Joe Biden

Former vice president of the United States
Jump to  stances on the issues
Biden is running on the legacy of the eight years he served alongside President Barack Obama and has proposed advancing that legacy on key issues like health care and the climate crisis. Prior to his time as vice president, Biden represented Delaware in the US Senate for 36 years.
University of Delaware, B.A., 1965; Syracuse University Law School, J.D., 1968
November 20, 1942
Jill Biden; Neilia Biden (deceased)
Roman Catholic
Beau (deceased, son of Neilia), Naomi (deceased, daughter of Neilia), Hunter (son of Neilia) and Ashley (daughter of Jill)
Senator from Delaware, 1972-2009;
New Castle County Council in Delaware, 1970-1972
Latest National Polling
NBC News/ Wall Street Journal
Released 03/15/20
Ipsos/ Reuters
Released 03/10/20
Quinnipiac Univ.
Released 03/09/20
Biden campaign says it will arrange call with Trump about coronavirus
Updated 10:00 PM ET, Wed Apr 1, 2020
A phone call between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic contender for his position, is in the works to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. "Our teams will be in touch and we will arrange a call," said Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager, in a statement Wednesday evening. The potential steps toward a call come after Trump was asked about Biden's offer to speak with him at his daily coronavirus press briefing. "I would absolutely take his call," Trump said. "I would love to speak with him, sure." The campaign had vaguely indicated willingness for a phone call earlier in the day, albeit with no concrete plan, after Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the President, rebuked Biden for criticizing Trump's coronavirus response. "I find it petty and partisan and completely unhelpful to the American population to have a former vice president, who was here for eight years, in his bunker in Wilmington just lobbing criticisms, reading from prepared notes and not that well," Conway said. Biden, for his part, has pushed back on any notion that his comments might politicize the pandemic, saying in an interview Monday on MSNBC, "Everything that I have done has been designed to be constructive." He added, "The best I can do from my position is to lay out what I think should be done, how to do it, and when it's not being done, say why the experts say, 'This is what we should be doing. Let's do it.' " Trump's willingness to speak to Biden about the coronavirus crisis would mark a shift in tone between the rivals. Biden has been sharply critical of the President's slow response to the crisis, accusing him of repeatedly misleading Americans about the risks of the virus and seeking to cast blame on others for shortages in personal protective equipment and flaws in testing. During CNN's town hall with Biden last week, he criticized the President for sparring with governors who have been critical of the federal response (including Trump's remark that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was a "snake"). "This is not personal. It has nothing to do with you, Donald Trump, nothing to do with you, do your job. Stop personalizing everything," Biden said at the town hall last Friday night. The former vice president also wrote an op-ed on January 27 admonishing Trump as the "worst possible" leader to deal with the outbreak. "I am concerned that the Trump administration's shortsighted policies have left us unprepared for a dangerous epidemic that will come sooner or later," Biden wrote at the time, when the United States had only a handful of confirmed coronavirus cases. He has since striven to remain a relevant voice in the national conversation as attention is focused on the virus by conducting television interviews and news briefings from a basement studio at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. Though campaigning by all of the candidates -- Trump, Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- has been sharply curtailed while most of the country is operating under stay-at-home restrictions, the politicization of the pandemic has heated up on the airwaves. Biden's campaign has released several digital coronavirus-related ads, some directly criticizing Trump and another pitching Biden as an empathetic leader in an implicit contrast with the President. Outside groups, including the super PAC supporting Biden's campaign, also have blasted Trump's response to the pandemic, accusing him of downplaying the severity of the crisis and suggesting that Democrats were exaggerating the potential impact of the pandemic to drag down his campaign. On Wednesday, America First Action super PAC, which backs the Trump campaign, announced a $10 million ad buy that will target Biden in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Biden told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday afternoon that the President needs to act like a wartime president during the struggle against the pandemic. "The President said he's a wartime president. This is a war against this virus. He should act like a wartime president," the former vice president said. This story has been updated with background information.
