Tuesday morning news – March 31, 2020

Cuomo pleads for help has NY death toll mounts » New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is putting out an urgent plea for medical volunteers as the deaths in his state continue to mount. 

CUOMO: I am asking healthcare professionals across the country, if you don’t have a healthcare crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now. 

His plea comes as the death toll in New York climbed past 1,200 on Monday—with most of those victims in New York City.

Cuomo also expressed his gratitude as a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship pulled into a Manhattan port yesterday. He said it’s like adding another hospital in the city. 

Meantime, other major cities have seen a surge in coronavirus cases, including Chicago, Detroit, and New Orleans. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy warned this week that hospitals are nearly at capacity. Officials are now turning the New Orleans convention center into a coronavirus recovery center. And healthcare workers are feeling the strain as well.

Thomas Krajewski is an emergency room physician just outside New Orleans. He’s seen many patients check into the hospital hoping to get better…

KRAJEWSKI: And instead they have gotten worse while they’ve been in the hospital. And in fact, many of them have passed away already in a way that’s … [chokes up] it’s not normal. 

Louisiana has a stay-at-home order in place. And this week, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. also issued stay-at-home orders. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday issued a stay-home order for the southern portion of his state.

U.S. has now tested more than a million people for coronavirus » Speaking in the White House Rose Garden Monday, President Trump announced a coronavirus testing milestone. 

TRUMP: Over 1 million Americans have now been tested, more than any other country by far. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said U.S. healthcare workers are now testing more than 100,000 samples per day. And the administrator of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, said many more patients will soon get their test results in a matter of minutes. He said the government has approved new COVID-19 point-of-care tests, which allow patients to get results before they leave the doctor’s office or any other testing site.

HAHN: Just like tests for flu or strep where you go to the doctor and get the test done, you can get results within minutes of having this test done.

The FDA has also approved N95 mask sterilization kits that will allow healthcare workers to reuse masks up to 20 times. Sterilization machines will soon ship to more than a half-dozen cities.

Retailers to furlough hundreds of thousands of workers » Macy’s, Kohl’s and The Gap all announced furloughs on Monday that will collectively impact hundreds of thousands of workers.

Macy’s will stop paying 125,000 employees this week after temporarily closing more than 600 stores earlier this month. Kohl’s will furlough 85,000 employees. And a Gap spokesman said its furloughs will affect nearly 80,000 people.

Some Amazon, Instacart workers walk out » Meanwhile, some Instacart and Amazon warehouse workers walked off the job Monday, demanding stronger safety measures against the coronavirus. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The one-day strikes didn’t have much of an impact on consumers, but they called attention to mounting worries from workers on the front lines—serving the needs of millions now working from home. 

And a worker’s group for Whole Foods employees is calling for a nationwide —quote—“sick out” tomorrow. 

Online grocery-delivery service Instacart and Amazon say they are working to equip their employees with sanitation gear and have taken steps to increase pay and extend paid sick time. Instacart also outlined changes to its tip system, but strikers said it was too little too late. Some are demanding hazard pay. 

But organized walk-offs may not gain much traction with so many people applying for new jobs as layoffs surge in restaurants, retail, hospitality, and other industries. Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Moscow on lockdown after Russia closes borders » After Russia temporarily closed its borders nationwide, Moscow is now on lockdown—obliging most of its 13 million residents to stay home. Many other regions of the country quickly followed suit. And the government is reportedly considering a nationwide lockdown. 

Today, the Russian parliament is scheduled to approve a bill that imposes prison terms of up to seven years and steep fines for violators.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Russia. The country has reported fewer than 2,000 confirmed cases, but U.S. officials have cast doubt on the numbers out of Moscow.

Country singer Joe Diffie dies of coronavirus complications » Country singer Joe Diffie has died from coronavirus complications. He announced on Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19. 

Diffie, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 25 years. Joe Diffie was 61 years old.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, gestures during a brief news conference as he stands beside a Rear Adm. John B. Mustin as the USNS Comfort, a naval hospital ship with a 1,000 bed-capacity, pulls into Pier 90 Monday, March 30, 2020, in New York. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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