Coronavirus updates: More than 31,000 dead in U.S. as COVID-19 spreads

Coronavirus updates: More than 31,000 dead in U.S. as COVID-19 spreads

 

100 adults and 46 children in U.S. immigration custody test positive for coronavirus

At least 100 adult immigrants in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody have tested positive for coronavirus as of Thursday, according to the agency.

The cases originate from more than two dozen local jails and privately operated prisons across 13 states. At least 25 direct ICE employees at detention centers have also tested positive for the virus. The agency is not tracking cases among contractors at these facilities.

In response to the pandemic, ICE has released nearly 700 immigrants at risk of becoming severely ill if infected by the virus because of their medical conditions and age. The agency has also announced a policy to consider the release of older immigrants and pregnant women.

But ICE is still detaining more than 32,000 immigrants whom the government wants to deport, and advocates have continued to call for the release of more detainees, including the thousands of asylum-seekers being held by the agency.

In addition to the cases among adult immigrants held by ICE, at least 46 unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. government custody have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency charged with caring for these minors.

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CBS News


 

18 federal inmates have died of coronavirus

The Bureau of Prisons said Thursday that two additional federal inmates have died of coronavirus, bringing the BOP’s total to 18. One of the inmates was incarcerated at FCI Oakdale in Louisiana; the other was incarcerated at Ohio’s FCI Elkton.

More than 470 federal inmates and 270 staff members have tested positive for the virus across the nation.

California’s USP Lompoc leads the nation with the number of open cases among federal inmates and staff, with 91. North Carolina’s FCI Butner Medium I has 76, and FCI Elkton has 73. 

FCI Oakdale
This file image shows FCI Oakdale.

Bureau of Prisons


 

Millions are still waiting for their unemployment checks

A month of unemployment has gone by and Kyle Quigley of Portland still hasn’t received an unemployment check from the state of Oregon. The out-of-work restaurant server said he filed his jobless claim on March 16, waited, and waited, then got a letter in the mail two weeks ago.  

He said state officials wanted more information about Quigley’s job history this year and asked him to file extra paperwork. He did so, but hasn’t heard back. “So now, I’m just waiting on something [else], I guess,” said Quigley, 25. “I mean, I didn’t think that it’d take this long.”

Quigley is one of an estimated 6.2 million Americans who’ve filed unemployment applications with their states in the past month yet still haven’t received their first payment, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis of unemployment claims data from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Read more here.

 

Trump gives governors guidelines on reopening the economy

During a call with the nation’s governors on Thursday, President Trump provided a document outlining guidance for reopening the economy.

The 18-page document, obtained by CBS News from a person familiar with the call, details three phases for opening a state’s economy, and presents suggested criteria to be met before moving between the phases that include a decline in “covid-like syndromic cases” over a 14-day period and a robust testing program for health care workers.

At the start of the meeting, President Trump told governors, “You’re going to be running it, we’re going to be helping you. We’re going to be supplying you as needed, if you need something that you don’t have,” according to audio of the meeting obtained by CBS News.

“You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump added on the call, according to the audio. “We’ll be standing right alongside of you and we’re going to get our country open and get it working and our people want to get working.”

Read more here. 

 

Houses of worship and states battle over coronavirus restrictions

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend daily life for millions of Americans, with nearly the entire population subject to mandatory stay-at-home orders, the public health crisis is pitting state and local officials against worshippers in some states.

To curtail the spread of the coronavirus, governors in nearly all 50 states have issued orders requiring residents to remain in their homes, while local officials have taken their own steps in response to the crisis. The orders have led nonessential businesses such as restaurants, retailers and movie theaters to close their doors, while houses of worship — which are exempt from stay-at-home orders in at least 12 states — have altered their practices in accordance with federal, state and local social distancing guidelines.

But even as many faith leaders move to holding virtual worship or drive-in services, the restrictions in some cities have led to clashes between churches and local officials over what is permitted.

Read more here.

 

Brazil’s president fires health minister

Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro fired the country’s health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, on Thursday, Mandetta said on Twitter. The pair had sparred for weeks over how to handle the country’s coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

Brazil has reported more than 25,000 cases but researchers believe the real number could be 10 times higher. Despite this, Bolsonaro has continued to mock the threat of the virus.

 

California governor expands benefits for food workers

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday said that he has signed an executive order to help essential workers in the food industry, including fast-food chains and delivery services. Newsom said there will be “two weeks of supplemental sick leave for workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been exposed to isolation or quarantine orders by local health officials or state or federal officials.”

