Coronavirus: Tip from Ashton Kutcher led to testing deal, Iowa governor says

Coronavirus outbreak: What you need to know

More than 2.6 million people worldwide – including more than 847,000 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

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Live updates for Thursday, April 23, continue below:

Tip from Ashton Kutcher led to testing deal, Iowa governor says

Update 10:55 p.m. EDT April 23: Iowa’s $26 million contract to increase coronavirus testing was reached after the governor acted on a tip from actor Ashton Kutcher, a revelation that increased skepticism about the no-bid deal on Thursday.

Critics of Gov. Kim Reynolds said they were puzzled by the celebrity’s cameo in Iowa’s outbreak response, particularly when the state has been slow to tap some of its own experts.

But the governor said Kutcher’s role gave her partnership with a slate of Utah companies an Iowa flavor. And Kutcher said he was simply using his connections to offer a creative solution that could help his native state.

The governor said the tip came when she called Kutcher to ask him to record a public service announcement urging residents to stay home.

Kutcher asked whether she’d heard about TestUtah, a public-private partnership that had started coronavirus testing and “looked very promising,” the governor recalled.

Kutcher said that he had a tech executive friend working on TestUtah and offered to arrange a meeting. Reynolds spoke with Kutcher’s associate and her aides soon connected with the office of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

“We were able to start that conversation and ramp it up relatively quickly,” Reynolds said.

Trump approved of Georgia’s reopen plan before bashing it

Update 9:50 p.m. EDT April 23: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly told Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that they approved of his aggressive plan to allow businesses to reopen, just a day before Trump pulled an about-face and publicly bashed the plan, according to an Associated Press report citing two administration officials.

The green light from Pence and Trump came in separate private conversations with the Republican governor both before Kemp announced his plan to ease coronavirus restrictions and after it was unveiled on Monday, the officials said. Trump’s sudden shift came only after top health advisers reviewed the plan more closely and persuaded the president that Kemp was risking further spread of the virus by moving too quickly.

“I told the governor of Georgia Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said Wednesday, just a day after telling reporters that he trusted Kemp’s judgment. “He knows what’s he’s doing.”

On Thursday, he was even harder on the governor: “I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp, I wasn’t at all happy.”

The extraordinary reversal — and public criticism of a GOP ally — is only the latest in a series of contradictory and confusing messages from the president on how and when he believes governors should ease stay-at-home orders intended to stop the spread of the deadly virus. It demonstrates the political risk for governors in following the unpredictable president’s guidance.

Trump’s criticism adds to tough choices in Georgia reopening

Update 8:50 p.m. EDT April 23: President Donald Trump’s blunt disapproval of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to let certain businesses reopen in limited ways is only complicating the decisions of many owners, workers and customers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hair stylist Shannon Stafford said Thursday that she was having second thoughts about reopening her Savannah salon Friday as she weighed the clashing messages from the president and fellow Republican Kemp.

“Do you want us to remain closed? Do you want us to reopen?” Stafford said Thursday. “Everything, just the back and forth, it does have me a little uncertain whether to proceed.”

Stafford said she planned to open her doors to allow her stylists to return to work if they choose. She also planned to keep appointments with three clients who had already booked.

“Whether I decide to move forward with taking some clients, I’m not certain,” she said.

With Georgia’s reported coronavirus cases rising near 22,000 and deaths hitting 881 on Thursday according to the state Department of Public Health, reopening was already mired in unattractive choices. Businesses that have had breaks on rent and loan repayment might find creditors less forgiving if they reopen. Employees might have to report to work or risk losing unemployment benefits. And customers must decide how much they want to risk for that haircut or workout.

Experts say increasing testing for infections and tracking down those who have been in contact with infected people are key to preventing a increase in cases as activity expands. Georgia has ranked in the bottom 10 states for testing per capita, but the state reported nearly 7,000 tests from Wednesday to Thursday, the most so far in a day.

Kemp is allowing elective medical procedures to resume Friday and the close-contact businesses he had ordered closed may reopen, including barber shops, nail salons, gyms, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys and massage therapists. On Monday, limited in-restaurant dining may resume and movie theaters may reopen. All the businesses are subject to restrictions including separating workers and enhanced sanitation.

Restaurants will be limited to a maximum of 10 customers per 500 square feet and all employees must wear face coverings “at all times,” according to guidelines Kemp released Thursday night.

Kemp has defended the move as measured, but he’s been widely criticized, with Trump saying Wednesday that he told Kemp by phone that “I totally disagree” with the decision.

