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US Live updates: U.S. surpasses Italy for most confirmed coronavirus deaths with more than 20,000

09:50  12 april  2020
09:50  12 april  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Coronavirus in the US: How all 50 states are responding – and why there is no federal stay-at-home order

  Coronavirus in the US: How all 50 states are responding – and why there is no federal stay-at-home order At least 38 states have stay-at-home orders in effect, covering millions of Americans. Pressure is growing for the holdouts to follow suit.An aerial view of Bronte Beach with the words "Stay Home" written into the sand by local lifeguards on April 2 in Sydney, Australia.

The United States on Saturday has passed Italy for the most confirmed covid-19 deaths in the world, with more than 20,000 fatalities, a figure experts have called “an underestimation.” Much-smaller Italy has still lost more people per capita — roughly 31 of every 100,000 people there have been killed by the virus. If the death rate in the U.S. were to match that in Italy, more than 100,000 Americans would die.

Bing COVID-19 tracker: Latest numbers by country and state

Coronavirus deaths are rising at Virginia, New Jersey nursing homes: At least 43 residents have died since mid-March

  Coronavirus deaths are rising at Virginia, New Jersey nursing homes: At least 43 residents have died since mid-March A pair of nursing homes, one in Virginia and another in New Jersey, are in crisis mode amid escalating coronavirus death tolls.The deaths at Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County near Richmond, about 115 miles south of Washington, D.C., have more than doubled in the past five days. Residents started contracting the virus in the middle of March. The center reported its 33rd death Wednesday.

The news comes as Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said he hopes for “a real degree of normality” by November.

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Here are some significant developments:

  • Abortion providers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene after Texas banned the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A federal judge has blocked Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer from banning drive-in church services on Easter.
  • President Trump has rejected potential emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service, which has suffered financially during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is sick with covid-19, “continues to make very good progress."
  • New York’s governor and New York City’s mayor are again feuding, this time over school closings.

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | What you need to know about the virus | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.

Iceland has tested more of its population for coronavirus than anywhere else. Here's what it learned

  Iceland has tested more of its population for coronavirus than anywhere else. Here's what it learned No country or scientist or doctor has all the answers about the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe. Tiny Iceland may have more than most.No country or scientist or doctor has all the answers about the pandemic that has swept the globe, infecting more than 1.6 million people and killing at least 95,000.

10:07 PM: 'Expect action’: Department of Justice says it will monitor regulations on religious services

The Justice Department will be “monitoring” regulations on religious services during the coronavirus outbreak, spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a tweet Saturday evening.

Kupec’s tweet came on the eve of Easter, and halfway through Passover.

“While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious [organizations]," Kupec tweeted. “Expect action from DOJ next week!”

Churches across the country are fighting restrictions on in-person services that officials say are necessary to prevent dangerous spread of the virus. A federal judge on Saturday blocked the mayor of Louisville from forbidding drive-in church services on Easter amid mounting debate.

Live updates: U.S. surpasses Italy for most confirmed coronavirus deaths

  Live updates: U.S. surpasses Italy for most confirmed coronavirus deaths There are now at least 500,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 18,693 deaths, second only to Italy.The news comes as Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said he hopes for “a real degree of normality” by November.

By: Jesse Dougherty

a person sitting at a table in front of a laptop: Twelve-year-old Brandon Smith of Houston holds up his hand-drawn map with dots representing birthday greetings from around the world. Twelve-year-old Brandon Smith of Houston holds up his hand-drawn map with dots representing birthday greetings from around the world.

Arizona coronavirus update: 3,962 confirmed cases, 142 known deaths as of Wednesday

  Arizona coronavirus update: 3,962 confirmed cases, 142 known deaths as of Wednesday Arizona cases of COVID-19 now approach 4,000, with 142 known deaths, according to numbers posted by the Arizona Department of Health Services on Wednesday.Arizona's total identified cases rose to 3,962, according to the most recent state figures. That's an increase of 156 confirmed cases, or 4%, since Tuesday when the state reported 3,806 identified cases and 131 deaths.

9:39 PM: A map-loving 12-year-old is celebrating his birthday at home. People from across the globe are joining him.

Turning 12 amid home isolation orders is hardly any tween’s idea of an exciting birthday, but one Houston boy’s socially-distanced celebration is turning out to be more memorable than anyone could have expected.

Jody Smith was eager to find an alternative to help his son, Brandon, celebrate his April 11 birthday while still obeying stay-at-home orders, and turned to Twitter for a simple request: Reply to a picture of Brandon holding his hand-drawn map of the world and tell him where they are so the cartographically-inclined 12-year-old could mark it down.

Responses to Smith’s request came in by the thousands.

Read more here.

By: Kim Bellware

Justin Amash wearing a suit and tie: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) listens to debate as the House Oversight and Reform Committee considers whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP) Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) listens to debate as the House Oversight and Reform Committee considers whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Coronavirus live updates: US deaths hit 40,000 as NY begins mass antibody testing campaign; cash for small businesses coming

  Coronavirus live updates: US deaths hit 40,000 as NY begins mass antibody testing campaign; cash for small businesses coming In Monday's coronavirus news, lockdown tensions grow as Americans seek normalcy. Some passengers from a luxury cruise are getting off, 15 weeks later.A driver displays an alternate opinion as she passes protesters demonstrating at the Tennessee state capitol to speak out against the state's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak on April 19 in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee is under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus outbreak except for essential personnel.

9:15 PM: Michigan governor’s stricter, extended stay-at-home order sparks opposition from some lawmakers

On Thursday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) extended a statewide “stay at home order” to April 30 while also enacting more restrictions to help limit the spread of covid-19 in a state with one of the highest case totals in the nation.

The decision quickly drew criticism from GOP lawmakers in the state, including Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R), who wants some businesses to reopen and on Facebook blasted Whitmer’s measures as “DESTROYING OUR HEALTH BY KILLING OUR LIVELIHOODS.” U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), an independent, joined in the criticism Saturday in a lengthy Twitter thread.

“As a federal official, I do my best to stay out of state politics. But I have a constitutional duty to ensure states don’t trample on the rights of the people,” Amash wrote.

Amash argued that “sensible instructions” to socially distance, wear masks and stay at home are enough to halt the spread of the coronavirus. But he wrote that there is “no compelling case for banning bicycle repair shops or landscaping services, or for prohibiting open retailers from selling items related to home and garden maintenance.”

He further argued that people will push back on these “extraordinary restrictions on liberty,” and that by not allowing people in stores, Whitmer may inadvertently force people to stand close together in lines, thus violating best practices for social distancing.

Arizona coronavirus update: 5,064 confirmed cases, 187 known deaths as of Monday

  Arizona coronavirus update: 5,064 confirmed cases, 187 known deaths as of Monday Arizona cases of COVID-19 now exceed 5,000, with 187 known deaths, according to numbers posted by the Arizona Department of Health Services on Monday.Arizona's total identified cases rose to 5,064, according to the most recent state figures. That's an increase of 135 confirmed cases, or 2.7%, since Sunday when the state reported 4,929 identified cases and 184 deaths.

Similar debates are playing out around the country as officials grapple with how and when to ease off restrictions that have devastated the economy and led to millions filing for unemployment each week.

Announcing her new statewide measures in a news conference Thursday, Whitmer said that most Michiganders “are doing their part by staying home and staying safe."

“That’s good, but we must keep it up,” she said. “When we do, we can save lives and shorten the amount of time we’re working through this crisis.”

As of Saturday afternoon, Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases were nearing 24,000, and the death toll was up to 1,392. Detroit has been hit especially hard.

On Saturday, the Detroit Free Press reported that five Kroger employees have died of the coronavirus in the Detroit metro area.

By: Jesse Dougherty and Hannah Knowles

8:36 PM: Their schools and streets empty, teen climate activists find new ways to strike

It was supposed to be the spring that launched Sophia Kianni’s climate career.

She had eight speaking engagements lined up at big-name universities — Stanford, Princeton and Duke. She had a 35-minute presentation prepared, explaining how concern for family in polluted Iran inspired her climate activism. She even had outfits: a favorite was the knee-length white skirt, paired with a green sweater and matching white blazer.

Then came the virus: “Within a week, basically every single thing I had planned for got canceled,” said Kianni, 18. She is among thousands of teenagers who built a climate movement around the act of skipping school on Fridays and parading through streets in a highly visible show of rage — activities impossible in the era of coronavirus.

Texas emergency room doctor self-quarantines in his kids' backyard treehouse

  Texas emergency room doctor self-quarantines in his kids' backyard treehouse Jason Barnes can't risk exposing his family to the coronavirus, so he has spent three weeks bunking in his kids' cabin treehouse.Jason Barnes, 39, is a physician at Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville and Christus Spohn Hospital South. He couldn't risk exposing his wife, Jenna, and sons, Stiles and Bentley, to the coronavirus, so he packed his things and made his kids' backyard treehouse a temporary home.

Read more here.

