Coronavirus: Officials implore Tyson to close plant amid virus outbreak

Nearly 2.2 million people worldwide – including more than 672,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals manage unprecedented patient surges.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here.

>> Coronavirus: Know the facts directly from the CDC

Live updates for Friday, April 17, continue below:

Officials implore Tyson to close plant amid virus outbreak

Update 11 p.m. EDT April 17: More than a dozen Iowa elected officials on Friday implored Tyson Fresh Meats to close their Waterloo pork processing plant, saying the coronavirus is spreading among workers and is endangering both employees and the surrounding community.

Mayors, county officials and state legislators signed the letter that was sent to Tyson on Thursday. The 19 officials said at a Friday news conference they had only received confirmation from the company that it had received the letter but no other action.

“I’m really fearful that if Tyson management doesn’t address this issue effectively, their workforce will either voluntarily stop coming to work or be too sick to work,” Waterloo Mayor Quinten Hart said. “Our hope was that in a time of crisis when we’re all made equal that we would inherently do the ethical, morally right thing that wasn’t done.”

Company spokeswoman Liz Croston said Tyson has been working with local, state and federal officials and is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. She said worker temperatures are taken before entering the plant, masks are required and cleaning has been increased as has distancing between workers.

“Our primary focus is protecting our people while continuing to fulfill our critical role of feeding families in this community and around the nation, while providing market continuity for hundreds of area hog farmers,” Croston said.

The Waterloo area officials also accused Gov. Kim Reynolds of misleading Iowans on the seriousness of the outbreak among the nearly 3,000 workers at the plant and for failure to take more aggressive action.

NBA players to receive 25% less in paychecks starting May 15

Update 9:30 p.m. EDT April 17: Commissioner Adam Silver said it remains impossible for the NBA to make any decisions about whether to resume this season and that it is unclear when that will change.

But in a clear sign that at least some of the 259 remaining regular-season games that were not played because of the coronavirus pandemic will not be rescheduled, the league announced Friday it will withhold 25% of player pay starting with their May 15 checks.

Silver, speaking after the league’s regularly scheduled April board of governors meeting — one that took place through video conferencing and not the usual in-person setting in New York — said all options remain on the table for trying to resume play and eventually crowning a champion.

“I think there is a sense that we can continue to take the leading role as we learn more in coming up with an appropriate regimen and protocol for returning to business,” Silver said. “There’s a recognition from (owners) that this is bigger than our business; certainly, bigger than sports.”

The salary decision was made in concert with the National Basketball Players Association, the league saying it would “provide players with a more gradual salary reduction schedule” if games are officially canceled or the rest of the season is totally lost.

Players will be paid in full on May 1. The cutback in salary has been expected for some time in response to the NBA’s shutdown that started March 11, and has no end in sight.

Death toll in Connecticut tops 1,000 people

Update 8:20 p.m. EDT April 17: More than 1,000 people in Connecticut have died from the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday as hospitals in southern and western parts of the state contend with a surge in the number of infected patients.

State officials reported 65 new deaths associated with the virus, bringing the total number to 1,036.

“It’s a milestone tragic day,” Lamont said, asking for a moment to say a prayer for the families.

The state’s first coronavirus death was reported on March 18, a man in his 80s who had been living in an assisted living facility in Ridgefield.

California death toll from coronavirus rises above 1,000

Update 7:30 p.m. EDT April 17: California hit more than 1,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus on Friday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Los Angeles County has had the most deaths with 457. The state has continued to see new virus hot spots, despite the governor’s proclamation that California has bent the “curve” of new cases.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the state won’t ease a stay-at-home order until he sees consecutive weeks of declining hospitalizations related to COVID-19 and testing is widespread. He wants to be able to test over 25,000 people a day, but the state has lagged behind in establishing a robust testing operation.

Trump announces $19B relief program for farmers

Update 6:45 p.m. EDT April 17: President Trump announced a $19 billion relief program for farmers and ranchers. $16 billion will be direct payments and $3 billion will go to purchasing food from farmers, according to CBS News.

