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Canceling a cruise due to coronavirus? Here’s a list of updated policiesFollowing the COVID-19 outbreak, cruise lines like Disney, Norwegian and Viking are implementing strict travel restrictions to protect passengers and crew members.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 2:39 pm

NRA Sues New York State Governor Over Closure of Gun Stores(Bloomberg) -- The National Rifle Association sued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for closing gun shops during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the restriction is unconstitutional and leaves citizens defenseless while prisoners are being released early as a result of the crisis.Cuomo’s March 20 executive order that included firearms retailers as non-essential businesses which must close is a “pointless and arbitrary attack on the constitutional rights of New York citizens and residents,” the NRA said in a complaint filed late Thursday in Syracuse, New York.New York ordered most businesses to close to prevent the spread of the virus, but deemed grocery stores, liquor stores, pharmacies and restaurants that do take-out as essential and allowed them to remain open. New York City is the center of the outbreak in the U.S., accounting for more than 1,300 of the 5,700 deaths in the country.New York officials are “going out of their way to protect liquor stores and release criminals onto the streets, while ignoring the public’s outcry over the suspension of Second Amendment rights,” the suit says.The New York lawsuit follows similar action the NRA took in Northern California, where it sued several cities including San Jose for ordering gun stores to close. Earlier this week in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy lifted a temporary ban on the sale of guns in the state after the NRA filed suit to block it, and Los Angeles County also backed off an earlier ban.Gun shops around the country have reported surges in sales, and shares of gun and ammunition manufacturers have risen. The final week of February saw the third largest number of background checks since at least 1998, behind the weeks following the Sandy Hook and San Bernardino shootings, according to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS.New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said before the lawsuit was filed that she’d defend the state’s decision.New York’s take on what’s essential is at odds with the Trump administration, according to the complaint. On March 28, the Department of Homeland Security issued a list of critical infrastructure, including: “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges,” the NRA said. The gun-rights organization also says that law enforcement may not be sufficient to protect citizens during the crisis.New Yorkers “have read about the release of thousands of prisoners by state officials, and they are concerned about the ability of police forces to maintain order when officers fear contact with Covid-19 or have fallen ill themselves,” the complaint says.“Government officials, including Governor Cuomo and Letitia James, are bound by the U.S. Constitution,” William Brewer, counsel to the NRA, said in an email. “The NRA will aggressively defend the Second Amendment freedoms of its members and all New Yorkers.”(Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, helped launch Everytown for Gun Safety and backs candidates who support measures such as universal background checks.)(Updates with rise in gun sales, Los Angeles County sheriff’s statement.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 2:06 pm

Cuban docs fighting coronavirus around world, defying USFor two years the Trump administration has been trying to stamp out one of Cuba’s signature programs __ state-employed medical workers treating patients around the globe in a show of soft power that also earns billions in badly needed hard currency. Labeling the doctors and nurses as both exploited workers and agents of communist indoctrination, the U.S. has notched a series of victories as Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia sent home thousands after leftist governments allied with Havana were replaced with ones friendlier to Washington. The coronavirus pandemic has brought a reversal of fortune for Cuban medical diplomacy, as doctors have flown off on new missions to battle COVID-19 in at least 14 countries including Italy and the tiny principality of Andorra on the Spanish-French border, burnishing the island's international image in the middle of a global crisis.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 2:00 pm

Singapore to Close Schools, Most Workplaces With Rising Virus Cases(Bloomberg) -- Singapore will shutter schools and most workplaces as the city-state unveiled a raft of stricter measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, shifting away from an approach crafted to limit interruptions to daily life and commerce.Most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, will close starting on Tuesday, while the city-state will move to full home-based learning in its schools from Wednesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an address to the nation Friday afternoon. The government will also unveil additional stimulus measures to boost the economy early next week.The action comes as confirmed cases of local transmission and unlinked infections in the country have risen in recent weeks. “We have decided that instead of tightening incrementally over the next few weeks, we should make a decisive move now, to preempt escalating infections,” said Lee.Singapore’s tougher moves signal its current approach -- relying on contact tracing, strict containment measures such as shutting bars, and quarantine -- is no longer tenable. While more than 160 countries have already shut schools, the city-state was one of a handful that did not do so, citing early research that children are not as affected as adults.Here are other details of the stricter measures:Casinos, theme parks to close starting next week.Food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services will remain open.From April 7, all restaurants, hawker centers, coffee shops, food courts and other food-and-beverage outlets will remain open only for takeaway or delivery.Other economic sectors “that are strategic, or form part of a global supply chain” will not be closed.All preschool and student care centers will be closed, but will provide limited services for children of parents who have to continue working and are unable to make alternative arrangements.Government will stop discouraging the general public from wearing face masks in public, and will distribute reusable masks from April 5.The government also plans on Monday to announce more support aimed at businesses and households. Singapore delivered a second stimulus package worth S$48 billion ($33.4 billion) last week to fight the outbreak, drawing on national reserves for the first time since the global financial crisis to support an economy heading for recession.“Even if more assistance measures are announced on Monday, they are unlikely to offset the economic ramifications of what is akin to an economic immobilization,” Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore, said in an email. Retail sales plunged 8.6% in February from the same time last year, marking the worst decrease since June and the 13th consecutive decline.‘Very Worrying’ TrendsLee said the spirit of these measures is to get people to minimize physical contact. “If we don’t go out, if we avoid contact with others, then the virus won’t be able to spread. It is as simple as that,” he said.Lawrence Wong, minister for national development who co-chairs a task force to fight the virus, said in a press conference the increase in the number of local and unlinked coronavirus cases are “very, very worrying trends.”The latest set of moves will continue for at least a month, Wong said, adding there’s a chance the government can roll back the measures by the end of the month if the guidelines are upheld. He said the key objective is to reduce the spread of the virus, particularly cutting the number of unlinked cases.“If there’s poor compliance, poor implementation, then we have to be prepared for these measures to continue,” Wong said. “Let’s hunker down and beat the virus together.”Singapore announced Friday a fifth person has died due to complications from the coronavirus. Cases have risen more sharply in March compared to earlier months, and now total more than 1,000.Health Minister Gan said the city-state has yet to reach its highest level of alert, so-called Dorscon Red, and would press on with contact-tracing and widespread efforts to contain the disease. “We’re not yet in Dorscon Red, and we’re quite a distance from Dorscon Red,” he said.(Updates to add detail on prior approach in first, fourth paragraphs)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 12:42 pm