By: Hannah Natanson

a person riding on the back of a motorcycle: Cataldo Ambulance medics bring a patient who has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to the ambulance at an assisted living facility in Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S., April 10, 2020.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder © Brian Snyder/Reuters Cataldo Ambulance medics bring a patient who has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to the ambulance at an assisted living facility in Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S., April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

8:07 PM: 1 in 10 hospitalized middle-aged coronavirus patients don’t survive, medical databases show

The coronavirus is killing about 1 in 10 hospitalized middle-aged patients and 4 in 10 older than 85 in the United States, and is particularly lethal to men even when taking into account common chronic disease that exacerbate risk, according to previously unpublished data from a company that aggregates real-time patient data from 1,000 hospitals and 180,000 health care providers.

Allscripts, through its subsidiary CarePort Health, released the data collected from multiple electronic health record companies across the nation.

This swath of data largely echoes federal findings. One difference: CarePort found that, after adjusting the estimated mortality rate to take age into account, chronic kidney disease appears to correspond to a 2.5-times increase in the risk of death among hospitalized patients.

Read more here.

By: Joel Achenbach

a statue in front of United States Supreme Court Building: In this March 16, 2020 photo, people walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) © Patrick Semansky/AP In this March 16, 2020 photo, people walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

7:15 PM: Texas abortion providers ask Supreme Court to intervene after state bans procedures amid coronavirus

The legal tug-of-war between Texas abortion providers and the state’s leaders who want to ban the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic landed at the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday night.

Twice a Texas district judge has agreed with the providers, and twice a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has intervened. In its ruling Friday, the panel said on a 2-to-1 vote that only women who might not be able to receive an abortion by the state’s 22-week limit could receive a waiver.

Abortion providers, represented by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights among others, said the Supreme Court’s intervention “is urgently needed.”

Read more here.

By: Robert Barnes

a man sitting on a table: HANDOUT PHOTO:  Vincent Djokoto, 24, learns to paint in Ghana while under stay-at-home orders. (Photo by Vincent Djokoto. ) © Photo by Vincent Djokoto./Photo by Vincent Djokoto. HANDOUT PHOTO: Vincent Djokoto, 24, learns to paint in Ghana while under stay-at-home orders. (Photo by Vincent Djokoto. )

7:03 PM: People stuck at home are finding new talents

The novel coronavirus’s insuperable spread across the globe has caused seismic disruptions to everyday life. Daily activities now rarely extend beyond the confines of one’s home. Social distancing often feels more akin to social isolation.

But with fewer distractions and increased downtime, some have found space to start new projects or complete those long forgotten.

When The Washington Post asked readers how they’ve used their time under quarantine or stay-at-home orders, more than 250 people responded with stories about learning to play instruments, trying culinary techniques and tackling other creative endeavors.

Read more here.

By: Michael Brice-Saddler

News to stay informed. Advice to stay safe.
Click here for complete coronavirus coverage from Microsoft News
 

6:27 PM: Judge allows drive-in Louisville church services, says mayor ‘criminalized the communal celebration of Easter’

A federal judge has blocked Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer from banning drive-in church services on Easter to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as the fates of Sunday gatherings become political flash points around the country.

“An American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter,” wrote U.S. District Judge Justin Walker in a temporary restraining order issued Saturday. “That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion … The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”

Louisville’s On Fire Christian Church sued Fischer and the city Friday, arguing that the mayor’s ban on drive-in church services violated their constitutional rights.

Walker’s order prevents the city from “enforcing; attempting to enforce; threatening to enforce; or otherwise requiring compliance with any prohibition on drive-in church services at On Fire,” according to court documents.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted Saturday that he was “grateful for this strong, eloquent ruling defending Kentuckians’ religious liberty from Judge Justin Walker … of course church parking lots cannot be singled out with unfair standards that differ from other establishments.”

On Friday, McConnell said prohibiting Christian churches from holding drive-in services infringed on people’s right to exercise their religion. He said it was unfair that residents are still permitted to gather in parking lots to go to grocery stores and other retail operations.

Walker, who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and now-retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, just became the youngest nominee to the D.C. Circuit since 1983.

Walker’s order comes after Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) urged churchgoers Friday to not attend Easter Sunday services in any fashion — and said those who go to mass gatherings will be ordered to self-quarantine in their home for 14 days. He also said Kentucky will record license plates at large gatherings this weekend to follow up about the quarantines.

By: Samantha Pell

a man wearing a blue shirt: Manuel Bernal, 29, a second-year medical resident and DACA recipient, poses for a portrait near Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., on April 2. Bernal began his emergency room rotation Thursday. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post) Manuel Bernal, 29, a second-year medical resident and DACA recipient, poses for a portrait near Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., on April 2. Bernal began his emergency room rotation Thursday. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)

5:57 PM: Thousands of ‘dreamers’ risk lives on pandemic’s front lines while they await court ruling on their future

Manuel Bernal could have sought a different assignment once the coronavirus pandemic hit Advocate Christ Medical Center, one of the busiest trauma hospitals serving Chicago’s South Side. His supervisor said she would not ask him to put his life on the line as an emergency medicine physician still in training.

Bernal already felt his future was in jeopardy as one of more than 640,000 undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers,” who could lose their work permits if the U.S. Supreme Court allows the Trump administration to end an Obama-era program that protects them from deportation.

But the 29-year-old resident dove into emergency room work. Bernal is among an estimated 29,000 health-care workers enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, working on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus, even as their own futures in this country hang by a thread.

Read more here.

By: Maria Sacchetti

5:26 PM: How Europe manages to keep a lid on coronavirus unemployment while it spikes in the U.S.

BRUSSELS — European workers are facing the same punishing reality as those in the United States: lockdowns, business closures and huge uncertainties about how much the pandemic will gut the economy.

But there are also big differences. Worker-protection measures have kicked in around the European Union to help safeguard jobs and cover lost wages. In the United States, meanwhile, unemployment figures continue to tick higher and could rival those of the Great Depression.

Germany is an example of government intervention to avoid layoffs. The government pays up to two-thirds of normal salary to an employee, while the employer pays little or nothing. Once the employer is ready to pay full wages again, everything returns to normal — there are no layoffs. The idea is for companies not to lose the expertise and be in a better position when economic conditions turn around. Many European countries have adopted the German model.

Read more here.

By: Michael Birnbaum

a group of people standing next to a car: Volunteers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine talk with Sylvia Ungar, center, who is homeless, as they do outreach with the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic April 10 in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/AP) Volunteers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine talk with Sylvia Ungar, center, who is homeless, as they do outreach with the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic April 10 in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

5:03 PM: Miami doctor who tests homeless for coronavirus detained; police department says it will investigate

Armen Henderson, a University of Miami Health System doctor who has been testing and helping homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic, was handcuffed by police Friday while he was putting old boxes on the curb for pickup, according a report from the Miami Herald.

Video of the incident, captured by Henderson’s surveillance footage from outside his home, quickly circulated on social media and led Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina to address the incident in a video Saturday afternoon. Colina said the department will be investigating Henderson’s detainment by a City of Miami sergeant for offloading his van outside his own home.

“Many of the questions that have been asked are, ‘Why did this encounter occur?’ ” Colina says in the video. “We have had a litany of complaints pertaining to illegal dumping … there is a cargo van parked in front of that home where there appears to be trash that is being unloaded. That is the genesis of the stop.”

Colina did not go into detail about what occurred between the officer and Henderson leading up to his detention. Henderson, who is African American, told the Miami Herald on Friday that the police officer told him he was patrolling the area after reports that people were dumping trash. After Henderson told the officer he was unloading his van and did not show his ID, Henderson said, he was put in handcuffs.

As of Saturday morning, Florida had more than 18,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 400 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

By: Samantha Pell

a group of people in a car: A paramedic with Israel's Magen David Adom (Red Shield of David) national emergency medical service, puts a swab into a tube after using it to test a man for the novel coronavirus, at a drive-through testing site in the Jabal Mukaber Palestinian neighborhood in Israel-annexed East Jerusalem. © Ahmad Gharabli/Afp Via Getty Images A paramedic with Israel's Magen David Adom (Red Shield of David) national emergency medical service, puts a swab into a tube after using it to test a man for the novel coronavirus, at a drive-through testing site in the Jabal Mukaber Palestinian neighborhood in Israel-annexed East Jerusalem.

4:36 PM: Coronavirus gives Israelis and Palestinians something else to argue about in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — The arrival of coronavirus has brought no pause in tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the eastern neighborhoods of this contested city, where both sides of the conflict accuse the other of using the pandemic to advance their political purposes.

Some Palestinians complain that Israeli officials, who provide health and police services in East Jerusalem, have been slow to offer virus testing and Arabic-language information in this part of the city and, in some cases, have thwarted the Arabs’ own efforts to respond to the outbreak.

Israeli officials, in turn, contend the Palestinian Authority, which governs the adjacent West Bank, is exploiting the outbreak to meddle in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.

Read more here.

By: Steve Hendrix, Ruth Eglash and Sufian Taha

Michael Avenatti standing in front of a car: California attorney Michael Avenatti arrives at federal court to enter a plea to an indictment charging him with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike in New York on Dec. 17, 2019. (Mark Lennihan/AP) California attorney Michael Avenatti arrives at federal court to enter a plea to an indictment charging him with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike in New York on Dec. 17, 2019. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

4:34 PM: Michael Avenatti temporarily freed from jail because of coronavirus threat

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was convicted of trying to extort Nike, has been granted temporary freedom from a federal detention center in New York City by a U.S. judge in California.

