A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 297,000 people worldwide.
More than 4.3 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.39 million diagnosed cases and at least 84,118 deaths.
Today’s biggest developments:
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.
9:14 p.m.: LA not going on lockdown for 3 months
Responding to yesterday’s announcement that upset a lot of people, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said L.A. County is not going to be on a lockdown for the next three months and the city is taking steps to reopen more locations.
He announced additional sports and recreation venues that are reopening, along with retail stores with curbside pickup and manufacturing businesses that support retailers.
L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said on Tuesday that the lockdown would be extended “with all certainty” through August unless there was a “dramatic change.”
However, Garcetti also expanded the face-covering policy, now requiring everyone except small children and those with disabilities to wear a covering whenever they’re near anyone not in their household.
Garcetti said he was “pissed off” when he heard people dismissing the sick as “just old people.”
“This is about our collective caring and our collective health,” Garcetti said.
There have been more than 33,000 confirmed cases and at least 1,616 deaths in Los Angeles County.
7:30 p.m.: Santa Anita approved to resume racing
The Los Angeles County Health Department has approved Santa Anita Park restarting live racing on Friday.
Races will be run without spectators, and essential personnel will follow strict protocols — face masks, social distancing and health screenings that include temperature checks — to prevent spreading COVID-19.
“We are very grateful for the open and continuous communication with both the Health Department and Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office,” said Aidan Butler, executive director of California Racing Operations for The Stronach Group, which owns the racetrack. “Supervisor Barger, in particular, understood the importance of live racing to support thousands of individuals, and that we are able to accomplish it safely under these protocols.”
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.
6:45 p.m.: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks stay-at-home order
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order extension on Wednesday, saying the administration exceeded its authority.
Last month, Evers directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend the state’s “Safer at Home” order, keeping nonessential businesses closed until May 26.
In the 4-3 decision, the conservative-controlled high court said that Palm overstepped her authority in “confining all people to their homes, forbidding travel and closing businesses.”
Following the Supreme Court decision, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said on Twitter, “Disappointed but not surprised. They put lives at risk by forcing an election, of course they were going to double down. It’s like no lives matter. This is bad.”
Wisconsin has 10,902 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 421 deaths, according to the latest figures from the state’s health department.
5:09 p.m.: Closed national parks plan phased reopenings
Several national parks are starting to partially reopen, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service announced Wednesday.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton, both currently closed, are set to reopen on May 18 with limited access.
Yellowstone’s Wyoming entrances will be open, while entrances in Montana and Idaho, where there are restrictions on out-of-state travel, will remain closed, NPS said. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks, and a limited number of people will be allowed in certain areas at a time.
Grand Teton in Wyoming will reopen access to main roads, hiking trails and more, while the campgrounds and visitors center will remain closed.
Arizona’s Grand Canyon will increase access to South Rim viewpoints from May 15 to 18. The South Rim South Entrance will be open to traffic from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. The park recommends arriving no later than 9:30 a.m. to avoid traffic backups. All visitor facilities and trails in the park remain closed, including Grand Canyon Village and Desert View.
Rocky Mountain National Park will start a phased reopening on May 27, the NPS announced Tuesday.
NPS said it is working with federal, state and local public health authorities to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
3:30 p.m.: Harvard Medical School’s incoming students will begin fall semester online
Harvard Medical School’s incoming students will start their fall semester online, The Harvard Crimson reported Wednesday.
The school aims to have all students back on campus by January, the newspaper said.
2:45 p.m.: DC extends stay-at-home order until June 8
In Washington, D.C., the stay-at-home order, ban on mass gatherings and closure of nonessential businesses will be extended through June 8, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday.
Bower said two out of four benchmarks for reopening that have not been met: D.C. has not had a 14-day decrease in community spread — only a 4-day decrease. And D.C. has not sufficiently contact traced all new cases and associates — so far the district has only been able to trace “priority populations and their close contacts.”
In D.C., 6,584 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 350 people have died.
1:30 p.m.: NJ reopening retail for curbside pickup
In New Jersey, nonessential retail stores can open for curbside pickup beginning Monday, though customers cannot go inside, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday.
Drive-in and drive-thru events, like movies and religious services, will also be allowed, as long as people remain in their cars, Murphy said.
