Coronavirus US live: US sees largest single-day Covid-19 death toll reported by any country

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Trump again criticizes WHO as 400,000 cases confirmed in America – as it happened” was written by Maanvi Singh in San Francisco (now) and Joan E Greve in Washington (earlier), for theguardian.com on Thursday 9th April 2020 01.13 UTC

2.40pm BST

Live reporting on coronavirus in the US continues in Thursday’s blog:

1.59am BST

Summary

  • During the daily coronavirus task force briefing, Donald Trump once again scapegoated the World Health Organization. The WHO’s director-general earlier made a plea to avoid politicization as the world responds to crisis.
  • Trump also tore down the idea of voting by mail, alleging widespread fraud — without any evidence to back his claims. Last week, he said if Democrats succeed in their efforts to make it easier to vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again”.
  • Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders pledged to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s campaign platform.
  • More than 400,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the US. The national death toll has surpassed 14,000 and at least 1,939 people died of the virus yesterday, marking the deadliest day in the US since the crisis started.
  • New York is starting to flatten its curve of coronavirus cases even as the state death toll continues to climb. New York’s “stay at home” order is having an impact on the number of coronavirus cases, governor Andrew Cuomo said, but yesterday’s death toll of 779 was the state’s worst single-day figure yet.
  • Linda Tripp, who made the tapes of Monica Lewinsky discussing her relationship with Bill Clinton, has died. Tripp’s recordings of Lewinsky describing the extramarital affair ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment.

Updated at 2.13am BST

1.33am BST

Bernie Sanders, who has dropped out of the presidential race today, wrote an op-ed about the US coronavirus response for The Guardian.

In this unprecedented moment in American history, we need an unprecedented legislative response. President Trump is incapable of providing leadership, and instead continues to mislead the public and act out of political self-interest. So it is Congress that must lead, and it must do so now.

With anxiety growing, everyone in our country needs to know that, in the midst of this horrific pandemic and economic meltdown, their government is doing everything possible to keep them healthy and financially secure.

In other words, we need to build upon and expand the recent stimulus package with new and bolder emergency legislation which must be passed as soon as possible.

Read the full piece:

1.20am BST

Report: US intelligence warned of the coronavirus threat as early as November

US officials warned in November that the coronavirus was spreading through China’s Wuhan region, according to ABC News.

US military analysts from the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) “ concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” one of the sources of the report told ABC News. The Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon and the White House were all briefed, according to the source.

The Guardian hasn’t independently verified the report.

Donald Trump has repeatedly said he acted early, and sought to blame the World Health Organization for not warning the US sooner of the coronavirus threat.

Updated at 1.21am BST

12.52am BST

Fact check: Voting fraud

Donald Trump is again spreading misinformation about voting by mail. After alleging during the coronavirus task force briefing, without any evidence, that there is rampant voter fraud, he’s now repeating the claim in a tweet.

Absentee ballots and vote-by-mail ballots are essentially the same, despite Trump’s claim that they are “very different”.

And experts say that voter fraud is incredibly rare. In North Carolina, an election was overturned in 2018 after a Republican political operative was alleged to have directed workers to collect and mail in other people’s absentee ballots during the 2018 Republican congressional primary and during the 2016 general election.

But states can avoid that sort of fraud by implementing ballot tracking, providing prepaid postage and setting ballot boxes and drop-off sites. Five states already conduct their elections entirely by mail, and have found ways to ensure the integrity of ballots.

There is no evidence of widespread voting fraud. The Brennan Center for Justice found in 2017 that the risk of voting fraud is 0.00004% to 0.0009%. Moreover, Trump’s own voting integrity commission found no evidence to support claims of widespread fraud found.

Updated at 1.21am BST

12.32am BST

The task force has wrapped up its briefing for today.

12.31am BST

Dr Birx mentioned that though there are now 18,000 Abbott machines to run coronavirus tests at labs around the country, many are not being used. She said she will be having a conference call with labs tonight to find out the status of the machines and how they’re being used.

Updated at 12.43am BST

12.29am BST

Responding to a question about whether the death toll for coronavirus is being inflated, Dr Fauci noted, “You will always have conspiracy theories…They are nothing but distractions.”

Dr Birx said that in some cases, there may be several reasons for death. “The number of Italians who succumbed had three or more comorbidities,” she said. The virus is considered the acute reason for death.

Updated at 12.42am BST

12.24am BST

“We will be attending church in the living room of the vice-president’s residence,” said Mike Pence. He’ll watch an Easter service from his home church in Indiana.

He encouraged all Americans to stay home. “Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, avoid unnecessary travel,” he said.

Several churches around the country have flouted regulations and held services.

Updated at 12.41am BST

12.15am BST

Marianne Williamson endorsed Biden and condemned DNC chair Tom Perez in one very efficient tweet.

After dropping out of the 2020 race, Williamson had endorsed Bernie Sanders.

Updated at 12.15am BST

12.10am BST

Distancing is “the best tool”, Dr Anthony Fauci said. “We know that this is something that is a strain on the American public,” he added, but it works to stop the spread of disease.

He also addressed the health disparities for African Americans. “We are not going to solve the issues of health disparities this month, or next month,” he said – so it’s doubly important for “people in that community to please try as best as you can to protect yourself… and people who are susceptible”, including the elderly.

