US Airstrike Kills High-Ranking Al-Shabaab Terrorist Leader

A precision air-strike by the U.S military in Somalia has killed a high-ranking leader of the al-Shabaab terrorist organization.
Yusuf Jiis, a founding member of the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, was one of the three terrorists killed on April 2, officials from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced on Tuesday.
“He was violent, ruthless, and responsible for the loss of many innocent lives.” said AFRICOM Commander and U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend. “His removal makes Somalia and neighboring countries safer.”
Three more airstrikes have been carried out since over the last few days, killing 18 al-Shabaab terrorists, with no recorded civilian casualties, according to AFRICOM.
No details of the type of aircraft used in the strike—whether it was manned or unmanned—were given by AFRICOM.
Al-Shabaab is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization with close ties to al-Qaeda that was driven out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, but still controls areas in the rural south of the country.
“While we might like to pause our operations in Somalia because of the Coronavirus, the leaders of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS have announced that they see this crisis as an opportunity to further their terrorist agenda so we will continue to stand with and support our African partners,” Townsend said.

Fire is seen at the scene of a car bomb attack claimed by al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militants on the Naasa Hablood hotel in Mogadishu on June 25, 2016. (Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Although the U.S. military is prioritizing a pivot from counter-insurgency toward great power competition with Russia and China, tackling terrorism remains a stated goal of U.S. defense policy as per the 2018 National Defense Strategy, albeit it’s lower down the list.
Counter-terrorism is the main task of the U.S. military in Africa.
Al-Shabaab was designated a terrorist organization in 2008 by the United States and has since killed hundreds of civilians in East Africa, according to the State Department. The group’s gruesome tally includes the truck bomb that killed over 500 people in Mogadishu in October 2017, the September 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya that killed over 70, and the July 2010 suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, that took place during the World Cup and killed 76 people, including one U.S. citizen.
“Al-Shabaab remains a disease in Somalia and is an indiscriminate killer of innocent people and their only desire is to brutalize populations inside Somalia and outside of Somalia,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations at AFRICOM. “Putting pressure on this network helps contain their ambition and desire to cause harm and destruction.”

African peacekeeping troops and the Somali National Army have been ousting Al-shabaab from strongholds in southern Somalia and establishing outposts, with the help of AFRICOM, according to U.S. military officials.
Together with Turkish troops, U.S. Special Operations Forces are training Somali National Army forces under the Somalian government.
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175 Million Americans Will Start Receiving Funds Soon, Says Kudlow

An estimated 175 million Americans will receive stimulus payments this week or the next, said President Donald Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.
“The checks from the Treasury and the IRS [will] probably start going out, I think this week, perhaps early next,” Kudlow told CNBC in an interview on Monday.
A massive, $2.2 trillion stimulus package was passed in Congress that will send out payments of $1,200 to most Americans and $500 for children under the age of 17. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Kudlow have both previously said that the payments would go out in mid-April.
Mnuchin told Fox Business on Tuesday that the direct payments are slated to be sent by the end of next week.
“The president is very much looking at how we can reopen parts of the economy,” Mnuchin remarked. “There are parts of the country, like New York, where obviously this is very, very concerning. There are other parts of the country where it’s not.”
The Trump administration hopes that “in the next four to eight weeks, we will be able to open the economy,” Kudlow also told Politico on Tuesday morning.
The stimulus package was passed in Congress after states closed down restaurants, hotels, bars, salons, entertainment venues, and other businesses described as nonessential amid the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic. So far, at least 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims, and the number is widely expected to rise even more.
Individuals earning up to $75,000 will get a check for $1,200, while couples earning up to $150,000 will get $2,400. And parents get $500 for every child under the age of 17. To qualify for a direct payment, one has to have a Social Security number, meet the adjusted-gross-income thresholds, and file your taxes either independently or jointly with a spouse.

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New Jersey Governor Closing Most Parks in State

Most parks in New Jersey will be closed in a measure aimed at slowing the spread of the CCP virus.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, causes a disease called COVID-19 that kills a small percentage of patients, primarily among the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday he will sign an executive order mandating the closure of all state parks and forests and all county parks.
“We’ve seen far too many instances in our parks where people are gathering and socializing in groups, erroneously thinking that since they’re outside, social distancing doesn’t matter,” the Democrat said at a press conference.
Social distancing measures include staying at home except for essential trips and remaining six feet away from others.
“I do not take this action lightly. Some of my fondest memories with my own children are beautiful spring days in parks playing soccer and enjoying our family. But my focus, and my sole mission in life right now, is the health of every New Jersey family,” he added on Twitter.
Murphy said the move was meant to flatten the curve, referring to the projected rise, peak, and fall of COVID-19 cases. People can still take bike rides and undertake other forms of exercise that meet the distancing guidelines. Municipalities will determine whether local parks will be kept open.
The governor said at a press conference that officials were beginning to see “the very first potential signs that the curve may be flattening” but urged state residents to continue avoiding contact with people who they don’t live with.

A man covers his face as the sun rises behind in Manhattan as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey on April 6, 2020. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
His new order will be one of the strictest in the nation. Some 42 governors have issued orders for residents to stay at home but all allow people to go outside for exercise and few restrict usage of parks and forests. Neighboring New York has kept parks open, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed all playgrounds and basketball courts.
New Jersey is one of the most affected states in the nation, counting 44,416 confirmed cases and 1,232 deaths as of the afternoon of April 7.
Murphy previously ordered schools to close, non-essential businesses to shut down, and people to stay home except for essential trips.
New Jersey authorities have aggressively enforced Murphy’s orders, publicly naming people law enforcement has arrested for violating them. The state’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, publishes the information on his website.
The latest arrests included a man in Kearny who was allegedly pulling on car door handles and coughed at officers when being arrested; a woman in Morristown who authorities said held a party at her house with more than 10 people; and three people who were charged with violating emergency orders after officers found them in a vehicle at a boat launch.
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Trump Hints at Cutting WHO Funding Over Handling of Pandemic

President Donald Trump hinted at cutting funding for the World Health Organization on Tuesday, over the group’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The W.H.O. really blew it,” the president said in a statement on social media, using the acronym for the United Nations’ organization.
“For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look,” he added.
WHO is closely aligned with the Chinese communist regime and has repeatedly praised China’s leaders despite experts and unearthed evidence showing how officials manipulated the true situation in the country, where the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, emerged last year.
The United States provides 14.67 percent of WHO’s funding. It’s the largest source of funding for the group. U.S. contributions to WHO last year exceeded $400 million, according to the State Department.
American lawmakers have called on Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, to resign amid accusations of helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up the outbreak and probing whether WHO is complicit in the manipulation.
“We know Communist China is lying about how many cases and deaths they have, what they knew and when they knew it—and the WHO never bothered to investigate further. Their inaction cost lives,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, right, and WHO Health Emergencies Program Director Michael Ryan attend a press briefing on COVID-19 in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 6, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
“We could cut funding or we could tie future funding to certain changes,” Scott added to the Daily Signal. “It is supposed to be the World Health Organization, world health, but it panders to China.”
A spokeswoman for the WHO told The Epoch Times in an email that the organization “expects all its Member States to report data in a timely and accurate manner under the international protocols that have been agreed by the Member States of WHO.”
“Membership in WHO and signing up to the International Health Regulations both carry with it the responsibility to prioritize public health, nationally and internationally, not only because global health norms say so, but because the two are inextricably linked, as this global pandemic has made clear to the world,” she said in the email sent last week, pointing to WHO official Dr. Mike Ryan telling reporters that people should be “very careful” not to “be profiling certain parts of the world as being uncooperative or nontransparent.”
WHO didn’t immediately respond to a request for a response to Trump.
Reporters have regularly pressed WHO officials on China’s role in the CCP virus spreading around the world but each time the officials have deflected answering directly. They often end up saying things similar to the statements from top Chinese officials. WHO has also faced questions on its dealings with Taiwan.
Trump on Tuesday noted that WHO officials earlier this year denounced travel restrictions that countries began implementing to try to curb the spread of the virus, saying, “Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on.”
“Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?” he added.
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CCP Virus: Updated US Hospitalization Projections Already Don’t Match Reality, Again

Updated model projects far fewer hospital beds will be needed to cope with the CCP virus epidemic in the United States. But the model still doesn’t match reality as there were overall fewer CCP virus hospitalizations than the model assumed already on the day the updated version was released.
The model was developed by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). It’s previous update from April 1 predicted the country would need 120,000 to 430,000 hospital beds for the virus patients on April 16, when it indicated the epidemic was to peak.
Some online commentators and media, including The Epoch Times, pointed out the projections didn’t measure up to reality, massively overstating the hospital capacity needs in most states.
The projections are important because the main point of current stringent government interventions is to “flatten the curve” of new infections, so the healthcare system doesn’t get overwhelmed with a sudden influx of patients. If the government expects unrealistic number of patients, the mitigation measures may be off too. Indeed, the model was repeatedly referenced by Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, during President Donald Trump’s daily press briefings on the pandemic.
On the evening of April 5, IHME updated its model, slashing the peak expected hospital capacity needs to about 73,000-285,000 beds, while moving the peak to April 15.
The updated model still expected the country would need roughly between 8,000 and 96,000 extra hospital beds at the peak of the epidemic.
But the model again failed to match reality.
Already on April 5, of the 18 states with available daily hospitalization data, the model’s mean estimates overshot for 15 of them. Even the low bound of the model’s estimates was too high for 10 of the states.
The model missed the mark most egregiously in North Dakota, where it forecast the need for 126-2076 beds on April 5. In fact, the state only reported 19 currently hospitalized with the virus.
On the other hand, for Louisiana, even the model’s upper bound underestimated hospital capacity needs. The state was supposed to need between 834 and 1714 hospital beds on April 5. In fact, it already reported 1,803 hospitalized that day.
IHME didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, broke out in Wuhan, China, around November and was allowed to spread around the world due to the coverup and mismanagement by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In the United States, more than 360,000 have tested positive for the virus and more than 11,000 have died, as of April 7.
Chasing Hospitalization Numbers
It’s not an easy task to find out how many people are currently hospitalized with the virus across the country. Some states publish the data on the websites of their health departments. Some, it seems, only provide it during press briefings or when prompted. Some only publish the cumulative counts of people ever hospitalized, but those also include patients already discharged or deceased. Some states caution that the data may be incomplete or list separate numbers for confirmed and suspected CCP virus cases. Some don’t even have the data.
“This is information that we have asked hospitals to provide, but a significant number of hospitals have not provided it,” said Bob Wheaton, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in an email to The Epoch Times.
Michigan is one of the worst-hit states with over 17,000 virus cases and over 700 deaths.
West Virginia also doesn’t have the data, but is working with the state’s hospital association to provide it, said Allison Adler, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources, via email.
From the available information, The Epoch Times was able to estimate that the overall national hospitalization rate is about 20 percent, though it varies significantly state to state, from less than 10 percent to more than 30 percent.
Using this figure, The Epoch Times estimated the current hospitalization counts for states with missing or insufficient data.
Based on this calculation, there were over 52,000 hospitalized with the CCP virus in the United States on April 5.
The updated IHME model predicted a need for 69,000-117,000 hospital beds on that day.
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Surgeon General Says African-Americans Are at ‘Higher Risk’ for COVID-19

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said African-Americans are at a higher risk of the CCP virus after data revealing a disparity in cases and deaths has begun to emerge.
“I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID,” Adams told “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday. “That’s why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread.”
Adams noted in the interview that black Americans are more likely to have underlying health problems and a lack of access to health care. Adams said he himself has heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure, and is pre-diabetic.
Adams said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “should be, and are tracking this virus by different demographic groups.”
“When you look at being black in America, number one: people unfortunately are more likely to be of low socioeconomic status, which makes it harder to social distance,” Adams said in the interview. “Number two: we know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease.”
For example, Louisiana’s Department of Health released its figures for COVID-19 cases, showing black people account for 70 percent of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus deaths in the state, although making up 32 percent of the population.
“That deserves more attention, and we’re going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that trend down,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Monday.

Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City, New York, on April 4, 2020. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)
“The data already released shows troubling trends for African Americans that must be addressed to ensure public health,” said Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, reported The Hill.
But in another morning interview, the surgeon general said that CCP virus deaths in the United States could fall under the range of between 100,000 and 200,000 that has been suggested by White House officials in recent days.
“That’s absolutely my expectation, and I feel a lot more optimistic, again, because I’m seeing mitigation work,” Adams said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s going to be a hard and a tough week, but the American people have the power to change the trajectory of this epidemic if we come together like we have after past tragedies in this country.”
Over the weekend, he predicted the COVID-19 case number next week will be America’s “Pearl Harbor moment” and “our 9/11 moment.”