climate crisis
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Biden in June 2019 proposed a plan that would spend $1.7 trillion to set the United States on track to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. His proposal embraces elements of the ambitious Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and seeks to go “well beyond” Obama’s climate goals. As part of the proposal, Biden is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a ban on new oil and gas permits on public lands. He would also reenter the Paris climate accord. The plan leaves it to Congress to decide what enforcement mechanism would be used to require corporations in the United States to meet the emissions goals Biden’s plan lays out – and penalize them if they fall short. More on Biden’s climate crisis policy
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Boosting the middle class is one of the main pillars of Biden’s campaign. He often says the country needs to build an economy that “rewards work, not just wealth.” Biden wants to repeal the tax cuts enacted by the Trump administration and is pushing for a $15 minimum hourly wage, eliminating noncompete agreements for workers and expanding access to affordable education, including free community college. In an interview with CNN in July 2019, Biden said he would raise the top individual income tax rate to 39.5% and raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. More on Biden’s economic policy
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Biden has proposed an education plan that would increase funding for schools in low-income areas, help teachers pay off student loans and double the number of health professionals working in schools. A core element involves tripling federal Title I funding for schools that serve low-income areas, closing what his campaign called a $23 billion funding gap between majority white and nonwhite school districts. In October 2019, Biden unveiled a plan that would cut student loan debt obligations, waiving $10,000 per year – for up to five years – for those in public service work, like teachers or members of the military. He would also guarantee that those earning less than $25,000 owe nothing on their undergraduate federal student loans, while everyone else’s payments would be capped at 5% of their discretionary income above $25,000 – halving the current 10% cap. His plans heavily emphasize executive action. Biden said at an American Federation of Teachers forum in Houston in May 2019 that “the bulk of” his education proposals can become law even if Republicans maintain control of the Senate after the 2020 elections. More on Biden’s education policy
gun violence
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Biden said in August 2019 that he will push to ban so-called assault weapons if elected. In a New York Times op-ed, Biden – who helped lead the effort to ban assault weapons in the 1990s – wrote that the United States has a “huge problem with guns,” and that assault weapons, which he defined as “military-style firearms designed to fire rapidly,” are a threat to US national security. He also told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he would push for a federal gun buyback program in an attempt to take more weapons off the streets. He supports universal background checks, and said assault weapons “should be illegal. Period.” In the first Democratic presidential debate, Biden called for “smart guns” – requiring manufacturers to include biometric measures that would block firearms from being used by those whose fingerprints aren’t registered for that specific gun. He has also focused further on gun manufacturers. “Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA. The gun manufacturers,” he said at the debate.
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Biden in July 2019 unveiled a health care plan that would greatly expand Obamacare’s subsidies to make the private insurance policies available on the exchanges more affordable. The plan would also create a new “public option” similar to Medicare that people could buy into. “We’re going to add to it a public option. And the public option says whether you are having employer-based insurance or private insurance, or you’re in the exchange, you can join up for a Medicaid-Medicare-like provision in the law and not dump 300 million people on Medicare all of a sudden,” he said in July 2019. Biden added that those covered by employer-based health insurance plans could also choose the public plan if they prefer it. “You can sign up and get this other plan,” he said. “But if you like (your private insurance), you’re able to keep it.” More on Biden’s health care policy
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Biden supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has also called on Congress to immediately grant citizenship to some undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. At the first Democratic presidential debate in June, Biden said that undocumented immigrants with no criminal records “should not be the focus of deportation.” In an interview with CNN in July 2019, Biden said he opposes decriminalizing crossing the border without documentation, something other candidates in the field have supported. “I think people should have to get in line, but if people are coming because they’re actually seeking asylum, they should have a chance to make their case,” Biden said. More on Biden’s immigration policy
Coronavirus live updates: Cases top 941,000 globally
Updated 6:37 AM ET, Thu Apr 2, 2020
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing a public backlash after he said the government would distribute two reusable cloth face masks per household amid growing concern over medical shortages, as the country faces a worsening coronavirus outbreak. The number of confirmed cases of the virus has spiked in recent weeks, after it appeared that Japan's initial response had got the virus relatively under control. As of Wednesday, there were more than 2,300 cases across Japan, and 57 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. That spike has seen a raft of new restrictions put in place in Tokyo and other major cities, and a run on protective gear, including face masks. On Wednesday, Abe said the provision of cloth masks to the worst-hit areas "will be helpful in responding to the rapidly increasing demand." But Abe's proposal to send two masks to each household attracted outrage and mockery online Wednesday, with the hashtag "Abe's mask" and "screw your two masks" trending on Twitter. Many felt the move was lackluster and would not go into effect fast enough to have a chance at curbing the spread of the virus, with masks not due to be distributed until the end of the month. Others dubbed the policy "Abenomask policy" as satirical memes showing well-known cartoon characters sharing one mask between four family members popped up online. The anger comes as Abe resisted calls Wednesday to declare a state of emergency, saying that use of such powers was not imminent. Read more here. At least 10,003 people have now died after testing positive for coronavirus in Spain, according to Health Ministry data released Thursday.  