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(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.
For 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.
(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.
Joseph Neufeld has worked at his family’s funeral home in Queens for more than 50 years. He knows the usual flow of activity: a death call once a day, maybe two, from a family home or a neighboring hospital. Collect the body, meet the family, host the funeral—big events, overflowing with friends and family members. Maybe six or seven of those a week.Last week, there were 25. The events were somber, shorter, with fewer family members. Today, Neufeld decided there will be no more visitations at all. With the way the virus is spreading, he said, it’s simply too much to pull off.“I’ve been doing this over 50 years,” he told The Daily Beast. “It’s never been like this. I’ve had busy times, but nothing like this.” Neufeld’s funeral home is located six blocks from Elmhurst Hospital, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in New York City. Last week, 13 people died of the virus at the hospital in a single day. Four more died in the next 24 hours. Doctors at the hospital called the situation “apocalyptic.”Just as the virus is straining healthcare resources, it is pushing the city’s death-care industry to its limit. Hospitals are calling in mobile morgues to hold extra bodies. Funeral homes are running low on protective gear. Crematories have arranged for “curbside pickup” of human remains. In interviews with funeral home and cemetery directors around the city, workers described an industry on the verge of collapse.“The death rate is more than the funeral industry can handle,” said Patrick Kearns, of Leo F. Kearns Funeral Home in Queens. “We’re all being completely overwhelmed.”The problem starts at the hospital. More than 12,000 people are currently hospitalized in New York state; about a quarter of those are in intensive care. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city needs to increase its hospital capacity from 20,000 beds to 65,000 beds by the end of April. But that won’t do much for the dead—almost 1,400 of them so far. Some projections estimate the death toll could reach 16,000 in New York state alone.To handle the increase in bodies, the city has purchased 45 refrigerated trucks to station outside hospitals. FEMA also plans to send another 85 mobile morgues to the area, and the Department of Defense Mortuary Affairs is sending 42 staffers to the city’s chief medical examiner’s office. A spokesperson for the office told The New York Times that the 45 trucks would increase the city’s morgue capacity from 900 to at least 3,500. But the body count problem trickles down. More bodies in the morgue means more competition for funerals, which means more competition for graves, which means more bodies sitting in the morgue, waiting for someone to pick them up. Avi Schuman, an assistant at a Jewish burial organization in Brooklyn, said he recently spent three hours at the hospital waiting for a funeral director to collect a body.“This is overwhelming and the funeral homes themselves are not coping, the people picking up the bodies are not coping; the whole system is strained,” Schuman said.At his funeral home in Queens, Kearns says he hosted more than 60 funerals in the last month. In a typical month, he hosts 40. His staff is working round the clock, with no days off, but they’re still struggling to keep up. “It’s completely overwhelming,” he said.Lately, Kearns has had to get creative. He souped up the air conditioning in one of his unused chapels last week and cranked it until the temperature reached just over 50 degrees. He’s using it as storage space for overflow bodies.Several funeral home directors said they’re feeling pressure from the city not to hold visitations, or to keep them short. Most viewings are restricted to immediate family and are supposed to be capped at 20 minutes. At least one Jewish funeral home is now doing only graveside funerals. Neufeld said some families have dispensed with the visitations entirely, moving straight to burial or cremation. But Kearns said visitations are even more important for families of COVID-19 victims."Often they're going off in an ambulance and the family never sees them again,” he said. “These people are dying alone because they can’t have visitors... The thought of just taking them from the hospital and immediately cremating them, which some people have suggested should be done, is really difficult on the family.”Neufeld said he hasn’t been militant about the number of people at visitations either. “If more come in the door, we’re not turning them away,” he said. “We're not telling them they can’t come in. I just don’t agree with that.”Cuomo Says Coronavirus Is ‘More Dangerous’ Than We Thought as N.Y. Cases Jump OvernightThe biggest problem for funeral directors comes after the visitation. Arranging for a burial or interment—a process that usually takes hours—now goes on for days. Overwhelmed cemeteries and crematoriums have week-long waiting lists. Some are running with half crews, splitting their employees into two groups so that one can keep working even if the other gets sick. Graveyards run by the Department Veteran’s Affairs—including Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island—have canceled all committal services until further notice.Kearns said he feels like some cemeteries are not doing enough. “I was sounding the alarm early about [how] we need to work with the cemeteries and crematories so they can increase the numbers,” he said.