Avenatti’s lawyers have been pushing for his release amid the coronavirus pandemic since last month, and late Friday, U.S. District Judge James Selna granted the request for up to 90 days. Avenatti, who represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels in a scandal-ridden legal battle against President Trump, must first quarantine for 14 days at a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility to ensure he does not have symptoms of the coronavirus. Then he can stay at the Venice, Calif., home of his friend Jay Manheimer while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet and having no Internet access.

Bond was set at $1 million.

Avenatti was found guilty in February of demanding $25 million from Nike while threatening to expose alleged misconduct within the company.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Michael Avenatti was being held in a New York City jail.

By: Meryl Kornfield

a large ship in a body of water with a mountain in the background: The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked at Naval Base Guam in Apra Harbor. (TONY AZIOS/AFP via Getty Images) © Tony Azios/Afp Via Getty Images The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked at Naval Base Guam in Apra Harbor. (TONY AZIOS/AFP via Getty Images)

3:50 PM: USS Theodore Roosevelt cases spike by 100 to 550

Another 100 crew members on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Navy announced Saturday, bringing the total number of cases tied to the aircraft carrier to 550.

The Navy says it has moved 3,696 sailors and officers ashore, or about 92 percent of those on board. There are 3,673 negative results so far.

The warship became the focus of national attention after its commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, wrote a letter to Navy leaders expressing concern about their handling of the ship’s outbreak and requesting that most of his 4,800-sailor crew disembark in Guam for testing and quarantining. The letter was leaked to the media.

Then-acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly dismissed Crozier and told the crew that Crozier had either written the letter to create controversy or was “too naive or too stupid” to command the ship. Modly resigned Tuesday after those comments, which were recorded by sailors and shared online, drew a backlash and calls for him to step down.

By: Meryl Kornfield

3:45 PM: Trump has now approved disaster declarations in all 50 states

With the addition of Wyoming on Saturday, President Trump has now issued coronavirus-related disaster declarations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

American Samoa is the only U.S. territory that has not been placed under a federal disaster declaration by the president.

Trump approved the declaration for Wyoming two days after Gov. Mark Gordon made the request. Emergency declarations permit public officials to exercise emergency powers to protect their citizens. They also permit states and territories to request federal financial aid for safety and recovery projects.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency appointed Lee K. dePalo as the coordinator officer for Wyoming’s affected areas, according to a White House news release.

As of Saturday afternoon, Wyoming had reported 253 confirmed coronavirus cases, 87 probable cases and zero virus-related deaths. It is the only U.S. state to have not reported a death caused by covid-19.

By: Jesse Dougherty

a person and a dog in a kitchen: An assistance dog in training performs the “push” command to close a drawer under instruction from Canine Companions for Independence trainer Kim Furino. The dog and another canine student are staying with Furino in her Long Island, N.Y. home during the state's coronavirus shutdown order. (Canine Companions for Independence) © Canine Companions for Independence An assistance dog in training performs the “push” command to close a drawer under instruction from Canine Companions for Independence trainer Kim Furino. The dog and another canine student are staying with Furino in her Long Island, N.Y. home during the state's coronavirus shutdown order. (Canine Companions for Independence)

3:20 PM: Service dog trainings are being halted, keeping disabled people from canine companions

Eric Caron, a retired guidance counselor who has been blind since birth, recently moved to a new home. He soon noticed that his guide dog, a yellow Labrador retriever named Ryan, had trouble leading him across a busy intersection that Caron must cross regularly.

Caron knew what that meant: It was time to retire Ryan, a near-senior citizen at age 9, to pet status and get a new guide dog. But as the novel coronavirus spread, Caron’s “dog day” appointment on April 2, at the New York-based Guiding Eyes for the Blind, was postponed indefinitely.

Like many people with disabilities, Caron, of Brattleboro, Vt., relies on a service dog to help him navigate not just the world, but also his own home and property. The dogs are trained to do specific tasks such as guiding people in public, opening doors and interrupting anxiety attacks. That training can last up to two years, and it is now on hold nationwide as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Read more here.

By: Kim Kavin

2:51 PM: Pentagon will seek production of 39 million N95 masks

The Pentagon announced Saturday it will invest $133 million to increase domestic production of N95 masks, which have been in short supply since the coronavirus outbreak hit the United States.

The Defense Department will seek production over 90 days of more than 39 million masks from companies yet to be announced.

Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, said the agency received approval from the White House coronavirus task force on Friday night to use the powers under the Defense Production Act to spur the production. It is the Pentagon’s first project under the DPA in response to the pandemic, Andrews said.

The DPA is a 1950s law giving the federal government the power to compel companies to prioritize projects in the national interest. Trump has invoked it several times in recent weeks to push domestic manufacturers to make ventilators and masks. But he has faced criticism from many Democrats who have argued he waited too long to use the presidential power and should be using it more.

By: Colby Itkowitz

2:29 PM: Queen Elizabeth II’s Easter message: ‘Coronavirus will not overcome us’

LONDON — In her first-ever Easter address, Queen Elizabeth II told Britons that “coronavirus will not overcome us.”

“Easter isn’t canceled — indeed, we need Easter as much as ever,” the queen said in a video posted on Saturday evening on the Royal Family’s social media accounts.

This is the second time the 93-year-old monarch has addressed the nation in the past week. Last Sunday, the BBC broadcast a rare, personal address from the queen, where she told the nation that “better days will return.”

Every year the queen gives a Christmas Day speech, but this is the first time she’s delivered an address on Easter.

“We know that coronavirus will not overcome us,” she said. “As dark as death can be — particularly for those suffering with grief — light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”

She also nodded to the strict restrictions on movement that remain in place.

“This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe,” she said.

The queen holds the title “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England” and is known for her Christian faith. The 2-minute address featured her voice and a video of a flickering candle.

“May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future,” she said. “I wish everyone of all faiths and denominations a blessed Easter.”

By: Karla Adam

a building with a clock on the side of the street: Royal Street, in New Orleans' French Quarter, sits empty. (Sophia Germer/Bloomberg News) Royal Street, in New Orleans' French Quarter, sits empty. (Sophia Germer/Bloomberg News)

2:22 PM: New Orleans leads way in moving homeless to hotels during pandemic

NEW ORLEANS — The rats were coming, hundreds of them headed toward a large homeless encampment just outside the French Quarter. They were swarming the streets and sidewalks, desperate for something to eat after the state closed all the bars and restricted restaurants to takeout orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most shelters had stopped accepting new residents, leaving no obvious place to house the nearly 200 people living in tents underneath a nearby expressway. With few options left, city and state agencies proposed a solution that is being emulated across the country: move people from the homeless camp into a hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, one block off Canal Street.

“Using hotels is something that seems to be catching on in a lot of places, and New Orleans is a leader in that,” said Steve Berg, vice president of programs and policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Read more here.

By: Richard A. Webster

1:56 PM: Italy reports 619 new deaths, bringing total death toll in line with U.S.

Italy reported 619 new deaths from the coronavirus on Saturday, nearly aligning its total fatality count with the toll in the United States.

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Italy reached 19,468, while the latest death count in the United States is 20,000, according to a Washington Post tally.

Even though the United States has a population 5-times larger, the number of deaths are comparable in part because of Italy’s larger percentage of older citizens. Covid-19′s mortality rate is much higher among the elderly.

Also Saturday, the number of confirmed cases in Italy rose to 100,269, from 98,273 a day earlier.

Italy announced on Friday it is extending its lockdown by three weeks to May 3 as officials said it was not yet time to pull back restrictions.

By: Eva Dou

1:39 PM: New York appears to have hit an apex, reached ‘the end of the beginning,’ Cuomo says

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Saturday announced the state had reached an apex and plateaued in its numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, but he warned that the virus’s spread was “stabilizing at a horrific rate.”

Cuomo reported 783 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 8,627 — about 40 percent of the country’s toll. The state recorded 9,946 new cases, bringing its total to 180,458.

Although New York may have reached an apex in new cases, Cuomo cautioned against reopening businesses and schools too soon. He quoted Winston Churchill that this is “the end of the beginning.”

“The game isn’t over yet,” the governor said. “Are we in the sixth inning? Are we at halftime? No one knows.”

Cuomo warned against politicizing the timeline of lifting quarantine orders and said the decision should be based on ensuring there is not a second wave. He said he was working “hand-in-glove” with President Trump, who has said he is eager to reopen the country and restart the economy.

Cuomo said saving the economy and saving lives should not come at the expense of one another.

“Reopening is both a public health question and an economic question, and I’m unwilling to divorce the two,” he said. “You can’t ask the people of this state or this country to choose between lives lost and dollars gained.”

By: Meryl Kornfield

The P.S. 116 Manhattan school playground in New York City is seen here on April 4. (Noam Galai/Getty Images North America) The P.S. 116 Manhattan school playground in New York City is seen here on April 4. (Noam Galai/Getty Images North America)

1:20 PM: Cuomo disputes New York City’s decision to close public school campuses for rest of academic year

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) are challenging each other over who has the authority to decide how long NYC public schools will remain closed and when they might possibly reopen. New York City’s is the largest school district in the United States.

