ABC - COVID-19 News

Matt Damon and the 'Contagion' cast reunite "virtually" for COVID PSA

Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Life has unfortunately imitated art for cast of the 2011 film Contagion, which has seen an uptick in streaming since the real-life COVID-19 coronavirus began spreading.

That's why scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health tapped the stars of the film --  Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Winslet -- to dispense some real-life advice on how to fight the disease.

"In the movie, I played a guy who was immune to the hypothetical virus that was spreading around the world," Damon says.  "That was a movie. This is real life."

"I have no reason to believe I’m immune to COVID-19 and neither do you, no matter how young you are," he adds. "This is a new virus. It’s gonna take some time for our bodies and our doctors to understand it and understand new ways to protect us."

Damon was joined by fellow Oscar-winner Kate Winslet, who played an epidemiologist in the film.

"To prepare for the role, I spent time with some of the best public health professionals in the world," she says.  "And what was one of the most important things they taught me? Wash your hands like your life depends on it because right now, in particular, it just might."

Touting the importance of social distancing, Damon also said, "We can all do this together just by staying apart. Please do your part."

Similarly, Fishburne talked about the danger of the traditional handshake, noting it was based on showing someone you weren't carrying a weapon.

"Now we may be carrying one, and not even know it," he intoned.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, the director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity -- who was a consultant on the film -- revealed this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.


Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

No joke(s): Google canceling traditional April Fools' Day gags over COVID sensitivity

iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr(NEW YORK) -- While April 1 usually sees Google users the world over wondering if the company is really creating Google Translate for Animals or launching treasure hunts on Google Maps, the fun's over this year. 

Business Insider reports that the search giant is rushing to cancel its plans for April Fools' Day this year due to COVID-19.

"Under normal circumstances, April Fools' is a Google tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company," an email from Google marketing boss Lorraine Twohill reads, according to Business Insider.

"This year, we're going to take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic."

Twohill also said, "Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let's save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Amid COVID-19 employment downturn, LinkedIn ranks in-demand jobs

iStock/fizkes(LOS ANGELES) -- While millions are out of work because of lockdowns, shutdowns, and other results from the COVID-19 pandemic, LinkedIn is looking into hiring trends overseas to try to predict what could happen on our shores. The site has also posted a list of the most in-demand positions right now, along with a list of who's hiring.

By looking at where the pandemic struck first, China, LinkedIn notes that the U.S. could expect to see a hiring downturn, "followed by a slow, but steady rebound as economies return to 'business as usual.'"

With no further ado, here's LinkedIn's list of in-demand jobs, and who's looking to get Americans back to work: 

Store Associate
System Operator
Certified Public Accountant
Healthcare Specialist
Construction Worker
Warehouse Manager
Vehicle Mechanic
Academic Advisor
Delivery Driver

Companies with the most open jobs:

Army National Guard
HCA Healthcare
Whole Foods

LinkedIn also learned that certain companies are stepping up hiring to meet demand in these times, like as grocery chains and delivery services like Kroger, Walmart, Amazon, and CVS.  They've all signaled they want to put hundreds of thousands of people to work right away.

For example:

CVS: Hiring 50,000 workers to meet exploding demand at its stores.
Pizza Hut: 30,000 permanent workers
Walmart: about 150,000 temporary workers by the end of May 
Dollar Tree, which also owns Family Dollar, plans to hire 25,000 workers.
7-Eleven: 20,000 new store employees.
Amazon: 100,000 workers.
Domino's: more than 10,000 workers.

As expected, the medical community is looking for as many health care providers as possible. New York City has even asked private and retired providers to help in hospitals. "More than 1,000 answered the call," the website noted. 


Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Celebrity event designer gives advice on weddings, parties and more amid COVID-19 pandemic

Bobby Quillard(NEW YORK) -- With the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus and the implementation of social distancing rules, the world has seen events both big and small either postponed or scrapped completely.

Celebrity event designer Edward Perotti gives ABC Audio an update on how the event industry is faring, as well as advice for how to deal with changing plans in these strange times.

