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New coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 2,000 on Friday, the highest daily tally to date. The total confirmed dead from the virus in the U.S. is now 18,586, putting it on the heels of Italy, which at 18,849 has experienced more deaths than any nation on earth.

At least 2,056 people died of complications related to covid-19 in the 50 states and District of Columbia, up from totals of 1,878, 1,936 and 1,879 the three days prior.

Worldwide, the confirmed covid-19 death toll reached 100,000. But experts fear the total is worse than the numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University, given a lack of transparency in China and elsewhere, and the difficulty of confirming cause of death, especially outside of hospitals.

Here are some significant developments:

  • At a White House briefing, President Trump said he’ll announce Tuesday the members of a new task force made up of people from the medical and business communities to determine when and how to reopen the country.
  • New York State recorded 777 known deaths Thursday, just 22 fewer from the record high the day before, but a flatter trend in severe cases is a “somewhat hopeful” sign that restrictive measures are working, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.
  • Turkey’s government imposed an around-the-clock weekend curfew in 31 cities, but the annoucement had the reverse effect. It came so close to the beginning of its start that thousands flocked to stores and formed the kinds of crowds the policy is supposed to deter.
  • Two-thirds of a small group of patients showed improvements after receiving an experimental coronavirus treatment, bolstering hopes for finding a treatment for the novel coronavirus, according to a published study.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) pleaded with churchgoers in the state not to attend Easter Sunday services in any fashion — and said those who go to mass gatherings will be ordered to self-quarantine in their homes. Although he praised his state for its social distancing efforts, he said Kentucky plans to record the license plates in crowded parking lots of churches still considering having in-person services.
  • Life is slowly returning to the streets and shops of Wuhan — the original epicenter of the outbreak — after the Chinese city reopened following 76 days of almost complete lockdown.

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3:19 a.m.
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Coronavirus anxiety starts to invade dreams in quarantines

Okay, bear with us, because this will get bizarre at first and then make total sense: Molly Kleinman, a program manager in Michigan, was in an unfamiliar cafe when she looked up at the chalkboard menu and saw there was a dessert named after her. “Molly’s Blueberry Maple Bar,” the sign said, and she knew somehow, with oracle-like clarity, that she was the Molly. She decided it was only right to order her bespoke cookie, but as soon as it touched her plate, it started to decay. Kleinman panicked. “I’m not supposed to be in a crowded coffee shop,” she realized. “None of us are supposed to be in a crowded coffee shop.” The blueberry maple bar crumbled into sawdust before her eyes.

And then she woke up. Because Kleinman had been not in a charming cafe, but in a covid-inspired dream. Lots of people seem to be having them now. It’s apparently not enough to panic about the virus in our waking hours; the dread has now come for our sleep.

Read more here.

2:23 a.m.
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The military’s medical ‘relief valves’ remain mostly empty in New York. This is why.

NEW YORK — The military medical facilities inside Manhattan's Javits Center convention hall and aboard the Navy hospital ship Comfort were touted as relief valves for New York hospitals overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, but both are operating well below capacity, and the city's beleaguered health-care workers have grown exasperated with the pace at which each has taken on patients.

"It's been frustrating watching people reinventing the wheel as they're going along," said Stuart Weiss, an emergency doctor and mass-casualty expert who founded the medical consulting group Intelligent Crowd Solutions, headquartered in Manhattan. "The first day it was like three patients," he said of Javits's slow start, "and then it was four patients, and I was like, ugh!"

The tale of these two temporary hospitals is one of disconnect between public expectations and political declarations, and what’s possible to achieve — logistically and medically — under the circumstances.

Read more here.

2:14 a.m.
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Virus spread freely in vulnerable New York, a major challenge as talks turn to reopening the city

NEW YORK — On residential side streets, the shouts of overserved barflies and squabbles over precious parking spots have vanished. Gotham is eerily quiet.

“It’s a zombie movie without the zombies,” said Stuart Weiss, an emergency medicine doctor.

New York City’s exceptionalism — including its population of nearly 9 million in the city proper, its housing density, heavy reliance on public transit, high proportion of elderly and low-income people, entrenched health-care inequities and its status as a major international travel hub — turned it into the country’s coronavirus epicenter. The vulnerabilities that allowed the virus to devastate New York also mean that the city faces outsize risks of new infections if the government moves too hastily to restart the economy.

Read more here.

1:46 a.m.
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IRS is launching a new online tool for people to track their $1,200 tax stimulus payments

The 2020 tax season has been upended by the novel coronavirus, forcing the IRS to extend more filing deadlines for individuals and businesses. The agency has also launched an online tool to help non-filers get their tax stimulus payment sooner.

Another Web-based tool is scheduled to debut next week that will allow people to track how soon they’ll receive their stimulus money.

Read more here.

1:10 a.m.
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U.S. daily death rate tops 2,000 for first time

As U.S. health officials anticipated an imminent peak in daily deaths from the novel coronavirus, the number of people confirmed dead in a single day topped 2,000 for the first time Friday.

