iStock/Thinktsock(GASTONIA, N.C.) — The father of 6-year-old Maddox Ritch said he will “forever be a broken man” after a body believed to be his young son was recovered on Thursday.Maddox, who has autism and does not talk, was at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, North Carolina, with his father, Ian Ritch, and another adult when he disappeared Saturday.After days of intensive searching, the body believed to be Maddox was found partially underwater in a creek Thursday about 1 mile from the park, officials said. It’s not yet clear how Maddox went from the park to the creek, how he died and if foul play was involved, officials said Thursday.“Maddox was my only child and he will be the only one I will ever have,” Ritch wrote on Facebook Thursday. “Today I found out I’m not a dad anymore.”Ian Ritch had said his son had started sprinting roughly 25 to 30 feet ahead of him before the little boy ran out of sight.“As soon as I got to the point where I couldn’t see him anymore, I started panicking,” he said earlier this week.“I would give anything to go back and save him,” Ritch wrote on Facebook Thursday. “For the rest of my life i will live with the guilt of not being there to save my son. … hug ur[sic] children tighter and please don’t make my mistake and let them get too far away.”Ritch in his statement also thanked those who scoured the park and “everyone in the community that were hoping and praying and just took one second of their time to think about Maddox.”Ritch wrote that he had never been a very spiritual person, but now wants to be so that when he dies Maddox “will be the first person I see when I get into heaven. I cant waitto[sic] see his lil[sic] smiling face again.He ended the statement saying, “To Maddox I just want to say I love u[sic] lil[sic] buddy. Please be waiting for me when my time comes.”After Maddox disappeared, a park employee called 911, sparking a massive search by local, state and federal investigators. They scoured the land with police dogs, searched dumpsters, waded through the park’s lake using sonar and divers and scanned the area with helicopters and drones, police said.Authorities also recorded messages from Maddox’s parents and played those messages in the woods in the hopes that their voices might persuade him to come out if he was there.“Maddox is my whole world and my reason for living,” his mother, Carrie Ritch, said at a press conference Tuesday.“I want my baby back in my arms,” she said through tears.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 95.6 million people worldwide and killed over 2 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:Jan 19, 7:57 pmUS hospitalizations decreased on 13 days in JanuaryIn a continued encouraging sign, the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. decreased on 13 days in January, according to The COVID Tracking Project. That metric, which is “more resilient” than others to holiday reporting disruptions, increased six times this month, most recently on Jan. 12, it found. There are 123,820 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the tracker. The U.S. reported 144,047 new cases and 2,141 deaths on Tuesday, though national data was incomplete due to the holiday weekend.Jan 19, 7:16 pmDC memorial honors lives lost to COVID-19President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris honored the 400,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 with a tribute in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool Tuesday evening.The 400 lights along the pool were lit to symbolize the lives lost to the virus.At the ceremony, part of the incoming administration’s inaugural festivities, Harris called on Americans to “grieve and begin healing together.”“Though we may be physically separated, we, the American people, are united in spirit,” she said.Jan 19, 4:17 pmEmirates, Etihad Airlines to test IATA COVID-19 travel passEmirates Airlines and Etihad Airways said they have partnered with the International Air Transport Association to trial IATA Travel Pass — a mobile app that serves as a “digital passport” to verify pre-travel COVID-19 testing or vaccination status.The app also helps passengers find information on travel and entry requirements at their destinations.Emirates Airlines said it plans to roll out the first phase in April, during which passengers leaving Dubai can share their COVID-19 test status directly with the airline through the app before arriving at the airport. Etihad will first offer the travel pass on some flights out of Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021.ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.Jan 19, 3:02 pmFatality rate increases in UKBritish health authorities reported a record 1,610 daily deaths on Tuesday, bringing the weekly death toll to 8,267 — a 19.8% increase over the previous week. The United Kingdom has the fifth-highest number of COVID-19 deaths worldwide, behind the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico, according to Johns Hopkins University data.Despite the record death toll, the U.K.’s number of new cases is on the decline amid a national lockdown. The U.K. reported 33,355 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the weekly total to 302,802 — a 22.3% decrease from the last week.ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.Jan 19, 2:39 pmDeath toll surpasses 400,000 in USThe U.S. death toll surpassed 400,000 on Tuesday and now stands at 400,022 fatalities.The number of American lives lost to the coronavirus is more people than the number of U.S. soldiers who died in battle during World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined, according to a data estimate compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs.The U.S. death toll is roughly equivalent to the population of Tampa, Florida, or Tulsa, Oklahoma.By the middle of February, “we expect half a million deaths” in the U.S. from COVID-19, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who’s nominated to serve as the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.ABC News’ Arielle Mitropolous contributed to this report.Jan 19, 1:20 pmUS hospitalizations drop by 6%In the last 10 days, the number of patients hospitalized nationally has declined by 6%, according to ABC News’ analysis of data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.California has the most hospitalizations with more than 20,000 patients.Texas has the second most with nearly 14,000 patients, followed by New York, Florida and Georgia. Jan 19, 9:48 amNorway says no evidence that Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine increased risk of patients’ deathsNorway’s national public health institute said Tuesday that there is currently no correlation between receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and an increased risk of death among 23 people who died after getting the shot.The deceased were “severely frail patients” who died within six days after vaccination in the Scandinavian country, and the incidents “do not imply a casual relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and death,” according to Dr. Sara Viksmoen Watle, chief physician at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health.“When we vaccinate the eldest and sickest who often have several underlying conditions we expect high mortality in this population. Hence, we also expect deaths following vaccination,” Watle said in a statement Tuesday. “We do not yet know if these deaths are due to the vaccine or other causes, but we cannot exclude that common side effects may have led to a more severe course for some patients.”The Norwegian Medicines Agency and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health are investigating the deaths.“So far, there are no statistical analyses that indicate that coronavirus vaccination has had an increased risk of death among those vaccinated,” Watle said, after noting that the fatal incidents will be examined “in relation to the expected number of deaths among the nursing home population.”“In order to be able to interpret this information, it is important to see the full picture,” she added. “Nursing home residents are at very high risk of a severe disease course or dying from COVID-19, and have therefore been prioritised for vaccination. A large proportion of those who live in nursing homes have severe underlying conditions or are in the last stages of life. Life expectancy in nursing homes is relatively short and on average, more than 300 people die in Norwegian nursing homes every week.”Jan 19, 8:05 amAmericans can expect travel restrictions to tighten ‘if anything,’ incoming CDC director saysU.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said she will “hit the ground running” and suggested there might be more travel restrictions in store.“We need to reset the stage here. We need to make sure the country, the people understand that this pandemic is now going to be addressed with science, with trust, with transparency, with communication of exactly where we are to the American people,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will be sworn in Wednesday as director of the CDC — an appointment that does not require Senate confirmation.“I will be sworn in tomorrow, but the work has been happening since I was named,” Walensky said, “and we’ve been working really hard to make sure we can come in and hit the ground running and make sure that we can get this country back to health.”Walensky said the incoming administration’s plan to vaccinate 100 million people against COVID-19 within the first 100 days of Biden’s presidency is “really ambitious but doable.” The key is making sure there are enough people on the ground to administer the vaccines, understanding the supply and how many doses are going to which states, and making vaccines accessible to all people.“All of that plan is underpinned with equity,” Walensky said. “We need to make sure that we’re equally and equitably getting the vaccine across this country.”In one of his last orders, outgoing President Donald Trump announced Monday that he was rescinding entry bans imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic on most visitors from Brazil and much of Europe effective Jan. 26. However, Biden’s spokesperson Jen Psaki said the incoming administration won’t be lifting the bans.Walensky agreed with the move to reject Trump’s order and said there may be more travel restrictions introduced.“If you look at the fatalities of 400,000 that we’re likely to hit today, if you look at our cases across this country, I don’t think now is the time to encourage people to get on international fights, to encourage people to mobilize,” Walensky said. “I think now is the time to really buckle down, double down our efforts. And so I don’t expect that we’ll be lifting travel restrictions and, if anything, I think we can expect that they might tighten, especially in the context of variants that we’re hearing about.”Jan 19, 7:24 amIsrael sees record rise in cases despite mass vaccinationIsrael confirmed 10,222 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, its highest daily tally since the pandemic began, suggesting the country’s mass vaccination campaign hasn’t kicked in yet.The record figure translates to a nationwide positivity rate in COVID-19 tests of 10.2% However, one promising sign is that the number of critically ill patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across Israel has remained steady over the past few days.Israel’s cumulative totals now stand at 562,167 