Coronavirus live updates: Trump to announce new task force as US deaths near 24K; Stimulus money arriving this week

Coronavirus live updates: Trump to announce new task force as US deaths near 24K; Stimulus money arriving this week

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide was nearing 2 million early Tuesday as President Donald Trump prepared to announce a new task force that will study whether the administration should extend social distancing guidelines beyond April 30 or reopen parts of the country amid a surge in U.S. unemployment claims.

The task force will include "very great doctors," business people and potentially Congress members and state governors, according to Trump.

"I'm going to have to make a decision," Trump said at the White House on Friday, "and I only hope to God it's the right decision."

But some experts say it's not up to Trump – it's up to governors. In fact, governors in six Northeast states and three Western states have formed their own groups to discuss a plan on easing stay-at-home orders and rebooting their economies.

Many Americans will begin to receive stimulus payments of up to $1,200 in their bank accounts on Wednesday, according to the Treasury Department, and the IRS has launched a portal on its website that allows Americans to input their direct deposit information to speed up getting the cash. Those who haven’t provided the IRS with their bank account information will get a paper check in the mail, which could take longer.

The U.S. death toll was nearing 24,000 early Tuesday, with more than 582,500 cases, according to John Hopkins University data. Worldwide, the death toll was over 119,800, with 1.92 million confirmed cases. Almost half a million have recovered worldwide.

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing. More headlines:

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Wyoming reports first coronavirus death, the last of the 50 states

The coronavirus scourge in the U.S. has reached another dark milestone: All 50 states have now reported at least one death.

After nearly two weeks as the only state without a fatality, Wyoming on Monday reported the death of an “older man” in the north-central part of the nation’s least-populated state. He had “health conditions that put him at a higher risk,” according to the Wyoming Department of Health, amid a public health crisis that has killed more than 23,000 Americans.

The Cowboy State had been the only in the U.S. without a death since Hawaii reported the first of its now nine fatalities on March 31.

– Steve Kiggins

Utah’s ‘bold experiment’ fails: State turns off emergency alert system

Utah has turned off and canceled a first-of-its-kind messaging system aimed at travelers entering the state amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The emergency alert system, which was being used to send messages including a travel declaration that asked people for their health status and travel history, was ordered last week by Gov. Gary Herbert ahead of Easter weekend.

“Using the wireless emergency alert is a great and powerful system, however, it didn’t work exactly as we had hoped,” Joe Dougherty, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Emergency Services, said Monday at the state’s daily coronavirus press briefing.

Utah was the first state to try such a system, with Dougherty calling it a “bold experiment.” The system had targeted nine entry points across the state – including the Virgin River Gorge into St. George.

– Lexi Peery, The Spectrum & Daily News (St. George, Utah)

Asian shares rise ahead of Chinese trade data amid coronavirus crisis

Asian shares rose Tuesday although investors were bracing for a sobering first look at how the coronavirus pandemic has hurt global corporate earnings and the Chinese economy, the driver of growth for the region.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 2.2% in morning trading, while South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.4% and the Shanghai Composite added 0.5%.

Market players are were awaiting Chinese trade data for March. The customs agency in Beijing said exports fell 3.5% in Chinese currency terms to 1.3 trillion yuan ($183 billion). It didn't immediately report figures in U.S. dollars, in which all of China's trade is conducted, or give a year-on-year comparison, its standard measurement of growth.

Exports sank 17.2% in February in U.S. dollar terms as anti-virus controls closed factories, shopping malls and other businesses. The customs agency said trade will face further pressure due to weakness in the global economy.

Sailor from USS Theodore Roosevelt dies from coronavirus complications

A USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam last week died Monday of COVID-related complications, the Navy said.

The sailor, whose name was not immediately released, tested positive March 30, was removed from the ship and placed in an isolation house. He was found unresponsive Thursday, CPR was administered, and he was rushed to the hospital where he died, the Navy said.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Guam on March 27 for a scheduled port visit. Since then, the crisis on the ship has rocked the Navy. Almost 600 members of the 4,800-member crew have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Navy fired the aircraft carrier's captain after he pleaded with the Navy for help in a letter obtained by the media. Days later the Navy secretary was ousted.

– Tom Vanden Brook

More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY

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Dr. Anthony Fauci says he used 'poor choice of words' during CNN interview

The White House issued a statement Monday saying President Donald Trump has no intention of firing Dr. Anthony Fauci after Fauci acknowledged that lives could have been saved if the president had shut down the country sooner than mid-March.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pressed on the timeline Sunday, conceded on CNN that there was pushback against a shutdown. Fauci on Monday clarified he used a "poor choice of words" when he suggested lives could have been saved had the Trump administration put in place coronavirus restrictions earlier in the year.

Trump himself, under fire for what critics called a slow response to the spread of coronavirus, followed up Fauci's mea culpa with a lengthy statement defending his actions as the virus spread across the country. His speech included a White House-produced, campaign-style video that showed governors and other officials praising Trump for restrictions that slowed the economy in order to contain the coronavirus.

Trump supporter DeAnna Lorraine, who is challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her seat out of San Francisco, tweeted that, early on, it was Fauci who downplayed the coronavirus. Her tweet, retweeted by Trump Sunday night, concluded with "Time to #FireFauci..."

“This media chatter is ridiculous – President Trump is not firing Dr. Fauci," spokesman Hogan Gidley said in the statement. "Dr. Fauci has been and remains a trusted adviser to President Trump.”

– David Jackson

Governors in Northeast, Far West create 'shared vision' task forces

Governors of six states significantly impacted by the coronavirus – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island – banded to create their own working group to develop a coordinated response to gradually lifting the states’ stay at home orders.

Participants include the group include top health official from each state, the head of economic development and the top aides to the governors. The governors’ task force will begin its work on Tuesday.

This comes one day before Trump is set to announce the new federal task force that will examine whether the administration should extend federal social distancing guidelines past May or attempt to reopen parts of the country. Trump has maintained that he has “absolute authority” on decisions to reopen the country.

“If it’s your authority to open, why wasn’t it your authority to close? And when you say open, what does that mean?” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "Governors need clarity. That’s what they need.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he is preparing to share his plan to transition back to normalcy with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as part of a “shared vision.”

– Maureen Groppe and Gabrielle Canon

More coronavirus headlines from USA TODAY

'In an emergency, every day matters.' But President Donald Trump didn't immediately sound the alarm on coronavirus, a USA TODAY investigation shows.Did Kentucky order police to record the license plates of Easter churchgoers? We checked the facts, and it's true.Did Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer go 'too far' with stay-home order?Protesters plan in-vehicle rally Wednesday in Lansing.Your coronavirus money questions, answered: What about a military pension? How do I file for unemployment without proof of income?Iceland has tested more of its population for coronavirus than anywhere else. How the country's findings could help the rest of us.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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