Wednesday was a typical day in the coronavirus era, which is to say developments flying left and right a breakneck speed.
Here is the latest: The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 386 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 10 in Mobile County and four in Baldwin County. Officially, the state has had no deaths, but the Jackson County Commission in north Alabama reported that a part-time employee had died from the virus. Worldwide, more than 463,000 people have been infected, and almost 21,000 have died. And Spain has passed China in coronavirus deaths.
Local hospitalizations: The Mobile County Health Department said Wednesday that two of the 10 county residents who have tested positive have been hospitalized. In addition, a man is in critical condition at Thomas Hospital in Fairhope.
No Mobile lockdown: Mobile County Health Officer Bert Eichold said at a news conference that a “shelter-in-place” order similar to the one handed down in Birmingham is a “tool in the toolbox” – but not one he is ready to call for locally. Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson agreed such a move is “premature.” He also said he has no plans to impose a curfew as Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox ordered on Wednesday.
No cruise links: Rendi Murphree, director of the Mobile County Health Department’s Bureau of Disease Surveillance and Environmental Services, said work continues to try to identify people that COVID-19 victims have interacted with. She said two had traveled out of state. She added that none had any known links to Mobile’s cruise ship.
Coming home: University of South Alabama students who have been stranded in Peru amid a coronavirus-provoked halt to international air travel finally are coming home. The State Department confirmed that it had received permission to fly planes to the country.
Trump touts rescue plan: President Donald Trump heralded a deal that paves the way for a $2.2 trillion rescue package. It includes direct payments to most Americans, along with $350 billion to help small businesses and other measures. He called it “bigger than anything, I believe, ever passed in Congress.’
Defense Production Act? Trump defended his decision not to implement the Defense Production Act, which allows the federal government to take over private businesses to produce critical items. The president said it is not needed at this time since so many businesses voluntarily are coming forward to help produce those products. “We’re using it where needed,” Trump said. “It’s a great point of leverage. It’s a great negotiating tool.”
Responding to shortages: Trump said Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had shipped 9.4 million N94 respirators, 20 million surgical masks, 3.1 million facemasks and 6,000 ventilators. Some 4,000 of those ventilators have been sent to New York, the epicenter the pandemic in America. In addition, CNN reported the Trump has requested critical items like ventilators and even hand sanitizer from other countries.
Grim developments in New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing that 3,800 people there now have been hospitalized with COVID-19. That includes almost 900 in intensive care. New York City is running out of available ventilators – and the peak could still be weeks away.
Florida containment: Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his call for travelers arriving from the New York City area to quarantine themselves for 14 days. “You need to self-isolate for 14 days if you’re coming out of New York City,” he said.