Nationwide, there were 2,056 new deaths reported. The previous high was 1,936 on Wednesday. At least 1,000 new deaths have been recorded per day since April 2.

About 60 percent of the fatalities reported Friday were from three states: New York (777), New Jersey (232) and Michigan (205).

Across the United States, at least 18,545 people have now died of the virus, based on state reports and data compiled by The Washington Post.

12:52 a.m.
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Massachusetts veterans home faces Justice Dept. investigation after dozens of covid-19 deaths

The Justice Department announced Friday that it is investigating a Massachusetts veterans medical facility where dozens of residents have died of covid-19. In a news release, the department announced that it would explore whether the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home “violated the rights of residents by failing to provide them adequate medical care generally, and during, the coronavirus pandemic.”

According to the latest figures, 32 people had died at the state-run facility as of Thursday, including 28 who tested positive for the coronavirus. A total of 69 residents had tested positive, along with 68 staffers.

Local news reports have indicated the facility did not respond well to an outbreak behind its walls. A story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, for example, alleged that a symptomatic resident was allowed to mingle with others while awaiting test results and that employees who raised concerns were intimidated.

Read more here.

12:28 a.m.
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70 people at San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter test positive, mayor says

Sixty-eight guests and two staff members at San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter have tested positive for the coronavirus, Mayor London Breed announced Friday, as officials around the country worry about the pandemic spreading in vulnerable homeless populations.

The shelter, MSC South, had reduced its capacity by more than two-thirds, down to 100, in an effort to fight the virus.

Those infected will quarantine at the shelter and received medical treatment, Breed said. Everyone else was moved to hotels.

“From the beginning of this pandemic, one of our biggest concerns has been spread in congregate living situations,” she said. “We’ve seen this happen in countless other places throughout the country. It is now happening at MSC South.”

San Francisco County has confirmed 797 cases and 13 deaths related to the coronavirus. The Bay Area has recorded 4,500 cases and 121 deaths.

11:48 p.m.
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Kentucky will record license plates at mass gatherings this weekend and order people to quarantine, governor says ahead of Easter

In a Friday address, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) pleaded with churchgoers in the state not to attend Easter Sunday services in any fashion — and said those who go to mass gatherings will be ordered to self-quarantine in their home.

Beshear began by praising his state for its social distancing efforts in recent weeks and said the vast majority of churches had canceled services. But he also reminded viewers that the virus spreads even more severely in crowds.

Some churches have vowed to hold in-person services anyway, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Beshear called out the seven or so churches that he said are still considering having some type of in-person Easter services this weekend and said that to enforce the new rule, the state plans to record the license plates in crowded parking lots.

Kentucky’s health department will follow up with an order to self-quarantine for 14 days, he added.

“I guess I hear there are some individuals who say, ’It’s my choice whether I go to something and get coronavirus,’ ” Beshear said. “But it’s not the next person’s choice that you might spread it to, having gone to a gathering.”

Beshear’s order comes amid increased debate in Kentucky about the right to attend church in person, even if people remain in their vehicles in the parking lot. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said prohibiting Christian churches from holding drive-in services infringed on their right to exercise their religion. He said it was unfair that people are still permitted to gather in parking lots to go to grocery stores and other retail operations.

“The government should not flatly prohibit religious gatherings that comply with CDC guidelines unless it has no other choice to stop COVID-19,” McConnell wrote in a letter to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

11:10 p.m.
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NIH seeking 10,000 volunteers for study on extent of virus’s spread

The National Institutes of Health is seeking 10,000 volunteers for a study to help determine how many adults might have had the novel coronavirus without knowing it.

“The results will help illuminate the extent to which the novel coronavirus has spread undetected in the United States,” the agency said Friday, “and provide insights into which communities and populations are most affected.”

Blood samples will be tested for coronavirus antibodies. Positive results would indicate a previous infection.

The standard coronavirus test, with a cotton swab, does not determine whether a person was previously infected.

“This study will give us a clearer picture of the true magnitude of the pandemic by telling us how many people in different communities have been infected without knowing it, because they had a very mild, undocumented illness or did not access testing while they were sick,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is involved in the study.

The data, he said in a statement, “will help us measure the impact of our public health efforts now and guide our response moving forward.”

Other organizations are also using serological testing to learn more about the extent of the virus’s spread. Los Angeles County health officials will randomly test 1,000 residents, including those with no symptoms, to determine whether they have or had the coronavirus, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Those who have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus are not eligible for the NIH study. Those interested in participating should contact clinicalstudiesunit@nih.gov.

11:06 p.m.
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Georgia man charged with fraud for claiming he could sell 125 million masks to VA, when he had none

The Justice Department on Friday arrested a 39-year-old Georgia man who prosecutors alleged tried to sell 125 million face masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs, knowing he had no way to actually do that.

In a news release, the department said Christopher Parris “made a series of fraudulent misrepresentations” in trying to arrange a deal with VA that would have had him moving personal protective equipment worth more than $750 million. Parris, according to the release, said he could get millions of 3M masks from domestic factories — when he knew that was not possible. He told similar lies to state governments, trying to exploit the coronavirus crisis, the Justice Department alleged.

