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    At least 722,000 people worldwide – including more than 142,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, March 30, continue below: New York City to fine people who violate social-distancing rules Update 5:20 a.m. EDT March 30: New York City will fine those who fail to follow social-distancing guidelines, officials said. According to WPIX-TV, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the news in a Sunday news conference. “We’re going to give people every chance to listen, and if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” he said, adding that people could face fines of $250 to $500 if they continue to violate the rules after receiving a warning from police. The city has already shut down nonessential businesses and instructed to residents to stay inside when possible, WPIX reported. Budget airline EasyJet grounds entire fleet Update 4:32 a.m. EDT March 30: British airline EasyJet announced that it is grounding all of its 344 planes amid the coronavirus pandemic, ITV is reporting. According to CNN, the budget carrier’s decision takes effect Monday. “At this stage, there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights,” the Luton-based airline said in a statement. The carrier tweeted Monday that entitlements for customers whose flights were canceled “are available for up to a year after your flight was originally due to depart.” >> See the tweets here 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' songwriter Alan Merrill dies of complications from virus Update 3:23 a.m. EDT March 30: Alan Merrill, best known for writing the hit song “I Love Rock 'n' Roll,” died Sunday morning after experiencing coronavirus complications. He was 69. According to USA Today, Merrill’s daughter, Laura, said in a Facebook post that her father died at a New York City hospital. “I was given two minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out,” she wrote of Merrill, who also was a guitarist and vocalist. “He seemed peaceful, and as I left, there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right-hand side of the CNN/Fox News screen.” She said she walked home and received the news of his death by the time she reached her apartment. “I’ve made a million jokes about the ‘Rona’ and how it’ll ‘getcha’ ... boy, do I feel stupid,” she continued. “If anything can come of this, I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think it’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has.” >> See the post here ″I Love Rock 'n' Roll' was originally released by the Arrows, a band Merrill was part of, in 1975, according to “Entertainment Tonight.” Seven years later, rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts released a version of the song, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the outlet reported. Jett took to Twitter to pay tribute to Merrill on Sunday, sending “thoughts and love” to his loved ones and the music community. “I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,” Jett wrote. “With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.” >> See the tweet here News of Merrill’s death came the same day that country music star Joe Diffie died from the virus, “ET” reported. Costco to temporarily change store hours Update 1:31 a.m. EDT March 30: In an effort to help protect its customers, Costco announced it will temporarily implement new weekday closing hours for its locations nationwide. Beginning Monday, all its warehouses will close at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and its gas stations will close at 7 p.m. However, it said some specific locations’ hours would be different. The wholesale giant said its weekend hours would remain the same. For its members ages 60 and older and those with physical impairments, Costco has special operating hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Costco said it has made some temporary department changes to create more space for social distancing and is following CDC recommendations to minimize risk to its members and employees. U.S. cases soar past 142,000, including more than 2,500 deaths Update 12:39 a.m. EDT March 30: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 142,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 142,502 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,506 deaths. Worldwide, there are 722,435 confirmed cases and 33,997 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 97,689 reported in Italy and the 82,149 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 966 have occurred in New York, 200 in Washington state, 161 in New Jersey and 151 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 59,746 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 13,386, California with 6,284 and Michigan with 5,488. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Massachusetts: 4,955, including 48 deaths • Florida: 4,950, including 60 deaths • Illinois: 4,596, including 66 deaths • Washington: 4,493, including 200 deaths Meanwhile, Louisiana and Pennsylvania have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida charged 50-year-old David White with using a hoax weapon of mass destruction after he sprayed a substance labeled “COVID-19” on the doors and entrance of a Jacksonville business, deputies said. JSO said White told employees and patrons of the business they were now infected with coronavirus after he sprayed the substance. JSO’s Intelligence Unit and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the incident and identified White as the suspect. The business took precautionary measures to sanitize the area where White sprayed the substance.