The grim milestone was passed after 950 new deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours -- the highest single-day increase the country has seen. However, the 10.5% rise is similar to Wednesday’s increase and smaller in percentage terms than any recorded in the past two weeks.  Spain is one of the world's worst-hit countries, trailing only Italy in total deaths from Covid-19, and behind Italy and the United States in total reported cases. The Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon, Bernardita Catalla, has died from complications of Covid-19, the embassy said in a statement on Thursday.   Catalla, a career diplomat for 27 years, died in hospital in Beirut. Months before her death, she spearheaded the evacuation of nearly 2,000 Filipinos, mostly female domestic workers, from crisis-ridden Lebanon.   Lebanon has been in the throes of a financial and political crisis since October 2019, and many African and Asian migrant workers in the country reported a large drop in earnings and the withholding of salaries. The Philippine embassy’s evacuation program for Filipinos, many of whom were undocumented, received praise from humanitarian workers and international rights groups.   CNN interviewed Catalla twice about her repatriation program since December. “Those who feel that they have to go back to the Philippines do so because they have nothing here anymore. Some have become homeless,” Catalla told CNN in February.  Women clamored for selfies with the ambassador as they waited for the bus to take them to the airport. Asked what she thought about the praise being heaped on the embassy for their evacuation program, Catalla responded: “We’re just doing our jobs.”  Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodro Locsin Jr tweeted that before Catalla died he “extended her a great job in a difficult post. I promised her Paris so she’d hang on.”   “But she just laughed, ‘Now I must learn French,’” wrote Locsin.   “Ambassador Bernie Catalla’s remains will be received with an honor guard and I am putting forward a nomination for Gawad Mabini and Sikatuna,” said Locsin, referring to an honor conferred on Filipinos for distinguished foreign service.   “Not that she needs more honor than the profound regret and mourning of a grateful service, government, and I hope nation.”  Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will sell-isolate until next Wednesday, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. It follows the announcement that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman tested positive for the coronavirus. Litzman’s wife also tested positive. Given the Health Minister’s role in policy-making during the coronavirus crisis, many other senior Israeli officials are also expected to go into immediate self-quarantine. Among those being considered for possible self-isolation by health officials, according to multiple reports on Israeli media, is Yossi Cohen, the head of the Mossad intelligence service. There are now 4 million French employees on partial unemployment support and the number is still “strongly increasing,” France’s Labor Minister Muriel Pénicaud said Thursday. Under the scheme, firms can reduce their activity while asking the state for compensation to be redistributed to employees. Employees on the minimum wage or in a part-time job will receive 100% of their usual salary, the minister said. Other employees will receive 84% of their salary, Pénicaud added. The partial unemployment system should enable the country to recover as quickly as possible after the crisis, as it maintains the link between employers and employees, French PM Edouard Philippe explained on Wednesday. ##Daily Life## India’s Ministry of Science and Technology has issued a manual of instructions on how to make homemade masks in a bid to counter shortages or for those who lack access. “This is primarily meant for the people who want to wear masks but do not have access to them. They can make these washable and reusable masks at home” said Dr. Shailja Vaidya Gupta, senior adviser at the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government in a news release.  Although the government has not issued a directive making it compulsory to wear masks, an increasing number of shops catering towards essential needs are demanding that customers wear a mask while on the premises. Sewing masks with a machine or by hand: The manual has been put together keeping in mind easy access to materials with instructions that are simple to follow. It has instructions for making masks with either a sewing machine or by hand, and instructions on how to wear and take care of them.  Masks divide opinion: Opinion has been split on whether wearing a mask is an effective solution to curbing the spread of coronavirus. While it’s been common practice in parts of Asia, in other regions of the world, public health authorities and politicians have urged people to focus on washing their hands and maintaining social distancing. ##Daily Life## The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Austria has passed 10,000, the country’s health ministry has said. A total of 10,769 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the country, and the death toll now stands at 146. Wearing face masks to become compulsory: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced earlier this week that wearing face masks in shops would become compulsory. The health ministry says this measure will take effect from April 6. Shops and drugstores in Austria will be required to provide customers with a mask if they are not already wearing their own. The order puts Austria, along with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, at odds with some international medical authorities. WHO and US CDC experts have long argued that people who are not sick nor caring for someone who is sick should leave masks in the medical supply chain for health care workers who need them most. But some experts who have made the argument for people to wear masks have pointed to past research showing the effectiveness of masks against the spread of influenza and to early research on Covid-19. The top US general in South Korea says that he does not believe North Korea’s claim it has no cases of novel coronavirus.  “That is an impossible claim based on all of the intel we have seen,” Gen. Robert Abrams, Commander of US Forces Korea (USFK), said in a joint interview with CNN and Voice of America. “How many? I couldn’t tell you but I do know by their actions that for about 30 days in February, early March, that their military was locked down and they took draconian methods on their border crossings and in their formations.” North Korea has not reported any coronavirus infections, but it borders two of the most heavily affected countries in the region -- China and South Korea. While the 16th USFK-related coronavirus infection was reported today, Abrams said the military force has managed to keep that number low. “We've seen the worst but now is not the time to get complacent. Our worst is frankly not that bad," Abrams said. He added that the 16 USFK-related cases were reported out of 58,000 people in total, including 28,500 active military personnel, dependents and support staff for bases around the country. As USFK was among the first US military forces to have to deal with the virus worldwide, Abrams said he has advice for those now grappling with the spread around the world.  “Go hard, go early, it will seem like over-reaction, it will seem a bit over-the-top, 'My gosh why are we having to do that draconian measure?' A week later your community will understand (and) your unit will understand why you had to do that," he said. Any sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier who test negative for the novel coronavirus will soon disembark the ship and begin their 14-day quarantine in Guam. So far, 93 sailors from the US Navy ship have tested positive for the virus, 86 of whom are symptomatic. None have required hospitalization so far. In total, there are more than 4,000 crew members on board the ship, only 1,273 of whom have already been tested. “Over the next 12 to 24 hours, we plan to move the first group of Covid-19 negative asymptomatic sailors to approved commercial lodging for quarantine in accordance with the governor’s executive order and CDC guideline," Joint Region Marianas Commander Adm. John Menoni said at a news conference in Guam today.  "Sailors will only be permitted to depart the base following a negative Covid-19 test result. They must remain in quarantine, in their assigned rooms for the duration of the mandatory 14-day quarantine." Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero defended her decision to allow the sailors to disembark from the aircraft carrier and to come onshore. "The bottom line is our sailors go out and protect our freedom. We ask them to go out and sacrifice their lives for our protections, and they are asking us to help them get over this god-awful virus, and when I look at the opportunities and possibilities and space, I decided to say yes," she said. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif slammed President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic today, saying he was using the crisis for political gain.  "We have not witnessed throughout history such heinous employment of a humanitarian catastrophe for revenge and to spread hatred and electoral exploitation as the current American president and his team do," Zarif said in a quote from state news agency IRNA.  “In order for the world efforts to yield fruit and in order for the world to return to (normal) life, we have to believe that all the planet Earth is a battlefield and in wherever part of the world we are defeated, the entire world will be defeated." Zarif also said on Thursday on his official Twitter account that "Iran starts no wars, but teaches lessons to those who do," adding that Iran has "friends" rather than "proxies."  Echoing Zarif's comments, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that the US sanctions are contributing to the spread of the virus and urged Americans to join the global fight.  "Trump’s economic sanctions equal further spread of the virus in Iran which equals further spread of the virus in the US! Help us help you," said Hesameddin Ashena, head of the Center for Strategic Studies of the President's Office, as quoted by IRNA.  "Dear Americans: If we don't fight the coronavirus globally it will reappear globally, again and again and again." Iran has recorded 47,593 coronavirus cases and 3,036 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. In many ways it was just like any other wedding. On the day of the ceremony, the groom's parents got themselves prepared early in the morning, dressing in their best wedding clothes. When they were ready for the service to begin, they walked into the living room and joined other family members to watch on a two-way video stream as their son got married in Phoenix, Arizona -- almost 8,000 miles away. Several members of groom Nilin Mehta's family were due to fly over from New Delhi to see him marry fiancee Miranda Jenkins in Phoenix. But the night before they left, Prime Minister Narendra Modi locked down the country to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. The trip had been planned for a year at least but now, unable to leave, they had to find another way to take part. "My parents, my wife and kids (and I) woke up at about 4 a.m., put on our wedding clothes and joined the wedding virtually on a video call ... They could see us watching and talk to us," the groom's brother Nalin Mehta told CNN. They weren't the only guests to miss the wedding. About 150 people were scheduled to attend the ceremony, but fears of the coronavirus and lockdowns worldwide meant it ended up being limited to about 20 close friends and family. "(The groom) Nitin himself was actually in the air on a flight from London to Phoenix for his wedding when (President Donald) Trump announced that no flights from the UK would be allowed to land in the USA. So he barely made it back himself for his own wedding," the groom's brother said. It might seem distant, but Mehta said it had made them all feel like they were together on the special day -- he even gave his best man's speech over WhatsApp. "This allowed us all as a family to feel part of an intimate family event ... at this time of great disruption of the way we live," he said. ##Daily Life## Editor's note: Joe Lockhart was White House press secretary from 1998-2000 in President Bill Clinton's administration. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.  President Donald Trump has received considerable criticism from many quarters -- governors, public health officials and doctors and nurses on the front line -- for being unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, and for not having a national plan to deal with it. Much of that criticism is well deserved. What is clear looking over the past two months is that the President and his team have had a sophisticated political strategy to deal with the fast spreading pandemic. That strategy began in January, where at every turn the President downplayed the risks of the virus spreading in the United States. In interview after interview, and speech after speech, he assured Americans we were OK and any risk to the country was contained. President Trump pointed to the shutting down of some flights from China, and one of his aides recently inaccurately said that Trump was the first to do it. North Korea closed its borders on January 22, and Italy banned flights from China to Italy staring January 31. The President's strategy was that if the US could avoid the pandemic, despite all the loud calls for more action, he would be seen as the wise leader who didn't overreact and didn't kill our economy. In an ironic twist, he co-opted former President Barack Obama's mantra of hope as a strategy. But I believe Trump had a fallback plan in case the deadly virus hit us hard and he had a political plan ready to deploy. Read more here: ##Business## Public Health England says it’s in contact with its peers in Germany amid criticism that the UK is significantly lagging behind in its coronavirus testing capacity. The organisation’s medical director Paul Cosford told Sky News that the UK is testing nearly 15,000 people a day and aims to reach 25,000 a day by the middle of April. In contrast, Germany leading virologist Christian Drosten says his country is testing 500,000 a week. “I absolutely accept that we need to build this further,” Professor Cosford said. “There is a lot of work that is going on in order to get this testing capacity in place.” “We’re in constant discussions with colleagues in Germany -- and other countries -- around what they’re doing, where their sources are