Coronavirus updates: Insurers Cigna, Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs

Nearly 705,000 people worldwide – including more than 135,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges.

Live updates for Sunday, March 29, continue below:

Insurers Cigna, Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs

Update 11:18 p.m. EDT March 29: Two of the country's largest health insurance companies said they will waive customers coronavirus treatment costs.

Cigna and Humana said they would cover costs, including hospitalizations, ambulance transfers and co-pays, CNBC reported.

“Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” David Cordani, Cigna president, said in a statement. “While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.”

The waiver will also include medications and vaccines when they are available, CNBC reported.

“We’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus,” Bruce Broussard, president of Humana said in a statement.

Michigan Rep. Isaac Robinson dead from suspected coronavirus infection

Update 10:44 p.m. EDT March 29: Michigan state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who represented part of Detroit, died from a suspected coronavirus infection.

He went to the hospital Sunday morning after having trouble breathing the last couple days and died hours later, WXYZ reported.

"He wouldn't go to the hospital. I kept insisting the last three days. I kept saying, 'You should go to the doctor, go to the hospital.' Of course, he resisted," his mother, Rose Mary Robinson, told Crain's Detroit Business. "Tough guy."

Robinson, 44, had not been tested for the coronavirus, Crain’s reported.

Robinson, a Democrat, was elected in 2018. He was serving his first term in the seat previously held by his mother, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered her condolences.

“He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come,” Whitmer said on social media. “Rep. Robinson will be missed by many, including me. It was an honor to serve the people of Michigan alongside him.”

There are more than 1,500 confirmed cases in Michigan, according to state health officials.

Amazon workers plan strike at New York facility 

Update 8:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walkout Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads.

As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported.

"The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized," Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. "We're not asking for much. We're asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid."

The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported.

Amazon did not immediately comment.

The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads.

Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions.

There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map.

First person in West Virginia dies from virus

Update 7:39 p.m. EDT March 29: The first person in West Virginia has died from the coronavirus, health officials said Sunday.

An 88-year-old woman from Marion County died, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a release. No other details were released.

“We extend our sincere condolences to this family,” department Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a statement.

West Virginia was the last U.S. state to report a confirmed case. Hawaii and Wyoming are the only states that have no reported coronavirus deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump extends social distancing guidelines another 30 days

Update 6:36 p.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the federal guidelines for isolating for an additional 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines were set to expire Monday. Health officials said the rollback would increase transmission of the virus.

Trump said last week he hoped to have the country “reopened” by April 12.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Musician John Prine hospitalized with virus symptoms, ‘critical’ 

Update 5:49 p.m. EDT March 29: Musician John Prine is hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus.

He was taken to a hospital Thursday and was intubated Saturday, the Prine family said on social media.

“His situation is critical,” the Prine family said in a statement. “This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now.”

Resident at Maryland nursing home dies from virus

Update 5:36 p.m. EDT March 29: A resident at a Maryland nursing home where an outbreak of the coronavirus infected 66 people has died.

The 90-year-old man was a resident at Pleasant View Nursing Home. He died Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

Health officials said Sunday that the number of cases has not changed. There are still 66 residents who have tested positive and 11 who were hospitalized.

The nursing home is seeing staff shortages, as employees are not coming into work.

No staff member has tested positive.

Country music star Joe Diffie dies from complications caused by virus

Update 4:39 p.m. EDT March 29: Oklahoma-born country music star Joe Diffie died Sunday from coronavirus-related issues, according to his Facebook page.

His family has asked for privacy at this time.

Worldwide cases top 700,000; US cases at 135,000

Update 3:29 p.m. EDT March 29: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus topped 710,000 Sunday, according to the Coronavirus Resources Center at Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases in the United States has now passed 135,000, the website reported.

The total number of cases passed 705,000 worldwide, and more than 33,000 people have died from COVID-19. according to the Resources Center. Sunday morning, the World Health Organization reported 638,146 confirmed cases across 203 countries, with 30,105 deaths.

Moscow mayor issues quarantine order

Update 2:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Moscow's mayor issued a citywide quarantine starting that will begin Monday, The Washington Post reported.

The stay-at-home order by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin came after the Russian capital's confirmed cases of coronavirus topped 1,000, the newspaper reported. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for groceries or to pick up medical supplies, the Post reported. People are also allowed to take out their trash or walk their dogs within 100 feet of their residences, the newspaper reported.

Cuomo: Death toll in New York state approaching 1,000

Update 2:02 p.m. EDT March 29: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state's death toll because of the coronavirus is approaching 1,000, The New York Times reported.

Cuomo put the number of disease-related deaths at 965, an increase from 728 in the last 24 hours, the newspaper reported. The majority of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in New York City. At a news conference, Cuomo said figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, the Times reported.

Justin Trudeau will continue to self-isolate at home

Update 1:33 p.m. EDT March 29: Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, said he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. Trudeau said he will continue to remain in isolation because he was living with someone who tested positive, the newspaper reported.

Trudeau said his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, took their three children to the prime minister's summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec, the Times reported.

Plane evacuating patient crashes at Manila airport, killing 8

Update 12:34 a.m. EDT March 29: An plane on a medical evacuation mission headed for Tokyo crashed at Manila airport Sunday night, killing all eight people on board, The Washington Post reported. One American, one Canadian and six Filipinos were killed, according to Richard Gordon, the Philippines' Red Cross chairman and a member of the Senate.

Details of the medical mission were unclear, authorities said.

"There was no confirmation or denial about the situation of the passenger," Ed Monreal, general manager of Manila International Airport Authority, told the Post.

Mnuchin: Expect stimulus check deposits within 3 weeks from Sunday

Update 11:28 a.m. EDT March 29: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that Americans can expect direct deposit of their checks from the stimulus bill in their accounts within three weeks from Sunday, CNN reported. Mnuchin also said small businesses should "Go back and hire your workers because the government is paying you to do that."

“(My) number one objective is now delivering to the American workers and American companies the needed money that will put this economy in a position where it get through the next eight-10 weeks,” Mnuchin said.

Fauci predicts US could have more than 100K deaths

Update 10:30 a.m. EDT March 29: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday the United States could have "millions of cases" of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths, according to an Associated Press report.

Fauci made the prediction while speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" program Sunday morning. The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,700 cases and more than 2,100 deaths, the AP reported.

UK announces 209 more deaths in past 24 hours

Update 10:18 a.m. EDT March 29: There have been another 209 coronavirus related deaths in the United Kingdom over past 24 hours, Public Health England said Sunday. That puts the total death toll at 1,228, and there are 19,522 confirmed cases in the UK.

US civil rights office working to prevent discrimination

Update 9:57 a.m. EDT March 29: Roger Severino, the director of the U.S. health department's civil rights office, said his department is opening investigations to ensure states do not allow medical providers to discriminate in deciding who receives medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The New York Times, the probes will examine whether providers have been discriminated against on the basis of disabilities, race, age or certain other factors.

“Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” Severino said in a statement. People with disabilities “should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” the statement said.

Severino told the Times his office had heard from "a broad spectrum of civil rights groups, pro-life groups, disability rights groups, from prominent members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, from ordinary people who are concerned about their civil rights in this time of crisis."

India’s prime minister apologizes to nation’s poor

Update 9:46 a.m. EDT March 29: India's prime minister asled the nation's poor for forgiveness after a nationwide lockdown forced thousands of jobless laborers to walk from cities to their home villages.

"I extend a heartfelt apology to all countrymen," Narendra Modi said in a nationwide radio address, The Washington Post reported. "When it comes to my underprivileged brothers and sisters, they must be wondering about the kind of prime minister they have, who has pushed them to the brink. My wholehearted apologies, especially to them."

Modi’s government announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan Thursday, the newspaper reported.

Vietnam plans to halt incoming flights for 2 weeks

Update 9:28 a.m. EDT March 29: to a government report released Sunday, Vietnam will halt incoming passenger flights over the next two weeks, CNN reported. Flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other locations will also be reduced, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said.

Netherlands rejects 600K defective masks made in China

Update 8:52 a.m. EDT March 29: Health authorities in The Netherlands rejected approximately 600,000 Chinese-made masks from hospitals after learning they did not adequately protect health workers from the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. Dutch health authorities that represented about half of a recent shipment of 1.3 million masks, according to NOS, the Dutch public broadcaster.

“Due to shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where the only protective equipment that is available does not meet the highest standards. This is an issue in all countries,” the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said in a statement to NOS.

The number of people who have tested positive in The Netherlands topped 10,000, the Dutch Ministry of Health said Sunday.

Mexico tells citizens to stay home until April 19

Update 8:41 a.m. EDT March 29: Mexican health authorities asked citizens to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by staying home until April 19, according to CNN. "This can't be postponed, it is our last chance to do it and do it now," Mexican deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell said. "And this requires that we massively restrict ourselves and stay at home."

Health authorities said there are 848 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16 deaths in Mexico.

Spain reports record-high 838 deaths in one day

Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 29: Spain has reported that 838 people died from coronavirus in one day, marking a new, grim daily record for the country, officials said Sunday.

According to The Associated PressSpain saw more than 6,500 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 78,797.

