Coronavirus live updates: China exonerates whistleblower doctor who warned of virus

The novel coronavirus pandemic has killed at least 11,200 people worldwide, mostly in Italy and China.

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

There are more than 272,000 diagnosed cases globally, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

There are over 19,200 diagnosed cases in the U.S., spanning all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and at least 258 of those people have died, according to ABC News’ count.

Today’s biggest developments:

  • Italy’s death toll skyrockets
  • 100% of New York ‘non-essential’ workforce must stay home
  • Coronavirus appears to be twice as deadly for men
  • Tax Day pushed back to July 15
  • Here’s how the news is unfolding today. All times Eastern. Please refresh for updates.

    11:01 p.m.: No deal on final stimulus package yet

    After 12 hours of bipartisan negotiations, senators broke for the day without a final deal on the $1 trillion stimulus bill to deal with the economic fallout from coronavirus.

    The group of senior lawmakers — along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia and others — who were all present for Friday’s marathon sessions, will be back at it Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

    A vote is still expected on Monday.

    10:16 p.m.: United reduces international flights by 95%

    United had drastically reduced its international schedule in the wake of coronavirus fears cutting down on travel, but the company cut it even further on Friday night.

    After initially saying they would cut the April international travel schedule by 85%, they have now said they will up that to 95%.

    The company will only operate occasional flights to Mexico and some to Guam during April.

    7:46 p.m.: Most Starbucks to close

    Starbucks said it will close cafes for two weeks, moving to drive-thru-only service in the U.S.

    Some cafes in hospitals and healthcare centers will remain open to serve first responders and workers there, according to a company statement.

    The company also will continue delivering via the UberEats app.

    7:34 p.m.: ‘Major disaster’ declared in New York

    President donald trump has declared a “major disaster” in New York, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

    Earlier, House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney said the declaration would help the state “to fully mobilize the federal response to the crisis.”

    “Sen. @GillibrandNY and I pushed for this!” Schumer tweeted. “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.”

    6:38 p.m.: Member of Pence’s office tests positive

    A member of Vice President Mike Pence’s office has tested positive, according to Kate Miller, his press secretary.

    “Neither president trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual,” Miller said in a statement. “Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

    No details on the employee were given.

    6:30 p.m.: More celebrities test positive

    Talk show host Andy Cohen and former “Bachelor” star Colton Underwood are the latest celebrities to announce they have tested positive.

    Cohen wrote on Instagram that the test results came back “after a few days of self-quarantine and not feeling great.” His Bravo show “Watch What Happens Live” will suspend production as he recovers.

    Underwood, 28, also took to Instagram to announce his results. He urged younger people to take the situation seriously.

    “I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath,” he said.

    6:18 p.m.: 2020 Census counting period extended

    The U.S. Census Bureau announced it’s extending its 10-year count of the population by two weeks.

    The deadline will now be Aug. 14.

    “As we continue to monitor this evolving situation, the COVID-19 outbreak, we will adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local authorities,” Timothy Olson, associate director for field operations at the Census Bureau, said.

    The Census Bureau has not yet sent a request to Congress asking to extend the legal deadline for when it will publish the results, which is set to happen on December 31, as of right now.

    6:04 p.m.: NYC now ‘epicenter’ of crisis, mayor says

    Mayor Bill de Blasio called New York City “the epicenter of this crisis.”

    There are now 5,151 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city, amounting to a third of all cases in the U.S., according to de Blasio.

    He also said that two-thirds of all cases in the state of New York are in New York City.

    While medical supplies will dwindle in the coming weeks, later in April and into May “it will get worse,” according to the mayor.

    Police will be lightly enforcing social distancing at grocery stores that remain open.

    5:40 p.m.: 2nd US veteran dies

    A second veteran has died after contracting COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Friday. It’s the second death reported by the agency in less than a week.

    As of Friday, 130 veterans reported testing positive.

    5:35 p.m.: Colorado residents on Grand Princess cruise ship to return home

    Colorado will welcome home 39 passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship after they had been in quarantine since March 9 after docking in California, according to a statement from the state’s emergency operations center.

    All passengers returning are asymptomatic, as requested by Governor Jared Polis in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the statement read.

    The Coloradans will fly into Denver International Airport at 3:30 p.m. on private charter airplanes. They will not enter the concourses or the main terminal and will be taken to their homes by a private vehicle or state-provided van.