Venezuela navy vessel sinks after 'ramming cruise ship'The cruise ship's owners say the naval vessel rammed it, but Venezuela accuses the ship of "piracy".


Posted: April 3, 2020, 11:54 am

China Wants to Use the Coronavirus to Take Over the WorldWhat started as a catastrophe for China is shaping up to be a moment of strategic opportunity, a rare turning point in the flow of history. Suddenly, the protests in Hong Kong, carrying a mortal threat to political stability in the mainland, became a physical impossibility. More important, the pandemic set in motion a global competition, to contain the virus, for which China and the Chinese Communist Party seem uniquely prepared.As the virus spread to the whole world, it became apparent that Western societies — Beijing’s true rivals — did not have the ability to quickly organize every citizen around a single goal. As opposed to China, which remains to a large extent a revolutionary society, their political systems were built for normal times. Chinese society is a mobilized army, which can quickly drop everything else and march in one direction.Mao once said, “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos, the situation is excellent.” And so it seems at present, as seen from Beijing. Chinese diplomats stationed all over the world spend their time raising the stakes to a dangerous level. Following instructions from the very top, they have taken to the media to issue a challenge to America, to point out its failure, and to compare the chaos in American cities and hospitals with what they see as a singular success in stopping the epidemic in China.Several commentators have suggested that China may be winning the coronavirus battle by stepping forward in providing medical help to affected countries, mostly in Europe, at a time when the United States is consumed with its own difficulties. This misses the point.The cases have been multiplying where the medical equipment provided by Chinese companies and even the Chinese state turned out to be faulty, provoking justified ire in, for example, Spain, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Moreover, medical help is a normal occurrence in a crisis. China has done nothing different, except perhaps in the clumsy way it publicizes those efforts.Forget about “mask diplomacy.” It is no more than a distraction. There are other ways for China to use the coronavirus pandemic to upturn the existing global order. I see three main levers.The first one is the direct comparison between the situation in China and elsewhere. The numbers of cases and fatalities provided by Chinese authorities almost certainly misrepresent the real figures by more than an order of magnitude, but the fact remains that a semblance of normalcy was achieved in a small period of time. If the United States fails to do the same, its prestige will suffer a severe blow. People all over the world will quickly change their perceptions about relative power and capacity.The second lever resides with industrial value chains. Last month General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler closed all their automotive production plants across the United States and Canada. Other sectors have followed. In the meantime, China contained the worst of the pandemic to one province, allowing economic activity to quickly resume elsewhere. The most recent data show renewed activity in the flow of goods across the country, as well as at ports worldwide that do business with China. If the freeze in Europe and America continues for much longer, Chinese companies will be able to dramatically expand market share and replace Western-led value chains. Just yesterday Chinese authorities announced that manufacturing activity expanded in March, defying expectations of a contraction. In February the official Purchasing Managers’ Index hit a record low of 35.7. It bounced back to 52.0 in March. Prepare for a worldwide wave of Chinese acquisitions at knockdown prices.Finally, in a more extreme scenario, important countries could experience the kind of economic shock that leads to widespread social and political collapse. At that point, China would have a unique opportunity to step in, provide aid, and refashion these countries in its image. It would look like a repeat of the Marshall Plan and the beginning of the American world order after the ravages of World War II. Indonesia, South Asia, and even Russia might be of special interest in such a scenario.We knew that a generalized race or competition between alternative geopolitical models had started, but it was never clear what the background for such a competition would be. If the clash took place within the existing global trade and financial system, which was of course built according to Western rules and principles, the United States was confident the battle could be decisively won. But what if it took place on neutral ground? What if it took place in a kind of neutral landscape, a state of nature with few or no rules, against a chaotic and quickly evolving background? The outcome would become considerably more uncertain.To put it more bluntly: There was always an argument that the existing world order cannot change because only a momentous war has done that in the past and world wars have become impossible. But in pandemics — and soon in climate change — we may have found two functional equivalents of war.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 10:30 am