  • Alan Merrill, best known for writing the hit song 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll,' died Sunday morning after experiencing coronavirus complications. He was 69. According to USA Today, Merrill's daughter, Laura, said in a Facebook post that her father died at a New York City hospital. 'I was given two minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out,' she wrote of Merrill, who also was a guitarist and vocalist. 'He seemed peaceful, and as I left, there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right-hand side of the CNN/Fox News screen.' She said she walked home and received the news of his death by the time she reached her apartment. 'I’ve made a million jokes about the 'Rona' and how it’ll 'getcha' ... boy, do I feel stupid,' she continued. 'If anything can come of this, I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think it’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has.' >> See the post here 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' was originally released by the Arrows, a band Merrill was part of, in 1975, according to 'Entertainment Tonight.' Seven years later, rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts released a version of the song, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the outlet reported. Jett took to Twitter to pay tribute to Merrill on Sunday, sending 'thoughts and love' to his loved ones and the music community. 'I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,' Jett wrote. 'With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.' >> See the tweet here News of Merrill's death came the same day that country music star Joe Diffie died from the virus, 'ET' reported. Read more here or here.
  • A man who was among the five people stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City has died three months after the attack, according to an Orthodox Jewish organization and community liaison with a local police department. Josef Neumann, 72, died Sunday night, the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council said in a tweet. The funeral for Neumann, a father of seven and great-grandfather, will be held Monday. No additional details were provided. On Dec. 28, an attacker with a machete rushed into a rabbi's home in an Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, New York, an ambush Gov. Andrew Cuomo called an act of domestic terrorism fueled by intolerance and a “cancer” of growing hatred in America. Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, who is the community liaison for the Ramapo Police Department that serves Monsey and executive director of Oizrim Jewish Council, shared the news of Neumann's passing on his Twitter account as well. 'We were hoping when he started to open his eyes,' Rabbi Yisroel Kahan told The Journal News on Sunday night. “We were hoping and praying he would then pull through. This is so very sad he was killed celebrating Hanukkah with friends just because he was a Jew.” In the days following the attack, Neumann’s family said in a statement that the knife penetrated his skull and went directly into his brain, which could have caused permanent brain damage and could leave him partially paralyzed. He also suffered other cuts to the head and neck, and his arm was shattered. The Hanukkah attack came amid a string of violence that has alarmed Jews in the region. Federal prosecutors said the man charged in the attack, Grafton Thomas, had handwritten journals containing anti-Semitic comments and a swastika and had researched Adolf Hitler's hatred of Jews online. Thomas' lawyer and relatives said he has struggled for years with mental illness; they said he was raised in a tolerant home and hadn't previously shown any animosity toward Jewish people. Thomas was indicted on federal hate crime charges as well as state charges, including attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
  • Nearly 705,000 people worldwide – including more than 135,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. Live updates for Sunday, March 29, continue below: Insurers Cigna, Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs Update 11:18 p.m. EDT March 29: Two of the country’s largest health insurance companies said they will waive customers coronavirus treatment costs. Cigna and Humana said they would cover costs, including hospitalizations, ambulance transfers and co-pays, CNBC reported. “Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” David Cordani, Cigna president, said in a statement. “While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.” The waiver will also include medications and vaccines when they are available, CNBC reported. “We’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus,” Bruce Broussard, president of Humana said in a statement. Michigan Rep. Isaac Robinson dead from suspected coronavirus infection Update 10:44 p.m. EDT March 29: Michigan state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who represented part of Detroit, died from a suspected coronavirus infection. He went to the hospital Sunday morning after having trouble breathing the last couple days and died hours later, WXYZ reported. “He wouldn’t go to the hospital. I kept insisting the last three days. I kept saying, ‘You should go to the doctor, go to the hospital.’ Of course, he resisted,” his mother, Rose Mary Robinson, told Crain’s Detroit Business. “Tough guy.” Robinson, 44, had not been tested for the coronavirus, Crain’s reported. Robinson, a Democrat, was elected in 2018. He was serving his first term in the seat previously held by his mother, the Detroit Free Press reported. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered her condolences. “He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come,” Whitmer said on social media. “Rep. Robinson will be missed by many, including me. It was an honor to serve the people of Michigan alongside him.” There are more than 1,500 confirmed cases in Michigan, according to state health officials. Amazon workers plan strike at New York facility  Update 8:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walkout Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. First person in West Virginia dies from virus Update 7:39 p.m. EDT March 29: The first person in West Virginia has died from the coronavirus, health officials said Sunday. An 88-year-old woman from Marion County died, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a release. No other details were released. “We extend our sincere condolences to this family,” department Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a statement. West Virginia was the last U.S. state to report a confirmed case. Hawaii and Wyoming are the only states that have no reported coronavirus deaths. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Trump extends social distancing guidelines another 30 days Update 6:36 p.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the federal guidelines for isolating for an additional 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines were set to expire Monday. Health officials said the rollback would increase transmission of the virus. Trump said last week he hoped to have the country “reopened” by April 12. The Associated Press contributed to this report.  Musician John Prine hospitalized with virus symptoms, ‘critical’  Update 5:49 p.m. EDT March 29: Musician John Prine is hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus. He was taken to a hospital Thursday and was intubated Saturday, the Prine family said on social media. “His situation is critical,” the Prine family said in a statement. “This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now.” Resident at Maryland nursing home dies from virus Update 5:36 p.m. EDT March 29: A resident at a Maryland nursing home where an outbreak of the coronavirus infected 66 people has died. The 90-year-old man was a resident at Pleasant View Nursing Home. He died Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Health officials said Sunday that the number of cases has not changed. There are still 66 residents who have tested positive and 11 who were hospitalized. The nursing home is seeing staff shortages, as employees are not coming into work. No staff member has tested positive. Country music star Joe Diffie dies from complications caused by virus Update 4:39 p.m. EDT March 29: Oklahoma-born country music star Joe Diffie died Sunday from coronavirus-related issues, according to his Facebook page. His family has asked for privacy at this time. Worldwide cases top 700,000; US cases at 135,000 Update 3:29 p.m. EDT March 29: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus topped 710,000 Sunday, according to the Coronavirus Resources Center at Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases in the United States has now passed 135,000, the website reported. The total number of cases passed 705,000 worldwide, and more than 33,000 people have died from COVID-19. according to the Resources Center. Sunday morning, the World Health Organization reported 638,146 confirmed cases across 203 countries, with 30,105 deaths. Moscow mayor issues quarantine order Update 2:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Moscow’s mayor issued a citywide quarantine starting that will begin Monday, The Washington Post reported. The stay-at-home order by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin came after the Russian capital’s confirmed cases of coronavirus topped 1,000, the newspaper reported. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for groceries or to pick up medical supplies, the Post reported. People are also allowed to take out their trash or walk their dogs within 100 feet of their residences, the newspaper reported. Cuomo: Death toll in New York state approaching 1,000 Update 2:02 p.m. EDT March 29: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s death toll because of the coronavirus is approaching 1,000, The New York Times reported. Cuomo put the number of disease-related deaths at 965, an increase from 728 in the last 24 hours, the newspaper reported. The majority of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in New York City. At a news conference, Cuomo said figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, the Times reported. Justin Trudeau will continue to self-isolate at home Update 1:33 p.m. EDT March 29: Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. Trudeau said he will continue to remain in isolation because he was living with someone who tested positive, the newspaper reported. Trudeau said his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, took their three children to the prime minister’s summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec, the Times reported. Plane evacuating patient crashes at Manila airport, killing 8 Update 12:34 a.m. EDT March 29: An plane on a medical evacuation mission headed for Tokyo crashed at Manila airport Sunday night, killing all eight people on board, The Washington Post reported. One American, one Canadian and six Filipinos were killed, according to Richard Gordon, the Philippines’ Red Cross chairman and a member of the Senate. Details of the medical mission were unclear, authorities said. “There was no confirmation or denial about the situation of the passenger,” Ed Monreal, general manager of Manila International Airport Authority, told the Post. Mnuchin: Expect stimulus check deposits within 3 weeks from Sunday Update 11:28 a.m. EDT March 29: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that Americans can expect direct deposit of their checks from the stimulus bill in their accounts within three weeks from Sunday, CNN reported. Mnuchin also said small businesses should “Go back and hire your workers because the government is paying you to do that.' “(My) number one objective is now delivering to the American workers and American companies the needed money that will put this economy in a position where it get through the next eight-10 weeks,” Mnuchin said. Fauci predicts US could have more than 100K deaths Update 10:30 a.m. EDT March 29: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday the United States could have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths, according to an Associated Press report. Fauci made the prediction while speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday morning. The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,700 