“What we can do now, today, is to prevent people who are put at higher risk because of their demographic group from getting into a situation that is much, much more deleterious,” Fauci said. Going forward, the US will have to make a concerted effort to eliminate racial health disparities.

Updated at 12.19am BST

11.59pm BST

Fact check: voter fraud

Donald Trump has left the briefing room, but we want to circle back to his earlier comments alleging rampant voter fraud. The president referenced a settlement in California, “where they admitted a million people should not have voted”. In doing so, he grossly misstated what that settlement entailed.

In January, the conservative group Judicial Watch announced that it had settled a 2017 lawsuit against the state of California. The settlement required LA county to remove inactive voters from its voter lists, and required California to direct other counties to do the same. All parties to the settlement agreed there was no admission of liability or wrongdoing by LA or California.

Judicial Watch estimated that as many as 1.5 million people would have been removed from voter lists in LA county. But, there’s no evidence than any of those people voted illegally. Judicial Watch said most of that 1.5 million would have ben “voters who have moved to another county or state or have passed away”.

At the time of the settlement, Paul Mitchell of the nonpartisan research firm Political Data Inc told the AP that the case was insignificant because it pertains to inactive voters who “are not getting voting materials, they are not casting ballots, they are not showing up in precincts”.

In other words, the settlement got LA county to update old records.

Updated at 12.12am BST

11.46pm BST

Fact check: ventilators

“It looks like we’re in great shape from the bed standpoint. It looks like we’re in great shape from the ventilators standpoint,” Trump said.

However, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine published on Wednesday 25 March categorically concluded that the US does not have enough ventilators to treat patients with Covid-19 in the coming months.

The authors, American public health experts, wrote: ‘There is a broad range of estimates of the number of ventilators we will need to care for US patients with Covid-19, from several hundred thousand to as many as a million. The estimates vary depending on the number, speed, and severity of infections, of course, but even the availability of testing affects the number of ventilators needed…. current estimates of the number of ventilators in the United States range from 60,000 to 160,000, depending on whether those that have only partial functionality are included. The national strategic reserve of ventilators is small and far from sufficient for the projected gap. No matter which estimate we use, there are not enough ventilators for patients with Covid-19 in the upcoming months.”

Updated at 11.56pm BST

11.45pm BST

Donald Trump appealed to Sanders voters. “Bernie and I agree on trade,” he said – though he’s better, Trump said.

The Vermont senator’s trade platform does prioritize protecting American jobs, a goal that Trump has also said he has.

“I got a lot of them in the last election,” Trump said of Sanders supporters. “They’re great people.”

Updated at 11.48pm BST

11.36pm BST

Asked what evidence there is of widespread voting fraud, Trump said, “I’ll provide you with some.”

“We’re going to find out about the proof,” he said. “You’re going to see what’s going on.

11.33pm BST

Fact check: Trump acted quickly

“People were shocked I acted so quickly” on coronavirus, Trump said. “And everybody thought I was wrong because I did act so quickly as you know with respect to closing the borders.”

In fact, it was almost six weeks after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country that the Trump administration moved to ramp up coronavirus testing, allowing laboratories and hospitals to finally conduct their own Covid-19 tests to speed up the process.”

Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were – they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” an unnamed government official told the Washington Post. “The system was blinking red.”

Updated at 11.50pm BST

11.31pm BST

Trump once again said he hadn’t seen a memo from economic adviser Peter Navarro, which warned in January of coronavirus’s disastrous impact. “Peter sends a lot of memos,” Trump said.

Here’s more about the memo:

11.26pm BST

This is the US coronavirus taskforce briefing, but Trump was just asked whether he’d pardon Joe Exotic, the protagonist from the hit Netflix TV documentary Tiger King.

“ What did he do?” Trump asked. “Are you recommending a pardon?”

The president said he’d look into it.

Here’s more on the TV show:

Updated at 11.32pm BST

11.24pm BST

Fact check: testing

Trump once again boasted about testing in the US, claiming that “we’re testing more than anybody”. Other countries that known being good on testing are now “calling us”, he added.

While the US has ramped up testing, it still lags behind other countries, including South Korea and Germany. South Korea has administered 486,003 tests, according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With a population of 51.5 million, the country has tested about 1 in every 113 people. Germany has done even better, testing every 1 in 90 people.

Meanwhile, the United States, with a population of 329 million, had administered at least 1,951,044 tests, according to the Atlantic’s Covid Tracking Project – so the US has tested about 1 in every 168 people.

Updated at 11.55pm BST

11.20pm BST

Fact check: WHO

Trump again went after the World Health Organization, saying the organization was initially “minimizing the threat” of coronavirus and got everything “wrong”.

The WHO has been criticized for a 14 January tweet, which Trump just referenced, that noted that a preliminary investigation by Chinese officials found no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

But the organization declared coronavirus a “public health emergency” by 30 January. The Trump administration and the president himself repeatedly played down the crisis through February and March.

On 11 March, the WHO declared coronavirus a pandemic.

Updated at 11.52pm BST

11.12pm BST

The president repeated a story about a Democratic state lawmaker who credits hydroxychloroquine and Trump for her recovery from Covid-19. “She’s in terrific shape, she looks fantastic, and she was very generous with her statements,” Trump said.

Here’s more on that state representative, from the Detroit Free Press:

State Rep. Karen Whitsett, who learned Monday she has tested positive for COVID-19, said she started taking hydroxychloroquine on March 31, prescribed by her doctor, after both she and her husband sought treatment for a range of symptoms on March 18.

