Over 5.3 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The United States is the worst-affected country in the world, with more than 1.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 97,087 deaths.
Today’s biggest developments:
Here’s how the is developing today. All times Eastern.
2:37 a.m.: Wuhan lab director calls virus leak claims ‘pure fabrication’
Claims that the global coronavirus pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city are a “pure fabrication,” the institute’s director said.
Wang Yanyi said the institute did not have any knowledge before that “nor had we ever encountered, researched or kept the virus. In fact, like everyone else, we didn’t even know the virus existed. How could it have leaked from our lab when we never had it?”
Wang Yanyi continued: “Many people might misunderstand that since our institute reported the RaTG-13’s genome similarity to SARS-CoV-2, we must have the RaTG-13 virus in our lab. In fact, that’s not the case. When we were sequencing the genes of this bat virus sample, we got the genome sequence of the RaTG-13 but we didn’t isolate nor obtain the live virus of RaTG-13. Thus, there is no possibility of us leaking RaTG-13.”
8:58 p.m.: Minnesota’s governor allows places of worship to open
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that starting Wednesday, he will allow places of worship to reopen at 25% capacity if they adhere to social distancing and other public health guidelines.
Walz also announced that COVID-19 cases are still climbing and may not reach the peak until summer.
The state’s health commissioner said there was an increase of 847 positive coronavirus cases Friday — the highest daily total. There have been 19,845 positive cases in the state thus far.