“I think about the people that grow our food, that pick our food, the people that pack our food, deliver our food, cook, serve and sell our food,” Newsom said. “That sector by definition is essential to our livelihoods … it has been hard hit by strife and by challenges in terms of health and safety … This is a serious issue and requires a serious response.”

Read more here.

California governor authorizes 2 weeks paid supplemental sick leave for food workers

 

Read the diary of an ER nurse in Brooklyn

A nurse who works in the emergency room at Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Hospital wrote a first-person account of what it’s like to be on the frontlines of the pandemic. Jillian Primiano shared her story with CBS News, detailing her experiences from recent shifts at the hospital.

My alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. but I am already awake. Since coronavirus came to New York, I’ve been waking up early and abruptly, thinking of my patients, my coworkers, and our governor, Andrew Cuomo. My mind is full of COVID.

Yesterday, I had a sore throat and unusual fatigue. I check my temperature (not that it matters, many of the patients I see don’t have a fever). It’s normal. I finish my coffee and grab a size small N95 face mask that a friend sent (the ones we’re being provided feel too loose on me) and some bleach wipes (we ran out of our usual ones).

I wonder if I’ll leave in tears like I did the other day when a lot of nurses were out sick with COVID symptoms.

Read more of her story here.

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JILLIAN PRIMIANO


 

California to give $500 in aid to undocumented immigrants

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that his state will give $500 to undocumented immigrants who were not eligible for aid from the federal government’s $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Newsom said the aid will be covered by a combination of taxpayer and charitable dollars: $75 million will come from state funds while a group of charities has committed to raise another $50 million.

“Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together,” Newsom said. 

California has an estimated 2 million undocumented immigrant residents. Newsom said they make up 10% of the state’s workforce paid $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.

Advocates praised the state’s action. “This virus doesn’t discriminate – it doesn’t care about race, class, or wealth. Our response to this crisis shouldn’t either. California is leading at a time when Congress should be doing more for immigrants in #COVID19 relief efforts,” tweeted the National Immigration Law Center, an advocacy group focused on immigration issues. 

Read more here.

 

3M to donate $20 million to research, health care workers and disproportionately impacted populations

Minnesota-based 3M said will donate $20 million to support health care workers, COVID-19 research and communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, CBS Minnesota reported. The company announced the multi-million dollar donation on Thursday.

“It’s important that 3M holds true to its core values during this pandemic by supporting our communities and improving lives,” Chairman and CEO Mike Roman said in a statement. “Throughout this global crisis, we will continue to look for ways to help in the fight against COVID-19.”

The company said half of the funds will go to Direct Relief’s COVID-19 Fund for Community Health. The fund provides community health centers with direct financial support for health care workers. Additionally, $5 million will go toward the United Way, which is working to provide food, shelter and rent assistance to vulnerable populations around the world.

The remaining money will go toward COVID-19 research and development initiatives, with $2 million going to the University of Minnesota.

3M boxes
Boxes with the 3M logo on April 16, 2020, in Grossbeeren, Germany. 

Getty


 

Colin Kaepernick kicks off virus relief fund by donating $100,000

Colin Kaepernick on Thursday started a new virus relief fund for black and brown communities by donating $100,000. African American and Latino communities have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

“We’ve launched the Know Your Rights Camp COVID-19 Relief Fund to directly impact the disproportionate effect coronavirus is having on our communities,” Kaepernick said in his announcement.

The initiative aims to tackle several areas stricken within minority communities, including housing, employment and transportation. 

Structural racism makes Black & Brown ppl more likely to die from #COVID19. We’ve launched the Know Your Rights Camp COVID-19 Relief Fund to directly impact the disproportionate effect #coronavirus is having on our communities. #WeGotUs 🖤✊🏾 Donate at: https://t.co/ag2euE1Qtz pic.twitter.com/aBcjKku2kC

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) April 16, 2020

 

Coronavirus impact “potentially catastrophic” for millions of kids, UN report says

A report released by the United Nations says more than 1.5 billion children have been affected by countrywide school closures. Millions are facing a lack of school meals and are impacted by the economic downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic, it says.

“The socio-economic impact of the virus – and of the containment and mitigation measures governments have put in place around the world – is potentially catastrophic for millions of children,” it says. “What began as a health crisis risks evolving into a broader child-rights crisis.”