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Supreme Court Finds For Federal Workers in Age Discrimination Case

The Supreme Court ruled that Congress had intended to provide greater protection to older federal workers in age discrimination cases compared to private-sector and local and state workers.
The top court found that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) requires that employment-related decision “be untainted by any consideration of age.” This makes it easier for federal workers over 40 to sue over any age bias as long as they could show that age was a factor in the decision-making process.
But the justices stopped short from extending the lower standard to the types of remedies the workers could seek. To obtain relief such as hiring, reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages a plaintiff still needs to show that an adverse employment action would not have been made if it were not for the person’s age. If age was one of the factors, but not the only factor, then plaintiffs can seek injunctive or other forward-looking relief.
“While Babb can establish that the [Veteran Affairs] violated §633a(a) without proving that age was a but-for cause of the [Veteran Affair’s] personnel actions, she acknowledges—and we agree—that but-for causation is important in determining the appropriate remedy,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the 8-1 ruling (pdf).
The case was brought by Norris Babb, a clinical pharmacist for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), who alleged that the department had discriminated against her based on gender and age when they did not select her for promotion. Babb claimed that the department had denied a group of female pharmacists over 50 career advancement opportunities over younger counterparts or older men. She also claims that the department was retaliating against her because she testified in support of two colleagues in their Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints.
She then sued the VA under the ADEA, which states that any personnel actions made by the federal government must be made “free from any discrimination based on age.” The district court judge ruled against her, and that decision was affirmed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
The question considered during the case was about the standard federal workers had to show in order to prove that age discrimination was the reason for an adverse employment action like a termination.
Babb argued that she only needs to prove that age was a “motivating factor” behind VA’s decision to not promote her to prove discrimination. Meanwhile, the department argued that for there to be discrimination, an individual would have to show that he or she would have obtained the job “but for” his or her age, which is a higher standard to meet.
Alito also said that Congress had intended to hold the federal government at a stricter standard in the ADEA compared to private-sector employers and state and local governments. He said that instead of expanding the definition of employers in the law, it chose to “deliberately prescribed a distinct statutory scheme applicable only to the federal sector.”
“We generally ascribe significance to such a decision,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenter in the case. He said the majority’s ruling is so “broad” that a plaintiff “could bring a cause of action even if he is ultimately promoted or hired over a younger applicant.”
“This novel ‘any consideration’ standard does serious damage to our interpretation of antidiscrimination statutes and disrupts the settled expectations of federal employers and employees,” he wrote.
Alito sent the case back to the district court to decide on the appropriate relief if Babb is able to show that the VA had violated the ADEA.
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Navy Chief Apologizes to Fired Captain of Virus-Hit Carrier as Trump Hints at Intervention

The civilian head of the Navy has apologized to the fired commander and the crew of a virus-hit carrier for “any pain” caused by a speech that some interpreted as him calling the captain “naive” and “stupid.”
The apology from Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly came after President Donald Trump hinted he may intervene, saying if he could “help two good people,” he would.
Several days earlier Modly had fired the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt over a four-page memo on March 30 that outlined the threat from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak onboard the carrier.
In addition to concerns over breaking the chain of command, chief among Modly’s criticisms was the fact that Captain Brett Crozier’s memo, which implied sailors would die without evacuation, was leaked to the press.
Modly then flew out to the virus-hit carrier in Guam and gave a speech to the 5,000 sailors, who had given Crozier a rousing hero’s send-off. Modly’s speech, however, was recorded and then also leaked to the media.
Modly had previously said he stood by every single word of the speech. In a statement on March 6, he offered an apology for his specific word choice but stopped short of backtracking on his broader criticisms.

Captain Brett Crozier addresses the crew for the first time as commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt during a change of command ceremony on the ship’s flight deck in San Diego, Calif., on Nov. 1, 2019. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Lynch/Handout via Reuters)
“Let me be clear: I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive or stupid,” Modly said. “I think, and always believed him to be the opposite.”
“I believe, precisely because he is not naive or stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it to the public domain in an attempt to draw public attention to the situation on his ship.”
“I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused,” said Modly in a statement carried by many media. “I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier, his family, and the entire crew of the Theodore Roosevelt for any pain my remarks may have caused.”
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently out of action in a port in Guam, while the crew of over 4,000 is systematically evacuated and quarantined after an outbreak of the CCP virus onboard.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is seen while entering into the port in Da Nang, Vietnam, on March 5, 2020.(Kham/File Photo/Reuters)
Captain Crozier will be reassigned, Modly said in an earlier statement. “He’s not thrown out of the Navy.”
Asked about the issue during his daily briefing on April 6, President Trump reiterated his previous position that the captain should not have sent the letter, but this time hinted that there could be some wiggle-room over his position.
‘If I Can Help Two Good People’
Also describing Modly has a “highly respected man,” Trump said: “I may get involved.  If I can help two people, two good people, I’m going to help them.”
“I’m not looking to destroy a person’s life who has had an otherwise stellar career,” he said, in reference to Crozier.
“People are asking, ‘why is the president getting involved?’ I like to solve problems. It’s a problem.”
The section of Modly’s speech that appears to have sparked the most anger, with the “naive” and “stupid” references reads: “It was my opinion, that if he didn’t think that information was going to get out into the public, in this information age that we live in, then he was too naive or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this.
“The alternative is that he did this on purpose. And that’s a serious violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which you are all familiar with.”
However, whilst this section sparked most anger, the criticisms of Modly’s speech and his handling of the situation are broader.
The plight of the Theodore Roosevelt hit the headlines when a dramatic March 30 memo from Crozier was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle in which he said that the COVID-19 outbreak was “ongoing and accelerating.”
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” wrote Crozier in the memo in which he implied that sailors would die unless the crew was taken off and the ship disinfected.
The Navy later announced that they were already taking measures to evacuate the carrier—and that Captain Crozier had been fired.
Modly said in an earlier statement that the letter was sent via non-secure unclassified email outside of the chain of command, had “raised alarm bells unnecessarily,” and “created the impression that the Navy was not responding to his questions.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday said that he backed Modly’s decision.
“I have full faith and confidence in him and the Navy leadership, and I support their decision,” Esper told ABC News. “This is a chain of command issue. It’s an issue of trust and confidence in the captain of the ship.”
Investigators are currently considering whether Crozier should face disciplinary action, reported Reuters.
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5-Year-Old Texas Boy Dies After Getting Hit by Stray Bullet on Balcony

A 5-year-old boy was making a social media video on his balcony when he was shot, said his family and the local medical examiner’s office.
At about 9 p.m. March 31, 5-year-old Jordan Allen Jr., of Houston, was sitting on the porch of his family’s home with his family.
“He just told me to get him some juice, that’s why I stepped in the house to get him some juice,” Jordan Allen Sr., his father, told KTRK.
Five to six shots rang out, and the boy was shot in the head by a stray bullet, his father said, adding that the boy was recording a TikTok video.
The incident was confirmed by Houston Police, writing that a “5-year-old juvenile was shot.” Police added in a news release: “Paramedics transported the child to the hospital. Officers recovered multiple casings in the parking lot near where the child was shot and several cars were damaged from possible gunfire.”
“Everybody ran in the house and the kids’ room in the house, so I ran to the porch, and then I see my son on the ground holding his head asking for my help,” Allen Sr. told KTRK. The shooter drove away from the scene of the crime, officials said.
The Houston medical examiner’s office confirmed the boy’s death on Tuesday, the station reported. Police said Jordan Allen Jr. was not the intended target of the shooting.
Houston officials are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.
There are no known suspects or witnesses in the shooting, according to police.
Other details were not provided in the case.

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Nebraska and Iowa Have Taken Actions ‘Functionally Equivalent’ to Stay at Home Orders: Fauci

Two of the eight states without stay at home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a number of actions that are similar to orders issued in other states, a top federal health official said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said his comments last week about a national stay at home order stoked a public response against states without a shelter in place mandate.
“When I mentioned that, I think there was a public response that they weren’t really doing anything at all. And they really are doing a very good job,” Fauci told reporters on Monday night at the White House in Washington.
Fauci spoke with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts earlier in the day.
“Those are the only two that I spoke to [out of the eight]. But it was a really good conversation. I want to make sure people understand that just because they don’t have a very strict stay-at-home order, they have in place a lot of things that are totally compatible with what everyone else is doing,” Fauci emphasized.
“Even though they have not given a strict stay-at-home—what they are doing is really functionally equivalent to that.”
Reynolds said Monday night that she had a good conversation with Fauci. After his comments last week, Reynolds said the doctor might not know everything about the situations in each state.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds waves after speaking during a ceremonial swearing-in at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, on May 24, 2017. (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks to President Donald Trump during a meeting on trade with governors and members of Congress at the White House in Washington on April 12, 2018. (Chris Kleponis – Pool/Getty Images)
“You can’t just look at a map and assume no action has been taken. That is completely false,” she said at a press conference, listing steps she had ordered since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the state on March 8. Officials have closed schools, mandated the closure of some so-called non-essential businesses, and told people not to gather in groups of 11 or more.
“If you did a side by side comparison with what we are doing in Iowa and what states are doing, they are much the same.”
Ricketts said in a statement on Monday that he and Fauci are “on the same page” when it comes to responding to COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
President Donald Trump has supported governors taking the actions they think are best and said that while some states might not have an actual stay at home order, residents of the states are practicing social distancing.
“They’re doing a fantastic job. Take a look at where they are, in terms of levels,” he said.
Many of the states without stay at home orders have low case numbers and deaths. Some, including Wyoming, have zero deaths.
“I’d love not to get involved with that and not from a legal standpoint, just a moral, constitutional standpoint. Because legally, I can, but morally, I believe in our constitution,” Trump added.
“I’d love to be able to let the governors do what they have to do.”
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Kudlow, Mnuchin Say White House Planning to Re-open US Economy

Trump administration aiming to re-open economy in four to eight weeks.
President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration is aiming to re-open the U.S. economy in the next four to eight weeks as tens of millions of people have been told to stay at home to fight the spread of the CCP virus.
President Donald Trump’s administration hopes that “in the next four to eight weeks, we will be able to open the economy,” Kudlow told Politico in an interview on Tuesday, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin issued similar statements to Fox News about the administration’s desire to re-start the economy.
“The president is very much looking at how we can reopen parts of the economy,” Mnuchin said on the network. “There are parts of the country, like New York, where obviously this is very, very concerning. There are other parts of the country where it’s not.”
Amid the pandemic, restaurants, hotels, bars, salons, entertainment venues, and a number of businesses deemed nonessential have been told to shut down. More than 40 states have implemented stay-at-home orders, affecting nearly all aspects of daily life.
More than 10 million Americans have claimed unemployment benefits after being laid off in the wake of the shutdown, and some experts have made even direr predictions of U.S. unemployment rates surpassing 20 percent in the coming months as more businesses go under. As a result, Congress passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that will send out $1,200 payments to many taxpayers and $500 to children if they qualify.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin walks to the meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (not pictured) during negotiations on a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief package on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 23, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Kudlow also told Fox on Monday that a contingency plan has been hatched by the White House to help the economy as the outbreak subsides after indications that New York, which has been the pandemic epicenter, has shown signs that the hospitalization has slowed down.
“The president would like to reopen the economy as soon as he can and we are planning internally,” Kudlow said on the network, adding that the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus is what will determine when the economy is reopened. “I am hoping … we’re only a few weeks away from a reopening. We’ll see,” he said.
There were 11,000 deaths and more than 360,000 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, a coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in the United States as of Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated that the number of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions appeared to be leveling off in New York, drawing words of optimism from top White House officials.
“Everybody who knows me knows that I am very conservative about making projections, but those are the kind of good signs that you look for,” White House task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a televised Monday briefing.  “That’s the first thing you see when you start to see the turnaround,” he said.

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Over 2,200 Staff at Two Detroit Hospital Systems Affected by COVID-19

Some 2,200 staff members at two of Michigan’s biggest health care providers have either been infected with COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of the disease, according to reports.
At least 700 employees at Detroit-area’s Henry Ford Hospital Campus have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the chief clinical officer of the facility.
Dr. Adnan Munkarah of the Henry Ford Hospital Campus was cited by BridgeMI.com as saying that 734 staff members at the hospital have been infected with COVID-19.
“If we are to test the whole population, you are going to see large numbers of people who are testing positive,” Munkarah told reporters in a conference call on April 6. “Testing positive is just a measure of how contagious this virus is.”
The 700-plus cases amount to around 2 percent of the hospital system’s 31,600 employees. The Henry Ford system includes six hospitals in the Detroit area.
As of 9 a.m. on April 6, Henry Ford reported that it had 3,637 outpatients across its entire system with a positive COVID-19 result, with a total of 725 hospitalized positive cases.
No information was disclosed whether any of the health system’s employees had died from the disease, WXYZ-TV reported.

A healthcare worker pushes an empty wheelchair outside the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the CCP virus outbreak in New York City on April 6, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
According to a separate report by the same outlet, as many as 1,500 employees at Beaumont Health—one of Michigan’s biggest hospital systems—have reported symptoms suggestive of the respiratory disease caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. The report said COVID-19 was suspected, but not confirmed, in the Beaumont Health staff.
Many hospital workers in Michigan have been reusing personal protective equipment (PPE) amid a shortage of masks, gowns, and other supplies, raising concerns about employees’ safety, according to the Detroit Free Press.
In a separate statement to Detroit News, Munkarah said, “As a health system caring for a large majority of our region’s COVID-19 patients, we know we are not immune to potential exposure, and we remain grateful for the courage and dedication of our entire team.”