The ban on gatherings still applies, Murphy said, as he urged people to continue to stay home as much as possible.
Looking forward, the state is working on a plan to reopen facilities for elective surgeries, the governor said.
“While we’ve made enormous progress, we’re still not in the end zone,” Murphy cautioned. “As we take these steps, we ask for your continued patience. We’re moving slowly and deliberately because any misstep risks further outbreaks.”
New Jersey has over 141,000 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus. The death toll has reached 9,702.
1 p.m.: 75 deaths among NYC’s homeless
The homeless are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, and in New York City, 75 homeless people have now succumbed to the virus, according to the Department of Social Services.
There are 920 homeless people in the city who have tested positive.
As the New York City subway system shuts down each night for disinfecting, the police are contacting the homeless who take shelter on the subways and trying to bring them to hospitals or shelters.
12:12 p.m.: NYC has 82 cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome
In New York City there are 82 confirmed cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19, an inflammatory syndrome which has features that overlap with Kawasaki disease.
Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, said last week that “most children with COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms, but in some, a dangerous inflammatory syndrome can develop.”
Of those 82 cases, 53 tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.
New York City makes up the majority of New York state’s 102 reported cases. Three young people in New York state have died: a 5-year-old boy, 7-year-old boy and an 18-year-old woman.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that 14 other states have reported cases: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C.
“This is truly disturbing,” Cuomo said. “We raise it because it’s something parents should be aware of.”
“There are still unanswered questions,” de Blasio said, like what makes some children susceptible, how long it takes to manifest and the likelihood of it developing. But it is known that if diagnosed early, children can be treated effectively, he said.
Cuomo said the State Department of Health will host a webinar for health care providers Thursday to discuss the disease.
If a child has symptoms including persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting, parents are urged to call their pediatrician immediately.
12 p.m.: In NY, essential workers test positive at lower rate than general population
In New York City, essential workers are testing positive at lower rates than the general population, which Gov. Cuomo attributes to the general population not wearing masks.
New York City’s general population is testing positive at a rate of 19.9%, compared to 12.2% for health care workers and 10.5% for New York City police.
“PPE works, masks work, gloves work,” Cuomo stressed.
In New York City, the latest tracking progress indicators are a mixed bag.
On Monday, 78 people were admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 — up from 51 admissions on Sunday.
There were 561 patients in intensive care units on Monday — up from 550 on Sunday.
And of those tested citywide on Monday, 13% were positive. One day earlier, 14% were positive.
The state recorded an additional 166 deaths on Tuesday.
11:50 a.m.: NJ orders testing at all long-term care facilities
All long-term care facilities in New Jersey must implement COVID-19 testing for staff and residents by May 26, according to a directive signed by New Jersey Heath Commissioner Judith Persichilli on Tuesday.
New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have been particularly hard hit. The state has 90,000 residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nearly 26,000 positive cases have been reported, according to the state.
In April, a pilot project tested 4,600 residents and staff at 16 long-term care facilities in the state, and the project found a majority of those who were positive were asymptomatic, according to the state.
The New Jersey attorney general’s office started investigating the state’s long-term care facilities in April.
“Our investigation was prompted by both the high number of deaths we were seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and by the disturbing reports we were receiving: reports of bodies piled up in makeshift morgues, of nurses and staff without adequate PPE,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said last week.
The state asked the public to report any misconduct anonymously through an online portal.
11:25 a.m.: Gyms, pools now open in Arizona
Gyms and pools can reopen in Arizona on Wednesday, but Gov. Doug Ducey cautioned Tuesday, “this does not mean a return to normal.”
Vulnerable individuals should still stay home, Ducey said, and in-person visits to nursing homes remain prohibited.
Schools remain closed and residents should continue to telework when possible and minimize nonessential travel.
Retail shopping, barber shops and salons were permitted to reopen on May 8. Dine-in services resumed on May 11.
Arizona’s stay-at-home order will expire on Friday and professional sports leagues can restart in the state without spectators after Friday.
9:15 a.m.: UK ‘cannot now go back to square 1,’ prime minister warns
As some people in the United Kingdom returned to work Wednesday for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned that the country must not “proceed too fast or too recklessly.”