coming from, what their supply system is. “Of course we need to build this further.” He says only “about 2,000” frontline National Health Service workers have so far been tested for the virus. ##Health## Infections near 1 million: More than 937,700 cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, with over 47,000 deaths. The US is the worst hit country, with more than 216,700 cases and over 5,100 deaths. Death for quarantine breakers: Outspoken Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that people who break quarantine and are "unruly" could be shot by law enforcement officers. During the address, Duterte said, “My orders to the police, the military and the barangays: If they become unruly and they fight you and your lives are endangered, shoot them dead!” Fines for illegal PPE exporters: The Australian government will punish people convicted of illegally exporting masks, hand sanitizer or other personal protective equipment with hefty fines, officials said this week. It's part of an attempt to keep medical supplies inside the country. Market forces at work: Only a portion of the medical supplies being flown into the US by the Federal Emergency Management Agency from overseas are being allotted to critical hot spots -- the rest are going onto the private market, multiple officials told CNN. Pollution falls under lockdown: Data shows that India's main cities are recording much lower levels of harmful microscopic particulate matter known as PM 2.5, and of nitrogen dioxide, which is released by vehicles and power plants. Older patients with a low chance of survival could have life-saving ventilators removed so the machines can be given to healthier patients under new ethics guidelines issued by the British Medical Association (BMA). The guidance has been prepared for doctors who will need to make "grave decisions" about who should receive "scarce lifesaving resources" if the country’s health system is overwhelmed by coronavirus cases. "As such, some of the most unwell patients may be denied access to treatment such as intensive care or artificial ventilation," the BMA’s ethics guidance note states. "This will inevitably be indirectly discriminatory against both the elderly and those with long-term health conditions, with the latter being denied access to life-saving treatment as a result of their pre-existing health problems." Older patients given lower priority: The guidance says imposing an age cut-off would be illegal, but adds that older patients with pre-existing respiratory problems would have a "very high chance of dying despite intensive care," and are therefore lower priority for admission. The guidance states: "In dangerous pandemics the ethical balance of all doctors and health care workers must shift towards the utilitarian objective of equitable concern for all – while maintaining respect for all as 'ends in themselves.'" The ethics guidance note was updated on April 1. The UK government has previously warned the country’s health system could be overwhelmed if strict social distancing measures are not followed. ##Health## A 56-year-old man who died due to coronavirus-related illness is the first person to die from the disease in Asia's largest slum, Dharavi, in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai. The patient, who had no travel history, tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday and died the same evening while being transferred to a local hospital, Kiran Dighavkar, an official with Mumbai's Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told CNN.  "People who had been in contact with him and are perceived to be "high risk" have been asked to (be) home quarantined," Dighavkar said, adding the swabs of his family members and neighbors have been collected and sent for testing.  The BMC will be providing food to the residents of the densely-populated Dharavi slum as they are not allowed to leave the area until all the test results come back, Dighavkar said. The BMC has been routinely carrying out disinfection drives in Mumbai's slums and public areas, according to the official. This is the second coronavirus-related death overall reported in Mumbai's slums since the outbreak began, BMC officials confirmed with CNN. Why it's a big deal: Home to around 1 million people, Dharavi slum has a population density almost 30 times greater than New York -- about 280,000 people per square kilometer. Doctors say the situation would be unmanageable if a sustained coronavirus outbreak spread rapidly through one of India's many slums, where there is little sanitation or running water and thousands of people live cheek by jowl -- making social distancing physically and economically impossible. “It’s a huge concern. They are packed together,” said Dr. Naresh Trehan, chairman and managing director of the Medanta-the Medicity hospital in Gurugram, near New Delhi.  Trehan said it was vital that health authorities know if a slum has an outbreak. “If we don’t know the hot spots, and we don’t know where these pockets are, the whole country is so huge, and there are so many people, it will not be possible to take care of them,” he said.  ##Health## The Australian government will punish people convicted of illegally exporting masks, hand sanitizer or other personal protective equipment with hefty fines, officials said. Home Minister Peter Dutton's office said in a statement yesterday that the fines were one of several new measures being adopted by the government to keep dwindling medical supplies inside the country. More than 5,000 people in Australia, including Dutton himself, have contracted the virus. Authorities have amended customs regulations to "stop exploitative exports of essential goods," and the country's Biosecurity Act to require the Australian Border Force to surrender medical supplies in their custody to the national stockpile. Violating the customs law is punishable by a fine of up to 210,000 Australian dollars ($128,275), while those found guilty of violating the Biosecurity Act could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 63,000 Australian dollars, Dutton's office said ($38,480). "These measures have become necessary because we have seen a small number of individuals engaging in the bulk purchasing of essential goods from retail outlets in Australia, with the intent of profiteering from exploitative exporting and price gouging," the statement read. Like many countries around the world, Australia is currently dealing with a shortage of equipment needed to protect medical workers treating patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus. "We've taken the steps to protect Australia's interest, to stop unauthorized, inappropriate exporting of those things that we rely upon for our health care and so on at present," trade minister Simon Birmingham said in an interview with Australia's ABC News yesterday. Other countries like the United States and South Korea have enacted similar measures or are considering them. ##Business## Panama is taking a new -- if somewhat unorthodox -- measure to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus: separation of the sexes. Starting on Wednesday, only women will be able to leave their homes to buy necessities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Men in Panama will be allowed to venture outside to run errands