WASHINGTON — Key coronavirus updates for Sunday, March 22:
- New York City's mayor says hospitals are running short on equipment.
- The Canadian Olympic Committee says it won't send a team to the Olympics unless the games are postponed by a year. Australia is telling its athletes to expect the Games to happen in 2021.
- The IOC will consider postponing the Tokyo Olympics during four weeks of talks.
- Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is first U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19.
- The DOD announced that a Washington, D.C.-area contractor has died after testing positive for COVID-19.
- Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the latest U.S. cities to issue a stay-at-home order.
- Sunday is Mother’s Day in Britain, and the government has a stark message for millions of citizens: A visit to your mother could be life-threatening.
- Russia is preparing to send medical personnel and supplies to Italy.
- Japan has issued a travel warning for its nationals, urging not to make unessential trips to the United States.
- Iran's supreme leader is refusing U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus.
- Colombia reported its first death from the new coronavirus.
- Hawaii's governor has instituted a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine starting Thursday of all people traveling to the state.
- North Korea says President Trump has sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seeking to maintain good relations.
The new coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 307,100 people and killed more than 13,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 92,300 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
Australia tells athletes to prepare for 2021 Olympics
The Australian Olympic Committee is telling its athletes to prepare for the Tokyo Games to be postponed until the summer of 2021. While it did not threaten an outright boycott, the AOC said it could not field a team given the current global circumstances.
The news came hours after Canada became the first country to formally declare it would not send a team to the Games unless they are postponed. The Olympics begin July 24.
The International Olympic Committee said Sunday it would look at the possibility of postponing the Games to later this year or next year, with a decision expected within the next four weeks. But it said canceling the Olympics is not an option.
Mayor says New York hospitals need equipment
New York City hospitals are just 10 days from running out of “really basic supplies,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Sunday.
“If we don't get the equipment, we're literally going to lose lives,” de Blasio told CNN.
De Blasio has called upon the federal government to boost the city's quickly dwindling supply of protective equipment. The city also faces a potentially deadly dearth of ventilators to treat those infected by the coronavirus.
Health care workers also warned of the worsening shortages, saying they were being asked to reuse and ration disposable masks and gloves.
New York City hospitals scrambled Sunday to accommodate a new swell of patients, dedicating new COVID-19 wings in their facilities. “A number of hospitals have reported that they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Jonah Allon, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Canada won't send team to Tokyo Olympics unless games postponed
The Canadian Olympic Committee says it will not send a team to Tokyo Olympics this summer unless the games are postponed by one year.
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees said in a statement Sunday that they're refusing to send athletes to Japan if the games set to start in late July aren't suspended.
That makes them the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The committees' statement saying they're was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives, but that it would not be safe for athletes to compete in Tokyo in July. The move came on the heels of an IOC announcement that it would take up to four weeks to consider its options. That includes postponing the games, but the committee doesn't know what the new date would be.
Japan prime minister: Delay an option if Olympics can't be held fully
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics would be unavoidable if the games cannot be held in a complete way because of the coronavirus pandemic. Abe was commenting on the International Olympic Committee's plan to examine the situation over the next few weeks and make a decision, which could include an postponement option.
Abe, speaking at a parliamentary session, ruled out a possibility of a cancellation.
Senate doesn't advance COVID-19 rescue package
The Senate has refused to advance the coronavirus rescue package in a procedural vote with Democrats, rejecting a draft from Republicans and pushing for more aid for workers. Negotiations are expected to continue into the evening Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged senators to “signal to the public that we're ready to get this job done.” He wants passage by Monday. But Democrats have resisted, arguing the nearly $1.4 trillion measure needs to bolster aid and put limits on how businesses can use the emergency dollars.
More voting is possible.
Trump activates emergency resources for Washington, California, New York
President Donald Trump says he’s ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to the hard-hit states of Washington, California and New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. For New York, that would mean another 1,000 hospital beds.
Trump is also revealing for the first time the number of respirators and other personal protective equipment sent to the hard-hit states by the federal government. It comes as state and local leaders have appealed on the federal government to provide far more, and as Trump has held off on using his full authorities under the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector’s capabilities.
Burkina Faso ambassador most senior US diplomat known to test positive
The U.S. Ambassador to the west African nation of Burkina Faso has become the most senior American diplomat known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Ambassador Andrew Young announced his status on his Twitter account on Sunday, saying he had “received a positive test for COVID-19,” which was later confirmed by the State Department in Washington. Young said the embassy had taken steps to quarantine “affected community members.”
Officials and diplomats in Burkina Faso has been hard hit by the virus with several government ministers testing positive, including the minister of mining, the minister of interior and education. The Italian ambassador has also contracted the virus. Several other U.S. diplomats and State Department employees have also tested positive for the virus. Numerous others in other locations have gone into self-isolation after being exposed to people who have tested positive.
