U.S. death toll tops 14,000 as New York reports deadliest day
U.S. death toll tops 14,000
More than 14,200 have died from coronavirus in the United States as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are now over 419,900 confirmed cases across the country.
286 crew members on USS Roosevelt have tested positive
The U.S. Navy announced Wednesday that 286 crew members on the USS Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus. The Navy added that 93% of the crew has been tested, and 2,588 people have tested negative. There have been no hospitalizations of crew members.
The Navy added that 2,329 sailors have been moved ashore and that as testing continues, the ship will keep enough people on board to “sustain essential services” and keep the ship clean.
The Roosevelt was thrust into the national spotlight last week when its former captain wrote a memo to more than 20 people expressing concern about how quickly the virus was spreading through the ship. The captain was then ousted by the Acting Navy Secretary, who then submitted his own resignation days later.
UN secretary-general on Trump’s threat to hold funds: “Now is not that time”
In response to President Trump’s Tuesday comment that he would look into putting a hold on funds to the WHO, the spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters Wednesday that Guterres wanted Mr. Trump to know that the WHO “must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.”
Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic is “one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime, above all a human crisis with severe health socio-economic consequences,” according to spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
He added that once the pandemic is over, it will be worthwhile to look at “lessons learned.”
“Now is not that time,” he said. “The World Health Organization, with thousands of its staff, is on the front lines… with guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving services as they fight the virus,” he said.
Dr. Birx reacts to Trump slamming WHO, explains delay in calling virus “global pandemic”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said the timeliness of data reported from China to the World Health Organization “did delay the ability” to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic. Birx also thanked workers on the front lines of the pandemic and expressed hope that large-scale mitigation efforts are working to flatten the virus curve.
President Trump criticized the World Health Organization in a Tuesday task force briefing. He blamed the agency for not providing better warnings ahead of the pandemic, thereby allowing it to spread as quickly as it did.
“The WHO can only react to the data it’s given, and when you go back and look at the timeline, it wasn’t until, I think, almost the middle of January that China reported that there was human-to-human transmission,” Birx said.
New Jersey’s primary is postponed until July 7
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that the state’s presidential primary will be moved from June 2 to July 7.
“Our democracy cannot be a casualty of COVID-19. We want to ensure that every voter can vote without endangering their health or their safety,” he said.
He said the state’s COVID-19 death toll is now 1,504, and over 47,000 people have tested positive for the virus.
“We’re not on any plateau,” Murphy said, CBS New York reported. “We need to be to continue to be absolutely vigilant, and if anything tighten as opposed to loosen. And I don’t say that with any amount of joy. It brings me no joy to say that.”
New York reports deadliest day yet, for a second day in a row
New York Governor Andrew Coomo on Wednesday reported an additional 779 deaths, the highest single-day death toll for a second day in a row. “The bad news isn’t just bad. The bad news is actually terrible,” he said as he announced the fatalities.
The total death toll in the state has now passed 6,200.
Cuomo said, however, that the curve in the state is flattening and the number of patients who are hospitalized is down for another day.
But he cautioned: “It’s not a time to get complacent.” He urged people to stay home, remain disciplined and continue social distancing measures.
Doctors worry they’ll be forced into life-or-death decisions
Life-and-death decisions may be forced upon doctors in states that are battling a high number of coronavirus cases, due to a critical lack of hospital beds and ventilators. While some health care systems have foreseen this and set priority guidelines for allocating their precious resources, others may leave it up to the attending physician — leaving patients at the mercy of both.
Doctors around the country are grappling with the ethical and moral crisis the pandemic has put them in. Dr. Joseph Smith, medical ICU director at Eskenazi Health in Indiana, said that “as a physician, it’s nauseating.”
“Just the mere idea that we would… take a step back and say that one person is more likely to survive than the other, so we should provide the intensive care to the person that’s more likely to survive… that is a very difficult thing,” he said.
Coronavirus cripples federal prison in Louisiana
A federal prison in Louisiana has come into focus after five inmates housed at the facility died after contracting the coronavirus. Attorney General William Barr has urged the Bureau of Prisons to allow vulnerable inmates who qualify at FCI Oakdale I and other federal prisons to serve the rest of their sentences from home.
Oakdale, a low-security facility located about 200 miles west of New Orleans, typically houses 971 male inmates. The prison has reported 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff and inmates.
