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Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Page 3

The U.S. currently has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any country in the world. Coronavirus is real it is not a hoax. Coronavirus is not the flu no matter what they say, you can get a flu shot which reduces the chances of you getting the flu, you cannot get a coronavirus shot because there are currently no coronavirus vaccines shots. Coronavirus is deadlier than the flu and spreads faster than the flu. Currently there are no shots or cures for the coronavirus. Coronavirus kills people of all ages. Coronavirus can remain in the air and on surfaces for more than an hour. Someone who is not showing any signs of illness can infect you. Be safe; stay home if directed, keep your distance from others, stay home if sick to prevent possible spread of the disease, wash your hands with soap before you touch your face and wash your hands with soap frequently. Below you can find the latest coronavirus updates statistics, totals, new cases, deaths per day, mortality and recovery rates, current active cases, recoveries, trends, timelines and more.

Donald J. Trump failure to act quickly and reasonably to protect the American people from the Coronavirus has put America lives at risks.

Live statistics and coronavirus news tracking the number of confirmed cases, recovered patients, and death toll by country due to the COVID 19 coronavirus from Wuhan, China. Coronavirus counter with new cases, historical data, and info. Daily charts, graphs, news and updates

View United States Coronavirus update with statistics and graphs: total and new cases, deaths per day, mortality and recovery rates, current active cases, recoveries, trends and timeline.

Democrats say the GOP tried to "loot American taxpayers" to "reward ultra-rich beneficiaries" like "Trump's family"
By Igor Derysh

Republican lawmakers used the coronavirus relief bill to give millionaires a tax break they failed to include in the 2017 tax cut bill. The 2017 Republican tax cut imposed restrictions on how much owners of "pass-through" businesses, or companies in which the owner pays an individual income tax on profits rather than the corporate income tax, can deduct against non-business income, such as capital gains. The bill set a $250,000 cap on losses that can be deducted. But right-wing think tanks and some lawmakers complained about the cap, and Senate Republicans snuck a provision into the coronavirus relief bill last month to suspend the limits, The Washington Post reports. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), a nonpartisan congressional agency, estimates that more than 80% of the benefits of the tax change will benefit those who earn more than $1 million per year. The suspension is expected to cost about $90 billion this year alone and is part of a larger set of tax changes expected to add $170 billion to the national deficit over the next decade, according to the JCT.

Associated Press

Three publicly traded hotel companies tied to a Texas businessman said that they would not give back millions of dollars in loans from a government program aimed at helping small businesses. Facing pressure from the government, several big companies, including the Potbelly and Shake Shack restaurant chains, have said they will return loans they received under the Paycheck Protection Program. The three hotel companies, Ashford Inc., Ashford Hospitality Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts, which are tied to Texas hotel magnate Monty Bennett, have applied for $126 million in loans and received $69 million, according to a calculation from securities filings by The Associated Press. They will use the money to protect jobs, they said in a statement. Since mid-March, the companies and their hotel properties have furloughed or laid off 90% of their workforce. “Media concerns over our receipt of PPP funds are misplaced. The PPP program was specifically designed to help companies like ours as part of the national objective of shoring up businesses and getting people back to work,” the statement said.

Published Sun, Apr 26 20202:32 PM EDTUpdated Moments Ago
By Hugh Son

Even as the U.S. small business relief program is set to reopen Monday with fresh funding, the full extent that public companies tapped the emergency facility is only now becoming clear. More than 220 public companies applied for at least $870 million from the government program that was billed as for small businesses without access to other sources of capital, according to Washington D.C.-based data analytics firm FactSquared. That includes $126.4 million for three public companies affiliated with Texas hotelier Monty Bennett. One of those firms, Ashford Hospitality Trust, applied for $76 million in 117 separate loans, the most by a single company, according to regulatory filings. The government’s Paycheck Protection Program sparked outrage after its initial $350 billion allotment quickly ran out and it was revealed that big public companies secured loans while hundreds of thousands of small businesses seeking relatively tiny amounts were left in limbo. Last week, the Small Business Administration attempted to close that loophole, saying that big public companies “with substantial market value and access to capital markets” aren’t eligible and that firms that already tapped the fund had two weeks to return the PPP money. Since then, companies including Ruth’s Hospitality Group and sandwich chain Potbelly have followed Shack Shack in returning their PPP funds. But the data from FactSquared, which uses a machine-learning bot to trawl regulatory filings to produce an overall picture of the PPP, shows the full extent that public companies have successfully navigated the government’s program.

By Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm

A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country, offering the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists. The Facebook groups target Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, and they appear to be the work of Ben Dorr, the political director of a group called “Minnesota Gun Rights,” and his siblings, Christopher and Aaron. By Sunday, the groups had roughly 200,000 members combined, and they continued to expand quickly, days after President Trump endorsed such protests by suggesting citizens should “liberate” their states. The Dorr brothers manage a slew of pro-gun groups across a wide range of states, from Iowa to Minnesota to New York, and seek primarily to discredit organizations like the National Rifle Association as being too compromising on gun safety. Minnesota Gun Rights, for instance, describes itself as the state’s “no-compromise gun rights organization.” The online activity instigated by the brothers helps cement the impression that opposition to the restrictions is more widespread than polling suggests. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans said they supported a national stay-at-home order, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Ninety-five percent of Democrats backed such a measure in the survey. Still, the Facebook groups have become digital hubs for the same sort of misinformation spouted in recent days at state capitol buildings — from comparing the virus to the flu to questioning the intentions of scientists working on a vaccine. Public health experts say stay-at-home orders are necessary to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, which has already killed more than 40,000 in the United States. The Trump administration last week outlined three phases for states to reopen safely — guidelines contradicted by the president when he urged citizens to rise up against the rules that heed the recommendations of his own public health advisers.

By Amanda Macias

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s top officials recommended Friday that the captain relieved of duty after sounding the alarms of a growing coronavirus outbreak aboard an aircraft carrier should be reinstated. The decision to reinstate Navy Capt. Brett Crozier’s command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt sits with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The Pentagon boss, who was briefed on the recommendations following a U.S. Navy investigation, has yet to sign off on the reinstatement of the captain. He is expected to make a decision Friday. The latest revelation follows a messy string of events that resulted in the resignation of the acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. Modly relieved Crozier after the captain’s letter pleading for help to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus aboard the aircraft carrier was leaked to the media. Modly then took a 35-hour trip, which cost taxpayers $243,000, to address the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. In the address, delivered via the ship’s loudspeaker, Modly doubled down on his decision to relieve Crozier and called the former vessel’s captain “naive” and “stupid.” Hours later Modly issued an apology to the Navy.

By Colin Dwyer

Please, everyone, do not try what the president just suggested at home. That is the consensus from doctors, at least one manufacturer and even President Trump's own administration, after he speculated about possible treatments for the coronavirus during his task force briefing Thursday. After introducing research reflecting the disinfectant capabilities of ultraviolet light on surfaces, Trump mused that scientists may try to find a way to place strong disinfectants directly inside the body to treat a patient's infection. "I see the disinfectant — where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" Trump floated, with a caveat that one would "have to use medical doctors." (You can read his full remarks here.) When asked about the comments on Friday, Trump told reporters that he was simply asking the question "sarcastically" — "just to see what would happen." "That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to a reporter," he explained. Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator of the coronavirus task force, treated the question seriously during the briefing, however. And she was the first to answer the president when he asked if "the heat and the light" was an avenue to explore: "Not as a treatment," she said.

By Ryan Browne and Michael Conte, CNN

Washington (CNN) A US Navy destroyer performing a counter narcotics mission has been hit by an outbreak of at least 18 coronavirus cases, a US Navy official tells CNN. The USS Kidd is the second ship to be impacted by a major outbreak of the virus while at sea following the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Pentagon later confirmed that there has been an outbreak on the ship, with more than one sailor testing positive out of a crew of around 330. The ship is assigned to the recently enhanced counter narcotics mission in the Caribbean/Eastern Pacific aimed at countering illicit drug trafficking. The first sailor that tested positive was medevac'd off the ship when he displayed symptoms, according to Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman, and tested positive at a medical treatment facility in San Antonio. "The Sailor is stable and receiving care at a medical treatment facility in San Antonio, Texas," the Navy said in a statement Friday. There have since been other sailors on the ship who have tested positive and the Navy statement added that "testing continues, and we expect additional cases." "They are preparing to return to port, where they will undertake efforts to clean the ship. They will remove a portion of the crew from the ship. And work to get everybody back to health and get the ship back to sea," said Hoffman. An eight member Navy medical team has flown out to the ship and is conducting contact tracing and isolating individuals who may have been exposed, according to Hoffman. News of the outbreak aboard the USS Kidd comes as the number of cases aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt continues to increase. The Navy said Thursday that 840 sailors from the ship have tested positive for coronavirus and 100% of the crew has been tested. Four sailors are being treated for coronavirus symptoms in US Naval Hospital Guam. More than 4,000 members of the crew have been moved ashore to Guam.

By Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Some patients developed irregular heart beats and nearly two dozen died after taking doses daily, the researchers said. Scientists say the findings should “serve to curb the exuberant use” of the drug, touted by President Trump as a potential “game changer.” Citing a “primary outcome” of death, researchers cut short a study testing anti-malaria drug chloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 after some patients developed irregular heart beats and nearly two dozen died after taking doses daily. Scientists say the findings, published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, should prompt some degree of skepticism from the public toward enthusiastic claims and perhaps “serve to curb the exuberant use” of the drug, which has been touted by President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the coronavirus. Chloroquine gained widespread international attention following two small studies, including one with 36 Covid-19 patients published March 17 in France, found that most patients taking the drug cleared the coronavirus from their system a lot faster than the control group. The JAMA report said those trials didn’t meet the publishing society’s standards. “These weak findings, bolstered by anecdotal reports and media attention, have fostered widespread belief in the efficacy of these agents,” according to a separate warning about prescribing the drugs issued Friday alongside the JAMA study. The New York Times previously reported that the trial was halted over safety concerns, but the full details of the study weren’t revealed until they were published Friday. The research is fraught with political implications. A federal vaccine scientist who was ousted from leading an agency dealing with Covid-19 plans to file a whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation for his resistance to promoting the drugs touted by Trump, his lawyers said Thursday.