China declared whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang a 'martyr' following a local campaign to silence him for speaking out about the coronavirusLi Wenliang sounded the alarm about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan on December 30. He died of the virus on February 7.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 10:01 am

A 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship was meant to help relieve New York City's overburdened hospitals. So far it's 2% full, and a hospital director called it a 'joke.'The ship hasn't been able to accept many patients because of strict Navy guidelines and the lack so far of many non-coronavirus patients in the city.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 9:27 am

Coronavirus: Islamophobia concerns after India mosque outbreakOutrage over a Muslim congregation that led to new Covid-19 cluster turns hateful.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 8:54 am

After ignoring warnings, Israeli ultra-Orthodox hit by virusEarly this week, the streets of the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak were bustling with shoppers as ultra-Orthodox residents, obeying their religious leaders, ignored pleas to stay home in the face of the coronavirus threat. The military will soon be sending troops in to assist local authorities. The city has become a lightning rod for anger and frustration by some secular Israelis who allege insular Haredi communities — with disproportionately high numbers of confirmed cases — are undermining national efforts to contain the virus.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 6:43 am

Stocks fall on Wall Street, heading for another weekly lossThe losses came after the government reported that U.S. employers cut 701,000 jobs last month, the first drop in nearly a decade and the latest of what is sure to be many grim indicators of the toll the coronavirus is is taking on the economy as businesses, industry and travel shut down in an attemp to slow the spread of the outbreak. The S&P 500 was down 1.8% as of 12:42 p.m. Eastern time after earlier flipping between modest gains and losses. The relatively muted reaction “is actually a bit of a silver lining for investors at this point,” said Peter Essele, head of portfolio management for Commonwealth Financial Network.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 5:56 am

U.S. sounds alarm on coronavirus in Japan, Tokyo pushes for state of emergencyThe U.S. government on Friday sounded alarm about the surge in coronavirus cases in Japan, adding to a chorus of prominent domestic voices - including the governor of Tokyo - who have called for decisive action to avoid an explosive outbreak. Amid growing clamour for tighter curbs on people's movements to stem a rising tide of infections, the government has so far been reluctant to pull the trigger, warning of the heavy damage that could ensue in the world's third-biggest economy, already close to recession. Instead, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged school closures and called on citizens to avoid unnecessary and non-urgent gatherings and outings while preparing to roll out an economic stimulus plan next week - even as he acknowledged the country was barely avoiding a major jump in infections.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 3:49 am

Birx: 5 states could be among next coronavirus 'hot spots'Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, listed several states that could be the next “hot spots” for large numbers of COVID-19 cases, based on how many positive cases they have now.


Posted: April 3, 2020, 12:01 am

One nursing home offers grim advice: Take your loved ones homeCoronavirus cases are increasing so rapidly that one New York nursing home CEO is advising families to take their loved ones home if possible.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 11:59 pm

Birx: Face masks not a substitute for handwashing, distancing to help prevent coronavirus spreadAt a press briefing, Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the use of face masks should not be a substitute for social distancing and washing hands to prevent contracting the coronavirus.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 11:45 pm

Asian countries impose new restrictions as coronavirus cases come roaring backAfter appearing to have the virus under control, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong are imposing new controls as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 10:28 pm

Mayor taps ex-Dallas chief to head Chicago police forceChicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday named former Dallas police Chief David Brown to head the police force in the nation's third largest city, touting his humility and calling him “a leader who commands respect.” Lightfoot introduced Brown as the next superintendent of the Chicago Police Department during a news conference, saying he's the right man for the job.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 9:00 pm

Confirmed coronavirus cases reach one million worldwideThe first reported cases came from China in December, eventually spreading to nearly every other country on earth over the ensuing three months.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 7:53 pm

The US Army warned 2 months ago that the coronavirus could kill as many as 150,000 AmericansWhat was a worst-case scenario is now nearly a best possible outcome as the White House warns that 100,000 to 240,000 people could die.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 6:34 pm

More than 1,000 in US die in a single day from coronavirus, doubling the worst daily death toll of the fluThe U.S. passed 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day Wednesday, a daily death toll more than double lung cancer and the flu.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 6:01 pm

Holland America tells cruise passengers on Rotterdam ship they won't be getting off for at least 2 more nights after weeks of being stranded at seaPassengers onboard the Rotterdam will processed by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and then returned to the ship today.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 5:37 pm

People in Laredo, Texas, could be fined up to $1,000 if they don't wear a mask or a bandana to cover their face during the coronavirus pandemicA mask shortage and limited scientific evidence on mask effectiveness have health experts debating who should be using protective gear.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 4:49 pm

