Coronavirus Update: U.S. Virus Deaths Surpass 8,500 as Cruise Ship with Victims Onboard Docks in Florida

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. soared past 300,000 on Sunday, more than double the total of Spain, the country with the second-highest number of confirmed cases.

As of Sunday morning, there were 312,245 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 8,500 have died while more than 15,000 have recovered.

The virus, first detected in the city of Wuhan, in China's Hubei province, has sickened more than 1.2 million people in the world, with Spain, Italy, Germany, and France reporting the highest number of cases after the U.S.

Nearly 65,000 deaths have been reported worldwide while almost 250,000 people have recovered.

Deaths surpass 8,500 in the U.S.

  • 8,503 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. Only Spain and Italy have reported a higher death toll.
  • At least 1,324 deaths were reported in the U.S. on Saturday, CNN reported, making it the deadliest day of the pandemic for any country so far.
  • New York, the worst-hit state, has more than a third of the country's confirmed cases with 114,996 and 3,568 deaths, according to The New York Times.
  • New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., has reported 2,624 deaths.

President Donald Trump warned that the U.S. is headed into its "toughest" week yet as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise. "There will be a lot of death, unfortunately," Trump said during his daily briefing on the pandemic on Saturday. "There will be death."

New Jersey has the most deaths after New York. According to the latest report from the state's department of health, 846 people have died in New Jersey and the state has more than 34,000 confirmed cases.

The death toll in Michigan has risen to more than 540 and the number of cases has climbed to more than 14,000, according to the latest report from the state's health department. Michigan now has more deaths than Washington state, which was initially the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. after an outbreak at a nursing facility. Washington has more than 7,500 cases and 310 deaths, according to the latest update on the state's health department website.

Meanwhile, California has more than 13,900 cases and 321 deaths as of Saturday night, according to The Los Angeles Times. More than 5,300 of those cases and 119 deaths were in Los Angeles county.

Coral princess
A Miami-Dade police boat passes the cruise ship Coral Princess after it docked at Port Miami on April 04 in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trump suggests relaxing rules for Easter services

Despite the grim warnings that "a lot of death" was on the horizon for the U.S., Trump also suggested he would like to think about easing social distancing rules for Christians on Easter Sunday.

During his daily briefing on Saturday, the president said he had considered allowing gatherings at churches "with great separation outside." Although he didn't announce changes to existing guidelines, Trump said it was "something we should talk about."

He added, "Somebody did say that, 'Well, then you're sort of opening it up to that little, you know, do we want to take a chance on doing that when we've been doing so well?'"

Trump last month indicated that he would like to open up the U.S. by Easter Sunday. But then extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April, saying the likely peak of U.S. deaths was expected around Easter.

Cruise ship with coronavirus victims docks in Florida

The Coral Princess ship docked in Miami, Florida, on Saturday after two people died of coronavirus onboard and several others tested positive.

The ship, with 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members, had been in limbo for days awaiting permission to dock. The ship's journey started on March 5 in Chile and was due to end in Argentina on March 19.

On Thursday, the Coral Princess announced that 12 people, seven passengers and five crew members, had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

A spokesperson for cruise line Princess Cruises confirmed to Newsweek that two guests had died. "All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened to report that two guests passed away on Coral Princes," the spokesperson said. "Our hearts go out to their family, friends, and all who are impacted by this loss. All of us at Princess Cruises offer our sincere condolences."

The spokesperson added that the disembarkation of guests is expected to take several days. Anyone who needs to be hospitalized will disembark first, the spokesperson said, and those who are fit to fly will start leaving on Sunday. "These guests will transfer direct from the ship to Miami International Airport for flights home," the spokesperson added.

Others who have symptoms of respiratory illness will remain on board until they are medically cleared by ship doctors.

Several other cruise ships remain at sea across the world with countries reluctant to allow them to dock over coronavirus fears.

This article has been updated with an additional comment from Princess Cruises.

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.