jarun011/iStock(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 19,000 people around the world.
There are more than 435,000 diagnosed cases of the new respiratory illness, known officially as COVID-19, spanning every continent except Antarctica, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
With more than 55,000 diagnosed cases, the United States has the third-highest national total behind Italy and China. The virus has rapidly spread across every U.S. state as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, killing at least 802 people.
Here’s how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:
8:48 a.m.: Spain’s death toll now higher than China
The COVID-19 death toll in Spain has now reached 3,434, which is higher than the number of fatalities in China.
China — where the coronavirus first emerged in December — has reported 3,163 deaths, according to the data from Johns Hopkins.
The Spain death toll is now only second to hard-hit Italy, where the death toll has skyrocketed to 6,820.
7:34 a.m.: Attorneys general call on Trump to use Defense Production Act
A coalition of 16 attorneys general are calling on President Donald Trump to fully use the Defense Production Act to prioritize the production of masks, respirators and other critical items needed by health care workers, first responders and law enforcement officers across the country amid the coronavirus crisis.
The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin sent a joint letter to Trump on Wednesday.
“We are on the brink of catastrophic consequences resulting from the continued shortage of critical supplies,” the letter states. “The federal government must act decisively now and use its sweeping authority to get as many needed supplies produced as soon as possible for distribution as quickly as possible.”
Trump signed an executive order last week invoking the Defense Production Act, a 1950 wartime law that requires private companies to prioritize any product orders from the federal government over others. But the government has apparently yet to make any orders for medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment.
6:47 a.m.: Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19
Charles, Prince of Wales, who is first in line to the British throne, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a spokesman for his official royal residence, Clarence House.
“He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual,” a Clarence House spokesman said in a statement Wednesday morning.
His wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has tested negative for the virus, according to the spokesman.
“In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland,” the spokesman added. “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”
Charles is the first child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is the heir apparent to the British throne.
6:21 a.m.: Federal official who crossed paths with Pence at FEMA headquarters tests positive
A federal official who was working at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters on the same day that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited has since tested positive for the novel coronavirus but did not at any point come within 6 feet of Pence nor members of the task force, a White House official confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday.
The news was first reported by The New York Times.
Pence’s press secretary said Saturday night that the vice president and his wife had both tested negative for COVID-19.
5:39 a.m.: Netherlands reports spike in deaths
The Netherlands has reported a 30% jump in fatalities from the novel coronavirus.
The densely populated European country saw the number of deaths rise by 63 to 276, according to Tuesday’s update from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The deceased victims range in age between 55 and 97 years old.
Meanwhile, the national tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 17% to 5,560.
3:04 a.m.: U.S. death toll tops 800
More than 800 people in the United States have now died from the novel coronavirus.
The U.S. death toll topped 800 early Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science.
At least 192 of those fatalities have occurred in New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic.
2:58 a.m.: Senators and White House clinch deal on stimulus package
After a marathon of closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill, Senate leaders and White House officials clinched a bipartisan deal early Wednesday on a massive stimulus package to save the national economy from the detrimental impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the legislation as “a wartime level of investment in our nation.”
“At last, we have a deal,” McConnell told reporters. “We’re going to pass this legislation later today.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the deal “an outstanding agreement.”
“Help is on the way,” Schumer told reporters. “Big help and quick help.”
When asked if U.S. President Donald Trump will sign the legislation, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters resoundingly, “absolutely.”
“Spoken to the president many times today,” Mnuchin added, “he’s very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have.”
Negotiators from the Senate and the White House have been meeting for the past five days, working to reach a bipartisan agreement on the sweeping measure that will deliver government aid to American families, hospitals and businesses reeling from the virus outbreak and the resulting economic fallout. At roughly $2 trillion, it’s the largest economic stimulus package in modern American history.
At least 23 states have enacted policies to close nonessential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus on U.S. soil.
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