The feud between the longtime political rivals spilled into public view again on Saturday, when de Blasio announced the city’s public schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year, as the district’s 1.1 million students finish the term remotely.

But the announcement was soon undercut by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), who disputed de Blasio’s authority to order the schools closed for the remainder of the term.

De Blasio called his decision “painful” but said it “clearly will help us save lives. ”

But hours later, Cuomo dismissed de Blasio’s announcement as the mayor’s “opinion” and said as governor he has the legal authority to decide the school district’s opening or closing plans.

“You can’t make a decision just within New York City without coordinating that decision with the whole metropolitan region, because it all works together,” Cuomo said Saturday afternoon. “Any decision on when to open or close businesses and schools would be coordinated with neighboring counties and ideally neighboring states like Connecticut and New Jersey, Cuomo said.

Schools statewide are scheduled to be closed until at least April 29; Cuomo insisted Saturday that contrary to de Blasio’s announcement, there’s not yet a decision on any further opening or closings affecting schools.

Representatives for de Blasio said the city, not the governor, runs its school system and noted the mayor’s move drew consensus from the city health department, principals, the teachers union and even Anthony S. Fauci, who has said schools might be able to reopen in the fall.

De Blasio’s press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, tweeted that Cuomo’s reaction to the mayor’s move is reminiscent of how he reacted when de Blasio issued a stay-at-home order for the city: “We were right then, and we’re right now.”

The city’s decision to shutter physical classrooms for the rest of the school year follows similar moves in at least 19 states and three U.S. territories. School closures of any duration have affected roughly 55.1 million students, according to data tallied by Education Week.

New York has been the state hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, with New York City disproportionately affected. The more than 5,600 deaths in the city account for roughly one-third of all confirmed U.S. deaths from covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

By: Kim Bellware

a person holding a bag and walking on a street: A U.S. Postal Service worker wears a mask and gloves on Thursday while delivering mail in Van Nuys, Calif., near a Food Bank distribution for those in need. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) A U.S. Postal Service worker wears a mask and gloves on Thursday while delivering mail in Van Nuys, Calif., near a Food Bank distribution for those in need. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

12:51 PM: White House rejects bailout for Postal Service battered by coronavirus

Through rain, sleet, hail and even a pandemic, mail carriers serve every address in the United States, but the coronavirus crisis is shaking the foundation of the U.S. Postal Service in new and dire ways.

The Postal Service’s decades-long financial troubles have worsened dramatically as the volume of the kind of mail that pays the bills at that agency ― first-class and marketing mail ― withers during the pandemic.

The USPS needs an infusion of money, and President Trump has blocked potential emergency funding for the agency repeating instead the false claim that higher rates for Internet shipping companies Amazon, FedEx and UPS would right the service’s budget.

Read more here.

By: Jacob Bogage

12:44 PM: Boris Johnson is making ‘very good progress’ in recovery from coronavirus

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is sick with covid-19, is progressing in his recovery at a hospital here, his office said.

“The Prime Minister continues to make very good progress,” a 10 Downing Street spokesperson said on Saturday.

Johnson, 55, left intensive care on Thursday after spending three nights there. He remains in a regular ward at St. Thomas’ Hospital. His office has said he is in the early phase of his recovery and has been able to do “short walks, between periods of rest.”

Johnson first entered the hospital on Sunday night after suffering from “persistent” symptoms of covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. According to British media reports, Johnson has been passing the time by watching “Lord of the Rings” and “Withnail and I” and by playing Sudoku puzzles. Several news organizations also reported that Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s 32-year-old fiancee, has sent him letters and scans of their unborn baby.

It is unclear how long Johnson’s recovery will take. At a Saturday evening news conference, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the prime minister, “needs the time and space to rest, recuperate and recover.”

In the meantime, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for the prime minister.

The British government reported Saturday that 917 people in the United Kingdom had died of the virus in the past 24 hours, the country’s second-highest daily death toll.

Meanwhile, the government continues to face criticism that front-line workers do not have the protective equipment they need to keep themselves safe. Patel told reporters on Saturday: “I’m sorry if people feel that there have been failings.”

By: Karla Adam

12:30 PM: Doctor at Va. nursing home where 40 people died blames society’s willingness to ‘warehouse’ elders

RICHMOND — The doctor in charge of a Virginia nursing home with one of the nation's worst coronavirus death tolls says society is partly to blame because of its willingness to “warehouse” the elderly in underfunded public facilities.

James Wright, medical director at Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, was asked at a news briefing what he might have done to better stem the spread of the virus, which has infected 148 residents and staff, killing 40.

“If I were to do something different, I would have a nursing home that had enough staff around-the-clock, around all the time,” he said. “I would have a nursing home where everyone had private rooms. I would have a nursing home where there was greater access to the outdoors. In other words, I would have a nursing home funded by a society that puts more emphasis on treating our elders the way they should be treated.”

Read more here.

By: Laura Vozzella

12:13 PM: Argentina extends lockdown to April 26, eyes partial business reopening

Argentine President Alberto Fernández said he is extending a nationwide lockdown to April 26, even as his government will review local requests for limited return to business.

The country’s lockdown had been set to lift Sunday, after the original period of March 20 through 31 was extended.

Fernández said the lockdown will remain “the same” in major cities. In some communities and provinces, however, he said controls will be eased in coming days to a lighter “administered quarantine."

Earlier this month, cash-strapped Argentina announced it was postponing payment on dollar-denominated bonds as it prioritized spending on the coronavirus pandemic.

Argentina’s count of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 1,975 on Friday, with 82 fatalities. More than half of the confirmed cases are in the metro Buenos Aires area.

By: Eva Dou

11:55 AM: GOP leaders say they won’t negotiate with Democrats over small-business lending

The top GOP leaders in Congress said Saturday they would not negotiate with Democrats and instead insisted that lawmakers approve more money for a small-business lending program for firms impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) released a joint statement Saturday morning saying they would not agree to any compromise with Democrats that changed their proposal to add $250 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, which is being run by the Small Business Administration.

Read more here.

By: Erica Werner

11:40 AM: U.S. surpasses Italy for most confirmed covid-19 deaths in the world

The United States covid-19 death tally is now the highest in the world, eclipsing Italy’s toll on Saturday, despite experts calling the U.S. figure “an underestimation.”

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The U.S. toll is now 19,424, with nearly half a million confirmed cases, surpassing Italy’s total of 18,849. Italy has 147,577 infected with the virus.

Despite the country’s large elderly population, experts had previously forecast that Italy’s staggering toll wasn’t an outlier so much as a preview of what other countries could expect. The steady climb of cases has slowed, and the Mediterranean country is now preparing to reopen.

Friday marked the highest single-day total yet with at least 2,056 people reported dead from complications related to covid-19 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a Washington Post tally. The virus claimed about 1,900 lives in the U.S. each of the past three days.

The country’s first death from the virus was reported on February 29 in Washington state. Less than a month later, 1,000 people had died in the U.S.

Experts and government leaders predict the apex is still looming and may come mid-April. 

Experts fear the toll is worse than the numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University, given a lack of transparency in China and elsewhere, and the difficulty of confirming cause of death, especially outside hospitals.

In addition, a lack of widespread testing has likely contributed to an undercount of U.S. deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts only deaths in which the virus is confirmed in a laboratory test. It’s not known how accurate testing is.

By: Meryl Kornfield

11:31 AM: Governors ask Congress for $500 billion to stabilize decimated state budgets

The nation’s governors have asked Congress for $500 billion to rescue local services imperiled by the economic crisis and stabilize state budgets decimated by the downturn.

States across the country have shelled out billions to pay for the public health response at the same time as the economic standstill sent state revenue sources into a nose-dive.

In a joint statement on behalf of the National Governors Association, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the most recent federal rescue package contained no money to help states balance the books in general.

The Cares Act included $150 billion for states, but there are restrictions on how the money can be used, and governors say it is not nearly enough. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called the $150 billion “a down payment.”

Some states, such as Pennsylvania, have already started laying off workers. New York predicted a $10 billion hole, and Maryland is facing as $2.8 billion one. Unlike the federal government, cash-strapped states cannot run deficits and must slash budgets when revenue falls short.

Cuomo and Hogan said the half-trillion dollars states need is in addition to any rescue package for local governments.

“In the absence of unrestricted fiscal support of at least $500 billion from the federal government, states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to critically important services all across this country, hampering public health, the economic recovery, and — in turn — our collective effort to get people back to work,” the governors wrote in a letter released Saturday.

The letter follows a Thursday call between governors and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Hogan spokesperson Michael Ricci said.

By: Erin Cox

Slideshow by photo services

11:20 AM: Iran resumes ‘low-risk’ businesses, says it will soon produce test kits and face masks

Hassan Rouhani standing in front of a computer: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday in Tehran. (Official Presidential Website/Reuters) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday in Tehran. (Official Presidential Website/Reuters)

BEIRUT — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the resumption of “low-risk” jobs across the country starting Saturday except in the Iranian capital of Tehran, where they will resume on April 18, IRNA news agency reported.

Rouhani told a national anti-covid-19 committee that the Health Ministry said planning to reopen those businesses does not violate health protocols. Rouhani said the next phase of social distancing should be “based on Iranian lifestyle” while also compatible with World Health Organization principles, IRNA reported.

The news report did not specify what counts as a low-risk business.