“It was less than two hours” before she started to feel relief, said Whitsett, who had experienced shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes, and what felt like a sinus infection. She is still experiencing headaches, she said.

Whitsett said she was familiar with “the wonders” of hydroxychloroquine from an earlier bout with Lyme disease, but does not believe she would have thought to ask for it, or her doctor would have prescribed it, had Trump not been touting it as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

11.09pm BST

Fact check: hydroxychlor0quine

Trump said the national stockpile is now equipped with 30m hydroxychloroquine pills.

But public health experts including Trump’s top infectious diseases adviser, Dr Fauci, have previously warned that there was only “anecdotal evidence” that the drugs could be helpful.

Fauci has repeatedly warned that there is no conclusive evidence to support using the drug. Asked whether it should be considered a treatment for Covid-19, he said on 24 March: “The answer is no.”

Trump made his first endorsement of hydroxychloroquine on 19 March.

As the Guardian’s Julia Carrie Wong has reported, belief in the drug’s potential to cure patients infected with the virus followed an extraordinary trajectory from a small study conducted in France (Trump’s “very good test”) to Silicon Valley social media influencers, Fox News, and then the White House.

Twitter has deleted tweets by the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and the Fox News personality Laura Ingraham that touted the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine.

Updated at 11.24pm BST

11.02pm BST

The World Health Organization “hasn’t accomplished what it was intended to deliver” Pompeo said, doubling down the president’s criticisms.

The president has repeatedly sought to shift blame for the crisis on the WHO, alleging that it responded too late.

11.00pm BST

Asked whether he thinks China has withheld information and whether the US will act on the president’s suspicion China has not been accurately reporting coronavirus data, Pompeo said, “This is not the time for retribution, but it is still the time for clarity and transparency.”

Pompeo avoided calling the coronavirus the “China virus” or “Wuhan virus” as he as in the past.

Updated at 11.24pm BST

10.57pm BST

The state department is working to repatriate Americans abroad, according to the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

“We still have several thousand” US citizens abroad, in some cases in remote areas. Efforts to bring them home are ongoing, and “we will keep it up” Pompeo said.

Updated at 10.59pm BST

10.53pm BST

“We send our regards to Boris, his friends, his family,” Trump said. “Hopefully he’s going to be OK.”

Yesterday, Trump detailed how he plans to help Boris Johnson, by alerting his doctors in London to “some very good potential cures” that US companies are exploring.

Updated at 10.59pm BST

10.49pm BST

Coronavirus briefing begins

Donald Trump has begun by saying that this is a “holy week” for Jewish and Christian people.

10.47pm BST

Of the coronavirus victims whose demographic information has been shared by officials, about 42% are black, according to an analysis by the AP.

The AP looked int 4,450 deaths and 52,000 Covid-19 cases from across the country.

My colleague Kenya Evelyn reported earlier:

African Americans face a higher risk of exposure to the virus, mostly on account of concentrating in urban areas and working in essential industries. Only 20% of black workers reported being eligible to work fromhome, compared with about 30% of their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Experts also point to initial research showing a high prevalence of Covid-19 among those suffering from obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – risk factors more common among black Americans. The virus is known to take a harsher toll on those with underlying health issues, and many hospitals are only testing those admitted for critical care.

Updated at 10.47pm BST

10.14pm BST

Hi there, it’s Maanvi – blogging from the west coast.

We’re awaiting the White House coronavirus task force briefing. During the briefing yesterday, and subsequently on Fox News, Donald Trump repeatedly attacked the World Health Organization, alleging that it was late to act on coronavirus and that it was biased toward China. Trump threatened to stop funding the WHO, as his supporters called for the organization’s head to step down.

Without naming or addressing Trump directly, the WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made a plea for solidarity, warning that politicizing the pandemic would result in “many more body bags”.

“When there are cracks at the national level and global level, that’s when the virus succeeds,” he said. “Please quarantine politicizing Covid. That’s the way if we want to win.”

Updated at 10.20pm BST

10.01pm BST

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders pledged to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s campaign platform.
  • More than 400,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the US. The national death toll has surpassed 14,000 and at least 1,939 people died of the virus yesterday, marking the deadliest day in the US since the crisis started.
  • New York is starting to flatten its curve of coronavirus cases even as the state death toll continues to climb. New York’s “stay at home” order is having an impact on the number of coronavirus cases, governor Andrew Cuomo said, but yesterday’s death toll of 779 was the state’s worst single-day figure yet.
  • Linda Tripp, who made the tapes of Monica Lewinsky discussing her relationship with Bill Clinton, has reportedly died. Tripp’s recordings of Lewinsky decribing the extramarital affair ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment. The former Pentagon civil servant had reportedly been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

9.53pm BST

Linda Tripp, who made Lewinsky tapes, has died – reports

Linda Tripp, who recorded Monica Lewinsky discussing her sexual relationship with then-president Bill Clinton, has died at 70, according to reports.

Tripp was a civil servant in the Pentagon when she became friends with Lewinsky and learned of her relationship with Clinton.

Tripp recorded Lewinsky discussing the extramarital affair, and the scandal ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment, although he was later acquitted by the Senate.

Tripp was reportedly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently, and her daughter posted on Facebook last night that she was on her deathbed.

Lewinsky reacted to news of Tripp’s diagnosis earlier today, saying she hoped for her recovery.