If you’re a bride or groom to be, Perotti's advice is firm yet realistic: move the date.  “Just rip the Band-Aid off and realize that between April and May, if your wedding was planned, it's not going to happen," he says. "Horrible thing to say, but it's not going to. June is even pushing it.”

"Part of your vow will say 'for better or worse,'" he adds. "OK, you're navigating the worst. It could only get better!"

If you’re looking for ways to connect with family for occasions or holidays, Perotti says try doing it virtually.

“Why not do a virtual dinner party?” he suggests. “Why can't you take your monitor, put it on your dining table, set the table, share recipes so everybody can actually make the same meal and sit around on-camera as if you were sitting around the dining table?”

But most importantly, he wants everyone to not automatically think, “cancel" when it comes to their events. “I would rather them think, ‘postpone,’” he says.

Perotti -- who's created events for Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas and more -- envisions the industry bouncing back when this is all over, because he believes there are just some things that can’t be replaced with a monitor.

“I'm hoping that people appreciate any gathering that they go to because as we're learning quickly, it could be taken away,” he says.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz applaud health care workers — literally — amid COVID-19 pandemic

ABC/Randy Holmes(LONDON) -- Daniel Craig and his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, think health care workers deserve a round of applause, so they took to social media on Thursday to do just that and want others to join them.

In a video clip posted to the James Bond Twitter account, the couple, joined by his No Time to Die co-stars -- Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris and Rory Kinnear -- are seen clapping, along with a message that reads, "Thank you to everyone, everywhere, who is working to keep us safe."

The message is followed by the hashtags, "#ClapForOurCarers #ClapForCarers #ClapForNHS."

No Time To Die’s release date was postponed until November 25 due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The royal family also joined in on the applause.  Kate Middleton and Prince William shared a cute video on Thursday of their three children, George, Charlotte and Louis, joyfully clapping on the couple’s social media accounts.

The video was captioned, "To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by #COVID19: thank you," the video was captioned.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry also contributed to the #ClapForOurCarers movement, posting a message to their Instagram Stories that read, "Thank you for all that you continue to do! Applauding you from across the pond," followed by 19 clapping hands emojis.

The royal family also posted a video of applause from Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are currently staying.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ethan Hawke holds adorable family sing along while in self quarantine

Bruce Glikas/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Ethan Hawke showed off his family's musical gifts on Wednesday as they stay indoors to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In a video uploaded by his daughter Maya, whom he shares with ex-wife Uma Thurman, the 21-year old Stranger Things breakout star captioned the four minute video, "To Live is to fly" -- the name of the song by Townes Van Zandt that the family decided to perform together.

Ethan strums his guitar as he sings along with Maya, who is the lead vocalist, as well as his three other children -- 18-year-old Levon, 12-year-old Clementine, and nine-year-old Indiana.   Levon, whom he also shares with Thurman, shows off his guitar skills as he plays across from his dad.

Maya starts off the song going solo, but soon encourages her younger sisters to adorably harmonize along as she affectionately plays with their hair.

After the song ends, the 21-year-old actress admits to her dad "I messed with the arrangements a little because I forgot some of my words, but I feel like it worked."

For those craving to hear more of Maya's singing, her debut album Blush drops June 19.

 Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Jimmy Kimmel', 'Desus & Mero' returning with all new shows -- from home

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) -- Some more late night talk shows are getting back on their feet, but like millions of Americans, under COVID-19 quarantine, they're working from home.

ABC announced on Thursday that Jimmy Kimmel’s ABC late night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! will return to TV with new episodes, taped at his house, on Monday and throughout next week.  Jimmy’s guests will include, Samuel L Jackson, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Tweedy, Grouplove and more.  Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs weeknights at 11:35 ET on ABC…

Also, Showtime announced on Thursday that the late-night series Desus & Mero, will return to air with all-new episodes taped at the hosts’ own homes, starting on Monday at 11 p.m. ET.  The show will continue to air new episodes on Monday and Thursday nights.  The show, features the duo -- Desus Nice, a.k.a. Daniel Baker, and The Kid Mero, a.k.a. Joel Martinez -- chatting with guests about pop culture, sports, music, politics and more

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

COVID-19 all-in-one update

(NEW YORK) -- Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:30 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 542,788
Global deaths: 24,361
Number of countries/regions: at least 176
Total patients recovered globally: 124,351

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
At least 85,996 diagnosed cases in 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam.  This is now more than any other country.  China is now second, with 81,894 reported cases.
At least 1,296 dead.

