Coronavirus live updates: Dr. Fauci forced to ramp up personal security due to threats

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has infected nearly a million people across the globe.

The new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19, has rapidly spread to 180 countries and regions since it was first detected in China back in December. Worldwide, more than 939,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Over 195,000 of them have recovered from the disease while more than 47,000 have died, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

With more than 216,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the United States has by far the highest national tally in the world. At least 5,137 people have died from the disease in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s count.

Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:

4:11 a.m.: Dr. Fauci forced to ramp up personal security due to threats

The U.S. government has ramped up security for Dr. Anthony Fauci, as the nation’s top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic faces threats to his personal safety.

Upon recommendation of the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Justice in recent days approved a special deputization request from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for more than half a dozen special agents to provide protective services to Fauci, a Justice Department official told ABC News.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and has become the face of the nation’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Washington Post first reported the threats to Fauci and the increased security.

When asked during Wednesday’s White House press briefing whether he or the task force coordinator had received any threats or if they had been given a security detail, Fauci said he was not able to answer and referred the reporter’s question to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump quickly chimed in, saying, “He doesn’t need security, everybody loves him.”

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