Once thought a relatively straightforward respiratory virus, covid-19 is proving to be much more frightening
By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Craig Coopersmith was up early that morning as usual and typed his daily inquiry into his phone. “Good morning, Team Covid,” he wrote, asking for updates from the ICU team leaders working across 10 hospitals in the Emory University health system in Atlanta. One doctor replied that one of his patients had a strange blood problem. Despite being put on anticoagulants, the patient was still developing clots. A second said she’d seen something similar. And a third. Soon, every person on the text chat had reported the same thing. “That’s when we knew we had a huge problem,” said Coopersmith, a critical-care surgeon. As he checked with his counterparts at other medical centers, he became increasingly alarmed: “It was in as many as 20, 30 or 40 percent of their patients.” One month ago when the country went into lockdown to prepare for the first wave of coronavirus cases, many doctors felt confident they knew what they were dealing with. Based on early reports, covid-19 appeared to be a standard variety respiratory virus, albeit a contagious and lethal one with no vaccine and no treatment. They’ve since seen how covid-19 attacks not only the lungs, but also the kidneys, heart, intestines, liver and brain. Increasingly, doctors also are reporting bizarre, unsettling cases that don’t seem to follow any of the textbooks they’ve trained on. They describe patients with startlingly low oxygen levels — so low that they would normally be unconscious or near death — talking and swiping on their phones. Asymptomatic pregnant women suddenly in cardiac arrest. Patients who by all conventional measures seem to have mild disease deteriorating within minutes and dying at home. With no clear patterns in terms of age or chronic conditions, some scientists hypothesize that at least some of these abnormalities may be explained by severe changes in patients’ blood. The concern is so acute some doctor groups have raised the controversial possibility of giving preventive blood thinners to everyone with covid-19 — even those well enough to endure their illness at home. Blood clots, in which the red liquid turns gel-like, appear to be the opposite of what occurs in Ebola, Dengue, Lassa and other hemorrhagic fevers that lead to uncontrolled bleeding. But they actually are part of the same phenomenon — and can have similarly devastating consequences. Autopsies have shown some people’s lungs fill with hundreds of microclots. Errant blood clots of a larger size can break off and travel to the brain or heart, causing a stroke or heart attack. On Saturday, Broadway actor Nick Cordero, 41, had his right leg amputated after being infected with the novel coronavirus and suffering from clots that blocked blood from getting to his toes.

By Lateshia Beachum

Italy’s first coronavirus patient traveled from Wuhan, China, to Italy in late January and was admitted to the hospital with coronavirus symptoms days later. A recently published report shows that she had detectable traces of the virus in her eyes days after it had cleared from her nose. The report demonstrates that the novel coronavirus can exist in an infected person’s eye fluids at probable contagious levels, increasing the need for people to be cognizant about their hand hygiene and to keep their hands away from their face, experts say. The 65-year-old woman, who is not named in the report, arrived in Italy on Jan. 23 after leaving the first hot spot of the virus. By Jan. 29, she was admitted to an isolation unit at an Italian hospital with a dry cough, sore throat, stuffy nose and conjunctivitis, an infection of the lining of the eye commonly known as pinkeye, in both eyes. She tested positive for the virus. Doctors collected eye swabs from the woman on her third day of admission because of her persistent conjunctivitis, and researchers found she had detectable infectious particles in her eyes. Her pinkeye cleared up by her 20th day in the hospital, but traces of genetic material from the coronavirus dallied. The woman’s eye samples tested positive for traces of the virus for up to her 21st day under care, according to the report. For about five days, it wasn’t detected, until it showed up again on Day 27 — days after it was undetectable in her nasal swabs.

By Zack Budryk

The novel coronavirus is causing strokes in some younger adults who are otherwise asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, doctors who have treated the virus said Wednesday. Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, told CNN about five partially or wholly asymptomatic coronavirus patients under the age of 50 whom he and his colleagues treated. He said the patients seemed to have suffered increased clotting in large arteries, causing severe stroke. “Our report shows a seven-fold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks. Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of Covid,” Oxley told CNN. Strokes in general and large-vessel strokes in particular are not common within the 30-40 age range. “For comparison, our service, over the previous 12 months, has treated on average 0.73 patients every 2 weeks under the age of 50 years with large vessel stroke,” Oxley and his team wrote in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, the outlet noted. He also said at least two of the patients delayed calling an ambulance, suggesting they did not make the connection to the virus and that they suspected hospitals would be too overwhelmed to treat them. Oxley said delays in such cases could prove fatal.

By Nicole Chavez, Faith Karimi and Eric Levenson, CNN

(CNN) The novel coronavirus silently spread in the United States earlier than previously thought, infecting tens of thousands of people in New York and other major cities, researchers say. A new model by the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University in Boston shows the first infections came from China in early or mid-January, and that the virus went undetected because many people were not presenting symptoms. "The disease spread under the radar," Alessandro Vespignani, director of the Network Science Institute, said on "CNN Newsroom" on Thursday. The model suggests that while Americans were still focused on China, about 28,000 people in major cities -- such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle -- were infected by March 1. The virus circulated in the community of Santa Clara County, California about three weeks before the first known US coronavirus-related death in Washington state, Dr. Sara Cody, the county's public health director, told Anderson Cooper on Thursday. Earlier this week, Santa Clara County officials announced that tissue samples confirmed two people who died in early February tested positive for coronavirus. That month, a number of physicians saw patients, without travel histories, who had flu-like symptoms. But "all indicators had suggested that it was a very low risk (for coronavirus)," Cody said. Now, however, Cody said it's obvious "the virus was circulating perhaps fairly widely in our county." Several states, including California and Indiana, have been retracing their coronavirus timelines after discovering that the highly infectious disease started killing people earlier than previously known.

By Eliott C. McLaughlin and Amara Walker, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had to have a discussion with her 12-year-old son after the pair received a racist text regarding her efforts to keep the city closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said Thursday. In a Wednesday night tweet, the mayor said she received a text addressing her by the n-word and demanding, "just shut up and RE-OPEN ATLANTA!" Her son received the same text, she later told the city council. When Bottoms opened the text on her phone, she said, her daughter was looking over her shoulder as she read it. Bottoms included in her tweet, "I pray for you. 'Conscientious stupidity or sincere ignorance'" -- a nod to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assertion that nothing is more dangerous than these two human characteristics. Following Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's controversial decision to start reopening parts of the state economy, Bottoms pushed back, saying she would consider legal options to keep Atlanta largely shut down because the city is "not out of the woods yet." "I have searched my head and my heart on this and I am at a loss as to what the governor is basing this decision on," Bottoms said earlier this week. "You have to live to fight another day, and you have to be able to be amongst the living to be able to recover."

By Allyson Chiu

When Carolyn Goodman began her week, the independent mayor of Las Vegas likely didn’t anticipate that in a matter of days she would become one of the most-talked about public officials in the national conversation surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic. Only now she is, and in the eyes of critics, for all the wrong reasons. It all stemmed from a pair of remarkable TV appearances — first on Tuesday with MSNBC’s Katy Tur and then Wednesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, in which she doubled down on her head-scratching plan to reopen the city’s casinos and hotels with no apparent guidelines in place to ensure safety. On Wednesday, Nevada’s leaders united to send the three-term mayor a pointed message: Not so fast. “We are clearly not ready to open,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) told Cooper Wednesday night, noting that the number of coronavirus-related deaths and infections in the state are still climbing. According to the most recent figures kept by the state, Nevada has more than 4,000 reported cases and 187 reported deaths. “We will rebuild our economy,” Sisolak said. “Las Vegas will continue to thrive, but I can’t do that if I lose more people. We need to protect their health and their well-being.” Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), whose district includes Las Vegas, echoed Sisolak’s comments, stressing in a separate CNN interview with host Don Lemon that lifting restrictions has to be done “the right way.” “You can’t open up too soon,” she said, because doing so could “cause death or health problems for individuals and then the economy will tank even worse and it will take us longer and be harder to come back.” Meanwhile, Nevada’s largest union issued a harsher critique, calling Goodman’s remarks “outrageous.” In a statement, the Culinary Workers Union said it has lost 11 members to the coronavirus. “Let the businesses open and competition will destroy that business if, in fact, they become evident that they have disease, they’re closed down,” Goodman, 81, told MSNBC’s Tur on Tuesday. “It’s that simple.” She swiftly went off the rails. He alternated between dramatic expressions of exasperation and bewilderment. Over the course of the interview, Goodman, who has been a vocal critic of Nevada’s lockdown order, argued that the responsibility is on businesses, not her, to find a way to open safely and appeared to suggest that she had offered her city to be a “control group” for the virus. “We offered to be a control group,” she said. “I did offer. It was turned down.” Sisolak and Titus, the Nevada representative, were also taken aback by Goodman’s apparent suggestion that Las Vegas could be a virus “control group.” “I will not allow the citizens of Nevada, our Nevadans, to be used as a control group, as a placebo, whatever she wants to call it,” Sisolak said. Later on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” Titus urged Goodman to “listen to the scientists and the health-care specialists and stop talking about my constituents as though they’re guinea pigs in some grand experiment that she’s trying to conduct.”

By Jess Bidgood Globe Staff

Donald Reed Herring, the oldest brother of Senator Elizabeth Warren, died on Tuesday night in Norman, Okla., about three weeks after testing positive for coronavirus. Herring, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was 86. Warren, who has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s halting response to the pandemic for months, has not previously revealed that her family was waging its own personal battle against the virus. She confirmed his death in a statement provided to the Globe and said the cause was coronavirus. “I’m grateful to the nurses and other front-line staff who took care of my brother, but it is hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time. And now there’s no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close,” Warren said. “I will miss my brother.” Herring was born in 1933 and attended the University of Oklahoma, but did not graduate, before enlisting in the Air Force, where he flew B-47 and B-52 bombers. He flew 288 combat missions in Vietnam, eventually becoming a B-52 squadron pilot and a squadron aircraft commander. He earned numerous decorations before retiring in 1973 as a lieutenant colonel and starting an auto-detailing business. In her statement, Warren described Herring as a natural leader with a quick, crooked smile.

By Billy House and David Westin

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a “major package” of aid for state and local government will be in the next stimulus legislation considered by Congress, setting up a conflict with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who is urging a slowdown in doling out federal help. The $484 billion aid plan set for passage by the House on Thursday is an “interim” step to mitigate some of the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, Pelosi said Wednesday on Bloomberg Television. “Now we have to go further to help state and local” governments, she said, without putting a price tag on the aid. Although President Donald Trump said Tuesday he favored aid for states, McConnell has said any funds for states and municipalities should be reviewed carefully.  “We’re going to push the pause button here, because I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said Wednesday on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio program. In the Bloomberg Television interview, Pelosi dismissed any concern about McConnell’s remarks, and she defended Democrats’ decision to back down from their initial call to include state and local funding in the interim bill awaiting a House vote Thursday. “Let me remind you, this is Mitch McConnell, who said on the floor of the Senate there is no way we will do anything but the $250 billion” to shore up a small business aid program, said Pelosi. “Now, we are up to $480” billion in this week’s bill. “This is an interim bill,” she said, adding that “the president himself has said, he as tweeted out, that was last night, that he is ready to do state and local” in the next legislation.

