number is growing rapidly: It said 1,000 more planes were parked since its update a day earlier.

The airlines also need fewer pilots, flight attendants, and other employees. Hundreds of pilots at American Airlines have accepted early retirements. Delta announced Friday that more than 21,000 employees are taking unpaid leave. The memo to employees, obtained by CNN, described unpaid leave as “the most important way you can help the company over the next few months. We could use more volunteers.”

One bright spot for airlines: The need for cargo shipping has grown. American Airlines recently flew its first cargo-only flight since 1984, laden with medical supplies, mail and packages people ordered from online retailers.

12:45 p.m. update:

NEW YORK (WJW) — There are now more than 50,000 cases of coronavirus in New York state, according to FOX 5.

Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed Saturday that are now 52,318 confirmed cases of the virus. 7,328 people have been hospitalized, 1,755 are ICU patients and 2,726 have been discharged. The death toll has risen to 728. 

President Donald Trump says he is considering imposing a quarantine on New York, New Jersey and Connecticut due to the outbreak.  If enacted, the quarantine would restrict travel out of the area. 

11:45 a.m. update:

BERLIN (AP) — The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide has topped 615,000 with new cases stacking up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials digging in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark on Saturday came only two days after the world passed a half- million infections in a tally by John Hopkins University. That showed how much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. While the U.S. leads the world in reported infections with more than 104,000, five countries exceed the roughly 1,700 U.S. deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. 

11:15 a.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan, providing additional money to help the state address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declaration announced by the White House on Saturday follows a back-and-forth between Trump and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has criticized the Trump administration for its slow response to the pandemic, saying “we cannot weather this alone.”

The U.S. surgeon general said Friday that Detroit, a national “hot spot” for cases of the new coronavirus, will worsen next week. More than 3,600 people in Michigan were confirmed to have COVID-19 Friday.

At least 92 have died, most from the three counties in the Detroit area, according to state officials.

10:45 a.m. update:

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) — Increasing numbers of police officers and civilian law enforcement staff are getting sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. And the growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among the ranks of those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection. An Associated Press survey this week of over 40 law enforcement agencies found more than 690 officers and civilian employees at police departments and sheriff’s offices around the country have tested positive for COVID-19.

7:30 a.m. update:

UNITED STATES (WJW) — The United States has passed every nation in the world for confirmed coronavirus cases.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country was reported on January 21. Now, over two months later, the US has at least 101,242 cases of the virus and at least 1,588 people have died.

Ohio is reporting more than 1,100 cases, resulting in 19 deaths. Of the 276 hospitalizations, 107 are in intensive care units. Cuyahoga County continues to have the most cases at 330, followed by Franklin County at 152 and Mahoning County at 68.

Not pictured: Guam (49), US Virgin Islands (19) Map based on CNN stats as of March 28, 2020.

Ohio health officials say hospitals across the state must increase their capacity, especially for ICU beds. Dr. Amy Acton says currently, Ohio only has about one-third of the hospital space it needs to handle the huge influx of coronavirus patients.

Governor Mike DeWine says projections and models provided by the Cleveland Clinic show the fast-growing number of coronavirus cases may not peak in Ohio until the middle of May when there could be 10,000 new cases reported every single day.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has taken steps to expand the federal government’s role in helping provide critically needed supplies to fight the pandemic. On Friday, the President signed an order aimed at compelling General Motors to prioritize the production of ventilators under the Defense Production Act. He says his actions will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.

Also on Friday, the President signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, passed by Congress. Governor Mike DeWine also signed a relief bill that offers assistance to Ohioans on a state level.

President Trump says discussions will be held early next week on how to start returning to normal.

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