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The Zaandam cruise ship has been given permission to cross the Panama Canal and will then head toward Florida, according to a press release issued by the Panama Canal Saturday.
The green light comes a day after the Panama Canal said on Twitter the Zaandam would not be able to use the canal to get to Florida because the ship had passengers on board who tested positive for coronavirus.
Four "older" guests have died on the Zaandam and two others have tested positive for coronavirus. The cause and manner of death for the individuals who have died has not been determined yet. More than 130 others have displayed flu-like symptoms, according to the cruise line.
Panama’s Ministry of Health approved the passage of the Zaandam for “humanitarian reasons,” the release said.
"The Panama Canal supports all the efforts that are being made to make it easier for the passengers and crew of the Zaandam cruiser to reunite with their families," the Panama Canal said Saturday.
No passengers or crew members will be allowed to disembark on Panamanian territory, the statement said.
The ship was scheduled to cross the Panama Canal on April 1, but passage could happen earlier, according to the Panama Canal.
There are a total of 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board the Zaandam. The ship departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was scheduled to sail to Chile, but has been denied access to ports.
At least 696 members of the New York Police Department have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a daily coronavirus report from the NYPD.
There are 608 uniformed members and 88 civilian members who have tested positive.
About 12% of the department's uniformed workforce -- or 4,342 employees -- were out sick on Saturday, the report said.
President Donald Trump said in a tweet that after consulting with the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, he is asking the CDC to issue "a strong Travel Advisory" to be administered by those governors, in consultation with the federal government.
Trump said a "quarantine will not be necessary." This comes after he said earlier Saturday that he's considering mandatory short-term (two-week) quarantine on New York, certain parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. Trump's suggestion of a mandatory quarantine was strongly opposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who questioned whether it would be legal.
More than 2,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States as of 7:45 p.m. EST Saturday, according to a CNN count compiled through data on state health department websites.
There are 2,010 deaths reported as of Saturday. The US reached 1,000 deaths on Thursday.
There are at least 117,688 cases of coronavirus in the US as of Saturday, according to CNN Health's tally of cases that are detected and tested through US public health systems.
For the most up-to-date U.S. numbers compiled by CNN, please check this map which automatically refreshes every 10 minutes:
Twitch, the video streaming platform for gamers, says it has raised more than $2.2 million so far for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Twitch is hosting a livestreamed concert to raise the money. Musicians, athletes, gamers and celebrities performed live from their homes for the 12-hour Twitch charity event. John Legend, Garth Brooks and Barry Gibb were among the many who performed for hundreds of thousands watching online.
Sting, Shaggy and Diplo are slated to close the live event at 11:30 p.m. ET, according to Twitch's website.
A nurse at a downtown New Orleans hospital has described to CNN the very difficult conditions at the facility. The nurse, who did not want to be identified out of fear that speaking to the media could lead to employment repercussions, described the situation at the hospital after finishing a shift two days ago.
"We are averaging five to seven intubations and three to four deaths a day. We have had to set up a temporary morgue (white box) outside the ED next to ambulance ramp for those who expire from COVID-19, this temporary morgue is full," the nurse said.
The nurse told CNN that while the situation at the hospital is dire, the staff are in better shape than some.
“We are being asked to recycle our N95 masks. We only have 16 unused ventilators left in hospital. We’ve been told the surrounding hospitals are at max capacity without ventilators, leaving our hospital and one other major hospitals left to care for these patients," the nurse said. "EMS are having to recruit volunteer EMT workers to help as New Orleans EMS paramedics are either in quarantine for exposure or sick themselves."
The nurse offered a grim prediction:
If this type of workflow continues into April, we will not be able to sustain as a hospital."
A physician assistant working in the emergency room of a hospital in the New York borough of Queens described an "every man for themselves" atmosphere surrounding personal protective equipment (PPE). CNN is not naming this health care worker because they feared repercussions at the hospital for speaking to the media.
This physician assistant told CNN staff were informed two days ago that they would have to make their N95 mask last for five days and that they have been given tips by management about how to keep them clean.
PPE is being prioritized for those staff working with intubated patients, who are the most at risk of infection, the physician's assistant said. Intubation is when a tube is inserted through the mouth and into the patient's airway, so the patient can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing.
The physician assistant hasn't heard when the hospital will receive more supplies.
You have people out on the streets that have masks and meanwhile the hospitals are all running out of masks," the physician assistant told CNN.
The physician assistant described a crowded ER that is essentially doubling as an intensive care unit due to the large numbers of people who need to be intubated due to Covid-19.
“There’s patients everywhere," the physician assistant said.
Chairs and stretchers are being brought in to compensate for the influx of patients. Oxygen supplies are being replaced constantly.
"I think that no one ever expected to need this many supplies in a short period of time," the worker said.
The ER worker emphasized that they felt the hospital administration and management's support of staff has been "pretty impressive" and that they have been checking in on the ER staff's needs, even helping staff members find hotel rooms so that they do not need to go home and possibly sicken their families.
The physician assistant wanted to emphasize to the public the importance of social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus.
"You need to stay home, you need to stay away from people” they told CNN.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN he would sue Rhode Island if they did not roll back a policy of stopping all cars with New York license plates, but that he expects the two states will be able to work it out amicably.
"That clearly is unconstitutional," Cuomo said, adding he understands Rhode Island's goal of trying to slow the spread of coronavirus.
"But there's a point of absurdity, and I think what Rhode Island did is at the point of absurdity. Again, it is not even legal," he said.
No state should be using police to prohibit interstate travel in any way, Cuomo said.