Treasury secretary says that larger firms would be blocked from the new program, after the first proved controversial
By Dominic Rushe and agency

The US Senate passed a near $500bn coronavirus aid package on Tuesday for small businesses, including additional help for hospitals and virus testing. “I welcome this bipartisan agreement,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday as the bill was passed. The aid package is the second for small businesses, which have been hit hard by the pandemic and shed millions of jobs. The first proved controversial, with big firms including Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House receiving millions while many small businesses missed out. Shake Shack has now handed back the $10m loan it received. Ruth’s Chris – which had revenues of $468m last year – received $20m. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said that larger firms would now be blocked from using the new program. Small businesses in hard-hit New York were skeptical that the new money would get to them in time, having missed out on the first wave of payments. “This is going to be the end of us all,” said Brian Colgan, who runs ACME, a props and furniture rental business in Brooklyn. He said none of his small business contacts had received funds. Nichelina Mavros, the co-owner of Dépanneur, a Brooklyn grocery store, said it was clear the first bailout favored big business. “Ninety eight per cent of New York businesses are small businesses. In my network, not one of them got the money.”

By Christopher Brito

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, is warning of a potentially worse second wave of coronavirus later this year. In an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday, Redfield said the outbreak could flare up again and coincide with flu season, which could set up a dangerous double whammy for the health care system. "There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," Redfield told the Post. "And when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean." "We're going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time," he added. This year's flu season is largely over, with CDC currently reporting low flu activity in the United States. While influenza viruses circulate all year, flu season typically begins between fall and winter, and the peak lasts from December to February. The numbers vary from year to year, but during the 2018-2019 flu season, the CDC estimated 35.5 million people in the U.S. got sick with influenza, 490,600 were hospitalized and 34,200 died of the illness. The first known coronavirus case in the U.S. was detected January, and since then there have been 820,000 confirmed cases in this country and more than 14,000 people have died, according to the latest data from John Hopkins University. The pandemic also put a huge strain on hospitals in many parts of the country, resulting in shortages of protective equipment and a scramble to obtain medical gear like ventilators.

The Senate majority leader expressed concern about rising deficits in an interview and said he wanted the full Senate to return before acting again.
By BURGESS EVERETT

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is drawing a line: There will be no more attempts at long-distance legislating on the coronavirus. In a telephone interview Tuesday after passage of a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill, the Senate majority leader made clear that the full Senate must be in session before Congress begins its fifth installment of responding to the pandemic. And he signaled he is growing weary of quickly shoveling billions of dollars out the door even as the economy continues to crater. The latest measure cleared the Senate by voice vote, but it was the product of days of fraught negotiations and false starts — and its success will be difficult to replicate as senators' frustrations over the extended recess pile up. McConnell said the Senate will proceed “cautiously” to the next phase of coronavirus relief despite rapidly escalating demands for more aid from members of both parties. And he said that all 100 senators need to be around before Washington spends more money on an unprecedented economic rescue of workers and businesses caught in the virus’ fallout. “You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be,” McConnell said. “We need to see how things are working, see what needs to be corrected, and I do think that the next time we pass a coronavirus rescue bill we need to have everyone here and everyone engaged.” After two weeks of bickering over McConnell’s initial proposal to send a quarter-billion dollars to revive the depleted Paycheck Protection Program, the Senate clinched a deal Tuesday providing more aid to small businesses and hospitals, and for disease testing. But it was neither easy nor pretty and the episode exposed the pitfalls of trying to legislate while the Senate is in recess. McConnell said his goal is still to bring the Senate back on May 4 despite uncertainty nationwide over the spread of a virus that has killed more than 40,000 Americans. But it’s clear that the ongoing recess is becoming untenable: Two Republican senators openly fumed on the Senate floor on Tuesday about passing bills without input from individual lawmakers of Congress. Had either objected, the bipartisan deal would have been derailed and senators would have been hauled back to D.C. “It’s time to do our job. It’s time to return to Washington and get to work,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “We can’t legislate without our members here.”

Sophisticated new research links Hannity’s coronavirus misinformation to “a greater number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.”
By Zack Beauchamp

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, media critics have warned that the decision from leading Fox News hosts to downplay the outbreak could cost lives. A new study provides statistical evidence that, in the case of Sean Hannity, that’s exactly what happened. The paper — from economists Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott — focused on Fox news programming in February and early March. At the time, Hannity’s show was downplaying or ignoring the virus, while fellow Fox host Tucker Carlson was warning viewers about the disease’s risks. Using both a poll of Fox News viewers over age 55 and publicly available data on television-watching patterns, they calculate that Fox viewers who watched Hannity rather than Carlson were less likely to adhere to social distancing rules, and that areas where more people watched Hannity relative to Carlson had higher local rates of infection and death. “Greater exposure to Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight leads to a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths,” they write. “A one-standard deviation increase in relative viewership of Hannity relative to Carlson is associated with approximately 30 percent more COVID-19 cases on March 14, and 21 percent more COVID-19 deaths on March 28.” This is a working paper; it hasn’t been peer reviewed or accepted for publication at a journal. However, it’s consistent with a wide body of research finding that media consumption in general, and Fox News viewership in particular, can have a pretty powerful effect on individual behavior. Some of this research has found, for example, that TV consumption can affect decisions as intimate as whether or not to have children. It makes sense that an older American’s favorite TV host telling them they don’t need to worry about the coronavirus would cause them to ignore stay-at-home orders and care less about thoroughly washing their hands.

By Jason Hanna and Sarah Moon, CNN

(CNN) New autopsy results show two Californians died of coronavirus in early and mid-February -- up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus. These deaths now stand as the country's earliest two attributed to the novel coronavirus, a development that may change the understanding of how early the virus was spreading in the country, health experts told CNN Wednesday. Two deaths in Northern California's Santa Clara County happened February 6 and 17, the county said Tuesday in a news release. The previously understood first coronavirus death happened on February 29 in Kirkland, Washington. The two in California had no known travel histories to China or anywhere else that would have exposed them to the virus, Dr. Sara Cody, the county's chief medical officer, told The New York Times. They are presumed to have caught the virus through community spread, she told the Times.
"That is a very significant finding," Dr. Ashish K. Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday. "Somebody who died on February 6, they probably contracted that virus early to mid-January. It takes at least two to three weeks from the time you contract the virus and you die from it." If they did not contract coronavirus through travel abroad, that also is significant, Jha said. "That means there was community spread happening in California as early as mid-January, if not earlier than that," Jha said. "We really need to now go back, look at a lot more cases from January -- even December -- and try to sort out when did we first really encounter this virus in the United States," Jha said.

African Americans account for 54% of state’s known Covid-19 deaths while Atlanta’s mayor unveils her own reopening council
By Kenya Evelyn

On Monday, Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, announced his decision to reopen the state for business. Non-essential businesses, including tattoo parlors, hair salons, movie theaters and bowling alleys, will be authorized to reopen from Friday, if they follow social distancing orders. In a state where African Americans make up more than 32% of the population but account for an estimated 54% of known coronavirus deaths, the decision pitted a white Republican governor against mostly black Democratic mayors and critics. “By trying to push a false opening of the economy, we risk putting more lives in danger,” Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who lost to Kemp in a controversial election in 2018, told MSNBC. Citing the close contact needed for grooming services, Abrams said: “There is nothing about [the measure] that makes sense.” Abrams also said the governor “did not consult with [the mayors] before making this decision”. The mayors of Savannah, Augusta and Atlanta confirmed they were not contacted before the governor’s announcement. Bo Dorough, who is white, is the mayor of Albany, a small city with a cluster of confirmed Covid-19 cases that has ravaged its mostly black community. Dorough said he only learned of the Kemp’s announcement after an aide caught the press conference on TV. “I’m flabbergasted that the governor would say we can’t take additional precautions to protect our citizens,” Dorough told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This isn’t a mixed signal. It’s a U-turn.” Citing “more than 19,000 Georgians” who have tested positive for coronavirus, Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is black, said in a statement she “will continue to urge Atlanta to stay at home, stay safe and make decisions based on the best interests of their families”.

By Elizabeth Cohen and Dr. Minali Nigam, CNN

(CNN) Coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment touted by President Trump, were no less likely to need mechanical ventilation and had higher deaths rates compared to those who did not take the drug, according to a study of hundreds of patients at US Veterans Health Administration medical centers. The study, which reviewed veterans' medical charts, was posted Tuesday on medrxiv.org, a pre-print server, meaning it was not peer reviewed or published in a medical journal. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia. In the study of 368 patients, 97 patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a 27.8% death rate. The 158 patients who did not take the drug had an 11.4% death rate. "An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone. These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs," wrote the authors, who work at the Columbia VA Health Care System in South Carolina, the University of South Carolina and the University of Virginia. Researchers also looked at whether taking hydroxychloroquine or a combination of hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, had an effect on whether a patient needed to go on a ventilator. "In this study, we found no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine, either with or without azithromycin, reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with Covid-19," the authors wrote.

By Jason Hanna and Sarah Moon, CNN

(CNN) New autopsy results show coronavirus killed two Californians in early and mid-February -- up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus. These deaths now stand as the country's first two attributed to the novel coronavirus, a development that may change the understanding of how early the virus was spreading in the country, health experts told CNN Wednesday. Two deaths in Northern California's Santa Clara County happened February 6 and February 17, the county said in a news release Tuesday. The previously understood first coronavirus death happened in Kirkland, Washington, on February 29. Dr. Sara Cody, the county's chief medical officer, told The New York Times that the two had no known travel histories to China or anywhere else that would have exposed them to the virus. They are presumed to have caught the virus through community spread, she told the Times. "That is a very significant finding," Dr. Ashish K. Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday. "Somebody who died on February 6, they probably contracted that virus early to mid-January. It takes at least two to three weeks from the time you contract the virus and you die from it." If they did not contract coronavirus through travel abroad, that also is significant, Jha said. "Therefore, that means there was community spread happening in California as early as mid-January, if not earlier than that," Jha said. "We really need to now go back, look at a lot more cases from January -- even December -- and try to sort out when did we first really encounter this virus in the United States," Jha said.

CDC confirmed Tuesday that tissue samples were positive
The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner performed autopsies on two people who died in their homes February 6 and 17 and sent samples to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county said Tuesday. The CDC confirmed Tuesday that the tissue samples tested positive for coronavirus, the county said. A third death in early March was also confirmed to be virus-related, the release said.