As he released the report, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said children’s lives globally “are being totally upended,” and he appealed to families and world leaders to “protect our children.”

Read more here.

 

New Jersey governor “outraged” bodies were “allowed to pile up” in makeshift morgue

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday said he was “outraged” that 17 bodies were “allowed to pile up” at an overwhelmed nursing home’s morgue this week. The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, in Andover, was only equipped to handle four bodies.

“I am heartbroken by the tragic news that several individuals have lost their lives in a coronavirus outbreak at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II,” Murphy tweeted. “I am outraged that the bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue at the facility.”

According to police, the bodies were discovered after New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer received a request from the nursing home for 25 body bags. The high number of fatalities at the nursing home was unknown to authorities, prompting a police visit. 

Read more here.

17 Bodies Found In New Jersey Nursing Home Morgue After Anonymous Tip
Medical workers arrive at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center on April 16, 2020, in Andover, New Jersey. 

Getty


 

Emirates airline begins testing passengers for coronavirus

The Dubai-based Emirates airlines has begun conducting coronavirus tests on all passengers before they board a flight. The company on Wednesday announced that passengers on flights to Tunisia were tested for the coronavirus before departing from Dubai International Airport. The results from the blood test, conducted by the Dubai Health Authority, were available within 10 minutes.

“We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights,” said Chief Operating Officer Adel Al Redha. “This will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers traveling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates.”

Read more here.

Emirates
An Emirates aircraft takes off from Dubai International Airport on April 6, 2020.

Getty


 

Governor Andrew Cuomo extends New York’s shutdown to May 15

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he is extending the state’s shutdown — in coordination with other states — to May 15. The stay-at-home order that was issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic was set to expire at the end of April.

“What happens after then? I don’t know,” he said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “We will see depending on what the data shows.”

Cuomo said social distancing orders have “controlled the beast” in New York, but that the state is not yet in the clear. “We have to continue doing what we’re doing,” he said.

The governor said he understands the unprecedented burden the order has placed on people and businesses, but stressed it is the best way to protect the public’s health.

“These are some of the most life-changing policies that government has ever issued,” he said.

“They are being implemented by people because people are choosing to do the right thing.”

He said the tentative plan is to phase-in businesses that are the most essential, and have lowest risk of spreading the virus. “There’s no light switch, it’s not all businesses go back tomorrow,” he said.

Governor Cuomo extends New York’s coronavirus shutdown to May 15

 

Single-day death toll drops in New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that 606 people died from the coronavirus on Wednesday, down from 752 on Tuesday. That marks the lowest single-day death toll in the state since April 10. 

Cuomo said the majority of Wednesday’s deaths — 577 — occurred in hospitals, and 29 were reported from nursing homes. 

The governor said it is still a “tragic rate” of death, and that the rate of hospitalizations remains high. 

 

Putin postpones Russia’s massive annual Victory Day military parade over COVID-19 fears

President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that Russia would have to postpone its annual Victory Day military parade due to a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

“May 9 is a holy day for us,” Putin said on national television, referring to the landmark celebrations that take place every year, and which this year would have marked the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. Adding that “the life of each human is sacred,” he said it wasn’t safe to gather thousands of people in central Moscow.

A number of world leaders were invited to attend this year’s celebrations, including President Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron.

The parade is an annual display of Russia’s military might, with thousands of troops and shiny new military hardware paraded through Moscow’s Red Square, and the government has been reluctant to postpone it. Until this week, officials had insisted that all the preparations for the bash were going ahead as planned.

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Russian military vehicles and Topol M intercontinental ballistic missile launchers drive on Red Square in Moscow, May 7, 2019, during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade.

Getty


Putin did not announce a new date for the parade.

His announcement came after veterans’ organizations officially asked the Kremlin to reschedule the parade, warning that participants would be in danger of contracting the killer virus.  

Russia has seen surge in COVID-19 infections in recent days, most of them in Moscow. Officials reported 3,448 new cases on Thursday, bringing the national total to 27,938, with 232 deaths. 

 

U.S. warship virus cases rise to 655

The number of USS Theodore Roosevelt crewmembers who have tested positive for coronavirus continues to grow. On Thursday, the U.S. Navy said 655 sailors assigned to the ship had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Navy said as of Thursday, 94% of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s crew have been tested for COVID-19, and 4,059 sailors have moved ashore. Six sailors who have the virus are being treated in U.S. Naval Hospital Guam and one of them is in the ICU due to shortness of breath.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that a Navy official said Wednesday that about 60% of the positives on the Roosevelt have been asymptomatic.  

