More than 5,000 coronavirus-related deaths have now been reported in the US
More than 5,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
It is a grim milestone for America, which has seen a rapid rise in coronavirus cases and fatalities in recent weeks.
The total number of deaths stands at 5,119 and at least 216,515 infections have been recorded, according to Johns Hopkins figures.
Going forward, CNN will be reporting the Johns Hopkins University statistics on the coronavirus.
12:37 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020
Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis Jr. dies aged 85 from coronavirus complications
New Orleans jazz legend, educator and father of four musical sons, Ellis Marsalis Jr., died on Wednesday, Ellis Marsalis Center for Music director emeritus Quint Davis told CNN.
The cause of death was complications of Covid-19, his son Branford Marsalis told the New York Times.
"Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement Wednesday night. “He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world.”
A musical dynasty: Four of Marsalis’ six sons followed in his musical footsteps, and established their own lasting careers in the industry. Ellis’ son Wynton is managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and winner of multiple awards.
His son Branford is a jazz saxophonist who has recorded albums with Sting, among others.
“A huge loss,” Davis told CNN.
12:17 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020
FBI sees spike in gun sale background checks amid coronavirus pandemic
By CNN’s Josh Campbell
The FBI reported a 41% surge in background checks on individuals attempting to buy firearms in the United States in the past month, as the country faces a growing coronavirus epidemic.
According to newly released data from the FBI, 3.7 million gun purchase background checks were made in the month of March alone.
It is the most checks conducted in a single month since the FBI’s National Instant Background Check (NICS) system was launched in 1998.
Which states have the most checks? By far, the state leading in federal firearm background checks in March was Illinois -- with over half a million checks conducted -- followed by Texas, Kentucky, Florida, and California.
Under US law, federally licensed gun dealers must run checks on every buyer, whether a purchase is made in a store or at a gun show.
“The rise in gun and ammunition sales during this crisis is understandable as the fear of the unknown can drive purchasing far off their norms,” said Jonathan Wackrow, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former special agent with the US Secret Service. “Research has shown that during a crisis, if individuals let fear, anxiety, and confusion spread, they will most likely begin to feel helpless. For many, the purchase of a weapon resolves that sense of helplessness.”
12:07 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020
Only some medical supplies from overseas going directly to coronavirus hotspots
From CNN's Leyla Santiago, Priscilla Alvarez and Kristen Holmes
Only a portion of the medical supplies being flown in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency from overseas are being allotted to critical hotspots -- the rest are going onto the private market.
Competition between states and the federal government has been a source of frustration for governors trying to shore up equipment to treat patients with coronavirus, according to multiple officials.
The Trump administration has touted the incoming flights, billing them and the equipment they're bringing in as a reprieve to states desperate for supplies.
But states are not the sole recipients of the equipment, according to a FEMA spokesperson. Supplies will also be sent to the private market, where states have been in fierce competition with each other to get hold of hard-to-come-by supplies.
"These supplies will soon be distributed around the country. We have large cargo planes coming in from various parts of the world," President Donald Trump said during Wednesday's briefing, noting it includes gloves, gowns, goggles and masks. "We're adding more and more."
Trump has suggested that states are overestimating their needs, previously saying, "Some people frankly think they need them and they don't need," referring to ventilators.
California says residents don't need to wear masks -- but cloth face coverings may give some protection
People leaving their homes for essential activities in California are not required to wear surgical masks, according to new guidance by the state's Department of Public Health.
"The guidance does not require people to wear face coverings – and is not a substitute for the state’s current guidance regarding social distancing and hand washing," the department said in a news release. "The state also does not recommend Californians use N-95 or surgical masks, which are needed for our health care workers and first responders who will be there for when our lives at risk."
The department also said that wearing a cloth face covering could provide some protection from the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing or frequent hand washing, which we know are amongst the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer, in the news release. “Wearing a cloth face covering could provide some additional benefit by acting as a reminder for other people to keep their distance, and it could help reduce the spread of infectious particles from those who could be infected but don’t have symptoms.”