PEOPLE ARE DYING

The “Last Week Tonight” host took aim at the right-wing media for pushing dangerous disinformation concerning COVID-19.
By Marlow Stern

John Oliver returned to his “blank void” on Sunday night for another quarantine edition of Last Week Tonight. And the main story of the evening concerned the miniature protests that have been popping up against stay-at-home orders over COVID-19. And these little misguided protests have been thanks to the dangerous disinformation being pushed by those in the right-wing media who’ve repeatedly downplayed the danger of the novel coronavirus, which has killed over 165,000 people worldwide, including more than 41,000 in the U.S. There’s Rush Limbaugh—or “A man with millions of listeners, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and almost certainly, a room in his basement that his housekeeper isn’t allowed to go into,” cracked Oliver. On March 11, Limbaugh said on his radio program, “All of this panic just is not warranted. When I tell you… that this virus is the common cold. When I said that, it was based on the number of cases. It’s also based on the kind of virus this is. Why do you think this is COVID-19? This is the 19th coronavirus!” “OK, no Rush. Just no,” said Oliver. “It’s called that because it was first identified in 2019, you giant potato.” He wasn’t finished: “No to your stupid quarantine beard. You look like if Santa was #MeToo’d, kicked out of the North Pole, and forced to move to a condo in Tampa with all linoleum floors.” Then there’s Fox News, with host Sean Hannity calling it a “hoax” and “hysteria,” and Laura Ingraham calling Democrats “panic pushers” for warning about the potential dangers of the disease. “When people started dying, and that argument became harder to sell, the network seemed to pivot from trying to downplay the warnings to downplaying the deaths,” Oliver explained, before throwing to Dr. Phil (yes, really), who said on Fox News, “The fact of the matter is…365,000 people [die] from swimming pools but we don’t shut the country down for that!”


Yes, Africans are being evicted in China amid fear of second COVID-19 wave. Some Africans living in China are being evicted from their homes amid fears of a second wave of the coronavirus in the country where it originated. Social media posts about about the matter caught our attention, including this video shared on Facebook: "Africans living in China now being forced to sleep outside in the cold," reads the caption at the top. A narrator in the video states that "Africans have become subject of racial profiling" as "Chinese nationals blame them for the rising number of ner coronavirus cases in the country." The video, which carries a logo from The Savoy Show on it and appears to be a news story, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) However, in this case, it is accurate. Africans in at least one Chinese city are facing widespread evictions and discrimination related to COVID-19 fears. Numerous legitimate news reports describe such targeted evictions, stemming from fears of another COVID-19 outbreak, in the southern China city of Guangzhou. Home to many Africans, Guangzhou has long been one of China’s main commercial and trading centers. One report cited a case in which a police officer accompanied a landlord on an eviction of an African. Black residents in a part of Guangzhou known as "Little Africa" are being forced to remain inside their apartments — even if they have not traveled anywhere that would warrant a quarantine — and submit to coronavirus tests, the Washington Post reported. Chinese officials say they are trying to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus, focusing on foreigners, according to Al Jazeera. President Xi Jinping urged authorities to carefully watch for imported cases from ​other countries, state news agency Xinhua reported. But China has denied racism in the effort. But the actions are widespread enough, according to the Associated Press, that African officials are confronting China over racist treatment of Africans, including Africans being ejected from hotels in the middle of the night.

By christina capatides

Speaking with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday, TV doctor Mehmet Oz ignited a social media firestorm by saying that reopening America's schools presented an "appetizing opportunity" because it might only kill 2% to 3% of the population. "We need our mojo back," Oz said. "Let's start with things that are really critical to the nation, where we think we might be able to open without getting into a lot of trouble. I tell you schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet [medical journal] arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2-3% in terms of total mortality. And you know, any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they're safely being educated and being fed and making the most out of their lives with a theoretical risk on the backside, it might be a tradeoff some folks would consider." The population of the United States is just over 328 million, so to lose 2-3% of the population would mean anywhere between 6.56 million and 9.84 million deaths. The backlash on Twitter was swift and fierce, propelling the hashtag #FireDrOz into the platform's top trending phrases for hours.

BBC News

US State Department cables show that embassy officials were worried about biosecurity at a virus lab in Wuhan, China. The lab is in the same city where the coronavirus outbreak first came to the world's attention. And President Donald Trump has said the US government is looking into unverified reports that the virus escaped from a laboratory.

By Michael Blake and Nathalie Molina Niño

Walking down an eerily quiet Bourbon Street or Woodward Avenue, through Hyde Park or, in our case, the streets of New York City, the familiar is now unrecognizable. That is, until we spot signs of life spilling out of Guzman's bodega or see that Beatstro has been repurposed to serve first responders. More than ever, these businesses are lifelines, especially in places hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, like the Bronx. Never has the link between human health and business health been more evident. Small family businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color are providing essential supplies, even as they face extinction. If we ever doubted the life-saving relationship between black- and brown-owned businesses and the people they serve, it's impossible to miss that reality now. Yet we and our businesses are under attack—and many are dying. Whether we're wearing surgical scrubs, a prison jumpsuit or a bus driver uniform, the data is screaming one thing: If you're black or brown, you're being left to die. City after city is reporting black and Latino people are consistently overrepresented among the dead. The COVID-19 pandemic is, like many tragedies, a magnifying glass over structural inequity that is generations' old. Today's leaders may not be responsible for legacy structures, like red lining or Jim Crow. But sadly, the CARES Act's failure to ensure funding is deployed into communities of color, where the impact and thus the need is greatest, puts our generation dangerously close to building new, equally deadly structures. When banks are allowed to limit their customers to existing lending clients, black business owners, who have been historically rejected at more than double the rate of white applicants on all types of loans, are the primary ones excluded. This systematic exclusion, if not corrected with bold policies, will result in a mass extinction of generations of businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color. What's worse? That failure is guaranteed to exacerbate the abysmal health outcomes we're seeing. We cannot ignore that business collapse threatens human survival.

By Josh Campbell, CNN

(CNN) It was described as the "magic bullet" to protect against the deadly coronavirus -- a "remarkable clinical phenomenon" that could cure the disease within hours. In the words of San Diego physician Jennings Staley, the drug hydroxychloroquine​, approved to treat conditions ranging from malaria to lupus, was "almost too good to be true." On his website advertising the product, Staley -- whose practice includes Botox injections, tattoo removal, oxygen therapy, and fat transfer -- cited President Donald Trump's recent promotion of a French study claiming hydroxychloroquine had overwhelmingly positive results in the fight against Covid-19​, according to federal prosecutors. The doctor would soon be charged with a federal crime. According to federal authorities, comments by the Southern California doctor about the drug's remarkable capabilities were recorded during a phone call with a concerned father of three, who contacted Staley inquiring how he could protect his family from contracting Covid-19. In reality, the man on the other end of the line was an undercover FBI agent conducting an investigation into possible health care fraud. According to a federal criminal complaint filed ​Thursday and obtained by CNN, the FBI launched an undercover operation and made contact with the doctor in early April after receiving a tip from the public indicating Staley was attempting to sell "Covid-19 Treatment Packs" ​to the public. In an advertising email message reviewed by the FBI, Staley's purported medical package included dosages of hydroxychloroquine, antibacterial drug Azithromycin, antianxiety treatments, intravenous drips, and the use of a medical hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Staley offered to sell the items as a family pack for $3,995, according to the criminal complaint. During the recorded phone call with an FBI agent posing as a customer, Staley indicated the drug hydroxychloroquine "cures the disease" associated with coronavirus, according to the complaint. Staley also told the agent he had received a tank of hydroxychloroquine that had been smuggled out of China. He said he was able to trick US Customs and Border Protection by listing the material as sweet potato extract, according to the complaint. At one point, the undercover agent asked Staley, "If I'm hearing you right, if I buy these kits from you, then that's going to pretty much guarantee that neither my kids, my dad, my wife -- any of us -- get sick. And if we are, it's going to cure us, right?" "Guaranteed," Staley replied, according to the complaint. In a follow-up call, the doctor allegedly told the undercover FBI agent he would also sell him Viagra and Xanax, a Category IV controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. A package containing the medication was received by the FBI on April 9. In the criminal complaint, an FBI agent said Staley's sale of Xanax during the undercover operation suggests he "is routinely distributing this controlled substance without any sort of medical examination or demonstration of need." The Controlled Substances Act requires that prescribed medication must be for a legitimate medical purpose, the complaint noted.

By Hannah Osborne

The coronavirus outbreak could have started as early as mid-September, and the Chinese city of Wuhan may not be where it began, a scientist looking at the origins of the disease has said. Geneticist Peter Forster, from the U.K.'s University of Cambridge, is leading a research project to understand the historical processes that led to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, they hope to identify the first person who got the virus and served as the source for the initial outbreak. By analyzing networks, they have so far been able to chart the spread of the virus, including the genetic mutations, as it moved from China to Australia, Europe and the rest of the world. They have created a network analysis using over 1,000 coronavirus genomes. This includes patient infection date and the "type" of virus the person was infected with. There are three types—A, B and C. A is closest to the coronavirus found in bats and is thought to be the original human virus genome. This type was found in Chinese and American individuals, with mutated versions in patients from Australia and the U.S. However, A was not the virus type found in most cases in Wuhan, the city in China where COVID-19 was first identified. Instead, most people there had type B. Researchers suggest there was a "founder event" for type B in Wuhan. Type C, the "daughter" of type B, is what was identified in early cases in Europe, as well as South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong—but appears absent from mainland China. Based on the data Forster and his colleagues have collected, the coronavirus outbreak appears to have started between September 13 and December 7. "This assumes a constant mutation rate, which is admittedly unlikely to be the case, and the time estimate could therefore be wrong," he told Newsweek. "But it is the best assumption we can make at the moment, pending analysis of further patient samples stored in hospitals during 2019." He said it is possible the outbreak did not originate in Wuhan, as until January 17, almost all the isolates were type B. In Guangdong, a province about 500 miles from Wuhan, seven of the 11 isolates were type A. "These case numbers are small because few genomes are available for the early stage of the outbreak, before the Chinese New Year travel pre-January 25 would have started mixing patterns up geographically," Forster said. He and colleagues published research into their network in PNAS on April 8.