USS Theodore Roosevelt
This 2020 image shows the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

U.S. Navy via Getty


 

The Paycheck Protection Program is out of money

A key piece of the government’s stimulus efforts to help small businesses is now out of money, shutting out thousands of potential borrowers seeking aid during the economic plunge. The U.S. Small Business Administration said Thursday that the Paycheck Protection Program won’t be accepting any additional applications.

The agency reported approving over 1.6 million Paycheck Protection Program loan applications that totaled more than $339 billion from over 4,900 lending institutions. While that money has been approved, most borrowers are still waiting for the loans to be funded, and for money to show up in their accounts.

The Paycheck Protection Program is focused on helping businesses with 500 employees or less. Loans through the program have an ultra-low 1% interest rate, and the interest on the loans doesn’t have to be paid for the first six months.

Read more here.

 

PGA Tour plans to resume in June, with no fans

The PGA has announced plans to resume its season in June. But no fans will be in attendance. 

“At this time, the TOUR plans to resume play with the first four events closed to the general public but will continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations of local and state authorities in order to determine the most appropriate on-site access in each market,” the PGA said in a statement Thursday. 

The tournament was originally scheduled for May 18-24 but is now expected to begin almost a month late. The PGA said it hopes the season will resume on June 8 for the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. 

PGA Championship - Round Three
Rory McIlroy in the second round of the 2019 PGA Championship in Farmingdale, New York.

Getty


 

Line forms before dawn at testing site in Florida

Hundreds of cars were lined up as early as 3 a.m. Thursday as people awaited testing for coronavirus at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The line stretched for miles, CBS Miami reports

On Wednesday, the state increased the capacity at the site from 400 to 750 tests per day. The Hard Rock Stadium site is now testing people of any age who have symptoms. People who have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus can also get tested, as can health care workers and first responders.

People who planned to go to the site are urged to fill their gas tanks, bring snacks and a picture ID, and use a restroom beforehand. Those wanting to be tested should expect a long wait.

On Wednesday, 18 cars were left stranded without gas and people were not allowed to use the restrooms at the site once getting out of their vehicles. 

 

Senate and White House at impasse over small business loans as funding runs dry

White House and Senate negotiators have not yet reached an agreement to pass additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans for small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, initial funding for the program was exhausted.

The Senate is convening for a pro forma session later on Thursday, and Republicans and the White House support a “clean” bill to add funding to the $350 billion program, which was approved as part of the $2.2 trillion relief package that was signed last month by President Trump. This bill would provide an additional $250 billion for the program.

The Small Business Association, which is overseeing the program, said it has exhausted its $350 billion in funding and could not accept any new applications.

Click here to read more.

 

Police find 17 bodies at overwhelmed New Jersey nursing home

New Jersey police discovered 17 bodies inside inside an overwhelmed nursing home’s morgue on Monday. The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, in Andover, New Jersey, was only equipped to handle four bodies. 

According to police, the bodies were discovered after New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer received a request from the nursing home for 25 body bags. The high number of fatalities at the nursing home was unknown to authorities, prompting a police visit.  

Upon visiting the center, police learned that the morgue was holding 17 bodies, and one was kept in a shed before being moved into the small morgue. 

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An aerial view of the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover, New Jersey.

CBS


The New York Times reported that the 17 bodies were among 68 recent deaths linked to the facility, and 26 of the people who died had tested positive for COVID-19.

Nursing homes across the country have been struggling to protect their vulnerable residents from the deadly coronavirus. A CBS News investigation found that a lack of mandatory testing for residents and employees, staffing issues, and a shortage of personal protective equipment are the center’s biggest problems.    

 

COVID-19 lockdowns appear to be fueling an increase in poaching in Africa

There’s mounting fear that endangered animals could become additional casualties of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many African nations have implemented lockdowns to try and slow the disease’s spread, and as the wildlife tourism industry is brought to a standstill, there are already signs in some countries that poaching is on the rise.

National stay-at-home orders, travel bans and other measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 have severely constricted Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry. In addition to probable job losses, the other tragedy is that this business also helps fund wildlife conservation across the continent. 