“There are plenty of nurses and doctors who are working longer days than they normally work,” he added. “Funeral directors are stepping up, and the cemeteries need to step up and increase their hours. We all have to work harder just to keep up with this.”From his office at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn last week, Rich Moylan watched a funeral progress as if on a foreign planet. The families waited in their cars while the gravediggers, clad in full-body hazmat suits, rested the casket on the lowering deck. The gravediggers moved 10 feet away and allowed a few family members, all in surgical masks, to approach the grave and say their goodbyes. Others stayed in their cars and waved through the windows. When the family retreated to a safe distance, the gravediggers returned and lowered him into the grave.“It was pretty darn sad,” said Moylan, who has worked at Green-Wood for nearly 50 years. “I’m getting choked up just thinking about when I looked out my window and saw that.”But what worries Moylan most isn’t the burials, it’s the cremations. Green-Wood has the most crematory chambers in the city, and right now they’re working double shifts—6 a.m. to 9 p.m., thanks to orders from the city letting them expand their hours. (Hours after Moylan’s interview, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection announced that crematoriums could extend their operations to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)Moylan said he trained more people in using the crematorium last year than he ever thought necessary, and he's glad he did. Demand for cremations has gone up 50 percent in the last week alone. Funeral homes he’s never seen before are showing up, asking for their services. The city medical examiner’s office even asked Green-Wood to help out the other day. Moylan said he had to turn them down because he was over capacity.As concerned as he is for volume, Moylan is also worried about the health of his staff. Other crematories have switched to “curbside pick-up:” no mourners in or out of the office, leave the remains in your car, someone will come collect them. Moylan said Green-Wood isn’t there yet. But it’s stopped all nonessential services, like tree trimming and memorial maintenance, and is focusing on what he calls the “sacred duty:” burying the dead. At age 65, Moylan is in a high-risk category but is still coming into the office every day. “I can’t stay home if I’m asking my people to be here and risk themselves,” he said.Everyone in the death industry is worried about their workers these days. According to the New York Department of Health, there is no known risk associated with being in the same room as someone who died from the virus. But close family members—the kind who attend funerals and visitations—may have already been exposed. (The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration classifies funeral home workers who engage with these family members as a “high exposure risk.”) And death-care workers aren’t immune to the protective equipment shortages plaguing the rest of the country. At Cobble Hill Chapels, funeral director Brooklyn Pesola said she orders her masks and gloves from the same supplier as local hospitals, which is struggling to meet demand. She doesn’t know what will happen when the virus reaches its peak, which isn’t expected for weeks. "Once we’re down to the last glove and the last mask we’re pretty much done, I guess,” she said.But what’s hardest for many of the directors is watching families try to grieve in this environment. For all their solemnity, funerals are usually touchy-feely things: lots of hugging, kissing, wiping of each other’s tears. Now even family members are being asked to stand 6 feet apart as they mourn.“Normally you have a full day of visitation, even two, and you have friends and other family members that can come,” said Neufeld’s son, Joseph Jr. “Being able to speak with them can take your mind off of the death of your loved one. And now they’re being denied that.” Kearns said it’s even affecting his own work as a funeral director. He’s worked in the community for 25 years, and some of the people who come in are like family to him. “Finding ourselves sitting 6 feet across the table from someone with a mask on, It's not what we do,” he said. “It’s not how we do it.”Like many New Yorkers, Moylan said the feeling reminded him of 9/11—only, somehow more unsettling. “With 9/11, the goal was to get back to normal,” he said. “Now it’s like, ‘No, we can’t get back to normal.’ We don’t know when we’re going to get back to normal.”On that day in 2001, Moylan was at a cemetery convention in Canada. He watched the towers fall on TV in disbelief, unable to reach his wife of his coworkers.“That was the worst day of my life,” he said. “And I’m wondering if this is ultimately going to be worse.”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.