100 workers test positive at Tyson plant in Washington

Update 8 p.m. EDT April 23: 100 workers at the plant tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health, that has mandated the company add new preventative measures and required all 1,400 plant workers be tested for the virus.

The company said workers will continue to be compensated and will isolate at home until results return.

KEPR-TV reported Wednesday that a Tyson Fresh Meats worker died after battling the coronavirus and his family believes he got sick while working at the plant.

Kentucky Derby trophy needs a correction

Update 7:40 p.m. EDT April 23: Kentucky Derby enthusiasts will have to wait a few more months to see who wins the 146th Run for the Roses — the date of the iconic American horserace has been changed, though the prized trophy doesn’t reflect that just yet.

Derby officials announced previously because of the coronavirus outbreak that the race would be presented on Sept. 5 instead of May 2. But this year’s 14-karat gold trophy is engraved with the original date it was to have run, news outlets reported.

The Kentucky Derby Museum will keep the trophy in a fireproof vault until the new Derby Day, said Chris Goodlett, the museum’s director of curatorial and educational affairs. The plan is to have the date changed before then.

House passes $484 billion relief bill, headed to president’s desk

Update 6:15 p.m. EDT April 23: The House passed a $484 billion measure to help businesses and hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump says he’ll sign it into law as early as Thursday evening.

It had already passed by the Senate, which as its centerpiece would add $321 billion to replenish a small-business payroll fund, while pumping more money into hospitals and testing.

Supporters of the Paycheck Protection Program warn that this week’s refill may only last a few days, likely putting business groups back at Washington’s doorstep, along with the nation’s governors and the cash-strapped Postal Service.

The bill does not provide any additional funding for state and local officials.

Arkansas plans ‘surge’ of virus tests before reopen decision

Update 4:25 p.m. EDT April 23: Arkansas’ governor on Thursday said the state will ramp up coronavirus testing over the next two days as he nears a decision on whether to allow some businesses to reopen.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is launching a “surge” of testing on Friday and Saturday and encouraged anyone in the state with coronavirus symptoms to get tested. Hutchinson said the state aimed to increase the number of tests it performs from about 1,000 to 1,500 during those days.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Health officials said the number of people in the state with confirmed coronavirus cases reported has risen to at least 2,465 people. and the number of confirmed coronavirus-related deaths has risen from 42 to 45 people.

California marks deadliest day since outbreak began

Update 3:45 p.m. EDT April 23: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Thursday that the state has marked the highest number of new fatal coronavirus cases seen since the outbreak began.

Newsom said 115 people died of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

“This disease killed more people in the state of California in the last 24 hours than in any previous 24 hours,” the governor said Thursday.

So far, more than 37,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state. The virus has claimed 1,469 lives in California.

“This disease continues to spread,” Newsom said. “We need to continue to spread the word of vigilance.”

North Carolina governor extends state’s stay-at-home order

Update 3:30 p.m. EDT April 23: Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina announced Thursday that he’s extending his stay-at-home order over the state until May 8, WSOC-TV reported.

Cooper issued a stay-at-home order at the end of March in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order had been set to expire next week WSOC-TV reported.

Grocery chain Publix buying and donating surplus milk, produce from farmers

Update 3:20 p.m. EDT April 23: Officials with the grocery store chain Publix announced this week that the company is buying surplus milk and produce from farmers struggling as demand tumbles during the coronavirus pandemic and donating the goods to food banks.

Publix officials said that in the first week of its initiative, it donated about 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk to Feeding America food banks within its operating area.

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin recovers after testing positive for COVID-19

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT April 23: CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin announced Thursday that she’s tested negative for COVID-19 three weeks after she was diagnosed with the viral infection.

“I am virus free!” Baldwin wrote Thursday in an Instagram post. She said she hopes to be able to donate plasma to help treat people fighting active coronavirus infections.

She thanked health care workers on the front line of the fight against the virus, saying that they’re “doing the real work.”

Baldwin said she plans to return to anchoring her show on CNN beginning Monday.

The CNN anchor is one of at least two to contract COVID-19. Earlier, reporter Chris Cuomo said he was self-isolating after being diagnosed with the viral infection.

772 new COVID-19 cases reported in Georgia, businesses expected to start reopening Friday

Update 3 p.m. EDT April 23: One day before some businesses closed by the coronavirus pandemic in Georgia are expected to reopen, health officials said 772 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the state.

