As the number of new coronavirus cases in China, where the virus first began, continues to decline, the United States is facing a massive increase in the number of cases across the country. The outbreak has federal and local officials scrambling to enforce social distancing and assist overwhelmed health care systems.
The U.S. now has more than 189,035 confirmed cases, well surpassing Italy's 105,729 cases and China's 82,290 infections. Deaths in the U.S. topped 3,900 as of Tuesday morning.
Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.:
Biden Suggests There May Not Be Physical Democratic Convention
There may not be a physical Democratic national convention this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden suggested Tuesday.
"It's hard to envision that," Biden told MSNBC's Brian Williams when asked whether he could see prominent Democrats from around the county gathering in an arena for the convention, which is scheduled for July.
Biden said officials should listen to the scientists when making decisions.
"The fact is, it may have to be different," Biden said. "My guess is, there's going to be a great deal more absentee balloting, we used to call it, but paper ballots." He also said that the situation could change by then.
Biden has had a surge of primary victories, but his rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is still in the race. Sanders earlier this week told "Late Night" host Seth Myers that "there is a path" to the nomination, though "admittedly a narrow path."
US Death Toll Eclipses China's
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing China's official count, as hard-hit New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.
Worldwide, more than 850,000 people have been infected and over 42,000 have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the U.S. had over 185,000 infections, with more dead than China's official toll of about 3,300.
New York was the nation's deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, most of them in New York City, which braced for things to get much worse in the coming weeks.
White House Projects 100K-240K US Deaths
The White House is projecting that between 100,000 to 240,000 people in the U.S. will die from the coronavirus pandemic if social distancing measures continue to be followed.
The projections were presented during a White House briefing Tuesday. They suggest that, if no social distancing measures had been put in place across the country, between 1.5 million to 2.2 million people would have died.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is helping to lead the U.S. effort, said, "As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it.” But he said he hopes it won’t soar so high.
President Donald Trump and other officials expounded on the decision to extend prior CDC guidelines until April 30.
Coronavirus Pandemic Coverage
Trump said the United States is facing a "great national trial" in the "war with a deadly virus" that requires the "full absolute measure of our collective strength, love and devotion" of Americans to overcome the pandemic.
Trump urged Americans to prepare for a "very tough two weeks" ahead, citing his experts who say the peak of the pandemic in the United States should strike in mid-April.
U.S. State Department health official Deborah Birx discussed how the mitigation guidelines greatly reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
To see the positive results seen in models showing a decrease in transmissions, particularly for the coronavirus spread reaching its peak in mid-April, Brix said continuing the mitigation methods is essential at the very least through the end of April.
Trader Joe's, Target, Aldi to Close on Easter Sunday
Trader Joe's, Target and Aldi are among stores that will close on Easter Sunday to give employees on the front lines during the coronavirus outbreak a much-needed break, TODAY.com reports.
Trader Joe's announced on its website that stores will be closed Sunday, April 12, "to give our incredible Crew Members a much needed day of rest."
Target, Aldi, Costco and Sam's Club will also be closed on the holiday. Publix will be closed on Easter, which is traditional for the grocery chain.
ER Doctor on NY's Coronavirus Battle: 'It's a Medical War Zone'
Working in the emergency department of Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Arabia Mollette is on the front lines of the coronavirus battle every day.
"It's not easy," Mollette acknowledged in an interview Tuesday with the "TODAY" show. "It's a medical war zone we were unprepared for, and that's nationally, not just at Brookdale. But we are doing the best we can."
She said like other medical systems around the country, supplies are dwindling at Brookdale and some health care workers at her hospital have caught the virus.
Still, she says, “we are remaining strong because that is what we need to do.”
'We Underestimated This Virus': NY Deaths, Hospitalizations Continue to Climb
Deaths from the coronavirus continued to climb steeply in New York, topping 1,500 by Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
A somber-sounding Cuomo also said the number of new hospitalizations statewide Monday continued to rise rapidly. About 1,550 have died of COVID-19 across New York state, and 9,500 people are hospitalized with the disease statewide. More than 75,000 people statewide have tested positive for the virus, including more than 43,000 in New York City, NBC New York reports.
Cuomo said "we underestimated" the novel virus, warning it is "more powerful" and "more dangerous" than we expected.
"I'm tired of being behind this virus. We've been behind this virus since day one. We've been playing catch up, you don't win playing catch up, we have to get ahead of it."
New York City sought to bring in 250 out-of-town ambulances and 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians to help its swamped EMS system. The city's ambulances are responding to about 6,000 calls a day, or 50% more than average, authorities said. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a five-day stretch last week was the busiest in the history of the city's EMS operation.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he expects the crisis to stretch through May. “For the weeks ahead, let’s not kid ourselves, it gets a lot worse before it gets better," de Blasio said on NBC's “Today.”