    From there, the returning passengers will carry out the remaining time of their 14-day quarantine.

    Forty-three Colorado residents were on the Grand Princess cruise ship. Two will return on a different flight and the other two are symptomatic, so they will return to Colorado at a later date.

    5:23 p.m.: All non-essential businesses ordered to close in Nevada

    Nevada Gov/. Steve Sisolak ordered all non-essential businesses closed.

    Sisolak stressed that he was “no longer asking” business to do so, but mandating it.

    “This is not the time to try to find loopholes. If your business is not essential to providing sustenance and for the everyday safety, health and well-being of Nevadans, you must shut down,” he said at a press conference.

    Businesses that do not shut down will be penalized and fined. The order goes into effect tonight at midnight local time.

    Nevada currently has 109 confirmed cases, according to the governor.

    Like other states, he said there is not enough testing and the situation will get worse before it gets better.

    4:59 p.m.: Illinois governor issues ‘stay at home’ order

    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that a “stay at home” order will go into effect Saturday at 5 p.m. local time. The order will extend through April 7.

    Residents will still be able to leave their homes to go the grocery store, pharmacies, gas station, as well as to exercise outdoors. However, Chicago parks will be close and all non-essential businesses must cease operations.

    Additionally, anyone who can work from home, and has not already started doing so, will have to beginning Saturday.

    Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said essential industries, like agriculture, the media, transit and garbage collection, will continue.

    4:40 p.m.: Two Washington state nursing home patients have recovered

    Two patients from the Life Care Center of Kirkland nursing home who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered and are now testing negative, nursing home officials announced Friday.

    The Life Care Center of Kirkland was deeply impacted by the coronavirus, with 33 patients dying since the outbreak began. This potentially includes elderly people who died without having coronavirus, officials said.

    The nursing home now has 42 residents, 31 of whom tested positive for coronavirus and 11 who tested negative, officials said.

    Of the estimated 180 employees, 55 have tested positive, officials said. Eleven are waiting test results.

    4:20 p.m.: New Jersey’s 1st major testing site hits capacity within hours

    In New Jersey — where 11 people have died from coronavirus — the first major testing site hit capacity within hours, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

    The drive-thru at Bergen Community College began Friday morning and 600 people were tested, he said.

    The testing site opened at 8 a.m. and was turning cars away by noon, reported

    Another 350 tests will be performed there Saturday morning, Murphy said.

    4:04 p.m.: Flywheel temporarily lays off 98% of employees

    The indoor cycling company Flywheel says it’s temporarily laying off 98% of its employees due to the pandemic.

    Flywheel said the small team remaining will take significant paycuts.

    “It is our greatest hope that this team will be able to carry the brand through the current crisis, find additional ways to support impacted employees, and be ready to welcome you to work out with us again,” Flywheel said.

    3:48 p.m.: USA Swimming wants Tokyo Olympics postponed a year

    The CEO of USA Swimming wrote a letter to the CEO of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee on Friday, asking for the Olympic committee to advocate that the Tokyo Olympics be postponed for one year.

    “We have watched our athletes’ worlds be turned upside down and watched them struggle to find ways to continue to prepare and train — many for the biggest competitive opportunity of their lives,” Tim Hinchey III, the USA Swimming CEO, said. “Our world class swimmers are always willing to race anyone, anytime and anywhere; however, pressing forward amidst the global health crisis this summer is not the answer.”

    “Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all,” Hinchey added.

    2:16 p.m.: Airports expected to lose $13.9 billion

    U.S. airports are expected to lose $13.9 billion in 2020 — up from an initial estimate of $8.7 billion — due to the sharp drop-off in air travel amid the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Airports Council International – North america (ACI-NA).

    The ACI-NA anticipates total passenger enplanement to decrease by 349 million in 2020.

    U.S. airports requested $10 billion from Congress on Monday to offset the expected losses, according to a spokesperson for ACI-NA.

    1:55 p.m.: Indiana becomes 7th state to postpone presidential primary

    Indiana is now the 7th state to postpone its presidential primary due to the pandemic.

    Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday that Indiana will reschedule the primary to June 2 after reaching an agreement with the chairs of the respective state parties.

    Connecticut, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Maryland as well as Puerto Rico have all moved their primaries.