The new cases bring the total number of coronavirus infections reported in the state to 21,512, WSB-TV reported.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said just over 4,000 of the infections were serious enough to require hospitalization, according to WSB-TV. As of Thursday, the virus has claimed 872 lives in Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced earlier this week that Georgia is on track for the first phase of reopening businesses, which is expected to begin Friday and Monday, WSB-TV reported. Trump told reporters Wednesday that he disagreed with the governor’s decision, though Kemp said the move was “driven by data and guided by state public health officials.”

Tyson pausing production at Washington facility after 100 employees test positive for COVID-19

Update 2:50 p.m. EDT April 23: Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of poultry giant Tyson Foods, announced Thursday that it’s temporarily suspending production at its facility in Pasco, Washington, after nearly 100 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials said the plant, which produces enough beef to feed 4 million people daily, will be closed as company and health officials work to test all of the plant’s 1,400 employees.

“We’ve also worked with the local health department on more mitigation efforts and have accommodated all its recommendations for protective measures, which exceeded CDC guidelines," Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meat, said Thursday in a statement.

"Despite these efforts, the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 case and community concerns has resulted in a collective decision to close and test all team members.”

Family members told KEPR-TV that at least one Tyson Fresh Meats employee died after contracting coronavirus. They said they believe Guadalupe Olivera picked up the infection while working at the facility.

Nearly 100,000 cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey

Update 2:30 p.m. EDT April 23: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Thursday that 4,247 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 99,989.

Officials also reported 307 new fatal COVID-19 cases, slightly lower than the 314 new fatal cases reported one day earlier.

Statewide, 5,368 people have died of coronavirus.

Rhode Island schools to remain closed through end of academic year

Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 23: Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island announced Thursday that public schools in the state will remain closed through the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Students will continue to participate in distance learning programs, WPRI reported.

Raimondo ordered schools closed last month to help contain COVID-19. Students began learning from home March 23, WPRI reported.

Number of currently infected COVID-19 patients continues to decline in Italy

Update 2 p.m. EDT April 23: The number of active coronavirus infections reported in Italy fell again Thursday from 107,699 to 106,848, according to numbers released by health officials.

Over the last week, Italian officials have noted a slow decline in active COVID-19 cases. Earlier, the number of active cases fell from 107,709 reported Tuesday to 107,699 on Wednesday. One day earlier, officials reported about 530 fewer cases than had been reported Monday.

Italian health officials said Thursday that the death toll rose to 25,549, up 464 from the number of deaths reported Wednesday.

Since the beginning of the viral outbreak, officials have identified 189,973 COVID-19 cases in Italy. The country has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind Spain, which has more than 213,000 cases, and the United States, which has more than 847,000 cases, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Louisiana reports 481 new coronavirus infections

Update 1:45 p.m. EDT April 23: Officials in Louisiana reported 481 new coronavirus infections Thursday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 25,739.

The number is slightly higher than the 404 new infections reported Wednesday and the 331 new infections reported Tuesday.

Officials said that statewide, 1,540 people have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.

Navy: 840 COVID-19 cases identified in USS Theodore Roosevelt crew members

Update 1:35 p.m. EDT April 23: Officials with the U.S. Navy said 840 people who had been assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus infections.

Testing has been completed on all crew members, officials said. The ship has been sidelined in Guam since March 27, moving sailors ashore, testing them and isolating them for nearly a month.

Four sailors assigned to the ship were hospitalized Thursday with symptoms of COVID-19. Eighty-eight other sailors have recovered from the viral infection. Officials said 4,234 sailors have been moved ashore.

256 new COVID-19 cases reported in Florida

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT April 23: Health officials in Florida reported 256 new coronavirus infections Thursday, raising the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 28,832, WFTV reported.

Statewide, 960 people have died of COVID-19, WFTV reported, citing the Florida Department of Health.

Some representatives don masks for work on House floor

Update 1:20 p.m. EDT April 23: Back from their districts to vote on an over $480 billion emergency relief measure to deal with the spread of the coronavirus, members of the House from both parties tried to press on with their work on Capitol Hill for one day, dealing with an array of new social distancing measures designed to keep them safe from the virus outbreak.

“We’re here today functioning,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “Obviously, we’re doing things differently. We’re a bit out of our comfort zone as a body.”

But there were some - mainly GOP lawmakers - who resisted wearing a mask at all.

638 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in the UK

Update 1:05 p.m. EDT April 23: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 638 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 18,738.

Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced a total of 138,078 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. The number is 4,583 higher than the number of cases reported nationwide Wednesday.