Utah Senators Romney, Lee self-quarantining over colleague Paul's positive test
U.S. Sens. from Utah Mike Lee and Mitt Romney are both now self-quarantining as a result of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis.
Romney tweeted a statement from his office Sunday saying he had sat next to Paul recently, and now the doctor has told him not to vote on the Senate floor. Romney has no symptoms but will bet tested.
Lee tweeted that he also will not travel or vote. He says he doesn't have symptoms, but will not be tested for coronavirus.
Utah reported its first death related to COVID-19 on Sunday -- a man over the age of 60 who had underlying health problems.
Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo tests positive
Plácido Domingo announced Sunday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 79-year-old opera singer's illness comes after his own glittering career had recently been stained by sexual misconduct revelations.
The Spaniard said in a post on his personal Facebook account that “I feel it is my moral duty to announce to you that I have tested positive.”
IOC holding 4 weeks of talks on if to postpone Tokyo Olympics
The International Olympic Committee will look at postponing the Tokyo Olympics during four weeks of talks amid mounting criticism by athletes and sports officials during the coronavirus pandemic. Consultation with Japanese public authorities and global sports officials will deal with “scenario planning” for the July 24-Aug. 9 games, the International Olympic Committee said. The change in strategy followed IOC president Thomas Bach leading a conference call with executive board members.
Senator Rand Paul tests positive for COVID-19
In a tweet, Sen. Paul's office announced that he is "feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events." Sen. Rand Paul's office says he is not aware of being in contact with anyone who tested positive for the virus. He is expected to be back in the Senate after the quarantine period is over.
Sen. Paul's Senate staff began working remotely ten days ago and say "virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul."
As NBC reports, Paul is the first senator known to have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Department of Defense contractor dies after testing positive for COVID-19
The DOD announced Sunday that a contractor based in Crystal City, Virginia and working with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency passed away Saturday March 21. According to the DOD, "the individual had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been under medical treatment at a local hospital."
Nashville issues stay-home order
Nashville Mayor John Cooper has issued a stay-at-home order as cities across the U.S. work to battle the coronavirus pandemic and contain the spread. Sunday Mayor Cooper tweeted, "I've announced a 14-day Safer at Home Order. I'm asking you to please stay in your home, except to go out for essential needs."
As NBC reports, around 80 milliion Americans have been asked to stay out of public spaces and mind social distancing guidelines. This new order by the Mayor of Nashville will add to the growing list of American cities, including Washington, D.C., being asked to abide by stronger social distancing guidelines.
As Tennessee has experienced more confirmed cases of the virus, cities like Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga have limited restaurants to take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service. Most have ordered gyms to close.
UPS reassures public about its operations
In a statement to customers Sunday, the United Parcel Service said, "we’d like to reassure you that UPS operations" and UPS store locations "have been designated by the Governors’ offices in all 50 states as critical infrastructure." With this, UPS says it will continue to deliver and retrieve your packages "even in restricted areas."
Amazon says it will double overtime at its warehouses
According to a statement obtained and reported by CNBC, Amazon said, "All hourly associates working in the U.S. Ops network will receive double their regular hourly rate for every overtime hour worked in a workweek." Demand for package delivery continues to grow as local governments continue with stay-at-home orders. In the statement obtained by CNBC, Amazon said, "this temporary increased overtime pay is effective March 15, 2020, and will continue through May 9, 2020."
AT&T to wave some fees for customers across the United States
AT&T has announced that it will not be charging overage fees on "wireless voice and data" for its customers "nationwide." AT&T said in a statement, "these fees will be retroactively waived, dating back to March 13th and customers do not need to take any action in order to receive this support."
Spain records 3,600 coronavirus cases overnight
Health authorities in Spain say confirmed coronavirus infections have risen by over 3,600 in one day.
The jump in cases from Saturday to Sunday is down from nearly 5,000 the day before.
Spain is Europe’s hardest-hit country behind Italy and has 28,572 infections and 1,720 deaths.
Spain is completing its first week of lockdown measures to keep people at home. Non-essential stores have been closed.
UK: No visits to Mom on Mother's Day
Sunday is Mother’s Day in Britain, and the government has a stark message for millions of citizens: A visit to your mother could be life-threatening.
In a message to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implored Britons to forego family visits and Sunday lunches. He said “we cannot disguise or sugar coat the threat” that “if your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus.”
On Friday, Johnson said that he hoped to see his 77-year-old mother on Mother’s Day. His office later said that he would speak to her on Skype.
The U.K. government is scrambling to toughen its response to the coronavirus outbreak amid criticism it did not act quickly enough to close schools, pubs and restaurants.
