Coronavirus headlines: Trump acknowledges that deaths in the US could reach 100,000 or more


Sunday, March 29, 2020

11:30 p.m. update:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized an Ohio company to sterilize thousands of surgical masks for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Battelle had previously received partial approval by the FDA, which limited how many masks they could clean each day. That decision didn’t sit well Governor Mike DeWine. He asked the FDA to reconsider and sought support from President Trump.

“I want to thank President Trump for his leadership and Dr. Hahn of the FDA for approving the use of this life-saving technology that Battelle has developed,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.  “This will not only help Ohio’s healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, but Battelle will also be helping health care workers in hot spots throughout the country including New York and Washington state.”

The lab is capable of sterilizing up to 80,000 masks per system each day. Each mask can also be decontaminated about 20 times without damaging its quality.

Battelle is currently processing N95 respirator masks for OhioHealth and will begin doing the same for three other major systems starting this week.

“I want to thank the FDA team for their professionalism and help in authorizing the use of our technology at this critical moment for our nation,” said Lou Von Thaer, President and CEO of Battelle. “Everybody who has worked on this project shares the same goal of protecting first responders and healthcare workers who are at the front lines of the pandemic.”

Hospital systems and other agencies who wish to learn more about this system are asked to visit or contact Battelle directly at: 1-800-201-2011.

9:30 p.m. update:

 (CNN) — President Donald Trump acknowledged Sunday for the first time that deaths in the United States from coronavirus could reach 100,000 or more, adding that if the death toll stays at or below 100,000, “we all together have done a very good job.”

Trump’s assertion came after he was asked about comments the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, made earlier Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that based on models, 100,000 Americans or more could die from the virus.

On Sunday, Trump said during an evening news conference at the White House that he’d decided to extend the nationwide social distancing guidelines — which include suggested limits on large gatherings — for another 30 days to April 30.

During his news conference, Trump said he received what he called the “most accurate” or “most comprehensive” study today about the potential death toll from Covid-19.

He said there could be up more than 2 million cases if “we did nothing” but he did not give more details on the exact number. Fauci told CNN earlier Sunday that the US could see millions of cases of coronavirus in the US.

“When I heard the number today. First time I heard that number, because I have been asking the same question to some people. I felt even better about what we did last week with the $2.2 trillion dollars,” Trump said in reference to the historic stimulus package passed by Congress last week. “Because you are talking about a potential of up to 2.2 million and some people said it could even be higher than that. You are talking about 2.2 million deaths. 2.2 million people from this,” Trump said.

6:30 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJW) — President Trump announced during his Sunday press conference that they have decided to extend current guidelines until April 30 to help slow the spread.

He had previously discussed the idea of possible reopening everything on Easter. When asked about that date by a reporter, he said it was “aspiratational.”

He also noted that the highest point of death rates is expected to hit in the next two weeks. 

He thinks by June 1st we will be well on our way to recovery.

5:00 p.m. update:

(CNN) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a message for the nation on Sunday: Although New York has become the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, no one will treat the state “unfairly” over coronavirus.

“New York is going to have what it needs. And no one is going to attack New York unfairly and no one is going to deprive New York of what it needs. That’s why I’m here,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said at a news conference after the state has come under scrutiny and cases of the virus continue to mount.

There are more than 130,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the country, with more than 55,000 of them in New York alone.

“I know we feel under attack …,” Cuomo said, referring to New Yorkers. “Yes, New York is the epicenter. And these are different times. And many people are frightened. Some of the reactions you get from individuals, even from governments, are frightening and suggesting that they’ll take abrupt actions against New York. But look, this is New York. And we are going to make it through this.”

On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to “refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” President Donald Trump had asked the agency on Saturday to issue the advisory after he had floated the idea of a short-term quarantine earlier in the day.

Cuomo has pleaded for federal assistance amid growing fears of a shortage of personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies in the state. On Sunday, the Democratic governor said at least 965 people have died from coronavirus in New York, and fighting the virus is going to be an “all hands on deck” situation among public and private hospitals in the state.

“This is everybody helping everyone else,” Cuomo said. “One hospital gets overwhelmed, the other hospitals have to flex to help that hospital, and vice-versa.”