Broadway closes its doors through June 7
Broadway will keep its doors closed through June 7, extending initial closures that went into effect about four weeks ago.
“Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said Wednesday in a news release.
“Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.”
The Broadway League said the decision was made in accordance with CDC guidelines and under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s direction.
India likely to extend lockdown with number of coronavirus cases now over 5,000
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday hinted that the three-week nationwide lockdown currently set to end on April 14 will be extended, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country rose sharply.
Almost 150 people have died with the new disease in India, 35 of them in the last 24 hours alone, and the number of cases rose by 773 to 5,194. It was the biggest single-day jump in both the cases and deaths since India’s outbreak began.
In a video conference with chief ministers of states, Modi said lifting the lockdown “is not possible.”
“The priority of the government is to save each and every life. The situation in the country is akin to a social emergency. It has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant,” he was quoted as saying by Indian media.
As the government considers extending the lockdown meant to keep India’s 1.3 billion people in their homes, several states and cities, including capital Delhi and Mumbai, made face masks mandatory for people when they do go out for permitted essentials.
–Arshad R. Zargar
Puerto Rico wants flight ban from U.S. hot spots
Puerto Rico’s governor is asking federal officials to ban all flights from U.S. cities with a high number of coronavirus cases to help prevent the spread in the U.S. territory.
The petition by Gov. Wanda Vázquez to the Federal Aviation Administration comes as officials accuse some visitors of taking medicine to lower their fevers to avoid being placed in quarantine. National Guard members screen people at the island’s main international airport.
The National Guard has said at least two passengers from New York who lowered their fever with medication are now hospitalized in the island with COVID-19.
-The Associated Press
NYC mayor says virus has hit black and Hispanic New Yorkers hard
New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus has been disproportionately high in black and Hispanic communities, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
Preliminary data indicates that black people account for 28% of the city’s COVID-19 death toll, even though they are just 22% of the city’s population, while Hispanic people are 34% of the city’s virus death toll and 29% of its population.
De Blasio said of the racial disparities: “It’s sick. It’s troubling. It’s wrong. And we are going to fight back with everything we’ve got.”
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, noted that the communities that have been hit the hardest by the virus “have had higher rates of underlying chronic illness” than other New Yorkers.
De Blasio said the city would embark on a multimillion-dollar public service campaign to reach non-English speaking communities with information about the virus.
-The Associated Press
End of Wuhan lockdown could trigger a “resurgence in infections” in China, doctor warns
Residents were allowed to leave the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday for the first time in nearly three months. A 76-day lockdown has been lifted, allowing people to travel in and out of the city where the global coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated.
At the stroke of midnight, the city celebrated “liberation” from its lockdown and honored frontline workers with a light show, CBS News correspondent Ramy Inocencio reports. Drivers sped off as highways re-opened. High-speed trains left just after dawn, and more than 10,000 people left the city by plane.
“Everyone’s like out and about and everyone was just so, so happy. … I felt joy in the air,” said 21-year-old Megan Monroe, who has been in Wuhan since the lockdown started.
But a riot broke out Wednesday when the lockdown on the wider Hubei Province was lifted, over fears that people now leaving could reinfect others. Some epidemiologists have warned that widespread travel out of Wuhan could mark the start of China’s second wave of the COVID-19 disease. Click here to read more.
Miss England leaves charity work in India to return to work as a U.K. doctor amid virus crisis
The current Miss England, Bhasha Mukherjee, says she’s returned to the U.K. to work as a doctor as the country’s National Health Service battles a major COVID-19 outbreak. Mukherjee told British broadcaster Sky News that she was doing humanitarian work in India when the outbreak in Britain began.
“I felt that my services, given the training that I’ve had — I’m a trained doctor — my services would be much more useful in a hospital,” she told Sky. “Towards the end of the trip… I did not feel like wearing my crown.”
Mukherjee is currently in self-isolation before returning to work in the U.K., Sky reported. She has also started a petition calling for NHS staff to pay reduced rent during the coronavirus crisis, as many are renting rooms outside their homes to avoid potentially infecting their own families.
“I’m not belittling the work, the charity work that I was doing, but in a way, you know, this is what I’ve been trained to do,” Mukherjee said. “So I wanted to come back and do that.”