Arkansas governor aims to lift some virus restrictions May 4

Update 6 p.m. EDT April 17: Arkansas could start lifting restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic on May 4, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday.

Health officials meanwhile revealed that COVID-19 infections at a state prison have almost tripled, and the number of people infected in the state increased to at least 1,695 people.

Hutchinson said he hoped to lift some restrictions if Arkansas meets the criteria in a three-phase plan laid out Thursday by the Trump administration for states to reopen their economies.

“This is a start, and we need everybody’s help to meet that goal,” Hutchinson said. The governor did not specify which restrictions he hoped to lift first.

The governor did not issue a statewide stay-at-home order but imposed other restrictions that closed businesses such as gyms and casinos. He also prohibited sit-down service at restaurants and bars.

More than 150,000 killed by COVID-19 worldwide

Update 3:50 p.m. EDT April 17: The world reached a grim milestone Friday when the death toll associated with the novel coronavirus topped 150,000 globally, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

A majority of the world’s coronavirus deaths were reported in the United States, where health officials have reported more than 34,000 deaths, according to CNN.

The second-most number of fatal cases were reported in Italy, where government officials have said 22,745 people have died. Spain had the third highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world with 19,613 reported deaths.

30 residents die of COVID-19 at Massachusetts nursing home

Update 3:40 p.m. EDT April 17: Officials at a nursing home in Belmont, Massachusetts, said in a letter Thursday that 30 residents have died after contracting COVID-19, according to WFXT.

The administrator for Belmont Manor wrote that 116 residents and 59 employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus infections. The results of two other residents’ tests were pending Thursday and testing was ongoing on 96 other staff members, WFXT reported.

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Maryland schools to remain closed until at least May 15

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT April 17: Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and state Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon on Friday announced that schools in the state will remain closed until at least May 15 due to the cornoavirus pandemic.

Salmon said school districts and superintendents statewide were working on plans to expand digital learning and investigating whether lost instruction time might be recovered in expanded summer school programs.

“State and local school officials are actively preparing for a number of scenarios depending on when our educators and students would be able to re-enter school buildings,” Salmon said.

COVID-19 outbreak sickens about 150 inmates at NC prison

Update 2:45 p.m. EDT April 17: An outbreak of novel coronavirus infections at a state prison in Wayne County, North Carolina has sickened nearly 150 inmates, WSOC-TV reported.

The infections were reported at the Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro, according to the Wayne County Health Department. Authorities said Friday that testing has begun on all of the facility’s 700 inmates and any staff members who want to be tested.

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“The outbreak at Neuse CI is no doubt a cause for concern but not for panic,” state Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee said Friday in a statement. “We have medical protocols in place to handle this and frankly it is better to know up front what we are facing so we can do what is necessary to stop the spread.”

Ohio governor outlines plan to reopen businesses beginning May 1

Update 2:30 p.m. EDT April 17: Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio on Friday laid out some of the steps that will be taken when businesses begin reopening in the state, a process officials expect to begin on May 1, WHIO-TV reported.

DeWine said businesses will gradually reopen and that the process will only begin if state residents can continue to “flatten the curve" of coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations, according to WHIO-TV.

“We must get this right because the stakes are very high,” DeWine said. “If we don’t do it right the consequences are horrendous.”

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3,250 new coronavirus infections reported in New Jersey

Update 2:10 p.m. EDT April 17: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said that as of Friday, 78,567 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state.

Officials also reported 323 new fatal COVID-19 cases Friday, slightly lower than the 362 new fatal cases reported one day earlier.

Statewide, 3,518 people have died of coronavirus.

Texas closing schools through end of academic year

Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 17: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued an executive order Friday mandating schools statewide remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year due to the novel coronavirus.

In a statement, the Texas Education Agency said the decision showed a continued emphasis on keeping students, teachers, staff and others healthy.