cases and more than 2,100 deaths, the AP reported. UK announces 209 more deaths in past 24 hours Update 10:18 a.m. EDT March 29: There have been another 209 coronavirus related deaths in the United Kingdom over past 24 hours, Public Health England said Sunday. That puts the total death toll at 1,228, and there are 19,522 confirmed cases in the UK. US civil rights office working to prevent discrimination Update 9:57 a.m. EDT March 29: Roger Severino, the director of the U.S. health department’s civil rights office, said his department is opening investigations to ensure states do not allow medical providers to discriminate in deciding who receives medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The New York Times, the probes will examine whether providers have been discriminated against on the basis of disabilities, race, age or certain other factors. “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” Severino said in a statement. People with disabilities “should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” the statement said. Severino told the Times his office had heard from “a broad spectrum of civil rights groups, pro-life groups, disability rights groups, from prominent members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, from ordinary people who are concerned about their civil rights in this time of crisis.” India’s prime minister apologizes to nation’s poor Update 9:46 a.m. EDT March 29: India’s prime minister asled the nation’s poor for forgiveness after a nationwide lockdown forced thousands of jobless laborers to walk from cities to their home villages. “I extend a heartfelt apology to all countrymen,” Narendra Modi said in a nationwide radio address, The Washington Post reported. “When it comes to my underprivileged brothers and sisters, they must be wondering about the kind of prime minister they have, who has pushed them to the brink. My wholehearted apologies, especially to them.” Modi’s government announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan Thursday, the newspaper reported. Vietnam plans to halt incoming flights for 2 weeks Update 9:28 a.m. EDT March 29: to a government report released Sunday, Vietnam will halt incoming passenger flights over the next two weeks, CNN reported. Flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other locations will also be reduced, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said. Netherlands rejects 600K defective masks made in China Update 8:52 a.m. EDT March 29: Health authorities in The Netherlands rejected approximately 600,000 Chinese-made masks from hospitals after learning they did not adequately protect health workers from the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. Dutch health authorities that represented about half of a recent shipment of 1.3 million masks, according to NOS, the Dutch public broadcaster. “Due to shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where the only protective equipment that is available does not meet the highest standards. This is an issue in all countries,” the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said in a statement to NOS. The number of people who have tested positive in The Netherlands topped 10,000, the Dutch Ministry of Health said Sunday. Mexico tells citizens to stay home until April 19 Update 8:41 a.m. EDT March 29: Mexican health authorities asked citizens to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by staying home until April 19, according to CNN. “This can’t be postponed, it is our last chance to do it and do it now,' Mexican deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell said. 'And this requires that we massively restrict ourselves and stay at home.” Health authorities said there are 848 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16 deaths in Mexico. Spain reports record-high 838 deaths in one day Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 29: Spain has reported that 838 people died from coronavirus in one day, marking a new, grim daily record for the country, officials said Sunday. According to The Associated Press, Spain saw more than 6,500 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 78,797. The country’s 6,528-person death toll is the second-highest worldwide, the AP reported. Italy has reported the highest number of deaths, with 10,023, according to Johns Hopkins University. Canadian PM Trudeau’s wife recovers from virus Update 5:36 a.m. EDT March 29: The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Update 4:46 a.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump has decided against seeking a quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, opting instead to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong travel advisory” for the states, he tweeted Saturday night. “A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump added. >> See the tweets here The advisory, which now appears on the CDC’s website, “urges residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” “This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply,” the advisory reads. The states’ governors “will have full discretion to implement” the advisory, the website says. >> See the CDC’s tweets here Nordstrom partners with furniture store to produce more than 100,000 face masks Update 3:46 a.m. EDT March 29: After Seattle-based Providence Health put out a global request for more personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and other health care workers, Washington state manufacturer Kaas Tailored and retail giant Nordstrom partnered together to answer the high demand. As part of Providence’s 100 Million Mask challenge, Kaas and Nordstrom are producing daily personal face masks and face shields at their facilities. Nordstrom recently partnered with Kaas, a Mukilteo furniture store, to make the masks. Members of the Nordstrom alteration teams in California, Oregon, Texas and Washington will be sewing more than 100,000 masks to be distributed to Providence Health in Seattle. Kaas Tailored typically makes furniture for aerospace clients. Founder Dan Kaas told KIRO-TV earlier this week it didn’t take long to setup an action plan after answering Providence’s call. “I said, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ and about five minutes later she texted me saying, ‘Yeah, we want to talk.’ And that was Wednesday, and there was a plan put in place by the end of the day,” Kaas said in an interview with KIRO′s Rob Munoz. In an online video posted to the Kaas Tailored website, Kaas details its new Essential PPE Network Equation, how it’s going about meeting the demands of the mask production and the structure working with other manufactures who also want to help. Kaas Tailored is continuing to make thousands of masks a day, but said it’s working at full capacity and cannot fill new orders at this time. Providence is referring manufacturers in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Washington that are interested in making PPEs to reach out to Kaas. Manufacturers in other states that want to help make face masks can reach out to the American Hospital Association. Nordstrom will continue to offer additional support to local partners the Seattle Foundation, YouthCare and Hetrick Martin Institute. Nordstrom is also donating 1% of its gift card sales to support community grants and programs during the coronavirus relief efforts. Country singer Joe Diffie tests positive for COVID-19 Update 3:08 a.m. EDT March 29: Country music star Joe Diffie has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced on social media. In a Friday Instagram post, the Grammy Award-winning singer said he's being treated for the virus, which had infected about 665,000 people worldwide and more than 124,000 in the United States by Sunday morning. 'My family and I are asking for privacy at this time,' the statement read. 'We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.' >> See the post here According to The Associated Press, Diffie, 61, is best known for songs such as 'Honky Tonk Attitude' and 'Third Rock From the Sun.' He joins a growing list of celebrities and public figures who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Harvey Weinstein, Jackson Browne, Placido Domingo, Britain's Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Samaritan’s Purse helps New York amid coronavirus pandemic Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 29: The North Carolina-based organization Samaritan’s Purse is now bringing relief to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York’s hospital system is already overwhelmed with patients. The group shipped a 68-bed field hospital with a special respiratory care unit Saturday. The organization said an advanced team got to New York on March 27 to begin assessments and prepare the site. “People are dying from the coronavirus, hospitals are out of beds and the medical staff are overwhelmed,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are deploying our emergency field hospital to New York to help carry this burden.” This comes a week after Samaritan’s Purse opened an identical unit in Cremona, Italy. U.S. cases soar past 124,000, including more than 2,100 deaths Update 12:49 a.m. EDT March 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 124,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 124,464 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,191 deaths. Worldwide, there are 664,695 confirmed cases and 30,847 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 92,472 reported in Italy and the 82,057 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 834 have occurred in New York, 189 in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey and 137 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 53,520 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 11,124 and California with 5,636. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Michigan: 4,658, including 112 deaths • Washington: 4,310, including 189 deaths • Massachusetts: 4,257, including 44 deaths • Florida: 4,038, including 56 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois and Louisiana have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • A Phoenix police commander was killed and two other officers were wounded Sunday night as they responded to calls about a dispute between roomates. Cmdr. Greg Carnicle, a veteran officer and father of four, was killed. The other officers, both women, were hospitalized, the department said. Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said at a news conference that the suspect refused to cooperate and shot the officers after they were called to the scene shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday. The suspect was still inside and the situation was active as of 10 p.m., Fortune told the Arizona Republic. 'Tonight we lost a true hero. Greg Carnicle was a 31-year veteran of our department,' Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said. The other two officers who were shot are in stable condition, she said. One woman is out of surgery, and another is recovering from her wounds, Williams told the Republic. The department tweeted that Carnicle “held positions throughout the department including the special assignments unit, K9 and he most recently oversaw all evening and weekend patrol operations.” He's survived by his wife and four children, Fortune said at the news conference. Before the announcement of Carnicle's death, Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety wrote on Twitter that “I have no exact details on the condition of the 3 @PhoenixPolice officers who were shot tonight. My heart is with the families of the wounded and the women and men of the Department. Pray for @PhxPDChief Jeri Williams and her team. Godspeed.' Mayor Kate Gallego tweeted: “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of these officers and the entire Phoenix Police Department. Please keep these individuals in your thoughts.' In a tweet, Gov, Doug Ducey asked the public to “join me in praying for these officers, their families, and the entire @PhoenixPolice community.” The most recent death of a Phoenix police officer in the line of duty was in March 2019 when Officer Paul Thomas Rutherford was struck by a vehicle. The last officers killed by gunfire were Officer David Van Glasser in May 2016 and Detective John Thomas Hobbs in March 2014.