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

At least 30 states and the District of Columbia have announced or implemented closures of non-essential businesses.

The latest headlines
Airlines update: workers die, TSA workers test positive, domestic air travel plummets
A Philadelphia-based American Airlines flight attendant died earlier this week after contracting COVID-19, the airline confirmed.  The news comes after a report earlier this week that a United employee passed away after being diagnosed with COVID-19. A source familiar with the matter said the employee was a ramp worker.  Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration reports 68 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.  The TSA will now begin to allow certain personnel to wear N95 masks as they perform their duties.  The developments come as the TSA screened its lowest number of passengers Wednesday in over a decade: 239,234 travelers, compared to 2,273,811 travelers on the same weekday last year – a more than 89% drop.  Due to decreased air travel and increased home isolation, a Delta spokesperson confirms to ABC News that more than 21,000 employees have volunteered to take unpaid leave. Delta Airlines employs around 90,000 people globally. United Airlines told ABC News last week that "thousands" had taken voluntary unpaid leave, but wouldn't provide a number.

ICE detainees ordered released
ICE detainees must be immediately released from county jails where cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, a federal judge in New York ordered Thursday night. Ten detainees sought release “because of the public health crisis posed by COVID-19,” their petition said. The men and women had been detained by federal immigration authorities and had removal proceedings pending in immigration court.  They were being held at three jails in New Jersey where either detainees or staff had tested positive for coronavirus.

Doctor accused of intentionally coughing on medical staff
WTNH in New Haven, CT reports witnesses saw Dr. Cory Edgar of UConn Health intentionally cough on two other medical employees in such a way that other medical workers and witnesses believe he was intentionally disregarding social distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Dr. Edgar has been charged with misdemeanor breach of peace.  In response, UConn Health said in a statement, in part, "UConn Health is aware of the situation. We take all such allegations seriously and the matter is currently under review."

California DMV closes field offices
You’re gonna have to wait a while to get your license renewed in California.  The state has closed all field DMV offices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, KABC in Los Angeles reports.  You’re also going to have to wait to do business online – the DMV says it’ll open its virtual field offices April 2, featuring expanded online business options.

Good news!
NFL draft to take place as planned
So far, there are no plans to cancel the NFL draft amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  ESPN reports NFL Commissioner Roger Godell said in a Thursday memo that the April 23-25 dates will stand, for now.  He also clearly doesn’t want to hear any criticism of the decision, writing in part, “public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action."

Sports apparel company Fanatics to make medical gear instead of baseball uniforms
Major League Baseball players won't be needing their uniforms for a while, given that the season has been indefinitely postponed, so MLB and Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin have announced plans to use the fabric instead to make at least one million masks and hospital gowns to support health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Rubin said the work has already begun and that the materials will be distributed to hospitals and emergency medical personnel throughout Pennsylvania, where the company's manufacturing plant is, with a goal of expanding to New York and New Jersey.

Dallas restaurants feeding people for free during pandemic
WFAA in Dallas, TX reports anyone needing a meal during the COVID-19 pandemic can find one, for free, no questions asked.  HERO and HG Sply Co call the initiative ‘Everybody Eats,’ and on Wednesday served a combined 750 free meals from their drive-thrus.  They say they can crank that up as high as 2,000 a day if needed.  Elias Pope, founder of the area restaurant group 8020 Concepts, which owns the restaurants, says it’s just the right thing do to.  "We want to feed as many people as possible. We're going to give it a go until we run out of money, and then we will continue to do it,” says Pope.

Flowers from postponed wedding donated to area nursing homes
As KSAT in San Antonio, TX reports, like countless other couples, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Kristall Goytia and Jason Oswald to postpone their wedding, which was planned for March 21.  The flowers had already been delivered – 100 bouquets of roses and hydrangeas.  What do to with them?  "I went around and we distributed them to the nursing homes,” Goytia said.  Three facilities in all received the blooms.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Evangeline Lilly apologizes for insensitive coronavirus comment

George Pimentel/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Evangeline Lilly had a change of heart when it comes to her opinion about COVID-19.

In an Instagram post shared on Thursday, the Lost actress apologized for her March 16 comments about the precautions being taken by the government in an effort to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Despite the call for social distancing at the time, she declared life as business as usual. Now 10 days later, she's singing a different tune. 

Alongside a photo of some young children playing a monopoly-like board game, Lilly wrote, "I am writing you from my home where I have been social distancing since Mar 18th – when social distancing was instituted in the small community where I am currently living."

"At the time of my Mar 16th post, the directives from the authorities here were that we not congregate in groups of more than 250ppl and that we wash our hands regularly, which we were doing," she explained.

Two days later, her community took on stricter guidelines and while the Canadian actress expressed her "intense trepidation over the socioeconomic and political repercussions," she did realize that her previous statements lacked empathy.  

"I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology for the insensitivity I showed in my previous post to the very real suffering and fear that has gripped the world through COVID19," the caption continued. "...the world is rallying to find a way to stop this very real threat, and my ensuing silence has sent a dismissive, arrogant and cryptic message." 

Lilly ended the apology on a positive note, acknowledging the beauty in seeing humanity rally together during this "vulnerable time" and sending well wishes. 

"Sending love to all of you," she wrote. "Even if you can’t return it right now."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mariska Hargitay pens heartfelt tribute to 'Law & Order: SVU' crew member who died from COVID-19

NBC/Virginia Sherwood(NEW YORK) -- There are less smiles and laughs on the set of Law & Order: SVU as it was announced on Wednesday that a beloved crew member succumbed to COVID-19.

Show star Mariska Hargitay penned a beautiful tribute to Josh Wallwork, a 45-year-old who worked as one of the series' costumers.

"Heartbroken we are. I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile on his face," reminisced Hargitay.  "He brought love and kindness everywhere he went."

The actress revealed just how profound the loss is for those working on the show, writing that Wallwork was "Always ready with the joke. The SVU [sic] Corredor will never be the same."

SVU showrunner Warren Leight was one of the first to announce the crew member's unexpected passing, calling Josh "a beautiful man" and that those working on the show are "heartbroken."

Wallwork previously lent his costuming talents to the productions Madam SecretaryBull and The Get Down.

Those who worked with the beloved costumer, such as Bull's Christopher Jackson, flooded Twitter to grieve Wallwork.  Commemorated Jackson, "He was my friend" who had a "Beautiful Soul."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

UK PM Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19

Peter Summers/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Charles is no longer the only high-profile Brit to test positive for COVID-19.  U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this morning that he's tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," Johnson tweeted.

The message continues, "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this."

Johnson's tweet ends with the hashtag #StayHomeSaveLives.

In a longer video message accompanying the tweet, Johnson said he'd developed "mild symptoms" of the coronavirus, including "a temperature and a persistent cough."

Like most people diagnosed with COVID-19, Johnson, who's 55, says he'll work from home -- in this case, the official prime minister's residence at 10 Downing Street in London.  He also thanks U.K. healthcare workers, first responders and others on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

As of this morning, the U.K. has a total of 11,816 total confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 578 reported deaths and 135 recovered.

Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.

I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.

Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives

— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

Tractor trailer spills hundreds of rolls of precious toilet paper on North Carolina highway

Praneat/iStock(GASTONIA, N.C.) -- Toilet paper is worth its weight in gold lately, thanks to a run on the stuff by people afraid of running low while holed up in their houses during the COVID-19 pandemic -- and now, North Carolina residents may have a real reason to worry.

WSOC-TV reported on Thursday that a tractor-trailer spilled hundreds of rolls of the precious supply all over Interstate 85 in Gaston County.

TV crews who arrived on the scene say they "could see could see the paper strewn across the roadway and along the side of the interstate,"

The TV station, which posted video of the scene on Twitter, reports there was no impact on traffic.