American Airlines crammed the only 11 passengers on a flight into 3 rows because they only bought basic economy, report saysAmerican Airlines has risked the health of flight attendants and passengers by enforcing rules about riding in coach, it is alleged.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 4:15 pm

Canada faces 'critical week' in coronavirus crisis, death toll jumpsCanada faces "a critical week" in fighting the coronavirus, a senior official said on Thursday, as the death toll jumped and the most populous province said residents should brace for a stark scenario. Deaths surged to 161 from 105 on Wednesday while positive cases rose to 11,131 from 9,017, according to provincial announcements compiled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "This is a critical week in our fight against the coronavirus," said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 3:31 pm

California appears to be flattening the curve. But its testing lags behind other statesThe state’s testing delays have limited understanding of the outbreak and hindered containment * Coronavirus – latest US updates * Coronavirus – latest global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageCalifornia has not seen the surge in coronavirus cases that have overwhelmed cities like New York and Detroit in the past week, which suggests that the state’s early and restrictive shelter-in-place orders could be slowing the virus’s spread. But experts say delays in testing have limited the understanding of the outbreak and have hindered containment efforts.California implemented one of the earliest and strictest orders to stay at home in the United States in mid-March, and as of Wednesday, there were 8,584 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 183 deaths in the state compared with the 76,000 cases and 1,714 deaths in New York. Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus taskforce coordinator, said on Tuesday that she was “reassured by what California has been able to do” to help control the virus with physical distancing orders.Some doctors have said California appears to be succeeding at “flattening the curve”, meaning slowing the spread so hospitals have enough resources and workers to manage the number of cases. The California governor, Gavin Newsom, said on Tuesday that “the current modeling is on the lower end of our projection”. Last month, Newsom had warned that more than half of the state could be infected within two weeks. “We are in a completely different place than the state of New York,” Newsom said at a briefing on Wednesday. “And I hope we continue to be, but we won’t unless people continue to practice physical distancing.”Indeed, the state’s early and ambitious efforts to enforce shelter-in-place rules do seem to have prevented hospitals from becoming as overwhelmed as New York’s system, Robert Siegel, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, told the Guardian. “But it’s difficult to accurately know the impact of your interventions if you don’t have adequate testing,” he said.As of Tuesday, more than 86,100 tests had been administered in the state, and of those, 57,400 results were still pending. By comparison, New York, which has about half the population of California, has processed more than 200,000 tests. Washington state, which has less than a fifth of California’s population, has processed 65,462 tests.Testing efforts in California have been set back due to a lack of swabs, vials and media for collecting patient samples, as well as a shortage of kits and bottlenecks at labs.Across the state, tests are in short supply and currently largely limited to people with severe symptoms and those with underlying health conditions, meaning large swaths of the state’s population are left untested. “The general idea is that if somebody that has been to the hospital, and they have symptoms, then you assume they’re infected,” said Siegel. But by testing more, doctors and health officials could be more strategic and selective about who they isolate, he noted.Administering more than one type of test could also help California, and the country as a whole, better understand how the coronavirus spreads through communities. The tests being used in the US detect for the presence of viral RNA. Another type of test – called a serology or antibody test – can help detect if a person’s immune system has faced off against Covid-19 and recovered from it. Antibody tests are not currently being done in the US. “It’s really important to test for immunity,” Siegel said, because people who are immune could return to work without endangering themselves or others. “They could more safely work as frontline healthcare providers,” Siegel said.Wendy Parmet, a Northeastern University health policy expert, said the testing problems made tracking the virus challenging: “You need testing to make sure you quickly identify new outbreaks and trace contacts. Put out the small sparks before they become another conflagration.” The lack of adequate testing could drag out the sheltering period, she said. “Many of the plans of how you go from where we are now to the next stage rely on testing,” she said.A bottleneck in the commercial laboratory Quest Diagnostics, which is processing tests, has further exacerbated California’s challenges. Despite initial promises of delivering results within one to two days, the private lab in southern California, which has received tests from hospitals across the country, has not been able to ramp up processing fast enough, meaning some healthcare professionals have had to wait more than a week for results.And although some in Silicon Valley are working on testing solutions, efforts in the international tech hub have been slow and largely unsuccessful.“Why California would be lagging I really don’t know,” Siegel said. “Especially because it does strike me that we do have a lot of experts.”South Korea’s widespread testing of its population, including people who did not have symptoms but might be at risk of spreading, played a major role in allowing the country to control the virus with significantly less disruption than other nations. Widespread, random testing in Iceland has similarly helped epidemiologists better understand how the virus affects people – data from the country found that half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic, and overall a low population had been infected.The test shortage not only prevents people suspected of having Covid-19 from getting a diagnosis and being counted and traced, it also hampers officials’ efforts to prevent an outbreak in the most vulnerable and high-risk communities.California has the largest homeless population in the US, with 40,000 people living in crowded shelters where advocates say testing access has improved over the last week, but continues to fall short.“It’s impeding the ability of shelters to identify people who have been infected with the virus and remove them from this incredibly dangerous environment, where the virus has the potential to spread like wildfire,” said Eve Garrow, the homelessness policy analyst with the ACLU of Southern California. She argued that all residents and staff should be tested, and noted that she recently heard from one shelter resident who has a fever, but was unable to get a test.> You need testing to make sure you quickly identify new outbreaks and trace contacts. Put out the small sparks before they become another conflagration> > Wendy ParmetAt one shelter at Skid Row in Los Angeles, where an employee tested positive this week, staff have isolated more than 100 people who may have been exposed, and are working to test as many people as they can. “They were slow to come … but hopefully we get enough tests,” said the Rev Andy Bales, who runs the shelter. He said he hoped health officials would provide enough tests for those potentially exposed and residents with symptoms.“In New York, they were more aggressive about testing,” Siegel said. “We in California moved ahead with aggressive public health interventions in the absence of testing.” And although testing is crucial, ultimately, distancing measures are more important, he said, adding that California will probably have many more cases, especially in big cities, as testing ramps up. Still, Siegel doesn’t think the state will follow New York’s pattern.Parmet said when federal and state leaders tout California’s progress, it could encourage people to stay home and distance and pressure other jurisdictions to follow suit: “It’s important for people to see that there are possibilities, that efforts can make a difference.”