Paramedics put on personal protective equipment before approaching a coughing patient amid the CCP virus outbreak in Medford, Massachusetts, on April 6, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
As of Tuesday morning, Michigan has reported more than 17,000 confirmed CCP virus cases and 727 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. These figures indicate Michigan has the third-highest number of confirmed infections in the United States, with only New York and New Jersey reporting more cases.
Peak Death Week
CCP viris fatalities in the United States numbered 10,993 on Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins, while the tally of all known U.S. infections topped 368,000.
“It’s going to be the peak hospitalization, peak ICU week and unfortunately, peak death week,” Admiral Brett Giroir, a physician and member of the White House CCP virus task force, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday.

A bus driver for the city bus line DDOT poses for a photo in Detroit, Michigan, on March 24, 2020. (Seth Herald/AFP/Getty Images)
More than 90 percent of Americans were under statewide stay-at-home orders issued in recent weeks, with South Carolina joining on Monday.
Political leaders and medical professionals have voiced alarm for weeks over crippling scarcities of personal protective gear for first responders and frontline healthcare workers, as well as shortages of ventilators, drugs, and other supplies.
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Army Engineers Now Helping Build 25 Field Hospitals Nationwide

The number of field hospitals across the United States continues to grow, with the Army Corps of Engineers now working on a total of 25 sites nationwide.
Construction has already started on 15 sites with a total of 14,810 beds, according to an April 6 statement, with some facilities nearing completion.
The majority of the beds are in converted sports arenas and convention centers across 14 states. Hotels and student dormitories are also being converted.
A 3,000-bed facility at Chicago’s McCormick Place—the largest convention center in the country—will be the largest facility once construction has finished on April 24.

One of 500 beds in Hall C Unit 1 of the COVID-19 alternate site at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on April 3, 2020. ( Chris Sweda-Pool via Getty Images)
In New York, the field hospital in the Javits Center in Manhattan already has 1,000 beds after finishing the first phase of construction. The second phase, already 80 percent complete, will add another 1,900 beds.
The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) does not use troops to directly build the facilities itself but runs point on the process, assessing the suitability of sites against requested requirements, before identifying and overseeing contractors or providing recommendations on designs to local mayors.
The total cost of the facilities so far on the USACE list is $1.5 billion.
To be effective in combating the CCP virus as it peaks in different states, according to the USACE, the sites must be “completed in as little as 5 days, and at most 2 weeks.”
USACE has so far done a total of 828 site assessments out of 879 requests from across the nation. Knowing in advance which sites are suitable allows them to get ahead of the curve, so they are ready to act as different hotspots emerge.
“This has to be an agile plan,” Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, the commander of USACE, told reporters on April 3. “This virus gets a vote, and we have to figure out how it is going to continue to change over time. We’ve got to be smart enough to try to anticipate where that change is going to come and if nothing else to have the appropriate amount of facilities there.”
The USACE has been adapting standard designs, innovating and learning as they set up more hospitals.
However, the USACE doesn’t have to complete the hospitals themselves, but can hand over the job to local mayors. It can assess suitability, come up with a design, and hand that over to local authorities who can sort out local contractors. They can even recommend leases for hotel sites.
“Every single site is custom-built. Every single site is built to the specifications of the medical plan that that mayor wants to use,” said Semonite. “And every single site is being done with a different type of a business case on who are the contractors, who provides the rest of the support services.”
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COVID-19 Death Toll Will Be ‘Much Lower’ Than Projected, Top Officials Say

The director of one of the top public health agencies in the United States said the death toll will be “much lower” from COVID-19 than modeling has projected, an assertion backed up by another top health official.
“If we just social distance, we will see this virus and this outbreak basically decline, decline, decline. And I think that’s what you’re seeing,” Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Monday.
“I think you’re going to see the numbers are, in fact, going to be much less than what would have been predicted by the models.”
Models are only as good as their assumptions, Redfield asserted, adding officials still don’t know everything about the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
“A model should never be used to assume that we have a number,” the director said.
He was speaking to AM 1030 KVOI Radio, a station in Arizona.
Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, asked on Tuesday whether the death toll will end up lower than the predicted 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, said “absolutely.”
“I feel a lot more optimistic, again, because I’m seeing mitigation work,” Adams said during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I want the American people to know: There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we feel confident if we keep doing the right thing for the rest of this month that we can start to slowly reopen in some places.”
Social distancing measures have been put in place across the country. The overwhelming majority of Americans are under stay-at-home orders. Authorities have threatened jail time and fines for people caught leaving home on non-essential trips.

People try to keep a social distance while they enjoy a sunny day at Central Park, as the outbreak of the CCP virus continues, in the Manhattan borough of New York City on April 6, 2020. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

A man wears a gas mask while riding a bike amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles, California, on April 6, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Model Updated
A major model relied upon by the White House was updated on Monday to reflect additional data coming in from healthcare systems from multiple states, including New York, the most affected state in the nation. Modelers now predict about 12,000 fewer deaths.
Projected peak hospitalizations, intensive care admissions, ventilator use, and deaths were all down in the model, generated by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Asked if he would lift the federal advisory asking people to stay home except for essential trips, President Donald Trump told reporters Monday night that he wants to try.
“We certainly want to try. We certainly want to see what’s going on. We’re doing very well,” he said, adding that the curve, or the increase in cases that ultimately hits a peak before falling, has become “very flat” in many areas.
Trump extended the guidelines in late March to April 30 based on advice from health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci said at the same briefing in Washington that America can’t go back to normal in terms of acting like the CCP virus never happened.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population. But when we say getting back to normal, we mean something very different from what we’re going through right now. Because right now we are in a very intense mitigation. When we get back to normal, we’ll go back gradually to the point where we can function as a society,” he said.
Fauci has said that until there is a vaccine, some mitigation efforts will need to continue. Vaccines aren’t projected to be ready until 2021.
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Dr. Fauci: New York Data Suggests CCP Virus Turnaround

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the Trump administration CCP virus task force members, said that new data from New York state shows positive signs in turning around the rise in COVID-19 cases.
“Everybody who knows me knows that I am very conservative about making projections, but those are the kind of good signs that you look for,” Fauci said during a televised Monday briefing at the White House, adding: “That’s the first thing you see when you start to see the turnaround.”
The number of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions appeared to be leveling off in New York, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier on Monday at a press conference. Fauci described those numbers as promising.
But Fauci, who serves as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Americans should be cautious and engage in social distancing measures recommended by the federal government and implemented by various state and local governments.
“I don’t think anyone has ever mitigated the way I’m seeing people mitigate right now,” he said in praising Americans.
Americans should still continue practicing social distancing, and other metropolitan areas could avoid the same fate as New York City in recent weeks, he said.
“That tells me—instead of saying, ‘Hmm, that’s pretty good’ — it’s we got there through mitigation. We cut off the stream of people who, ultimately, required hospitalization, required intubation, required all of the kinds of extreme methods,” he said.
There were nearly 11,000 deaths and more than 360,000 confirmed cases of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus in the United States as of late Monday night, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Trump Says He and Biden Had ‘Wonderful’ Phone Call About CCP Virus Pandemic

President Donald Trump said he has spoken with Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden about the nation’s response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic in a “really wonderful,” phone call.
Speaking at his White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on April 6, Trump said he “appreciated” the exchange between the two and described the conversation as “warm” and “friendly.”
“I also spoke just a few minutes ago with former Vice President Biden who called and we had a really wonderful, warm conversation, it was a very nice conversation,” Trump told reporters, adding that the political rivals had mainly spoken about the current CCP virus pandemic as “this is what everyone is talking about, this is what they want to talk about.”
“And he gave me his point of view, and I fully understood that, and we just had a very friendly conversation. Lasted probably 15 minutes and it was really good, really good, really nice. I appreciate him calling,” he said.
Biden’s campaign also issued a brief statement reiterating Trump’s summary of the phone call, and said that Biden had offered the president a number of suggestions for tackling the pandemic during their conversation.
“Vice President Biden and President Trump had a good call,” campaign spokesperson Kate Bedingfield wrote on Twitter. “VP Biden shared several suggestions for actions the administration can take now to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and expressed his appreciation for the spirit of the American people in meeting the challenges facing the nation.”
During Monday’s press conference, Trump said that he and Biden had agreed they would not reveal the specific details of their conversation and declined to elaborate on what suggestions Biden had made, but noted that he had not agreed with all of them.

“He had suggestions,” Trump said. “It doesn’t mean that I agree with those suggestions but certainly he had suggestions, and I also told him some of the things we’re doing. But the conversation was a friendly, very friendly conversation.”

Biden had previously said that he wanted to speak with Trump in the hope that the president could “learn some lessons” from the Obama administration on how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’ve been through this in a slightly different way in the past, and I hope they can learn some lessons from what we did right and maybe what we did wrong,” the former vice president said during a virtual press briefing last week.
However, on Monday morning prior to his announcement, Trump said no such conversation had taken place as of yet and appeared to poke fun at the former vice president.
“Joe Biden wanted the date for the Democrat National Convention moved to a later time period. Now he wants a “Virtual” Convention, one where he doesn’t have to show up. Gee, I wonder why? Also, what ever happened to that phone call he told the Fake News he wanted to make to me?” Trump tweeted. In response to the president’s tweet, Biden said he was “happy to discuss anytime.”
Biden, who is currently the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been forced to continue running his campaign from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, conducting live video feeds and interviews as the CCP virus continues to spread across the globe.
The former vice president had previously criticized Trump for failing to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) early, which he said would ramp up the scale of production of ventilators, “masks and gowns … and shields and all the things our first responders and doctors need.” Speaking to NBC, Biden questioned why the administration was “waiting,” adding, “we know they’re needed, they’re going to be increasingly needed.”
Last week, the White House announced Trump was invoking the DPA order, allowing his administration to work with companies to ramp up the production of ventilators which are desperately needed amid the ongoing crisis.

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Apple Producing One Million Face Shields a Week for Healthcare Workers

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said the company plans to ship 20 million face shields around the world to assist hospitals reporting shortages of medical equipment due to the CCP virus pandemic.
The tech giant is aiming to produce at least one million face shields for medical workers per week, Cook said in a video on Sunday.
“We’ve launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations and packaging teams, and our suppliers to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers,” Cook said.
Cook said the company had sourced the equipment through its global supply chain and that it was working “continuously and closely” with governments “at all levels” to distribute the face shields where they are need most urgently, in what he described as a “truly global effort.”
“We’re sourcing materials and manufacturing in the U.S. and China,” he said. “We plan to ship over one million by the end of this week, and over one million per week after that.”
The first shipment was delivered to Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara Valley in California last week, Cook said, adding that the feedback from doctors was “very positive.”
“We hope to quickly expand distribution beyond the U.S.,” he said, adding that the tech giant has been pushing to meet the “essential needs of caregivers urgently and at a scale the circumstances require.”
“For Apple, this is a labor of love and gratitude, and we will share more of our efforts over time,” Cook said.
President Donald Trump on Monday praised the company for ramping up its production facilities to produce the critical supplies amid the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“I want to thank Apple, one of the many great American companies that have leapt into action,” he told reporters at the White House. “Today Apple announced that it is now producing plastic face shields for healthcare workers at the rate of one million per week.”
“These are shields that you see on television quite a bit. They are the highest level of quality and safety,” he added.
It comes as the U.S. death toll from the CCP virus surpassed 10,000 on Monday, with more than 368,000 confirmed cases, according to a tracking map from Johns Hopkins University that collates official government data.
American healthcare workers are appealing for more protective gear and equipment as they face a surge of patients.
Doctors are also especially concerned about a shortage of ventilators, breathing machines needed for those suffering from COVID-19, the pneumonia-like respiratory disease caused by the CCP virus.
Beijing has been accused of hoarding billions of critical medical supplies, such as masks, as well as hundreds of tons of others globally amid the escalating pandemic, and shipping them back to China.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Trump Reaches Deal With 3M to Bring 55.5 Million Masks to Healthcare Workers a Month

President Donald Trump on April 6 announced the White House has “reached an agreement” with manufacturing giant 3M to bring more than 55.5 million N95 respirators to the United States a month to support healthcare workers.
“We have reached an agreement, a very amicable agreement, with 3M for the delivery of an additional 55.5 million high-quality face masks each month, so that we’re going to be getting over the next couple of months 166.5 million masks for our frontline healthcare workers,” Trump said at a CCP virus briefing on Monday.
The president said that the “3M saga ends very happily,” and that his administration is “very proud to be dealing with 3M,” adding that he had spoken with CEO Mike Roman and thanked him for “getting it done.”
Under the terms of the new deal, 3M will import 166.5 million respirator masks to the United States over the next three months, mostly from its factory in China, starting in April. The additional masks will supplement the 35 million masks 3M currently produces each month in the United States, the company said in a statement released on Monday.
The plan will also enable 3M to continue sending U.S.-produced respirators to Canada and Latin America, where it is the primary source of supply.
“I want to thank President Trump and the administration for their leadership and collaboration,” Roman said in the statement. “We share the same goals of providing much-needed respirators to Americans across our country and combating criminals who seek to take advantage of the current crisis. These imports will supplement the 35 million N95 respirators we currently produce per month in the United States,” the CEO added.
Trump’s announcement comes after he last week invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) in relation to 3M, saying he was not happy with the amount of N95 masks the company was delivering to U.S. healthcare workers fighting the CCP virus. The DPA order authorized acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to “use any and all authority” to acquire as many respirators from the company or its affiliates as was deemed “appropriate.”
Later that day, Trump wrote on Twitter saying, “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks,” in an apparent reference to reports that the manufacturing giant had been exporting many of its masks to other countries instead of reserving them for domestic use.
But 3M said in a statement at the time that it had gone “above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the U.S. market,” and “have been working closely with the administration to do exactly that,” but said that ceasing the export of respirators to Canadian and Latin American markets could have “significant humanitarian implications.”