on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Everyone will have to stay home on Sundays. The restrictions will last for at least 15 days, according to government officials. Why are they separating men and women? The additional measures to the already-announced national quarantine in theory will make it easier for police in the Central American nation to limit the number of people going out in public. "The great quantity of people circulating outside their homes, despite the obligatory national quarantine, has led the national government to take more severe measures," said a statement by Panamanian President Laurentino "Nito" Cortizo on Twitter. Earlier, Panamanian officials had ordered all citizens to stay inside except for emergencies and to buy food. But alarmed by the number of people still going out, officials decided to divide the week by sex to further limit how much of the public is outside their homes at one time. Read more here. ##Daily Life## Outspoken Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that people who break quarantine and are "unruly" could be shot by law enforcement officers. During a televised address on Wednesday, CNN Philippines reported the Philippine leader urged people to cooperate with quarantine measures. But Duterte emphasized he would not tolerate those who threaten the lives of people working in law enforcement. During the address, Duterte said, “My orders to the police, the military and the barangays: If they become unruly and they fight you and your lives are endangered, shoot them dead!” Hours before Duterte made the address, there were protests about government food aid in the capital city, Manila, CNN Philippines reported. ##Daily Life## As the number of coronavirus cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier approaches 100, some sailors will be quarantined in hotel rooms in Guam. The ship's commanding officer has issued a stark warning to top Navy leadership about the need to get sailors off the ship as soon as possible. Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said Wednesday that 93 sailors from the ship have tested positive for the virus to date, representing more than 10% of all cases across the entire US military. Cases expected to rise: A senior Defense official told CNN that the Navy expected the number of cases to rise as more test results come in. Modly said 1,273 of the ship's roughly 4,800 crew members have been tested for the virus so far and the Navy was still awaiting the results of some of those tests. He said about 1,000 sailors have been evacuated form the ship and moved ashore to Guam where the ship is currently in port. "We already have nearly 1,000 personnel off the ship right now. And in the next couple of days we expect to have 2,700 of them off the ship," Modly told reporters at the Pentagon. Read more here: ##Health## Every day, Filipina nurse April Abrias walks six miles to monitor 30 patients who are suspected to have the novel coronavirus in a rural province north of the Philippine capital, Manila. The 29-year-old midwife doesn't have a surgical mask to cover her face -- instead, she wears a cloth mask that provides insufficient protection from the virus, which has killed more than 47,000 people worldwide, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. "I'm ready but not well-equipped (but) it's my duty to help in this time of pandemic," Abrias said. At least 17 frontline coronavirus medics have already died in the Philippines, and more than 600 have been in quarantine, according to CNN Philippines. As Abrias makes her daily calls, there is little to stop her from spreading the virus. One of her patients lives in a fruit and vegetable market, which as an essential service isn't subject to the same lockdown rules that have silenced busy streets across the island of Luzon since March 17. Abrias said the patient had a fever and body aches, so she told him to self-quarantine in his shop and avoid interacting with others. He hasn't been tested for the coronavirus, she said, because there are no testing kits. Abrias has to assume that he has the infectious disease, and that's what makes it so scary. Read the full story here: ##Health## When India imposed a nationwide lockdown a week ago, it was designed to stop the imminent spread of the novel coronavirus. But grinding this country of 1.3 billion people to a near halt has also provided a temporary remedy to another pressing health issue: suffocating pollution levels. The world's largest lockdown means all factories, markets, shops, and places of worship are now closed, most public transport suspended and construction work halted, as India asks its citizens to stay home and practice social distancing. India has recorded more than 1,998 cases of Covid-19, including 58 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Already, data shows that the main cities are recording much lower levels of harmful microscopic particulate matter known as PM 2.5, and of nitrogen dioxide, which is released by vehicles and power plants. "I have not seen such blue skies in Delhi for the past 10 years," said Jyoti Pande Lavakare, the co-founder of Indian environmental organization Care for Air, and author of upcoming book "Breathing Here is Injurious To Your Health." "It is a silver lining in terms of this awful crisis that we can step outside and breathe." Read the full story here: ##Business## ##Daily Life## In the coming weeks, if they have not already, your government is likely to begin advising you to wear a face mask to protect against coronavirus. For those living in Asia, such announcements will be a vindication of a tactic that has been adopted across much of the region since the beginning of the crisis and appears to have been borne out by lower rates of infection and faster containment of outbreaks. In other parts of the world, this message may be confusing, coming after weeks of public health authorities, politicians and media figures confidently claiming masks do not help and urging people instead to focus on washing their hands and maintaining social distancing. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), appeared before lawmakers in late February. Asked if people should wear masks, he had a straightforward answer: "No." Now he's not so sure. On Monday, Redfield told NPR that the CDC was reviewing its guidelines and may recommend general mask use to guard against community infection. It's likely only a matter of time before other mask holdouts, most prominently the World Health Organization, follow suit. Writing last month, Adrien Burch, an expert in microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley, noted that "despite hearing that face masks 'don't work,' you probably haven't seen any strong evidence to support that claim. That's because it doesn't exist." In fact, there is evidence of the exact opposite: that masks help prevent viral infections like the current pandemic. Many countries and territories across Asia have been wearing masks for the entire length of the pandemic, and this strategy has been borne out by lower infection rates and more easily contained outbreaks. Now the rest of the world is finally coming around to this strategy. Read the full analysis here: ##Health## ##Daily Life## A worker at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts is angry with his superiors at the facility for what he calls a lapse in judgment in how the outbreak was handled. The worker says he was reprimanded for wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) on March 18. According to a letter obtained from a spokesperson for Service Employees International Union Local 888, of which the worker is a member, the employee donned the equipment “without permission or need.” CNN is not naming the employee nor the individual who sent it, but it is on letterhead from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.  