  • The official statistics reported by health authorities would seem to show that the United States has more coronavirus infections than any other country and that the New York caseloads exceed any other state. But the true statistics are far from clear. Reporting and testing vary so much from country to country and state to state that it's hard to know the exact size of the outbreaks, and that is especially the case in New York. Here are some facts about the numbers: THE MOST TESTS In the U.S., New York has about 45% of the nation's more than 125,000 cases, according to statistics posted Sunday by Johns Hopkins University researchers tracking global coronavirus trends. But New York has been doing more testing than anywhere else in the country, causing its coronavirus numbers to skew higher. IT'S STILL BAD The widespread testing doesn't change the fact that the outbreak is worse in New York than anywhere else in the U.S. The state has recorded more than 1,000 deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. No other state comes close to that. Health experts pointed to the size and density of the nation’s biggest city as a likely factor, as well as its status as an international business center and travel hub. It may have hit New York earlier too. The state probably saw infections before any other part of the country simply because the city draws more travelers from countries that had bad outbreaks earlier. TESTING SICK PEOPLE Another reason why confirmed cases don't tell the full story is the fact that testing standards differ by location. In New York City, for example, authorities have ordered doctors only to test people who are seriously ill and might require hospitalization. Other places do more widespread testing. Deborah Birx, who coordinates the White House outbreak response, said last week that hat 28% of tests in the New York metro have come back positive, compared with 8% in the rest of the country. That means the toll of the New York outbreak could be significantly worse than the confirmed cases suggest. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walk out Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map.
  • A couple whose wedding party was canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak donated the reception meals to feed 400 hospital workers. Fiona and Adam Gordon were wed March 21 in a small ceremony with two witnesses, The Independent reported. The large reception they had planned for 120 guests was canceled. However, the caterer had already purchased the food. The roast beef, canapes and hog roast had to go somewhere. The caterer asked the couple if they would be willing to donate it. They said yes. A charity group, Hull4Heroes, helped serve the food over the weekend to grateful health care staff. 'We’re just happy to help bring a bit of light in the middle of all this. It is times such as these when you realize what’s important,” Fiona Gordon told The Birmingham Mail. “The fact that we managed to help in some way because of this is a silver lining.”
  • New York state's death toll from the coronavirus outbreak climbed Sunday above 1,000, less than a month after the first known infection in the state. Most of those deaths have come in just the past few days. New York City reported in the evening that its toll had risen to 776. The total number of statewide deaths isn't expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the state's total fatalities was at least 1,026. The virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has torn through New York with frightening speed. The first known infection in the state was discovered March 1 in a health care worker who recently returned from Iran. Two days later, the state got its second case, a lawyer from the suburb of New Rochelle. By March 10, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had declared a “containment area” in New Rochelle that shuttered area schools and houses of worship. That same day, the metropolitan area saw its first fatality: a man who worked at a harness track in Yonkers and lived in New Jersey. By March 12, the state had banned all gatherings of more than 500 people, darkening Broadway theaters and sports arenas. A day later, the first New York resident died, an 82-year-old woman with emphysema. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio closed New York City's schools March 15. More severe restrictions came March 20, when Cuomo ordered all nonessential workers to stay home, barred gatherings of any size and instructed anyone out in public to stay at least 6 feet from other people. At the time, only 35 New Yorkers had been killed by the virus. That was only nine days ago. It took Spain 18 days to go from its first death to its 1,000th, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Italy took 21 days. New York state took 16 days. Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York: ___ ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ SURGE IN 911 CALLS New Yorkers are hearing a constant wail of sirens as weary ambulance crews respond to a record volume of 911 calls. The city's ambulances are responding to about 6,000 calls a day — more than 50% more than average. