Thursday morning news – April 2, 2020

W.H.O. director “deeply concerned about rapid escalation” of coronavirus » Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Wednesday that he is—quote—“deeply concerned about the rapid escalation and global spread” of the coronavirus.

GHEBREYESUS: The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week. In the next few days, we will reach 1 million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths. 

New data out of Iceland suggests that one of the biggest factors in the spread of the virus is that so many people who contract it don’t feel sick. 

Biopharma company deCODE Genetics has handled almost half the roughly 18,000 tests conducted in Iceland so far. And the results are startling. Officials say 50 percent of those tested by deCODE have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all

In the United States, the CDC estimates that one quarter of those infected have no symptoms. 

And those who are asymptomatic are often less careful and don’t realize they’re spreading the virus to others. 

New York’s death toll doubles in 72 hours » There are now more than 200,000 confirmed cases in the United States. And more than one-third of them are in New York—about 84,000. Most of those are in New York City.

And the number of coronavirus deaths in the state more than doubled in 72 hours to almost 2,000.

And Governor Andrew Cuomo said New Yorkers are asking when this will end, but he can’t answer them. 

CUOMO: Nobody knows what’s going to happen. And I understand the need for closure, the need for control. We’re at a place we’ve never been before. We’re out of control—I need to know, I need to know—nobody can tell you. 

With hospitals stretched thin, the ministry Samaritan’s Purse has opened a field hospital in Central Park. It’s 14 tents housing a 68-bed respiratory care unit designed especially for treating those infected with the coronavirus.   

This comes days after a makeshift hospital in a convention center began taking patients and a Navy hospital ship docked off Manhattan. 

Georgia, Florida issue statewide stay-at-home orders » The governors of Georgia and Florida are abandoning their county-by-county approach to stay-at-home orders. 

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced Wednesday… 

KEMP: Tomorrow, I will sign a statewide shelter in place order, which will go in place on Friday and run through April 13th, 2020.

Kemp is also closing down all K-though-12 schools for the rest of the school year, though online classes will continue. Georgia has more than 4,600 confirmed coronavirus cases and 139 deaths. 

And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also announced a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday. That order will expire April 30th. Florida has about 7,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

Cruise ships approach Florida facing uncertain fate » Meantime, some Floridians and hundreds of others are stuck aboard two Carnival Holland America cruise ships, the Rotterdam and Zaandam.

Both ships are approaching South Florida waters today. Governor DeSantis said Florida residents aboard the ship can disembark, but he’s been reluctant to let all passengers into the state. 

Aboard the Zaandam, nearly 200 people have flu-like symptoms, and four people have died. 

DESANTIS: My concern is simply that, we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital space in the event of a COVID-19 surge, that we wouldn’t want, you know, those valuable beds to be taken. 

But at the White House on Wednesday, President Trump again said the United States can’t simply leave the passengers stranded on the ship. 

TRUMP: We have to help the people. They’re in big trouble. No matter where they’re from; happen to be Americans, largely Americans, but whether they were or not, I mean they’re dying. So we have to do something, and the governor knows that too. 

There are more than 300 U.S. citizens on the two ships combined. The president said they’re sending supplies to the vessels and more announcements regarding the ships are expected soon.

Wimbledon cancelled amid pandemic » For the first time since World War II, the biggest event in pro tennis has been canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s Wimbledon tournament was scheduled to begin June 29th just outside of London.

This marks the first time in its nearly century-and-a-half history that Wimbledon has been canceled for a reason other than war.

Venezuela rejects U.S. offer to ease sanctions under power sharing plan » Venezuela’s Maduro regime has rejected an offer from the U.S. government to ease sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that offer this week. 

He proposed that President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó step aside in favor of a five-person governing council. The United States would then begin rolling back sanctions. 

POMPEO: If the conditions of the framework are met, including the departure of foreign security forces, and elections deemed free and fair by international observers, then all remaining U.S. sanctions would be lifted. 

Guaidó made a similar offer over the weekend as the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm the country’s already collapsed health system and economy. 

Under the plan a five-member council would govern until presidential and parliamentary elections can be held within 6-12 months. 

But Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza made it clear that Maduro will not surrender power and said—quote—“Venezuela does not accept, nor will it ever accept any tutelage, from any foreign government.”

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Medical personnel work at the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital in New York’s Central Park, Wednesday, April 1, 2020. 

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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