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Positive Virus Test as USNS Comfort Takes in COVID-19 Patients

President Donald Trump agreed on April 6 to use the USNS Comfort to treat patients infected with the CCP virus shortly before the virus was confirmed in a crew member aboard the 1,000-bed hospital ship.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Monday afternoon that the Defense Department has now said the 1,000-bed Comfort will take on patients infected with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. The department previously said it would only admit non-COVID-19 patients to ease pressure on overwhelmed facilities.
The USNS Comfort was initially sent to New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, to free up capacity in city hospitals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients.
“I spoke to the president, and he has agreed to our request to treat #COVID patients on the USNS Comfort,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter. “This means 1,000 additional beds staffed by federal personnel.”
“This will provide much-needed relief to our overstressed hospital systems,” he added.
The use of the U.S. Navy ship—which docked on Manhattan’s west side March 30—for CCP virus patients from New York, was confirmed by Trump at a White House briefing on Monday.
“He [Cuomo] called me up a little while ago and asked if it would be possible to use the ship with respect to fighting the virus,” Trump told reporters. “We hadn’t had that in mind at all, but we’re going to let him do it.”
Trump added that New Jersey would also use USNS Comfort because the region is “a hot spot.”
“It’s a big ship, and it’s now COVID; it’s set for COVID … hopefully, that will be very helpful to both states.”
The Comfort is one of two Navy hospital ships drafted to help in the battle with the CCP virus. The temporary hospital facility at the Javits Convention Center, which holds 2,500 beds, will also treat CCP virus patients, Cuomo announced Thursday.
The number of CCP virus cases in New York state increased by 7 percent over the past 24 hours to 130,689. Deaths linked to the disease rose by 599 to 4,758.
Shortly before Trump’s announcement, a spokesman for the Defense Department told CNN in a statement that the Navy ship Comfort will continue to accept trauma, emergency & urgent care patients “irrespective of their COVID status.”
“Our current preference, which could change at any time … is to see Javits Center beds used by COVID patients before moving them to the Comfort,” spokesman, Jonathan Rath Hoffman, said.
Comfort Crew Member Tests Positive
The U.S. Navy said in a statement Monday that a crew member aboard the hospital ship is now in isolation after testing positive for the CCP virus.
The crew member did not have any contact with patients, the Navy statement said, reported ABC News.
“There is no impact to Comfort’s mission, and this will not affect the ability for Comfort to receive patients,” the statement read. “The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board.”
Crew members who had been in contact with the individual have all tested negative for COVID-19. However, they will remain in isolation for several days out of an abundance of caution, according to a Navy official.

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U.S. Congress Members, Inundated by Constituent Concerns Hold Virtual Town Halls

Senators and Representatives have vacated Capitol Hill. Their recess began last week, and the projected return date to their D.C. offices is April 20. Meanwhile, to address constituents’ concerns and questions about the effect of the pandemic on daily life and the pending financial relief, many are leading virtual town halls from their homes.
Hours before leaving for their districts, Congress approved a monumental $2.2 trillion pandemic response bill that designates funding for individuals, business owners, and federal agencies fighting the pandemic.
Consequently, lawmakers are bombarded with constituents’ questions about how the funding might help ease their financial burdens.For most of the Congress members, this is their first time running back to back events virtually, and some are dealing with technical issues.
Representative David E. Price, communicated via Twitter on Monday: “We are experiencing technical difficulties with our live stream. I apologize for the inconvenience. We will post a recording this afternoon. You may join our second Virtual Small Business Town Hall on April 6, at 1 p.m.”
He also shared information about another major event, “I am hosting a virtual nonprofit town hall, Tuesday, April 7 at 2 p.m. with @ncnonprofits to talk about newly available resources. Space is limited to the first 500,” wrote E. Price on Twitter.
Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-Pa.) told Twitter users that she is holding a town hall on April 9, with a panel of medical, public safety, education, unemployment, and senior service experts. They will answer questions about the “state’s efforts to protect public health and the economy during the coronavirus (CCP virus) public health emergency.”
The recent legislation earmarked $4.3 billion, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to assist federal, state, and local public health agencies in their efforts to coordinate a response to the pandemic.
“Join me for a LIVE Tele Town Hall on Friday, April 10, at 1:00 p.m. Joining me will be the Chief Medical Officer of Geisinger, a rep from SEDA-COG and a rep of the United Way to discuss health and economic issues related to the COVID-19 crisis,” Wrote Senator John Gordner (R-Pa.).
Some Senators are teaming up with state and local officials to lend their expertise to answer questions about the complicated $2 trillion legislation.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is teaming up with Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of New York to answer questions for her constituents who are concerned about their small business.
“Please join me tomorrow (Monday) at 2:00 p.m. for a Telephone Town Hall with Senator Marco Rubio, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business, to discuss FAQs about the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program,” wrote Assemblywoman Malliotakis.
Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) hosted a Facebook Live Town Hall on April 3 to answer questions and receive feedback on efforts to combat the pandemic.
Many of the questions from Montanans were about how to apply for unemployment insurance (UI) and small business relief. The senator also clarified how direct payments would be distributed, and he discussed what he is doing to get healthcare workers the equipment they need to combat the virus.
One of the initiatives of the phase 3 legislation is to expand UI from three to four months, and provide short-term unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to regular state and federal UI benefits.
“These are difficult times for all of us,” Tester said. “Folks are worried about their loved ones and about their livelihoods and their businesses. This is a situation unlike anything that has hit our country in more than 100 years. But the fact is we will get through this. We will defeat this virus, and we will do it by working together and doing what all Montanans do and looking out for each other.”
Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) held a telephone town hall focused on seniors in Iowa. The late March event was the second town hall that week. The senator was joined on the call by the state director of AARP Iowa, Brad Anderson, and the dean of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, Dr. Brooks Jackson.
“During these challenge times, town halls look a little different—we’re hosting them via telephone. But it’s still a tremendous opportunity for me to connect with my fellow Iowans and hear directly from folks across the state about their concerns and needs during COVID-19,” said Senator Ernst.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has put on three telephone town hall events on March 18, March 25, and April 1. The goal was to keep Hawaiian residents abreast of news about steps being taken to mitigate the effects of the CCP virus. She was joined at these virtual town halls by state, federal officials, and community leaders.

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Luckin Coffee Chairman Defaults on Loan, Surrenders Company Shares

HONG KONG/NEW YORK—Luckin Coffee Chairman Charles Zhengyao Lu and Chief Executive Jenny Zhiya Qian have handed over shares in the embattled Chinese coffee chain to lenders. The company—controlled by Lu’s family defaulted on a $518 million margin loan, one of the banks said on Monday. The default comes after Luckin, a significant rival to Starbucks […]

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Musician Christopher Cross Says CCP Virus ‘Possibly the Worst Illness I’ve Ever Had’

Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross revealed on social media that he tested positive for the CCP virus. Cross, known for his Grammy Award-winning hits “Sailing” and “Arthur’s Theme,” said that he felt it was important to make people aware of how dangerous the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus is. “I’m not in the habit of discussing medical […]

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Supreme Court Declines to Extend Absentee Voting in Wisconsin

The Supreme Court has blocked an order that extended the deadline for submitting absentee votes hours before Wisconsin’s primary. The top court ruled 5-4 on Monday night to stay a lower court’s decision that allowed Wisconsin voters to submit absentee ballots six days after election day, pending an appeal to the court. The justices ruled that in order for […]

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Remains of RFK’s Granddaughter Found Off Maryland Coast: Authorities

Maryland authorities said they discovered the body of Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, on Monday.
According to a news release from the Maryland Natural Resources Police, McKean was found dead in about 25 feet of water at 5:30 p.m. ET after they used underwater sonar technology. She was located some 2.5 miles south of her mother’s residence in Shady Side, Maryland, officials said.
Both McKean and her son, Gideon, 8, went missing late last week when they got into a canoe and tried to retrieve a ball from the Chesapeake Bay. They disappeared shortly after, leaving officials to embark on a search-and-rescue operation.
The Natural Resources Police agency said officials would resume a search for Gideon on Tuesday.
“It is clear that Maeve and Gideon have passed away,” McKean’s husband David wrote on Facebook over the weekend. “We were self-quarantining in an empty house owned by Maeve’s mother Kathleen on the Chesapeake Bay, hoping to give our kids more space than we have at home in DC to run around,” he added.
“They got into a canoe, intending simply to retrieve the ball, and somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay,” her husband added. “About 30 minutes later, they were spotted by an onlooker from land, who saw them far out from shore, and called the police. After that last sighting, they were not seen again. The Coast Guard recovered their capsized canoe, miles away, at approximately 6:30 [Thursday] evening.”

Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean with her family, including her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, bottom right. (Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean/Facebook via AP)
Kennedy McKean is the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy and is the daughter of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who had served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan confirmed the two went missing during on Friday and suggested that they both drowned.
“I spoke with the former Lieutenant Governor, and on behalf of the people of Maryland, I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies to her and to her entire family,” he said during the conference.
Authorities said that at the time of their disappearance, conditions were windy.
The Kennedy family has a long history of tragic incidents, including the deaths of Robert F. Kennedy and former President John F. Kennedy. The president’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., and his wife died in a plane crash in July 1999. Several of Robert Kennedy’s children and grandchildren also died over the years.
Robert F. Kennedy’s son, David, died of a drug overdose in 1984, and another son, Michael, died in a skiing accident in the late 1990s.
Last year, Saoirse Roisin Kennedy Hill, who is also the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, died at the family compound in Massachusetts.

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NYC Education Department Bans Teachers From Using Zoom Over Security Concerns

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) has banned teachers from using Zoom for remote teaching, citing security and privacy concerns with the video-conferencing platform.
“In the course of its credentialing process, the DOE has received various reports documenting issues that impact the security and privacy of the Zoom platform,” reads a memo sent to New York City’s school principals and obtained by Chalkbeat. “Based on the DOE’s review of these documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time.”
According to the memo, educators are advised to switch to Microsoft Teams “as soon as possible,” as it provides similar services, while “also providing the necessary privacy protections for our staff and students.” The Microsoft platform currently supports video calls, pre-recorded meetings, sharing desktop screens, and other functions.
Google Meet, a less popular platform, will continue to be allowed for use. New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza wrote on Twitter over the weekend that the DOE confirms Google’s video-conferencing platform is “a safe, secure virtual meeting service for schools.”

Zoom founder Eric Yuan poses in front of the Nasdaq building. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
The FBI Boston’s division issued a warning about zoom-bombing on March 30 after it received multiple reports about conferences being interrupted by pornographic or hate images and threatening language. In one example, an online class being conducted on the platform was interrupted when an unidentified individual dialed into the call and yelled profanity to the participants. The individual then shouted the teacher’s home address in the call.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has sent a letter to the company, asking executives what new security measures have been put in place to handle the increased traffic as the platform become more popular during the CCP virus pandemic, The New York Times reported earlier this week. She added that her office is “concerned that Zoom’s existing security practices might not be sufficient to adapt to the recent and sudden surge in both the volume and sensitivity of data being passed through its network.”
“While Zoom has remediated specific reported security vulnerabilities, we would like to understand whether Zoom has undertaken a broader review of its security practices,” James added.
Zoom has gained popularity in recent weeks as millions of Americans are required to work from home, as part of measures to control the spread of the CCP virus pandemic. According to Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan, 90,000 schools in 20 countries have relied on the platform after campuses closed and in-person classes were canceled. The company said it reached more than 200 million daily users worldwide in March, an increase from 10 million daily participants at the end of December last year.
Zoom said on Saturday that the company “updated the default settings for education users enrolled in our K–12 program to enable waiting rooms and ensure teachers are the only ones who can share content in class by default.” Yuan also apologized for the zoom-bombing incidents.
“We recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s—and our own—privacy and security expectations,” he said.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Dispute Over DC Transit Authority’s Ban on Religious Ads

The Supreme Court has declined to take up a case challenging Washington transit authority’s policy that bars religious advertisements on public buses.
In 2017, Archdiocese of Washington sued the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) after the agency refused to run one of its ads on the side of local buses in Washington. The ad, which contains a silhouette of three shepherds and sheep, along with the words “Find the Perfect Gift” and a link to the church website, was part of a Christmas time campaign that encouraged charitable giving and community service.
WMATA refused to accept the advertisement because of its religious nature. The archdiocese then filed a lawsuit alleging that WMATA’s policy violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise clause as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The district court and the court of appeals sided with WMATA, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court (pdf).
“The court below nonetheless endorsed WMATA’s no-religious-speech policy on the theory that it permissibly excluded the entire ‘subject of religion’ instead of prohibiting speech from a religious viewpoint,” the archdiocese wrote in their petition. “That theory is neither legally nor factually tenable.”
On Monday, the top court, who is usually receptive to religious rights disputes, said they declined to review the case because Justice Brett Kavanaugh had to recuse himself from the case because he was previously involved as an appeals court judge. This means that with the court’s conservative and liberal 4-4 split, it is unlikely that the case would receive enough votes for a victory.

Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh attend the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Feb. 5, 2019. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
“Because the full Court is unable to hear this case, it makes a poor candidate for our review,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a statement accompanying the court’s denial (pdf). He was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas in his statement.
Gorsuch added that if Kavanaugh could have participated then “our intervention and a reversal would be warranted.”
He accepted the archdiocese’s arguments, saying that the transit authority’s action had violated the First Amendment and engaged in viewpoint discrimination. He said WMATA had opened up a “forum to discussion of a particular subject but then sought to ban discussion of that subject from a religious viewpoint.”
The justice went on to reject WMATA’s argument that it was treating religion as a subject rather than as a viewpoint, saying that it was an argument that stems from a misunderstanding of a previous Supreme Court case.
“[T]he Court [in that case] recognized that religion is not just a subject isolated to itself, but often also ‘a specific premise, a perspective, a standpoint from which a variety of subjects may be discussed and considered.’” Gorsuch argued.
He added that the Constitution requires government entities to respect religious speech and not to maximize advertising revenues.
“So if WMATA finds messages like the one here intolerable, it may close its buses to all advertisements,” he wrote. “More modestly, it might restrict advertisement space to subjects where religious viewpoints are less likely to arise without running afoul of our free speech precedents.”
“The one thing it cannot do is what it did here—permit a subject sure to inspire religious views, one that even WMATA admits is ‘half ” religious in nature, and then suppress those views.”
He concluded that the First Amendment requires the government to “protect religious viewpoints, not single them out for silencing.”
Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

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Healthy 24-Year-Old Detroit Man Died 12 Days After Showing COVID-19 Symptoms

A few weeks ago, a healthy 24-year-old young man from Michigan with no previous underlying health conditions suddenly experienced some physical complications.
Ben Hirschmann, from the Detroit suburb of Roseville, suddenly got what seemed to be COVID-19 symptoms and died just 12 days later, dropping dead in his parent’s living room, FOX2 reported.
The young man’s mother, Denise Hirschmann, shared her story with news outlet WXYZ and said her son had a video appointment with a doctor who told Ben he had to self-quarantine since he seemed to be having COVID-19 symptoms.
Denise said the symptoms her son was having did not get better, so he made another appointment with the doctor on March 31.
The doctor told the young man again to stay home and self-quarantine. He said the symptoms Ben had were probably due to a cold and prescribed him some cough medicine.
The next morning at 6:30 a.m. on April 1, Ben died and an autopsy showed he passed away from acute pneumonia, a symptom of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Denise said his son woke up that morning and told her he wanted to go to the hospital, so Denise called 911.
“I got him out into the living room sat him down and he coded, his eyes went into the back of his head and I started CPR EMS got here they could not revive,” Denise told FOX2.
“His lungs were filled with disease,” she said. “How would I ever know that the next day my son would be dead.”
Ben was denied a test for the CCP virus. His father told FOX2 that if medical officials would have intervened when he was feeling unwell and showing these symptoms, his life could have been saved.
Denise said the way doctors are currently being forced to treat patients, not seeing them in person but via a video appointment, is putting everyone at risk.
She told WXYZ that Ben’s father, a two-time cancer survivor with lung disease, is now also showing symptoms from the virus and is getting the same instructions from doctors as her son.
“It shouldn’t be, lock everyone up and then when they’re ready to die take them to the hospital and hope we have a ventilator,” she told FOX2.
Ben worked as a political intern for state Senator Pete Lucido of Macomb County, was heavily involved in the Republican Party, and loved politics.
Senator Lucido said Ben “was a wonderful individual who cared about people and wanted to make sure people were taken care of.”
Lucido said he is currently working on finding a way for doctors to get better access to patients and proposed drive-ups to check patients, but said that there are many challenges during the pandemic, especially in getting the required staff.
From NTD News

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Wisconsin State Supreme Court Blocks Governor’s Move to Delay Election

MADISON, Wis.—Wisconsin’s presidential primary election will proceed Tuesday under an order from the state Supreme Court that came just hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tried to postpone voting as part of a last-ditch effort amid growing fears over the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The court ruled 4-2 on Monday that Evers lacked the authority to move the election on his own. Conservatives control the court 5-2, but one of the conservative justices is up for reelection Tuesday and didn’t participate in the ruling.
Evers had previously opposed moving the election and said he didn’t have the authority to shift the timing unilaterally. But he changed course Monday, ordering a delay of in-person voting to June 9, as poll sites closed because nervous volunteers were unwilling to staff them and as criticism about holding the election grew.

Jim Carpenter protests Tuesday’s scheduled election amid the CCP virus pandemic , in downtown Milwaukee, on April 6, 2020. (Morry Gash/AP)
The governor said his order was the last hope for stopping the election. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, which represented Evers, did not immediately respond to a message about possible further legal action.
The Wisconsin election is being viewed as a national test case in a broader fight over voter access in the age of the CCP virus with major implications for the presidential primary contests ahead—and, possibly, the November general election. Many other states pushed their primaries back as the CCP virus swept across the nation.
Meanwhile, Republicans have also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a lower court’s order extending absentee voting to April 13. There was no indication on when the top court would rule.
At the presidential level, Joe Biden already has a commanding delegate lead over Bernie Sanders, and the Wisconsin results aren’t likely to dampen his march to the Democratic nomination. But the tumult in one of the most critical general election battlegrounds underscored the challenge of voting during a pandemic when public health officials are discouraging groups from gathering for virtually any reason to prevent the spread of the virus.
Evers himself had questioned whether he had the power to reschedule the election, but said the worsening situation, including an increase in COVID-19 deaths from 56 on Friday to 77 on Monday, made it clear there was no way to safely move forward. Evers said he was motivated by protecting public health, not politics.
“The people of Wisconsin, the majority of them, don’t spend all their waking hours thinking about are Republicans or Democrats getting the upper hand here,” Evers said earlier Monday. “They’re saying they’re scared. They’re scared of going to the polls. They’re scared for their future. At the end of the day, someone has to stand up for those folks.”

One of the tables, fitted with protective plexiglass, at the sole polling location for city of Waukesha, Wis., residents on April 6, 2020. (Scott Trindl via AP)
Republicans quickly took their case to the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor. Dan Kelly, one of the conservative judges who is also on the ballot on Tuesday, recused himself from the case and then commented on Twitter that the election can be done safely and should be allowed to proceed.
“We urge clerks, poll workers, and voters to stand ready to conduct the election tomorrow,” Kelly tweeted.
A separate legal fight over absentee ballots was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Given the expected “fast-moving” legal action, the Wisconsin Elections Commission told local election clerks it should proceed with planning as if the election would still occur on Tuesday.
Evers and Republicans initially agreed that it was imperative for the election to proceed because thousands of local offices are on the ballot Tuesday for terms that begin in two weeks. There is also a state Supreme Court election.
Ohio saw a similar eleventh-hour flurry the day before its primary last month. After the state’s governor and secretary of state failed to persuade a judge to shift the election date, the state health director stepped in and ordered voting shut down. Legislators set a new, almost all-mail primary for April 28, sparking new legal challenges from voting rights groups, but a federal judge on Friday said the election could go forward.
Evers is among the governors who have issued a stay-at-home order and closed all nonessential businesses. Dozens of polling places have been closed.
The state and national Democratic parties, along with a host of other liberal and voter advocacy groups, filed federal lawsuits seeking a delay in the election and other changes. A federal court judge just last week handed Democrats a partial win, allowing for absentee ballots to be counted through April 13, delaying the reporting of election results until then. But the judge, and later a federal appeals court, declined to postpone the election.
Republicans appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it not allow absentee ballots to be counted beyond Tuesday. They argue that partial results could be leaked. The court was considering whether to take action.
As of Monday morning, a record-high 1.2 million absentee ballots had been requested, but about 500,000 had yet to be returned. Many voters who requested ballots said they had not yet received them, including Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz.
Democrats fear that if the Supreme Court reverses the judge’s ruling and cuts short the amount of time those ballots can be returned and still counted, thousands of voters will be disenfranchised and not have their votes counted.
Thousands of poll workers had said they wouldn’t work, leading Milwaukee to reduce its planned number of polling sites from 180 to just five. More than 2,500 National Guard troops were dispatched to staff the polls. They were also distributing supplies, including hand sanitizer, to polling sites across the state. In Madison, city workers were erecting plexiglass barriers to protect poll workers, and voters were encouraged to bring their own pens to mark the ballots.
George Dunst, 76, of Madison, who has volunteered at his local polling site for nearly every election since he retired, said he’s not going Tuesday amid fears of contracting COVID-19.
“No matter what safety precautions you take, there’s going to be exposure,” he said. “Who knows who comes into the polling place?”
By Scott Bauer And Steve Peoples
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report

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Michigan State Representative Says Hydroxychloroquine, Trump Helped Save Her Life

A Democratic Michigan state representative said that anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and President Donald Trump helped save her life as she battled COVID-19.
State Rep. Karen Whitsett said she tested positive for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus and began taking hydroxychloroquine on March 31, which was prescribed by her doctor. Both Whitsett and her husband had sought to treat a number of virus-related symptoms on March 18, she told a local newspaper.
Whitsett told the Detroit Free Press on Monday that it took “less than two hours” before she started to experience relief from COVID-19, adding that she previously experienced swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, and sinus problems.
In her interview, Whitsett said she may not have been prescripted the anti-malaria drug if Trump hadn’t repeatedly mentioned it during press briefings. The president has touted the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in conjunction with antibiotic azithromycin, although some health care professionals have said it could be a potentially dangerous combination.
But despite the criticism of the drug, a number of hospitals across the United States—including in hard-hit New York state—have prescripted hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month said health care providers in the state would use the drug in combination with the antibiotic Zithromax, or azithromycin, in some cases.
“It has a lot to do with the president … bringing it up,” Whitsett told the paper about the hydroxychloroquine treatment regimen. “He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority.”
When a reporter from the Free Press asked her about whether she thinks Trump saved her life, she replied: “Yes, I do,” and “I do thank him for that.”
Trump later posted the Free Press interview with Whitsett and wrote, “So glad you are getting better.”

Congratulations to State Representative Karen Whitsett of Michigan. So glad you are getting better! https://t.co/v6z46rUDtg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 6, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine has long been used to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other conditions. However, the drug can lead to potentially deadly side effects, including fatal heart arrhythmia, hair loss, vision loss, vomiting, and more.
“Currently, there is no proven way to prevent COVID-19 after being exposed,” said Anna Bershteyn, an assistant professor with the Department of Population Health at New York University, according to Fox News. Bershteyn, along with other researchers at NYU, is conducting a clinical trial on the effectiveness of the drug.
“If hydroxychloroquine provides protection, then it could be an essential tool for fighting this pandemic. If it doesn’t, then people should avoid unnecessary risks from taking the drug,” Bershteyn said.

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Trump Applauds “Corrected Fake News” on American “Piracy” of PPE

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Thailand has confirmed that the United States did not divert a shipment of face masks bound for Germany from an airport in Bangkok, as falsely claimed on Friday by Berlin’s Senator of the Interior, Andreas Geisel. The left-wing German politician had claimed that in an “act of modern piracy,” 200,000 Germany-bound masks had been “confiscated” in Bangkok before being diverted to the United States.
According to Reuters, U.S. embassy spokeswoman for Thailand Jillian Bonnardeaux said that “The United States Government did not take any action to divert any 3M supplies that were destined to Germany nor did we have any knowledge of such a shipment.” Among other products, 3M manufactures N95 face-masks deemed essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for police, medical practitioners, and emergency services in the fight to control the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“We remain concerned about pervasive attempts to divide international efforts through unsourced, unattributed disinformation campaigns,” said Bonnardeaux.

.@washingtonpost: “A #Berlin official, who accused the U.S. administration of “piracy” after 200,000 #masks for the city police went missing, backtracked Saturday and said the masks were ordered from a #German firm.” https://t.co/JfWfG0fXnn pic.twitter.com/6MqOUQh4s6
— US-Botschaft Berlin (@usbotschaft) April 4, 2020

Geisel said Friday that the masks had been “confiscated,” and the allegations were repeated by both German and American media outlets before being retracted by Geisel’s office the next day. The office of Berlin’s Senator of the Interior said it was trying to find out how 200,000 masks destined for the city’s police officers had been delivered to the United States. The masks had been manufactured by American company 3M but had been ordered from a German wholesaler.
At a White House press briefing on Sunday, President Donald Trump said “There’s been no act of piracy. No, there’s been no act of piracy. It’s the opposite.”