LA mayor asks residents to consider health workers: The official advice comes after Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced that residents should wear non-medical grade face masks or coverings when in public to save essential personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers.
“Please do not get medical grade or surgical masks, or N95 masks. We must not contribute to the shortage of these essential personal protective equipment for medial personnel and first responders,” he said.
11:45 p.m. ET, April 1, 2020
More than 40 spring breakers who ignored public health advice test positive for coronavirus
About 70 people in their 20s chartered a plane from Austin, Texas, to Mexico for spring break two weeks ago. They went against the advice of White House officials who asked that people avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 and nonessential air travel.
Now 44 of those people have tested positive for coronavirus -- all of them University of Texas at Austin students, a university spokesman told CNN on Wednesday.
An elected official had a blunt message for the spring breakers.
"Quit being an a**," Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen told CNN affiliate KXAN. "Get over yourselves. Whether you think this is an issue or not, it is. Whether you think it could affect you or not, it does. The reality of it is, if I'm a college kid who's going to spring break in Mexico, you're affecting a lot of people. Grow up."
What's also alarming is that some of the passengers who went on the trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, took commercial flights home, the Austin Public Health Department said.
Mexico calls on citizens to avoid nonessential travel during the pandemic -- particularly to the US
From CNN's Natalie Gallon in Mexico City
Mexico has urged its citizens to avoid nonessential travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, specifically asking them not to go to the United States.
The country's foreign ministry is calling on its citizens to avoid tourism or recreational travel, “particularly between Mexico and the United States,” according to a statement released Wednesday, as Mexico attempts to “mitigate the spread, transmission and complications of COVID-19 in the community.”
The government is also urging Mexicans who are permanent residents in the US wanting to reunite with families to “temporarily stop nonessential travel to our country,” the statement adds.
As of Wednesday night, there were a total of 37 deaths, and 1,378 positive cases of the coronavirus recorded in the country, Mexico’s health authorities said during a nightly health news conference.
11:26 p.m. ET, April 1, 2020
Malaysian government apologizes after advising wives to avoid "nagging" during quarantine
From CNN's Joshua Berlinger in Hong Kong
The Malaysian government was forced to apologize after its Women's Development Department published a series of sexist "tips" to help deal with home quarantine, like advising women to continue to wear makeup and to "avoid nagging."
The campaign was met with fierce backlash, and the posts have since been deleted from the department's social media account.
One of the biggest criticisms was that the government body charged with supporting women appeared to be ignoring concerns about a rise in domestic violence that may accompany stay-at-home orders to focus on things like how women should dress.
The Malaysian All Women's Action Society called on the Women's Development Department to stop its sexist messaging and to focus on helping domestic violence survivors.
Women's Development Department director-general Akhma Hassan said the aim was to send out positive messages, according to state-run news agency Bernama.
"The approach used was to share methods and practices to maintain positive relationships within the family and during the phase of working from home," she said in a statement. "We have taken note of numerous comments on some tips for women which were promoted through posters via our social media accounts.
The Malaysian government and its leaders have faced accusations of sexism and misogyny on multiple occasions in recent years. During a debate on amending domestic violence laws in 2017, a member of parliament said husbands were "abused" when wives threw insults, withheld sex and denied consent for Muslim men to take another wife.
11:16 p.m. ET, April 1, 2020
Top US coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci increases security following death threats
From CNN's Kate Bennett
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top medical expert on the pandemic in the US, and a member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, is facing threats to his personal safety.
Fauci now requires personal security from law enforcement at all times, including at his home, a source has confirmed to CNN.
A law enforcement official told CNN that the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General, the agency's law enforcement arm, asked the US Marshals Service for assistance following threats to Fauci.
The Marshals then deputized HHS officers to act as personal security for the doctor.
The Washington Post first reported the threats to Fauci.
Anger over lockdown measures: As Fauci's profile in the pandemic crisis has grown, so has the concern for his welfare.
The doctor's guidance to Trump for the country to remain as locked down as possible to help control the virus spread has not earned fans among some fervent right-wing voices. The exact nature of the threats and where they emanated from remains unclear.