By Michael Warren, CNN

Washington (CNN) The test results came back on Easter Sunday. Tammy had been feeling "kind of crappy" when she went to her doctor in rural southeastern Oklahoma last week. A sign of possible pneumonia prompted her to get a coronavirus test later that day at the McCurtain County Health Department in Idabel. When it came back positive, Tammy, who spoke on the condition that CNN not use her last name to protect her privacy, had already quarantined herself. Isolated, she decided to write her governor, Kevin Stitt, the first-term Republican and one of just 8 governors in the US to resist issuing a statewide stay-at-home-order. Tammy had voted for Stitt but she didn't agree with his decision. Her message to him was simple: "Shut this mess down." Just as cases are starting to plateau in some big cities and along the coasts, the coronavirus is catching fire in rural states across the American heartland, where there has been a small but significant spike this week in cases. Playing out amid these outbreaks is a clash between a frontier culture that values individual freedom and personal responsibility, and the onerous but necessary restrictions to contain a novel biological threat. The bump in coronavirus cases is most pronounced in states without stay at home orders. Oklahoma saw a 53% increase in cases over the past week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Over same time, cases jumped 60% in Arkansas, 74% in Nebraska, and 82% in Iowa. South Dakota saw a whopping 205% spike. The remaining states, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming each saw an increase in cases, but more in line with other places that have stay-at-home orders. And all of those numbers may very well undercount the total cases, given a persistent lack of testing across the US. This trend undermines the notion perpetuated by President Donald Trump and some of his Republican allies that the restrictive social-distancing measures aren't necessary in rural America -- and that these states even offer a model for reopening the country. "If you look at Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota -- that's a lot different than New York, it's a lot different than New Jersey," Trump said at Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing, adding that 29 states are "in that ballgame" of being ready to be reopened first. "We have large sections of the country right now that can start thinking about opening," Trump added.

A 'mythic story' of rural-urban divide
Laura Bellis, a progressive activist in Tulsa who has been a leading voice urging Oklahoma to adopt and enforce a stay-at-home policy, said she believes the resistance to such orders is grounded in a false view of an urban-rural divide. "There's a mythic story that they have really different needs, when we're much more inextricably linked than that," Bellis told CNN. The governors of the holdout states frequently invoke middle-American, conservative values when defending their decisions not to issue stay-at-home orders. South Dakota's Republican governor Kristi Noem has said her office has "trusted South Dakotans to exercise personal responsibility." And Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska defended his call for voluntary social distancing as opposed to a stay-at-home order.

On April 14, the Chinese state-owned Global Times published an article headlined: “’No discrimination’ against Africans amid pandemic.”

“The controversy over suspected maltreatment and discrimination against Africans in Guangzhou has made headlines on Chinese social media platforms and caused many Chinese authorities, including the Guangzhou government, China's Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassies in African countries, to respond, reiterating China's firm stance to equally treat foreigners and domestic residents,” the article begins. The article quotes a “social worker who helps foreign residents in Guangzhou's Yuexiu district” denying discrimination against Africans in the city. “There's no such discrimination against the African community,” the anonymous social worker is quoted as saying. The portrayal of “no discrimination” is false. Guangzhou is one of China’s largest cities, with nearly 13 million residents. It is certainly possible that the unnamed social worker did not personally see evidence of discrimination against Africans in the district. However, African workers and students have given interviews, made videos, and taken photographs documenting numerous instances of behaviors that they believe amount to racial discrimination or harassment. African immigrants and expats began moving into Guangzhou in the 1990’s, as China began to experience an economic boom. In 2000, the government launched an outreach campaign to African nations. The city attracted many African entrepreneurs, and by 2012 its African expatriate community was estimated at 100,000, the largest of its kind in China. However, CNN reported in 2016 that thousands of Africans were starting to leave the city. While the reasons cited were primarily economic, racism from locals was also mentioned. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, African expats and students have reported being evicted from their apartments by landlords, banned from restaurants and forced to undergo COVID-19 testing regardless of their travel history. U.S. news outlets like CNN and the Voice of America, as well as African media outlets, have reported on these incidents.

"It just made us feel like they are valuing the lives of the doctors more than the nurses."
By Emmanuel Felton

Ten nurses at a California hospital have been placed on administrative leave after each refused to continue to work with coronavirus patients until they received face masks known as N95 respirators. Chelsea Halmy, one of the nurses who was suspended, told BuzzFeed News she spoke up about the lack of personal protective equipment on Saturday and isn't sure when she'll be allowed back to work at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. N95 respirators are designed to filter out 95% of particles in the air and provide the best protection against the coronavirus for health care workers. At Providence Saint John’s, nurses say they have been given much more porous surgical masks while the N95s have been saved for doctors. "We spend significantly more time with these patients than doctors," Halmy said. "It just made us feel like they are valuing the lives of the doctors more than the nurses." Halmy, who started her nursing career in the fall, requested an N95 mask when she reported to her night shift on Saturday, but she was denied. She then told the charge nurse that she wouldn't be working with coronavirus patients without one. Soon, senior management appeared with a form for Halmy to sign. "Failure to accept a direct order is a violation of our Hospital policy and is considered insubordination," the notice read. "In addition, we would need to consider if it is reportable to your licensing body as patient abandonment or other professional misconduct." But Halmy wrote her side of the story on the notice. "I don't want to leave, I want to stay and take care of my patients," she wrote. "However, I do not feel safe and would like an N95 mask."

By Konstantin Toropin and Daniel Burke, CNN

(CNN) A lawsuit accuses evangelical powerhouse Liberty University of profiting from the coronavirus pandemic by drastically reducing campus services but not refunding fees paid by students for those services. The university, led by Jerry Falwell Jr., a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, has been criticized by some students and at least one professor for keeping the school's campus open, while most other colleges and universities have closed. But Liberty's campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, is effectively shut down, according to the lawsuit. Like many universities, Liberty has moved all classes to online sessions, closed its recreation centers, migrated convocations and religious services online, canceled student activities, suspended team sports and closed the campus to visitors. The school said it has prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people and converted food service to take-out meals only. Liberty University, which boasts a student body of 100,000, including online students, according to its website, has so far offered "certain students who have opted to move from the residence halls" a credit of $1,000 toward the fall semester, according to a statement. But the lawsuit says students who won't return to school in the fall, excluding graduating students, will not receive the credit, and that students had to indicate they wanted the credit by March 28. "This pandemic has already placed tremendous financial strain on many of Liberty's students and their families," said Adam Levitt, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, "and the fact that Mr. Falwell would disingenuously keep the campus open as a pretext for holding onto student fees while putting their finances and health at risk is a stark illustration of where his true priorities lie." The class-action lawsuit was filed Monday by "Student A," who, according to her lawyers, chose to remain anonymous "out of fear of retaliation and harassment." The student is seeking unspecified damages "to be proven at trial." In their statement, Student A's attorneys said student fees for the 2019-2020 academic year, minus tuition for the classes students continue to take online, range from $9,200 to $16,000.


SINGAPORE - A Chinese study has suggested that air-conditioning may help spread the coronavirus. The study, published on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and approved by the Ethics Committee of the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at 10 coronavirus cases from three families who ate at a restaurant at the same time in Guangzhou, China. It found that droplet transmission may have been propelled by the restaurant's air-conditioning across three tables, infecting other diners. The index patient arrived from Wuhan in late January and dined at the restaurant with three family members. There were two other families at adjacent tables less than a metre away. Later that day, the index patient developed a fever and cough, and went to the hospital where he tested positive. By early February, a total of nine others from the three families became ill with the virus. The only known source of exposure among the three families was the index patient at the restaurant. The study determined that the coronavirus was transmitted to one member of each of the other two families at the restaurant, and that further infections resulted from intra-family transmission. The windowless restaurant had an air-conditioning vent on one side of the room, and a vent on the other. The three families dined in the restaurant for around an hour in close proximity. Among the 83 customers that day, 10 became ill with Covid-19; the other 73 were identified as close contacts and quarantined for 14 days. During that time, both the air-conditioner and the quarantined customers tested negative for coronavirus. The study found that virus transmission in this outbreak could not be explained by droplet transmission alone. "Larger respiratory droplets remain in the air for only a short time and travel only short distances, generally. The distances between the index patient and persons at other tables were all less than 1m."

By Harper Neidig

A student has filed a class-action lawsuit against Liberty University over the school's response to the coronavirus crisis, seeking refunds of thousands of dollars of tuition paid for the spring semester. A plaintiff identified only as "Student A," citing a fear of retaliation and harassment, accuses the school and its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., of downplaying the crisis and refusing to refund fees for services that are no longer available. "Liberty University is, in a very real sense, profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic—keeping its campus and campus services ‘open’ as a pretext to retain Plaintiff’s and the other Class members’ room, board and campus fees, despite no longer having to incur the full cost of providing those services, all the while putting students’ finances and health at risk," the student's lawsuit reads. Like many schools across the country, the Lynchburg, Va., university has moved all its classes online and shuttered much of its campus. But the lawsuit accused the school of a "glacially slow" response to the pandemic that put its students at risk. After weeks of downplaying the crisis and defying public health warnings, Liberty University finally moved its courses online March 23, 11 days after the governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency. But the school told students that it would keep the campus open to allow school housing residents to remain and use dining and other facilities.

By Angelo Fichera

Quick Take
A TV station’s report on a Michigan fine for those violating the state’s social distancing orders showed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a signing ceremony with an intimate crowd of people — prompting accusations of hypocrisy on social media. But the footage used was from January 2019.

Full Story
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced an emergency order on April 2 implementing a civil fine of up to $1,000 for those violating the state’s social distancing requirements related to COVID-19. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, however, did not sign that order at a crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder ceremony, as a viral screenshot of a TV news report suggests. The screenshot includes an image of Whitmer with an intimate group behind her and a chyron that reads: “State emergency order calls for fines up to $1,000 for ignoring social distancing.” But the footage used was actually from the start of Whitmer’s term, in January 2019, and dealt with an executive directive that had nothing to do with the novel coronavirus — as the station behind the report has since acknowledged. Across social media platforms, the report’s misleading juxtaposition of the footage and headline has fueled false claims of hypocrisy as posts of the screenshot have racked up tens of thousands of shares and likes.