A South African rhino rescue organization says it has responded to at least one poaching incident every day since the country went into lockdown. In neighboring Botswana — usually one of the most protected places for wildlife — there have been at least six rhinos poached since the country closed its borders.

While poaching is not unusual on the continent, the recent incidents in Botswana and South Africa were unusual because they occurred in tourism hotspots which, until now, were considered relatively safe for wildlife.  

Rhino poaching surges across Africa amid virus pandemic

In Kenya, too, there are fears that the collapse of the tourism industry could result in massive lay-offs, which in turn would threaten the protection of wildlife.

 

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security boss joins calls for Trump to reverse course on WHO funding

The director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Dr. Tom Inglesby, one of the top infectious disease experts in the country, has warned that “now is exactly the worst time” for President Trump to temporarily withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. funding for the World Health Organization.

Mr. Trump announced Tuesday that he was “instructing my administration to halt funding of the WHO while a review is conducted to assess the WHO’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” blaming the United Nations’ health agency for the extraordinary death toll from the coronavirus around the world.

But now is exactly the worst time to undermine WHO efforts by cutting off its funding. The US will be worse off because of it. Not only will it hamper WHO efforts to fight this virus, but it will damage its efforts to control other major global infectious disease threats.13/x

— Tom Inglesby (@T_Inglesby) April 16, 2020

Several foreign governments have sharply criticized Mr. Trump’s move. Adversaries accuse him of trying to deflect scrutiny of his own government’s handling of the disease, which has claimed almost 31,000 lives in the U.S. — more than any other nation — and even close allies such as Britain have made it clear they do not share his suspicion of the WHO.

Doctors and nurses unions in the U.S. have also called on Mr. Trump to reverse course and keep the vital funding flowing to the global health body. 

 

5.2 million more jobless claims push the ranks of America’s unemployed to 22 million

The ranks of jobless Americans continue to surge, with about 5.2 million filing for unemployment benefits in the second week of April. More than 22 million workers have filed for the benefit in the past five weeks as the coronavirus lockdown keeps much of the economy shuttered. 

Still, the number of people filing for unemployment in the week that ended on April 11 was a decline of 1.37 million from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday. Unemployment claims, reported weekly, are a barometer for the job market because they indicate how many workers have lost their jobs amid the pandemic. 

In just five weeks, the economy has lost far more jobs than the 18.3 million positions created during the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The layoffs, which started in service-sector jobs that were dependent on tourism and travel, are now reaching into other sectors of the economy, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. 

Gary Cohn on the “worst thing” that could come from reopening economy too quickly

 

Nearly all COVID-19-positive pregnant women monitored for study were asymptomatic

Yanira Soriano met her newborn son for the first time Wednesday after spending nearly two weeks in a medically induced coma. She was eight months pregnant when she showed coronavirus symptoms, tested positive and was quickly intubated, her husband, Walter Sanchez, told CBS News.

At that point, Walter said, the doctors conducted an emergency cesarean section while Yanira was on the ventilator. Hospitals across New York are preparing for similar situations.

“We really advocate for assessment on a case-by-case basis,” said Dr. Dena Goffman, with the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

Goffman co-authored a new study that tested more than 200 pregnant women admitted for delivery in two New York City hospitals for coronavirus, whether they showed symptoms or not. Thirty-three women tested positive, but 29 of them showed no symptoms, according to the results published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“If we’re not checking, we really do risk missing people who are carrying the virus,” Goffman said.

Click here to read the full story.

NYC study tests over 200 pregnant women for coronavirus

 

Spain’s COVID-19 toll soars past 19,000, but numbers reflect continued slowdown

Spain’s coronavirus death toll soared past 19,000 on Thursday after another 551 people died of COVID-19, with the numbers reflecting a slowdown after nearly five weeks on lockdown.

One of the worst-hit countries in the world, Spain has seen the increase in the number of deaths and infections come down over the past fortnight, with the overnight fatalities taking the toll to 19,130.

But there are growing concerns that the toll may be far higher, with regional authorities in Madrid and Catalonia insisting they each had thousands more victims than the official count.

Madrid, which by Thursday counted 6,877 deaths, has mooted a figure well above 10,000, while Catalonia, where some 3,855 have died, believes its toll to be nearly double that after changing counting method.

Spain also recorded 5,183 new cases of COVID-19, taking the overall figure to 182,816 — officially second highest in the world behind the United States. 

