“It’s really hard to understand how bad this is”: Harrowing stories from NYC emergency rooms
A “cacophony of coughing” in packed emergency rooms. Beds squeezed in wherever there is space. Overworked, sleep-deprived doctors and nurses rationed to one face mask a day and wracked by worry about a dwindling number of available ventilators.
Such is the reality inside New York City’s hospitals, which have become the war-zone-like epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus crisis.
Faced with an infection rate that is five times that of the rest of the country, health workers are putting themselves at risk to fight a tide of sickness that’s getting worse by the day amid a shortage of needed supplies and promises of help from the federal government that have yet to fully materialize.
Fear of coronavirus stalks camps for Syrians displaced by war
In a camp in northwestern Syria, Abdallah Yassin listens to a doctor explain how to avoid coronavirus infection, desperately hoping it will never reach his tent of 14 people.
“If the epidemic spreads in the camps, it will be a disaster,” the 57-year-old grandfather says.
Three million people live in Syria’s last major rebel bastion of Idlib, many of them families who fled homes elsewhere in Syria and are now reduced to living in camps without basic amenities.
Almost one million more have been thrown onto the roads since December, after the government launched a deadly offensive that has battered the region’s already dilapidated healthcare system.
The government on Sunday announced Syria’s first officially confirmed coronavirus case, sparking fears of the implications for the war-torn country, where many still live outside the control of the government.
Man licked deodorants at Walmart for coronavirus prank video, authorities say
A Missouri man authorities say licked several sticks of deodorant at a Walmart store for a video seemingly mocking the coronavirus pandemic is being charged with making a terroristic threat, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The newspaper says court documents identified him Tuesday as 26-year-old Cody Lee Pfister, of Warrenton.
In the video, a man looks into the camera and asks, “Who’s scared of coronavirus?” before licking a row of deodorant sticks on a shelf.
France drafts trainees to help hospitals as official warns many deaths not being counted
Thousands of extra health workers are needed in the Paris region to care for those suffering with the new COVID-19 disease, the head of the French capital’s hospitals board said Wednesday.
“Our medical teams are holding up,” Martin Hirsch told French radio, adding that he was concerned for their health, too, as doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff continue to work long hours without time off. Many are also living away from their families so they can be nearer to hospitals.
There are now more than 1,000 coronavirus patients on life support in hospitals in the Paris region.
Around the country, medical students are being called in as backup at emergency call centers to answer queries from the public about symptoms. Some hospitals are deploying student nurses to the wards to relieve pressure on professional staff.
France’s official death toll from the new coronavirus stood at 1,100 Wednesday, but the president of France’s hospitals federation, Frederic Valletoux, says the real toll is likely much higher. The official figures only include patients who have died in hospitals, not those who have died at home or in retirement homes.
Britain’s Prince Charles has tested positive for the coronavirus
Britain’s Prince Charles has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is showing mild symptoms.
Charles, the son of Queen Elizabeth II and next in line to inherit the crown, was last in direct contact with his mother on March 12, according to Buckingham Palace, which said the monarch “remains in good health.”
The palace said Elizabeth was “following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.”
Charles’ official residence, Clarence House, said in a statement Wednesday that he “otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.” His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, has tested negative for the virus.
Prince Charles self-isolating after coronavirus diagnosis
“In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland,” Clarence House said, adding: “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.”
Queen Elizabeth herself abandoned Buckingham Palace in central London and moved to Windsor Castle, her residence west of the capital city, about six days ago as the coronavirus spread in the U.K.
Atlanta’s hospitals have already run out of ICU beds, mayor says
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says Intensive Care Unit beds in her city are “at capacity.”
She’s issued a strict stay-at-home order for the city’s residents.
Bottoms told CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV an emergency room doctor reported to her Tuesday that “while there are still beds available in our hospitals, our ICU units across the city are at capacity.”