How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart
New York has quickly become the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak. This chart shows the cumulative number of cases per state by number of days since the 10th case.
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC
CNN Host Chris Cuomo Says He Tested Positive for Coronavirus
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said in a tweet Tuesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Cuomo said he was experiencing symptoms after being exposed to others who tested positive for the virus. He said his symptoms consisted of "fever, chills and shortness of breath."
Cuomo said he is feeling well, and will continue to anchor his 9 p.m. program "Cuomo Prime Time" from his home.
Gov. Cuomo discussed his younger brother during his daily press briefing Tuesday morning.
"He's young, in good shape, strong — not as strong as he thinks — but he will be fine," Cuomo said.
The governor called the virus "the great equalizer" because it can affect anyone.
"It's my family, it's your family, it's all of our families," he added.
Pompeo: State Department Official Dies From Coronavirus
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says a State Department official has died from the coronavirus, the first American fatality among the U.S. diplomatic corps from the pandemic.
Pompeo didn't give details about the official who passed away or where the person contracted the disease. He says about four to five dozen State Department employees had tested positive for the virus, including locally employed staffers at a handful of the 220 U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
On Monday, State Department health officials said at least two locally employed staff members had died from the virus.
Those officials say they were tracking 105 confirmed cases among the agency’s global workforce of about 75,000. Of those, 75 are overseas and 30 are at State Department offices in the United States in nine cities.
Spirit Airlines Cancels NY, NJ, Conn. Flights Over Coronavirus Outbreak
Spirit Airlines said it will cancel all flights to and from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned against travel to the area, NBC Connecticut reports.
Spirit, which appears to be the first major U.S. carrier to cancel all flights to the tri-state region, said the changes will be going into effect over the next few days, and all customers on affected flights will be contacted directly for details on how to get a credit and rebook.
The Miramar, Florida-based company said it will suspend service to New York LaGuardia, Newark, Hartford, Niagara Falls, and Plattsburgh through at least May 4.
Whole Foods Employees Staging Nationwide 'Sick Out'
Whole Foods employees are calling for a nationwide "sick out" on Tuesday to protest the lack of protections low-wage workers serving the community have during the coronavirus pandemic, NBC Los Angeles reports.
Workers say they want paid leave for any employee who self-quarantines, reinstatement of health care for part-time and seasonal workers, hazard pay in the form of double the current hourly wage and a commitment to shutdown any store where an employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
A Whole Foods spokesperson said in a statement that the company is committed to prioritizing employees' wellbeing and has "taken extensive measures to keep people safe, and in addition to social distancing, enhanced deep cleaning and crowd control measures, we continue rolling out new safety protocols in our stores to protect our Team Members who are on the front lines serving our customers."
The move comes a day after online grocery-delivery service Instacart and Amazon warehouse workers walked off the job demanding greater safeguards against the coronavirus.
Florida Officials Debate Whether to Allow Virus-Stricken Cruise to Dock
Florida officials will meet Tuesday to discuss whether to allow a virus-stricken cruise ship to dock at Port Everglades, NBC South Florida reports.
Four people on the Zaandam have died of coronavirus, and more than 130 passengers and crew have symptoms, officials said. At least two people on the ship have tested positive for COVID-19.
At a news conference Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he'd prefer medical personnel be dispatched to the ship rather than it docking at Port Everglades. He said the state does not have the capacity to treat outsiders.
Of the nearly 2,000 people onboard the ship, 138 are U.S. citizens.
NYC's Empire State Building Flashes Spinning 'Siren' Red Light
One of New York City's most iconic buildings, the Empire State Building, lit up Monday night to honor the city's health care workers. The building tweeted that it would display "a white and red siren in the mast for heroic emergency workers on the front line of the fight."
Videos of the "siren" lights going off on a foggy night in the city appeared on Twitter.
According to TODAY.com, the building also lit up to the tune of "Empire State of Mind," by Alicia Keys as it played on a local radio station, Z100 New York.
11 Veterans Die Amid Virus Outbreak at Mass. Soldiers' Home
Eleven veterans, all residents of Massachusetts' Holyoke Soldiers' Home, are dead after five tested positive for the coronavirus, according to NBC affiliate WWLP. Five of the other veterans who died were awaiting test results for the virus. In addition, five staff members at the facility tested positive.
Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Dan Tsai said in a press release Monday that Bennett Walsh, superintendent of Holyoke Soldiers' Home, had been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately.
According to Mass.gov, the Soldiers' Home is described as a "247-bed long term nursing care facility with 24-hour licensed nursing staff."