Cuomo: McConnell’s suggestion states declare bankruptcy ‘one of the really dumb ideas of all time'

Update 1 p.m. EDT April 23: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday after the Kentucky Republican suggested that laws should be amended to allow states to declare bankruptcy amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo called the recommendation “one of the really dumb ideas of all time" and questioned the timing of the announcement.

“It makes no sense that the entire nation is dependent on what the governors do to reopen … but then you’re not going to fund the state government," Cuomo said Thursday at a news conference. "You think I’m going to do it alone? How do you think this is going to work?”

Cuomo’s comments come after the Senate passed a $484 billion bill Tuesday to help businesses and hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill did not provide any additional funding for state and local officials.

“Not to fund state and local governments is incredibly short-sighted," Cuomo said. “How do you not fund police and fire and teachers and schools in the midst of this crisis? Yes, airlines are important, yes, small business is important -- so are police and fire and health care workers, who are the front line workers.”

During an interview Wednesday, McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he would “certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route.” Currently,

“There’s no good reason for it not to be available,” McConnell said. “My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that. That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of.”

More than 37,000 coronavirus cases reported in Pennsylvania

Updated 12:45 p.m. EDT April 23: Health officials in Pennsylvania reported 1,369 new coronavirus infections Thursday, raising the number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 37,053, WPXI reported.

On Thursday, officials with the state Department of Health revised the number of deaths connected to COVID-19 down to 1,394.

Pompeo: China using virus to push ambitions

Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 23: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused China of taking advantage of the global preoccupation with the coronavirus crisis to push forward with its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

Pompeo made the accusation Thursday at a virtual meeting to discuss COVID-19 with the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Beijing’s expansive territorial and fishing claims in the South China Sea conflict with those of ASEAN’s maritime members and are sharply contested by Washington. Most other meeting participants’ statements focused on the health, economic and social problems wrought by COVID-19.

New York reports 438 new fatal coronavirus cases, new case rate remains steady

Update 11:50 a.m. EDT April 23: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the number of new coronavirus-related deaths continued to fall Thursday but not as quickly as officials would like.

Cuomo said 438 more COVID-19 patients have died, down from the 474 new deaths reported one day earlier. The reports raise the state’s novel coronavirus death toll to 15,740.

The governor said the number of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases remained steady Thursday with about 1,300 new cases identified.

“The number of new COVID cases walking in the door or being diagnosed is relatively flat,” Cuomo said. “That is not great news. We’d like to see it going down. But it’s not going up either.”

He said officials are focusing on the numbers, which indicate that New York has already passed its peak of viral infections.

“What we’re looking at now is -- okay, we’re on the downside of this curve. Do they continue to trend down or do they pop back up?” Cuomo said. “If they continue to trend down, how fast is the decline and how long will the decline go?”

Elizabeth Warren’s eldest brother dies of coronavirus

Update 11:05 a.m. EDT April 23: Sen. Elizabeth Warren thanked front line workers Thursday for caring for her eldest brother, Don Reed, who died Tuesday of complications related to COVID-19.

Warren remembered her brother, a U.S. Air Force member who spent five and a half years serving on-and-off in Vietnam, as “charming and funny, a natural leader.”

“What made him extra special was his smile -- quick and crooked, it always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him,” she said.

“I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say “I love you” one more time—and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close. I’ll miss you dearly my brother.”

155 new coronavirus cases reported in DC

Update 10:35 a.m. EDT April 23: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Thursday that 155 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, up from the 108 new infections reported one day earlier.

The new reports bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Washington D.C. to 3,361.

Bowser said 12 more people between the ages of 50 and 105 also died of COVID-19. As of Thursday, 139 Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said.

House begins debate over setting up special subcommittee to deal with coronavirus

Update 10:25 a.m. EDT April 23: The U.S. House of Representatives has begun an hour-long debate over creating a special subcommittee to deal with the coronavirus.

The group would be part of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Congressional aides told reporters on Wednesday that the panel would act as a centralized body for work related to the virus outbreak in the House, according to Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree.

The House is expected to vote later Thursday on whether to approve a $484 billion coronavirus relief package aimed at shoring up businesses struggling due to virus-mandated closures.

Stocks open slightly higher on Wall Street, crude oil rises

Update 10:05 a.m. EDT April 23: Stocks opened slightly higher Thursday morning, even after the U.S. government announced that 4.4 million more workers filed for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs sweep the economy. The S&P 500 rose 0.5%.