“We will vigorously pursue fraudsters who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to make money,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “As this case demonstrates, even beyond the typical costs associated with unlawful behavior, COVID-19 scams divert government time and resources and risk preventing front-line responders and consumers from obtaining the equipment they need to combat this pandemic."

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate this conduct, especially when it involves this kind of egregious attempt to target and defraud our nation’s treasures — our veterans,” he continued.

Parris was arrested in Georgia and is expected to be extradited to the District to face a federal wire-fraud charge.

10:11 p.m.
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How the Indian state of Kerala flattened its coronavirus curve

NEW DELHI — For hours, the health worker ticked through a list of questions: How is your health? What is your state of mind? Are you running out of any food supplies? By the end of the afternoon, she had reached more than 50 people under coronavirus quarantine. Weeks earlier, that number was 200.

Sheeba K.M. was just one of more than 30,000 health workers in the Indian state of Kerala, part of the communist state government’s robust response to the coronavirus pandemic. Other efforts include aggressive testing, intense contact tracing, instituting a longer quarantine, building thousands of shelters for migrant workers stranded by the sudden nationwide shutdown and distributing millions of cooked meals to those in need.

The measures appear to be paying off — and success in Kerala could prove instructive for the Indian government, which has largely shut down the country to stop the spread of the contagion but continues to see the curve trend upward.

Read more here.

9:46 p.m.
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Gilead’s experimental drug remdesivir shows ‘hopeful’ signs in small group of coronavirus patients

Two-thirds of a small group of patients showed improvements after receiving an experimental coronavirus treatment made by Gilead Sciences, bolstering hopes for finding a treatment for the disease, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday.

The patients received the antiviral drug remdesivir as part of a “compassionate use” trial, not a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, which would offer more definitive evidence. Also, the cohort was small: only 53 patients in the United States and around the world. Still, the improvements offered positive news about a drug seen by global health authorities as the best shot at becoming a treatment for covid-19.

Thirty-six patients out of the 53 — or two-thirds — showed improvement in oxygen support, trial authors said. Seventeen of 30 patients who were on ventilators were able to be taken off the machines.

Read more here.

9:28 p.m.
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Turkey announces a weekend curfew with little notice, prompting a flood of shoppers at bakeries and stores

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s interior ministry on Friday imposed a round-the-clock weekend curfew in 31 cities to halt the spread of the coronavirus, but the announcement — just hours before the curfew was set to start — prompted thousands of people to flock to stores and form the kinds of crowds the policy was supposed to deter.

Social media users posted photos and videos of long lines outside bakeries, supermarkets and liquor stores, filled with customers who had rushed out so hastily they wore pajamas, or covered their mouths after forgetting to bring masks.

In some places, people lined up at an appropriate distance, but in others, customers crammed into corner stores as bread and other goods disappeared.

Fahrettin Altun, the spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, released a statement asking people “to comply with this weekend’s lockdown without panicking, and refrain from reducing their social distance prior to lockdown.” By then, though, it seemed too late.

The curfew was the latest step in the government’s evolving response to a worrying surge of coronavirus infections. Turkey, with nearly 50,000 people infected, has the ninth-highest number of cases in the world and announced Friday that more than 1,000 people had died.

The soaring numbers have led to growing demands that the government take more forceful action, including by imposing a curfew in big cities like Istanbul, which has the highest rate of infections. Erdogan has resisted such calls to avoid closing down Turkey’s economy.

Shortly before 10 p.m. on Friday, Turkish media outlets flashed the news: The curfew would start at midnight. As shoppers rushed to the streets, Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, posted a video message on Twitter suggesting he had not been notified.

“This is not the kind of curfew we desired,” said Imamoglu, who has led the calls for a lockdown in Istanbul. “There should have been a simulation for this,” he added, urging people to keep calm.

9:05 p.m.
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As some leaders turn toward reopening the country, Michigan is making social distancing stricter

For weeks, in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Michigan residents, like most Americans, have been instructed to stay at home and limit their activities in the community.

As some leaders — including President Trump — start to shift their focus to “reopening” the country, Michigan is instead doubling down on social distancing mandates.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest executive order on the matter, issued Thursday, forbids people from visiting the homes of friends and relatives in the state, which, as first noted by the Detroit Free Press, essentially bans visits to neighbors. Previously, Michiganders could travel between different homes.

“All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited,” the order reads. It goes into effect Saturday and runs through the end of the month; Whitmer has said restrictions may need to be extended.

There are exceptions, such as caring for a relative or elderly friend, visiting a nursing home and attending a funeral with no more than 10 people. People may continue to leave their homes for exercise, as long as they keep six feet between others.

In another change, Michiganders are also prohibited from making use of a second residence in the state, such as a summer house.

The original order took effect March 24 and was to expire next week.

Michigan is third in the nation, behind New York and New Jersey, in confirmed cases of the coronavirus (22,783) and deaths related to the virus (1,281). Most are in the Detroit metro area.