“While a difficult decision to make, it is the right one for our families and communities -- and the only one that makes sense for Texas at this time,” the statement said.

Tennessee church challenging ban on drive-in church services

Update 1:35 p.m. EDT April 17: A Tennessee church is challenging a local ban on drive-in church services, joining a growing list of lawsuits seeking to push back against limitations on religious gatherings that have been enacted to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

A conservative legal group called Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, based in Chattanooga. The complaints follow Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke’s declaration that drive-in religious services would violate the city’s shelter-in-place directive that has been in place since April 2.

Chattanooga’s order comes as Gov. Bill Lee issued a statewide stay-at-home order until April 30. However, the Republican governor’s order does not restrict types of worship.

Iowa schools to remain closed through school year

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT April 17: Authorities in Iowa announced Friday that schools across the state will remain closed through the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While I would like nothing more than to open up our schools and classrooms in May, we have to prioritize the health and safety of Iowans,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday in a news release. “With our students at home, we must rely on continuous learning plans that are in place and prepare school districts for ‘Return to Learn’ in the fall.”

Officials said the decision was made based on recommendations from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

More than half of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 deaths connected to nursing, personal care homes

Update 1:20 p.m. EDT April 17: More than half of the 756 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Pennsylvania have been connected to nursing and personal care homes, WPXI-TV reported Friday.

“In nursing and personal care homes, there are 3,716 resident cases of COVID-19, and 420 cases among employees, for a total of 4,136 at 321 distinct facilities in 35 counties," officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Thursday in a news release. "Out of our total deaths, 398 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.”

Organizers cancel San Diego Comic-Con

Update 1:15 p.m. EDT April 17: Organizers announced Friday that the 2020 San Diego Comic Convention, best known simply as Comic-Con, has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers said the event will return to the San Diego Convention Center from July 22 - July 25, 2021.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision,” Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said Friday. “We eagerly look forward to the time when we can all meet again and share in the community we all love and enjoy.”

Louisiana reports 587 new coronavirus infections

Update 12:55 p.m. EDT April 17: Officials in Louisiana reported 587 new coronavirus infections Friday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 23,118.

The number of new reports was slightly higher than the 581 new coronavirus infections reported Thursday.

Officials said Friday that 57 more fatal coronavirus cases were reported. Statewide, 1,868 people have died of COVID-19.

In-person classes canceled through end of school year in DC

Update 12:50 p.m. EDT April 17: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Friday that schools in the state will be closed until the end of the school year, which will end early due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Bowser said students will continue to participate in digital learning until May 29, when the 2019-2020 school year will come to an end.

779 new COVID-19 cases reported in Florida

Update 12:40 p.m. EDT April 17: Health officials in Florida reported 779 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 24,119, WFTV reported.

Statewide, 633 people have died of COVID-19, WFTV reported, citing the Florida Department of Health.

Number of new coronavirus infections continue decline in Italy

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT April 17: The daily increase in new coronavirus infections identified in Italy continued to decrease Friday with 3,493 new cases reported, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 172,434.

The cases include 25,786 in which patients were hospitalized Friday, 2,812 of which were in intensive care. More than 78,000 people had been placed under isolation.

Officials said Friday that 22,745 people have died of COVID-19 in Italy. The country has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind Spain, which has more than 184,000 cases, and the United States, which has more than 672,000 cases, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Pennsylvania officials report 1,706 new COVID-19 cases

Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 16: Health officials in Pennsylvania reported 1,706 new COVID-19 cases Friday, raising the state’s total number of coronavirus infections to 29,441, WPXI reported.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported 49 new deaths. According to WPXI, 756 people have died of coronavirus in the state.

4 Tyson Foods employees in Georgia have died of COVID-19

Update 12 p.m. EDT April 17: Four employees of Tyson Foods in Georgia have died from the coronavirus.

Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson said Friday that three of the employees worked at the company’s chicken processing plant in Camilla, while the fourth person worked in a supporting job outside the plant. He declined to say how many workers there have tested positive for COVID-19.

Mickelson says two other Tyson Foods workers died from the virus at its plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents 2,000 workers at the Georgia chicken plant, identified the three who died as women who had worked there for 13 to 35 years.

The union wants poultry processors to require employees quarantine themselves for 14 days and get paid sick leave when they’re exposed to co-workers testing positive. It also wants individual departments shut down for 72 hours and cleaned after a positive test.

New York reports 630 new fatal coronavirus cases

Update 11:40 a.m. EDT April 17: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Friday that 630 more people have died of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total number of deadly coronavirus infections to 12,822.

The number is slightly higher than the 606 new fatal coronavirus cases reported one day earlier.

“The number of deaths, unfortunately, refuses to come down dramatically,” the governor said Friday at a news conference.

He said the rate of new infections has continued to fall, however, he said about 2,000 new coronavirus infections have been reported, about the same number of new infections reported in the last few days.

“If people tell you the pandemic is ‘over’ -- they’re wrong,” Cuomo said.

Trump appears to show support for demonstrators protesting stay-at-home orders

Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 17: President Donald Trump appeared to show support for demonstrators who in recent days have protested stay-at-home orders put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia.

In several states small-government groups, Trump supporters, anti-vaccine advocates, gun rights backers and supporters of right-wing causes have united behind a deep suspicion of efforts to shut down daily life to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The signs of frustration come as Trump has pushed for easing stay-at-home orders and tried to look ahead to restarting the economy. He unveiled a framework for governors to follow on Thursday, but acknowledged the governors will have the final say on when their state is ready. Health experts have warned that lifting restrictions too quickly could result in a surge of new cases of the virus.

TSA checkpoint screenings down more than 96%

Update 11:15 a.m. EDT April 17: Officials with the Transportation Security Administration said Friday that checkpoint screenings were down more than 96% percent from numbers recorded a year earlier.

Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for TSA, said 95,085 travelers passed through checkpoints at airports across the United States on Thursday. One year earlier, officials had screened 2,616,158 people, she said.

Airlines have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, as governments have restricted travel to slow the spread of COVID-19 and people have expressed fear of contracting the illness on a plane. Air travel has ground to a near complete halt, with airlines cutting thousands of flights and with those that remain often carrying just a few passengers.

‘Shelter-in-place’ order extended in Mississippi

Update 11 a.m. EDT April 17: Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi on Friday announced a week-long extension of his state’s “shelter-in-place” order due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus.

The order has been scheduled to expire April 27.

126 new coronavirus infections reported in DC

Update 10:55 a.m. EDT April 17: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Friday that 126 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, slightly lower than the 153 new infections reported one day earlier.

The new reports bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Washington D.C. to 2,476.

Bowser said Friday that five people between the ages of 61 and 91 also died of COVID-19. Eighty-six Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said.

Non-essential events canceled through May in New York City

Update 10:50 a.m. EDT April 17: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City on Friday announced that non-essential, permitted events in the city, including parades, concerts and rallies, have been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus threat.

De Blasio said essential permitted events, such as farmer’s markets, were not being cancelled.

Beaches to reopen with limitations in Jacksonville, Florida

Update 10:35 a.m. EDT April 17: Beaches in Duval County, Florida, which includes Jacksonville, will reopen Friday at 5 p.m. with some restrictions, WJAX-TV reported.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced the decision Thursday to reopen beaches to essential activities, described in an executive order from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as “recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing.”

Beaches will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., according to WJAX-TV.

“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” Curry said in a news release.

7 US Navy sailors hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms

Update 10:20 a.m. EDT April 17: Officials with the U.S. Navy said Friday that seven sailors assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt remained hospitalized in Guam with symptoms of COVID-19.

The number is up one from the number of hospitalized sailors reported one day earlier. Officials said one sailor had been admitted to intensive care for observation due to shortness of breath.