“What we are doing is entirely conditional and provisional,” Johnson told lawmakers in British Parliament on Wednesday. “The U.K. has made a huge amount of progress. The people of this country have worked incredibly hard to get the [virus reproduction rate] down. We cannot now go back to square one. We can’t risk a second outbreak, and we will do everything to avoid that.”
While the rules on social distancing remain in place, Wednesday marks the first day that people are allowed to return to work if they cannot do their job from home. People are now also allowed to leave their homes for unlimited amounts of exercise, to sunbathe and to drive to other destinations. Fines for those who break the rules, which are still limited to spending time with members of your own household, will be increased, according to Johnson.
The prime minister announced the modifications to the nationwide lockdown and a phased plan to reopen society during a televised address on Sunday, but the measures were roundly criticized as lacking clarity. Johnson said that England had changed its formal government slogan to “Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives,” from the previous guidance which said that people must “stay at home” to stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect the National Health Service (NHS). The new messaging puts England at odds with the three other countries of the United Kingdom.
The national governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have indicated they will continue to adhere to the previous official advice of “Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives,” despite the modifications announced by Johnson. Although Johnson is the prime minister, public health legislation is devolved to national governments within the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom currently has one of the world’s highest national death tolls from COVID-19, second only to that of the United States. More than 227,000 people in the European island nation have been diagnosed with the disease and at least 32,769 have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
8:23 a.m.: UNICEF warns 6,000 additional children could die a day
An additional 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries with already weak health systems, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned Wednesday.
The estimate is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the findings of which were published Tuesday in The Lancet Global Health journal. Based on the worst of three modeled scenarios in 118 low- and middle-income nations, the analysis estimates that an additional 1.2 million children under the age of 5 could die in just six months due to reductions in routine health service coverage levels and an increase in child wasting.
These potential child deaths will be in addition to the 2.5 million children who already die before their 5th birthday every six months in the 118 countries included in the study, threatening to reverse nearly a decade of progress on ending preventable under-five mortality.
“Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement on Wednesday. “We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus. And we must not let decades of progress on reducing preventable child and maternal deaths be lost.”
7:25 a.m.: ‘We’ll never be completely open until we have a cure,’ Los Angeles mayor says
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the city will “never be completely open until we have a cure,” as county health officials recommend stay-at-home orders remain in place for months longer to help suppress the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I think we have to all recognize that we’re not moving beyond COVID-19, we’re learning to live with it,” Garcetti told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on “Good Morning america.”
Garcetti urged residents “not to overreact” to the comments made Tuesday by Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the public health director of Los Angeles County, who recommended that the county extend stay-at-home orders for at least three more months. The county’s original stay-at-home order is set to expire Friday.
“But it’s important to take this serious because [the virus] is as dangerous today as it was the first day that it arrived in our cities and our country,” Garcetti added. “So quite frankly, there’s no so-called open state or open country that doesn’t continue to have health orders telling us to cover our faces, physically distance and to tell people that you’re safest working from and staying at home. That’s all that the county health director was saying, and we can’t expect that to disappear in a matter of weeks or even a few months.”
The mayor said he hopes the city’s K-12 school will be able to reopen in “some sense,” though he cautioned “it won’t be in the way that we’ve known school in the past” and vulnerable children won’t be able to go back “for some time.”
“It might be fewer days a week, it might be staggered because we have to maintain that physical distance,” Garcetti said. “Look, we have to tell the hard truths and protect our people. At the same time, we take steps forward.”
“We’ve never been fully closed. We’ll never be completely open until we have a cure,” he continued. “I do believe that we can take steps but monitor those numbers, listen to the scientists and the medical professionals and make the tough calls even when there’s criticism.”
More than 32,000 people in Los Angeles County have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 1,570 have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Garcetti said he was proud of how his city and the county has stood up its own testing centers, which he said is essential for reopening.
“We have a capacity of 20,000 tests a day just in Los Angeles County, whereas the country is doing 300,000 tests a day and we’re just 3% of the population,” he said. “We’ve got to keep that going and we have to make it regular. For kids to go back to school, we need testing. For workers to get back to work, we need testing.”
