Christians mark solemn Easter as worldwide cases approach 2 million
Tenth federal inmate dies from coronavirus
A tenth federal inmate has died from coronavirus, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced Sunday. BOP also announced 352 federal inmates and 189 BOP staff have tested positive, up from 335 and 185 cases Saturday, respectively.
Smithfield closes South Dakota pork plant due to coronavirus
Virginia-based Smithfield Foods announced Sunday that it is closing its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls until further notice after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus — a step the head of the company warned could hurt the nation’s meat supply, The Associated Press reports.
The announcement came a day after South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken wrote to Smithfield and urged the company to suspend operations for 14 days so that its workers could self-isolate and the plant could be disinfected.
Health officials said Sunday that 293 of the 730 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in South Dakota work at the plant.
— The Associated Press
FDA issues “emergency use authorization” to sterilize millions of N95 masks
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an “emergency use authorization” that would pave the way to “decontaminate nearly 4 million N95 or N95-equivalent respirators per day in the U.S. for reuse by health care workers in hospital settings,” according to a press release.
The FDA outlined the system for which hospitals can use to sterilize the masks, a critical piece of personal protective equipment in the fight against coronavirus.
“Our nation’s health care workers are among the many heroes of this pandemic and we need to do everything we can to increase the availability of the critical medical devices they need, like N95 respirators,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said in the press release. “FDA staff continue to work around the clock, across government and with the private sector to find solutions. This authorization will help provide access to millions of respirators so our health care workers on the front lines can be better protected and provide the best care to patients with COVID-19.”
California could see coronavirus peak by mid-May, state health expert says
California has nearly 22,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 635 deaths, according to data compiled Sunday by John Hopkins University, figures far lower than New York, where the infections have been most prevalent and deadly.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said models state officials have created to track the virus had been showing a peak by the middle of next month, but the picture has improved as people limited their movement.
Even so, California Governor Gavin Newsom implored people to continue practicing social distancing.
“Let’s just do this together. Give us a few more weeks to see where these trend lines go,” Newsom said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including life-threatening pneumonia, and death.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who ordered all parks closed from Saturday evening through Monday morning, also extended the city’s remain-home order to May 15 and warned that easing it too soon might open the door to more infections. Over the weekend, Los Angeles County reported 56 deaths, raising the number of COVID-19 deaths there to almost 300.
— The Associated Press
Arizona releases demographic information on COVID-19 deaths
Arizona began releasing more detailed demographic information Sunday about the spread of the coronavirus that suggest a heavy toll among the elderly, men and Native Americans.
Health officials also released infection data by zip code along with the statewide availability of health care resources including ventilator breathing machines, as confirmed coronavirus infections across Arizona rose Sunday to 3,539 and deaths linked to the pandemic increased to 115.
Of the 115 known deaths from the virus, 78 were people aged 65 or older. Men accounted for 63% of the death toll.
The state has race and ethnicity data for about half of its coronavirus deaths. About 16% of those deaths were Native Americans. Native Americans account for less than 6% of the state’s population.
COVID-19 infections have spread with ferocity on the Navajo Nation, which extends across portion of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. A first-time weekend curfew was in place across the Navajo Nation to limit the virus’ spread.
— The Associated Press
IRS says first wave of coronavirus stimulus payments have been deposited
he first batch of stimulus payments promised to American taxpayers amid the coronavirus pandemic were direct deposited on Saturday, the Internal Revenue Service said.
“We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can,” the agency tweeted Saturday evening.
Direct deposits will continue to be issued in the next couple of days to taxpayers, starting with those who filed taxes for 2018 and 2019. This includes Social Security beneficiaries who filed federal tax returns that included direct deposit information.
Read more here.
Broadway stars stream live performances for charity
Broadway stars are live streaming performances to raise money for The Actors Fund. While Broadway remains dark, the proceeds from these performances will help pay actors and crew who are suddenly out of work.
Kentucky troopers record license plates of parishioners violating lockdown order
A church in Hillview, Kentucky, held Easter services on Sunday, just days after Governor Andy Beshear announced an executive order against churches holding in-person services, CBS Louisville affiliate WLKY reported.