Analysis by Nathan Hodge, CNN

(CNN) World leaders have been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, and Vladimir Putin is no exception: On Monday, the Russian President held a videoconference from his official residence outside Moscow with some of the officials leading the government's efforts to tackle the disease. It was an unusually somber meeting. Less than a month ago, Putin had radiated confidence about his government's response to a growing global crisis, reassuring his citizens that the situation was "under control" thanks to early intervention measures. A few weeks later, Putin played the role of international rescuer, dispatching a planeload of medical supplies to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. How quickly things can change in the time of coronavirus. In his Monday videoconference, Putin took stock of a worsening situation. "We have a lot of problems," Putin said. "There is nothing to boast about, and we must not let our guard down, because in general, as you and your specialists say, we have not passed the peak of the epidemic yet." The trendline speaks for itself. While Russia has comparatively few cases compared with the United States or the hardest-hit European countries, the number of confirmed cases has surged in recent days. On Monday, Russia reported a record one-day rise in cases, with 2,558 confirmed over the previous 24 hours. On Tuesday, Russia hit a fresh record: 2,774 confirmed cases. And Putin is coming in for serious criticism over his handling of the crisis. In a recent essay, Tatiana Stanovaya of the Carnegie Moscow Center said the coronavirus pandemic had underscored Putin's isolation from ordinary Russians. "One of the main topics today is why Putin is almost imperceptible in the coronavirus situation," she wrote. "He only addressed the nation briefly twice and went to the [coronavirus] hospital in Kommunarka, but he neither gave his own assessments of the crisis nor proposed a plan of action, but limited himself to scattered measures and general words. No drama, empathy or attempts to mobilize." Putin, Stanovaya argued, does not wish to be associated with harsh or unpopular measures, leaving such chores to local subordinates. In the case of the coronavirus, the task of rolling out some of the most heavy-handed restrictions has fallen to Sergey Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow. The Russian capital has been the hardest hit by the virus. Officially, Russia has 21,102 cases, according to the government's official tracking website, and the death toll has reached 170. Around half of the country's recorded cases -- 11,513 -- are in Moscow, and 82 Muscovites have died. Sobyanin has taken the lead in enforcing lockdown measures, including the introduction of a controversial digital tracking system designed to keep residents indoors.

By Dan Lamothe

A U.S. sailor assigned to an aircraft carrier crippled by the coronavirus died on Monday, the Navy said, marking the first death of an active-duty service member caused by the virus as confirmed cases among the crew climbed to at least 585. The sailor, who was not immediately identified, had been moved to an intensive care unit last week after being found unresponsive Thursday at Naval Base Guam. The sailor had tested positive for the virus on March 30 and was placed in isolation, Navy officials said in a statement. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said in a statement that the Defense Department is saddened by the loss of its first active-duty member to covid-19. “Our thoughts are with the family of the USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who lost his battle with the virus today,” he said. “We remain committed to protecting our personnel and their families while continuing to assist in defeating this outbreak.” Adm. Mike Gilday, the Navy’s chief of naval operations, said in a statement that the service stands alongside the sailor’s loved ones and shipmates as they grieve. “This is a great loss for the ship and for our Navy,” Gilday said. "My deepest sympathy goes out to the family, and we pledge our full support to the ship and crew as they continue their fight against the coronavirus. While our ships, submarines and aircraft are made of steel, Sailors are the real strength of our Navy.” The USS Theodore Roosevelt, carrying more than 4,800 crew members, pulled into port on the island on March 27, and the Navy has been under intense scrutiny for how it handled the spread of the virus. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, the ship’s commanding officer, was removed from his job after sending a memo to senior Navy officials late last month that sounded an alarm about how slowly the service was responding to the outbreak.

QAnon is spreading harmful misinformation about COVID-19.
By Marc-André Argentino

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

First there was the pandemic, then came the "infodemic" — a term the head of the World Health Organization defines as the spread of false information about COVID-19. The most dangerous conspiracy theories about the coronavirus are now part of the QAnon phenomenon. For months now, actors in QAnon have downplayed the severity of the crisis, amplified medical disinformation and have been originators of hoaxes. The QAnon movement started in 2017 after someone using an anonymous account known only as Q posted wild conspiracy theories about U.S. President Donald Trump on the internet forum 4chan. QAnon conspiracy theorists believe a deep state cabal of global elites is responsible for all the evil in the world. They also believe those same elites are seeking to bring down Trump, whom they see as the world's only hope to defeat the deep state. QAnon has now brought the same conspiracy mentality to the coronavirus crisis. As a researcher of online movements like QAnon, I use a combination of data science and digital ethnography to research how extremist movements use technology to create propaganda, recruit members to ideological causes, inspire acts of violence or impact democratic institutions.

Bottom-up approach
A central component of QAnon is the crowdsourcing of narratives. This bottom-up approach provides a fluid and ever changing ideology. My analysis of Twitter shows from January to March, there was a 21 per cent increase (a total of 7,683,414 posts) in hashtags used by the QAnon community. This means the misinformation they spread has the capacity to reach a wider audience. For instance, QAnon community influencers on Twitter promoted Miracle Mineral Supplement as a way of preventing COVID-19. The toxic product was sold by the Texas-based Genesis II Church of Health and Healing for US$45. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had previously issued a warning about the dangerous and potentially life threatening side effects of the supplement. In January, QAnon was amplifying narratives on 8kun (the internet forum formally known as 8chan), Facebook and Telegram (an encrypted instant messaging plaform) about a false theory that Asians were more susceptible to the coronavirus and that white people were immune to COVID-19. Not only are there racist undertones associated with this disinformation, it minimizes the threat posed by the virus.

Downplayed threat
From February until the second week of March, QAnon followed the lead of Trump in downplaying the threat of the virus and calling it a hoax. They believed the virus was a deep state plot to damage the president's chance at re-election. The QAnon community said those warning about the pandemic threat were trying to detract from U.S. domestic politics, stop Trump rallies and remove all the economic gains they contended had occurred during the Trump presidency.

Move is likely to be part of attempt to control the narrative surrounding the pandemic
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Emma Graham-Harrison and Lily Kuo

China is cracking down on publication of academic research about the origins of the novel coronavirus, in what is likely to be part of a wider attempt to control the narrative surrounding the pandemic, documents published online by Chinese universities appear to show. Two websites for leading Chinese universities appear to have recently published and then removed pages that reference a new policy requiring academic papers dealing with Covid-19 to undergo extra vetting before they are submitted for publication. Research on the origins of the virus is particularly sensitive and subject to checks by government officials, the notices posted on the websites of Fudan University and the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) said. Both the deleted pages were accessed from online caches. Prof Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, said the Chinese government had had a heavy focus on how the evolution and management of the virus is perceived since the early days of the outbreak. “In terms of priority, controlling the narrative is more important than the public health or the economic fallout,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the economy and public health aren’t important. But the narrative is paramount.” With the virus having infected more than a million people worldwide and caused heavy casualties particularly across Europe and the US, details about its origin and the first weeks of the pandemic – when there was a cover-up by local officials – may be considered particularly sensitive. “If these documents are authentic it would suggest the government really wants to control the narrative about the origins of Covid-19 very tightly,” said Tsang of the reports of new regulations. China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) appears to have published and then deleted new requirements that academic papers dealing with the origins of the virus be approved by China’s ministry of science and technology before publication. The university’s academic committee was expected to first go through the research “with an emphasis on checking the accuracy of the thesis, as well as whether it is suitable for publication,” the regulation said. “When the checks have been completed, the school should report to the Ministry of Science and Technology [MOST], and it should only be published after it has [also] been checked by MOST,” it said. Despite its name, the geosciences university announced elsewhere on its website that it was carrying out coronavirus research.

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) - A handful of holdout U.S. churches plan to hold in-person services on Easter Sunday, saying their right to worship in person outweighs public health officials’ warnings against holding large gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak. Most U.S. churches are expected to be closed on Sunday, and a broad majority of observant Americans are expected to follow authorities’ recommendations to avoid crowds to limit the spread of the potentially lethal COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. “Satan and a virus will not stop us,” said the Reverend Tony Spell, 42, pastor of the evangelical Life Tabernacle Church near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He expects a crowd of more than 2,000 to gather in worship at his megachurch on Sunday. “God will shield us from all harm and sickness,” Spell said in an interview. “We are not afraid. We are called by God to stand against the Antichrist creeping into America’s borders. We will spread the Gospel.” The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 14,700 lives across the United States and infected more than 431,700 people, with officials predicting the worst is yet to come. Major U.S. religious institutions, including Roman Catholic dioceses and major Protestant denominations, will hold religious services online as well as through local broadcast radio and television, with just a handful of ministers and priests preaching sermons and reading liturgies to rows of empty pews. Indeed, some major religious-liberty legal advocacy groups, whose mission is to challenge restrictions on freedom of religion, have not raised objections to the closures, saying churches have been treated the same as other major institutions and that safety comes first. In Idaho, Ammon Bundy, who has led multiple standoffs against authorities in acts of protest against the federal government, plans to gather hundreds of people for an Easter observance, in defiance of public health advice, according to multiple media reports. Another holdout church, the evangelical Cross Culture Center in Lodi, California, about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of San Francisco, plans another service even after its members found their church doors locked against them last weekend.

The Republican offensive came a day after Democrats said bipartisan talks were set to begin with the Trump administration.
By MARIANNE LEVINE

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed Saturday morning to refuse Democratic demands in the GOP’s push for more aid to small businesses. “Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril,” McConnell (R-Ky.) and McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a joint statement.  Their comments, coming a day after Democratic leaders said the Trump administration would begin bipartisan talks over the interim relief bill, suggest an end to the deadlock remains far off. Senate Republicans on Thursday attempted to pass an additional $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a small-business fund established in the $2 trillion rescue package that is projected to run out of money soon. Senate Democrats blocked the effort and sought approval for an alternative plan that would provide money for the small business fund as well as additional funds for local governments and hospitals. McConnell rejected that measure on the floor as well. The two Republican leaders reiterated Saturday that they will only support an increase in funding for the small business program and warned it has already used up about half of its funding in its first week. They said Democrats should wait for negotiations on a broader package in the coming weeks to address other issues.

By Daniel Politi

The World Health Organization said it is investigating reports out of South Korea that some patients who had recovered from the coronavirus tested positive again after initially testing negative for COVID-19. On Friday, South Korea officials said 91 patients who were thought to have recovered from the coronavirus tested positive again. Health officials in South Korea are speculating that these may be cases in which the virus was reactivated rather than people having been infected again. “While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.” The WHO said it was aware of the reports and wanted more information to try to figure out what they mean. “We are aware of these reports of individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and then after some days testing positive again,” the WHO said in a statement. “We are closely liaising with our clinical experts and working hard to get more information on those individual cases. It is important to make sure that when samples are collected for testing on suspected patients, procedures are followed properly.” According to the WHO guidelines, a COVID-19 patient can be discharged from the hospital after testing negative for the coronavirus in two separate tests given at least 24 hours apart. Some experts say that the key may be whether the patients have symptoms. “If you don’t have symptoms but have a positive test, it may be that you have dead virus that’s still being picked up, but you can’t transmit,” ABC medical contributor and infectious diseases physician Todd Ellerin said.

