Daily Coronavirus Briefing: Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 Surpasses 500,000 Worldwide

COVID-19 cases worldwide
COVID-19 cases worldwide. (AccuWeather)

United States Has Third Greatest Number of Confirmed Cases After Italy and China

By Staff, AccuWeather

AccuWeather-(ENEWSPF)- The new coronavirus, and COVID-19, the disease it causes, surfaced in late 2019, and by mid-March had become a full-blown crisis worldwide. The global death toll climbed above 6,000 by March 15, just a few days after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in the United States. By the final week of March, global confirmed cases surpassed 450,000, the death toll exceeded 20,000 and cases were reported in at least 190 countries and regions.  

As testing increased, the crisis escalated and particularly in the U.S. which the World Health Organization (WHO) warned could become the new epicenter of the pandemic. On March 25 the U.S. reported more than 200 fatalities, the most in one day since the pandemic began as the nation’s death toll went over 1,000.

On March 11, the WHO officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemicThis is the first pandemic in 11 years, according to the CDC.

After weeks of spreading through the U.S., the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 65,000 and more than 1,000 deaths were blamed on the illness.

Weather and its potential impact on how the virus that causes COVID-19 behaves has remained a consistent focus since the outbreak erupted and experts are divided over what impact, if any, warmer weather will have on the spread of the outbreak.

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has said that warm weather will “probably not” slow down the spread, at least not significantly.

And Michael Osterholm, the director of Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) echoed that sentiment and cautioned that the world is only in the beginning stages of the outbreak. “This is a coronavirus winter,” he cautioned, saying he expects the outbreak to go on for six months or more. Both Lipsitch’s and Osterholm’s positions came in March and stand in opposition to some previous analysis.

In early February, Hong Kong University pathology professor John Nicholls said he expected the virus to “burn itself out” by around May because of increased sunlight, higher temperatures, and more humidity, according to a leaked transcript of a private conference call in early February.

In mid-March, Nicholls told AccuWeather that new research of a lab-grown copy of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness, shows “In cold environments, there is longer virus survival than warm ones.” He also warned that “human factors” associated with the virus “are more unpredictable.”

The CDC has cautioned that not enough is known about the virus to say for sure that weather will affect the spread, but a spokesperson said, “I’m happy to hope that it [the threat] goes down as the weather warms up.”

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As experts work toward a better understanding, the world shudders in fear of the unknown, a worry that has rocked global financial markets, leading to daily volatility in the U.S. stock markets.

Here are the latest updates, listed in eastern time, and the most important things you need to know about coronavirus.

March 26, 3:17 p.m

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China announced on Thursday that foreigners will be temporarily banned from entering China starting March 28. This announcement is the latest attempt of controlling the spread of coronavirus in the country where it originated. Back in January, Chinese authorities introduced stricter measures, including suspending all travel in and out of cities in Hubei province. The city of Wuhan, home to more than 11 million people and the original epicenter of the global outbreak, has only reported one new confirmed infection since March 17.

March 26, 2:31 p.m.

Over 500,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across the globe, resulting in nearly 23,000 deaths, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There have also been nearly 121,000 recoveries as of Thursday afternoon. China is still ranked as the country with the most cases of COVID-19, but Italy is on pace to overtake China before the end of the week. On Thursday alone, Italy reported 6,153 new cases and 662 new fatalities. Here are the five countries with the highest number of confirmed cases:   

  • China (81,782)
  • Italy (80,539)
  • U.S. (75,233)
  • Spain (56,197)
  • Germany (43,646)

March 26, 1:41 p.m.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said officials are seeing a reduction in the rate of increase of the spread of the coronavirus. “That’s the first sign of progress,” he said. The state’s death toll has reached 385, and Cuomo referred to the battle against COVID-19 as a marathon, not a sprint. The state, considered to be the current epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., has over 37,000 cases and is conducting up to 18,650 COVID-19 tests per day.

Cuomo also thanked the tireless efforts of some of the hard-working residents on the frontline of the battle. “I know [New Yorkers] are tired. I’m tired too. But when I feel tired, I think of the healthcare professionals working seven-day weeks. I think of the first responders showing up every day. I think of the pharmacists, transit workers & so many others.”

March 26, 12:20 p.m.

Despite many businesses closing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some industries are seeing a spike in sales, including the orange juice industry. Do to the stay at home orders of some states, people are looking for ways to get more Vitamin C into their body to help strengthen their immune system and drinking orange juice is one method to do just that. The mild winter has also helped oranges continue to grow through the winter, meaning a larger quantity of oranges. However, the WHO warns that while orange juice helps build your immune system, it will not directly prevent contracting COVID-19.

March 26, 11:27 a.m.

A supermarket in northeastern Pennsylvania had to dispose of $35,000 worth of food after a woman walked into the store and purposely coughed on produce, meat and bakery items. “While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers. We had no choice but to throw out all product she came in contact with,” Gerrity’s Supermarket posted on Facebook. These areas were thoroughly cleaned before being restocked with fresh product. The Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office assured the supermarket that they will be “aggressively pursuing numerous charges” against the woman.

March 26, 10:48 a.m.

Even the Waffle Houses are closing. The popular eatery, which takes pride on staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year, has long been considered a signal of how severe a natural disaster is by how many of its restaurants are closed in the aftermath of a storm. The restaurant chain announced Wednesday that 418 of its locations are now closed, while more than 1,500 are still open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said customers can call their local Waffle House for carry-out orders.

Waffle House uses a three-color index to highlight the status of its stores: green, yellow and red. Green indicates a location is fully open, yellow is a limited menu and red is closed.

March 26, 9:55 a.m.

On a day when millions of baseball fans planned to watch their favorite team start the new season with a win, quite the opposite is happening as Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums across the county sit empty. March 26 was scheduled to be the league’s opening day before it was announced several weeks ago that the season would be suspended due to the coronavirus. Instead, the league is presenting fans with “Opening Day at Home.”

A full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms, including digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day,” the league said. “There will be one game — a victory, of course – broadcast for each MLB club. Fans will have the chance to enjoy postseason triumphs, spectacular individual feats and more, reliving fond memories while doing their part to keep their communities safe.”

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