At least 487,000 people worldwide -- including more than 69,000 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 Thursday, March 26, continue below:
US unemployment claims hit 3.3 million
Update 8:40 a.m. EDT March 26: Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.
The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is doing to the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs.
The pace of layoffs is sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession. Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms, and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have close factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they're cutting jobs to save money.
As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.
Global coronavirus deaths surpasses 22K, worldwide cases top 487K
Update 7:49 a.m. EDT March 26: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 22,030 early Thursday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
In the three months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 487,648 people worldwide.
• Italy has confirmed 74,386 cases, resulting in 7,503 deaths.
• The United States has reported 69,197 confirmed cases, resulting in 1,046 deaths.
• Spain has confirmed 49,515 infections, resulting in 4,089 deaths.
• Germany has reported 39,355 cases, resulting in 222 deaths.
• Iran has recorded 29,406 cases, resulting in 2,234 deaths.
• France has confirmed 25,604 infections, resulting in 1,333 deaths.
• Switzerland has confirmed 11,027 cases, resulting in 165 deaths.
• The United Kingdom has reported 9,642 cases, resulting in 467 deaths.
• South Korea has recorded 9,241 cases, resulting in 131 deaths.
• The Netherlands has confirmed 6,440 cases, resulting in 357 deaths.
Bosch develops coronavirus test kit
Update 7:26 a.m. EDT March 26: German engineering group Robert Bosch GmbH said Thursday its healthcare technology unit Bosch Healthcare Solutions had developed a rapid test for COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The test – developed in tandem with molecular diagnostics group Randox Laboratories Ltd. – is touted for producing reliable results within a few short hours that meets World Health Organization standards.
Read more here.
Renowned Congolese human rights lawyer dies from coronavirus
Update 7:12 a.m. EDT March 26: Jean-Joseph Mukendi wa Mulumba, a lifelong defender of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has died of coronavirus.
Mukendi, 73, died in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, The Washington Post reported.
According to the BBC, Mukendi may have contracted the virus which causes COVID-19 while on a recent trip to France for a medical checkup.
Read more here.
NJ nursing home evacuates all 94 residents, presumed positive for coronavirus
Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 26: A nursing home in Woodbridge, New Jersey, was forced to evacuate its entire resident list on Wednesday after all 94 of them are believed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.
According to the Morrison Daily Record, state health officials had ordered St. Joseph’s Senior Nursing Home to transfer its entire residential to another facility.
At least two dozen of the center’s residents have already tested positive, and at least 12 employees are suffering respiratory symptoms consistent with the virus, which causes COVID-19, The Washington Post reported.
Read more here.
Priest living in same Vatican residence as pope tests positive, report says
Update 6:52 a.m. EDT March 26: An Italian priest who lives in the same Vatican residence as Pope Francis has tested positive for the coronavirus, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported Wednesday night.
According to The Washington Post, the Vatican did not confirm the infection nor address if the pope has been tested.
Read more here.
US hospitals weigh universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients
Update 6:40 a.m. EDT March 26: In a bid to protect medical staff from contagion, front-line hospitals are beginning to discuss the possibility of taking drastic measures as the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Washington Post, hospitals are grappling with the possibility – however remote – that adopting universal do-not-resuscitate policies might become necessary to balance equipment and resources against unmanageable patient surge.
Read more here.
UK’s National Health Service attracts 500K volunteers
Update 6:16 a.m. EDT March 26: More than half a million people in the United Kingdom have signed up as volunteers to support the country’s novel coronavirus response, being led by the National Health Service.
Matt Hancock, the UK’s health secretary, tweeted his praise for the response, considering the government expected less than half as many people to volunteer.
Soccer match in Italy linked to epicenter of deadly coronavirus outbreak
Update 5:46 a.m. EDT March 26: A February soccer match appears to be linked to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in Italy’s Bergamo province.
According to The Washington Post, the Feb. 19 Championship League contest in Milan attracted more than 40,000 Bergamo residents, and within weeks Bergamo became the hardest hit province in the hardest-hit region, Lombardi, of Europe’s hardest-hit nation to grapple with virus and its rampant spread.