Among its Middle Eastern companions, Iran has been the worst affected by the coronavirus. Its death toll rose to 4,357 on Saturday as its number of cases surpassed 70,000, of which 1,800 were recorded overnight, the health ministry said.

But the Islamic Republic also is juggling a battered economy, ravaged by sanctions, and is keen to stimulate its local economy.

Ali Rabiei, a spokesperson for the Iranian government, said the economic shock caused by the spread of the virus in Iran is heavily affecting the service industry, IRNA reported. He said the Ministry of Labor estimated, in a long-term shutdown, the number of unemployed is likely to surpass 4 million.

Rouhani also announced Iran will soon become self-sufficient in producing coronavirus test kits, face masks and artificial ventilation units.

By: Sarah Dadouch  

10:24 AM: Meteorologists say to put shelter above coronavirus concerns if tornado threatens

a yellow car parked on the side of a building: A tree that fell on a vehicle during a storm and possible tornadoes in Mooresville, Ind., on Wednesday night is seen on Thursday. (Clark Wade/The Indianapolis Star/AP) A tree that fell on a vehicle during a storm and possible tornadoes in Mooresville, Ind., on Wednesday night is seen on Thursday. (Clark Wade/The Indianapolis Star/AP)

A severe weather outbreak, including the threat of widespread damaging winds, large hail and potentially strong tornadoes, is likely this weekend for portions of the South. The storms come as coronavirus concerns have prompted the shuttering of many community storm shelters, since some public officials fear the repercussions of prioritizing tornado safety over social distancing.

In advance of this weekend’s anticipated onslaught of vicious weather, the American Meteorological Society, the scientific organization representing about 12,000 meteorologists, is seeking to prevent people from avoiding tornado shelters due to coronavirus fears.

“Do not let the virus prevent you from seeking refuge from a tornado,” wrote the AMS in a public statement released Thursday afternoon. “If a public tornado shelter is your best available refuge from severe weather, take steps to ensure you follow CDC guidelines for physical distancing and disease prevention.”

Read more here.

By: Matthew Cappucci

10:03 AM: Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Seattle-area nursing home with at least 40 virus-related deaths

a sign on the side of a building: An entrance sign is shown on April 2 at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., where at least 40 people died of covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. (Ted S. Warren/AP) An entrance sign is shown on April 2 at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., where at least 40 people died of covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

The daughter of a patient at a nursing home who died of the coronavirus during an outbreak there has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Seattle-area facility’s parent company.

The complaint, filed Friday by Debbie de los Angeles, alleges that Life Care Centers of America hid important information about the virus’s spread through Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., before her mother, Twilla Morin, died March 4, Reuters reported.

At least 40 coronavirus-related deaths have been linked to the nursing home, which was the first epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. On April 1, federal officials threatened to fine the facility more than $600,000 and revoke funding over its handling of the virus.

Morin, 85, died less than 24 hours after her caregivers called de los Angeles to say that they believed she had the coronavirus, according to several news reports.

De los Angeles’s lawsuit claims that Life Care Center failed “to disclose material facts” to the facility’s residents and their relatives so the people living there would stay “in an environment, and under the care of individuals and entities, dangerous to her health and safety,” according to Reuters.

Tim Killian, a spokesman for Life Care, told Reuters that the company would not comment on a pending legal case but wished the family peace.

“The loss of any of our residents at Life Care Center of Kirkland is felt deeply by us,” Killian wrote to Reuters in an email.

By: Marisa Iati

9:55 AM: Oxford professor says a vaccine could be ready by September

LONDON — A leading British scientist says she is “80 percent” confident that a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready by September.

Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinology professor at Oxford University, told the Times of London in an article published Saturday that the vaccine her team developed could probably be ready in the fall “if everything goes perfectly.”

Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, told Sky News that Gilbert’s comments signaled “hope” amid the pandemic that has killed at least 8,958 people in the United Kingdom.

“I know quite a lot about the Oxford project, and it is really great to see some hope, especially on the front page of the newspapers,” Hancock said.

The Oxford team is among dozens around the world — including ones at U.S. firms Moderna and Inovio — who are working around-the-clock to develop a vaccine for covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Gilbert told ITV in late March that she was hopeful that a vaccine would be ready by the end of 2020. Many experts have said developing and distributing a vaccine would take 12 to 18 months.

The vaccine developed by Gilbert’s team will begin human trials within two weeks. Gilbert told the Times of London that “nobody can promise it’s going to work,” but she was optimistic, saying she was 80 percent confident of its success.

“I think there’s a high chance that it will work, based on other things that we have done with this type of vaccine,” Gilbert said. “It’s not just a hunch, and as every week goes by, we have more data to look at."

And even if it is a success, experts say that rolling it out en masse could take months.

By: Karla Adam

9:18 AM: Spain logs lowest daily death toll in 19 days

a group of people on a sidewalk: People practice social distancing as they wait to enter a supermarket in Madrid on Saturday. (Juan Medina/Reuters) People practice social distancing as they wait to enter a supermarket in Madrid on Saturday. (Juan Medina/Reuters)

Spain, which trails only Italy and the United States in its number of coronavirus-related fatalities, on Saturday recorded its lowest 24-hour death toll since March 23.

The 510 new deaths represented a 15 percent decrease from the previous day and brought the nation’s total number of deaths to 16,353, health officials said.

Spain also reported 4,830 additional cases of the virus, a continuation of the country’s decreasing numbers of daily cases. Officials there have tallied 161,852 total cases, second only to the 501,615 in the United States.

The Spanish capital of Madrid, which has been the country’s hardest-hit region in the pandemic, added 112 new deaths in the past 24 hours. The new fatalities included a 57-year-old surgical nurse from the intensive care unit of the Severo Ochoa hospital.

More than 24,000 health-care workers in Spain have been infected by the coronavirus, and 27 have died. Doctors and nurses had decried a lack of testing and a shortage of protective gear at the beginning of the crisis, which they said has forced them to work without knowing if they were infected.

By: Pamela Rolfe

9:11 AM: Artists are tweaking famous paintings during the coronavirus era

Frida Kahlo, Frida Kahlo are posing for a picture: Valentina di Liscia digitally altered Frida Kahlo's 1939 oil painting “My Two Fridas” for the art-forum site Hyperallergic to reflect social distancing. (Valentina di Liscia/Hyperallergic) Valentina di Liscia digitally altered Frida Kahlo's 1939 oil painting “My Two Fridas” for the art-forum site Hyperallergic to reflect social distancing. (Valentina di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

As Purell became a prized pandemic item, Deanna Director toyed with the notion of hand sanitizer as a high-end unattainable, like “2020 jewelry.”

On March 1, Director, a Los Angeles-based comedy writer and advertising creative, tweeted a photo of herself with a bottle of hand sanitizer hanging from her ear. Then she was struck by the pun: “I’m the ‘Girl With a Purell Earring.’ ” On March 6, she tweeted her tweaked version of the famous Vermeer painting.

Director’s tweet has been part of a wave of visual humor in the time of the coronavirus, as professionals and amateurs alike employ iconic fine art to respond to the realities and absurdities of pandemic life.

Read more here.

By: Michael Cavna

9:00 AM: 19 front-line health-care workers in Britain have died

LONDON — British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Saturday that 19 workers in the National Health Service who have “put themselves on the front line” have died after contracting the coronavirus.

“My heart goes out to their families,” Hancock said. “These are people who have put themselves on the front line.”

Hancock said he was struck by how many of them were of minority backgrounds or came from abroad. “I’m particularly struck — I really want to stress this — at the high proportion of people from minority ethnic backgrounds and people who have come to this country to work in the NHS who have died of coronavirus,” he said.

It comes as the British Medical Association, the main doctors union, said supplies of protective equipment — masks, gloves, aprons — were at “dangerously low levels.” The government has said it now has enough stock, much of it sourced from China, but it faces challenges getting it to the right place.

Hancock said that work was going on to determine whether the 19 health-care workers caught the virus at work or elsewhere. He told Sky News that he wasn’t aware of any link between the deaths and lack of protective equipment.

By: Karla Adam

8:54 AM: Life under coronavirus brings blue skies and clean air in India

a group of people on a sidewalk near a fence: People stand near the banks of the Yamuna River in New Delhi on Monday. (Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images) People stand near the banks of the Yamuna River in New Delhi on Monday. (Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images)

Inside the world’s largest lockdown, there are no flights, no passenger trains, no taxis and few functioning industries. But one thing is remarkably abundant: cleaner air.

India is engaged in a desperate bid to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus cases before they overwhelm the creaky health system in this nation of more than 1.3 billion people.

In the meantime, the three-week lockdown is flattening something else: India’s notorious air pollution. The speed of the change has surprised even experts, who say it is proof that dramatic improvements in air quality can be achieved, albeit at an enormous human and economic cost.

Read more here.

By: Joanna Slater  

8:29 AM: U.S. consulate warns African Americans to avoid Guangzhou amid reports of discrimination

TOKYO — The U.S. Consulate in the Chinese city of Guangzhou warned African Americans on Saturday to avoid the area until further notice, warning they may be excluded from bars, hotels and restaurants, subjected to mandatory coronavirus tests, and forced to undergo mandatory supervised quarantine at their own expense.