Posted: April 2, 2020, 3:22 pm

Falling China imports fuel US trade deficit decreaseThe US trade deficit continued to shrink in February, fueled by falling imports from China as that country struggled with the coronavirus outbreak, the government reported Thursday. The Commerce Department report on imports and exports was compiled before the worst of the virus's economic disruptions hit the United States, where many businesses have since been forced to close causing millions to lose their jobs, and others complaining of scarce supplies. As in January, a sharp decline in imports from China played a large role in the data, after President Donald Trump escalated his confrontation with Beijing in 2019, leading to tariffs on nearly all products traded with the country.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 3:07 pm

A small Georgia city is facing hundreds of coronavirus cases after residents flocked to a beloved janitor's funeralAtlanta's Dougherty County has reported 490 confirmed cases of COVID-19, that all emerged after two funerals were held in the town of Albany.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 2:57 pm

Flattening the curve on coronavirus: What California and Washington can teach the worldNew data suggests the two West Coast states may have slowed the spread of coronavirus. How they did it.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 1:04 pm

Some Coronavirus Patients Show Signs of Brain AilmentsNeurologists around the world say that a small subset of patients with COVID-19 are developing serious impairments of the brain.Although fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the typical hallmarks of infection with the new coronavirus, some patients exhibit altered mental status, or encephalopathy, a catchall term for brain disease or dysfunction that can have many underlying causes, as well as other serious conditions. These neurological syndromes join other unusual symptoms, such as diminished sense of smell and taste as well as heart ailments.In early March, a 74-year-old man came to the emergency room in Boca Raton, Florida, with a cough and a fever, but an X-ray ruled out pneumonia and he was sent home. The next day, when his fever spiked, family members brought him back. He was short of breath, and could not tell doctors his name or explain what was wrong -- he had lost the ability to speak.The patient, who had chronic lung disease and Parkinson's, was flailing his arms and legs in jerky movements, and appeared to be having a seizure. Doctors suspected he had COVID-19, and were eventually proven right when he was finally tested.On Tuesday, doctors in Detroit reported another disturbing case involving a female airline worker in her late 50s with COVID-19. She was confused, and complained of a headache; she could tell the physicians her name but little else, and became less responsive over time. Brain scans showed abnormal swelling and inflammation in several regions, with smaller areas where some cells had died.Physicians diagnosed a dangerous condition called acute necrotizing encephalopathy, a rare complication of influenza and other viral infections."The pattern of involvement, and the way that it rapidly progressed over days, is consistent with viral inflammation of the brain," Dr. Elissa Fory, a neurologist with Henry Ford Health System, said through an email. "This may indicate the virus can invade the brain directly in rare circumstances." The patient is in critical condition.These domestic reports follow similar observations by doctors in Italy and other parts of the world, of COVID-19 patients having strokes, seizures, encephalitislike symptoms and blood clots, as well as tingling or numbness in the extremities, called acroparesthesia. In some cases, patients were delirious even before developing fever or respiratory illness, according to Dr. Alessandro Padovani, whose hospital at University of Brescia in Italy opened a separate NeuroCovid unit to care for patients with neurological conditions.The patients who come in with encephalopathy are confused and lethargic and may appear dazed, exhibiting strange behavior or staring off into space. They may be having seizures that require immediate medical care, and experts are warning health care providers who treat such patients to recognize that they may have COVID-19 and to take precautions to protect themselves from infection.Much is still unknown about the neurological symptoms, but efforts are underway to study the phenomena, said Dr. Sherry H-Y. Chou, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who is leading a team of investigators for the Neurocritical Care Society."We absolutely need to have an information finding mission, otherwise we're flying blind," Chou said. "There's no ventilator for the brain. If the lungs are broken we can put the patient on a ventilator and hope for recovery. We don't have that luxury with the brain."Experts have emphasized that most COVID-19 patients appear to be normal neurologically."Most people are showing up awake and alert, and neurologically appear to be normal," said Dr. Robert Stevens, a neurologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore who is tracking neurological observations.Neurological specialists also say that it is too early to make definitive statements or identify the specific mechanisms by which the new coronavirus is affecting the neurological system.In one recent paper, Chinese scientists noted that there was some evidence that other coronaviruses were not confined to the respiratory tract and invaded the central nervous system, and the authors speculated that this may potentially play a role in acute respiratory failure in COVID-19.Stevens emphasized that all mechanistic explanations at this point are hypotheses because so little is known: "It could be as simple as low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream," resulting from respiratory failure, along with an increase in carbon dioxide, which "can have significant impact on the function of the brain, and lead to states of confusion and lethargy," he said."We are still in the early days of this, and we don't really know for sure."Neurologists in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started, were among the first to report the symptoms in a preliminary paper published online in February.Since that report, specialists observed similar symptoms in Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Holland as well as the United States, including among patients under 60, Stevens said.Some doctors have reported cases