Giorgio Gori, mayor of the city sharing its name with the Bergamo province, spoke with Agence France-Presse to provide context.
“Some 40,000 Bergamo inhabitants went to Milan to watch the game. Others watched it from their homes, in families, in groups, at the bar,” Gori said, adding, “It’s clear that evening was a situation in which the virus was widely spread.”
Spain extends coronavirus-induced state of emergency
Update 4:13 a.m. EDT March 26: The Spanish government will extend the country’s current state of emergency until April 12 after Wednesday’s novel coronavirus death toll surpassed China’s.
By early Thursday morning, Spain had confirmed a total of 49,515 infections, which have resulted in at least 3,647 deaths.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez reiterated to the public Wednesday that “social isolation is the only way to stop this virus” and encouraged residents to remain vigilant.
Bolivia enacts nationwide lockdown, state of emergency, border closings
Update 4:02 a.m. EDT March 26: Jeanine Anez, Bolivia’s interim president, declared a nationwide lockdown and state of emergency on Wednesday, expected to last through April 15, CNN reported.
In an address to the nation late Wednesday, Anez said Bolivians hadn’t followed the government-ordered mandatory quarantine measures, so the risk of infection is now higher and more stringent containment measures are needed, the network reported.
"No one leaves, nor does anyone enter the country, except for security and health reasons," Anez said.
Bolivia has confirmed 39 coronavirus cases and zero deaths.
New Zealand records largest single-day spike in coronavirus cases
Update 3:47 a.m. EDT March 26: The New Zealand Ministry of Health confirmed 73 new coronavirus patients and identified five additional presumptive cases in the past 24 hours, CNN reported.
"Of our new cases today, the majority still have a link to overseas travel, including being in the same household as someone who has returned from overseas, have attended a known event or linked to a cluster of other cases or are close contacts of a confirmed case," the ministry said.
To date, New Zealand officials have confirmed a total of 262 infections.
Florida-bound cruise ship reports 77 passengers with possible coronavirus symptoms; safe harbor elusive for other vessels
Update 3:26 a.m. EDT March 26: Seventy-seven people aboard Holland America’s Zaandam cruise ship are reporting flu-like symptoms as the vessel continues its course to Florida, CNN reported.
The Zaandam left Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7, before the cruise operator announced it would be suspending global cruise operations for a month in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among those reported ill, 30 are passengers, and 47 are crew members.
“Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time,” Holland America said in a news release posted to its website.
The cruise line has, however, dispatched a support ship to deliver supplies, staff and coronavirus testing kits to the Zaandam.
• The Artania is carrying 800 passengers, mostly Germans, seven of whom have the coronavirus.
• The MSC Magnifica has refueled in Fremantle and remains in waters off the coast of Western Australia.
• The Vasco da Gama is carrying around 800 Australians, including 200 Western Australians, 109 New Zealanders, and 33 UK citizens and other foreigners, according to the WA government.
Gilead rescinds orphan-drug request for Remdesivir to treat coronavirus
Update 3:04 a.m. EDT March 26: Gilead Sciences Inc. withdrew its application on Wednesday to gain orphan-drug status for Remdesivir, its investigational coronavirus drug, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press reported.
The decision appeared to be in direct response to public outcry after the company looked poised to capitalize on the national pandemic.
“COVID-19 is anything but a rare disease,” a letter, attributed to more than 50 consumer and patient advocacy groups, sent to the company earlier in the day Wednesday stated.
Gilead said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that it asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to rescind its request because the company “recognizes the urgent public health needs posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the AP reported.
Read more here.
California's coronavirus cases soar; officials warn San Francisco on track to rival New York levels
Update 2:24 a.m. EDT March 26: Health officials are sounding the alarm in California as the rate of novel coronavirus infections outpaces projections and the medical community braces for an undetermined patient surge in the coming weeks, CNN reported.
“We originally thought [the infection rate] would be doubling every six to seven days and we see cases doubling every three to four days,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency, said at a Wednesday news conference.