As of Friday, 660 people on the Roosevelt aircraft carrier had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Officials said 6% of the ship’s crew members had yet to be tested.

Stocks rise as Wall Street nears 1st back-to-back weekly gain

Update 10:15 a.m. EDT April 17: Stocks rose Friday at the opening of trading on Wall Street as investors rallied around signs that more governments are planning phased re-openings of their economies.

News that China’s economy suffered the worst downturn since 1979 last quarter did little to depress traders’ optimism after the White House issued guidelines for a phased reopening of U.S. businesses, schools and other institutions.

The S&P 500 rose nearly 2% and could close out its first back-to-back weekly gain since the market began to sell off in February on worries about the virus. Asian and European indexes also rose.

847 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in the UK

Update 10:05 a.m. EDT April 17: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 847 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 14,576.

The number is slightly lower than the 869 new fatal cases reported Thursday.

Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced a total of 108,692 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. The number is 5,599 higher than the number of cases reported nationwide Thursday.

Wearing face covering in public a ‘sign of respect,’ Surgeon General says

Update 9:45 a.m. EDT April 17: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday that wearing a face covering is a “sign of respect” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“If you’re going to go out, you wear your mask to protect me, I wear mine -- my facial covering-- to protect you,” Adams said during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Friday. “I do think it’s a sign of respect, of appreciation for the fact that you could be asymptomatically spreading (COVID-19) to someone else.”

Some states and municipalities have mandated the use of cloth face coverings in public in recent days. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans wear face masks in public.

CDC director: ‘Important not to let up at all’ on social distancing measures

Update 9:15 a.m. EDT April 17: The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized Friday that Americans will need to continue being vigilant as the U.S. looks to ease restrictions put in place to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sometimes behavior modification’s pretty tough when it’s to help improve your own health but the American public really came together when those mitigation strategies were to protect the vulnerable and others, and we need to be very vigilant in that,” Robert Redfield said Friday during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.

Redfield said several parts of the country, including New York, Boston, Baltimore, and Washington, are still seeing high coronavirus transmission rates, highlighting the necessity of continued social distancing measures.

“It’s important not to let up at all but do this in a prudent, gradual way as we go through the different phases and really maintain those mitigation strategies,” he said.

Navy identifies USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who died of COVID-19

Update 8:35 a.m. EDT April 17: Officials with the U.S. Navy on Thursday identified a 41-year-old USS Theodore Roosevelt crew member who died this week after testing positive for COVID-19.

Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, died Monday at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam. He had tested positive for COVID-19 March 30, officials said. His spouse, identified as an active duty member stationed in San Diego, was by his side when he passed, according to the Navy.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time," Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer, said Thursday in a statement. “Our No. 1 priority continues to be the health and well-being of all members of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group and we remain steadfast in our resolve against the spread of this virus.”

As of Thursday, 655 people on the Roosevelt aircraft carrier had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Officials said 6% of the ship’s crew members had yet to be tested.

Worldwide coronavirus cases inch toward 2.2M, global deaths top 146K

Update 7:53 a.m. EDT April 17: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 146,201 early Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 2,172,031 people worldwide. The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:

• The United States has reported 671,425 cases, resulting in 33,286 deaths.

Spain has confirmed 184,948 cases, resulting in 19,315 deaths.

Italy has reported 168,941 infections, resulting in 22,170 deaths.

France has confirmed 147,113 infections, resulting in 17,942 deaths.

Germany has reported 138,221 cases, resulting in 4,098 deaths.

• The United Kingdom has reported 104,155 cases, resulting in 13,759 deaths.

China has recorded 83,760 cases, resulting in 4,636 deaths.

Iran has recorded 79,494 cases, resulting in 4,958 deaths.

Turkey has recorded 74,193 cases, resulting in 1,643 deaths.

Belgium has confirmed 36,138 cases, resulting in 5,163 deaths.