confirmed cases and 4,049 deaths from the disease, according to the latest data from the Israeli Ministry of Health.Official figures show 25% of Israel’s general population — nearly 2.2 million people — have received the first of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 5% — more than 420,000 — have received their second dose.The Israeli government is expected to meet Tuesday afternoon to determine whether to extend the current lockdown, which has been in place since Jan. 8 and is slated to end Jan. 21.Jan 19, 7:17 am1 in 8 people in England have had COVID-19, data suggestsAn estimated one in eight people in England have already been infected with the novel coronavirus, according to antibody data from the U.K. Office for National Statistic’s COVID-19 Infection Survey.The survey estimates that 12.1% of the population in England would have tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test in December 2020, suggesting they had the infection in the past.“The estimate is weighted to be representative of the overall population and suggests that an average of 5.4 million people aged 16 years and over in England would have tested positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 during this time,” the report said. “This equates to 1 in 8 people aged 16 years and over.”That estimate was one in 10 people in Wales, one in 13 people in Northern Ireland and one in 11 people in Scotland, according to the survey.Meanwhile, a regional analysis of antibody data for England found that the highest positivity was seen in Yorkshire and The Humber, followed by London and the North West, according to the survey.The survey, which was launched in the United Kingdom in mid-April of last year, measured several factors: how many people test positive for COVID-19 at a given point in time, regardless of whether they report experiencing symptoms; the average number of new infections per week over the course of the study; and the number of people who test positive for antibodies, to indicate how many people are ever likely to have had the infection.The U.K. — an island nation of 66 million people made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — has confirmed more than 3.4 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including more than 89,000 deaths. There were 37,535 new cases and 599 additional fatalities from the disease confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to the latest data published on the U.K. government’s website.Jan 19, 5:50 amEighteen family members test positive after holiday party in PennsylvaniaOne family’s holiday gathering in Pennsylvania has turned out to be a superspreading event, according to a report by Philadelphia ABC station WPVI-TV.Darlene Reynolds, 55, said she woke up with a scratchy throat on Dec. 26, the day before relatives from as far as Canada were planning to come over for a holiday party at her home in the Milmont Park section of Ridley Township.“I had no fever because I kept checking it,” Reynolds told WPVI. “I said, ‘I’ll keep a distance since I have a tiny little cough.’”Soon after the party, people started getting sick.“We were sick, but we didn’t know we had COVID. We could’ve had the flu, but it was scary,” Reynolds told WPVI. “We got tested and we tested positive.”In total, 18 family members ranging in age from 1 to 62 contracted COVID-19. Reynolds said both her husband and their son were hospitalized.Jan 19, 5:25 am100 doses of Moderna vaccine batch flagged by California officials administered at mass vaccination eventJust hours after California’s top epidemiologist recommended pausing the use of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna’s lot 041L20A due to “possible allergic reactions” that are under investigation, Mendocino County officials discovered that the batch in question was used at a mass vaccination event in San Diego.“The county has reviewed the lot numbers administered through our mass vaccination clinics as well as the inventory stored in our freezer. Upon further review, we are confirming that 100 doses of Mendocino County Public Health’s Moderna vaccine associated with the batch the state is concerned with were used at a vaccination event at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds on January 7th,” Mendocino County vaccine coordinator Adrienne Thompson said in a statement Monday night.According to Thompson, all 100 doses were administered at the event and comprised a separate order from the state. No adverse reactions occurred.“County staff will be contacting all 100 individuals that received a vaccine with this lot number to alert them of the recall,” Thompson said. “No other side effects have been noted from use of this vaccine.”Mendocino County’s public health officer, Dr. Andrew Coren, said events such as this are not unexpected because these are new vaccines, and it should not deter the public from getting vaccinated.“This isolated event has not increased the percentage of vaccine reactions, which continue to be about one person in 100,000,” Coren said in a statement Monday night. “Getting vaccinated continues to be the best way for all of us to help move beyond this virus and return to a normal way of life.”Jan 19, 4:17 amUS reports over 137,000 new casesThere were 137,885 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.It’s the lowest daily case count that the country has seen since Dec. 25. Monday’s tally is also far less than the country’s all-time high of 302,506 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.An additional 1,382 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Monday, down from a peak of 4,462 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.A total of 24,078,773 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 399,003 