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A woman is wheeled into an ambulance outside the Vitalia care home for the elderly in Las Rozas near Madrid on April 16, 2020 amid a national lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Getty


Health authorities say the virus has peaked in Spain since the number of daily deaths reached 950 people on April 2, but they have insisted on maintaining the March 14 lockdown that is likely to be extended into mid-May.

One of the tightest lockdowns in Europe, the restrictions allow just essential workers out, otherwise the rest of the population can only leave home to buy food and medicine, to attend a medical emergency or to briefly walk the dog. 

– AFP

 

Syria’s last war-torn rebel enclave braces for coronavirus: “It would be a disaster”

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have survived nine years of civil war and waves of indiscriminate bombing now face a growing threat from a new, silent, invisible enemy: the coronavirus. The roughly 3 million people who live in Syria’s northwest Idlib province have very little to defend themselves against the global pandemic.

Local doctors are urging the international community to step up efforts to help prevent what is already a humanitarian disaster becoming a complete catastrophe.   

An outbreak in the region could kill 100,000 people, according to the Idlib Health Directorate.

The province is the last rebel-held area in Syria, and since December Syrian and Russian airstrikes have forced almost 1 million civilians to flee toward the Turkish border. A fragile ceasefire is currently in place. 

Thousands have been forced to flee their homes and are now livign in makeshift shelters and overcrowded camps, where self-isolation is an unattainable privilege.

As of Wednesday health workers had tested 166 people for COVID-19 in Idlib, including some tests in the crowded camps, and there have been no positive tests yet, but Dr. Ihsan Eidy, who works there, says once it arrives, the virus will spread fast among the displaced population.

“If you advise a person who got infected to isolate himself in a room and [say] don’t be in touch with other family members, how could he do this if he is living in one tent with 10 members of the family? It is impossible,” Eidy told CBS News.  

“The United States — the strongest country in medicine, science, in military, in all this — can’t cope with it [COVID-19],” he said. “All we can do is to try to prevent this infection, to deal with it if it happens. It would be disaster.”

— Pinar Sevinclidir

Coronavirus could kill tens of thousands in Syria’s last rebel-held province

 

U.S. meat giant Smithfield Foods forced to close 2 more plants over COVID-19

Smithfield Foods will temporarily close its plants in Cudahy, Wisconsin and Martin City, Missouri because of the coronavirus pandemic. The plant near Milwaukee will be closed for two weeks while the facility in Missouri is closed indefinitely. The Missouri plant receives raw material from the company’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota facility, which is also closed.

Smithfield Foods has reported 518 infections in employees in Sioux Falls and another 126 in people connected to them, making it the nation’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak and putting more pressure on Governor Kristi Noem,  who has thus far declined to declare a statewide lockdown.

Smithfield said a small number of employees at the Wisconsin and Missouri plants have tested positive for COVID-19. The company is based in Smithfield, Virginia and employs over 1,000 workers at the Cudahy plant.

Food suppliers face shutdowns as workers are infected with coronavirus

John Eiden, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1473, raised concerns that the company wasn’t doing enough to protect workers in a letter to Smithfield’s human resources department, the Journal Sentinel reported.

The March 26 letter said two employees have tested positive for coronavirus, but not all union members were informed of the second case. 

— CBS/AP

 

Nurses suspended for refusing to help COVID-19 patients without N95 masks

Ten nurses are being paid but not allowed to return to work at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, pending an investigation by human resources after they refused to treat COVID-19 patients without N95 masks, according to the National Nurses Union.

A handful of nurses, including Mike Gulick told their managers they wouldn’t enter COVID-19 patient rooms without the masks, which filter out 95% of all airborne particles, including ones too tiny to be blocked by regular masks.  

Administrators at the hospital said the protective gear wasn’t necessary, and didn’t provide the masks, according to the Union. Click here to read more.  

CBS/AP

New York’s health care workers treating coronavirus describe lack of equipment, infections of colleagues

 

WHO says almost half of world’s COVID-19 cases in Europe, as epidemic spreads in new countries there

“The storm clouds of this pandemic still hang heavily over the European Region,” warned the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe on Thursday. 

Hans Kluge said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Europe was still climbing fast — nearly doubling in just 10 days to almost 1 million. That is almost half of the cases worldwide. 

“Sadly, over 84,000 people in Europe have lost their lives to the virus,” Kluge said, adding that while “there have been optimistic signs in terms of declining numbers in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland in recent weeks,” other European countries were seeing “sustained or increased levels,” including the U.K., Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia. 

