Coronavirus live updates: Pence, wife test negative; 793 more deaths in Italy


As the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases increases, some states are acting quickly by ordering variations of stay-at-home orders for residents. Oregon issued such an order on Friday night, joining states that include California, Illinois and New York.

The respiratory virus, known officially as COVID-19, has reached every continent except Antarctica, and every state in America since emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

Globally, there are at least 300,000 diagnosed cases and at least 12,973 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. More than 91,000 people have recovered worldwide.

In the United States, over 25,000 diagnosed cases have been confirmed, and 307 people have died. So far, at least 171 have recovered.

Today’s biggest developments:

  • Italy reports 793 more deaths
  • Economic stimulus may exceed $2 trillion, up from $1 trillion
  • Pence, 2nd lady test negative
  • 600 million respirator masks ordered
  • New York declared ‘major disaster’
  • More countries on lockdown
  • Here’s how the news is unfolding today. All times Eastern. Please refresh for updates.

    8:41 p.m.: Pence, wife Karen test negative

    Hours after saying Vice President Mike Pence and the second lady, Karen Pence, would be tested for coronavirus, they have both tested negative.

    Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller tweeted: “Pleased to report that the COVID-19 test results came back negative for both Vice President @Mike_Pence and Second Lady @KarenPence.”

    President Donald Trump was tested last week and the result also came back as negative.

    7:15 p.m.: Italy extends lockdown, more businesses to close

    The prime minister of Italy announced that he is extended the nationwide lockdown for another 10 days to April 3, shuttered all nonessential business and called for essential businesses to work in “smart mode.”

    “These are strict measures, I am aware of it, but we have no alternative. At this moment we must resist, because only in this way can we protect ourselves,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said during a Facebook broadcast. “It is the most difficult crisis that the country has been experiencing since the second post-war period. The death of many fellow citizens is a pain that is renewed every day.”

    A list of businesses expected to close will be made public at a later time, but “banking, postal, insurance and financial services will continue to be insured,” he said.

    Italy has had more than 53,000 coronavirus cases and 4,825 deaths, most in the world.

    Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

    6:05 p.m.: FDA approves rapid response COVID-19 test

    The FDA confirmed it has approved emergency use of a rapid diagnostic test that can detect COVID-19 in about 45 minutes, rather than the several days required for existing tests.

    “With the development of point of care diagnostics, Americans who need tests will be able to get results faster than ever before,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

    The company that makes the test, Cepheid, said it got the authorization on Friday. The tests are expected to be rolled out by the end of the month.

    5:21 p.m.: Puerto Rico postpones primary

    With the governor signing the resolution passed by the Puerto Rico Senate and House, the date of the Democratic presidential primary in Puerto Rico has officially been moved to April 26, instead of March 29.

    The territory became the latest to delay its primary due to coronavirus concerns.

    Though Puerto Rico doesn’t vote in the general election, it does provide delegates in the nominating process. There are 58 delegates up for grabs in the Democratic primary, more than 24 states.

    5:20 p.m.: Lebanon’s coronavirus cases grow

    Lebanon’s coronavirus caseload rose to 230 on Saturday, after 67 new infections were confirmed in 24 hours, Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared in a televised address.

    Diab said Lebanon’s security forces would step up efforts to enforce measures to keep citizens at home.

    “The coronavirus is waiting at the doorsteps of homes. Dealing with this threat must be at the highest level of awareness and behavior that protects our people and sons,” he said. “I call on you today to observe self-curfew because the state can’t deal on its own with this growing pandemic. The responsibility here is individual.”

    All of Lebanon’s borders and its international airport have been shuttered since Thursday and the country has been urged by the government to self-isolate.

    5:02 p.m.: Las Vegas police begin compliance checks

    The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said it will begin compliance checks to make sure all non-essential businesses are indeed closed.

    The department’s Special Investigations Section will monitor businesses and respond to reports made via the city’s non-emergency 311 system.

    Business owners or managers will be given a copy of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order and a police letter saying they are in violation, and officers will wait on site until the business closes, according to the department.

    4:35 p.m.: HHS to buy 600 million N95 respirator masks

    Health and Human Services has agreed to buy around 600 million N95 respirator masks over the next 18 months, an HHS spokesperson told ABC News.

