Across the United States, doctors and nurses report a critical lack of personal protective equipment — or PPE — endangering their health and safety. The hashtag #GetUsPPE trended on social media, with medical workers reporting they’ve been forced to reuse a single N95 protective mask throughout the day, or even for days at a time — against standard protocol of changing masks for each patient.
In Georgia, state officials say two healthcare workers who died late last week tested positive for COVID-19.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said his state is 50,000 hospital beds short of what will be needed when COVID-19 cases reach their peak. Newsom says California is looking to procure more than 500 million masks and 1 billion gloves. In Los Angeles, where confirmed coronavirus cases reached 660 Tuesday, a 17-year-old has died from COVID-19, becoming the first known minor to die in the U.S.
In Minnesota, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan reported her brother, Ron Golden, died in a Tennessee hospital over the weekend after contracting COVID-19. And Minnesota Democratic senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar says her husband, John Bessler, remains hospitalized on the East Coast with serious COVID-19 symptoms. Senator Klobuchar spoke to “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “Well, today he’s still on oxygen. The reason he was hospitalized is he had pneumonia, he was coughing up blood, and his oxygen levels were dangerously low. So he’s been there for a few days now.”
As U.S. coronavirus cases continued to grow on an exponential curve Tuesday — with the number of known cases topping 54,000 — President Donald Trump said he hoped to reopen the U.S. economy and end restrictions aimed at slowing the spread by Easter Sunday — less than three weeks from now.
President Donald Trump: “So, I think Easter Sunday, and you’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time.”
Trump’s Easter Sunday deadline defies the advice of all of his medical advisers. In Virginia, Christian evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. defied calls for the closure of Liberty University, where he serves as president, welcoming thousands of students back from spring break and ordering faculty members to report to campus. Falwell is one of President Trump’s most prominent supporters.
In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis asked people over 65 and anyone who has traveled from New York state over the last three weeks to self-isolate for 14 days. Governor DeSantis has not ordered a statewide lockdown, and some Florida beaches remain open.
In immigration news, documents obtained by The Nation magazine show Immigration and Customs Enforcement has quarantined nine prisoners and is monitoring at least 24 others across 10 immigration jails for symptoms of COVID-19. The documents also show Customs and Border Protection is working to convert several of its major border facilities into quarantine sites. This comes as BuzzFeed reports an immigrant held at an immigration jail in New Jersey has become the first person under ICE custody to test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S.
At the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration says it will delay all hearings scheduled for the next month for asylum seekers who’ve been forced to remain in Mexico. Meanwhile, all three immigration courts in New York are now temporarily closed, after a court employee tested positive for COVID-19.
In more news from New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio says at least 300 nonviolent prisoners will be released from Rikers Island. This comes as over 60 Rikers prisoners and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
In Alden, New York, dozens of corrections officers working at the Wende Correctional Facility are now in quarantine, fearing exposure to the coronavirus after transferring two prisoners, including convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
In Geneva, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday the United States is becoming the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with over 12% of the world’s 435,000 documented cases — though the true number of infections both in the U.S. and worldwide is certain to be far higher. Across Africa, finance ministers are demanding the International Monetary Fund and World Bank suspend debt payments to free up $44 billion in funds to fight the pandemic. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered the entire nation of 1.3 billion people to remain at home for the next three weeks.
Italy recorded another 743 deaths over a 24-hour period, reversing a trend that saw daily deaths decline slightly. Over 6,800 people have died from COVID-19 in Italy.
France reported its nationwide death toll has topped 1,000, as a top medical official warned the true toll is probably higher, with those dying at home or in retirement homes left uncounted.
Spain has recorded over 3,400 deaths among some 47,600 COVID-19 infections. Among suspected cases is Baltasar Garzón, the 64-year-old jurist who’s defended WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange and in 1998 ordered the arrest of Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet on torture and genocide charges. Garzón is currently hospitalized with respiratory failure that’s believed to be due to the virus. (Click here to watch a 2011 interview with Judge Baltasar Garzón.)
The British government is calling for a quarter-million volunteers to help battle the pandemic, as authorities in London began converting the ExCeL exhibition center into a field hospital where as many as 4,000 people will be treated. Among the infected is Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, who is reportedly self-isolating with mild COVID-19 symptoms.
In South Sudan, massive swarms of locusts are devastating food crops across the country, further endangering a population that already faces the highest rate of food insecurity in the world. The desert locusts have swarmed across East Africa in numbers not seen since the early 2000s, with some climate scientists warning that worsening heat waves and tropical cyclones are making the swarms worse. This is South Sudanese farmer Lotok Joseph Okuera.
Lotok Joseph Okuera: “We are worried a lot, because this year if the government or NGOs fail to help us to destroy this thing, we will really be in big problem of hunger.”
Aid groups say increased hunger will only worsen problems for more than 200,000 people living in cramped United Nations camps who are now at risk of COVID-19 infection.