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Live feed: COVID-19 hits grim milestone

A roundup of the latest international, national and local news on the coronavirus outbreak

A man gives his drivers license to a fireman before having his temperature taken as part of a COVID-19 coronavirus test on Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Hayward, Calif.
Ben Margot, Associated Press

The Deseret News is tracking developments related to the coronavirus pandemic across the United States and around the world. Refresh this feed for updates as news comes in throughout the day.

Coronavirus pandemic reaches a million confirmed infections

2:15 p.m.

One million of Earth’s citizens have now tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a Johns Hopkins tally. The deadly virus has killed more than 51,400 people in just over three months, while nearly 209,000 have recovered.

Nearly every sovereign nation on the globe has at least one coronavirus case, affecting people of 181 countries.

Since confirming its first case on Jan. 20, the United States now has 236,000 cases — the highest reported count of any country — with more than 5,600 deaths and almost 9,000 recoveries.

Feds confiscate hoarded medical equipment from price gouger

10:30 a.m.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Administration officials have confiscated around a million pieces of personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies from a price gouger and reappropriated the supplies to health care workers responding to the coronavirus in New York and New Jersey.

On March 30, the Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force notified the Department of Health and Human Services of the stockpile. HHS then used the Defense Production Act to order that the critical medical supplies be turned over to the federal government, according to a press release from the HHS Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response.

”Cracking down on the hoarding of vital supplies allows us to distribute this material to the heroic health care workers on the front lines who are most in need,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in the press release.

The stockpile included:

  • 192,000 N95 masks
  • 130,000 surgical masks
  • 598,000 medical gloves
  • Other assorted protective masks
  • Surgical gowns
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant spray bottles and towels

HHS will reimburse the hoarder for the stockpile at the pre-coronavirus market value, the press release says. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are investigating similar cases of medical supply stockpiling and price gouging.

Attorney General William Barr said “if you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door.”

New York eases air quality regulations so crematories can work overtime

9:45 a.m.

Refrigerated trailers are seen parked at the site of a makeshift morgue being built in New York, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. New York officials are keeping a close eye on already-stressed hospitals as the number of cases is projected to rise for perhaps three more weeks.
Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

New York City’s four crematories are working overtime to catch up with the coronavirus’ deadly toll. Crematory officials said they are seeing double their normal workload, Reuters reported.

New York state has eased air quality regulations to allow crematories to burn longer hours to make up for the backlog. The Green-Wood Cemetery crematory in Brooklyn, is seeing around 15 to 20 bodies a day — almost twice the normal pace.

As of Thursday morning, nearly 1,400 people in the city have died from the coronavirus.

New York Funeral Directors Association executive director Mike Lanotte said they had been getting ready for a worst-case scenario, “which is in a lot of ways starting to materialize.”

The wake of the backlog is being felt in the city’s hospitals.

“Grieving families cannot quickly make arrangements,” so the dead are spending more time in hospital morgues, according to a statement from The Brooklyn Hospital Center.

The New York City medical examiner’s office has deployed portable morgues — refrigerator trucks and tents — to hospitals to aid in storing the bodies.