Coronavirus updates: US Navy battles growing outbreak on hospital ship

(NEW YORK) — A global pandemic of the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of nearly 120,000 people around the world.

More than 1.9 million people worldwide 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 back in December, the United States has become the worst-affected nation, with more than 582,000 diagnosed cases and at least 23,649 deaths. The number of cases in New York state alone is higher than in any single country.

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

5:39 a.m.: Austria and Italy reopen some shops as lockdown slowly eases

Austria and Italy slowly began to reawaken Tuesday after a month of lockdown measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In Italy, where more than 20,000 people have died from COVID-19, a limited number of stores and small business were allowed to reopen their doors Tuesday. Shops selling books, stationary and children’s clothes could reopen, along with a few specific small business and activities, including forestry, fertilizer production, wholesale paper and cardboard distribution, and computer manufacturing.

All businesses must ensure a number of safety rules, including social distancing, twice-a-day disinfection of the space, access to disinfecting gel for all workers, health information placed on front doors and masks required in all closed spaces.

Lombardy and other hard-hit regions in Italy’s north have decided to maintain their restrictions for longer.

Thousands of shops reopened Tuesday in Austria, one of the first European countries to follow Italy in imposing strict measures.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz outlined a step-by-step plan last week to relax the lockdown and reopen parts of the economy, starting with non-essential shops under 4,300 square feet as well as home improvement stores and garden centers.

Social distancing measures remain in effect and Austrians are still encouraged not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. All shoppers are required to wear face masks.

3:30 a.m.: Seven crew members on USNS Mercy test positive for virus

A growing number of crew members aboard the USNS Mercy hospital ship docked in Los Angeles have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A total of seven medical treatment facility crew members have now been infected and are currently isolated off the ship, according to U.S. Navy Cmdr. John Face, a 3rd Fleet spokesman. The first positive case was confirmed on April 9.

Face said everyone who was considered to have been in close contact with the infected individuals remain in quarantine off the ship and have tested negative, with the exception of one crew member who was the fifth positive case.

“The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board,” Face told ABC News in a statement early Monday. “This will not affect the ability for Mercy to receive patients at this time.”

After arriving in the Port of Los Angeles last month, the USNS Mercy began treating non-coronavirus patients from area hospitals to help free up resources for COVID-19 patients.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Submit a Comment