Africans in the city say they have become targets of discrimination and suspicion, and subjected to forced evictions, after a recent cluster of cases was linked to the Nigerian community in a district known as “Little Africa,” Agence France-Presse reported.

In a statement, the U.S. Consulate said police have ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appear to be of African origin.

“Moreover, local officials launched a round of mandatory tests for COVID-19, followed by mandatory self-quarantine, for anyone with ‘African contacts,’ regardless of recent travel history or previous quarantine conviction,” it said. “African Americans have also reported that some businesses and hotels refuse to do business with them.”

Foreigners have reported growing discrimination in China in recent weeks, fueled by government statements emphasizing a rising threat from imported cases of coronavirus. But the statements often gloss over how most imported cases of the virus have come from Chinese nationals returning home from Europe or the United States, rather than from foreigners.

Yet, China insists it is not practicing or encouraging discrimination.

“I’d like to stress that we treat all foreign nationals equally in China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday. “We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination.”

By: Simon Denyer

7:57 AM: The stimulus package will cover clergy salaries. Some say the government has gone too far.

Pastors, rabbis, imams and other employees of religious groups taking an economic hit from the coronavirus will see their paychecks covered by the federal government, a move some church-state experts say expands government funding of religion.

The multitrillion-dollar Cares Act, set to take effect this upcoming week, provides paycheck protection for private companies and nonprofit organizations through the Small Business Administration. The money runs through banks and is essentially a loan to cover payroll for organizations devastated by the societal shutdown. If the organizations keep their workers on staff, the loans are forgiven.

To some, public money used for an expressly religious purpose is alarming and unconstitutional, while others say we’re in a crisis and religious employees need the same economic protection every other American worker does.

Read more here.

By: Michelle Boorstein

7:45 AM: Chinese study detects virus particles 13 feet away from infected patients

TOKYO — A Chinese study conducted in two hospital wards in Wuhan suggested virus particles can travel four meters, or 13 feet, from infected patients, twice the distance many governments recommend as a safe distance.

The study, published Friday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined surface and air samples from an intensive care unit and covid-19 ward in Huoshenshan Hospital in the city of Wuhan, housing 24 patients between Feb. 19 and March 2.

They found that “virus-laden aerosols” were detected up to four meters downstream from infected patients, although it is not known if such fine aerosol particles can cause infection.

The World Health Organization recommends people stay at least one meter (three feet) from someone who is sneezing, although the CDC recommends six feet. One MIT study found that coughs and sneezes could carry the virus up to 27 feet.

The Chinese study found the virus was “widely distributed” in the air in the wards, as well as on surfaces including floors, computer mice, trash cans, doorknobs and sickbed handrails, “implying a potentially high infection risk for medical staff and other close contacts.”

Half of the samples from the soles of shoes of ICU medical staff tested positive.

No staff members at Huoshenshan Hospital were infected with the virus by the end of March, showing that appropriate precautions could effectively prevent infection, the study said.

But the results implied that home isolation of patients with suspected symptoms — as many countries recommend — is likely to lead to family members contracting the virus, since they lack protective equipment and medical training.

By: Simon Denyer

7:44 AM: Tokyo Olympic official hints that 2021 isn’t a guarantee

The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021, for now. © Eugene Hoshiko/AP The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021, for now.

A few days after Japan escalated its efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the chief executive of the Tokyo Games organizing committee said he could not guarantee the Olympics would be held next year.

“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” Toshiro Muto told reporters Friday at a news conference conducted remotely. “We certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.”

According to the Associated Press, Muto declined to directly answer a question about whether there were alternative plans to staging the Games in 2021, instead saying, “Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can development treatments, medicines and vaccines.”

Read more here.

By: Matt Bonesteel, Rick Maese and Adam Kilgore

7:13 AM: Trump casts himself as pandemic patron, personalizing the government’s spread of cash and supplies

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10 : President Donald J. Trump speaks with members of the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Friday, April 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10 : President Donald J. Trump speaks with members of the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Friday, April 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump often speaks of federal payments coming to many Americans as an act of his own benevolence, calling the bipartisan stimulus legislation “a Trump administration initiative” and reportedly musing about printing his thick and jagged signature on the government checks.

Trump touts the deployment of the USS Comfort to New York Harbor in personal terms, saying it was his choice to allow the hulking Navy hospital ship to be used for coronavirus patients — and even traveling to “kiss it goodbye” before its trek north.

And Trump talks about the Strategic National Stockpile of ventilators and medical equipment being shipped to hard-hit states as if it were his own storage unit, with governors saying they recognize that in turn they are expected to tread gingerly with him or risk jeopardizing their supply chain.

Read more here.

By: Robert Costa and Philip Rucker

6:40 AM: For Fox News hosts, the hydroxychloroquine controversy is fuel for the culture war

Laura Ingraham holding a laptop: Fox News host Laura Ingraham speaks during CPAC on Feb. 28, 2019, in National Harbor, Md. © Alex Wong/Getty Images Fox News host Laura Ingraham speaks during CPAC on Feb. 28, 2019, in National Harbor, Md.

Tucker Carlson was in particularly high dudgeon Tuesday night, his brow wrinkled in rueful anger as he launched into a public scolding on his Fox News program.

“It is probably the most shameful thing I, as someone who has done this for 20 years, has ever seen,” he proclaimed. “It’s making a lot of us ashamed to work in the same profession as those people. So reckless and wrong in the middle of a pandemic, it really is, for real.”

The source of Carlson’s apparent regret? The fact that some “members of the media” — he didn’t offer any specifics — have criticized President Trump’s energetic touting of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

Read more here.

By: Paul Farhi

6:22 AM: Son of one of first in U.S. to die of covid-19 writes Trump a letter saying the president is ‘directly responsible’ for his dad’s passing

In the days that followed his father’s death from the novel coronavirus, Nathan Lambrecht grew incensed at President Trump.

As Kirkland, Wash., turned into the early American epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Lambrecht heard the stories of others in the area go the way of his 71-year-old father, Douglas, who died on March 1. So, he wrote to the White House, opening up about what he saw as the Trump administration’s inaction in responding to the outbreak.

“I personally hold the current administration directly responsible for the untimely death of my father,” Lambrecht wrote, according to the Seattle Times. “I’ve always assumed one of the main functions of a government is to provide for and protect its citizens. Instead, what I have seen is blatant disregard for our nation’s safety and our government’s inability to proactively respond in the face of a global pandemic.”

In the letter, which he also reportedly sent to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Lambrecht criticized Trump for downplaying the effect of the virus on Americans and going against “information which clearly indicated a dire warning,” according to the Times.

“Putting the stock market over the welfare of citizens, more than once. The unwillingness to defend our elderly and our immunocompromised with preemptive measures, while experts vocalized their concern over what was coming,” wrote the 29-year-old. “In any other scenario, this would sound like criminal negligence and murder.”

A longtime emergency-room doctor, Douglas Lambrecht underwent dialysis in February after suffering renal failure. About two weeks later, he was fighting a fever and had difficulty breathing. Three days after he was sent to intensive care, the 71-year-old was dead.

At the end of the note, Nathan Lambrecht signed the letter as “A Grieving Son.”

“I just want him to know, the whole administration to know, how I feel about this and how it affects me and my family,” he told the newspaper.

It’s unclear whether the White House received the letter.

By: Timothy Bella

6:03 AM: Small businesses are still awaiting emergency loans — and facing a dilemma about how to spend them

Bob Giaimo, founder of the Silver Diner restaurant chain, is hoping to receive emergency funding in the coming days through a federal loan program. But he does not want to spend the money right away.

Small-business owners are supposed to use the loans immediately to keep employees on their payrolls during the coronavirus crisis, but at the moment there is little for Giaimo’s workers to do. His restaurants in Virginia, Maryland and the District will be closed for sit-down service until local officials allow them to reopen.

“Getting the loan is hard enough. Using it is harder,” said Giaimo, who is lobbying his members of Congress for more flexible loan terms.

Read more here.

By: Jeanne Whalen and Renae Merle

5:27 AM: Foreign policy challenges persist for a distracted U.S. in the midst of a pandemic

Donald Trump, Mike Pence are posing for a picture: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Good Friday event for Easter as Vice President Mike Pence listens in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas © Yuri Gripas/Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Good Friday event for Easter as Vice President Mike Pence listens in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

While scholars debate whether the coronavirus crisis will mark a turning point in modern world history, smaller-scale dramas — some affecting the Trump administration’s highest foreign policy priorities — are still playing out across the globe.

In the Middle East, alliances and battlefields are being redrawn. In Asia, new powers are strengthening as new partnerships emerge. Much of Africa is descending into a deeper economic hole. The declining U.S. transatlantic leadership role has come into even sharper relief.

The administration’s ability to manage these issues, preserving U.S. interests even as its attention and resources are sapped by the domestic pandemic fight, will help determine the starting point for its post-virus position in the world.

Read more here.

By: Karen DeYoung

5:10 AM: Head of federal prisons defends coronavirus response: ‘I don’t think anybody was ready’

Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal on Friday defended his agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic amid criticism from corrections workers, inmates and civil rights attorneys that inaction of officials caused the virus to fester in prisons.