The weekly jobless claims report has become one of the main ways to measure how severely shutdowns aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus are damaging the economy. Over the last five weeks, roughly 26 million people have filed for unemployment, or one in six workers.

Oil prices rose again from rock-bottom lows they reached earlier this week.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on another bill Thursday to provide relief to business and workers.

Up to half of those killed by COVID-19 in Europe were in care homes, WHO says

Update 9:55 a.m. EDT April 23: Estimates show that as many as half of the people who have died in Europe due to the novel coronavirus were residents of long-term care facilities, according to the World Health Organization.

“This is an unimaginable human tragedy,” Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said Thursday. “This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the overlooked and undervalued corners of our society. Across the European Region, long-term care has often been notoriously neglected but it should not be this way.”

More than 100,000 people have died in Europe due to the novel coronavirus. More than 20,000 people have died in Italy, Spain and France since the beginning of the outbreak, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

American Red Cross to use antibody tests to find potential plasma donors

Update 9:35 a.m. EDT April 23: The American Red Cross announced plans Wednesday to implement antibody testing to automatically screen for recovered COVID-19 patients who can donate plasma to help treat people still infected with the novel coronavirus.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved of the use of an antibody test for COVID-19. Red Cross officials said the test has the potential to vastly widen the pool of possible plasma donors by “enabling the collection of convalescent plasma from the many donors who do not currently have a confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis.”

The Red Cross has been working with federal officials and others to establish a process to identify and collect convalescent plasma since late March. However, Red Cross officials noted that few people meet the stringent criteria for donations set by the FDA.

Under the agency’s guidelines, potential plasma donors must have been symptom-free for at least 28 days before a donation or at least 14 days before a donation and after having tested negative for COVID-19. Red Cross officials said the organization has distributed a couple hundred “convalescent plasma products” under the system.

4.4 million more Americans file for unemployment

Update 8:40 a.m. EDT April 23: More than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as job cuts escalated across an economy that remains all but shut down, the government said Thursday.

Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors. About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the worst string of layoffs on record. Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%.

The enormous magnitude of job cuts has plunged the U.S. economy into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Some economists say the nation’s output could shrink by twice the amount that it did during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009.

US fatalities account for roughly 25% of global coronavirus death toll

Update 7:51 a.m. EDT April 23: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 184,268 early Thursday, 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 2,645,092 people worldwide. Meanwhile, one in every four deaths reported worldwide have occurred in the United States.

The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:

• The United States has reported 842,624 cases, resulting in 46,785 deaths.

Spain has confirmed 213,024 cases, resulting in 22,157 deaths.

Italy has reported 187,327 infections, resulting in 25,085 deaths.

France has confirmed 157,135 infections, resulting in 21,373 deaths.

Germany has reported 150,729 cases, resulting in 5,315 deaths.

• The United Kingdom has reported 134,639 cases, resulting in 18,151 deaths.

Turkey has recorded 98,674 cases, resulting in 2,376 deaths

Iran has recorded 85,996 cases, resulting in 5,391 deaths.

China has recorded 83,876 cases, resulting in 4,636 deaths.

Russia has confirmed 62,773 cases, resulting in 555 deaths.

Connecticut police in wealthy suburb testing ‘pandemic drone’ that detects coughing, fevers

Update 7:10 a.m. EDT April 23: The city of Westport, Connecticut, announced plans Tuesday to test a “pandemic drone” capable of detecting fevers and coughs.

“The goal is to provide better health monitoring support for potential at-risk groups, including seniors, as well as for gathering crowds at beaches, train stations, parks and recreation areas and shopping centers,” a statement from the Westport Police Department said, adding, “It will not be used in individual private yards, nor does it employ facial recognition technology.”

See the full statement below.

Westport Police Department Testing New Drone Technology “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program” First Selectman Jim Marpe...

Posted by Westport Police Department on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

88% of ventilated coronavirus patients in New York’s largest hospital died, study says

Update 6:56 a.m. EDT April 23: A paper published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed extremely poor outcomes for the sickest patients battling the novel coronavirus in New York’s largest hospital system.

According to the paper, 88% of the 320 COVID-19 patients tracked in the study died, while only 20% of all hospitalized patients during the same time period died, The Washington Post reported.

Read more here and here.

California woman believed to be 1st US coronavirus fatality identified

Update 5:38 a.m. EDT April 23: The Los Angeles Times has identified the San Francisco Bay Area woman who “died suddenly” in early February and is believed to be the first known novel coronavirus-related death in the country as Patricia Dowd.