of patients who were brought in for treatment because of their altered mental state, and who ultimately tested positive for COVID-19, although they had none of the classic symptoms like fever or cough.Four elderly patients who came into Danbury Hospital in Connecticut with encephalopathy ultimately tested positive for COVID-19, although they had no other symptoms, said Dr. Paul Nee, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital. Two of the four went on to develop low grade fevers and needed oxygen briefly, but two did not, he said.While it is not unusual for elderly people to experience confusion when they develop other infections, "the striking thing is we have not seen any real respiratory illness in these patients," Nee said. They have continued to test positive and cannot be discharged, even though they are not really ill, he said.But earlier reports had indicated that severely ill individuals with more typical symptoms were more likely to exhibit the rare neurological conditions, which ranged from dizziness and headaches to impaired consciousness, stroke and musculoskeletal injury. The Chinese study in February said that about 15% of those patients with severe illness experienced a change in mental status, compared with 2.4% of those who did not have severe illness, according to that study.Another study, published in the British Medical Journal in late March, found that of 113 patients from Wuhan who died of COVID-19, 22% had experienced disorders of consciousness, ranging from somnolence to deep coma, compared with only 1% of another group of patients who recovered from the illness.For potential COVID-19 patients and the people caring for them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes "new confusion or inability to rouse" among the warning signs that should prompt a decision to seek immediate medical care.Patients who have encephalopathy and seem confused or incoherent are prone to having seizures, and should receive treatment as soon as possible, said Dr. Jennifer Frontera, a neurologist at NYU Langone Health who is working with Chou. She added that seizures can manifest in more subtle ways than the dramatic presentations often depicted in movies and television shows."Seizures are not always big things where people fall down and are shaking on the ground," Frontera said. "Some could be just veering off, not paying attention, making repetitive nonpurposeful movements, or just mental status changes where people are just not themselves."But even if seizures are not observed, people who are sick should be aware of other potential mental symptoms."You don't feel your best when you have a fever, but you should be able to interact normally," Frontera said. "You should be able to answer questions and converse in a normal fashion."She added: "I don't want everyone calling 911 because they're overly concerned. We just don't have the capacity. But if someone is really out of it, they probably need medical attention."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


Posted: April 2, 2020, 1:02 pm

Coronavirus compounds Lebanon's woes, many struggle for foodBattered by Lebanon's economic crisis, Hassan Zeitar was already struggling to keep his family fed when the coronavirus lockdown stripped him of the little money he made as a minibus driver. Now housebound in Beirut, Zeitar is racking up debt at a local grocery to provide rice and lentils for his four children. A suffocating economic crisis has left Lebanon's poor with little or no means to cope with extra hardship.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 12:29 pm

Spanish Virus Deaths Climb Past 10,000 With 950 New Victims(Bloomberg) -- Spain reported an increase in coronavirus deaths and new cases, suggesting severe containment measures have yet to bring the outbreak under control.The Health Ministry recorded its deadliest day on Thursday, with 950 fatalities lifting the total to more than 10,000. The country is dealing with the second-most severe outbreak in Europe after Italy and the government has struggled to check the spread of the disease. A wave of infections has stretched the health service to breaking point and led to a shortage of beds in intensive-care units, while the army has been deployed to assist in its biggest domestic peacetime operation.The number of confirmed cases increased by 8,102, a bigger gain than Wednesday’s 7,719, to 110,238. The daily death toll in Italy -- where more than 13,000 have died -- dropped to 727 on Wednesday, the lowest in six days, and the number of new cases is below highs in mid-March.The newest Spanish figures contrast with optimism expressed by the government. Health Minister Salvador Illa told a parliamentary hearing on Thursday, after the data were released, that the “curve has stabilized and we are entering a process of slowing down.”Illa, a philosopher by training, added that the percentage increase in deaths, hospitalizations and new cases reported Thursday was lower than a week ago.Aside from over-stretched hospitals, the government is also struggling to deal with the impact in nursing homes in a nation with one of the world’s oldest populations. Many homes are understaffed and death tolls are rising rapidly as the virus is especially dangerous for the elderly.Fernando Simon, a Health Ministry official, said Thursday it’s hard to find an explanation for Spain’s relatively high mortality rate. “In certain periods and regions, we have had nursing homes affected, with very fragile people,” he told reporters. “And there can also be a variability in how different countries report their numbers.”The devastating impact on the Spanish economy is evident in recent data. The Labor Ministry on Thursday reported more than 300,000 new jobless claims for March, the highest monthly increase on record. The number doesn’t include hundreds of thousands of workers temporarily laid off after companies shut down following the declaration on March 14 of a state of emergency.The tourism industry, a bellwether of the Spanish economy, has ground to a halt, in a blow to workers who rely on temporary hotel and restaurant jobs over the summer.Airlines are meeting with the government to try to secure liquidity, the transport minister said Thursday. The country’s largest company by market value, retailer Inditex SA, has closed all its stores in Spain and is considering around 25,000 temporary redundancies if the state of emergency continues beyond April 11.(Updates with Health Ministry official in seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 12:27 pm