Corrected Fake News! https://t.co/1LISKyeVNg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 5, 2020

A statement from 3M on Sunday referred to “inaccurate media reports” on the issue, and said the company will continue to correct misinformation on its manufacturing and distribution operations.
“3M has no evidence to suggest 3M products have been seized. 3M has no record of any order of respirators from China for the Berlin police. We cannot speculate where this report originated,” said 3M in the statement. “3M has extended an offer of help to the German authorities to try to determine if this false report is the result of fraudulent activity.”
Doubling Down
In an interview with Germany’s ZDF broadcaster on Monday, however, Geisel continued to insinuate that the United States may have been involved in the botched delivery.
When asked about his allegations that U.S. authorities had “confiscated” the delivery and his comments about “modern piracy” and American “Wild West methods” of procurement, Geisel was unrepentant.
“The fact is, we placed an order for 200,000 protective masks, we paid for this delivery, they were on their way to Berlin for the Berlin police force because we urgently need these breathing masks,” said Geisel. “And now regardless of whether they were confiscated, or whether they were cancelled and then diverted to the USA, or whether someone came with a briefcase full of money and diverted it to the USA, our protective masks landed in the USA, and that is not okay.”
“This illustrates the situation that exists there at the moment, and I believe that contracts must still be observed. So I have nothing to take back,” he said. Geisel said that his office was continuing to use all available channels to procure PPE materials, and that the city had “thankfully” been able to obtain a new delivery from China.
When asked if his statements meant he was continuing to point fingers at the United States—although it had not been confirmed that the United States was at fault—Geisel replied: “I don’t want to talk about the question of guilt: In any case, the fact is that the protective masks were diverted to the USA.”

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CCP Virus Patients Rush to Join Studies of Gilead Drug

The new CCP virus made Dr. Jag Singh a patient at his own hospital. His alarm grew as he saw an X-ray of his pneumonia-choked lungs and colleagues asked his wishes about life support while wheeling him into Massachusetts General’s intensive care unit.
When they offered him a chance to help test remdesivir, an experimental drug that’s shown promise against some other CCP (Chinese Communist Party) viruses, “it did not even cross my mind once to say ‘no,’” said Singh, a heart specialist.
CCP virus patients around the world have been rushing to join remdesivir studies that opened in hospitals in the last few weeks.
Interest has been so great that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is expanding its study, which has nearly reached its initial goal of 440 patients. The drug’s maker, California-based Gilead Sciences, is quickly ramping up its own studies, too.

Rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States, in March 2020. (Gilead Sciences via AP)
“I would enroll my family in a heartbeat” if the need arose, said Dr. Libby Hohmann, who placed Singh and nearly 30 others in the NIH one at Mass General. To have no approved medicines for COVID-19 now is “kind of terrifying,” she said.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but sometimes pneumonia, requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.
Remdesivir is given through an IV. It’s designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.
In animal tests against SARS and MERS, diseases caused by similar viruses, the drug helped prevent infection and reduced the severity of symptoms when given early enough in the course of illness. It’s farther along in testing than many other potential therapies and the current studies could lead to regulatory approval.
Gilead has given remdesivir to more than 1,700 patients on a case-by-case emergency basis, but more people ultimately will be helped if the company does the needed studies to prove safety and effectiveness, chief executive Dan O’Day wrote in a recent letter to the public.

A researcher works on a vaccine against COVID-19 at the Copenhagen’s University research lab in Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 23, 2020. (Thibault Savary / AFP via Getty Images)
“Many people have reached out to Gilead to advocate for access to remdesivir on behalf of friends and loved ones. I can only imagine how it must feel to be in that situation,” he wrote. “We are taking the ethical, responsible approach.”
In another letter on April 4, O’Day said the company has 1.5 million doses, which could mean more than 140,000 treatment courses, depending on how long treatment needs to last. The company is providing the drug for free for now and has set a goal of making 500,000 treatment courses by October and more than a million by the end of the year.
Gilead supplied remdesivir for two studies in China expected to give results by the end of the month. It also launched two studies for hospitalized patients in the United States, Asia, Europe, and elsewhere. One in severely ill patients tests five versus 10 days of treatment. Another in moderately sick patients compares those two options to standard care alone.
“There’s so much anxiety about the disease that the patients are quite interested” and no one offered the chance has refused, said Dr. Arun Sanyal, the study leader at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
The first patient he enrolled was a previously healthy middle-aged man who had an out-of-state visitor a few days before his symptoms began. What started as mild illness escalated to profound shortness of breath requiring supplemental oxygen.

A woman arrives by ambulance to Wyckoff Hospital in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in New York on April 5, 2020 . (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)
At University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Dr. Grace McComsey has enrolled roughly half a dozen patients.
“We’re seeing more and more younger people, like 30, really sick,” she said.
The NIH study is the most rigorous test. It compares remdesivir to placebo infusions, and neither patients nor doctors know who is getting what until the end of the study. Besides the United States, it’s open in Japan, Korea, and Singapore.
In Chicago, an 89-year-old man was Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s first participant and “the family was very excited” to have him included, said infectious diseases chief Dr. Babafemi Taiwo.
At the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Alpesh Amin has enrolled several patients. All are getting standard care even if they wind up getting a placebo rather than remdesivir, Amin said.
The Boston cardiologist, Singh, said he was willing to take that chance to advance science even if he personally winds up not benefiting. He’s now recovering at home after spending a week in the hospital.
“The word ‘placebo’ freaks some people out,” but rigorous testing is needed to avoid giving false hope or using something unsafe. Still, it’s tough to face patients with no proven therapy now, Hohmann said.
“The worst thing is seeing some really young people who are really, really sick,” such as a 49-year-old man with three young children on life support, she said. “That’s pretty awful.”
By Marilynn Marchione
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report. 

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Dow Surges by 1,627 as Markets Eye Eventual COVID-19 Peak

The blue-chip Dow surged over 1,600 points Monday, with the furious rally coming as a drop in the daily death toll in New York raised hopes that the pandemic could level off soon.
All three major Wall Street indexes—the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500—opened sharply higher on Monday, before climbing modestly intraday.
At 3:54 ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was up 1,639 points, or nearly 8 percent, according to Tradingview data, with the rally losing some steam before closing bell.
According to preliminary closing data from Reuters, the DJI rose 1,627.46 points, or 7.73 percent, to 22,679.99; the S&P 500 (SPX) gained 175.03 points, or 7.03 percent, to 2,663.68; and the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) added 540.16 points, or 7.33 percent, to 7,913.24.
Still, despite Monday’s bounce, the Dow remains around 23 percent below its all-time high in mid-February.

Chart showing the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) between February and April 2020. (Courtesy of TradingView)
On Sunday, New York reported its first daily drop in the number of deaths due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Part) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus which causes the disease COVID-19.
“All the market cares about right now is the virus and any positive event will see some buyers coming in,” said Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas, in remarks to Reuters. “With New York City numbers getting better on the weekend, people are happy that we may be closer to the top of the peak than we thought.”
Still, U.S. officials have warned of a “peak death week” from the pandemic, with the death toll topping 10,000.
New York, the hardest-hit state, reported on April 4 that there were nearly 600 new deaths for a total of 4,159 deaths and 122,000 total cases.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he believed there needed to be a mass rollout of rapid testing in order to achieve a “return to normalcy” after the peak of COVID-19 infections passes.
“I think you see the return to normalcy when we have an approved rapid testing program that can be brought to scale, Cuomo told a daily briefing on the CCP virus response. “That is going to be the answer, I believe.”
Wall Street’s fear gauge, or the VIX, fell to its lowest in two weeks, but analysts cautioned against calling a bottom. During the financial crisis of 2007-08, the Dow took months to establish a bottom even after the volatility index plummeted.
“It’s a big stretch to try to extrapolate a reduction in the number of cases into when we’re going to be able to get back to work,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York, in remarks to Reuters. “People are still going to be very hesitant to go into restaurants and bars.”
JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive James Dimon wrote in his annual letter to shareholders that he expects “a bad recession.”
“We don’t know exactly what the future will hold—but at a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008,” he said.
The country wasn’t prepared for a pandemic, but “we can and should be more prepared for what comes next,” he added.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

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Kroger to Limit Number of Customers in Stores Starting Tuesday

Kroger announced it would restrict the number of shoppers in its stores across the United States in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, starting on Tuesday, April 7.
“Kroger’s introduction of customer capacity limits is one more way we are doing our part to flatten the curve while operating as an essential business, providing our customers with access to fresh, affordable food and products,” said Mary Ellen Adcock, Kroger’s senior vice president of operations, in a statement on Monday.
She added: “During this national pandemic, we are committed to adopting preventive measures to help protect the safety and health of our associates, customers and communities.”
Kroger also owns chains Pick n’ Save, Roundy’s, Harris Teeter, Fry’s, Ralphs, QFC, Food 4 Less, and more.
Kroger said that under the new requirements, it will allow one person per 120 square feet, which effectively halves the standard capacity for a grocery store.
Meanwhile, the firm said it will use a “technology system that uses infrared sensors and predictive analytics” that will allow store operators to “more efficiently support our new capacity limits, creating a safer environment for our customers and associates.”
The move follows decisions made by Walmart and Target last week to limit the number of customers at stores nationwide.
“Starting Saturday, we will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity,” according to a release from Walmart.
Target also announced a similar measure to promote social distancing as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus continues to spread. The Minneapolis-based firm wrote in a news release that starting April 4, it “will actively monitor and, when needed, meter guest traffic in its nearly 1,900 stores nationwide to promote social distancing.”

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US Hardens GPS Satellites After String of Hacking Attacks

News Analysis
The U.S. Space Force announced its Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite underwent a major digital hardening to withstand state and non-state jamming and hacking attacks.
The Space Force announced on March 27 the operational deployment of ‘GPS Block III’, a third generation satellite constellation, and anti-jamming ‘Ground Operational Control System’ software upgrade to harden the system against “spoofing” by hackers.
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are now used in everything from cellular communications, transportation, consumer goods, and securities trading to high-end military systems.
But hackers since 2014 have successfully compromised positioning, navigational, and timing (PNT) data by employing electronic warfare (EW) capabilities.
One of the most famous spoofing attacks occurred on May 15, 2018 when President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the 12-mile Kerch Strait Bridge that links Crimea to Russia. As Putin drove across the bridge in a bright-orange truck, Russian EW units tapped into America’s GPS network to spoof the control rooms of 24 vessels anchored nearby. The ships displayed false data about their location and showed they were sitting on Russia’s Anapa Airport runways 40 miles (65 kilometers) away.
The incident alarmed national security circles because the Russians penetrated both the publicly available GPS signals, and the U.S. military’s encrypted Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX). The OCX provides the digital command and control interfaces for all ground, air, and space forces.
The Obama administration launched OCX in 2012 with a budget of $3.7 billion to incorporate MATLAB programming language, M-code, as a standard for all encrypted military communications. But the budget had ballooned to $6.2 billion by 2016.
A major cause of the cost spike was blamed on the decision by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to sell the IBM x86 Intel-based line to Chinese-owned Lenovo in Aug. 2014. The sale included 34 R&D labs, product development, and seven manufacturing plants. IBM held the prime hardware contract to supply all OCX servers.
In April 2015, it was discovered that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s employee files had been hacked since March 2014. The data was exported with the same tools used by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cyber­espionage Unit 61398 that had already been indicted in absentia for hacking Anthem, Westinghouse, and U.S. Steel.
In July 2018, China EW teams were found spoofing the locations for multiple container ships in Shanghai harbor that are required to broadcast GPS-linked Automatic Identification System locations to avoid collisions. Several nations, including Iran, have used electronic warfare tools to spoof the movement by one ship. But this was the first confirmed spoofing of multiple stationary ships moving to another harbor location and then forming into a circle.
The Drive technology blog suggested the “Chinese government may be using the Port of Shanghai as a testing ground for a new GPS spoofing system that its military or security forces could ultimately employ elsewhere.” Such GPS spoofing attacks could imperil U.S. aircraft and ships operating in the contested waters of the South China Sea.
The GPS 3 is over three times more accurate than the existing GPS technology. Its more powerful signal provides greater reliability and can overcome radio interference that often caused GPS signal degradation. With its 31 satellite constellation, it is also optimized for expanded 5G applications.
With the Lenovo contract running through August 2022, the Trump administration’s Space Force officially ruled on March 26 that the China-made servers are an “unacceptable risk,” and authorized a $378 million emergency expenditure for U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard Enterprises (HPE) to replace the Lenovo hardware.