9.45pm BST

The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:

Here are California’s latest numbers on coronavirus cases and deaths, as provided by governor Gavin Newsom:

  • 16,957: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
  • 1,154: The number of people in intensive care units, a 4.2% increase from the previous day.
  • 2,714: The number of people who have been hospitalized, a 3.9% increase from the previous day.
  • 442: The number of coronavirus deaths, including 68 in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day death toll yet.

Of the 6,306 cases analyzed by race:

  • Latinx Californians made up 30% of cases and 29% of deaths.
  • African Americans made up 6% of cases and 3% of deaths.
  • Asian Americans made up 14% of cases and 16% of deaths.

While the state isn’t on safe ground, Newsom expressed optimism that the rate of transmissions and hospitalizations from the virus appears to have slowed. Experts expect numbers to peak next week.

Meanwhile, workers across the state are facing dire economic consequences from the pandemic. About 2.4 million Californians have filed for unemployment since March 13, Newsom said.

9.41pm BST

The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:

In states across the county, the racial make-up of those felled by the coronavirus has revealed alarming disparities for people of color.

A staggering 70% of deaths linked to coronavirus in Louisiana are African Americans — more than double the percentage of the state’s black population. Disparate numbers are emerging in other states across the south, including Georgia and Alabama.

Health experts worry the coronavirus is exacerbating already existing disparities within health outcomes. Blacks have disportionately high rates of asthma and hypertension and are more likely to work jobs that keep them out in the community.

Incomplete data in California hasn’t yet cut the same picture, but only 37% of the confirmed coronavirus cases have been disaggregated to provide a racial view.

Within those counted, the number of cases tracks roughly with the state’s demographic make up, California governor Gavin Newsom said in a Tuesday presser. But disparities could emerge as more data becomes available.

9.30pm BST

The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:

California governor Gavin Newsom is leading a charge to secure the needed protective equipment in the nation’s most populous state, levering the power of a mighty nation-state to help other states obtain what they need.

Speaking at a noon press conference, Newsom re-upped comments he told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow when he announced deals that have been landed with a consortium of nonprofits to provide 200 million medical masks a month for California and other states.

California plans to spend 0m in state funds on protective gear and has to make a down payment of about half that amount in the following days.

“We’ve been competing against other states, against other nations, against our own federal government for PPE — coveralls, masks, shields, N95 masks — and we’re not waiting around any longer,’’ he told Maddow yesterday. “We decided enough is enough: let’s use the power of the purchasing power of the state of California as a nation-state,” he added.

To reach its “audacious goal” of over 500m masks needed in California, the state is turning to community organizations and NGOs to plug into their PPE pipelines. It’s also looking to its contracts with large vendors, which has provided 41 m masks the state has already distributed.

The state is also tapping defense contractor Patel, which has manufactured technology that can clean and sterilize N-95, and make them ready for reuse. The technology, which can clean up to 80,000 maks a day, is expected to be ready next week,

“This is not a silver bullet, there are always challenges in anything we’re attempting of this scale”, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of California’s office of emergency services.

Updated at 10.22pm BST

9.20pm BST

The White House has reportedly signaled opposition to Democratic requests for the next coronavirus relief bill.

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that he would ask Congress to pass a bill allocating an additional 0 billion in small business loans. (The original stimulus bill gave 0 billion to small businesses, and those funds appear to be rapidly dwindling.)

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is taking up the request, but Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement today requesting that the bill also include 0 billion for hospitals and state and local businesses.

Politico reports:

And by Wednesday afternoon, White House officials privately signaled opposition to Democrats’ efforts to add billions in funding for hospitals and state governments, sending the delicate bipartisan talks further into a tailspin. …

Republicans haven’t totally ruled out Democrats’ request and multiple officials familiar with the ongoing discussions said their demands could be addressed in future coronavirus legislation.

The debate over whether to allocate funds for hospitals and state and local governments could at the very least slow the bill’s passage, a disappointing prospect to the White House considering the administration wants to fast-track approval of the additional money for small businesses.

9.11pm BST

Congressman Thomas Massie signaled he would once again oppose any effort to pass a coronavirus relief bill by unanimous consent, which could force lawmakers to return to Washingtona as the city and the surrounding region see a surge of coronavirus cases.

The Trump administration is calling on Congress to pass a bill allocating an additional 0 billion in small business loans. The original stimulus package incuded 0 billion for small businesses.

“Once again, they’re recommending just let Nancy Pelosi pass it on her own, that we can all stay home,” Massie told Fox Business. “And I’m saying that’s not going to fly.”

Massie also opposed efforts to approve the stimulus package by unanimous consent, forcing House members to return to Washington to get the bill passed.

Many people, including the president, criticized Massie for the move, especially after several lawmakers who were present for the vote later said they had contracted coronavirus.

8.55pm BST

The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:

Former vice president Joe Biden signaled that his campaign is moving into a different phase of picking a running mate after Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign earlier today.

During a fundraiser on Wednesday, Biden was asked whether he should announce a vice presidential nominee in June, after the final Democratic primary.

Biden, speaking a few hours after Sanders dropped out, said that “we are putting in place, we can do with abandon now, a mechanism being able to vet the vice-presidential potential picks.”

Biden said his team would start the process for picking a running mate in the next few weeks.