Kentucky State Police troopers waited outside Maryville Baptist Church on Sunday morning to record the license plates of churchgoers. Beshear had warned that anyone at large gatherings, including church, would have their license plates recorded.
“We absolutely cannot bring people together in one building like that. That’s how the coronavirus spreads, and that’s how people die,” Beshear said.
Beshear has addressed Maryville’s pastor, Jack Roberts, multiple times during his press conferences on Friday. Roberts had previously insisted he would be holding services.
Christians celebrate Easter Sunday amid coronavirus pandemic
More than 2 billion Christians around the world are observing Easter Sunday during the coronavirus pandemic. Many services and other traditional celebrations were scrapped as people continue to practice social distancing and self-isolation.
Illinois governor says evidence of “bending the curve” on coronavirus
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said Sunday that there were 1,672 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 20,852 since the beginning of the pandemic, CBS Chicago reports. Another 43 people have died of the virus, for a total of 720 fatalities.
“I’ve spoken about a bending of the curve,” Pritzker said. “The percent of those tested positive is the same as it has been in the last two weeks and the death toll is lower than it has been in the last six days.”
The governor said he prays the trends continue, and if they do, people adhering to the stay-at-home order will be to credit. He noted that Illinois was the second state to issue such an order, and experts say it “now seems to be reaching a peaking term.”
91,000 pounds of protective gear arrives in New Hampshire
Top elected officials including New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu welcomed a FedEx plane Sunday carrying about 91,000 pounds of personal protective equipment at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
The Republican governor was joined by Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Dean Kamen, who helped spearhead the effort.
The cargo plane departed Shanghai, China, on Saturday night.
“This has been an incredible team effort,” Sununu said from the tarmac with the plane behind him.
Sununu said the gear will be distributing to areas of greatest need as part the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
— The Associated Press
Opera star Andrea Bocelli sings from empty cathedral for special Easter concert
Andrea Bocelli gave a special performance this Easter.
The Italian opera star performed a solo concert — Andrea Bocelli: Music for Hope — from the Duomo cathedral in Milan, Italy, on Sunday. The event was live-streamed on his YouTube channel as the Duomo and many other venues have been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Bocelli was joined only by cathedral organist Emanuele Vianelli as he sang songs like “Ave Maria” and “Sancta Maria” to an empty venue, ET Online reported.
“On the day in which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I’m honored and happy to answer ‘Sì’ to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan,” Bocelli previously said in a statement. “I believe in the strength of praying together; I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone — whether they are believers or not — truly needs right now.”
“Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth’s pulsing heart, this wonderful international forge that is reason for Italian pride,” he added. “It will be a joy to witness it, in the Duomo, during the Easter celebration which evokes the mystery of birth and rebirth.”
Read more here and watch the performance below:
U.K. surpasses 10,000 deaths
he death toll in Britain has surpassed 10,000 after more than 700 people died Saturday, putting the country behind only the U.S., Italy, Spain and France in the total number of deaths so far. Health Secretary Matt Hancock called it a “somber day in the impact of the disease.
U.K. government advisers have warned the country could be the hardest-hit in all of Europe. Scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance previously said it would be a “good outcome” for the U.K. if the number of deaths from the virus could be kept below 20,000, BBC News reports.
Hancock said Sunday that “the future of this virus is unknowable, as yet because it depends on the behavior of millions of people.”
Minneapolis Fed chief says central bank being “as aggressive as possible”
The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis praised the central bank for its response to the coronavirus, saying the Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, are being “as aggressive as possible” as the nation grapples with the devastating economic fallout from the pandemic.
“Our chairman is being very, very aggressive,” Neel Kashkari, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Fed, said Sunday on “Face the Nation,” referring to Powell. “He’s learned from our experience in 2008 and the whole Federal Reserve is being as aggressive as possible. That’s the right thing to do.”
Kashkari, who oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program during the 2008 financial crisis, said Congress has likewise been “very aggressive” in its response to the coronavirus, but warned lawmakers may have to do more to prop up the economy until a vaccine is ready.
“It goes back to the progression of the virus,” he said. “If we’re going to have economic distress until we have a vaccine, then it’s going to be up to Congress to keep coming back to provide support to the American people.”
Read more here.