‘We Didn’t Know That Until the Last 24 Hours’: Georgia Gov. Says He Just Found Out People without Symptoms Can Spread CoronavirusWhile announcing a statewide shelter-in-place order on Wednesday, Georgia governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, said that he had just been informed that asymptomatic individuals could spread the coronavirus.The illness "is now transmitting before people see signs….Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt [symptoms]," Kemp said at a press conference. "We didn’t know that until the last 24 hours."It has been widely known for months that the coronavirus can spread through asymptomatic transmission. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidelines for outbreak mitigation regarding asymptomatic transmission, leading Georgia health officials to change their projections for an outbreak in the state."It’s a combination of recognizing there’s a large number of people out there who are infected and who are infected, who are asymptomatic, who never would have been recognized under our old models, but also seeing the community transmission that we’re seeing," said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, head of Georgia's Department of Public Health.Governor Kemp had initially resisted signing a shelter-in-place order due to the effect it would have on the state's economy. However, in recent days the governors of Florida, Texas, and South Carolina all introduced limitations on residents' mobility to combat coronavirus spread. Georgia has 4,748 confirmed cases, with Florida at 7,773, Texas at 4,607, and South Carolina at 1,293, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker.With the extent of coronavirus spread across the U.S. becoming clearer, Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said the outbreak in the U.S. was increasingly comparable to that of Italy, one of the worst outbreaks in the western hemisphere.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 12:21 pm

Brazil: Amazon land defender Zezico Guajajara shot deadZezico Guajajara is the latest activist to be killed in a campaign to protect Brazil's indigenous land.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 11:16 am

US sends warships to Caribbean to stop illegal drugsThe announcement came a week after the US accused Venezuela's leader of "narco-terrorism".


Posted: April 2, 2020, 9:09 am

Two years before coronavirus, CDC warned of a coming pandemicLong before the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China, and then soon spread to nearly every country on Earth, a conference in 2018 offered proof that epidemiologists at the CDC and other institutions were aware that a new pandemic was poised to strike.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 9:01 am

Hungry black hole may be cosmic 'missing link'Astronomers say they have found the best evidence yet for an elusive class of black hole.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 7:59 am

Pakistan court set to free four accused in Daniel Pearl killingA Pakistani court on Thursday commuted the death sentence of the main person accused in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of an American Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, and acquitted three other co-accused in the matter. All four had been convicted in connection with Pearl's kidnapping and murder, including British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding the murder. Pearl, 38, was investigating Islamist militants in Karachi after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 5:51 am

Coronavirus live updates: US toll tops 5,100 after deadliest day yet; Florida, 3 other states issue stay-at-home orders; CDC considers masksFlorida announced a stay-at-home order, and officials weighed recommending more Americans wear masks. Here are the latest coronavirus updates.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 5:13 am

Iran parliament speaker, Israeli health minister have virusIran’s parliament speaker has contracted the new coronavirus, the country's highest-ranking government figure yet to catch the disease, while in Israel, several top officials entered quarantine when the health minister tested positive on Thursday. Iran's parliament announced Ali Larijani’s illness on its website, saying he was receiving treatment in quarantine. Iran, the regional epicenter of the virus, has been fighting one of the world's worst outbreaks.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 5:02 am

Two masks, no lockdown: Japan PM's latest coronavirus step riles social mediaFacing calls to declare a coronavirus state of emergency, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was derided on social media on Thursday for instead offering people cloth masks, pointing to growing frustration with his handling of the crisis. Abe's offer of free masks - two per household - came the day after experts had warned Japan was on the brink of a medical crisis as cases rose, especially in Tokyo. The prime minister said on Wednesday Japan was "barely holding the line" in its battle against the virus.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 4:18 am

Israel's Netanyahu gets all-clear after second coronavirus scare this weekIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tested negative for coronavirus on Thursday after his health minister was diagnosed with it, officials said, the 70-year-old leader's second infection scare this week. As a precaution, Netanyahu returned to self-isolation for six more days, they said. In between the two periods, Netanyahu went on national TV to announce new measures to curb the epidemic.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 3:51 am

A national lockdown to stop coronavirus? Trump is 'thinking about doing that'President Trump shied away Wednesday from issuing domestic travel restrictions or a national lockdown to try and beat back the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic that, in a best case scenario, is expected to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans.


