As more U.S. states enact strict stay-at-home orders to slow the community spread of COVID-19, Italy’s daily death toll continues to climb: Almost 800 more people have died from the virus, officials said Saturday, marking a new daily high.
The news comes as Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that he and his wife plan to be tested for coronavirus. A staffer for vice president has tested positive for COVID-19.
The White House’s coronavirus task force’s Saturday briefing included several other updates:
- Coronavirus testing is expanding rapidly across the country and 195,000 Americans who are symptomatic have been tested, Pence said.
- Americans should continue to avoid gathering in public. “Stay at home and save lives,” President Donald Trump said.
- Americans who do not have symptoms should not get tested. Dr. Anthony Fauci said limiting who gets tested will free up in-demand protective equipment.
There are at least 278 deaths and over 20,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. Worldwide, the death toll has topped 12,000, with at least 4,825 deaths in Italy, the country that has witnessed the most deaths. The world was nearing 300,000 total cases as of Saturday, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.
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Italy coronavirus cases, deaths spike
Italy reported 793 coronavirus-related deaths and 6,557 new cases Saturday, the highest daily count yet in the nation’s health crisis.
The latest figures raised Italy’s death toll from the virus to 4,825.
Emergency Commissioner and Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli said 42,681 people were currently infected with the coronavirus in Italy.
It was the second day in a row that Italy registered a record number of deaths and new cases. Italy surpassed China this week in the number of coronavirus-related deaths.
New Jersey becomes latest state to enact strict measures
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced Saturday that he would be ordering residents to stay at home, effective at 9 p.m. He also canceled gatherings of any number, including parties, weddings and religious ceremonies.
“We need you to just stay at home,” Murphy said. “We have to change our behaviors.”
Illinois plans to require residents to stay home as much as possible, aside from meeting their basic needs, starting Saturday evening.
New York plans to ban all nonessential travel beginning Sunday evening, following California’s lead, which began Friday. Connecticut and Oregon were preparing to do the same.
Fauci: efforts at containing coronavirus are working
Dr. Anthony Fauci said efforts to contain the spread of the virus are working, but Americans need to continue to follow the 15-day guidelines for containing the disease.
“I think we’re getting to the solution that everybody in the country is looking for,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We know we are clearly having an effect,” Fauci said. “We will get through it, I promise you.”
Fauci encouraged Americans who do not have symptoms to not get tested. Doing so, he warned, would make it harder for health care workers to prioritize the highest risk Americans. It would also use up highly needed personal protective equipment.
“When you go in and get tested you are consuming personal protective equipment masks and gowns,” Fauci said. “Those are high priority for the health care workers who were taking care of people who have coronavirus disease.”
Fauci also repeated the call for health care providers to “Please, put off, cancel, elective medical and surgical procedures.”
– Michael Collins, John Fritze, Richard Wolf
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New York securing 6,000 ventilators; still needs 18,000 more
New York officials have identified about 2 million medical-grade masks and 6,000 ventilators to combat the patient surge. The state previously expected to need 24,000 additional ventilators; it still trying to find another 18,000 of the devices.
The lifesaving ventilators are being purchased as part of a push to scour the globe for the breathing systems to avoid expected shortages in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. said.
New York’s scramble to buy more medical supplies came as authorities moved to lock down communities statewide, banning all nonessential travel.
– David Robinson, New York State Team
Sanitizing masks: Can they be reused?
Trump drew criticism on social media for questioning why masks couldn’t be sanitized, rather than being thrown away.
“Some don’t lead themselves to doing that,” Trump acknowledged, “but many do.”
Trump said that “we have very good liquids” for sanitizing masks and he indicated that is something public health officials are starting to do.
Most masks are usually authorized for one-time use, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance this week indicating masks could be reused as a…
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