Gottlieb says WHO should investigate China’s role
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic that has devastated the world.
“Going forward, the WHO needs to commit to an after-action report that specifically examines what China did or didn’t tell the world and how that stymied the global response to this,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”
The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread to more than 180 countries. There have been more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide.
President Trump has criticized the WHO for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and said last week he is considering ending U.S. funding to the agency.
Gottlieb said he disagreed with pulling funding entirely, as some countries in the Southern Hemisphere will likely be hit hard by the coronavirus in the near future and need resources, but said Mr. Trump raised “valid concerns.”
“China was not truthful with the world at the outset of this,” he said. “Had they been more truthful with the world, which would have enabled them to be more truthful with themselves, they might have actually been able to contain this entirely. And there is some growing evidence to suggest that as late as January 20, they were still saying that there was no human-to-human transmission and the WHO is validating those claims on January 14, sort of enabling the obfuscation from China.”
Read more here.
Cuomo: “We need to be smart” about reopening the economy
New York’s death toll on Saturday was 758, a slight drop from Friday, which Governor Andrew Cuomo said is indicative of a leveling-off.
“You’re not seeing a great decline in the numbers,” he said. “But you’re seeing a flattening.”
At a press briefing Sunday, Cuomo said he is not making any assumptions about when to reopen businesses and schools, saying “we need to be smart” about how it is done.
Additionally, Cuomo said he is signing an executive order requiring all employers to provide essential workers with masks.
Chicago mayor: Coronavirus “devastating” African-American community
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Sunday that the coronavirus is “devastating” black communities in part because of the underlying health conditions that disportionately impact people of color.
Lightfoot said on “Face the Nation” that the high number of deaths from the coronavirus among African Americans is not unique to Chicago, but rather tracks closely with the death toll in large cities nationwide.
“The answer that we believe is right is because of the underlying conditions that people of color and particularly black folks suffer from, whether it’s diabetes, heart disease, upper respiratory illnesses, the kind of things that we’ve been talking about for a long time that plague black Chicago, that lead to life expectancy gaps,” Lightfoot said. “This virus attacks those underlying conditions with a vengeance.”
In Chicago, 72% of those who have died from the coronavirus are black. African Americans make up 30% of the city’s population.
“it is devastating our community,” Lightfoot said.
Read more here.
New Jersey governor warns against opening economy too soon
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy cautioned Sunday against a swift reopening of the economy as the country continues to try to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, saying an economic reboot that comes before the virus is under control could be like “throwing gasoline on the fire.”
“Any sort of economic reopening or recovery depends first and foremost on a complete health care recovery,” Murphy said on “Face the Nation.” “Getting that sequencing right, I think based on the data and the facts that we’re seeing, is incredibly essential and that, if we either transpose those steps or we start to get back on our feet too soon, I fear based on the data we’re looking at, we could be throwing gasoline on the fire.”
New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation, sits between two hotspots in the coronavirus pandemic: New York City and Philadelphia. The state has had more than 58,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Read more here.
Boris Johnson discharged from hospital, praises staff: “I owe them my life”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from the hospital and says he owes his life to the National Health Service staff who treated him for COVID-19.
“I can’t thank them enough,” Johnson said in his first public statement since he was moved out of intensive care Thursday night at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. “I owe them my life.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement Johnson will not return to work immediately based on the advice of his medical team and said the prime minister “wishes to thank everybody at St. Thomas’ for the brilliant care he received.”
Johnson, 55, was diagnosed over two weeks ago, becoming the first world leader confirmed to have the illness. His coronavirus symptoms at first were said to have been mild, including a cough and a fever, and he was working from home during the first few days.
But he was admitted to St. Thomas’ on April 5 after his condition worsened and he was transferred the following day to its intensive care unit, where he received oxygen but was not put onto a ventilator. He spent three nights there before moving back to a regular hospital ward.
Federal Bureau of Prisons announces 335 inmates have tested positive
The federal Bureau of Prisons announced Saturday that 335 federal inmates and 185 BOP staff have tested positive for coronavirus. That’s up from the 318 inmates and 163 staff announced Friday.
So far, 15 inmates and 12 staff have recovered, according to BOP.