Cuomo extends New York shutdown to May 15, region appears in step

Update 6:26 a.m. EDT April 17: In coordination with other states, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday he will extend New York’s shutdown in the hopes it will continue curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

Despite gains made in recent days in terms of fewer new infections being reported and modest improvement in the state’s grim virus-related death rate, Cuomo said the rate of infection must slow down considerably before he considers lifting the restrictions in total.

“What happens after (May 15)? I don’t know,” Cuomo told the Times, adding, “We will see depending on what the data shows.”

According to CNBC, Delaware already shuttered all nonessential businesses until May 15, while New Jersey’s more open-ended order was instated “until further notice.”

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday that his state’s schools will remain closed until at least May 15.

“That means it will not be safe to reopen our schools or start sports back up for at least another four weeks,” Murphy told CNBC.

Colin Kaepernick starts coronavirus relief fund to help communities of color, donates $100K

Update 5:31 a.m. EDT April 17: With $100,000 of his own money, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched a novel coronavirus relief fund on Thursday, targeting communities of color in need.

>> Coronavirus checklist: 100-plus disinfectants that may kill coronavirus on surfaces

“Black and brown communities are being disproportionately devastated by COVID-19 because of hundreds of years of structural racism,” Kaepernick, 32, said in a video posted to Twitter.

Read more here.

China revises Wuhan death toll 50% higher, adds nearly 1,300 coronavirus fatalities to count

Update 3:21 a.m. EDT April 17: Chinese officials on Friday revised the death toll in Wuhan to include an additional 1,290 fatalities attributed to the novel coronavirus, citing a larger percentage of home deaths than previously counted and overwhelmed health care personnel.

The new figures boost the death toll in the pandemic’s original epicenter by nearly 50 percent to 3,869, The Washington Post reported.

Meanwhile, Wuhan’s epidemic and prevention and control headquarters also revised the central Chinese city’s total infection count by 325 confirmed cases to 50,333, or roughly two-thirds of China’s 82,367 acknowledged cases, The Associated Press reported.

Facebook nixes gatherings of 50 or more people through June 2021

Update 2:30 a.m. EDT April 17: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday the social media juggernaut is canceling all gatherings with 50 or more people through June 2021.

In a post to his personal Facebook page, Zuckerberg said most will continue working from home through at least the end of May, though some exceptions will be made to accommodate those whose jobs are more difficult to perform remotely.

As we start to think about what it will look like to re-open society, I wanted to provide an update on how we're...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, April 16, 2020

US coronavirus deaths hit 33,284, total cases top 671K

Update 12:47 a.m. EDT April 17: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 671,000 early Friday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 671,331 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 33,284 deaths. Of those cases, nearly 224,000 have been reported in New York, meaning the state has, itself, confirmed more cases than any other nation outside the United States, including the United Kingdom with 104,147 cases, Germany with 137,698, France with 147,091, Italy with 168,941 and Spain with 184,948.

Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 14,832 – or nearly 45% of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 3,518 in New Jersey, 2,093 in Michigan and 1,245 in Massachusetts.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak with at least 223,691 confirmed cases – roughly three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 75,317, Massachusetts with 32,181 and Michigan with 29,263.

Five other states have now confirmed at least 20,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including:

Pennsylvania: 28,314, resulting in 848 deaths

California: 28,091, resulting in 973 deaths

Illinois: 25,733, resulting in 1,073 deaths

Florida: 23,340, resulting in 668 deaths

Louisiana: 22,532, resulting in 1,156 deaths

Meanwhile, Texas, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 15,000 novel coronavirus infections, followed closely by Washington state with 11,285 and Maryland with 10,784; Indiana, Colorado and Ohio each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Virginia and Tennessee each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases, followed closely by North Carolina with 5,668 and Missouri with 5,239; Alabama and Arizona each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; South Carolina, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Mississippi and Nevada each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Utah, Kentucky, Oklahoma, the District of Columbia, Iowa and Delaware each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases.

Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.