Surrounding states are also considering restrictions against New York in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus. During a press conference Friday, Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said law enforcement officers would stop cars with New York license plates and knock on doors in coastal communities to identify people who’ve traveled to New York.

Last week, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order mandating a 14-day self-quarantine or isolation period for people coming to the state from airports in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. He also said he was considering expanding the order to require travelers to provide names of people they’ve been in close contact with in the state.

During an interview with CNN on Saturday, Cuomo called Rhode Island’s policy “clearly unconstitutional” and said he would sue the state if it did not roll back the policy. He also objected to the possibility of a quarantine for New York, saying such a drastic measure would be “illegal” and a “federal declaration of war.”

3 p.m. update:

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers are leaning away from starting the rescheduled games in the spring of 2021. More and more the signs point toward the summer of 2021. Organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori suggested to local television there may be no major change from 2020. The postponed games were to have opened on July 24 and closed on Aug. 9. Mori has said some decisions could be made as early as this week when the organizing committee’s executive board meets. Any final decision will be made by local organizers and the IOC, and hundreds of sponsors, sports federations and broadcasters.

1 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The billions of tax dollars headed for hospitals and states as part of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus response bill won’t solve the critical shortage of protective gowns, gloves and masks. That’s what a close look by The Associated Press has found. Experts say the problem isn’t a lack of money. It’s that there aren’t enough supplies to buy. What’s more, the crisis has exposed a fragmented procurement system that’s descending into chaos just as demand soars. Hospitals, state governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are left bidding against each other and driving up prices.

12 p.m. update:

NEW YORK (WJW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo updated residents on the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak Sunday.

The Governor announced that there were more than 59,000 confirmed cases of the virus in New York. This is the largest number of confirmed cases in any US state.

Governor Cuomo says healthcare providers should anticipate a “rolling apex” across the state, adding that the high point of the curve would peak at different times for different communities.

He emphasized the importance of fast and easy coronavirus testing so that people could return to work. He also extended his directive for all non-essential workers to work from home for two weeks, until April 15.

965 have died across the state due to the coronavirus outbreak.

11:20 a.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has added Connecticut and Oregon to the list of states where a disaster has been declared due to the coronavirus. A disaster declaration makes a state eligible for federal assistance to supplement state and local efforts to respond to the pandemic.

The White House said Sunday that Trump had approved the two new disaster declarations.

The addition of Connecticut and Oregon brings the list of states where a disaster has been declared to 18, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.

11 a.m. update:

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A group of students from several universities in Indonesia has distributed soaps and hand sanitizers to informal daily workers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The cleansing items were distributed to pedicab drivers, construction workers, motorcycle taxi drivers and the traders at a wet market in Yogyakarta. Those informal workers are still working every day and not able to practice social distancing movements being encouraged by the Indonesian government. The income of those daily workers have decreased since the COVID-19 outbreak affecting Yogyakarta.

8 a.m. update:

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Less than three weeks after Ohio’s first confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, the state’s death toll hits 25.

There are now more than 1,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 300 of which were confirmed this weekend. Ohio currently has 344 hospitalizations, with 123 in ICU. The virus has also now spread to 66 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Governor Mike DeWine announced during his media briefing Saturday afternoon that Patel labs has developed a new machine that can sterilize up to 80,000 surgical masks a day. The Governor is making a direct appeal to the Food and Drug Administration to approve the new machines as soon as possible.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Acton says the more Ohioans slow the virus, the more time hospitals will have to build out capacity. This may include using closed hospitals and hotel rooms to house patients. 

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is deploying one of the navy’s hospital ships to New York City to help ease the strain on the state’s packed hospitals. The state of New York has over 52,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

The USNS Comfort is expected to dock in NYC on Monday. That’s where it will house patients with medical issues other than coronavirus in effort to help free up beds in overwhelmed intensive care units.

The President has also signed an executive order that will allow former active duty military members to be recalled into service.  The order gives officials the authority to order up members, but right now there is no indication that will happen.

The president said mobilizing medical, disaster, and emergency response personnel, including thousands of experienced service members and retirees, could be necessary.  There have only been a few cases in the past where members of this reserve have been called up for active duty, such as during the height of both Iraq wars.

Not pictured: Guam (55), US Virgin Islands (23), Puerto Rico (100), Northern Mariana Islands (2). Map based on CNN stats as of March 29, 2020.

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