“In the coming weeks we’re going to put together before the end of the month, start looking at candidates and I’m looking for someone who will be a partner in this progress,” Biden said, according to a pool report of the fundraiser. “Someone who is simpatico, and someone who’s ready to be present on a moment’s notice.”

8.43pm BST

Americans are becoming less satisfied with the federal government’s response to coronavirus, according to a new Monmouth University poll.

A Monmouth poll released today showed 54% of Americans believe the federal government has not gone far enough to slow the spread of coronavirus. That’s up from 45% in late March. The portion of Americans who say the government’s actions have been appropriate has also decreased from 47% to 35%.

In comparison, 60% of Americans say the actions taken by state governments to slow the spread have been appropriate, while 30% say state governments have not gone far enough.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appears to be the most trusted public-facing official when it comes to delivering information on the pandemic.

Fauci was named by 35% of respondents as the most trusted official, in comparison to 23% for New York governor Andrew Cuomo and 20% for Trump.

8.23pm BST

Detroit mayor Mike Duggan said there were 26 more deaths in his city in the last 24 hours but said they “are seeing the line, the curve, beginning to flatten out”.

“This is the hardest part of this job,” Duggan said during Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing. “But when you look at the trend lines this reinforces what I said yesterday; we’re seeing the beginning of a glimmer of light.”

Duggan presses that promising numbers should not mean any relaxation of the social distancing guidelines: “Do we care enough about each other that when it’s 67 degrees and sunny, we don’t go and gather together and give this virus new energy. Because we are starting to weaken it, and if we don’t give it new energy by clustering, we are going to continue to be successful.”

7.58pm BST

Broadway producers have extended the suspension of all shows through the first week of June per the latest medical guidance, according to a statement from the trade association representing producers and theater owners for the Great White Way.

“Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals.” said Broadway League president Charlotte St Martin on Wednesday.

St Martin added: “Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.”

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on an injustry that abruptly closed on 12 March after drawing 14.8m patrons and grossing .8bn last season. A number of shows planning spring openings have abandoned those plans entirely, including Hangmen and a revival of Edward Albee’s Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, while several others have moved to the fall.

Updated at 8.05pm BST

7.27pm BST

“If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it’ll be too late to prepare.”

So said George W Bush in 2005. He read a book about the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and “became obsessed” with the idea that the US needed a comprehensive plan to prepare.

Resurfacing, here, this article from ABC a few days ago, spotted by the Guardian’s Oliver Conroy:

In the summer of 2005, President George W Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he began flipping through an advance reading copy of a new book about the 1918 flu pandemic. He couldn’t put it down.

Apparently some preps were made, others not, but a lot of work was done and has been in place ever since.

ABC noted:

Bush declined, through a spokesman, to comment on the unfolding crisis or discuss the current response. But his remarks from 15 years ago still resonate.

“If we wait for a pandemic to appear,” he warned, “it will be too late to prepare. And one day many lives could be needlessly lost because we failed to act today.”

Updated at 7.36pm BST

6.59pm BST

The White House is reportedly having discussions about reopening the economy next month, which could cause friction with health experts who have warned against lifting “stay at home” orders too quickly.

CNN reports:

Officials said the options being discussed on reopening the country vary widely in scope, from recommendations on benchmarks for when individual states can begin easing restrictions to a nationwide ‘big bang’ that Trump previewed Tuesday evening on Fox News. The officials said the conversations were still preliminary and would likely evolve over the course of the next weeks.

Still, some officials have even begun mulling the type of event Trump may want to mark the day when nationwide restrictions are lifted after he suggested a ‘big celebration’ when the crisis is over. …

Multiple officials said this week the discussions could lead to a clash between health and economic advisers, who have disagreed over the past month on the extent and length of distancing recommendations for Americans.

Some of the president’s supporters also appear to be pushing for reopening the economy. Fox News host Laura Ingraham encouraged Trump to set a May 1 deadline for reopening in a tweet this morning.

6.45pm BST

Barack Obama called for a “robust system of testing and monitoring” to confront the coronavirus crisis.

The former president said social distancing practices were key to flattening the curve of coronavirus cases, but he empashized the country would not be able to relax those restrictions until a system of testing and tracking was in place.

The United States is now conducting nearly 700,000 coronavirus tests each week, but experts say that rate is not enough to sufficiently track the spread of the virus and allow the economy to reopen.

6.30pm BST

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The Vermont senator promised to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s platform.
  • New York broke its record for the highest single-day coronavirus death toll for the second consecutive day. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 779 New Yorkers died of coronavirus yesterday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 6,268.
  • The US had confirmed more than 400,000 cases of coronavirus. Yesterday was the deadliest day in the country’s crisis yet, with at least 1,939 Americans dying of coronavirus.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

6.21pm BST

New York governor Andrew Cuomo ended his briefing where he started, by emphasizing the stark discrepancy between the state flattening the curve and simultaneously recording a record number of deaths.

“We are flattening the curve,” Cuomo said. “Thank God.”

But the governor reiterated that residents cannot get “complacent” about social distancing practices. “It’s what we’re doing that’s working,” Cuomo said. “Keep doing it.”

Cuomo said the good news of the curve flattening had to be kept in perspective of the awful news that 779 New Yorkers died of coronavirus yesterday.

“I went through 9/11,” Cuomo said. “That this should literally eclipse that in terms of number of deaths in this state — it’s unimaginable.”

New York’s coronavirus death toll of 6.268 is more than double the death toll from the September 11 attacks.