    The contracts were awarded to Honeywell, Draeger, 3M, Moldex and O&M Halyard, according to the spokesperson.

    “This purchase supports long-term production while encouraging manufacturers to increase production of N95 respirators now – with the guarantee that they will not be left with excess supplies if private sector orders are canceled once the COVID-19 response subsides,” the spokesperson said.

    3:14 p.m.: Rapid test coming by March 30: FDA

    A test that shows results “within hours, rather than days” has been authorized by the FDA, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

    The Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test is expected to be rolled out by March 30, Azar said.

    “With new tools like point-of-care diagnostics, we are moving into a new phase of testing, where tests will be much more easily accessible to Americans who need them,” he said. “Americans who need tests will be able to get results faster than ever before.”

    FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said that the authorization “marks an important step in expanding the availability of testing and, importantly, rapid results.”

    2:43 p.m.: Trump sent Kim Jong Un letter: North Korean media

    President Donald Trump sent a letter to Kim Jong Un, expressing his intent “to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work,” according to a statement from Kim Yo Jong, first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

    Trump also wrote in the letter that he was impressed by the efforts made by Kim in the face of the virus, according to the statement issued via the Korean Central News Agency.

    “We view such a personal letter of President Trump as a good example showing the special and firm personal relations with Chairman Kim Jong Un,” the statement read.

    ABC News hasn’t independently confirmed Trump sent the letter or the letter’s contents.

    2:35 p.m.: Ground stop in place at New York airport

    A ground stop is in place at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport as the state’s Air Route Traffic Control Center is being cleaned because an air traffic controller trainee tested positive for COVID-19, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

    The facility in Ronkonkoma, New York, will remain open and operational during the cleaning, but no flights were expected to land at JFK until at least 3:30 p.m. However, the FAA ended the ground stop about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

    The trainee has not been at the facility since March 17, and the FAA said it’s contacted local health authorities. The FAA also is working to determine how many personnel might have interacted with the trainee.

    1:33 p.m.: New Jersey governor mandates lockdown

    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is “directing all residents to stay at home until further notice” to help “protect the capacity of New Jersey’s health care system for the state’s most vulnerable,” according to a statement issued by his office.

    1:28 p.m.: 793 dead, over 6,500 new cases in Italy

    Italy reported 793 deaths, the most yet in a single day and nearly a 20% increase from Friday.

    One bit of good news from the nation is that the total number of new infections increased less than in previous days, about 13.3%.

    1:20 p.m.: Pence says he’s getting tested and that HHS orders hundreds of millions of masks

    Health and Human Services placed an order for “hundreds of millions” of N95 masks, Vice President Mike Pence said at a press conference. The masks “will be being made available to healthcare providers across the country.”

    At the same press conference, President Donald Trump said Hanes is retrofitting factories to make masks instead of apparel.

    “There’s a move on that that’s incredible right now, and by way of example, Hanes, everybody knows Hanes, retrofitting manufacturing capabilities in large sections of the plants to produce masks, and they’re in the process right now,” Trump said.

    The vice president also said he and his wife would be tested for COVID-19 later on Saturday, after one of his staffers was diagnosed with it.

    Pence explained he’s going forward with the test because of his unique position as vice president and as the leader of the task force, even though he said the White House doctors indicated there’s no reason to believe he was exposed.

    The Pence staffer, who hasn’t been named, is “doing well,” has not been at the White House since Monday and was experiencing “mild cold symptoms.”

    12:07 p.m.: More deaths, reported cases in Spain

    Spain’s Health Ministry reported 324 new deaths and 4,946 new cases.

    The total number of deaths in Spain is now 1,326 and total number of cases is 24,926.

    Of the confirmed cases, 1,626 are in an intensive care unit, according to the Health Ministry.

    11:47 a.m.: 10,000 new cases in New York after state declared ‘major disaster’

    There are now at least 10,356 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York, an increase of 3,254 in the last 24 hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

    New York City reported 6,000 cases, Westchester County 1,300 cases and Nassau County 1,200, according to Cuomo.

