Coronavirus live updates: Coast Guard oversees disembarkation of 250,000 cruise ship passengers

(NEW YORK) — The death toll amid the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to skyrocket as more than 7,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19.

There are at least 278,458 diagnosed cases in the U.S. and more than 1.1 million around the world. The actual number is 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.

Over 58,900 have died across the globe and more than 226,000 people have recovered, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The number of cases and deaths in the U.S. is expected to continue to grow rapidly with many states and cities saying the peak is still weeks, if not months away.

Today’s biggest developments:

2,935 dead in New York state
US death toll crosses 7,000
Walmart issues customer guidelines


Here’s how the story is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

8:38 a.m.: Coast Guard oversees disembarkation of 250,000 from cruise ships to reduce risks under COVID-19

The U.S. Coast Guard helped facilitate the processing of more than 120 vessels in the last three weeks to remove 250,000 passengers from cruise ships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters.

Coast guards oversaw the safe landing, screening, quarantine and repatriation of these passengers, after many international ports had denied entry to cruise ships.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “No Sail” Order on March 14 to all cruise ships that had not already voluntarily suspended operations.

5:48 a.m.: Trump to nominate White Houes Lawyer to coronavirus stimular watchdog position

President Donald Trump will nominate a White House lawyer to serve as a key watchdog overseeing elements of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, the White House announced Friday.

Trump plans to nominate Brian Miller, a special assistant to the president and senior associate counsel in the Office of White House Counsel, to serve as the special inspector general for the pandemic recovery. If Miller is confirmed by the Senate, he will be tasked with rooting out fraud and abuse in the Treasury Department’s $500 billion relief program for distressed businesses.

While Miller has previously served in a similar role, as inspector general for the General Services Administration, Democrats will likely criticize his nomination.

Inspectors General are typically independent and apolitical appointees; Miller played a role in rebuffing investigations into the withheld military aid to Ukraine that led to Trump’s impeachment.

4:21 a.m.: Walmart issues strict customer guidelines

Walmart announced that starting Saturday it would limit the number of patrons in its stores to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus after too many of its customers ignored social distancing guidelines.

“While many of our customers have been following the advice of the medical community regarding social distancing and safety, we have been concerned to still see some behaviors in our stores that put undue risk on our people,” Dacona Smith, Walmart’s executive vice president and COO, said in a statement Friday.

Stores will now allow no more than five customers for every 1,000 square feet at a given time, which is roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity, the company said. Once capacity is reached, “customers will be admitted inside on a ‘1-out-1-in’ basis.”

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The move was just one of a number of customer guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walmart also announced that in most of its stores that aisles will all be one-way with markers on the ground, directing customer traffic.

The company said there would be only one entrance and a separate exit for each store.

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