6.10pm BST

New York govenor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that the state’s death toll may be understating the number of coronavirus victims because some people have been dying at home.

“I think that’s a very real possibility,” Cuomo said of a potential under-count.

The governor said the state is looking at other models to try to incorporate data about at-home deaths because most data points currently come from hospitals.

6.04pm BST

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said he would sign an executive order to make all residents eligible for absentee voting in the state’s June 23 primary.

It has not yet been determined whether any in-person polling places will be open for the primary, Cuomo said.

His comments come a day after Wisconsin’s chaotic primary, which was disrupted by voters’ fears about contracting coronavirus at polling sites.

Updated at 6.06pm BST

6.01pm BST

Governor Andrew Cuomo defended New York’s response to the coronavirus crisis after the New York Times published an investigation showing the state and city missed early opportunities to prepare.

“I think New York was early, and I think the actions we took were more dramatic than most and frankly were criticized for being premature,” Cuomo said.

But other localities, including San Francisco, took steps like closing schools days before New York did, which may have accelerated the spread of the virus.

5.57pm BST

New York governor Andrew Cuomo was asked whether he would reduce essential services like grocery stores and public transportation as the death toll rsies.

“I don’t think we can reduce the essential services,” Cuomo said, arguing it’s impossible to tell people to “eat less” or use fewer prescriptions.

The governor noted earlier that many essential workers are people of color, and communities of color are seeing disproportionately high rates of coronavirus deaths.

5.50pm BST

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is examining why Latinx and African American New Yorkers are dying of coronavirus at a disproportionately high rate.

Cuomo noted that many essential workers who cannot work remotely are people of color, putting them at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Cuomo pledged to do more coronavirus testing in communities of color to help track the spread of the virus.

5.42pm BST

New York once again sees highest single-day death toll

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state had broken its record for the biggest single-day death toll for the second consecutive day.

“The bad news isn’t just bad; the bad news is terrible,” Cuomo said after noting the state is flattening the curve of coronavirus cases.

New York recorded 779 deaths yesterday, putting the state’s total death toll at 6,268. Cuomo said he would order flags in the state to be flown at half-mast in honor of the victims.

5.39pm BST

New York is flattening the curve, Cuomo says

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is seeing the effect of social distancing and the curve of coronavirus cases is starting to flatten.

The governor noted that the rate of hospitalizations is down, and some hospitals are releasing more patients than they are admitting.

“Social distancing is working,” Cuomo said. “It is flattening the curve.”

But Cuomo emphasized that New Yorkers need to continue to be vigilant about practicing social distancing to avoid a resurgence of cases.

Updated at 5.41pm BST

5.34pm BST

US confirms 400,000 cases of coronavirus

The US has now confirmed 400,000 cases of coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins.

The country’s coronavirus death toll is just shy of 13,000, and officials predict that figure will continue to rise over the coming days.

Here is the Guardian’s map on the latest numbers state by state:

5.20pm BST

Biden says he will be ‘reaching out’ to Sanders

Joe Biden has released a statement on the suspension of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, commending his rival for the coalition he has built and promising to work with him moving forward.

“He hasn’t just run a political campaign; he’s created a movement,” Biden said. “And make no mistake about it, I believe it’s a movement that is as powerful today as it was yesterday. That’s a good thing for our nation and our future.”

Biden said he would be “reaching out” to Sanders, as the former vice president seeks to unify the Democratic party before the general election.

“You have put the interest of the nation — and the need to defeat Donald Trump — above all else,” Biden said. “And for that Jill and I are grateful. But we also want you to know: I’ll be reaching out to you. You will be heard by me.”

Biden also made a specific pitch to Sanders’ supporters: “I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”

5.13pm BST

Although he is suspending his campaign, Bernie Sanders said he would remain on the ballot and continue to gather delegates in future primaries.

“While Joe Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions,” Sanders said.

He added that his influence on the party platform would help Democrats to unify and increase the chances of victory against Trump in November.

5.07pm BST

Bernie Sanders congratulated Joe Biden on his victory in the Democratic priamry, calling the former vice president “a very decent man.”

Looking ahead to the general election, Sanders pledged to work with Biden “to move our progressive ideas forward.”

Sanders closed by saying how he and his wife, Jane, have been moved by the support they have seen across the country. “Let us go forward together,” Sanders told his supporters. “The struggle continues.”

5.04pm BST

Sanders confirms he is dropping out, calling victory ‘virtually impossible’

Bernie Sanders has formally announced he is suspending his campaign in a livestream to supporters.

“I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth,” Sanders said. The Vermony senator noted that Joe Biden’s delegate lead had made victory “virtually impossible.”

“I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful, and so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign,” Sanders said.

Sanders acknowledged his withdrawal from the race had been a “difficult and painful decision” that came after an “honest assessment” of his prospects.

5.00pm BST

Bernie Sanders said his movement had won the “ideological struggle” of the Democratic party, even though he did not win the nomination.

Sanders said a number of his positions that were previously considered extreme, such as raising the minimum wage to an hour, have now become mainstream.

4.57pm BST

Sanders thanks supporters in livestream

Bernie Sanders is addressing his supporters via livestream to formally announce he is suspending his presidential campaign.

The Vermont senator thanked his supporters for powering his candidacy through phone banks, door-knocking and 10 million donations.

Sanders applauded his supporters for creating a “new vision” of what America could be, particularly on issues like overhauling the healthcare system and raising the minimum wage.

