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Coronavirus live updates: Estimates say a quarter of North Dakota oil wells sit idle

Dr. Anthony Fauci says a May 1 target date to reopen the nation's economy is 'a bit overly optimistic' for many areas of the country.

Live updates continue on Wednesday, April 15, at this link.

Key updates for Tuesday, April 14, 2020:

  • Reports say companies have shut 4,600 oil wells in North Dakota since the start of March
  • Between 10% and 20% of U.S. coronavirus cases are health care workers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • President Trump meets with former coronavirus patients
  • Dr. Fauci says US 'not there yet' on key steps to reopen economy
  • New York Governor Cuomo says Trump can't force states to reopen
  • The worldwide number of coronavirus cases is likely to reach 2 million Tuesday. The U.S. total may reach 600,000 with a death toll of more than 25,000 Tuesday.
  • Britain says it's death toll has increased by hundreds after including those who died in non-hospital settings such as nursing homes.
  • Tokyo Olympics organizers say they have no backup plan beyond holding the Games in July 2021.
  • Tour de France will not start on June 27 as scheduled
  • Thousands of American Airlines pilots and flight attendants accept voluntary leave or early retirement
  • Some meat processing plants have closed as workers get sick, increasing concerns about a meat shortage in the U.S.
  • Some car insurance companies have started offering small discounts due to fewer cars on the road and collisions due to the lockdowns.
  • From Monday, April 13 live blog: More than 80 million Americans should get stimulus money by Wednesday.

There have been 582,607 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of midnight ET Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. Of those, 23,628 have died and 44,261 have recovered. The U.S. has conducted more than 2.9 million tests.

Worldwide, there have been 1.9 million confirmed cases with nearly 120,000 deaths and nearly 450,000 recoveries.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia.

RELATED: 80 million should get stimulus checks by Wednesday, Treasury says

Regulator: Thousands of North Dakota oil wells idled

A top state oil regulator estimates that North Dakota producers have idled thousands of wells — amounting to more than a quarter of the oil wells in the state — as the U.S. oil industry crashed during the coronavirus outbreak.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said Tuesday that companies have shut 4,600 wells since the start of March. The idled wells account of about 260,000 barrels per day of oil, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

Operators are temporarily idling wells that produce smaller quantities of oil, in addition to wells that flare large amounts of natural gas.

Helms said oil industry estimates indicate even more rigs will stop drilling for oil in North Dakota. He said the rig count could bottom out at 50% to 75% below pre-pandemic levels. On Tuesday, 33 rigs were active in North Dakota, down 18 from the March average.

“We’ve lost about 40% of our drilling rigs in just three or four short weeks,” Helms said.

Trump begins Tuesday's White House briefing with an update about the World Health Organization 

President Donald Trump says he has directed a halt to U.S. payments to the World Health Organization pending a review of its warnings about the coronavirus and China.

Trump says the outbreak could have been contained at its source and spared lives had the U.N. health agency done a better job investigating reports coming out of China.

The president says the world depends on the World Health Organization to work with countries to make sure accurate information about health threats are shared in a timely manner.

Trump claims the organization failed to carry out its “basic duty” and must be held accountable.

But Trump says the U.S. will continue to engage with the organization in pursuit of what he calls meaningful reforms.

President Trump says that he will be speaking with governors from US states either on Wednesday or Thursday. The president said he will not pressure governors to open their states back up. 

CDC details cases involving health care workers 

Between 10% and 20% of U.S. coronavirus cases are health care workers, though they tended to be hospitalized at lower rates than other patients, health officials reported Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first national data on how the pandemic is hitting doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. Medical staff have also been hit hard in other countries: Media reports said about 10% of cases in Italy and Spain were health care workers.

The data is important new information but not necessarily surprising, said Dr. Anne Schucaht, who is running the U.S. agency’s response to the outbreak.

Compared with U.S. cases overall, larger proportions of diagnosed health care workers were women, were white, and were young or middle-aged adults. That’s consistent with the demographics of who works in health care, researchers said.

Playstation offers free games, $10 million 'creative funding' 

As part of its efforts to encourage people to stay home and practice social distancing, Sony Interactive Entertainment announced Tuesday it will be offering two games for free. 

"To support Play At Home, PlayStation will try to make those occasionally dull moments more exciting by offering Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey available for free* for a limited time through digital downloads from April 15 at 8pm PDT through May 5, 2020 at 8pm PDT Once you redeem the games, they are yours to keep," Sony Interactive Entertainment President & CEO Jim Ryan said in a blog post.

Ryan added that Sony has developed a $10 million fund to support its independent game developers. More info about the fund, including participation criteria, will be made available soon, Sony explained

Paul Manafort seeks release from prison due to virus threat 

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is seeking early release from prison due to health risks from the coronavirus, according to Politico and CNN

Manafort's lawyer wrote in a letter to the federal Bureau of Prisons that the 71-year-old is at "high-risk" and requested he be transferred to home confinement to serve the remainder of his more than seven year sentence, Politico reported.  

The prison where Manafort is being held, FCI Loretto, currently has no cases of coronavirus, according to CNN, but his lawyer noted in his letter that it's only a matter of time. 

As of Tuesday morning, the Bureau of Prisons had yet to respond to the request, one of Manafort's lawyers confirmed to CNN. 

Congress delays return to Washington until at least May 4

The House and Senate have pushed back their next meeting until at least May 4 to protect lawmakers from the coronavirus pandemic. That's a change from their plan to convene in Washington next week to consider new legislation to prop up the hard-hit U.S. economy.

The average age of lawmakers is right around 60, with many leaders decades older and part of a vulnerable age group. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday the decision follows the advice of health experts who urge people to continue social distancing. The House made a similar announcement on Monday.

Fauci: 'We're not there yet' on key steps to reopen economy 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the U.S. does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation's economy, adding a dose of caution to increasingly optimistic projections from the White House.

“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Fauci said a May 1 target is “a bit overly optimistic” for many areas of the country. Any easing off the strict social-distancing rules in place in much of the country would have to occur on a “rolling” basis, not all at once, he said, reflecting the ways COVID-19 struck different parts of the country at different times.

Among Fauci's top concerns: that there will be new outbreaks in locations where social distancing has eased, but public health officials don't yet have the capabilities to rapidly test for the virus, isolate any new cases and track down everyone that an infected person came into contact with.

“I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going count,” Fauci told the AP.

Key is “getting people out of circulation if they get infected, because once you start getting clusters, then you’re really in trouble,” he added.

Fauci said his public role is important but conceded that the duration of those briefings — Monday’s ran for nearly two-and-a-half hours — was “really draining” and that doesn’t even count preparation and waiting for it to start.

“If I had been able to just make a few comments and then go to work, that would have really been much better,” he said. “It isn’t the idea of being there and answering questions, which I really think is important for the American public. It’s the amount of time.”

Trump meets with former coronavirus patients 

President Donald Trump is meeting with patients who have recovered from the coronavirus.

Among the former COVID-19 patients meeting with Trump at the White House is Michigan state lawmaker Karen Whitsett. Whitsett has publicly credited Trump for publicizing the use of an anti-malaria drug — which she says she used during her illness — as a treatment for the disease.

Whitsett thanked Trump again during Tuesday’s meeting and said hydroxychloroquine must to readily available for the people of Detroit, which is in her district.

Trump has promoted the drug as a treatment for COVID-19 although it hasn’t been approved by the federal government for that specific use.

Trump is also hearing from a passenger who was on a cruise ship that experienced an outbreak of coronavirus.

NY governor says Trump can't force states to reopen 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday pushed back against President Donald Trump's claim of “total” authority to reopen the nation's virus-stalled economy, but also insisted “the president will have no fight with me.”

“We don’t have a king in this country. We didn’t want a king, so we have a Constitution and we elect a president," Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

The Democratic governor, whose state has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, was reacting to Trump's assertion Monday that “when somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.”

Cuomo said restarting the economy must be done in a smart, methodical manner or the hard-won gains of the past month could be lost.

Cuomo referenced critical tweets by Trump and said "the president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue.” But he said being politically divisive right now would be harmful.

“The president will have no fight with me,” he said. “I will not engage it.”

MLS says returning in mid-May unlikely 

Major League Soccer says its hopes of returning in mid-May are “extremely unlikely.”

In a statement Tuesday, the league said guidance from federal and local public health officials is making it unlikely the league will be able to restart in about a month.

MLS says the goal remains to play as many games as possible, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to potentially play an entire season even if there are enough dates available.

MLS currently has a training moratorium for players through April 24.

NHL extends quarantine for players, coaches and staff

The NHL has once again extended its period of self-quarantine for its players and staff. Players have been asked to self-quarantine through April 30. The directive was originally set to last until March 27 but has been extended several times since.

7 crew of hospital ship docked at Los Angeles have COVID-19

The number of COVID-19 cases among crewmembers of the Navy hospital ship Mercy has risen to seven while it is docked in the Port of Los Angeles to help serve the region’s patients who have not been stricken by the coronavirus, a newspaper reported.

The seven have been isolated off the ship, Cmdr. John Fage, a 3rd Fleet spokesman, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in an email Monday.

The Mercy’s ability to receive patients has not been affected, Fage said.

“The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board,” he said.

IMF: Global economy may shrink 3% due to virus

Beaten down by the coronavirus outbreak, the world economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund says. The IMF expects the global economy to shrink 3% this year before rebounding in 2021 with 5.8% growth. It acknowledges, though, that prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty. The IMF's assessment represents a breathtaking downgrade. In its previous forecast in January, before COVID-19 emerged as a grave threat, it had forecast moderate global growth of 3.3% this year. But measures to contain the pandemic have suddenly brought economic activity to a near-standstill across much of the world.

Hundreds more have died in Britain than government tally

New figures show that hundreds more people with COVID-19 have died in Britain than have been recorded in the government’s daily tally.

The Office for National Statistics says 5,979 deaths that occurred in England up to April 3 involved COVID-19, 15% more than the 5,186 deaths announced by the National Health Service for the same period.

The daily total released by the U.K. government only includes people who died in hospitals. The higher figure includes deaths in all settings including nursing homes, and cases where coronavirus was suspected but not tested for.

Tokyo Olympics in 2021: Organizers have no 'B Plan'

Tokyo organizers say they have no “B Plan” if the Olympics need to be postponed again.

They say they are proceeding under the assumption the Olympics will open on July 23, 2021. That date was set last month by the IOC and Japanese officials after the spreading coronavirus pandemic made it clear the Olympics could not be held as scheduled.

The severity of the pandemic and the death toll has again raised questions if it will be feasible to hold the Olympics just over 15 months from now.

The Olympics draw 11,000 athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and large support staffs from 206 national Olympic committees.  

Tour de France won't start as scheduled

The Tour de France won’t begin as originally planned because French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled all public events with large crowds through mid-July in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tour organizers say it is now impossible for the three-week race to start on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice as scheduled.

It is unclear if cycling’s biggest event will be scrapped from the race calendar. New plans are likely to be announced before the end of the month following consultations with the governing body of cycling.

Thousands of American Airlines pilots, flight attendants take leave, early retirement

More than one-third of American Airlines pilots and flight attendants will take voluntary leave or early retirement, according to the Dallas Morning News.

About 4,800 pilots are reportedly being offered voluntary leave while 715 are taking early retirement with partial pay and full benefits. That's in addition to 1,500 who were given voluntary leave for April.

About 7,900 flight attendants signed up for voluntary leave and 760 will take early retirement, according to Dallas Morning News.

Amazon has another 75,000 job openings

Amazon says it has filled 100,000 job openings it announced on March 16 and is now looking to fill another 75,000 positions.

On its COVID-19 blog, the company said the positions include warehouse workers, delivery drivers and shoppers.

Amazon also said it expects to spend $500 million in wage increases worldwide, up from a previously announced $350 million.

RELATED: VERIFY: No, Alexa doesn't blame the government for creating COVID-19

Lockdowns may bring car insurance discounts

People are driving less due to stay-at-home orders to stop the coronavirus from spreading, and consumer groups say that should mean lower auto insurance premiums. 

Some companies have responded, but the Consumer Federation of America reports that discounts may be too small and aren’t being applied evenly.

In New York and Washington states, the number of traffic crashes fell by 30% last month. The federation says that means lower costs to insurance companies that should be passed on to consumers.

The group suggests calling your insurer and commenting on social media if they don't offer discounts.  

Virus closes some meat plants, raising fears of shortages

Some massive meat processing plants have closed at least temporarily because their workers were sickened by the new coronavirus, raising concerns that there could soon be shortages of beef, pork and poultry in supermarkets.

The meat supply chain is especially vulnerable since processing is increasingly done at massive plants that butcher tens of thousands of animals daily, so the closure of even a few big ones can quickly be felt by customers. For instance, a Smithfield Foods plant that was forced to close in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after nearly 300 of the plant’s 3,700 workers tested positive for the virus produces roughly 5% of the U.S. pork supply each day.

In addition, conditions at plants can be ripe for exploitation by the virus: Workers stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the line and crowd into locker rooms to change their clothes before and after shifts.

RELATED: Smithfield warns of potential meat shortage after closing plant

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