Dowd, 57, was seemingly healthy, worked as a manager for a semiconductor company, “exercised routinely, watched her diet and took no medication,” the Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Dowd suffered flu-like symptoms in the days prior to her Feb. 6 death, but she appeared to be recovering. She had even communicated with a coworker around 8 a.m. on the day of her passing but was found dead about two hours later.

Read more here.

Tennessee brothers who hoarded hand sanitizer avoid fine

Update 5:07 a.m. EDT April 23: “Prompt cooperation” and a demonstrable change of heart appear to have spared two Tennessee brothers a fine for their attempt to resell hoarded bottles of hand sanitizer online at the outset of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Matt and Noah Colvin made headlines in March when The New York Times exposed their efforts to hoard tens of thousands of bottles of the alcohol-based disinfectant and then sell them for as much as $70 each online, The Washington Post reported.

Following the accusations of price gouging, the brothers received a cease-and-desist letter and opted to donate their stockpile to nonprofit organizations in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III said in a news release that one act might well have been the duo’s saving grace.

“Disrupting necessary supplies during an unprecedented pandemic is a serious offense,” Slatery said, adding, “It became clear during our investigation that the Colvins realized this, and their prompt cooperation and donation led to an outcome that actually benefited some consumers.”

Japan confirms more than 12,600 coronavirus cases after recent spike, dashing hopes of containment

Update 4:46 a.m. EDT April 23: A recent spike in novel coronavirus cases across Japan appears to negate recent strides made in containing the pandemic’s spread.

According to Japan’s health ministry, 422 new cases were recorded Wednesday, bringing the nation’s total number of infections to 12,631, including the 712 cases linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship during the pandemic’s initial activity.

The latest figures come one week after a team of government experts cautioned the nation could experience more than 400,000 virus-related deaths if additional ventilators are not secured and social distancing measures are not adopted, CNN reported.

The 10 additional deaths confirmed by the health ministry Wednesday bring Japan’s nationwide death toll to 300.

U.N. secretary general sounds alarm on ‘human rights crisis’ created by coronavirus

Update 4:11 a.m. EDT April 23: U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warned early Thursday of a human rights crisis resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a video message he characterized the coronavirus pandemic as more far-reaching than a simple public health emergency.

“By respecting human rights in this time of crisis, we will build more effective and inclusive solutions,” Guterres said in the video.

Coronavirus drives an estimated 26M US workers to file unemployment claims, report says

Update 2:57 a.m. EDT April 23: If projections hold true, unemployment figures released later today could show 26 million Americans, or about 16% of the U.S. workforce, has filed for state unemployment assistance over the past five weeks, including the anticipated 4.3 million who are believed to have filed last week.

The figures, compiled by Reuters, effectively eliminate a decade of unemployment gains and shatter the standing post-World War II record that passed 10 percent in November 1982.

Economists are forecasting as many as 25 million jobs were lost in April, alone, following the 701,000 jobs lost in March, representing the largest decrease in 11 years, The Washington Post reported.

US coronavirus deaths hit 46,769, total cases top 842K

Update 12:58 a.m. EDT April 23: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 842,000 early Thursday 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 842,376 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 46,769 deaths. Of those cases, more than 263,000 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 134,638 cases, Germany with 150,648, France with 157,135, Italy with 187,327 and Spain with 208,389.

Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 19,439 – or roughly 42% of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 5,150 in New Jersey, 2,813 in Michigan, 2,182 in Massachusetts, 1,673 in Pennsylvania and 1,565 in Illinois.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak with at least 263,513 confirmed cases – nearly three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 95,914, Massachusetts with 42,944, California with 37,603, Pennsylvania with 36,212, Illinois with 35,109 and Michigan with 33,966.

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

Florida: 28,309, resulting in 893 deaths

Louisiana: 25,258, resulting in 1,473 deaths

Connecticut: 22,469, resulting in 1,544 deaths

Texas: 21,675, resulting in 567 deaths

Georgia: 21,102, resulting in 846 deaths

Meanwhile, Maryland and Ohio state each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases; Indiana and Washington state each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed closely by Colorado with 10,891 and Virginia with 10,266; Tennessee and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases, followed closely by Missouri with 6,320; Rhode Island, Alabama and Arizona each has confirmed at least 5,000 cases; Mississippi, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Nevada each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; Iowa, Utah, Kentucky, the District of Columbia and Delaware each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Oklahoma, Minnesota, Kansas Arkansas, New Mexico and Oregon each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.