By Matt Keeley

Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, announced Friday afternoon that he planned to sign an executive order that would lift the coronavirus lockdown in a "safe" way, allowing businesses to reopen. The announcement is likely sharpen debate in the United States over how long Americans should endure crippling economic restrictions to contain a pandemic that has claimed more than 10,000 lives. The medical community and many Democrats have argued for extended closures to reduce infection rates. The business community and many Republicans want to end the deepest recession since the Great Depression before it does lasting economic damage. Abbott said Texas, which would be the world's 11th largest economy it were an independent country, could find a balance between personal safety and economic security. Though Gov. Abbott didn't reveal details about the executive order, he said he's looking into ways to reopen Texas businesses. He promised that details about the executive order will be available next week, but it is expected to provide businesses with a list of guidelines on how to safely reopen. "We will focus on protecting lives while restoring livelihoods," Abbott said. "We can and we must do this. We can do both, expand and restore the livelihoods that Texans want to have by helping them return to work. One thing about Texans, they enjoy working and they want to get back into the workforce. We have to come up with strategies on how we can do this safely." "We will operate strategically," Abbott added. "If we do it too fast without appropriate strategies, it will lead to another potential closure." Newsweek reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for comment.

By Adam Rawnsley

Suspected Russian government trolls are trying to pin the COVID-19 pandemic on the Pentagon; hyping Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy theories about collusion between Democrats and Ukraine; and trying to meddle in European elections, an investigation by The Daily Beast reveals. Working with researchers from the disinformation-tracking firm Graphika, The Daily Beast found at least 20 fake news articles pushed by over 40 suspected Kremlin-backed personas across dozens of social media networks like Facebook, Reddit, Medium, and smaller web forums. “This looks like a Russian disinformation operation we call ‘Secondary Infektion’ that's been running for years,” said Ben Nimmo, director of investigations at Graphika, who has been investigating the operation since Facebook exposed a first set of accounts in May 2019. “It uses blogging platforms as the soft underbelly of the internet, planting false stories based on forged documents or leaks that never happened. The fakes mostly appear designed to trigger tensions between European countries, or between Europe and the United States, but they were generally too clumsy to be believed.” Nimmo and other disinformation researchers first identified the Secondary Infektion campaign in 2019, which uses forgeries and fake articles to push Moscow-friendly propaganda through fictional personas. The troll personas and articles identified by The Daily Beast followed the same Secondary Infektion pattern identified by Graphika and others. Trolls would set up one-time-use accounts at a handful of outlets in specific places—from obscure forums like the DebatePolitics and DefendingTheTruth to larger platforms like Medium and Reddit—and post articles and forgeries in broken English just minutes after creating their accounts. The cluster of personas and articles identified by The Daily Beast date back through 2016. They add to a growing body of evidence that shows Russian information operations didn’t stop after Moscow’s interference in the last presidential campaign, but rather continued on, spreading to other countries. The trolls in this campaign forged letters and screenshots in an attempt to meddle in elections in Sweden and Latvia, touted Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine conspiracy theories, and tried to sow confusion about a former suspect in the leak of NSA hacking tools.

Pinning COVID-19 on the Pentagon
As COVID-19 ravaged China and began to spread around the globe, the State Department issued cryptic warnings in February and March that Russia was trying to pin the virus on the U.S. both through its overt and covert propaganda organs. In one February briefing, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker called out the propaganda campaign in vague terms and claimed that Moscow was "once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response" with a COVID-19 disinformation campaign. American diplomats offered no specifics, but just a few days before Reeker’s briefing, a fake story bearing the hallmarks of Secondary Infektion trolls surfaced in Russian-language blogging platforms. The story, posted to Russian-language blogs and Reddit by multiple fake personas, tries to pin the blame on the COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S. and Kazakhstan by casting the virus as the byproduct of a U.S. nonproliferation program in the country. The trolls pointed to social media posts by a group of hackers calling themselves “Anonymous Kazakhstan.”

By Andrew Feinberg

President Donald Trump on Thursday said a widespread COVID-19 testing program to assess whether workers can safely return to their workplaces is "never going to happen" in the United States.

As he addressed reporters during the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump touted the fact that 2 million Americans had been tested for the virus as a "milestone" in the U.S. fight against the global pandemic caused by SARS-Cov-2. The 2 million tests that have been administered so far represents a high water mark after weeks of problems in obtaining and administering tests caused by the Trump administration's rejection of a test developed by the World Health Organization. However, that number means only .61 percent of the 330 million U.S. population has been tested for COVID-19. That's a paltry number compared to many other countries which have implemented testing programs. Italy, for example, has administered tests to approximately 1.4 percent of its population, and South Korea, which flattened its infection curve with widespread testing, has reached .9 percent of its population. Most public health experts have stressed the need for the U.S. to significantly expand its testing program, both with currently available tests to determine whether a given person is infected with SARS-Cov-2, and with so-called "antibody tests" to determine whether a person has successfully fought off the virus and is therefore immune to it. - If you do not have mass testing how do you know who has it and who does not? If you do not have mass testing you will have a second wave of infection.

Republican Ron DeSantis falsely claimed COVID-19 had not killed a single person under the age of 25 in the U.S.
By Lee Moran

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) faced backlash on Thursday after he falsely claimed that no one in the U.S. under the age of 25 had died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. “This particular pandemic is one where, I don’t think, nationwide there’s been one single fatality under 25, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t seem to threaten, you know, kids,” DeSantis told educators during a meeting about distance learning during the pandemic. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on its website that one infant and four people aged 15 to 24 are confirmed to have died from the disease in the U.S. The deaths of infants in Illinois and Connecticut have also reportedly been linked to COVID-19. Check out the video

By Maegan Vazquez and Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump said Thursday that there have been more than two million coronavirus tests conducted in the United States but conceded that mass testing is not going to happen. "I'm reporting today that we passed two million tests completed in the United States," Trump said during the White House coronavirus task force's news briefing, adding that the tests are "highly sophisticated and highly accurate." The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism for the lack of a testing system across the country to identify coronavirus patients and track the spread of the outbreak. While testing has ramped up in recent weeks, the lack of an aggressive testing regimen early in the outbreak led to accusations that the government missed a chance to reduce the speed and scale of the pandemic in the US. The US now leads the world in the number of reported cases. As many people with symptoms consistent with coronavirus struggle to get tested -- including health care workers such as nurses -- it's still not clear how the country will emerge from its current state. Many states are operating under stay-at-home orders and the federal government is recommending strict social distancing guidelines in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Trump conceded to CNN's Jim Acosta that there will not be mass coronavirus testing for all Americans when the country goes back to work. - If you do not have mass testing how do you know who has it and who does not? If you do not have mass testing you will have a second wave of infection.

By Kevin Breuninger

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday complained about the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. “How confident am I of federal responsibility and action? Not that confident,” Cuomo said as he left a daily press briefing in Albany on the virus. Cuomo’s criticism came after he announced that COVID-19 deaths in New York reached a daily record for the third straight day with 799 fatalities, and after he said that the $2 trillion federal relief bill does even less for his state than he thought. He compared the economic and humanitarian crisis in New York to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the city, which felled the twin towers of the World Trade Center and killed nearly 3,000 people. “9/11 was so devastating, so tragic, and then in many ways we lose so many New Yorkers to this silent killer,” Cuomo said, “that just ripples through society with the same randomness, the same evil that we saw on 9/11.” The Democratic governor has worked closely with President Donald Trump and other federal officials in an all-hands effort to contain the spread of the virus, which has hit New York much harder than any other state in the U.S. There are more than 151,000 confirmed cases across the state and 81,800 in New York City alone — almost as many as China, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Cuomo and Trump, who said he wants governors to be “appreciative” of his efforts, have largely stayed on good terms as they navigate the crisis. But earlier in the conference, Cuomo once again slammed the so-called Phase 3 coronavirus relief package that passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed by Trump late last month.

A Daily Beast investigation reveals dozens of Russian accounts pushing disinformation on everything from Joe Biden to the origin of the novel coronavirus.
By Adam Rawnsley

Suspected Russian government trolls are trying to pin the COVID-19 pandemic on the Pentagon; hyping Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy theories about collusion between Democrats and Ukraine; and trying to meddle in European elections, an investigation by The Daily Beast reveals. Working with researchers from the disinformation-tracking firm Graphika, The Daily Beast found at least 20 fake news articles pushed by over 40 suspected Kremlin-backed personas across dozens of social media networks like Facebook, Reddit, Medium, and smaller web forums. “This looks like a Russian disinformation operation we call ‘Secondary Infektion’ that's been running for years,” said Ben Nimmo, director of investigations at Graphika, who has been investigating the operation since Facebook exposed a first set of accounts in May 2019. “It uses blogging platforms as the soft underbelly of the internet, planting false stories based on forged documents or leaks that never happened. The fakes mostly appear designed to trigger tensions between European countries, or between Europe and the United States, but they were generally too clumsy to be believed.” Nimmo and other disinformation researchers first identified the Secondary Infektion campaign in 2019, which uses forgeries and fake articles to push Moscow-friendly propaganda through fictional personas. The troll personas and articles identified by The Daily Beast followed the same Secondary Infektion pattern identified by Graphika and others. Trolls would set up one-time-use accounts at a handful of outlets in specific places—from obscure forums like the DebatePolitics and DefendingTheTruth to larger platforms like Medium and Reddit—and post articles and forgeries in broken English just minutes after creating their accounts. The cluster of personas and articles identified by The Daily Beast date back through 2016. They add to a growing body of evidence that shows Russian information operations didn’t stop after Moscow’s interference in the last presidential campaign, but rather continued on, spreading to other countries. The trolls in this campaign forged letters and screenshots in an attempt to meddle in elections in Sweden and Latvia, touted Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine conspiracy theories, and tried to sow confusion about a former suspect in the leak of NSA hacking tools.   

Pinning COVID-19 on the Pentagon
As COVID-19 ravaged China and began to spread around the globe, the State Department issued cryptic warnings in February and March that Russia was trying to pin the virus on the U.S. both through its overt and covert propaganda organs. In one February briefing, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker called out the propaganda campaign in vague terms and claimed that Moscow was "once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response" with a COVID-19 disinformation campaign. American diplomats offered no specifics, but just a few days before Reeker’s briefing, a fake story bearing the hallmarks of Secondary Infektion trolls surfaced in Russian-language blogging platforms. The story, posted to Russian-language blogs and Reddit by multiple fake personas, tries to pin the blame on the COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S. and Kazakhstan by casting the virus as the byproduct of a U.S. nonproliferation program in the country. The trolls pointed to social media posts by a group of hackers calling themselves “Anonymous Kazakhstan.”

By Yaron Steinbuch

Researchers in Finland have released a chilling simulation that shows how droplets from a single cough in a supermarket can hang in the air for “several minutes” and travel across two aisles — possibly infecting nearby shoppers with the coronavirus. Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki studied how aerosolized particles spewed from the respiratory tract when coughing, sneezing — or even talking – flow through the air. According to preliminary results, tiny particles carrying the coronavirus can linger in the air longer than was originally thought, driving home the importance of avoiding packed indoor spaces. The four research organizations each conducted the modeling independently, using the same starting conditions, for a person coughing in an aisle between shelves, according to Aalto University. “Someone infected by the coronavirus, can cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus,” Aalto University Assistant Professor Ville Vuorinen said. “These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity,” he added.