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday that the last five days have been the busiest stretch in the history of the city's EMS operation. “This is unprecedented,” de Blasio said. “We have never seen our EMS system get this many calls — ever.” Nigro said the surge is delaying responses to lower-level calls. De Blasio said the city is planning to shift personnel onto EMS crews to help keep up with demand. ___ MAYOR: DAYS BEFORE SUPPLIES RUN OUT De Blasio said he has asked the federal government to deliver 400 more ventilators to city hospitals by Wednesday and warned that without reinforcements the city will run out of masks, gowns and other hospital supplies in a week. With the expected peak of cases in the city still two to three weeks away, de Blasio said he has asked the U.S. military to aid in sending needs new waves of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to the city. Cuomo said Sunday that more than 76,000 health professionals, including many who've recently retired from the field, have volunteered to help in the coronavirus fight. The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, is scheduled to arrive in the city on Monday. It will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up space in city hospitals.. A 68-bed field hospital is being built in Manhattan's Central Park. Samaritan's Purse, a charity run by Christian evangelical preacher Franklin Graham, built a similar temporary facility in Italy to help deal with the crisis there. He said the New York City version could be up and running Tuesday. ___ POOR NEIGHBORHOODS HIT HARD Coronavirus is overwhelming some of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods, according to new data released by the city. Queens accounts for 32% of the city’s more than 30,000 confirmed cases as of Saturday — more than any other borough. Neighborhoods such as Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona, which are generally poor, densely packed and have large non-English speaking populations, have been among the hardest hit, according to a city map showing percent ranges of people testing positive for the disease. In those areas, between 69% and 86% of the tests done have come back positive. A hospital in Elmhurst has been overrun with coronavirus cases. Statistics on coronavirus cases do not reflect everyone who may have the virus, because many people have been told to manage their illness at home and are not getting tested. ___ EARLY PATIENT GOES HOME The number of patients being discharged at the state's hospitals after they've been treated for coronavirus has increased daily to a high of 845 on Saturday, Cuomo said. In all, more than 3,500 people have been discharged. They include a lawyer from the New York City suburbs connected to one of the earliest U.S. coronavirus clusters. Lawrence Garbuz’s family and neighbor were infected, as well as members of his synagogue. “The ‘patient zero’ — what we call patient zero in Westchester, New Rochelle — who was very sick for a very long time, he has actually gone home,” Cuomo said Sunday. “He’s out of the hospital.” As of Sunday, more than 8,500 people remain hospitalized across the state because of the disease, including more than 2,000 in intensive care. Those totals are continuing to spike, but Cuomo said they're not multiplying nearly as quickly as they were last week. From March 16-19, the number of hospitalizations in the state doubled every two days. Now it's taking about six days for the number to double. ___ STATE PUSHES FOR MORE FEDERAL MONEY Cuomo spoke with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday after lambasting the federal government for giving the state a fraction of needed funding as it faces a potential revenue shortfall of up to $15 billion due to the economic damaged caused by the virus. 'They committed to right the wrong in the next federal bill that passes, and the governor is committed to working with them to make that a reality,' Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzoparadi told The Associated Press. Schumer called the conversation “long and productive.” ___ TRAVEL ADVISORY CONCERNS On Saturday, after saying he was weighing the idea of a mandatory quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, President Donald Trump tweeted that instead he’d issue advisory urging people in those states to avoid any nonessential travel for two weeks. De Blasio said he worried about the advisory’s impact on families with members in New York and other places who were looking to reunite. “We’ve got to respect, in the middle of a crisis, families have a right to be together,” de Blasio said. ___ OTHER DEVELOPMENTS: — With schools and many day care centers closed, states, local governments and philanthropists are scrambling to provide child care for parents who are needed on the front lines of the virus fight. — College students were sent home because of the coronavirus are taking advantage of their last days on campus to forge a few more memories. — James Dolan, the owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers, has tested positive for COVID-19. __ Marina Villeneuve reported from Albany, New York. __ The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak