Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1 million diagnosed cases and at least 58,355 deaths.
Today’s biggest developments:
- NYC offers antibody tests to healthcare workers and first responders
- US federal inmate dies of COVID-19 after giving birth while on ventilator
- Coronavirus may have already been in northern Italy as early as Jan. 26
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.
10:35 a.m.: NYC offers antibody tests to health care workers and first responders
In hard-hit New York City, antibody tests will be offered to over 150,000 health care workers and first responders, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
The aim is to begin testing by next week at hospitals, fire houses, police stations and correctional facilities. The goal is to test all health care workers and first responders within one month, the mayor said.
Antibody tests identify a likely past infection and provide confidence that the individual overcame the virus, the mayor said.
New York City officials will also be partnering with the military to provide mental health services to front-line workers experiencing combat stress.
Meanwhile, for the first time New York City is making marriage licenses available online due to the coronavirus.
The city’s IT department has built technology to enable online licensing to begin next week.
“We need moments of joy now more than ever, and we won’t let a pandemic get in the way of true love,” de Blasio said in a statement.
Citywide, 23% of the people tested on Monday were positive, down from 26% on Sunday.
New York City ICUs had 734 people with COVID-19 symptoms on Monday, down from 745 on Sunday.
But 136 people were admitted to city hospitals with coronavirus symptoms on Monday, up from 112 on Sunday.
The mayor called these numbers “progress, but not what we still need.”
Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.
10:05 a.m.: 500 TSA employees test positive for COVID-19
As of Wednesday morning, 500 employees from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have tested positive for COVID-19, including 208 workers who have recovered and four who have died.
The vast majority of the TSA cases are at New York City airports: 105 John F. Kennedy International Airport workers tested positive, 56 are positive from Newark Liberty International Airport and another 32 positive cases are employees working at LaGuardia Airport.
TSA officials said they are providing N95 respirators and eye protection to workers. At JFK and a dozen other airports around the nation, the TSA is temporarily adding plexiglass protective screens at the travel document-checking podium.
9:44 a.m.: Death toll among UK health and social care workers rises to 108
A growing number of front-line workers have given their lives to fighting the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
So far, 85 National Health Service staff and 23 social care workers are known to have died after contracting the virus themselves, according to British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, who paid tribute to the victims while addressing Parliament on Wednesday.
The true death toll among U.K. front-line workers is suspected to be much higher.
“My very deepest sympathies are with their family and friends at what is an incredibly difficult time,” Raab said, “and we’ll continue to do whatever it takes to support them.”
9:07 a.m.: Coronavirus may have already been in northern Italy as early as Jan. 26
The novel coronavirus may have been present in northern Italy’s Lombardy region as early as Jan. 26, nearly a month before the country’s first locally transmitted case was confirmed, according to a report by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The newspaper reported that an analysis of the virus-hit Lombardy region, based on the appearance of symptoms, shows there may have already been 543 cases of COVID-19 there on Jan. 26, including 46 in Milan. By the time the first positive case was detected on Feb. 21 in the town of Codogno, approximately 1,200 people had already contracted the virus throughout Lombardy, according to the newspaper’s analysis.
Italy is one of the worst-affected countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 201,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and over 27,000 deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The European country has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 9 to help curb the spread of the virus, but the government has outlined plans to gradually relax restrictions starting next month.
8:15 a.m.: France to be divided into ‘red’ and ‘green’ zones for lockdown exit
France will be divided into “red” and “green” zones as the nationwide lockdown is progressively lifted from May 11, the prime minister said.
While presenting details of the lockdown exit plan to French parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said all departments within the administrative regions of France will be labeled either “red” or “green,” based on certain criteria such as the local infection rate and hospital capacity. Red departments will have to be more strict in easing their lockdowns than green departments, Philippe said.
France is one of the worst-affected countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 169,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and over 23,000, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The European country has been on a strict lockdown since March 17.
6:37 a.m.: Sailors start returning to virus-hit USS Theodore Roosevelt
Hundreds of U.S. Navy sailors began reboarding the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Wednesday after spending weeks in quarantine on Guam while the coronavirus-stricken ship was cleaned, officials said.
The aircraft carrier was forced to dock in Guam late last month due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Out of the ship’s nearly 5,000 crew members, 940 sailors had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 29 had recovered as of Tuesday.
More than 4,000 sailors who tested negative have been quarantined in hotels and other facilities ashore. It will take several days to move all of them back on board the ship, according to a press release from the U.S. 7th Fleet.
All sailors must have completed their period of quarantine or isolation and tested negative twice before they are considered virus-free and can return to the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Sailors will move back to the ship in waves, starting with those responsible for critical services on board as the aircraft carrier prepares to return to sea. Meanwhile, the roughly 700 Sailors who remained on board to deep clean the ship and run essential services will begin their isolation period, according to the press release.
“The stay behind crew successfully built a ‘bubble’ around the ship, that can now be turned over to the clean crew,” Cmdr. Zach Harry, chief engineer aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, said in a statement Wednesday. “The crew will now create a boundary to keep the coronavirus out. This clean bubble must now be defended.”
5:54 a.m.: China to hold largest political gathering after 2-month delay due to coronavirus
China has decided to hold its most important political gathering next month after postponing it for weeks because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s official state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday that this year’s plenary session of the National People’s Congress would take place in Beijing on May 22, as decided by its standing committee.
The 3,000-member ceremonial legislature was originally scheduled to convene in March but was delayed as the country struggled to contain the deadly outbreak.
It was the first time in decades that the annual assembly had been postponed — since the Cultural Revolution.
China’s National Health Commission has reported at least 82,858 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,633 deaths on the mainland since the novel coronavirus emerged in the central city of Wuhan back in December.
4:12 a.m.: US federal inmate dies of COVID-19 after giving birth while on ventilator
A 30-year-old federal inmate died of COVID-19 on Tuesday, four weeks after giving birth while she was on a ventilator, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Andrea Circle Bear, who was serving a 26-month sentence for maintaining a drug-affiliated business, is believed to be the first female federal inmate in the United States to die of the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Circle Bear was transferred last month from a South Dakota jail to the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, which houses 1,625 female inmates. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was immediately placed on quarantine status at the facility, according to a statement from the Bureau of Prisons.
Circle Bear was taken to a local hospital on March 28 because of potential concerns regarding her pregnancy. She was discharged the same day and taken back to FMC Carswell. Three days later, she was seen by the prison’s health services staff for a fever, dry cough and other symptoms, and was subsequently transported to the local hospital where she was placed on a ventilator, the Bureau of Prisons said.
Circle Bear gave birth to her baby by cesarean section on April 1. The new mother tested positive for COVID-19 three days later. She was pronounced dead by hospital staff on Tuesday.
The Bureau of Prisons said Circle Bear had a pre-existing medical condition, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists as a risk factor for developing more severe illness when infected with the novel coronavirus.
Nationwide, more than 1,300 federal inmates and over 300 Bureau of Prisons staff have tested positive for COVID-19. At least 30 federal inmates have died from the disease.
ABC News’ Ibtissem Guenfoud, Mina Kaji, Aaron Katersky and Phoebe Natanson contributed to this report.