“The next few weeks will be critical for Europe,” Klug warned.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London
A woman cleans a shopping cart outside a Tesco supermarket in Kensington, London, as the spread of the coronavirus continues in Great Britain, April 16, 2020.

Reuters


Russia has implemented new measures this week aimed at curbing the spread of the disease, particularly in the hard-hit Moscow region, and British authorities were widely expected to extend the nationwide lockdown there — already a month old — for another three weeks. 

 

Japanese city asks for donated rain coats as COVID-19-slammed hospitals run short on PPE

Plastic raincoats have begun pouring into Osaka City Hall in western Japan after local officials said hospitals were so short on vital personal protective equipment for medical workers that they’d resorted to wearing trash bags. 

The unusual plea for plastic ponchos and raincoats — unused, any size or color — reminded at least one resident of wartime procurement campaigns from the 1940s. But many were happy to pitch in.

A woman in her fifties, who bought 30 raincoats to donate, told the Mainichi newspaper she was moved by the plight of hospital workers. 

With close to 1,000 COVID-19 cases, Osaka is second only to Tokyo as epidemic hotspots in Japan. 

This week it announced a shortage of 100,000 protective gowns and 160,000 face shields for the coming month. 

A city hall worker, surveying more than 10,000 donated raincoats, called the bounty “a happy surprise.”  

Hospitals across the U.S. have grappled with similar PPE supply shortages for weeks.

State governments and hospitals still scrambling for PPE for coronavirus

 

California nurse describes monthlong battle with coronavirus: “I felt I met death”

Getting along with the help of a walker, Marcial Reyes was still extremely weak after contracting the novel coronavirus. 

“I still have 100% body pains,” he told CBS Los Angeles on Wednesday. But the 47-year-old nurse says his spirit has never been stronger, and his own battle with the disease isn’t “going to damper my desire to help the community.”

The charge nurse survived a brutal fight with COVID-19 that left him hospitalized at his own workplace for almost 30 days.

For 11 of those days, Reyes was in a medically-induced coma, attached to a ventilator. 

“Because my lungs were collapsing already,” he said. That’s when Reyes said he had a vivid, terrifying near-death experience.

“I felt I met death,” he said. “And I saw my mother, I saw my brother, I saw my dad.”

Reyes said he told his family members he needed to live for his 5-year-old son and his wife.

“Suddenly they left me,” Reyes said.

Reyes said he was treated with a cocktail of Vitamin C, the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and retrovir, an antiretroviral medication commonly used to slow the progress of HIV.

“The second day they were giving that medication to me, my fever went away,” he said, adding that wihle scientists can debate all day about which of the treatments turned his health around — he had already has an explanation to his recovery.

“There’s always divine intervention,” he said.

 

Japanese government expected to extend state of emergency nationwide as COVID-19 spreads

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to put his entire country under an official state of emergency that will last until at least May 6 in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus there, Japanese media said Thursday.

In Tokyo, along with the country’s third largest city Osaka and five other prefectures, the Japanese equivalent of states, citizens have already been under a state of emergency for more than a week. Most people are staying home and the normally teaming streets have been largely empty.

New coronavirus infections in Asia spur fears of resurgence

The expanded declaration would add Japan’s 40 remaining prefectures, giving all of Japan’s governors the power to request their citizens stay home and for businesses to close. Under Japan’s laws citizens can’t be forced to stay home under mandatory lockdowns like the ones we’ve seen imposed by governments in China, India, Italy and some U.S. states.

Abe was consulting an expert advisory body in Tokyo on Thursday ahead of the expected official announcement of the nationwide state of emergency expansion.

Japan’s number of confirmed coronavirus infections has more than tripled since April 1 to over 8,700.

Critics have accused the government of dragging its heels in testing members of the public for the disease and in declaring a state of emergency to begin with. Economists say the country is on the brink of recession and the government may have been hoping to keep businesses open as long as possible.

 

Trump threatens unprecedented move to adjourn both houses of Congress

Citing the coronavirus crisis, President Trump has threatened to adjourn both houses of Congress in a bid to entice the Senate to approve more of his nominees. No U.S. president has ever forced both houses of the U.S. Congress to stop their work in this way.d

In recent years, Congress has refused to fully adjourn during most breaks precisely to prevent the president from making recess appointments. Little or no business is conducted in such “pro-forma sessions,” but they give members of both chambers of Congress the chance to go back home without going into recess. Lawmakers used the same process to thwart former President Obama’s nominees.