“I don’t think anybody was ready for this covid, so we’re dealing with it just as well as anybody else, and I’d be proud to say we’re doing pretty good,” Carvajal said in an interview with CNN, his first with a national news outlet since the pandemic began.

Since the pandemic reached the United States, nine federal inmates have died of the coronavirus, according to the BOP, including six at Oakdale prison in rural Louisiana, the outbreak’s epicenter in the federal prison system. As of Friday, 318 federal inmates and 163 corrections staff have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the BOP.

Inmates and corrections officers have reported shortages of masks, gloves and other protective equipment and say they’ve continued to work and serve in cramped, unsanitary conditions despite instructions from the country’s top health officials to practice social distancing, as The Washington Post has reported.

Carvajal, a career prison worker, was appointed to lead the BOP on Feb. 25 and received his first briefing on the virus two days later, according to CNN.

“It was quite overwhelming, a week or two into this job, knowing that we were going to have to deal with something like this,” he said.

Carvajal outlined the suite of steps the BOP has taken to protect inmates and staff in its 122 facilities, including ending visitations from families and attorneys, quarantining new inmates and shutting inmates in their cells for two weeks. Prison officials also started in the past week to release vulnerable inmates early, he said.

“It’s easy to critique those hot spots, but we don’t control that,” Carvajal said. “We can only control the people inside of our institutions, and we put things in place to do that.”

“I understand the criticism of the timing on it,” he added, “but that’s where I believe that experience on running prisons — and we know our population, we know what we can and can’t do and the right time to do it, and that played a big role in making the decision.”

By: Derek Hawkins

4:54 AM: Dozens of colleges and universities are dropping SAT/ACT requirements for fall 2021 applicants

a group of people walking in front of a building: FILE - In this April 21, 2017, file photo, students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California, Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif. The university has delayed a contentious vote originally planned for Wednesday on whether to raise tuition at UC's 10 campuses, the office of UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement issued Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File) © Ben Margot/AP FILE - In this April 21, 2017, file photo, students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California, Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif. The university has delayed a contentious vote originally planned for Wednesday on whether to raise tuition at UC's 10 campuses, the office of UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement issued Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

A record number of colleges and universities have in recent weeks dropped the requirement that students applying to enter as freshmen in fall 2021 submit an SAT or ACT test, and some are using it as a pilot to determine whether to eliminate the requirement altogether — actions that could presage a broad shift away from admissions testing in higher education.

Dozens of schools — including major universities and such highly selective schools as top-ranked Williams College — have announced new test-optional policies for high school juniors as a response to the shutdown of most public life, in the United States and around the world, to try to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Each day brings new suspensions, and many more are expected in the coming weeks, admissions experts say.

There is a growing chorus of voices for even more schools to take such action. The student-led nonprofit group Student Voice is holding a news conference next week to urge every college and university in the country “to prioritize equity in the admissions process” and adopt test-optional policies for freshmen entering in 2021, according to a statement.

Read more here.

By: Valerie Strauss

4:34 AM: Pickup basketball players, quarantined during an outbreak, have lost their courts and community

a man standing next to a fence: Farrukh (left) and Aamir Saleem stand six feet apart outside of a shuttered basketball court. They have played pickup basketball since 1997, but those games are now suspended. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post) © Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post Farrukh (left) and Aamir Saleem stand six feet apart outside of a shuttered basketball court. They have played pickup basketball since 1997, but those games are now suspended. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

As the novel coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, it upended professional sports leagues and disrupted events. The NBA season is suspended, Opening Day still has not arrived in Major League Baseball, and Olympic athletes are recalibrating for postponed Tokyo Games.

But the impact also is felt by everyday hoops addicts who find joy in weekly pickup games.

With indoor gyms shuttered and outside courts cordoned off by yellow tape, these basketball players have lost more than the game.

High school math teacher Rob Athmer, who moved to the District a decade ago, felt connected only when he joined the Department of Parks and Recreation league. He, like many other pickup players, lost his community. These players also miss the camaraderie and brotherhood they found on the court. Still others, such as Farrukh Saleem, whose love affair with basketball began in Milwaukee, have lost their escape.

Read more here.

By: Candace Buckner

4:15 AM: Inside the deadliest federal prison, the seeping coronavirus creates fear and danger

a map of the road: An aerial view of the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, La., where five inmates have died from the coronavirus. (Pictometry 2020) © N/A/Pictometry 2020 An aerial view of the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, La., where five inmates have died from the coronavirus. (Pictometry 2020)

Wayne Pelaggi lies awake at night listening to inmates’ coughs bounce off the prison walls. He sees fellow inmates collapse then disappear with medical staff on an electric cart. His own aches and exhaustion make him fear he will not make it to his release date in a year.

“They’ve got us cooped up,” Pelaggi, 54, who is serving time at the Oakdale federal prison in rural Louisiana for drug offenses, wrote to his sister last week. “We are going to die here.”

As the coronavirus pandemic seeps into the 122-facility federal prison system, the Oakdale prison has become the deadliest. In the past three weeks, nine inmates in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons system have died of covid-19; six of them were imprisoned at Oakdale. More than 100 Oakdale inmates are under quarantine, and four staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read more here.

By: Kimberly Kindy

3:56 AM: California governor praises Trump’s handling of outbreak in the state

Gavin Newsom wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: This Thursday file photo shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) speaking at a news briefing at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif. © Rich Pedroncelli/AP This Thursday file photo shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) speaking at a news briefing at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) praised President Trump’s response to the state’s coronavirus outbreak on Friday night, crediting the administration for providing the federal resources needed to address the tens of thousands of confirmed cases.

“Every single direct request that he was capable of meeting he has met,” Newsom told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Newsom, a frequent critic who said he’s been involved in 68 lawsuits against the Trump administration, noted how the president intervened in getting the USNS Mercy, the Navy medical ship providing relief to hospitals overburdened with coronavirus patients, to California. He added that the state now has 2,000 federal medical stations because of Trump’s support.

“I can only speak for myself, but I have to be complementary,” Newsom said. “Otherwise I would be simply lying to you, misleading you, and that is a wonderful thing to be able to say and I hope that continues.”

He added, “This has been a remarkable moment where at least we’ve been able to rise above that partisanship.”

Earlier in the day, Newsom and Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California Health and Human Services, outlined new data showing the impact of state’s social distancing measures. In the presentation, Ghaly said California’s covid-19 peak “may not end up being as high as we planned around and expected.”

As of Friday, California has more than 21,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 587 deaths.

By: Timothy Bella

3:36 AM: FDA issues new supermarket, food retail safety guidelines to protect workers, customers

Nearly one month after President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, and three weeks before he would like to reopen much of the country, the Food and Drug Administration has announced a comprehensive list of best practices to protect workers and consumers in the essential businesses that are feeding Americans during a pandemic when everyone is supposed to keep their distance.

Many of the guidelines reiterate practices that are already in place or considered a routine part of the food business — social distancing, no facial touching, standard food-safety procedures — but they also emphasize what companies should do to protect employees and maintain a safe workplace during the ongoing outbreak. The FDA suggests employers assess workers’ health before they start a shift, including temperature checks. Employees should wear masks, maintain 6 feet of separation from co-workers and assess their own health throughout the day.

Read more here.

By: Tim Carman

3:17 AM: 10,000 people flock to San Antonio food bank in a single day

The San Antonio Food Bank kicked off a drive-through food giveaway on Thursday expecting to provide about 6,000 struggling households with a package of groceries to help get them through tough times.

But before the day was done, about 10,000 had showed up, quickly depleting the 1 million pounds of food the organization had on-hand, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Photos and videos from the distribution site at Traders Village in the city’s southwest show lines of cars, thousands deep, filling the vast parking lot and snaking down the highway — a chilling illustration of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll.

The food bank’s chief executive, Eric Cooper, said he was shocked to see the stream of vehicles stretching out of sight.

“I said to my team, ‘We’re going to need more food,’” Cooper told KSAT. “This is insane.”

More than 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past four weeks as efforts to contain the outbreak in the United States have led businesses to shut their doors and lay off workers.

The surge in joblessness is already threatening to overwhelm some social services organizations as people scramble for help. The San Antonio Food Bank’s distribution lasted four hours longer than originally scheduled, and workers had to turn some people away because they didn’t register beforehand, Cooper said.

“We tried to qualify people on site,” he told the Express-News. “There were a few folks who showed up that didn’t qualify … but then there were those who showed up and said, ‘I heard this was happening. I didn’t know I had to register, but I need food. I am a hotel worker and I was laid off.’ Those are the stories we heard from a lot of people who showed up.”

Cooper said the food bank’s donations are drying up as restaurants, hotels and catering companies shut their doors and grocery store shelves are stripped bare by anxious shoppers. For the first time in its history, the organization is turning to the federal government for help, he said. But that assistance may take 90 days to arrive.

“People have to eat between now and then, and we’re going to be reliant on just what we’re able to collect through philanthropy,” Cooper told KSAT. “Unfortunately, philanthropy isn’t going to make up the difference in the shortfall that we’re having.”

