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Daily Coronavirus Briefing: Global death toll surges past 10,000 after most devastating day yet

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Weather and its potential impact on how COVID-19 behaves has remained a consistent focus since the outbreak erupted. 

People wait their turn for a blood sample in a hallway of a hospital in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Spain will mobilize 200 billion euros or the equivalent to one fifth of the country’s annual output in loans, credit guarantees and subsidies for workers and vulnerable citizens, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced Tuesday. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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AccuWeather Global Weather Center – 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. Within four days, confirmed cases soared past 235,000, the death toll climbed above 9,500 and cases were reported in at least 160 countries and regions.  

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As testing has increased, the crisis escalated with health officials around the world reporting more than 21,000 new cases on March 19 alone. With cases spreading, and the epicenter of the outbreak shifting to Europe, life in the Western world has been upended the way it had been in Asia earlier in the developing crisis.

On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. This is the first pandemic in 11 years, according to the CDC.

The number of cases of COVID-19 outside of China exploded 13-fold over a two-week period covering late February into early March, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

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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. In what was the worst financial week since 2008 in the U.S., jitters sent the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all plunging on February 23.

After weeks of spreading through the United States, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 13,000 and at least 175 deaths were blamed on the virus.

Weather and its potential impact on how COVID-19 behaves have 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.”

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 20, 6:44 a.m.

The latest updated numbers from researchers at Johns Hopkins University show the global death toll surging past 10,000 after the most destructive day yet.

  • Total confirmed cases: 245,484
  • Total deaths: 10,031
  • 86,035

March 19, 10:02 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order for all California residents to stay at home amid growing COVID-19 concerns. According to the order, California residents should not leave their house if it is not to get food, provide care to a relative or friend, receive necessary health care themselves or have an essential job. The state currently has 952 confirmed cases and 18 deaths related to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In a letter written to President Trump, Gov. Newsom requested immediate assistance. According to Newsom, the state is projecting to see 56% of its residents, a total of 25.5 million people, infected within the next eight weeks.

March 19, 9:24 p.m.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced the first two COVID-19-related deaths in the state on Thursday, CNN reported. According to Scott and the state health commissioner, both people — one man and one woman — were elderly. The state of Vermont had a total of 22 confirmed cases as of Thursday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University.

March 19, 9:06 p.m.

During a CNN Town Hall regarding COVID-19, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said there is “a good chance” that someone cannot be infected by the virus more than once. “Projecting what we know about viruses, I would say that there is a very good chance that you’re protected,” Fauci said.

March 19, 8:51 p.m.

Two COVID-19-related deaths were reported in Wisconsin on Thursday, making them the first in the state. Gov. Tony Evers announced the deaths were a Fond du Lac County man in his 50’s and an Ozaukee County man in his 90’s. According to CBS, no further details have been reported.

March 19, 8:37 p.m.

Two Los Angeles Lakers have tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced over Twitter. Both players are reportedly quarantined under the care of the team physician and not experiencing any symptoms. Boston Celtics player Marcus Smart has also tested positiveHe posted videos over Twitter telling people he also has no symptoms and is in self-quarantine.

March 19, 8:15 p.m.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order on Thursday morning limiting gatherings on beaches in the state to less than 10 people. Speaking to Fox News, DeSantis said the “hot spots” for visitors, like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, are closed entirely. On Thursday night, the Florida Government website was down due to such high traffic.

“…Spring break’s done. Any place to go for bars and all this done. They don’t have a place to go,” DeSantis said, according to CNN.

March 19, 6:57 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Thursday that he enacted a moratorium against the removal or homeowners or renters due to foreclosures or evictions as a response to COVID-19. The state currently has 743 confirmed cases and nine deaths related to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. “Keeping people in their homes protects all of us against increased risk of contracting and spreading #COVID19,” Murphy posted on Twitter.

March 19, 6:09 p.m.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all “non-life-sustaining” businesses by 8 p.m. on ThursdayWolf said that any businesses that do not comply with the order will risk citations, fines, and license suspensions starting Saturday. Non-life sustaining business includes mining, construction, various types of retail stores, personal care services, schools and more. Restaurants may continue to operate as takeout only and religious groups are allowed to continue operation. Business, labor, political and professional organizations are considered non-life sustaining.

March 19, 5:37 p.m.

COVID-19 could continue to have an impact on people’s lives for several months, according to researchers at the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia. The data collected by the institute indicates that stricter measures and restrictions may have to be taken to stop any further transmission of the virus. Madhav Marathe, a director and distinguished professor of the institute told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell “I think if anybody thinks we’ll be doing this for two weeks and then we’re done… I don’t think that’s going to work out. We’ll go back to where we started.” Marathe also mentioned the government’s involvement, stating that state governments in the country “should actively start building temporary medical facilities.”

March 19, 4:43 p.m.

A poll conducted by Gallup shows the American public is becoming increasingly concerned by COVID-19. Six in 10 Americans report being “very” or “somewhat worried.” The same poll was conducted in February, which reported to be 36% lower than the recent March poll. According to Gallup, the level or worry reported is much higher than that of other outbreaks, including SARS, West Nile virus and anthrax.

Additionally, 86% of Americans polled expressed the virus will have a “very” or “somewhat negative” affect on the global economy. Half of workers in the U.S. also indicated that they believe the virus will have a negative affect on their workplace, another poll by Gallup showed.

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