But Mr. Trump says he’s had enough, and warns he’ll seek to adjourn both the House and Senate if lawmakers don’t formally declare a proper recess, which would enable him to appoint some nominees without the Senate’s approval. 

“Perhaps it’s never been done before, nobody’s even sure if it has, but we’re going to do it,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday.

The Constitution doesn’t spell out a unilateral power for the president to adjourn Congress. It states only that he can decide on adjournment if there’s a dispute over it between the House and Senate. Such a disagreement doesn’t now exist, nor is it likely to arise.

Trump suggests reopening U.S. economy despite social distancing guidelines

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley tweeted that the Constitution gives a president authority in “extraordinary occasions” to convene or adjourn Congress. However, he said: “This power has never been used and should not be used now.”

Turley, the only one of four legal experts to testify on behalf of Republicans in a House impeachment hearing in early December, wrote that “a pandemic should not be an invitation for pandemonium. Indeed, we need regular order now more than ever.”

CBS/AP

.  

 

Rams’ Brian Allen first NFL player known to test positive

The first active NFL player known to have tested positive for COVID-19 has been revealed. 

On Wednesday night, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on “Fox Football Now” that center Brian Allen of the Los Angeles Rams tested positive for coronavirus three weeks ago. Rams coach Sean McVay confirmed the news on the program. 

Rams confirm Brian Allen tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks ago.

He is “feeling good, he’s healthy and he’s on the road to recovery.”

— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) April 16, 2020

The team then said in a tweet that Allen was “feeling good, he’s healthy and he’s on the road to recovery.”

– Jordan Dajani, CBSSports.com

 

Big banks could see $71 billion in loans sour after coronavirus shock

The novel coronavirus has already caused unemployment around the U.S. to surge and the stock market to tumble. Now the pain is spreading to the banking industry, with lenders this week reporting that they expect tens of billion in loans to sour.

The nation’s four largest banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo – say the financial stress caused by the pandemic could cause borrowers to default on upwards of $71 billion in debt. The disclosures came as part of the biggest banks’ quarterly earnings announcements. Profits plunged at all four banks, another sign of the nation’s financial troubles.

The banks said the projected loan losses were as of March 31 and that their estimates factor in the impact of the government’s various economic relief plans. That means the current loan-loss estimates only reflect the economic damage of the first few weeks of the coronavirus shutdown, and have probably grown in the ensuing two weeks. New York, the worst-hit state, didn’t officially shutter businesses until March 22.

Read more here.

 

16 federal inmates have died of COVID-19, BOP says

The Bureau of Prisons announced Wednesday that two more federal inmates have died of coronavirus, bringing the total to 16. One of the inmates was incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Elkton in Ohio; the other was housed at FCI Terminal Island in San Pedro, California.

CBS News has learned from a union official that another inmate died at a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, but that individual was not included in Wednesday’s BOP report.

More than 450 inmates and 280 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide, the BOP said.

The government’s penitentiary in Lompoc, California, has the most open COVID-19 cases among inmates and staff, with 91. North Carolina’s FCI Butner Medium I has 76, and FCI Elkton has 73.

 

United Airlines says it faced a 97% drop in demand in the first two weeks of April, compared to the same time frame in 2019

United Airlines’ president and CEO said in a joint letter to employees Wednesday that the company saw a 97% drop in demand in the first two weeks of April compared to the same time frame last year. 

“Travel demand is essentially zero and shows no sign of improving in the near-term,” the pair wrote. “To help you understand how few people are flying in this environment, less than 200,000 people flew with us during the first two weeks of April this year, compared to more than 6 million during the same time in 2019, a 97 percent drop. And we expect to fly fewer people during the entire month of May than we did on a single day in May 2019.” 

The company also said that while it will protect U.S. employees from involuntary furloughs and pay rate cuts through the end of September 2020, there will likely be job cuts in the months that follow. 

“The challenging economic outlook means we have some tough decisions ahead as we plan for our airline, and our overall workforce, to be smaller than it is today, starting as early as October 1,” the executives wrote.

Airline industry in historic freefall as traveling comes to a halt

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Almost 18 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally, and 685,000 have now died. Nearly 300,000 people were reported infected in the past 24 hours and 6400 dead. Here are the latest developments from around the world. Europe Ireland Ireland's chief medical officer on Saturday described a recent spike…

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