    About 55% of the cases in the state are in people aged 18-49, a detail that Cuomo used to urge younger people to take the virus seriously.

    He said the good news is that Westchester, which had been a hot spot, was seeing numbers slow after a containment area was implemented in New Rochelle.

    The governor also said 6,000 new ventilators have been located and will be purchased for hospitals, but the state needs about 30,000 total. Army Corps of Engineers regarding four initial sites in New York State for locating temporary hospitals – the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center.

    Earlier, President Donald Trump formally approved Federal Emergency Management Agency aid late after New York was declared a “major disaster.”

    The emergency declaration frees up funds to help recovery efforts.

    “Federal funding is also available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures,” FEMA said in a statement.

    New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said the president told him he would approve the measure earlier Friday evening.

    “FEMA needs to get to work NOW to open these MANY billions in direct aid for New York and individuals to help save lives and protect public health,” the Senate minority leader tweeted.

    11:13 a.m.: Coronavirus stimulus package may balloon to more than $2 trillion

    The bipartisan novel coronavirus economic relief package initially planned to cost around $1 trillion may expand to more than $2 trillion, according to Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser.

    Kudlow told reporters that the size of the package would be approximately 10% of the county’s gross domestic product, calling it a “very large package.”

    When a reporter noted that 10% would be more than $2 trillion, he replied: “That’s correct.”

    However, White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland later said the final price tag of the stimulus bill may expand “over a trillion dollars large.”

    “Larry’s talking about the combination of what we’re doing here, the spending bill and what we’re doing here with the stimulus bill, as well as the Federal Reserve,” Ueland said.

    Negotiations for the bill resumed Saturday morning on Capitol Hill.

    “We’re working against that very tight clock, very aggressive clock,” White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland told reporters before walking into the negotiation room.

    That clock was set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Friday night he was hoping lawmakers could reach an agreement by midnight, a deadline since extended to Saturday afternoon. To beat the clock, McConnell instructed lawmakers and staff to begin drafting legislation before the deal is locked in place.

    Senate Democrats are still pushing to bolster unemployment insurance, which continues to be one of the major sticking points in the negotiations.

    McConnell said he was optimistic a deal could be reached on Saturday.

    8:59 a.m.: Feds will have to prioritize supply and demand, former WH security adviser says

    Former White House security adviser Tom Bossert told “Good Morning America” that federal authorities will soon have to make the difficult decision of determining who gets equipment and who does not.

    “We are now in a kind of desperate life and death type of — almost two weeks before, maybe a week before — decision-making process, where federal authorities are going to have to start shunting equipment to places that need it and away from other places that want it,” Bossert, an ABC News contributor, told co-anchor Dan Harris.

    Bossert added that hospitals and ICUs “are going to be overwhelmed.”

    A former security adviser to President Donald Trump, Bossert noted that when watching recent White House press conference, he heard the efforts being made to stop the virus.

    However, he also hoped that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence would continue to remind the public that “despite all of our efforts, with millions and millions of these pieces of equipment it’s not yet enough.”

    6:17 a.m.: Amman, Jordan, all of Colombia institute lockdowns

    More countries and major cities around the world are shutting down in an attempt to flatten the curve to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    Amman, the capital city of Jordan, instituted a strict 24/7 stay-at-home policy Saturday that has strong repercussions if residents don’t adhere to the rules.

    In a televised statement, government spokesman Amjad Adayleh said the curfew would remain in force until further notice. The drastic measure, Adayleh said, was initiated because “citizens did not respect directives,” requesting them to self-isolate in their homes.

    Breaking the curfew would result in “immediate imprisonment,” for up to one year, he said.

    The measures include closing schools and banning daily prayers in mosques for its 10 million residents.

    Colombia also imposed a nationwide lockdown, which begins Wednesday and will last for 19 days.

    “It is time to understand that our behavior saves lives,” President Iván Duque said in a statement Friday.

    Jordan has 85 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and Colombia has 128.

    What to know about Coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: Coronavirus map
  • ABC News’ Matthew McGarry, Morgan Winsor, Erin Schumaker, Emily Shapiro, Mariam Khan, Aicha El Hammar Castano, Mina Kaji and Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.



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