* Coronavirus: world map of deaths and cases * Coronavirus – latest global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageThe number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 continues to grow in the US. Mike Pence, the vice-president, is overseeing the US response to the coronavirus.So far, 80% of patients experience a mild form of the illness, which can include a fever and pneumonia, and many of these cases require little to no medical intervention. That being said, elderly people and those with underlying conditions such as diabetes or heart and lung issues are the most vulnerable. The coronavirus death rate in China for people 80 or over, in the government’s study of more than 72,000 cases, was 14.8%.default default default * Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation as best as possible. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will continue to be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.
What 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.
Israel put up roadblocks on Friday to seal off an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town badly affected by the coronavirus, but ordered in soldiers to support the residents. Emergency regulations approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet late on Thursday declared Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, a "restricted zone" due to its high rate of infections. "Bnei Brak is on lockdown, as of this morning, and police will prevent any movements in or out of the city," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Pakistani Muslims at a Karachi mosque clashed with baton-wielding police trying to enforce new curbs on gatherings to prevent Friday prayers and contain coronavirus infections, officials said. After failing to persuade worshippers to pray at home last week, the government in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh, home to the financial hub of Karachi, enforced a lockdown for three hours beginning at noon on Friday, officials said. Pakistan has so far reported 2,458 coronavirus infections, fuelled by a jump in cases related to members of the Tablighi Jamaat, an orthodox Muslim proselytising group.
The 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.
President Trump sent Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) a letter on Thursday so harsh that Schumer's office said he apologized for it before the missive was even delivered.Earlier in the day, Schumer wrote his own letter to Trump regarding shortages of ventilators and personal protection equipment at hospitals treating coronavirus patients. Schumer asked Trump to choose someone with a military background to oversee production of medical equipment under the Defense Production Act, adding: "America cannot rely on a patchwork of uncoordinated voluntary efforts to combat the awful magnitude of this pandemic. The existing federal leadership void has left America with an ugly spectacle in which states and cities are literally fending for themselves, often in conflict and competition with each other."Schumer's office told Politico the senator and Trump spoke twice on Thursday afternoon, and at one point, Trump said he was in the process of sending a "very nasty letter" to Schumer. Trump promised to try to stop it from going out, and said he would apologize if he wasn't successful.The letter wasn't intercepted. In it, Trump wrote that Schumer was to blame for the high number of coronavirus patients in his state, with New York City "unprepared" because of "the impeachment hoax." He told Schumer he "never knew how bad a senator you are for the state of New York," and pushed back at criticism that the federal government has responded too slowly to the pandemic, despite having months to prepare. "As you are aware, the federal government is merely a backup for state governments," he said. "Unfortunately, your state needed far more of a backup than others."Schumer told MSNBC's Chris Hayes that he was "appalled" by the letter, and said it was time for Trump to "stop the pettiness — people are dying." As of Thursday night, at least 5,850 people have died in the United States from coronavirus.More stories from theweek.com Social distancing is going to get darker 5 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's TV ratings boast Jared Kushner suggests voters 'think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis'
Two weeks after calling on Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) to resign if he couldn’t explain his suspicious stock dumps, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) must leave office if it is revealed she knew in advance about stock trades her financial advisers made.Last month, after news broke that Burr dumped up to $1.7 million in stocks—including shares in the hotel and resort industry—after Senate briefings on the new coronavirus, The Daily Beast reported that Loeffler made up to $3 million of stock transactions after attending a senators-only meeting on the disease. All but two of the 29 transactions Loeffler and her husband made between late January and mid-February—before the stock market began tanking—were sales. One of Loeffler’s two purchases was in a tech company that offers teleworking software, which saw a bump in price as more and more workers shifted to working from home.At the end of his Thursday night program, Carlson noted that he had Loeffler on to defend herself right after the Beast’s story came out, adding that she denied any wrongdoing and insisted that all the trades were made by her advisers without her prior knowledge.“Now new congressional disclosures show that she sold far more stock than we initially knew,” the Fox host said. “Between February 26 and March 11, Loeffler and her husband dumped almost $19 million of stock in Intercontinental Exchange, the company her husband runs.”Pointing out that during that same period the couple sold roughly $1 million in shares of several retailers, Carlson added that they then went and bought stock in DuPont, a company that makes antiviral protective gear.“So did she know any of this was happening?” Carlson asked. “We don’t know the answer to that. We do know that on March 10, after almost all these trades were done, she went on Twitter to assure constituents that everything was fine.”“So again, we don’t know the truth,” the Fox News host continued. “But if she knew about these trades and still issued that little PSA we showed you, she should leave office. She claims she only learned about the trades after they happen. She denies insider trading, and good. Then she should welcome a federal investigation into all of this.”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.