“When we overrun our hospitals,” she added, “people will still come in with heart attacks, people will still have car accidents. So these things that happen every day on top of COVID-19 will make our health care system collapse in the same way that you’re seeing it happen in New York and you’re seeing it happen across the globe. It’s the reason we’re asking people to just please stay home.”
Los Angeles County deems gun stores “essential,” allowing them to stay open
Gun stores in Los Angeles County have been deemed essential businesses and will therefore be permitted to continue doing business under state orders ordering most stores shut to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The decision by the county counsel came Tuesday night, after L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva initially said gun stores were not essential and thus needed to close. The sheriff later said he would be deploying more deputies to patrol the county because gun stores, strip clubs, and other venues were not complying with social distancing guidelines to fight COVID-19.
Emphasizing that only essential businesses are permitted to remain open under state and local orders restricting public gatherings, Villanueva told reporters at a Tuesday news conference that some businesses not related to providing food, prescriptions, or health care were violating state and local orders.
Tuesday night, the sheriff’s department suspended its effort to close gun stores due to their new status as “essential,” but deputies were still to be on the lookout for other businesses violating the shutdown order, and they would be enforcing social distancing at businesses allowed to remain open.
–CBS/CBS Los Angeles
Men accused of coughing on people, then claiming they have coronavirus
Authorities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania say people in both states have been charged with coughing on others in stores and saying they were infected with the coronavirus.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday that a man is accused of coughing on a Wegmans food store employee on Sunday in Manalapan, New Jersey, and telling the woman he has the coronavirus. Prosecutors say the woman was concerned that Falcone was standing too close to her and an open display of prepared food, so she asked him to step back as she covered the food. Instead, prosecutors allege, he stepped forward, leaned toward her and “purposely coughed,” then laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus.
In Pennsylvania, North Middletown Township police allege that a man deliberately coughed in the face of a recovering pneumonia patient last week and repeatedly claimed he was infected with the coronavirus.
Brazilian leader says virus “will pass shortly,” accuses media of exaggerating risk
President Jair Bolsonaro has stuck with his contention that concern about the new coronavirus is overblown, and accused Brazilian media of trying to stoke nationwide hysteria. Bolsonaro said in a nationally televised address Tuesday that the media had seized on the death toll in Italy, which he said was suffering so severely because of its elderly population and colder climate.
“The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly. Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained,” the president said.
Bolsonaro added that certain Brazilian states should abandon their “scorched earth” policy of prohibiting public transport, closing business and schools, and calling for mass confinement at home for their residents.
He did say people should be “extremely worried” about transmitting the virus to others, particularly to parents and grandparents.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro has drawn criticism, initially for referring to the virus as a “fantasy” and then, as authorities including his own health ministry instructed people to avoid gatherings, for going to a March 15 rally where he shook supporters’ hands. On March 20, he called COVID-19 “a little flu.”
Famed Appalachian Trail has become “the opposite of social distancing”
The organization that manages one of the most famous hiking trails in the United States has issued an unprecedented and desperate plea: “Please stay away from the Appalachian Trail.”
In a statement posted on the website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, President & CEO Sandra Marra said the trail, which runs virtually the entire length of the Eastern seaboard, had quickly become a danger to its users amid the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
“Many have escaped to nature seeking isolation and unpopulated spaces. On the A.T., however, what they’ve found are trailhead parking lots exceeding their maximum capacities, shelters full of overnight hikers, day hikers using picnic tables and privies, and group trips continuing as planned,” Marra said, noting that many poplar spots “have seen day use reach record-breaking levels.”
“Hiking the A.T. has become, in other words, the opposite of social distancing,” she said, adding that while it was logistically impossible to bar access to the 2,100-mile wilderness trail, “we can and do, however, urge everyone to please stay away from the Appalachian Trail until further notice.”
1st case of coronavirus confirmed in divided, at-risk Libya
Libya has become the latest at-risk Mideast nation to report its first coronavirus infection. Officials say a 73-year-old man who crossed into Libya from neighboring Tunisia on March 5 became the large North African country’s first recorded case.