Burton Snowboards boss slams “failure of federal leadership” as company donates masks to doctors
Burton Snowboards says it’s donating 500,000 KN95 respirator masks to “frontline” healthcare workers across the Northeast. The company said in a press release that it “quickly mobilized its supply chain to rapidly source and produce the specialized masks in China.”
The first 48,000 masks will be given to hospitals in Vermont, where Burton is headquartered, and New Hampshire. Another 452,000 masks are expected to arrive in the next two weeks. Half of all the masks will be sent to hospitals in Boston and New York City, “where the need is the greatest,” it said.
“It is a national disgrace that the medical supply chain in this country has not been federalized and that states are competing for desperately needed supplies,” Donna Carpenter, chair of the board at Burton, said in the press release. “This fundamental failure of federal leadership in our greatest hour of need will inevitably cause more pain, suffering and loss of precious life.”
The company is also producing medical face shields for healthcare workers and has donated over 1,300 snow goggles to medical professionals. Anyone who wants to donate used Burton goggles can do so at its headquarters in Burlington, Vermont, where they will “go through a quarantine process before being distributed.”
French aircraft carrier called back to port with possible COVID-19 outbreak aboard
France’s defense ministry has announced that the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is heading back to port amid a possible coronavirus outbreak aboard. The ministry said in a statement Wednesday that around 40 troops were presenting symptoms associated with the COVID-19 disease. They have been placed under strict medical observation.
A medical team equipped with tests was to board the ship Wednesday in order to confirm the potential cases and prevent the virus from further spreading, the ministry said.
The aircraft carrier, which was on a mission in the Atlantic Ocean, is returning immediately to its base in the port of Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast, where it was initially expected to dock on April 23. Its crew is composed of about 1,900 troops.
The announcement comes after a coronavirus outbreak hit U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, now at port in Guam. As of Tuesday, the U.S. Navy said at least 230 crew had been tested positive. The firing last week of the Roosevelt’s captain created a controversy in the U.S.
Pope prays for “those who profit off the needs of others” amid pandemic to find spiritual healing
Pope Francis is denouncing the mafia and all those who are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to make money. Francis opened his morning Mass on Wednesday by praying that “all those who profit off the needs of others, and sell them” experience spiritual conversion.
Francis’ homily was dedicated to the biblical story of Judas betraying Jesus — a narrative Christians commemorate this week in the run-up to liturgical services marking Christ’s Last Supper, crucifixion and resurrection on Easter.
In his remarks, Francis said everyone has a “little Judas inside of us” who makes a choice between loyalty to others or self-interest. He said: “Each one of us has the capacity to betray, to sell others, to choose our own interests.”
Speaking of mobsters and money lenders, he said: “May the Lord touch their hearts and convert them.”
Italian officials have warned that organized crime groups are maneuvering to profit off the social and economic disruptions caused by Italy’s virus-induced nationwide shutdown.
– Associated Press
Plastic bag bans are being reversed amid coronavirus panic
The spread of the new coronavirus is threatening to resurrect environmentally destructive single-use plastic bags, with a raft of states and cities putting previously approved bans on hold, and some even reversing course.
Massachusetts, where 130 cities and towns had banned single-use plastic bags, last week reversed its position and instead banned reusable tote bags. San Francisco, which was one of the first U.S. cities to ban plastic bags, in 2007, this week banned reusable bags, mugs and other items. Colorado, Illinois, Maryland and New Hampshire have either stopped enforcing their plastic-bag bans or banned reusables outright.
The plastic industry has been eager to capitalize on the public’s newfound focus on cleanliness. In March, the Plastic Industry Association wrote to U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar urging him to “make a public statement on the health and safety benefits seen in single-use plastics,” according to a letter obtained by Politico.
The problem: There’s no science to conclude that plastic is less likely to transmit the coronavirus than other surfaces. Read the full story here.
British PM Boris Johnson still in ICU, but said to be stable and responding to COVID-19 treatment
Boris Johnson’s spokesman says the British prime minister is stable and responding to treatment for the coronavirus in the intensive care unit of a London hospital.
James Slack says Johnson continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is breathing without any other assistance.
Johnson has spent two nights in the ICU of St. Thomas’ Hospital since being admitted Sunday. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and still had a cough and fever 10 days later.