The news comes after the governor of Massachusetts hired an attorney to investigate the deaths of 13 veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. The worker -- a caregiver -- says he first came into contact with a veteran with symptoms consistent with Covid-19, who was not isolated, but rather walking around and coughing. It is unclear whether the PPE was personal or belonged to the facility. ##Health## 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. ##Health## 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. ##Health## 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.” ##Daily Life## 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.  Read the full story here: ##Health## 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. ##Health## ##Daily Life## Dozens of spring breakers from Texas boarded a plane for fun and came home with 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. Read more here. ##Travel## 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. ##Travel## 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. ##Daily Life## 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. Read the full story here: ##Daily Life## South Korea is nearing 10,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced 89 new cases in a news release today, adding that South Korea has now recorded 9,976 cases of the virus. Among the 89 new cases, 14 are from Seoul, 21 from Daegu, 17 from Gyeonggi province, 18 from airport screening, and the rest from other parts of the country, according to the news release.  The national death toll is 169, after four deaths were reported on Wednesday. More than 58% of patients have recovered: South Korea, which just a month ago was the worst-affected country outside China, has recently seen a drop in new coronavirus infections. Today the country reported that a total of 5,828 patients have recovered -- just over 58% of the total recorded. ##Health## Editor's note: Jeremy Douglas is the Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. To say the global novel coronavirus pandemic is causing chaos and affecting lives in real and tangible ways is certainly no understatement. But one impact that has not received significant attention is how its spread is hurting the efforts of governments to combat transnational organized crime and trafficking -- especially in Asia, where the outbreak began. The virus and the strong measures required to combat its spread are challenging the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) ability to bring Asia's law enforcement and justice authorities together to share information and intelligence, and to plan and conduct joint operations. Though the movement of people and goods across borders has slowed, international and cross-border cooperation is more necessary than ever given the presence of multibillion dollar trafficking syndicates in the region. Behind the scenes, Covid-19 has impacted how many governments and the United Nations run on a day-to-day basis, in ways not all appreciate and many are yet to understand. Read the full opinion here: ##Daily Life## A third inmate at the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, died Wednesday from coronavirus, according to a Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman. Three inmates at the low-security prison have now died from the virus, including two on Wednesday.  No details about the inmate were immediately available, the BOP said. All three deaths in the federal prison system have so far occurred at the Louisiana facility, which houses 980 male offenders. Number of infected prisoners growing: As of Wednesday, 57 federal inmates have been officially diagnosed with coronavirus -- up from 28 on Monday -- in addition to 37 BOP staff members. Wednesday also saw the first day of a heightened state of lockdown at the nation's 122 federal prisons. Under a new BOP protocol, the fifth phase of its Covid-19 Action Plan, inmates began a two-week period confined in their cells with limited exceptions for education programs, health treatment and some prison services.   ##Daily Life## ##Health## The US Treasury Department, clearing up confusion, said Wednesday that Social Security recipients will not have to file a tax return in order to receive the economic stimulus payments the government is preparing to send out. It was unclear in earlier guidance whether Social Security recipients who don’t normally need to file taxes would have to in order to receive the money. However, those beneficiaries will automatically receive the money, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. The IRS will use the information that the Social Security Administration has on file. “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. But those who do not receive their Social Security benefits via direct deposit will be sent a paper check. How much will people receive? Individuals are due up to $1,200 and couples will receive up to $2,400 -- plus $500 per child. But payments start phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000. The amount will then be reduced by $5 for every additional $100 of adjusted gross income, and those making more than $99,000 will not receive anything. The income thresholds would be doubled for couples. ##Daily Life## The Trump administration will no longer ship personal protective equipment to allies overseas as the United States grapples with shortages of critical medical supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic. A congressional source told CNN Wednesday that they were informed late last Friday night that the coronavirus task force -- led by Vice President Mike Pence -- was stopping overseas shipments of the medical equipment and instead asking that the supplies be distributed within the US. Asked about reports of the freeze on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said there was “no truth whatsoever” to them. However, minutes later, he noted that "whatever we have, whatever we've committed to, we commit," but added "we also need a lot for ourselves." "Obviously we're not going to be shipping too much," he said during a White House briefing. Politico was the first to report on the freeze. CNN has reached out to the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) for comment. ##Health## Edging toward 1 million cases: The novel coronavirus has infected more than 932,000 people and killed over 46,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking World Health Organization figures and additional sources. United States worst hit: The US has recorded more than 211,700 cases, according to a CNN count. At least 4,762 people have died nationwide -- over 1,300 in New York City alone. At least 928 new fatalities have been reported on Wednesday -- the highest single-day figures during the outbreak. Dwindling supplies: President