To date California has confirmed more than 3,100 coronavirus cases, resulting in 67 deaths.
Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor London Breed warned residents on Wednesday that the city’s medical facilities will become overwhelmed if more residents fail to take stay-at-home recommendations to heart.
“If people who are out on the streets continue to congregate with one another, continue to interact with one another, which increases the spread of this virus, we will not have enough beds, enough ICU units, enough ventilators to support the people that we know are going to need them,” Breed told CNN.
Breed estimated the city, alone, will require at least 1,500 additional ventilators and 5,000 extra hospital beds to accommodate the expected influx of patients,
“It is plausible that despite all these efforts we could have a scenario similar to the one that is playing out in New York this very day,” San Francisco Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax told CNN, adding, “If that happens our capacity, our surge capacity will be far exceeded.”
State-by-state breakdown of 65,131 US coronavirus cases, 1,000 deaths
Update 1:10 a.m. EDT March 26: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 69,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands late Wednesday night.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 69,018 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 1,000 deaths.
At least 233 deaths were recorded on Wednesday, alone, making it the deadliest day on U.S. soil since the pandemic began.
Of the confirmed deaths, 285 have occurred in New York, 130 Washington state and 65 in Louisiana.
In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with nearly 30,811 confirmed cases – more than seven times any other state – followed by New Jersey with 4,402 and Washington with 2,586.
Nine other states have now reported at least 1,000 novel coronavirus cases, including:
• California: 2,535
• Michigan: 2,295
• Florida: 1,971
• Illinois: 1,865
• Massachusetts: 1,838
• Louisiana: 1,795
• Georgia: 1,387
• Pennsylvania: 1,127
• Colorado: 1,086
The figures include 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and 49 repatriated citizens. The repatriations include 46 sickened aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and three others retrieved from the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China.
The state-by-state breakdown – including presumptive cases – of at least 65,131 cases detected on U.S. soil is as follows:
• Alabama: 386, including 1 death
• Alaska: 42, including 1 death
• Arizona: 401, including 6 deaths
• Arkansas: 308, including 2 deaths
• California: 2,535, including 53 deaths
• Colorado: 1,086, including 19 deaths
• Connecticut: 875, including 19 deaths
• Delaware: 119
• District of Columbia: 183, including 2 deaths
• Florida: 1,971, including 22 deaths
• Georgia: 1,387, including 47 deaths
• Guam: 37, including 1 death
• Hawaii: 95
• Idaho: 123
• Illinois: 1,865, including 19 deaths
• Indiana: 477, including 14 deaths
• Iowa: 145, including 1 death
• Kansas: 126, including 3 deaths
• Kentucky: 198, including 5 deaths
• Louisiana: 1,795, including 65 deaths
• Maine: 142
• Maryland: 423, including 4 deaths
• Massachusetts: 1,838, including 15 deaths
• Michigan: 2,295, including 43 deaths
• Minnesota: 287, including 1 death
• Mississippi: 377, including 5 deaths
• Missouri: 356, including 8 deaths
• Montana: 65
• Nebraska: 64
• Nevada: 321, including 6 deaths
• New Hampshire: 137, including 1 death
• New Jersey: 4,402, including 62 deaths
• New Mexico: 112, including 1 death
• New York: 30,811, including 285 deaths
• North Carolina: 504, including 2 deaths
• North Dakota: 45
• Ohio: 704, including 10 deaths
• Oklahoma: 164, including 5 deaths
• Oregon: 266, including 10 deaths
• Pennsylvania: 1,127, including 11 deaths
• Puerto Rico: 51, including 2 deaths
• Rhode Island: 132
• South Carolina: 424, including 7 deaths
• South Dakota: 41, including 1 death
• Tennessee: 784, including 3 deaths
• Texas: 974, including 12 deaths
• U.S. Virgin Islands: 17
• Utah: 346, including 1 death
• Vermont: 123, including 8 deaths
• Virginia: 391, including 9 deaths
• Washington: 2,586, including 130 deaths
• West Virginia: 39
• Wisconsin: 585, including 6 deaths
• Wyoming: 44
The Associated Press contributed to this report.