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Ventilator Demand Slows in New York, California

New York doesn’t need any more ventilators and California is in good enough condition to send 500 ventilators to states in worse shape, their governors said on Monday, a sign that the CCP virus curve appears to be flattening in both states.
“We don’t need any additional ventilators right now,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters at a press conference after repeatedly warning in recent days that the state needed up to 40,000 of the breathing machines.
Cuomo declined to state how many ventilators the state has in stock and his office hasn’t responded to requests for information about the state’s ventilator situation. One updated model indicated the state would need only 10,606 ventilators.
California, meanwhile, has seen a slowdown of new cases, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to loan 500 ventilators to states where the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has gotten worse.
“California is stepping up to help our fellow Americans in New York and across the country who are being impacted the hardest right now by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement. Modeling shows the state won’t hit its peak of cases until next month, the governor said.

A worker disinfects handrails at the emergency entrance outside the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the CCP virus in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York on April 6, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
The CCP virus causes COVID-19, a disease.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown sent 140 ventilators directly to New York over the weekend while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday his state would return more than 400 ventilators it received from the Strategic National Stockpile to help states dealing with more COVID-19 cases.
“These ventilators are going to New York and others states hardest hit by this virus,” Inslee said in a statement. “I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks.”
Early social distancing measures in the western states have been credited by some experts with slowing the spread of the virus and preventing an explosion in cases like the one New York has experienced. Inslee said Washington recently purchased more than 750 ventilators, which it expects to receive over the next several weeks.
The updated model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, dropped the projected deaths from COVID-19 by some 12,000, with modelers citing data from New York, California, and other states. It also dropped the projected number of hospital beds, intensive care unit beds, and ventilators needed in many states. California will need between 432 and 1,278 ventilators during its projected peak on April 15, models predicted, while Washington will need just 165 of the machines during its peak on April 6.

A ventilator is seen at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse, where 400 ventilators arrived and before being shipped out for distribution, due to concerns over the rapid spread of the CCP virus in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on March 24, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)
Heart of Tension
Ventilators have been at the heart of tension between some governors and President Donald Trump, who has questioned the requests from some quarters while having the national stockpile send machines to the hardest-hit states.
“Look, we had one state asking for 40,000 ventilators. Forty thousand. Think of it: 40,000. It’s not possible. They won’t need that many, and now they’re admitting they don’t need that many. But we’re getting as many as we can to them,” Trump said in Washington over the weekend at a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
The federal government has sent 4,400 to New York, which scrambled to obtain more machines when faced with dire predictions. Now that those have been rolled back, it wasn’t clear if the state still needed more.
Around 80 percent of patients who contract COVID-19 require hospital care and a subset of those need intensive care. Many of the patients in ICUs need assistance breathing, which is typically done through ventilators.
Fears of ventilator shortages prompted drastic action in some states, including exploring a method known as splitting where one ventilator serves two patients. New York officials have approved the method and hospitals in the state have been using some anesthesia machines as ventilators, as well as BiPAP machines, normally used on patients who are having trouble sleeping.
Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in the state, said on Sunday that a memo outlining guidance to medical staff on how to deal with a lack of ventilators leaked to a news outlet was a draft, adding, “We are not at that point at all.”
“We have sufficient ventilators for the foreseeable future, and we’re obviously getting more supply,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
About 20 percent of patients who go on a ventilator survive, according to Dowling. Patients with COVID-19 who require assistance breathing spend weeks on the machines, state officials have said, versus non-COVID patients, who spend just two or three days on them.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Pennsylvania Firefighters Stumble Upon Party in the Woods

Pennsylvania firefighters stumbled upon an illegal outdoor bash early Saturday morning involving some 100 youths in defiance of state quarantine directives.
The state has issued stay-at-home order, which forbids any public gatherings.
Members of the Grindstone Voluntary Fire Department (GVFD) uncovered the party deep in the woods near Sherbondy Hollow in Fayette County, when they were dispatched to the scene after one youth was apparently assaulted and in need of medical attention, according to a Facebook post Saturday.
“The Grindstone VFD responded to a man assaulted in the woods early this morning at 5 a.m. in Sherbondy Hollow. We had to use side by sides to locate the young man. Upon looking for him, we found a 100-person youth drinking party,” the department said. “Some were passed out in vehicles laying on top of one another; some were still upright, still going strong. Please, if anyone has children, do not let them go to these parties in this area. Especially now in this time, we are to stay 6 feet away from each other. The young man was found and taken by ambulance to the hospital.”

“At 5 a.m., if there were 100 people here, I don’t know what it was like at midnight,” said Fire Chief Rich Lenk, CBS Local reported. “A lot of underage drinking here, you can see here on the ground, it’s an all-night party here. It’s happening every weekend, and it’s getting a little too much for us every weekend.”
“We don’t have that much equipment to wear, and we have to put it on and come back in here,” Lenk said, according to the outlet. “We got handed 10 masks by the county, and I think we used that all last night.”
“We’re supposed to be staying away from each other at this time, but even in any time back in here, it’s bad to get back in here,” said Lenk.
The youth was secured and taken to the hospital. It is unknown what the nature of his injuries was, or what condition he is currently in.
Pennsylvania State Troopers were also called in to help clear the party, Fox News reported. No arrests have been reported.
As of Monday, Pennsylvania had 11,510 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, resulting in 150 deaths, according to figures from the state’s Department of Health.
From NTD News

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US Senator From Wyoming: State Not Issuing Stay-at-Home Order

The least populous state in the United States won’t go under a stay at home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one of Wyoming’s two U.S. senators said.
Wyoming is one of eight states that have no stay-at-home order. With under 580,000 residents, the state is the least populated in the country. It has just 200 cases of the new disease, which is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, and no deaths.
A stay-at-home order isn’t necessary, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on Monday, because residents are already staying away from one another.
“People are staying at home,” Barrasso said during an appearance on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom,” noting Gov. Mark Gordon announced a state of emergency last month and anyone entering the state is required to isolate for 14 days.
“Remember that people are spread out here. We only have about five people per square mile. We have been socially distancing the entire 130 years that we have been a state,” he added.
Gordon has struck the right balance, the senator argued, adding, “The people of Wyoming know what’s best in Wyoming. We’re going to do that—we’re going to continue to follow all the recommendations that are there in Wyoming.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) speaks to media while Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) (L) looks on, at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 27, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Teton County officials last week issued a stay at home order.
“It is recommended that all individuals, regardless of age … stay at home in their place of residence, or current place of abode,” the order stated. Exceptions mirror those in other orders, with people allowed to leave to get food, medicine, and for other purposes deemed essential.
Dr. Travis Riddell, Teton County’s health officer, told the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle that the order was more of a requirement than a suggestion.
Violators face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s communication’s director, told the outlet that the governor has watched as nearby states issue stay-at-home orders.
“His concern is that a stay-at-home order, like we’ve seen in neighboring states that have pages of exemptions, does little to change people’s behavior,” Pearlman said. “The emphasis from our side is changing behavior right now.”

A family walks past the grounds of the Conference Center that sits empty for the 190th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 4, 2020. (George Frey/Getty Images)
South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Utah are the other states without stay-at-home orders.
Each state has taken varying steps to respond to the pandemic, with some ordering the elderly or those with underlying health conditions to stay home. Many of the actions are similar to those taken in states with official stay at home orders, which are known by some as shelter in place orders.
President Donald Trump has been repeatedly pushed by reporters for a national stay-at-home order, despite a number of experts saying it would be unconstitutional. Both Trump and Surgeon General Jerome Adams have focused on constitutional issues in their responses. Another aspect Trump has highlighted is the vast differences between each state.
“In some states, “you have great distance” with “big land, few people” and “they’re in very good shape,” Trump told reporters on April 4.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, though, a top public health official on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has said he doesn’t know why a national stay-at-home order hasn’t been done.
“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” Fauci said last week. “If you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be.”
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Bank of America Reports $33 Billion Surge In Relief Loan Applications

Bank of America has announced a surge of applications for small business emergency funding under the $2.2 trillion virus relief bill, according to a report.
The commercial lender was cited by CNBC on Monday as confirming it received over 178,000 applications worth almost $33 billion, about 9.4 percent of the total available in the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program.
Banks and other commercial lenders are points of contact for small firms seeking relief loans, which are administered by the Small Business Association (SBA).
This follows an April 5 update by Bank of America on Twitter, when it said it had received over 145,000 applications totaling $30 billion through the program, which is meant to help small businesses stay afloat and encourage them not to lay off workers amid the CCP virus pandemic.

A worker sits in an empty gift shop in New York City’s Chinatown on Feb. 13, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the CARES Act, got off to a rocky start on April 3, as many small business owners ran into red tape and technical roadblocks.
Some businesses found their bank wasn’t yet prepared to accept applications, and when they tried another bank, they were told that only established customers were being accepted.
“We know there will be challenges in the process,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza at an April 2 briefing. “Our most important objective is to allow small businesses to keep their employees on board, and keep their businesses viable through this unprecedented disruption.”

A view of an empty restaurant is seen at Grand Central Station in New York City on March 25, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
News of the surge in applications shows demand is high for the relief funds as businesses seek to stave off collapse amid the pandemic.
“This administration believes wholeheartedly that if you are a small business, you are a critical part of the economic fabric of this country, and your viability is critical to the economic well-being of your employees,” Carranza said.

President Donald Trump said on April 4 that he would consider increasing relief funds if they run out.

“I will immediately ask Congress for more money to support small businesses under the #PPPloan if the allocated money runs out,” Trump said, referring to the Paycheck Protection Program.

President Donald Trump speaks in the press briefing room with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in Washington on April 2, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The Paycheck Protection Program gives businesses low-interest loans of about 2.5 times their average monthly payroll. The loans will be fully or partially forgiven if businesses show that the money was used to retain or rehire employees and pay some overhead expenses through June 30.
“Nearly $350 billion in loans will be available to small businesses, including sole proprietors. These loans are up to 100 percent forgivable as long as employers keep paying their workers,” Trump said at an April 2 briefing, a day ahead of the program launch.
“Got to take care of your workers,” he said.
Bank of America was the first major lender to start offering the Paycheck Protection Program’s loans on April 3.
In its most recent earnings report, which covers the fourth quarter of 2019, Bank of America reported over $3 trillion in customer deposits and a profit of $7 billion.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

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US Death Toll From CCP Virus Reaches 10,000

The United States has reached a grim milestone in its fight against the CCP virus on Monday as more than 10,000 have died from COVID-19 across the nation.
That’s according to Johns Hopkins University researchers, who have been tracking the fatalities and case numbers since the virus began spreading in mainland China. As of Monday, more than 10,300 deaths have been reported in the United States, while more than 347,000 cases have been confirmed.
The death toll is higher than the number of battle deaths from six U.S. wars combined. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (pdf) says that 9,961 soldiers died in all during the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, and Desert Shield/Desert Storm. It doesn’t include other war-related deaths.
For the past several days, the United States has seen more than 1,000 deaths from the virus each day, although the governors of Washington and New York, respectively, have said that the outbreak might be reaching its peak in those states.
“While none of this is good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we’ve seen,” Cuomo said in a news conference Monday, adding that the number of daily deaths in New York has been “effectively flat.”
It comes as top White House officials have warned that the next week or two will be especially harsh as the country tries to curb the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.

Medical workers approach a refrigerator truck being used as a morgue outside of Brooklyn Hospital Center amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, on April 3, 2020. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
“The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, it’s going to be our 9/11 moment, it’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives. And we really need to understand that if we want to flatten that curve and get through to the other side, everyone needs to do their part,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Adams then called on states who have not issued stay-at-home orders to “give us a week, give us what you can so that we don’t overwhelm our health care systems over this next week, and then let’s reassess.”
Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota have no statewide orders to stay at home, according to a map provided by The New York Times. Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have at least one municipality with stay-at-home rules in effect.
White House CCP virus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx also warned Americans about the next two weeks.
“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important,” Birx said over the weekend. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe,” she warned during a press conference.
Ahead of the expected surge in cases, officials across the country have attempted to increase hospital capacity by using sports facilities and convention centers for COVID-19 wards. The officials have also attempted to obtain required medical equipment such as ventilators, masks, and protective gear.
On Sunday night, President Donald Trump told a news conference that the viral storm will soon pass.
“We see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said, adding that a “horrific” period is ahead.

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Harvard Law Students Want Licensing Without Taking Bar Exam

Harvard Law students are asking school administrators to help them obtain law licenses without having to take the bar exam, citing the CCP virus pandemic.
In an April 2 letter, nearly 200 law students set to graduate this year asked Harvard Law School to publicly support “emergency diploma privilege” which would allow them to practice law without taking the bar exam. They also urged school administrators to send a statement supporting the privilege to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, which announced last week that the state bar would be postponed to a to-be-determined date in the fall.
The states’ decision came after the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which develops the test, offered a separate exam this fall for jurisdictions that cancelled or delayed their exams scheduled for July amid the ongoing pandemic. The letter alleged that postponing the test would disproportionately affect minority students.
“Folks that don’t have the financial security to be able to just quit their job and study for the bar at any moment — they might choose to forego the state bar,” co-author Donna Saadati-Soto told Harvard Crimson. “That means low-income students, immigrant students, folks of color are the ones that are going to be more likely to have to forgo taking or studying a later exam because they’re going to be needing to work to provide for themselves and their family.”