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. Our daily update is published. States reported 1.7M tests, 144k cases, 123,820 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 2,141 deaths. pic.twitter.com/uEoLizfd7W— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) January 20, 2021 Jan 19, 12:02 pmPanel investigating global pandemic response says the worst is ‘yet to come’An independent panel backed by the World Health Organization and tasked with investigating the global pandemic response warned that “the worst of the pandemic and its impact are yet to come” in a new report released late Monday.The panel put some blame on China — where the outbreak originated — saying in January 2020, Chinese authorities could have applied public health measures “more forcefully.”The panel said the World Health Organization as well as national and local authorities could have issued more timely and stronger warnings on the potential for human-to-human transmission.The panel also said that by the end of January 2020, all countries with a likely case should have implemented public health containment measures, but claimed only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available.The panel said its observations should be regarded as provisional because the investigations aren’t complete and the pandemic is continuing to evolve.Jan 19, 11:48 amNew record number of cases among kidsThe American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association found over 211,000 new COVID-19 cases among kids last week — the highest number since the pandemic began, according to a newly released report.About 2.5 million children have tested positive since the pandemic started. From Dec. 31 to Jan. 14, there was an 18% jump in cases among children.Severe illness due to COVID-19 remains rare among kids. Between 0.2% and 2.8% of all child COVID-19 cases have resulted in hospitalization, and children account for 0.00% to 0.17% of all COVID-19 deaths.But the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association warn that there’s an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm their long-term physical health as well as their emotional and mental health.Jan 19, 10:35 amSeychelles reopens to all tourists who have been vaccinatedSeychelles Tourism Minister Sylvestre Radegonde has announced that the island nation is reopening its doors to all tourists, as long as they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.In addition to providing proof that they have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, visitors must also produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours prior to their arrival in order to be exempt from quarantining, Radegonde said at a press conference last week.From mid-March, those who wish to visit Seychelles will only need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result as the country hopes to have 70% of its population vaccinated by that point, Radegonde said.Sybille Cardon, chairperson of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, told the state-owned Seychelles News Agency that the new measures to reopen the country will not help the tourism industry immediately.“It is definitely not something that will help us immediately because, as you know, in Europe they want to vaccinate everyone with at least the first dose of the vaccine,” Cardon said Monday. “The second dose will not be administrated in three weeks, as previously said. It will be done in about 2 to 3 months as they want to give the first dose to the majority of people. This means that the decision taken will not have a direct impact.”Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago located off the coast of East Africa with a population of just under 100,000, has reported 746 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including two deaths, according to the latest data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Jan 19, 10:07 amUK health secretary self-isolating after coming into ‘close contact’ with someone who tested positiveBritish Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Tuesday that he will be self-isolating at home for the rest of the week.Hancock said he was pinged by the U.K. National Health Service’s COVID-19 app on Monday night, alerting him that he had been in “close contact” with someone who has tested positive.“So that means I’ll be self-isolating at home, not leaving the house at all until Sunday,” Hancock said in a video statement posted on Twitter. “This self-isolation is perhaps the most important part of all the social distancing, because I know from the app that I’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and this is how we break the chains of transmission.”“So you must follow these rules, like I’m going to,” he continued. “I’ve got to work from home for the next six days and together, by doing this, by following this and all the other panoply of rules that we’ve had to put in place, we can get through this is and beat this virus.”Hancock recently came under fire by British tabloids after he was seen in a crowded park in north London on Saturday. The current lockdown restrictions in England bars people from leaving their homes except for a very limited set of exemptions, including to shop for basic necessities, outdoor exercise and to go to work if they cannot do so from home. A photograph of Hancock surfaced after British Boris Johnson had released a video urging people to “think twice” before leaving their homes this weekend. Last night I was alerted by the @NHSCOVID19app to self isolate so I’ll be staying at home & not leaving at all until Sunday. We all have a part to play in getting this virus under control. pic.twitter.com/MaN1EI7UyY— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) January 19, 2021