We're sure the locals would be more than happy to help with cleanup.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

US overtakes the world as the country with most COVID-19 cases

iStock/Unimagic(NEW YORK) -- It's official, there are more cases of COVID-19 in the United States of America than any country in the entire world.  With global cases topping 529,591 and the worldwide death toll surpassing 23,970, the only continent that has yet to report a case or death is Antarctica.

As for total amount of recoveries, the number stands worldwide at 122,150.

On Thursday, the United States overtook China and Italy as being the country with most diagnosed cases of COVID-19.  Currently, there are 83,836 cases compared to China's 81,782 and Italy's 80,589.

So far, 1,178 people have died from the virus in the U.S. versus Italy's 8,215 and Spain's 4,154.

Vice President Mike Pence declared that 552,000 tests have been conducted around the country, including private hospitals.  Pence further encouraged companies to send results to federal health experts.  

At Thursday's White House daily press conference, the vice president said, "It's so important that any hospital or any lab that’s doing testing report back to the CDC and FEMA so we have full visibility to provide the president with the very best counsel."

Also on Thursday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force predicts that the virus will not infect a large majority of Americans -- saying "There's no reality on the ground where we can see that 60 or 70% of Americans get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks.

In addition to that announcement, the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Thursday that 3.28 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

This number shatters the previous record that was set in 1982, which was 695,000.  Just a week ago, the unemployment rate had been flirting with a near 50-year low.

The recent numbers show that unemployment filings spiked by three million from the previous week, with the biggest hit reported in the food service and accommodation industry.  

Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor's senior economist, said Thursday, "The coronavirus outbreak is a truly unprecedented event in American economic history, flash-freezing the economy by forcing businesses to shut down and putting millions of American workers out of jobs."

Added Zhao, "As today's report shows, the coronavirus outbreak is economically akin to a major hurricane occurring in every state around the country for weeks on end." 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Altered taste and smell may be attributed to COVID-19

Tero Vesalainen/iStock(NEW YORK) -- As Americans look up possible symptoms of COVID-19 to see if they qualify for a test, a new theory that the virus affects one's taste and smell has been floated by the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.

In a statement, the group says the alteration of taste and smell -- medically known as dysgeusia and anosmia, respectively -- has been seen in patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

"Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Anosmia, in particular, has been seen in patients ultimately testing positive for the coronavirus with no other symptoms," The group reports.

Dr. D.J. Verret, about 40 percent of patients recovering from a viral illness report a loss of smell. "We know from previous research that coronavirus infections are seen in post-viral anosmia. It is therefore not a stretch to think that COVID-19, caused by a coronavirus, can result in smell or taste disturbances," theorizes Verret.

However, these findings could become further obscured as allergy season approaches now that spring has arrived, which also has similar impacts on individuals. 

Currently, the symptoms of COVID-19 as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  

There currently is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

James Van Der Beek and family in the Christmas (PJs) spirit while self-isolating

ABC/Jeff Niera(LOS ANGELES) -- For many, thinking of the holidays gives them the warm fuzzy feeling that we're sorely needing nowadays.   Some have even re-strung their Christmas lights to feel it

But for James Van Der Beek and his family, they're wearing that warm fuzzy feeling, in the form of matching Christmas pajamas they're sporting while social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Have officially entered the Wear-Christmas-Pajamas-And-Project-Movies-On-The-Dining-Room-Wall phase of the #Quarantine," Van Der Beek posted to Instagram, captioning the cozy snap of his family of five. 

"#StayHome and stream @pixaronward btw… either I’ve gone stir crazy or it’s my new favorite #Pixar movie," the doting dad said of the movie Onward, before giving a shout-out to its voice stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt.

Van Der Beek has been spending some quality time social distancing with his wife Kimberly Brook and their five children -- Olivia, 9, Joshua, 7, Annabel, 6, Emilia, 4, and 21-month-old Gwendolyn.

He recently captured one moment with his youngest on Instagram, calling right now "the perfect excuse to make other connections."

Pixar is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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