Posted: April 2, 2020, 12:57 am

Trump says he doesn’t want a nationwide stay-at-home order because some states don’t have a high number of coronavirus casesAt the coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump said he didn’t want to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order to fight the pandemic because there are some states that don’t have a large number of positive coronavirus cases.


Posted: April 1, 2020, 11:42 pm

Differing death tolls in California and Louisiana hint at the urgency to 'flatten the curve'In the past week, California has seen its number of deaths slowing down, while the tally in Louisiana has accelerated.


Posted: April 1, 2020, 7:21 pm

Americans masking up against coronavirus — 'no harm to it,' Trump saysWith the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surging nationwide and health officials warning that, even in a best-case scenario, deaths from the disease could top 100,000 in the U.S., the government is reviewing its guidance on the use of face masks by the general population.


Posted: April 1, 2020, 6:53 pm

PA Man ‘Upset Over Coronavirus’ Shoots Girlfriend Before Turning Gun on Himself: CopsA Pennsylvania man “extremely upset” about losing his job amidst the coronavirus pandemic allegedly shot his girlfriend, before turning the gun on himself in an attempted murder-suicide, authorities said Wednesday.The Wilson Borough Police Department said in a statement to The Daily Beast that Roderick Bliss IV, 38, attempted to fatally shoot his girlfriend with a semi-automatic pistol on Monday afternoon, before dying by suicide, after he “had become increasingly upset over the COVID-19 pandemic.” The 43-year-old girlfriend, who was shot once in the back, survived the attack and is in St. Luke’s hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. “In the days prior to the shooting, Bliss had become increasingly upset over the COVID-19 pandemic,” police said. “Minutes before the shooting Bliss was extremely upset about the pandemic and the fact that he had recently lost his job.”What if This Coronavirus Lockdown Is Only the Beginning?At around 1:20 p.m. on Monday, authorities responded to reports of “multiple shots fired with injuries” at Bliss’ Wilson Borough home, about an hour outside of Philadelphia. Upon arrival, officers found Bliss “unresponsive and not breathing” and a semi-automatic pistol near his body. The Northampton County Coroner ruled Bliss’ death a suicide.The girlfriend, who is alert, and other witnesses told police that Bliss had become upset that the pandemic—which has infected more than 206,200 people and killed 4,542 nationwide—cost him his job. Authorities said an enraged Bliss “went into the basement and came outside on to the rear porch” with a handgun. “While holding the handgun, Bliss told the victim, ‘I already talked to God and I have to do this,’” police said. “The victim ran off of the porch and he shot at her four times striking her once. Bliss then shot himself.”The attempted murder-suicide marks the latest example of the collateral damage of the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic violence experts and law enforcement believe domestic violence incidents will rise as families are forced into social isolation across the country.Judy Harris Kluger, executive director of Sanctuary for Families in New York, told The Daily Beast that, for some survivors of domestic violence, being able to leave their home is critical—and forced stay-at-home orders isolate them from the “social support system” that would have previously allowed them to report abuse. White House Trots Out Grim Death Models to Drive Home Social Distancing“Domestic violence is all about power and control and what a powerful tool it is to be able to say to somebody, ‘You can’t go out of this house, you have to be here,’” Kluger said. “Even though people can go out for certain things, this environment just engages in the most negative way the power of the abuser.” Kluger said her organization, and several others across New York—the current epicenter of the outbreak in the United States—are anticipating an increase in domestic violence calls as the pandemic continues. A spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline said they haven’t yet seen a significant increase in call volumes but were receiving an increase in calls related to COVID-19 and the anxiety of people being stuck in their homes. “Right now, the people who are at risk are very isolated,” Kluger said, noting her organization is reaching out to former clients who might be at risk. “We are worried that we are going to see an uptick while this ‘shelter-in-place’ is in effect. Also, as the tension of the crisis rises, we anticipate people will begin reporting soon.”But, even as the looming number of domestic violence cases threatens New York and other cities, the number of healthy police officers is also dwindling. New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday there were at least 1,400 officers who had tested positive for coronavirus, while about 17 percent had called out sick. Despite trying to police a city with a virus-related death toll of more than 1,000, Shea has previously stressed the NYPD is focused on domestic violence cases. “What I’m concerned about is, it’s happening and it’s not getting reported,” Shea said Tuesday, noting that survivors may not be calling for help. “We’ve asked the domestic violence officers—you know who the people are in your commands, who are most vulnerable. Pick up the phone, pick up the computer keyboard and start communicating with them. Just make sure that things are OK.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Posted: April 1, 2020, 5:54 pm

The US intelligence community has reportedly concluded that China intentionally misrepresented its coronavirus numbersUS officials have accused China of spreading disinformation, and even some Chinese residents have expressed skepticism about the numbers.


Posted: April 1, 2020, 5:39 pm