The Latest COVID-19 Updates (March 25)

Staff Writer

9:30 p.m. -- In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that the corona pandemic is accelerating in the United States. "New York City is dominating the situation in the United States," he said. "About 60 percent of the infections are in the New York City metropolitan area, and 56 percent of the new infections are coming from (that area)."

6 p.m. -- (AP) -- Pennsylvania lawmakers voted Wednesday to delay the state's primary election by five weeks to June 2, potentially past the spike of the state's spreading coronavirus cases. The measure passed both chambers of the Republican-controlled state Legislature on Wednesday and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he will sign it. As a result, Pennsylvania will join more than 10 states in delaying primaries. It comes just a few months after Wolf and lawmakers approved legislation giving every voter the ability to mail in a ballot. Under the bill, Pennsylvania will hold its primary election June 2, instead of April 28, when the state could be in the thick of a surge of COVID-19 cases.

2 p.m. — Indiana Regional Medical Center announced in an email from Mark Richards, chief growth officer, that "we have received results back from the PA DOH and we have our first positive case in Indiana County. (The) patient has been notified, has been in self-quarantine since March 16 and has not required hospitalization. No further details are available at this time."

Noon -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 25, that there are 276 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,127 in 44 counties.The department also reported four new deaths, bringing the statewide death total to 11. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. "Our notable increase in cases over the past few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. "Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home." At this time, there are no reported cases having been confirmed in Jefferson or Indiana counties; the first case was confirmed in Clearfield County on Tuesday, and at this time, that is the only confirmed case there as well.

10:45 a.m. -- Pennsylvania is acting to enable retired health care professionals to assist with the COVID-19 response by waiving certain licensing regulations. Previously, the Department of State waived some regulations for nurses, removed barriers for pharmacies to provide services, and announced that in-state and out-of-state health care practitioners can treat patients via telemedicine during the coronavirus emergency. “Many retired and inactive health care professionals want to help bolster our health care system during this crisis,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “This action will allow people with inactive or retired licenses in good standing to reactivate their licenses and immediately lend their assistance in this challenging time. We thank these retirees for their willingness to serve.”

10:15 a.m. -- More than 400,000 Pennsylvanians filed for unemployment compensation benefits last week amid a tidal wave of coronavirus-related business shutdowns, eclipsing the high-point during the recession a decade ago, the state's top organized labor leader said Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the AFL-CIO, said Gov. Tom Wolf's administration briefed him on last week's figures as the union urges Wolf and lawmakers to expand unemployment compensation benefits to replace a full salary, rather than a half salary. A review of weekly data going back to 1987 shows a high-point of 61,000 in early 2010, when the effects of the Great Recession were taking hold.

9:45 a.m. -- NEW YORK (AP) --Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street after Congress and the White House reached a deal to inject nearly $2 trillion of aid into an economy ravaged by the coronavirus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2%. The gains came a day after the Dow had its biggest percentage gain since 1933. Stocks have been falling sharply over the past month, erasing one-third of the value from some indexes, as widespread business shutdowns, travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders wreak havoc on the global economy. Investors say market volatility is likely to continue both up and down until the severity of the outbreak eases.

8:30 a.m. -- A look at some of the Associated Press updates from around the world:
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's public hospital doctors are going on strike over what they call a lack of adequate protective gear as the coronavirus begins to spread in a country whose health system has almost collapsed. The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president, Tawanda Zvakada, says doctors are at "high risk" of contracting the virus: "Right now we are exposed and no one seems to care." He says doctors have an inadequate stocks of gloves, masks and gowns. The southern African nation has reported three cases of COVID-19 and recorded its first death this week.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute says the coronavirus has been discovered in sewage in the Netherlands. The institute says DNA tests confirmed the virus in waste water from the southern city of Tilburg and a nearby town, which are in the hardest-hit Dutch region, as well as from the capital Amsterdam. It says symptoms of the disease caused by the virus can include diarrhea in some patients and the virus can be detected in human waste of some infected patients. Dutch sewage workers already wear protective clothing that shield them from the coronavirus.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's foreign minister says at least 32 Turkish nationals have died from the coronavirus abroad, most of them in European countries. Mevlut Cavusoglu says the government was assisting families wanting to return their loved ones' bodies back home. He says Turkey overnight flew back 2,721 Turkish students stranded in eight countries, following the cancellation of flights over the outbreak. They are being quarantined in student dormitories in three cities. Turkey has reported 44 COVID-19 deaths and a total of 1,872 infections.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the military to train to help handle the coronavirus outbreak. The Defense Ministry says the four-day exercise that began Wednesday will check the troops' readiness to deal with contagion. The military will run drills on how to deal with the outbreak at its bases and check the military's ability to quickly deploy its forces across the vast country. The government has reported 658 cases of the coronavirus in Russia and no deaths. Officials say the low number of cases in Russia compared to Europe could be due to insufficient screening and called for action to brace up for the worst.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has reaffirmed the need to protect all life, rallying Christians around the world to pray together for those sick with the coronavirus and the medical personnel who are caring for them.
Francis presided over a global noontime prayer Wednesday, in which he begged for God's mercy amid the pandemic. The prayer fell on the 25th anniversary of a landmark Vatican document reaffirming the inviolability of all human life from conception to natural death. Francis dedicated his comments to the document, which strongly reaffirmed church teaching opposing abortion and euthanasia. Francis says it is imperative to "relaunch this teaching in the context of a pandemic that threatens human life and the global economy." Some conservative Christian commentators, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump, have warned the consequences of the financial shutdown aimed at preventing the virus' spread and protecting the elderly and sick are worse than the virus itself.
LONDON — Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the new coronavirus. The prince's Clarence House office says the 71-year-old is showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and is self-isolating at a royal estate in Scotland. It says his wife Camilla has tested negative. The palace says Charles "has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual."
MADRID — Spain has now the world's second highest tally of coronavirus deaths after a 738 spike was recorded Wednesday, the highest so far in one day. With 3,434, Spain surpassed China's 3,285 and has more than half of Italy's 6,820. Infections also rose on Wednesday by 20% from a day earlier to 47,610, Spain's Ministry of Health announced. More than 5,000 people have recovered, the ministry said. The outbreak has hit Spain and put a tragic strain on its healthcare system, especially in the central region around Madrid, with one third of the positive cases and roughly half of the casualties.