4.51pm BST

Trump has weighed in on Bernie Sanders suspending his campaign, blaming Elizabeth Warren for his loss and imploring Sanders’ supporters to back him instead of Joe Biden in November.

4.40pm BST

Joe Biden’s victory in the Democratic presidential primary comes almost exactly a year after he launched his third bid for the White House.

Once Biden announced his candidacy, he became the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, a title he largely held on to for the duration of the race.

Biden’s worst weeks came in Feburary, when he lost the first three contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Bernie Sanders’ strong performances across the three states briefly made him the frontrunner in the race.

However, Biden’s victory in South Carolina followed by a series of wins on Super Tuesday gave him the rebound he needed to surpass Sanders and ultimately win the nomination.

4.31pm BST

Bernie Sanders, the 78-year-old senator from Vermont who reshaped American politics with his youth-led movement for sweeping social change, has ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

His departure all but ensures the former vice-president Joe Biden will be the Democratic presidential nominee in an election against Donald Trump amid the rapidly escalating coronavirus crisis.

For weeks, Sanders resisted calls to leave the race despite falling almost hopelessly behind his rival as the pandemic forced the candidates to retreat from the campaign trail and governors to delay several key primary elections. Against the worsening economic and public health crises, Sanders found a new urgency for his progressive agenda, the centerpiece of which is a single-payer proposal that would guarantee health coverage for every American.

In the final weeks before his exit, Sanders effectively turned his campaign into a coronavirus response effort, hosting virtual events on the virus and raising money for charities helping those affected by the outbreak.

4.28pm BST

Bernie Sanders’ decision to suspend his presidential campaign comes after a series of losses to Joe Biden in recent primaries.

The Vermont senator was briefly viewed as the frontrunner in the race afrer winning the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucuses in February.

However, Biden quickly rebounded with a win in the South Carolina primary and a series of victotries on Super Tuesday. The winning streak gave Biden a delegate lead over Sanders that many deemed insurmountable.

4.25pm BST

Bernie Sanders said he would address supporters via livestream in about 20 minutes to formally announce he is suspending his campaign.

4.23pm BST

Bernie Sanders suspends presidential campaign

Bernie Sanders is suspending his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

4.17pm BST

Trump said he believed the coronavirus crisis would end “sooner rather than later,” as experts express cautious optimism about the effects social distancing has had on the number of cases.

“Once we OPEN UP OUR GREAT COUNTRY, and it will be sooner rather than later, the horror of the Invisible Enemy, except for those that sadly lost a family member or friend, must be quickly forgotten,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “Our Economy will BOOM, perhaps like never before!!!”

The president also once again bragged about viewership of his daily White House briefings on the coronavirus response, saying “the ratings are through the roof.”

Trump mocked some of his critics who have called on networks to stop broadcasting the briefings because the president has repeatedly made false statements during them.

4.02pm BST

White House confirms Kayleigh McEnany will become press secretary

The White House has released a statement confirming that Kayleigh McEnany will replace Stephanie Grisham as press secretary, a day after Grisham’s role change was announced.

Alyssa Farah will also become the White House’s new director of strategic communications after serving as press secretary of the defense department.

Trump’s reelection campaign, where McEnany most recently worked as national press secretary, released a statement on her move. “Kayleigh McEnany is a first class professional who will serve President Trump and the American people well,” said campagin manger Brad Parscale.

But a number of critics have raised concerns about McEnany’s past comments on a number of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic. McEnany incorrectly said in February that coronavirus would not affect America because of Trump’s leadership.

“This president will always put America first. He will always protect American citizens. We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here. We will not see terrorism come here,” McEnany said on Feb. 25. “And isn’t that refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?”

3.48pm BST

Latinx and black New Yorkers are dying of coronavirus at a disproportionately high rate, according to newly published data on the city’s fatalities.

The data shows 521 Latinx New Yorkers have died of the virus, as well as 428 black New Yorkers. Put together, the two groups account for 61% of New York’s coronavirus deaths, even though they account for roughly half of the city’s population.

Other major cities, including Detroit and Chicago, have also seen disproportionately higher death rates among people of color, as the Guardian’s Kenya Evelyn has reported:

3.37pm BST

Local leaders and health experts are warning that the Washington metropolitan area is “an emerging hotspot” in the coronavirus crisis.

Nearly 9,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the region, according to the Wasington Post, and at least 189 people have died of the virus.

Dr Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, has repeatedly named the DC region as an area of concern for the next round of hot spots.

“We are concerned about the metro area of Washington and Baltimore,” Birx said this morning.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed frustration Monday about residents ignoring social distancing guidelines after photos surfaced of a crowd gathering at a local fish market, which was promptly shuttered.

“We had to close that market because the social distancing requirements were not being met,” Bowser said. “We cannot express enough that staying at home is every individual’s responsibility to save lives.”

3.20pm BST

Projection shows expected US death toll falling to 60,000

A commonly cited model of the US coronavirus crisis now predicts that 60,000 Americans will die of the virus by early August, marking a significant decrease from past projections.

Reuters reports:

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model is one of several that the White House task force has cited.

It now projects U.S. deaths at more than 60,000 by Aug. 4, down from the nearly 82,000 fatalities it had forecast on Tuesday.

The White House coronavirus task force has previously projected 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die.