Trump said the US Strategic National Stockpile is nearly depleted as hospitals across the country are in need of millions more masks, protective gear and thousands of ventilators. Aircraft carrier cases: Nearly 3,000 sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt will be evacuated from the aircraft carrier and quarantined in hotels in Guam after a desperate plea for help as the number of coronavirus cases aboard the ship approaches 100. The situation in Europe: Spain has now recorded more than 104,000 cases, while the UK reported its highest number of deaths in one day, with 563 new fatalities. In Italy, a slowdown in the rate of coronavirus patients is a "confirmation of a hope," officials say. Lockdowns extended: Italy, Germany and Pakistan are among countries that are extending their lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus. ##Health## ##Travel## ##Business## ##Daily Life## As the number of novel coronavirus cases in California approaches 10,000, doctors at a Los Angeles hospital say they are seeing an increase in patients showing Covid-19 symptoms, causing a reduction in capacity and the rationing of protective equipment for medical workers. “We know every day that we are likely to come in contact with someone with the virus,” said Dr. Broderick Franklin, an emergency room physician in Los Angeles. Franklin, who works at Centinela Hospital Medical Center and two smaller hospitals in the area, said that while fewer people are showing up at the emergency department seeking treatment, more are showing coronavirus-like symptoms and being admitted. Centinela Hospital, a private institution which treats more than 60,000 patients a year in its emergency room, has set up two Covid-19 curbside tents outside its ER as it prepares for the outbreak to intensify as it has in New York. About 80% of the ventilators at Centinela Hospital are now in use by patients, one hospital administrator said, and their supply is low. All of this increased need for hospital care is also impacting personal protection equipment supplies throughout Los Angeles County. “We don’t have enough PPE. They often have to be rationed out,” Franklin said, noting that some hospitals will lock up the equipment in a drawer or cabinet. ##Health## As the US health-care system has scrambled to track the spread of coronavirus, one of the nation's largest commercial labs has faced a backlog of tests that ballooned in the past two weeks. Delayed results in some cases take up to 10 days. New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics had about 160,000 coronavirus test orders waiting to be processed on March 25, which amounted to about half of the 320,000 total orders for the tests the company had received up to that date, according to Quest internal materials obtained by CNN. The company, which is now testing for the virus at a dozen labs across the country, referred to the orders as a "significant amount of backlog," according to the materials. Although a vast network of labs at public health departments and universities are also testing for the novel coronavirus, the Trump administration has leaned on commercial labs, which have greater capacity, to roll out widespread testing Read the full story here: ##Health## President Donald Trump said he won't issue a national stay-at-home order because different states have different levels of coronavirus cases. “States are different and I understand that the governor of Florida, great Gov. Ron DeSantis issued one today and that’s good, that’s great. But there are some states that are different. There are some states that don't have much of a problem,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon. The President said there should be some sort of flexibility among the states, depending on how bad individual states' situations might be. “You have to look -- you have to give a little flexibility. If you have a state in the Midwest, or if Alaska for example doesn't have a problem, it's awfully tough to say close it down. We have to have a little bit of flexibility,” Trump said. Some context: Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the 30 days to slow the spread guidelines should be viewed as a national stay-at-home order on Wednesday morning.  “My advice to America would be that these guidelines are a national stay-at-home order. There are guidelines that say, look, the more we social distance, the more we stay at home, the less spread of disease there will be,” Adams said.  Watch: ##Daily Life## ##Health## ##Travel## ##Business## President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the UK and Canada were making plans to repatriate their citizens from two Holland America cruise ships currently off the coast of Florida. "We are looking at the two ships. And we have Canada notified, lot of Canadians, a lot of British on the ship, they are coming to take the people that are on the ship back to their homeland," he said. "Canada is coming, the UK is coming. And we have Americans and we have some people that are quite sick and we’re taking care of that, I'm speaking with the governor about that." Two cruise ships off Florida coast: Both the Zaandam and the Rotterdam are currently on their way to Florida, and have requested permission to disembark guests. “We appreciate the support of President Trump in resolving the humanitarian plight of our guests,” Holland America said in a statement. “Holland America Line calls for compassion and reason in the review and approval of our disembarkation plan by Florida officials.” Since March 22, 83 passengers and 136 crew onboard the Zaandam have exhibited flu-like symptoms. Eight passengers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Four people on the Zaandam have died, but the cause of their deaths is unknown. On the Rotterdam, 14 passengers have exhibited flu-like symptoms. ##Travel## Dr. Deborah Birx said a coronavirus antibody test could be available “within this month” and says, “I've really called on every university and every state to develop ELISA’s, you can buy the antigens and the controls online, and really work to test entire health care communities in your state and support them that way.” The ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, detects and measures antibodies in blood. If successful, the test could help identify those who have already had the virus, but have since recovered. Experts say that if a person has had the virus and developed antibodies, it will most likely mean they have built up immunity and the chances of that person being infected again drops dramatically.  Birx said that the test could help identify frontline medical workers who may have had the coronavirus and not know it. “I think really being able to tell them, the peace of mind that would come from knowing you already were infected, you have the antibody, you are safe from reinfection. 99.9% of the time," Birx said. Birx said a first test could be available, “soon, within this month if the universities help us, absolutely.” Watch: ##Health## There have been at least 917 new coronavirus deaths reported in the US on Wednesday, according to a count by CNN Health.  This is the most reported deaths in the United States in a single day during the coronavirus outbreak. There have been a total of 4,745 deaths reported in the US since the outbreak began. Hear more: ##Health##