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.
Chicago 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.
Oil prices rocketed Thursday, posting the largeset percent increase ever, after US President Donald Trump said Russia and Saudi Arabia planned to end their price war by slashing output. After Trump tweeted that Saudi and Russia could slash production by up to 15 million barrels, Brent hit $36.29 a barrel, up almost 46 percent, and West Texas Intermediate soared around 35 percent to $27.39.
Peru and Panama both started on Thursday limiting the times men and women can leave their homes in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Amid a strict quarantine in Peru, President Martin Vizcarra said on Thursday that men and women will only be allowed to leave their homes on designated days divided by gender. "We have to get fewer people to be on the streets every day," Vizcarra said in a virtual news conference with his cabinet of ministers and experts.
Senator Martha McSally on Thursday called on the director of the World Health Organization to step down, saying the organization covered up the extent of the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in China.The Arizona Republican called WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus a "communist" and accused him of helping China conceal its underreporting of coronavirus case numbers."I’ve never trusted a communist," McSally said in an interview with Fox Business."I think Dr. Tedros needs to step down," she continued. "We need to take some action to address this issue. It’s just irresponsible, it’s unconscionable what they have done here while we have people dying across the globe."The senator condemned China itself for failing to acknowledge and curb the virus before it spilled over China's borders and spread to the rest of the world."Their cover-up of this virus that originated with them, has caused unnecessary deaths around America and around the world. The WHO needs to stop covering for them," McSally said, adding that as restitution, any U.S. debts to China "should be forgiven, as a minimum."The senator's criticism comes days after another GOP senator, Rick Scott of Florida, called for a congressional investigation into the WHO and questioned whether the organization should continue to be funded since it engaged in “helping Communist China cover up” the seriousness of the virus.“We know Communist China is lying about how many cases and deaths they have, what they knew and when they knew it — and the WHO never bothered to investigate further,” Scott said. “Their inaction cost lives.”The WHO also “willfully parroted propaganda” from China’s Communist Party, Scott charged.During an interview with Radio Television Hong Kong, WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward appeared to dodge a question about whether the WHO will reconsider granting membership to Taiwan, which China claims as a territory. Taiwan, which has reported just slightly more than 300 cases of the infection and only two deaths, has been widely praised for its containment of the coronavirus.The senior WHO advisor responded that he could not hear the question, and when the interviewer offered to repeat it he interjected, “no, that’s okay, let’s move to another one then.” Later, he appeared to hang up when asked about Taiwan's response to the pandemic, and afterwards said they had “already talked about China,” which has done “quite a good job.”> I wanted to find a slightly longer version of the RTHK interview (more context) with the WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward who basically froze when asked about Taiwan then started babbling about China then fled. And commend @yvonne_tg for sticking to the question. HT @BonnieGlaser: pic.twitter.com/2cc3hViiij> > -- Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) March 28, 2020The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report obtained by Bloomberg News that China deliberately provided incomplete public numbers for coronavirus cases and deaths resulting from the infection. In December, local and national officials issued a gag order to labs in Wuhan after scientists there identified a new viral pneumonia, ordering them to halt tests, destroy samples, and conceal the news.The U.S. now has nearly 240,000 cases of the coronavirus around the country, and more than 5,000 have died. Worldwide, more than 50,000 people have died from the respiratory illness.