His spokesman declined to provide further details of Johnson’s treatment, saying Wednesday’s update “was given to us by St. Thomas’ Hospital and it contains all of the information which the PM’s medical team considers to be clinically relevant.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for Johnson while he is hospitalized.
– Associated Press
Iran calls on U.S. to allow IMF to give it $5 billion emergency loan for COVID-19 response
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday to give the sanctions-hit country a $5 billion emergency loan to combat its novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Islamic republic is battling one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks, which it says has killed close to 4,000 people and infected more than 64,500, though there has been speculation both in Iran and abroad that the real number of deaths and infections is much higher.
Iran has said it needs what would be its first IMF loan in over half a century to continue fighting the virus, but the United States, which effectively holds a veto at the IMF, is reportedly set to block the loan, arguing Iran will use the funds for military purposes.
“I urge all international organizations to fulfil their duties,” Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting. “We are a member of the IMF… if there’s going to be any discrimination between Iran and others in giving loans, neither we nor world opinion will tolerate it.”
With France locked down, Good Friday service to be broadcast live from inside fire-ravaged Notre-Dame
A handful of people will celebrate a Good Friday service inside Paris’ famed Notre-Dame cathedral almost a year after the church was ravaged by a fire.
The service will include the veneration of the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ on the cross, according to the president of the Friends of Notre-Dame, Michel Picaud. The crown used to be kept in the cathedral, but has been stored in the Louvre museum since the fire on April 15 last year.
The Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit, will lead the service, along with the Rector of Paris.
The archbishop said the service would be broadcast on television and radio so the faithful could follow as France remains under a nationwide lockdown amid a coronavirus outbreak that keeps getting worse in spite of the broad measures.
There will be no other Easter services in the cathedral, and restoration work on the ancient building has stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iran’s coronavirus death toll nears 4,000
Iran on Wednesday reported 121 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing its overall number of fatalities to 3,993.
In the past 24 hours, 1,997 new cases of COVID-19 infection were detected in Iran, state news agency IRNA quoted health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour as saying.
That put the number of confirmed cases at 64,586, he added.
Iran, which announced its first COVID-19 cases on February 19, is by far the worst hit by the pandemic in the Middle East, according to official tolls.
But there has been speculation abroad that the real number of deaths and infections in the country could be higher.
WHO officials defend COVID-19 response after Trump accusations of “China-centric” bias
World Health Organization officials defended the agency’s COVID-19 response Wednesday after President Trump accused it of “probably” misleading the public. Mr. Trump said the WHO had acted in a “very China-centric” manner as it reacted to the pandemic that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
“They criticized my China travel ban and they were wrong about that,” the president said, threatening to slash U.S. funding for the WHO. “They’re wrong about a lot of things. They seem to be very China-centric. We have to look into that.”
On Wednesday, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge said the world was, “still in the acute phase of a pandemic, so now is not the time to cut back on funding.”
Dr Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, defended the U.N. agency’s cooperation with China as, “absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible.”
“This is what we did with every other hard hit country like Spain and had nothing to do with China specifically,” Aylward said, adding that the initial decision to suggest keeping borders open was taken in light of Chinese efforts to aggressively track and quarantine suspected virus cases.
Twitter boss Jack Dorsey pledges $1 billion for virus relief efforts
Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey said Tuesday he was committing $1 billion of his personal fortune to coronavirus relief through his philanthropic fund.
Dorsey said in a series of tweets that he would transfer his equity in his digital payments group Square to his limited liability corporation Start Small, contributing around 28 percent of his overall wealth.
“Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime,” Dorsey said. “I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let’s do everything we can today to help people now.”
CDC set to loosen back-to-work guidelines for some who self-isolate, Pence says
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is about to change its guidelines for self-isolation to make it easier for those who have been exposed to someone with the new coronavirus to return to work if they are asymptomatic, Vice President Pence said Tuesday.
The public health agency, in conjunction with the White House coronavirus task force, will announce the changes Wednesday, Pence said at Tuesday’s task force press briefing.
Under the new guidance, people who are exposed to someone infected would be allowed back on the job if they are asymptomatic, test their temperature twice a day and wear a face mask, a person familiar with the proposal under consideration told The Associated Press. The person described the proposal on the condition of anonymity because the draft had not been finalized.
1st day of Japan’s state of emergency sees trains still packed for morning rush
The first full day under Japan’s state of emergency has underwhelmed. While some popular retail and tourist spots were unusually quiet, it looked like business as usual on Tokyo’s infamously congested public transit.