    1:30 p.m.: Italy’s death toll skyrockets

    Italy’s death toll is continuing to rise, with 627 people losing their lives to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

    The hard-hit nation’s death toll now stands at 4,032.

    Italy has the highest death rate among all countries, followed by China, Iran and Spain.

    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.

    12:33 p.m.: Coronavirus appears to be twice as deadly for men, trend shows

    A “concerning trend” from Italy is showing that “mortality in males seems to be twice in every age group of females,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said at a briefing Friday.

    Birx also addressed the danger to children with medical conditions, saying, “We don’t know the level of risks.”

    “There just is not enough numbers at this time to tell them if they’re at additional risks in the same way adults are,” she said.
    Birx underscored that all age groups are not immune from the virus.

    With so many schools closed across the country, the Department of Education won’t enforce standardized testing requirements for elementary schoolers through high schoolers for this year, President donald trump said at a Friday briefing.

    Student loan payments will also be suspended without penalty “for at least the next 60 days, and if we need more, we will extend that period,” trump said.

    12:07 p.m.: 199 deaths in Spain in 24 hours

    COVID-19 is surging in Spain, where there were 199 deaths within 24 hours. Spain has now lost 1,002 people to the virus.

    The country has 19,980 diagnosed coronavirus cases, including 1,141 people in intensive care units.

    11:25 a.m.: 100% of New York workforce must stay home

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered that 100% of the state’s workforce stay home except for essential services.

    “Only essential businesses can have workers commuting to the job or on the job,” Cuomo said, stressing that this rule “will be enforced.”

    Everyone else must “remain indoors to the greatest extent” possible, he said.

    “This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said.

    Thirty-five people have died in New York from COVID-19, the governor said.

    There are 7,102 people diagnosed with coronavirus in New York state, nearly 6,000 more cases than in Washington and California. Cuomo said that’s because New York is doing more tests per capita, including 10,000 tests Thursday night.

    He addressed the need for 30,000 ventilators in the state, saying “Ventilators to this war are what the missiles were to World War II.”

    The governor urged citizens not to take public transit except if urgent and absolutely necessary.

    Cuomo also issued a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for 90 days.

    Cuomo said he spoke to some residents who have been in quarantine.

    “Most of all, they would all talk about the sense of isolation … not having human contact and how difficult that was,” he noted.

    The governor got personal about conversations with his own daughter, who is among those in isolation.

    “I had some of the best conversations with her that I have ever had,” Cuomo said. “She was alone for two weeks with her own thoughts, not talking to anyone else, no noise, no activity. And we talked about things in depth that we didn’t have time to talk about in the past, or we didn’t have the courage or the strength to talk about in the past. Feelings that I had about mistakes that I had made along the way that I wanted to express my regret and talk through with her.”

    10:15 a.m.: Tax Day pushed back to July 15

    Tax Day will be pushed back from April 15 to July 15, giving more Americans time to file and make payments without interest or penalties, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted.

    9:48 a.m.: Longtime NBC News employee dies from coronavirus

    A longtime NBC News employee has died from coronavirus, leaving behind his wife and two sons, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said.

    Larry Edgeworth most recently worked in an equipment room at NBC News’ New York headquarters. He previously spent 25 years as an NBC News audio technician and he traveled around the world with producers and correspondents, Lack said.

    Edgeworth suffered from health issues, his wife said.

    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
  • 7:35 a.m.: ‘None of us have the adequate infrastructure for this,’ Los Angeles mayor warns

    A day after ordering all residents to stay inside their homes unless absolutely necessary in a bid to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told ABC News that he took the measure with both “a very heavy heart” and “a very clear mind.”

    “None of us have the adequate infrastructure for this, and our best shot is to push this out” Garcetti said in an interview Friday on “Good Morning america.”

    “These are acts of love for the people and the precious lives that we want to protect,” he added. “The longer that you wait, the worse it’s going to be by the time you react.”

    Garcetti noted there were lessons learned from the Spanish flu, a deadly influenza pandemic that infected about a quarter of the world’s population from the start of 1918 through the end of 1920.

    “These things we saw in 1918,” he said. “The cities that acted quickly were able to protect more people, and those that didn’t were devastated.”

    Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday night extended the stay-at-home order statewide to nearly 40 million residents. The governor warned that the state projects 56% of California’s population could contract the virus over the next eight weeks.

