By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 233,000 people worldwide.
Over 3.2 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than one million diagnosed cases and at least 63,019 deaths.
Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:
8:24 a.m.: Two investigations launched after decomposing bodies found at Brooklyn funeral home
New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker’s office is investigating the Andrew T. Cleckley funeral home in Brooklyn, where as many as 100 decomposing bodies were found in un-refrigerated trucks.
“Funeral homes and morgues must be accountable for their actions or lack thereof, and we will do everything under our authority to protect health and safety,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement.
Abandoning, neglecting, abusing or failing to treat with dignity and respect, a dead human body entrusted to the licensee, is a violation of misconduct under public health law.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is also investigating.
Police responded to reports Wednesday of a foul odor outside the funeral home and discovered dozens of decomposing bodies in two U-Haul trucks and a U-Haul van.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the circumstance “unconscionable” and noted the city has been transferring some of the coronavirus victims to freezer trucks for preservation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is building long-term storage for corpses as part of its Disaster Portable Morgue Unit with a capacity of nearly 3,000.
5:51 a.m.: Four inmates dead, 600 test positive at BOP prison
Four inmates have died of COVID-19 at Terminal Island prison, a low security federal correctional institution in San Pedro, California.
Another 600, nearly 60-percent of the prison population, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“The government has a responsibility to protect people in its care, including inmates,” Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragan, whose district includes Terminal Island, told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV in a statement. “The leadership at Terminal Island has clearly failed to do that.”
“There are alternatives that can keep non-violent inmates safe, like home confinement. We need prison leadership to consider those alternatives, especially to the vulnerable, and stop the spread of this disease at Terminal Island,” Barragan’s statement said.
Inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities, there are 1,692 federal inmates and 349 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide. There have been at least 33 inmate coronavirus deaths in BOP facilities, according to the organization.
3:08 a.m.: City votes to legally challenge Newsom beach closure order
The Huntington Beach City Council voted to pursue a legal challenge to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s beach closure order Thursday night.
“Governor Newsom’s mandate to close all beaches in Orange County today was a jarring decision that significantly impacts us here in Huntington Beach,” Mayor Lyn Semeta said in a statement. “Given that Orange County has among the lowest per-capita COVID-19 death rates in California, the action by the state prioritizes politics over data, in direct contradiction of the Governor’s stated goal to allow science and facts to guide our response to this horrible global pandemic.”
The council voted 5-2 to seek “any and all legal actions necessary” to challenge Newsom’s order.
Newsom said photos of overcrowding at beaches with little social distancing gave him no choice but to protect public health by ordering the beaches close.
“Everyone saw those images and we’re all concerned about that. … That’s what ultimately led to this decision,” Newsom said Thursday.
California has more than 50,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, with at least 2,036 deaths across the state.
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