The lax heeding of requests for people to stay at home generated a fusillade of disappointment, frustration and anger online.
“Even with the emergency declaration, this is Shinagawa train station at rush hour. It’s this morning, ok? Screwed up or what?” said one tweet.
“Eight am, on the train to Osaka,” said another, posting an image of people standing shoulder to shoulder on a train, some without face masks.
A salesman interviewed outside Omiya station north of Tokyo confessed he didn’t want to be there. “I’m extremely afraid,” he told the TBS network. “Salaried workers like us have to ride the train every day. What will become of us?”
The government’s official “3c” mantra — avoid close spaces, close conversation, and crowds — has become a wry joke. “Nothing has changed on the 3c Odakyu train line,” one commuter posted.
The turnout is undermining faith in Japan’s bid to slow the pandemic without a full-fledged lockdown.
Texas nursing home doctor testing drug touted by Trump on 27 COVID-19 patients
When a coronavirus outbreak hit a Texas nursing home, Dr. Robin Armstrong reached for an unproven treatment: the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
First, he needed to find a supply. But at a moment when President Donald Trump is heavily promoting the drug, Armstrong is no regular physician. He is a Republican National Committee member and GOP activist in Houston, and after calling Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Texas chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, Armstrong soon had enough doses to begin treating 27 infected residents of The Resort at Texas City.
Armstrong, the medical director at the facility, said Tuesday it is too soon to tell whether the treatment will work. But his sweeping use of the drug at one nursing home along the smoggy Texas coastline illustrates how Mr. Trump’s championing of the medication is having an impact on doctors across the U.S., even as scientists warn that more testing is needed before it’s proven safe and effective against COVID-19.
“I probably would not have been able to get the medication had he not been talking about it so much,” Armstrong told The Associated Press.
Republican Bryan Hughes, a Texas state senator, said he is helping organize a pipeline of hydroxychloroquine donations to other states through their GOP leaders. Hughes said he has spent recent weeks helping Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Georgia receive or expect shipments from Amneal Pharmaceuticals, a maker of the drug based in New Jersey. Last month, the company announced it had donated 1 million tablets to Texas.
– Associated Press
UN suspends peacekeeping deployments
The United Nations on Tuesday suspended new peacekeeping deployments due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The rotation and deployment of U.N. peacekeepers and international police will be suspended until June 30.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric made the announcement, saying the 13 peacekeeping missions of the U.N. “are working full-time to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19” and to ensure that incoming uniformed personnel don’t have COVID-19.
Dujarric explained to CBS News, “There is no movement of troops, coming in or out,” but added that, “A few, limited exceptions may be considered.”
“Our priorities are to ensure the COVID-19-free status of incoming uniformed personnel, and mitigate the risk that UN peacekeepers could be a contagion vector and simultaneously maintain our operational capabilities,” Dujarric said.
Both the pandemic outbreak and expenses related to coronavirus appear to be at issue.
John Prine, American folk singer and songwriter, has died at age 73
John Prine, the singer-songwriter who explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello in There” and scores of other works, died Tuesday at the age of 73, according to The Associated Press.
His family announced his death was due to complications from the new coronavirus. He died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where he had been hospitalized last month.
Winner of a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier this year, Prine sang his conversational lyrics in a voice roughened by a difficult life, particularly after throat cancer left him with a disfigured jaw.
He joked that he fumbled so often on the guitar that people thought he was inventing a new style. But his open-heartedness, eye for detail and sharp and surreal humor brought him the highest admiration from critics, from such peers as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and from younger stars such as Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, who even named a song after him.
– Associated Press
Poor and minority communities hit hard by COVID-19 in the South
The coronavirus has been exploding across the South. In a dozen Southern states, there have been nearly 65,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.
Governor John Bel Edwards reported 70 new deaths Tuesday and said they’re still bracing for the worst.
There’s an alarming disparity in the state: more than 70% of the coronavirus deaths are African Americans, who comprise only 32% of the population.
“It’s very sad to say I’m not shocked this is happening if you have a disease that’s going to kill more people with hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and you have a health disparity like this, it’s not shocking,” said Dr. Amy Lessen of Dillard University. Louisiana has one of the nation’s highest rates of people with preexisting conditions.