The Libyan patient had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, according to the National Center for Disease Control, and was receiving medical treatment for his fever and cough in isolation at a Tripoli hospital.
The confirmation of Libya’s first case, three weeks after the patient’s arrival in the country, poses a test for its fragile medical system.
Attempts at a nationwide disease protection program have been undermined by the country’s division between two rival governments, in the east and west of the country, and a patchwork of armed groups supporting either administration.
The announcement by Libya’s U.N.-backed government leaves war-torn Yemen as the only country in the Mideast without a reported case of the COVID-19 illness.
More than 400,000 COVID-19 infections confirmed globally, with almost 19,000 deaths
Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the global coronavirus pandemic has surpassed another daunting milestone: more than 400,000 people have tested positive for the disease.
The figures, which are updated constantly, showed more than 423,000 confirmed cases by Wednesday morning.
The nations with the most COVID-19 disease diagnoses are: China with more than 81,590 cases, Italy with almost 70,000 and the United states, where at least 55,225 had tested positive as of Wednesday morning.
Spain, Germany and France are also battling huge outbreaks, along with Iran.
The data show that more than 108,000 of the people who tested positive have already recovered from the disease, but it has killed almost 19,000.
Johns Hopkins health security director on coronavirus in the U.S. and social distancing
Pakistan to halt all domestic flights as virus starts to spread within the country
Pakistan on Wednesday halted all domestic passenger flights to stop the spread of the new coronavirus after reporting nearly 1,000 cases in the country.
The domestic flight ban will begin on Thursday, civil aviation spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar said. Islamabad previously cut train service and international flights.
Initially, most of those infected were Pakistani pilgrims returning from neighboring hard-hit Iran, which has seen the Mideast’s worst outbreak of the virus. Now, however, the virus is being reported in people who had no travel history, officials say.
– Associated Press
Los Angeles health officials say patient under 18 may not have died of coronavirus
Hours after announcing that a person under the age of 18 had died of coronavirus in California, Los Angeles health officials said “further evaluation” would be required before the fatality is linked to coronavirus.
“The juvenile fatality that the Los Angeles County Department Public Health reported earlier today will require further evaluation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement. “Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality. Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time.”
Ice rink used as makeshift morgue as coronavirus death toll surges in Spain
Spain is on the brink of reporting nearly 40,000 cases of coronavirus, and the country’s death toll tops 2,800, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins. Now, the country is using an Olympic-sized ice rink as a temporary morgue, according to the Reuters news agency, as the capital’s funeral home is facing shortages of medical gear and is having trouble keeping up with the pandemic.
Spain ranks behind only China, Italy and the U.S. in people infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Nearly 14% of the people infected there are health care workers, according to Reuters. The rising death toll prompted a nursing union there to say hospitals in Madrid are on “the verge of collapse.”
To help fight the virus, an ice rink within Madrid’s Palacio de Hielo mall has been turned into a temporary morgue, officials told BBC News. Hearses have been delivering bodies to the site, BBC News added.
Pregnant women face new concerns amid coronavirus pandemic
Two major hospital chains in New York City are blocking spouses and partners from maternity rooms to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Millions of expectant mothers have concerns about the virus, including CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste, who is nearly nine months pregnant.
At 27 weeks pregnant, Raquel Iacurto tested positive for COVID-19. “I was in shock,” she said. “I broke down and my husband was my rock and calmed me down.”
Data on the impact of coronavirus in pregnant women, fetuses and newborns is limited but hopeful. “What we know, at this point, is that pregnant women do not seem to get any sicker once they get COVID-19 than the general population,” Dr. Laura Riley said.
Riley said the flu is still more dangerous for pregnant women. Doctors say coronavirus does not appear to pass from mother to baby through the placenta or breast milk, but that it’s too early to tell if there are concerns for women in early pregnancy, like miscarriage or birth defects.