    7:15 a.m.: Andrew Yang’s nonprofit to distribute over $1 million to families impacted by virus

    Andrew Yang’s new nonprofit announced Friday that it will spend more than $1 million helping working families impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak in the New York area and across the country.

    Humanity Forward, which Yang founded after ending his 2020 Democratic bid for president, will start by sending $1,000 to 500 working poor households in New York City’s Bronx neighborhood within the next two weeks.

    “The coronavirus outbreak has absolutely devastated local economic activity, and working families are feeling it most,” Yang said in a statement announcing the initiative. “Many feel like they don’t have money for groceries or rent, even as their child’s school shuts down. Our goal is to get money into their hands as quickly as possible so they can focus on keeping themselves and their families healthy. This is exactly what our government should do, and we are doing it now so that families can get relief as quickly as possible.”

    6:21 a.m.: Cases rise in Africa

    South Africa’s health minister announced Friday that the country had recorded 52 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the national total to 202.

    Africa’s most industrialized economy has the highest number of confirmed cases of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa. Egypt has the highest total on the larger African continent, with 256 diagnosed cases.

    The region has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 infections recently, although there are still fewer diagnosed cases there than in other parts of the world.

    More than 800 cases have been diagnosed in at least 34 nations on the African continent as of Friday morning, compared with 147 cases just a week ago. At least 12 of those countries are now experiencing local transmission of the virus.

    “The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement Thursday. “But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response.”

    5:30 a.m.: Hong Kong reports spike in new cases

    Hong Kong recorded 48 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, according to the government’s website.

    It’s the largest daily tally since COVID-19 testing began in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, according to local media.

    The news comes after the Chinese mainland reported no new domestic transmissions of the virus for two straight days — a major milestone in the country’s fight against the epidemic.

    4:18 a.m.: Quarantined cruise ship passengers reportedly refuse tests

    A majority of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship who are quarantined at a U.S. Air Force base in California are refusing to be tested for the novel coronavirus, according to a report from San Francisco ABC station KGO.

    The cruise ship was granted permission to dock in California’s port of Oakland on March 9, after 21 people on board tested positive for COVID-19. All those infected were first transported to local hospitals, then all remaining passengers gradually disembarked over several days. Foreigners were repatriated on charter flights, while U.S. citizens were taken to designated sites for a 14-day quarantine. Crew members who weren’t sick stayed on board to complete their 14-day quarantine.

    That quarantine period ends next week and passengers are eager to go home, which is apparently why many of them are refusing to be tested.

    Only 300 passengers quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, have agreed to be tested, while the remaining 545 have declined, according to KGO. They were reportedly told that they are not required to be tested.

    “We didn’t know for sure when we would get the results,” Carmen Kilcullen, 86, of Northern California, told KGO by telephone Thursday. “In case results came in later, we’d have to stay.”

    3 a.m.: China exonerates whistleblower doctor who warned of virus

    In a highly unusual move, Chinese authorities have exonerated a doctor who was officially reprimanded for warning his colleagues about the novel coronavirus and later died from the disease.

    The city of Wuhan’s public security bureau said in a statement late Thursday that it would revoke the reprimand issued to Dr. Li Wenliang, which accused him of spreading rumors, according to Chinese state television. Wuhan’s police department also made an official apology to Li’s family, citing “inappropriate handling on the matter,” state TV reported.

    Li, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, was detained by police in early January after trying to warn fellow doctors and medical students about the virus in a social media group. Li became infected and died from COVID-19 on Feb. 7.

    Li’s death sparked outrage in China where citizens took to social media to vent their frustrations over the government’s handling of the epidemic and portraying the doctor as a martyr of the crisis.

    An investigation team from the state supervision authority determined that police had “issued improper instructions” and followed “improper law enforcement procedure,” according to a report released Thursday evening by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the ruling Communist Party’s top disciplinary body.

    Li’s family has also received compensation in the wake of his death, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s report.

    ABC News’ Jeff Costello, Matt Fuhrman, William Mansell, Mark Hanrahan, Mina Kaji, Kendall Karson, Rachel Katz, Kelly McCarthy, Jordyn Phelps, Kirit Radia, J Gabriel Ware, Quinn Owen, Joshua Hoyos, Mychael Schnell and Elizabeth Thomas contributed to this report.