Elon Musk's ventilator giveaway may do more harm than good.After weeks of brushing off the COVID-19 pandemic as "dumb," the billionaire Tesla founder earlier this week announced he had 1,000 "FDA-approved ventilators" and ended up donating 40 to New York City's hospital system. Except the devices Musk gave away aren't powerful enough to use in the ICU, and health officials have actually warned against using them on COVID-19 patients because they could spread the virus further.What Musk purchased and gave to New York's hospitals were BiPAP machines made by ResMed, a photo shared by the hospital system reveals. ResMed CEO Mick Farrell later confirmed Musk's purchase of 1,000 5-year-old "bi-level, non-invasive ventilators" known as BiPAPs to CNBC, and said it was "fantastic" that Tesla could transport ResMed's product like it did.But hospitals are far more desperate for ventilators more invasive than BiPAP and CPAP machines, which are usually used to treat sleep apnea — many doctors don't even call them "ventilators," the Los Angeles Times' Russ Mitchell reports. In fact, CPAP machines may have only helped spread COVID-19 through the nursing home outside Seattle that was the center of the U.S.'s initial coronavirus outbreak, NPR reports. These machines can "possibly increase the spread of infectious disease by aerosolizing the virus," NPR writes. Health officials in King County, Washington, have since warned against using CPAP machines on coronavirus patients, as did the American Society of Anesthesiologists back in February.What would actually help, Farrell added to CNBC, is if Musk's Tesla could produce and donate lithium ion batteries — ResMed can use them to make invasive ventilators that hospitals actually need.More stories from theweek.com Social distancing is going to get darker 5 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's TV ratings boast Jared Kushner suggests voters 'think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis'
Neurologists 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
Iran on Thursday reported 124 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising its total to 3,160, as President Rouhani warned that the country may still battle the pandemic for another year. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced the latest toll in a news conference and confirmed 3,111 new infections over the past 24 hours, bringing Iran's total to 50,468. Iran has been scrambling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak since it reported its first cases on February 19.
Long 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.
Indonesia's coronavirus death toll rose to 170 on Thursday as the world's fourth most populous nation passed South Korea as the country with the highest number of recorded fatalities in Asia after China. Indonesia reported a further 13 deaths and 113 new cases, taking its total number of infections to 1,790. South Korea has reported 169 deaths and 9,976 infections, according to the latest figures released there.
A Russian military plane carrying medical supplies arrived in the United States on Wednesday, the Russian mission to the UN said, as the Kremlin flexes its soft power during the coronavirus pandemic. The Antonov-124, landed at JFK Airport in New York -- the epicenter of America's coronavirus outbreak -- pictures and video posted on the mission's Twitter page showed. Russia's defense ministry had earlier announced that the plane "with medical masks and medical equipment on board," left for the US overnight, without providing further details.
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.
At 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.
A Chinese county that was largely unscathed by the novel COVID-19 coronavirus went into lockdown Wednesday, signaling fears of a possible second wave in the country where the virus originated, The South China Morning Post reports.The county of Jia in Henan province, home to 600,000 people, is now in lockdown after infections reportedly spread at a local hospital. There were previously only 12 confirmed cases in Henan, despite it being situated just north of Hubei province, where China's epicenter, Wuhan, is located. However, U.S. intelligence reportedly believes China under-reported the actual number of cases.Either way, the new lockdown, which shuts down all non-essential business and requires people to carry special permits to leave their homes, and wear face masks and have their temperature taken when out and about, comes at a time when the country clearly wants to get its economy up and running again. It's unclear if such measures will be limited to the county or if it's a sign of things to come for the rest of the world's most populous country, but President Xi Jinping has warned that China must return to normal gradually in the hopes of preventing a full-scale COVID-19 return. Read more at The South China Morning Post.More stories from theweek.com The Secret Service signed an 'emergency order' this week — for 30 golf carts Engineer arrested after allegedly trying to run train into Los Angeles hospital ship Experts warn as many as 1 in 3 coronavirus test results may be incorrectly negative