The institute also moved up its projected peak in the number to U.S. deaths to this Sunday, when it predicted 2,212 people will succumb to the disease. The revision moves forward the projected peak by four days, suggesting the strain on the country’s healthcare system will begin to abate a little sooner than previously expected.

Surgeon general Jerome Adams similarly said yesterday that he expects the death toll to fall below the 100,000 to 240,000 range previously predicted by the White House, thanks to Americans practicing social distancing.

“That’s absolutely my expectation, and I feel a lot more optimistic, again, because I’m seeing mitigation work,” Adams said.

3.08pm BST

Dr Anthony Facui predicted schools would be able to reopen in the fall, as early evidence indicates that social distancing is having a positive effect on the country’s number of coronavirus cases.

“Bottom line is, no absolute prediction, but I think we’re going to be in good shape,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said during the White House briefing yesterday.

While emphasizing there is still great uncertainty around how the coming months will unfold, Fauci said he expects that “by the time we get to the fall … we will have this under control enough that it certainly will not be the way it is now, where people are shutting schools.”

Many schools across the country are currently closed, and governors in several states have said schools will not reopen during this academic year.

2.56pm BST

The New York Times front page today includes a startling graphic on the city’s coronavirus death toll.

The newspaper used bars on a map to demonstrate the number of people who have died of the virus in each major city. The bar for New York goes past the newspaper’s masthead.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said that Monday was the deadliest day yet for the state since the coronavirus crisis started.

New York reported 731 deaths on Monday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 5,489. Most of those deaths have been concentrated in the New York Cirty area.

2.40pm BST

The Guardian’s Kenya Evelyn reports on how coronavirus is disproportionately affecting African Americans:

The disparity is especially stark in cities like New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit, where high concentrations of African Americans live.

Louisiana has the fourth largest number of Covid-19 cases in the country, and the majority of the Covid-19 deaths are in New Orleans, where black Americans constitute 60% of the population. “Slightly more than 70% of [coronavirus] deaths in Louisiana are African Americans,” the state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, said in a press conference on Monday. “That deserves more attention and we’re going to have to dig into that to see what we can do to slow that down.”

African Americans face a higher risk of exposure to the virus, mostly on account of concentrating in urban areas and working in essential industries. Only 20% of black workers reported being eligible to work from home, compared with about 30% of their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Experts also point to initial research showing a high prevalence of Covid-19 among those suffering from obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – risk factors more common among black Americans. The virus is known to take a harsher toll on those with underlying health issues, and many hospitals are only testing those admitted for critical care.

Critics note that those risks are significantly exacerbated by racial inequities in healthcare, including facility closures and caps on public health insurance plans like Medicaid and Medicare. African Americans are twice as likely to lack health insurance compared with their white counterparts, and more likely to live in medically underserved areas, where primary care is sparse or expensive.

Unconscious racial bias can also contribute to unequal health outcomes, especially when health professionals are inexperienced with the culture of the community they serve, according to the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Governor JB Pritkzer of Illinois acknowledged racism’s role in the state’s response to the outbreak, but he called it “a much broader problem” that won’t be solved in a matter of weeks. “It’s hard to make up for decades, maybe centuries, of inequality of application of healthcare to people of color,” he said.

2.25pm BST

Intelligence community issued warning on coronavirus in November – report

US intelligence officials were warning of a virus sweeping through the Wuhan region of China as early as November, according to an ABC News report.

ABC News reports:

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents.

The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia — forces that depend on the NCMI’s work. And it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.

‘Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,’ one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. ‘It was then briefed multiple times to’ the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House.

This news follows reports that Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, wrote memos starting in late January warning of a potential coronavirus pandemic with catastrophic consequences for Americans’ health and finances.

The president claimed yesterday that he had never seen Navarro’s memos, but their existence undermines his defense of the federal government’s early response to the pandemic, which has been widely criticized.

2.06pm BST

Trump says mail-in voting ‘doesn’t work out well for Republicans’

Trump urged Republicans to “fight very hard” against mail-in voting as Democrats work to expand absentee voting options amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting,” Trump tweeted. “Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

Voter fraud is actually extremely rare, and many voters have been hesitant to cast their ballots in person out of fear of catching coronavirus at a polling site, as demonstrated by yesterday’s chaotic primary in Wisconsin.

Trump has previously suggested that mail-in voting could hurt Republicans’ chances in November, presumably because it would increase voter turnout.

During deliberations over the stimulus package, House Democrats pushed to give states billion in election assistance, but the final bill included only 0 million.

“The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said of the Democratic proposals last week. “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

1.46pm BST

US sees deadliest day yet in fight against coronavirus

Good morning, live blog readers.

The day is beginning with a grim statistic: yesterday was the deadliest day yet in the US since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

According to the Washington Post, at least 1,939 Americans died of coronavirus yesterday. That is the largest single-day death toll reported by any country since the pandemic began.

Overall, nearly 13,000 Americans have died of coronavirus, and health experts have warned this could be the worst week yet for the death toll.

However, there are also encouraging signs that Americans practicing social distancing is already having an effect on the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that the state’s three-day average of hospitalizations is down, and surgeon general Jerome Adams predicted the overall US death toll would fall below 100,000, which was previously viewed as the lowest possibility.

“I know it’s hard, but we have to keep doing it,” Cuomo said of social distancing. “And, to the extent it takes an effort, remember at this time it is about ‘we’, and it is not about ‘me’”.

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