The country's 6,528-person death toll is the second-highest worldwide, the AP reportedItaly has reported the highest number of deaths, with 10,023, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Canadian PM Trudeau’s wife recovers from virus

Update 5:36 a.m. EDT March 29: The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday.

According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news.

"I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health," she wrote. "From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love."

Explore>> See the post here

Bonjour mes chers amis, Canadiens et alliés de partout...

Posted by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau on Saturday, March 28, 2020

Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband's office said on March 12.

Trudeau and the couple's three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported.

CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Update 4:46 a.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump has decided against seeking a quarantine for New YorkNew Jersey and Connecticut, opting instead to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to issue a strong travel advisory" for the states, he tweeted Saturday night.

"A quarantine will not be necessary," Trump added.

Explore>> See the tweets here

The advisory, which now appears on the CDC's website, "urges residents of New YorkNew Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately."

"This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply," the advisory reads.

The states' governors "will have full discretion to implement" the advisory, the website says.

Explore>> See the CDC’s tweets here

Nordstrom partners with furniture store to produce more than 100,000 face masks

Update 3:46 a.m. EDT March 29: After Seattle-based Providence Health put out a global request for more personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and other health care workers, Washington state manufacturer Kaas Tailored and retail giant Nordstrom partnered together to answer the high demand.

As part of Providence's 100 Million Mask challenge, Kaas and Nordstrom are producing daily personal face masks and face shields at their facilities. Nordstrom recently partnered with Kaas, a Mukilteo furniture store, to make the masks.

Members of the Nordstrom alteration teams in CaliforniaOregonTexas and Washington will be sewing more than 100,000 masks to be distributed to Providence Health in Seattle. Kaas Tailored typically makes furniture for aerospace clients. Founder Dan Kaas told KIRO-TV earlier this week it didn't take long to setup an action plan after answering Providence's call.

"I said, 'Hey, do you need help?' and about five minutes later she texted me saying, 'Yeah, we want to talk.' And that was Wednesday, and there was a plan put in place by the end of the day," Kaas said in an interview with KIRO′s Rob Munoz.

In an online video posted to the Kaas Tailored website, Kaas details its new Essential PPE Network Equation, how it's going about meeting the demands of the mask production and the structure working with other manufactures who also want to help. Kaas Tailored is continuing to make thousands of masks a day, but said it's working at full capacity and cannot fill new orders at this time.

Providence is referring manufacturers in AlaskaCaliforniaMontanaNew MexicoTexas and Washington that are interested in making PPEs to reach out to Kaas. Manufacturers in other states that want to help make face masks can reach out to the American Hospital Association.

Nordstrom will continue to offer additional support to local partners the Seattle Foundation, YouthCare and Hetrick Martin Institute. Nordstrom is also donating 1% of its gift card sales to support community grants and programs during the coronavirus relief efforts.

Country singer Joe Diffie tests positive for COVID-19

Update 3:08 a.m. EDT March 29: Country music star Joe Diffie has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced on social media.

In a Friday Instagram post, the Grammy Award-winning singer said he's being treated for the virus, which had infected about 665,000 people worldwide and more than 124,000 in the United States by Sunday morning.

"My family and I are asking for privacy at this time," the statement read. "We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic."

>> See the post here

According to The Associated Press, Diffie, 61, is best known for songs such as "Honky Tonk Attitude" and "Third Rock From the Sun." He joins a growing list of celebrities and public figures who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Harvey Weinstein, Jackson Browne, Placido Domingo, Britain's Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Samaritan’s Purse helps New York amid coronavirus pandemic

Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 29: The North Carolina-based organization Samaritan's Purse is now bringing relief to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New York's hospital system is already overwhelmed with patients.

The group shipped a 68-bed field hospital with a special respiratory care unit Saturday.

The organization said an advanced team got to New York on March 27 to begin assessments and prepare the site.

“People are dying from the coronavirus, hospitals are out of beds and the medical staff are overwhelmed,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are deploying our emergency field hospital to New York to help carry this burden.”

This comes a week after Samaritan's Purse opened an identical unit in Cremona, Italy.

U.S. cases soar past 124,000, including more than 2,100 deaths

Update 12:49 a.m. EDT March 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 124,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 124,464 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,191 deaths. Worldwide, there are 664,695 confirmed cases and 30,847 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 92,472 reported in Italy and the 82,057 confirmed in China.

Of the confirmed deaths, 834 have occurred in New York, 189 in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey and 137 in Louisiana.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 53,520 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 11,124 and California with 5,636.

Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including:

• Michigan: 4,658, including 112 deaths

• Washington: 4,310, including 189 deaths

• Massachusetts: 4,257, including 44 deaths

• Florida: 4,038, including 56 deaths

Meanwhile, Illinois and Louisiana have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while PennsylvaniaTexasGeorgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.

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