By Emma Reynolds, CNN

(CNN) Coronavirus lockdowns across the globe should not be completely lifted until a vaccine for the disease is found, according to a study based on China's outbreak published in medical journal The Lancet. China's draconian restrictions on daily life appear to have halted the first wave of Covid-19 across much of the country, but the researchers used mathematical modeling to show that premature lifting of measures could result in a sweeping second wave of infection. Authorities ended the 76-day lockdown of Wuhan in Hubei province on Wednesday, as the city at the original epicenter of the coronavirus crisis emerges from the deadly outbreak that is now raging across the globe. Some restrictions will remain in place, however, with officials conscious of the risk as trains and tourist sites were packed across the country. "While these control measures appear to have reduced the number of infections to very low levels, without herd immunity against Covid-19, cases could easily resurge as businesses, factory operations, and schools gradually resume and increase social mixing, particularly given the increasing risk of imported cases from overseas as Covid-19 continues to spread globally," said Professor Joseph T Wu from the University of Hong Kong, who co-led the research, in a Wednesday news release. He cautioned that the speed of infection would rise unless governments ensured restrictions were lifted slowly and transmission was closely monitored. "Although control policies such as physical distancing and behavioral change are likely to be maintained for some time, proactively striking a balance between resuming economic activities and keeping the reproductive number below one is likely to be the best strategy until effective vaccines become widely available." The research could be critical as countries across the world -- some which have only had lockdowns in place for a few weeks -- consider how best to ease restrictions to get their economies moving again. Getting it wrong could lead to further outbreaks and new restrictions, the study found, and could be catastrophic for health services and economies.

By Emma Reynolds and Luke McGee

(CNN) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's condition "continues to improve" after his third night in intensive care with the coronavirus, his official spokesman said Thursday. Johnson was continuing to receive "standard oxygen treatment" and thanked health staff for their brilliant care, the spokesman said.
"(Johnson) had a good night and continues to improve," the spokesman added. "He's in good spirits." Rishi Sunak, the UK's top finance minister, said at the daily Downing Street press briefing Wednesday that Johnson was "sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team." Sunak added: "The news about the Prime Minister reminds us how indiscriminate this virus is."

By Scott Neuman

Russian officials on Thursday reported 1,459 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a single day, a record for the country, which has now surpassed 10,000 cases. The national coronavirus crisis response center said the death toll for the day had risen by 13. In total, 76 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to official tallies in Russia. In a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that he was ordering an extension of a national "non-working week," a measure designed to increase social distancing, until the end of the month, according to The Moscow Times. He also signed legislation making it a crime to break coronavirus quarantine rules, with a punishment of up to seven years in prison and a sentence of up to five years in prison for spreading false information about the novel coronavirus, the newspaper said. Putin said he would delegate decision-making to regional authorities because of the differences in infection rates throughout the country. That announcement appears to be aimed at quelling resentment over a one-size-fits-all approach to the pandemic that has occurred until now. The capital, Moscow, has borne the brunt of the outbreak, and it accounts for the vast majority of confirmed cases in Russia. Charles Maynes, reporting from Moscow for NPR earlier this week, noted that far-flung territories with few cases so far were falling under the same tight restrictions as Moscow and other cities with higher infection rates.

by Sinéad Baker

Some doctors are trying to use ventilators less frequently as some areas have reported high death rates among coronavirus patients who were on them, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Ventilators, machines used to bring oxygen into a person's lungs, are typically used only for the patients worst affected by respiratory diseases. Experts have said that some 40% to 50% of patients with severe respiratory issues die while on ventilators, the AP reported. New York City officials have said at least 80% of coronavirus patients who were put on ventilators there ultimately died, the AP reported. New York state has the most confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in the US. There have also been reports of unusually high death rates among patients on ventilators elsewhere in the US and in China and the UK, the AP said. Putting a person on a ventilator is an extreme step saved for the worst-affected patients, who typically already have the highest chance of dying from respiratory failure. The higher death rates could be a result of this, as well as the fact that there are so far no drugs approved to fight the coronavirus.

Ventilators could be further harming coronavirus patients, some doctors say
Some doctors are also concerned that ventilators could be further harming certain coronavirus patients, as the treatment is hard on the lungs, the AP reported. Dr. Tiffany Osborn, a critical-care specialist at the Washington University School of Medicine, told NPR on April 1 that ventilators could actually damage a patient's lungs. "The ventilator itself can do damage to the lung tissue based on how much pressure is required to help oxygen get processed by the lungs," she said.

By Bill Chappell

Using the COVID-19 pandemic to score political points is dangerous and will only result in "many more body bags," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday, less than a day after President Trump criticized the WHO and its relationship with China. Tedros also revealed he has received death threats in recent months. "Please don't politicize this virus," Tedros said in a briefing in Geneva, after he was asked about Trump's remarks. He later urged political leaders to "please quarantine politicizing COVID." "The focus of all political parties should be to save their people," Tedros said. He added that politicizing the virus only exploits differences at the national level. "If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you [politicize the virus]," the WHO leader said. "If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it." The remarks came after Trump sharply criticized the WHO during a White House coronavirus task force briefing Tuesday night and suggested he might put a hold on U.S. funding — the largest single source of money for the health organization. Tedros did not refer to Trump by name as he stressed the importance of confronting COVID-19 as a common enemy. And he stated several times that he does not mind being targeted by personal attacks. Everyone's focus, he said, should remain on the coronavirus, not political or international rivalries.

‘Shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?’ Dr. Jean-Paul Mira said.
By Wilson Wong

A French doctor apologized after suggesting that Africa should become a testing ground for a COVID-19 vaccine, remarks that sparked public outcry on social media. Jean-Paul Mira, head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, made the comments in an interview that aired last week on the French television channel LCI with Camille Locht, the research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Inserm. “If I could be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment, or intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?” Mira asked. “We tried things on prostitutes because they are highly exposed and do not protect themselves.” Locht responded in agreement: “You are right. We are thinking of a parallel study in Africa to use this same kind of approach with the BCG placebos,” referring to the tuberculosis vaccination that Inserm said appeared to protect children against infections, particularly respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Their comments triggered a deluge of outrage on social media, including from several leading soccer players in Africa. “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and debility become commonplace,” Senegal striker Demba Ba said on Twitter.

While safe for most, the drug carries serious side effects for some, including sudden cardiac arrest.
By Heidi Przybyla

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. scales up purchase and use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, a leading Mayo Clinic cardiologist is sounding a warning: Anyone promoting the drug also needs to flag its rare but serious — and potentially fatal — side effects. President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, lupus and other autoimmune ailments but hasn't yet been proven effective and safe in treating the coronavirus. "What do you have to lose?" Trump asked Saturday at the White House when pressed by reporters about hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness. And while he's suggested that patients consult with their physicians about the treatment, he's also said the drug can "help them, but it's not going to hurt them." On Tuesday, when asked about the drug’s potential side effects, he downplayed them. “The side effects are the least of it,” said Trump. “You’re not gonna die from this pill,” he said. “I say ‘try it’” he said, noting “I’m not a doctor” and to get a physician’s approval. But the president's reassurance is raising concerns among experts about the dangers the drug poses to some. After observing the debate over hydroxychloroquine on TV news and in social media, Dr. Michael Ackerman, a genetic cardiologist who is director of the Mayo Clinic's Windland Smith Rice Genetic Heart Rhythm Clinic, took the unusual step in late March of issuing guidance for physicians. "What disturbed me the most was when I was seeing not political officials say these medications are safe but seeing on the news cardiologists and infectious disease specialists say" hydroxychloroquine "is completely safe without even mentioning this rare side effect," Ackerman said in an interview. "That's inexcusable," he added.

Coronavirus most likely to have jumped to humans from intermediary host, but some say lab accident cannot be ruled out.
by Violet Law

Hong Kong, China - The blame game between China and the United States on the origin of the coronavirus pandemic has fuelled a host of theories, some more believable than others. At the start of the outbreak in December, the most mainstream assumption was that the virus originated from a so-called wet market in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first COVID-19 cases were reported. But as the virus spread globally, the role of public-health laboratories in Wuhan came under increasing scrutiny. In two labs in Wuhan, long-running experiments with bat viruses helped scientists quickly identify the coronavirus as most likely to have come from the nocturnal mammal, but those same labs have also fuelled biosafety concerns. The practice of collecting viruses from bats first burst into public view in the early weeks of the outbreak when Shi Zhengli, a noted scientist with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, refuted a swirl of online accusations both at home and abroad that the coronavirus may have leaked from her institute, where a lab certified as BSL-4, the highest level for handling dangerous pathogens, opened three years ago. Director-Generalof the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has called such speculation part of an "infodemic" of fake news surrounding the coronavirus, while other public health officials said they belong with the slew of conspiracy theories claiming that the virus was engineered (all scientists who have studied the genome of the virus agree that would be impossible).  But some scientists, both within China and elsewhere, say an accidental leak remains a possibility - insofar as there is no evidence to disprove it. "There is nothing 'fake' about lab accidents," said Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist and director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US. "There also is nothing 'conspiratorial' about lab accidents."

By  Joseph Curl

A treatment for COVID-19 that has already been approved in the U.S. helped a test group of infected patients get better in one to three days, a new study has found. Known as convalescent plasma (CP) therapy, the treatment uses blood from recovered patients. Ten COVID-19 patients in China who were severely ill were given a dose of plasma donated from survivors of the virus, which had the antibodies necessary for their immune system to fight off the virus. “All symptoms in the 10 patients, especially fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain, disappeared or largely improved within 1 [day] to 3 [days] upon CP transfusion,” said the study, published in a respected journal called the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. The study was conducted in Wuhan, China  – where the coronavirus emerged in December – and was led by Kai Duan of China’s National Biotec Group Co. Ltd. The therapy is not new: It was first used a century ago during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The process is approved in the U.S., and many physicians think it can help those already infected with SARS-CoV-2. A vaccine is 12-18 months away, most experts say, but the CP therapy is cheap and readily available as it simply uses blood from those infected and cured. CP therapy has also been used to battle SARS and MERS, two similar coronaviruses, and Ebola. “The recovery criteria were as follows: 1) normality of body temperature for more than 3 [days], 2) resolution of respiratory tract symptoms, and 3) two consecutively negative results of sputum SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR assay (1-[day] sampling interval). The donor’s blood was collected after 3 [weeks] postonset of illness and 4 d postdischarge,” the study said. There are nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases in the world, with more than 83,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.


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