By: Derek Hawkins

2:58 AM: Far right-wing and radical Islamist groups are exploiting coronavirus turmoil

a bridge over a body of water with a city in the background: People walk along the East River at Main Street Park on Thursday, April 9, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) © Frank Franklin II/AP People walk along the East River at Main Street Park on Thursday, April 9, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Extreme right-wing organizations and radical Islamist groups are seizing on the turmoil and panic created by the coronavirus pandemic to advance their violent agendas, often using similar tactics and the same messaging apps, security officials and experts say.

In recent weeks, racist and anti-Semitic organizations, as well as the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and radical Shiite networks, have ramped up recruitment efforts, encouraged attacks and advanced hate-filled conspiracy theories about the virus.

Far-right extremist groups have called the pandemic a hoax and floated the falsehood that the crisis is being orchestrated by Jews or China. In the United States, they are exploiting the state of anxiety, including massive job losses, by scapegoating Jews, blacks, immigrants, politicians and law enforcement, according to security officials.

Read more here.

By: Souad Mekhennet

2:36 AM: Tiger bone ‘glue,’ rhino horn and bear bile peddled to protect, cure people from coronavirus

TOKYO — Tiger bone “glue,” rhino horn and bear bile are all being peddled as ways to protect people against the novel coronavirus or as potential cures in China, Vietnam or Laos, according to research by the Environmental Investigation Agency.

In Vietnam, one trader is promoting tiger bone “glue” on a social media account, as a way to protect family health “during the haunting pandemic,” complete with images of a tiger being butchered and the bones boiled down, the EIA found.

He is one of scores of tiger keepers and butchers in Vietnam who raise cubs that have been trafficked from captive breeding facilities in Thailand and Laos, ultimately boiling down their bones into a glue-like substance taken with other ingredients in tea or wine as a tonic.

The teeth, claws and skins are also sold as luxury ornamental and decorative items.

Last month, the EIA also found that bile extracted from captive bears is being used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and is being actively promoted by the Chinese government as a cure for coronavirus. Illegal wildlife traders in China and Laos are also peddling fake cures containing rhino horn, the agency said in a separate release.

“If ever there was a time to rethink our relationship with nature, it is now, in the midst of the biggest ever wake-up call,” the EIA wrote. “The coronavirus is symptomatic of our biodiversity and climate crises — a pandemic of our own making.”

By: Simon Denyer

2:15 AM: Maryland inmates sharing sinks, showers and cells say social distancing isn’t possible

Every morning, Diallo Shalto sees how flagrantly he violates Maryland’s social-distancing rules. And there’s nothing he can do about it.

Within several feet, he said, four other men sleep in bunks. Beyond them are another two dozen men on beds lined up inside an open room at Dorsey Run Correctional Facility — a minimum-security prison in Jessup where inmates serve the last 12 months of their sentences.

The men share a bathroom area — toilets, sinks, showers — with another open room of about 30 inmates, Shalto said. Over any given 24-hour period, he added, at least a half dozen different correctional officers walk through the two dorms, wearing masks over their face and coming and going every day in a state where more than 6,900 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read more here.

By: Dan Morse and Justin Jouvenal

1:51 AM: In Japan, fears rise that exodus from cities will spread virus across the country

TOKYO — The city of Kyoto, famous for its temples and cherry blossoms, doesn’t want tourists any more, nor does the island of Okinawa, famous for its beaches and coral reefs.

All around Japan, governors of prefectures are asking people to stay away, as fears rise that an exodus of people from the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka could spread the novel coronavirus around the country.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency this week covering seven of the country’s 47 prefectures, including Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures, and Osaka.

But several regional governors, including from Kyoto and Nagano, have already asked the central government to extend the state of emergency to cover their prefectures.

“Unless we are placed under emergency, people may think Kyoto is safe and good to visit,” said Kyoto Gov. Takatoshi Nishiwaki.

The city’s mayor also asked tourists to stay away.

“To people across Japan who love Kyoto, I would like to ask you not to visit Kyoto for sightseeing until the infection winds down,” said Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa.

Concerns rose in Nagano after residents reported seeing many cars with out-of-prefecture license plates last weekend, according to media reports, while the prefectures of Okinawa in the southwest and Hokkaido in the northeast have both reported new infections brought by visitors.

Abe appealed to people not to flee Japan’s cities, warning that such action could spread the virus into rural areas where a high proportion of residents are elderly and vulnerable.

Japan reported 635 new cases of coronavirus Friday, a record. It’s also a significant jump compared to just three weeks ago, when it was around 40 a day. There are now more than 6,100 total infections, with 120 deaths, not including cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

By: Simon Denyer

1:32 AM: Trump turns to Mexico in a ploy to end the oil price war

The excruciatingly messy deal to cut world oil production has come down in the end to President Trump offering what appear to be winks and nods concerning his perennial targets, the Mexicans.

Mexico had balked at a 10 million-barrel-a-day compact the Saudis and Russians were pushing and refused to agree to its share of cuts. That threatened to upend the proposal, though with demand wilting in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and storage capacity quickly filling up, an imminent turndown in production has become inevitable.

That reality, and the principle of global cuts, were endorsed at a special Group of 20 meeting Friday, but to keep the Mexican stand from undermining the fragile and tentative agreement, Trump announced that the United States would “pick up the slack” so Mexico would not have to scale back too deeply.

Read more here.

By: Will Englund and Mary Beth Sheridan

1:09 AM: Fauci says he hopes for ‘a real degree of normalcy’ by November

Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, walks back inside after doing a television interview at the White House, Friday, April 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) © Alex Brandon/AP Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, walks back inside after doing a television interview at the White House, Friday, April 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said on Friday night that he hopes the response effort to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States will lead to “a real degree of normality” by November.

“I would hope that by November we would have things under such control that we can have a real degree of normality,” Fauci said to MSNBC’s Brian Williams. “That’s my interest and my job as a public health person.”

The response came amid the growing battle among Republicans and Democrats over whether mail-in voting could be expanded by the time of November’s presidential election.

In an interview Friday, Williams asked Fauci whether people in all 50 states would have the right and ability to vote by mail for the presidential election. Fauci declined to answer, saying the matter was “not my area of expertise.”

As The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reported, President Trump, who votes by absentee ballot, has repeatedly attacked the idea of mail-in voting during a time of coronavirus social distancing, suggesting it results in voter fraud. The president has described mail-in voting as both a “horrible thing” and “corrupt.”

By: Timothy Bella

12:44 AM: Coronavirus case in State Department-provided housing alarms diplomats

Several U.S. diplomats living in State Department-provided housing in the Washington area have expressed alarm about the department’s lack of communication concerning a colleague who has contracted the novel coronavirus and lives in their apartment complex, according to interviews and emails obtained by The Washington Post.

Some of the Foreign Service officers and their families have left the building due to the absence of medical guidance, while others have raised concerns about whether the department is taking the problem seriously given the international nature of their work.

“They were furious that State gave zero guidance after promising it,” said one U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal State Department matters.

Read more here.

By: John Hudson

12:24 AM: Trump threatens visa sanctions against countries that block deportees

Citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump on Friday threatened to impose visa sanctions on countries that don’t act quickly to accept citizens the U.S. government seeks to repatriate.

In a memorandum, Trump wrote that the homeland security secretary should notify Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if any country “denies or unreasonably delays the acceptance of aliens who are citizens, subjects, nationals, or residents of that country after being asked to accept those aliens."

Pompeo would then have a week to develop a plan to impose visa sanctions, which would restrict visas issued to the country’s citizens, according to the memorandum.

“Countries that deny or unreasonably delay the acceptance of their citizens, subjects, nationals, or residents from the United States during the ongoing pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 create unacceptable public health risks for Americans,” the document read. “The United States must be able to effectuate the repatriation of foreign nationals who violate the laws of the United States.”

The memorandum didn’t name any countries.

In mid-March, Guatemala announced that it would block deportation flights from the United States to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It was the first Central American country to do so.

Trump has made wide use of visa sanctions since taking office to pressure countries that try to block deportations.

The administration has identified at least 10 countries as “uncooperative” when it comes to repatriating their citizens, meaning they have been slow to accept deportees or have refused to do so entirely. Those on the list include China, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as Iran, Pakistan and Cuba.

By: Derek Hawkins

12:21 AM: Amtrak receives $1 billion in federal relief funds

a train pulling into a station: A passenger walks to a departing Amtrak train at Union Station in Washington on Thursday. (Rob Carr/Getty Images) © Rob Carr/AFP/Getty Images A passenger walks to a departing Amtrak train at Union Station in Washington on Thursday. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

More than $1 billion in federal relief money is being released to Amtrak to keep the railroad system running and its front-line workers on the job during the coronavirus pandemic, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced Friday.

The additional dollars are a significant boost for the passenger railroad, which saw cancellations spike and cut back service in recent weeks amid an unprecedented drop in passenger traffic.

The aid is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, a $2 trillion bailout package approved by Congress and signed into law last month.

Read more here.

By: Luz Lazo

Texas emergency room doctor self-quarantines in his kids' backyard treehouse .
Jason Barnes can't risk exposing his family to the coronavirus, so he has spent three weeks bunking in his kids' cabin treehouse.Jason Barnes, 39, is a physician at Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville and Christus Spohn Hospital South. He couldn't risk exposing his wife, Jenna, and sons, Stiles and Bentley, to the coronavirus, so he packed his things and made his kids' backyard treehouse a temporary home.

usr: 3
This is interesting!