“We were the first city in america to offer widespread testing to people with and without symptoms,” he added, “because we’ve got to find the silent spreaders that are amongst us as well.”
What to know about coronavirus:
7:06 a.m.: Hong Kong reports locally transmitted cases for 1st time in 23 days
Hong Kong reported two new locally transmitted infections of COVID-19 on Wednesday, after 23 straight days with only imported cases.
Health officials are working to trace any close contacts of the two new patients.
“We are all very concerned,” Dr. Chui Tak-yi, undersecretary of Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau, told a press conference Wednesday. “We must heighten our alertness. Citizens cannot let their guards down and must continue to carry out anti-epidemic measures.”
The semi-autonomous Chinese city now has 1,051 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including four deaths, according to the latest data from Hong Kong’s Department of Health.
6:13 a.m.: California authorities says Tesla can reopen factory with new safety measures
Tesla can reopen its sole U.S. vehicle factory in California as soon as next week, so long as the electric carmaker adopts extra safety recommendations amid the coronavirus pandemic, local officials said.
The Alameda County Health Department released a statement late Tuesday announcing that the plant in Fremont, some 40 miles southeast of San Francisco, will be allowed to go beyond basic operations this week and start manufacturing vehicles on Monday if Tesla holds up its part of the agreement.
“We reviewed the plan and held productive discussions today with Tesla’s representatives about their safety and prevention plans, including some additional safety recommendations,” the health department said in the statement. “If Tesla’s Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve, we have agreed that Tesla can begin to augment their Minimum Business Operations this week in preparation for possible reopening as soon as next week.”
The Alameda County Health Department noted that it will be working with the Fremont Police Department to verify whether Tesla “is adhering to physical distancing and that agreed upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers as they prepare for full production.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter earlier this week that he was restarting production at the Fremont factory in defiance of the county’s ordinance. Operations at the plant apparently continued into Tuesday, although the company met a Monday deadline to submit a site-specific plan for worker safety.
“I will be on the line with everyone else,” Musk tweeted. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
It’s unclear whether Tesla would face any punishment for the reopening.
5:10 a.m.: Russia reports over 10,000 new cases for 11th straight day
Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday for the 11th day in a row, as the country emerges as a new hot spot in the coronavirus pandemic.
There were 10,028 new infections confirmed in Russia over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 242,271, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Russia has the second-largest national tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the United States. The country reported a record 11,656 new infections on Monday.
Russia also has one of the world’s fastest rates of new infections in the coronavirus pandemic, second only to the U.S.
However, the country’s death toll from the disease remains relatively low with just 96 new fatalities reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 2,212, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.
4:41 a.m.: Pakistan reports record daily spike in COVID-19 cases
Pakistan saw more than 2,000 new infections of the novel coronavirus in a single day for the first time since the outbreak began.
The country’s health ministry said Wednesday there were a record 2,255 new cases of COVID-19 registered over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 34,312.
The spike comes just days after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan began a phased reopening of the nation after a weekslong lockdown.
Khan has argued that the country’s poorest were worst-affected by the coronavirus restrictions, as a vast majority of the population earn barely $75 a month, mostly doing daily wage work.
3:28 a.m.: Fresno City Council president cited for 3 counts of assault after confrontation with protesters
Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias was cited for three counts of assault after a group of anti-lockdown protesters approached his home Tuesday afternoon, police said.
The unarmed protesters showed up at Arias’s residence to demand the reopening of businesses and the lifting of social-distancing restrictions in the California city. A spokesman for the Fresno Police Department told ABC News there was sufficient evidence that Arias committed assault against the protesters.
Video allegedly was taken by one of the protesters purportedly shows the city council president shoving a man down a staircase away from the front door of his apartment.
Arias claims the protesters tried to break into his home and refused to leave.
“Not only did they go into private property that’s gated that requires security to get through, but they showed up to my front door and banged on my front door,” Arias told Fresno ABC station KFSN. “Folks didn’t want to give way to my private property, so I moved them out of the way.”
Investigators are still trying to determine whether there was an attempted break-in. Police said they are beefing up security at the homes of other city leaders at this time as a precaution.
ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs, Matt Gutman, Marilyn Heck, Aaron Katersky, Alina Lobzina, Abigail Shalawylo and Ben Siu contributed to this report.