By VOA News
The global death toll for the coronavirus pandemic as it spreads around the world has surpassed 10,000 people. COVID-19 has infected more than 244,500 people.
In the United States, California Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday ordered the 40 million residents of the west coast state to stay home as part of the battle against the disease.
Newsom issued the mandate following the deaths of 19 people and 958 people who tested positive for the coronavirus in California.
The lockdown for the entire state followed a Los Angeles County order earlier Thursday that shut down all the county’s shopping malls, nonessential retail stores and playgrounds.
Newsom asked Congress Thursday for $1 billion in federal funds to pay for expected medical costs related to the disease.
On Wednesday, the California governor wrote to President Donald Trump asking for the Navy’s hospital ship to be deployed to the port of Los Angeles for the expected surge in infected patients.
Ground zero shifts to Italy
Meanwhile, Italy is now ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing China as the country with the most deaths.
As of Thursday, Italian officials report 3,405 coronavirus deaths while China’s death toll stood at 3,248.
Over the last two days, Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began in December, is reporting no new cases for the first time. Wuhan is the capital of China’s Hubei province.
Italy and Hubei province imposed total lockdowns to stop the spread; however, Italy has a large elderly population and those 65 and older are highly susceptible to the coronavirus.
Thirty-four new cases were reported elsewhere in mainland China Thursday. Authorities say people who came from other countries were infected.
South Korea reported 152 new cases Thursday, a setback after reporting fewer than 100 new cases for four days in a row. South Korea is the hardest-hit Asian country outside China.
Another hard-hit country, Germany, reported a jump of 2,800 new cases Thursday. Officials there say coronavirus could strike as many as 10 million Germans unless proper precautions are taken, including social distancing.
Spain has closed all hotels and turned a four-star inn in Madrid into a makeshift hospital.
In France, one of the world’s most anticipated entertainment events, the Cannes Film Festival, has been postponed from May until possibly July.
Prince Albert of Monaco tests positive
Prince Albert of Monaco is the first head of state with a confirmed case of coronavirus. New Zealand and Australia are closing their shores to all foreign visitors.
In North America, Mexico reported its first coronavirus death Thursday.
US Congressmen infected
Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrat Ben McAdams, are the first members of Congress to test positive for coronavirus. Both are in self-quarantine.
Late Thursday, a federal judge in Seattle rejected an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union to free nine illegal migrants who the ACLU says are at risk for coronavirus because of their age and other health problems.
The judge said he is fully aware of the seriousness of the outbreak but said there is no evidence of the virus at the holding center and said conditions are adequate.
Opera fans will have to do without their Puccini and Wagner for a while. New York’s Metropolitan Opera is canceling the rest of its season because of the outbreak.