There are more than 1.4 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 83,000 people have died from it. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.
HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.
Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)
A day after President Trump threatened to withhold funding to the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency’s director-general, urged world leaders on Wednesday to refrain from politicizing the coronavirus, warning that a failure to unite across party lines and ideologies will result in “many more body bags.”
“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people,” Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva. “Please don’t politicize this virus. It exploits the differences you have at the national level. If you want to be exploited, and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it.”
His remarks were in response to a reporter’s question about Trump accusing WHO during a White House press briefing Tuesday of leading a very “China-centric” response to the pandemic. The president said he would put a “very powerful hold” on U.S. funding to the organization, though later softened his stance when pressed on whether he should do so during a pandemic.
“I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’ll have a look,” the president said.
Ghebreyesus, who did not mention Trump by name, pleaded with world leaders on Wednesday to resist using the virus to “score political points.”
“If we care about our people, if we care about our citizens, please work across party lines, across ideology, across beliefs,” he said. “That’s how we can defeat that virus. … The worst is yet to come if we don’t rush to ensure the unity.”
— Hayley Miller
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been “sitting up in bed” and engaging with medics while he is treated for coronavirus in intensive care.
The prime minister’s condition is “improving” and he is receiving “excellent care,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said at the Downing Street press briefing today. “The latest from the hospital is the prime minister remains in intensive care where his condition is improving,” said Sunak.
“I can also tell you that he has been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team. The prime minister is not only my colleague and my boss but also my friend, and my thoughts are with him and his family.”
The PM has been receiving round-the-clock care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London after he was admitted on Sunday night. On Monday, when his condition worsened, he was moved to an intensive care unit where he was given oxygen.
— Rachel Wearmouth
New York City’s Broadway theaters, which have been shuttered since March 12, will continue to stay closed through at least June 7.
A major industry for the city, Broadway turning off its lights has put thousands of theater performers and staff out of work.
— Marina Fang
New numbers released by officials in New York indicate what many experts initially suspected: Black and brown people are disproportionately dying from COVID-19.
In New York City, 34% of the reported fatalities were of Hispanic people and 28% were Black, both disproportionate to their populations, according to preliminary data released Wednesday.
When adjusted for age, 22.8 deaths per 100,000 were of Hispanic people and 19.8 were Black.
Across the country, metropolitan areas have reported a disproportionate amount of Black and brown people dying from the virus.
The data has been slower to catch up. When asked whether the state was seeing racial disparities in COVID-19 cases, Melissa DeRosa, top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), said Tuesday that many hospitals don’t collect data on race when reporting fatalities, so state officials have had to call coroners’ offices to compile the racial breakdown of deaths.
The pandemic is “just the latest episode” in a long history of systemic racial disparities in health care access in the United States, HuffPost’s Michael Hobbes and Nina Misuraca Ignaczak reported.
— Marina Fang
Some “shoots of success” indicate that social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have begun to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections in the U.S., according to White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, but she stressed that Americans need to remain vigilant.
“We are beginning to see some flattening of the number of new cases per day in specific metro areas,” she said Wednesday.
The curve has been “persistently flat” in Washington and California, Birx said. In New York and New Jersey, the number of cases initially rose much more sharply, but “we’re seeing that stabilizing, and that gives us great encouragement,” she added.
However, Birx warned Americans that if they fail to adhere to social distancing guidelines, “a very acute second wave” of infections could erupt.
— Marina Fang
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering loosening its self-isolation guidelines to allow people who have already been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 to return to work if they do not have symptoms — especially workers in essential jobs, the Associated Press reported.
Under the proposed guidance, people who are exposed to someone infected would be allowed back on the job if they have no symptoms, test their temperature twice a day and wear a face mask, said a person familiar with the proposal under consideration. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the draft because it had not been finalized and described the proposal on the condition of anonymity.
The announcement could come as soon as Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said.
— Marina Fang
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “responding to treatment” for his coronavirus symptoms, Downing Street said Wednesday afternoon. Johnson has now spent two nights in intensive care in St. Thomas’ Hospital in London.
“The prime minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment,” Johnson’s spokesperson said. “He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital.”
The spokesperson added that Johnson remained “in good spirits” and was “receiving standard oxygen treatment and is breathing without any other assistance.”
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for the prime minister where necessary, said the day before that he was “confident” Johnson would pull through and that Johnson was a “fighter.”
— Ned Simons & Arj Singh
Thousands of Wuhan residents traveled back to their hometowns as the city eased its lockdown restrictions on Wednesday, after 76 days. While some restrictions are still in place, like school closures, city leaders want to bring back social and commercial life to the city.
The government reported no new infections in the city on Wednesday, but there has been some dispute over the veracity of China’s statistics, the AP reports.
“We were too excited to fall asleep last night. I was looking forward to lockdown lift very much. I set up an alert to remind myself. I was very happy,” said Xiao Yonghong, who was waiting for a train.
— Liza Hearon
Following recent cases of Australians assaulting, threatening or coughing on healthcare workers, the maximum penalty for trying to deliberately spread coronavirus has been announced, HuffPost Australia reports.
“The deliberate transmission of COVID-19 is an offense under the general criminal laws that apply in every state and territory. The most serious of these offenses may carry maximum penalties up to imprisonment for life if somebody was to take a step which led to the death of a healthcare worker,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Hunt said two people had already been charged for “this type of behavior” and the government’s plan supports “stepping up our protection of healthcare workers.”
At least 5,900 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 49 people have died.
— Alicia Vrajlal
Fourteen public transport workers have died in the England capital after testing positive for coronavirus, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
“They are in my thoughts and prayers and my condolences to their families,” he told Sky News.
Khan said the death toll includes nine bus drivers, as well as three Transport for London workers, an Underground employee and a worker for one of TfL’s suppliers.
Bus drivers last week told HuffPost UK they were being forced to work without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and worried about being exposed to COVID-19.
“I’m scared about catching coronavirus and what it’ll mean for my family,” one said.
On Monday, a union called for London Underground drivers to be provided with masks and gloves to help protect them from contracting coronavirus.
— Nadine White
Walgreens To Open Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Sites In 7 States ― 04/08/2020, 1:10 a.m.
Walgreens announced on Tuesday that it plans to offer drive-thru testing for the novel coronavirus outside 15 of its stores in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.
The tests, which promise results within minutes, will be self-administered outside stores, the company said. Pharmacists will on hand to assist.
The expansion of Walgreens’ drive-thru testing efforts comes weeks after President Donald Trump announced that four companies — Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens — would be offering drive-thru COVID-19 tests. However, as CBS News reported on Tuesday, to date, only CVS and Walgreens have opened a handful of testing sites.
— Dominique Mosbergen
For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.