Britain has 5,018 confirmed cases of the virus, including 233 deaths. The government says Britain will be facing a crisis on the scale of Italy’s in two weeks if people do not heed instructions to stay home and avoid contact with others.
Russia sending medical aid to Italy
Nine hulking Il-76 cargo planes are being loaded at the Chkalovsky military airport in Moscow as Russia prepares to send medical personnel and supplies to Italy to help the country's efforts against the coronavirus.
The mission is to begin Sunday, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin offered the aid in a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose country has confirmed more than 53,000 coronavirus cases and over 4,800 deaths.
The mission will include eight mobile medical teams along with medical equipment and aerosol disinfection trucks.
Apple and other companies asked to help in virus battle
Apple is one of multiple companies asked to help in the fight to contain the coronavirus in the U.S.
CEO Tim Cook of Apple tweeted Saturday that the company has "been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19."
Japan urges against nonessential travel to US
Japan has issued a travel warning for its nationals, urging not to make unessential trips to the United States because of the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak in that country, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Japan has taken similar steps to most European countries and banned trips to China, South Korea as well as Iceland, San Marino and parts of Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
As of Saturday, the U.S. had 15,219 confirmed cases and 201 deaths, the ministry said, citing the U.S. Center for Disease Control.
The foreign ministry also said the decision came after the U.S. raised travel caution to Japan and four countries to level three, urging Americans not to make nonessential trips to Japan and requiring a 14-day self-imposed quarantine for Japanese nationals entering the U.S.
Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory
Iran's supreme leader is refusing U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comments in a speech in Tehran broadcast live Sunday across Iran marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
He had called off his usual speech at Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad over the virus outbreak. He relied on the conspiracy theory to refuse assistance.
Iran says new coronavirus has killed another 129 people, raising death toll to 1,685 amid 21,638 confirmed cases.
Singapore to close borders after first 2 deaths
Singapore says it will fully shut its borders starting Tuesday after recording its first two deaths.
The city-state has banned visitors from several countries and requires all short-term visitors to observe a 14-day home quarantine. But the government says all short-term visitors beginning Tuesday will be barred from entering or transiting through the country.
It said in a statement Sunday that this will reduce the risk of imported cases and free up resources to focus on its citizens. It said Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners with a long-term work pass can return but must undergo a 14-day self-quarantine.
The city-state of nearly 6 million people has recorded 432 cases so far. On Saturday, it reported that a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and an Indonesian visitor, 64, have succumbed to the virus.
Colombia reports its first coronavirus death
Colombia is reporting its first death from the new coronavirus.
Officials said Saturday that he was a 58-year-old taxi driver who had driven tourists from Italy, which is one the countries worst hit by the virus.
Colombia’s Ministry of Health says the man had previous health issues, including untreated diabetes.
President Iván Duque has prohibited all non-resident foreigners from entering the country and has decreed a mandatory quarantine starting Tuesday.
Colombia has confirmed 210 cases of the coronavirus.
Sri Lanka police detain 291
violators of curfew
Sri Lanka police say they have detained 291 people for breaching a three-day curfew which has been imposed as part of strict measures designed to contain the spreading of the coronavirus in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Police said Sunday the detentions were made by police during patrols to ensure that people stay in their homes. The curfew was imposed on Friday and will end on Tuesday.
Some of them were arrested for boozing at a playground while some were loitering on streets during the curfew.
The government is urging people to stay at homes as the number of positive cases have risen to 77.
Hawaii to quarantine all arrivals to the state for 14 days
Hawaii's governor has instituted a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine starting Thursday of all people traveling to the state as part of efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus.
The order applies to returning residents as well as visitors. It applies to all arrivals at Hawaii airports from the continental U.S. and international destinations and extends to other private and commercial aircraft.
“With the majority of Hawaiʻi’s COVID-19 cases linked to travel, it is critical that we further mitigate the spread of the virus by both residents and visitors who are coming from out-of-state,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement. “This plan was developed in collaboration with our county mayors and Hawaiʻi’s business, community and visitor industry leaders.”
Returning residents must quarantine themselves at home, the governor's office said. Visitors must quarantine themselves in their hotel room or rented lodging.
People under quarantine may only leave their homes for medical emergencies or to seek medical care, the governor's office said. They cannot visit public spaces such as pools, fitness centers or restaurants.
N Korea says Trump's letter offers anti-virus cooperation
North Korea says President Donald Trump has sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the viral pandemic.
Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, praised Trump for sending the letter at a time when “big difficulties and challenges lie ahead" in the way of developing ties. But she said it’s not a good idea to “make hasty conclusion or be optimistic about” the prospect for better ties.
The latest correspondence comes as Kim observed the firing of tactical guided weapons over the weekend, drawing criticism from South Korea, as the nuclear talks remain deadlocked.