Students move out of dorm rooms on Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 12, 2020. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Harvard law students also drew comparison to their medical school peers, who are being allowed to graduate early to help relieve the health care workforce shortages. They argued in the letter that “struggling small businesses, recently unemployed individuals, and families facing eviction” would need as many lawyers as possible to advocated for their interests.
“Just as our colleagues in medical schools have been called upon to join the front lines fighting COVID-19, so too are attorneys needed to fight for the rights of individuals most affected by this pandemic,” the letter read.
Law students from other jurisdictions that use the Uniform Bar Exam have also sent open letters to bar examiners, urging them to grant emergency diploma privileges. In New York, approximately 1,000 students from 15 law schools sent a letter on March 26 to the State Bar of New York’s Task Force on the New York Bar Examination, which dismissed their demand.
“For one thing, there are about 15 percent of first-time test takers who do not pass,” Alan Scheinkman, task force chair, told New York Law Journal. “In this current year, where a lot of schools have gone to pass/fail courses, we would be very concerned about admitting people who have not shown a minimum degree of competency.”

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Supreme Court to Weigh in on Wisconsin’s Absentee Ballot Voting Dispute

The Supreme Court has been asked to referee a dispute on whether Wisconsin voters can continue to submit absentee ballots six days after election day.
The 6-day extension on the voting deadline for absentee ballots was granted by a district court judge on April 2 in order to provide relief for the disruptions caused by the CCP virus pandemic on Tuesday’s primaries. Although many other states have postponed their primaries in order to comply with public health orders on gatherings, Wisconsin is expected to proceed with their election on April 7, after Republicans pushed back on the governor’s last-minute efforts to delay.
The lawsuit was first filed by Democratic Party organizations, individual voters, and various liberal groups to seek relief from complying with certain provisions of Wisconsin law that pose an obstacle to absentee voting, such as suspending a deadline where ballots arriving at polling places after 8 p.m. on election day may not be counted.
U.S. District Judge William Conley granted various accommodations on April 2, including an extension on the deadline when absentee ballots can be returned, through 4 p.m. on April 13. Conley also extended a deadline, which has since passed, for requesting an absentee ballot and to remove a witness certification requirement.
The state Republican-controlled legislature and the Republican National Committee then filed an appeal at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which restored the witness certification requirement but kept the extension on the deadline for submitting absentee ballots through April 13.

County Clerk Brenda Jaszewski holds a box of absentee ballots from the town of Erin, Wis., as Board of Canvass member Marilyn Merten reaches to take a ballot out during a statewide presidential election recount in West Bend, Wis., on Dec. 1, 2016. (John Ehlke/West Bend Daily News via AP)
Then on April 4, the Republicans appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, asking the top court justices to block the lower court’s decision to grant the 6-day extension to the voting deadline for absentee ballots.
“Applicants seek a stay of the district court’s injunction to the extent it requires the State to count absentee ballots postmarked after April 7, thus clarifying that absentee ballots must be postmarked (or personally delivered to the polls) no later than April 7 in order to be counted,” the Republicans wrote in their filing (pdf).
The Republicans argue that by permitting the extension, it would threaten the state’s “election integrity, voter confidence and the orderly administration of an election that already has strained state resources due to the difficult circumstances associated with COVID-19.”
The Democrats responded to the petition on Sunday in a filing arguing that the relief was necessary because the pandemic had “wreaked havoc on Wisconsin’s upcoming April 7 election, driving poll workers and voters away from the polls, dramatically escalating the number of requests for absentee ballots, and overloading Wisconsin’s absentee-voting process.”
They said they had initially asked to postpone the deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots that were postmarked on or before election day “but it quickly became apparent that thousands, if not tens of thousands of voters would not even receive their timely requested absentee ballots until on or after April 7,” leading the Democrats to request further relief.
They added that if the deadline for casting an absentee vote was upheld, then thousands would be disenfranchised without the relief.
“The district court granted relief only to the limited extent necessary to address the ‘severe’ burdens ‘faced by voters who, through no fault of their own, will be disenfranchised by the enforcement of’ the April 7 absentee ballot-receipt deadline, given that ‘even the most diligent voter may be unable to return his or her ballot in time to be counted,’” the Democrats and groups wrote in their filing (pdf).

A sign directs voters towards a polling place near the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, on Nov. 6, 2018. (Nick Oxford/File Photo/Reuters)
Tuesday’s election has garnered much political controversy. Wisconsin’s Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, had previously refused calls to postpone the election over concerns that a delay would leave local official spots empty as they expire on April 21. This stance had infuriated many Democrats in his state.
Evers declared a mandatory stay-at-home order (pdf) for Wisconsin on March 25 but waited until April 3 to take executive action to try to postpone the election. He called for an emergency legislative session on April 4 to address the voting issues in an attempt to delay the election.
On April 4, the state Assembly and state Senate each gaveled in and out within seconds of opening the special sessions, reported Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Evers then accused the Republicans of “playing politics with public safety” in a statement. “Republicans in the Legislature are playing politics with public safety and ignoring the urgency of this public health crisis. It’s wrong. No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Evers wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Republicans, who are opposed to delaying the election, have criticized Evers of flip-flopping about the election in recent weeks.
“If the governor had legitimate concerns, we could have come to a bipartisan solution weeks ago. This discussion would have happened long before today. The only bipartisan discussion we’ve had was to ensure the election would continue safely and to maximize the opportunity to vote absentee,”  Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a joint statement on April 3, responding to Evers’s call for the special session. “Unfortunately, it’s this type of feckless leadership Wisconsin has come to expect of the governor in the face of this crisis. Instead of remaining strong to ensure our representative democracy continues, he caves under political pressures from national liberal special interest groups.”
“Our Republic must continue to function, and the many local government positions on the ballot must be filled so that municipalities can swiftly respond to the crisis at hand. We continue to support what Governor Evers has supported for weeks: the election should continue as planned on Tuesday,” they added.
The Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to make a decision on the application by Monday.
Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

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Kentucky Governor Vetoes Bill on Voter ID, Calls Ballot Fraud a ‘Problem That Does Not Exist’

Governor Andy Beshear (D-Ky.) on Friday vetoed a bill that would require Kentucky voters to show a government-issued ID before being allowed to cast their ballot.
In a statement (pdf), Beshear said he was vetoing Senate Bill 2 on grounds that it would introduce an impediment to voting and that it sought to address a “problem that does not exist,” referring to Republican claims of voter fraud in Kentucky.
“I am vetoing Senate Bill 2 because the provisions of the law would create an obstacle to the ability of Kentuckians to exercise their right to vote, resulting in fewer people voting and undermining our democracy. Furthermore, no documented evidence of recent voter fraud in the form of impersonation in Kentucky has been presented,” Beshear said in the veto message.
Beshear said the legislation could endanger the health and safety of Kentucky residents by forcing them to leave their homes to obtain the needed identification.
Beshear’s veto could be overridden since the bill was passed by supermajorities in both chambers of the state’s legislative assembly.
“I ask the legislators of both parties who believe in election integrity and passed this law to override this regrettable veto, and I hope the governor will eventually join me in governing from the center,” Secretary of State Michael Adams (R-Ky.) said in a statement.
‘Sanctity of the Vote’
Voter fraud is a contentious issue, often falling along partisan lines, with Democrats often portrayed as broadly supportive of measures that soften voter ID requirements, while Republicans as those seeking to harden them.
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) put her party’s stunning disregard for the ‘sanctity of the vote’ on full display when she tried to include the following measures into a proposed House bill dealing with the coronavirus: ballot harvesting, no voter identification requirement for absentee ballots, and no signature from a witness on absentee ballots,” wrote Adrian Norman, author of the book “The Art of the Steal: Exposing Fraud & Vulnerabilities in America’s Elections,” in an op-ed published by The Epoch Times.
“America currently has millions more names on its voter rolls than it does citizens eligible to vote. This vulnerability can be (and often is) exploited by casting invalid absentee ballots. Not confirming the identity of the person casting a vote makes it much easier to game the system,” Norman wrote, providing a list of examples that he said pointed to “evidence that an ample amount of election fraud is facilitated by loopholes provided by mail-in and absentee ballots.”
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, argues that voter fraud is not just real, but bipartisan.
“Heritage Foundation experts have long pointed out that voter fraud is not particular to one party or ideology. At its core, people cheat in elections to further their preferred causes or to advance their own careers, and there’s nothing inherently conservative or liberal about the desire to win,” wrote Jason Snead, an erstwhile policy analyst at the Foundation.
While not a comprehensive list, the Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database provides a sampling of election fraud cases from across the U.S.”
By contrast, the Brennan Center for Justice, in a document (pdf) titled “Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth,” claims that “fraud by voters at the polls is vanishingly rare, and does not happen on a scale even close to that necessary to ‘rig’ an election.”
The document provides a list of studies and analyses that purport to show that voter fraud is a minor problem and references a policy solution (pdf) that is “a six-part agenda to target fraud risks as they actually exist—without unduly disenfranchising eligible citizens.”

An official checks a voter’s photo identification at an early voting polling site in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
‘It Is Already Killing People’
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s death toll due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, has climbed to a total of 45 deaths.
According to official state figures, 18,767 Kentuckians have been tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, and 955 have tested positive.
Beshear said in a COVID-19 update on April 5 that the lower-than-usual number of new cases was probably because fewer labs reported results on Sunday.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it today because of it being a Sunday and what labs are reporting,” he said, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. “With that said, we’ve had a number of days in a row, I think four, where we have been about the same.”
Beshear said a Covington-based company would provide up to 2,000 additional tests each day, the outlet reported.
He warned that his administration would crack down on violators of the state’s social distancing policies, censuring two gyms that were recently cited for sneaking people in.
“It is already killing people and with an order out there that you cannot operate, you would open up the back door?” Beshear said. “My goodness, come on, we ought to be better than that and shame on those that are doing that.”
Beshear earlier issued an executive order mandating all non-life-sustaining public-facing businesses, including gyms, to shutter operations by 5 p.m. on March 18.
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One-Day-Old Infant Dies From COVID-19 Complications in Louisiana: Coroner

A one-day-old infant died from COVID-19-related complications in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to the local coroner’s office.
Coroner Beau Clark said the infant died Monday, reported WAFB in Baton Rouge.
Clark said that 27 people have died in East Baton Rouge Parish due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus as of Monday, WAFB reported.
The baby girl was born prematurely after the mother gave birth while being hospitalized on a ventilator, according to the coroner. The mother was admitted to an area hospital on April 1, and the child died on April 6, coming one day after she was born, Clark said, WBRZ reported.
However, the baby has not tested positive for the CCP virus, Clark said on Facebook. But due to the circumstances surrounding her death, it has been ruled as being tied to the virus, WBRZ reported.
“[Medical experts] all agree, this would be a COVID-19-related death because of the positive virus in the mother. Had she not been, she would likely not have gone into preterm labor,” Clark said, according to the news outlet.
“We should all pay attention to the quarantine, the stay-at-home order, the social distancing. It becomes very, very important that we pay attention to what we’ve been told,” Clark said, adding, “We are seeing some improvement in the surge, we are starting to do what they call ‘flattening the curve,’ [but] social distancing is more important than ever at this moment.”
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.

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COVID-19 Deaths in New York ‘Effectively Flat’ for 2 Days as Curve Possibly Flattens

The daily deaths in New York from COVID-19 were “effectively flat” for the second day in a row as state officials expressed optimism that the peak of the new disease has arrived.
Projections that once said the state would need up to 140,000 hospital beds and 40,000 ventilators have been severely dialed down as it appears the apex may have arrived at a much lower level, described as a possible flattening of the curve.
Areas that experience COVID-19, a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, see an increase of cases before the number peaks and, soon after, drops. The process is known as a curve by epidemiologists.
“The hospital admissions are down, the ICU admissions are down, and the daily intubations are down. Those are all good signs and would suggest a possible flattening of the curve,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters at a press conference in Albany on Monday.
New York reported an increase of deaths from 4,159 to 4,758; a jump in cases to 130,689; a daily increase in hospitalizations of 358, or 2 percent; an increase in ICU admissions of only 128, a drop from 395 two days prior; and just 132 new intubations, a decrease from 351 on April 3.
The statistics are for April 5. Authorities have been compiling data and releasing it for the previous day at briefings.

Jim Malatras, president of the State University of New York’s Empire State College, shows a graph at a press conference in Albany on April 6, 2020. The purple line shows the current rate of hospitalizations, which is much lower than models projected. (Screenshot/New York Governor’s Office)
New York is by far the most affected state in the nation and has struggled to react to the epidemic. The bulk of the cases are in New York City, where leaders were telling members of the public as late as March to continue going out to eat as other states announced strict measures.
Officials now believe the new cases may have plateaued much lower than previous projections, a revision made just hours after a major model cited by Cuomo and national officials was revised downward.
The belief is informed by the robust dataset that officials have compiled, Jim Malatras, president of the State University of New York’s Empire State College, said at the press conference. “We are, potentially, at the apex or beginning to be at the apex,” he said.
Social distancing measures led to the lower rate of hospitalizations and they must stay in place, officials said. Cuomo said it didn’t matter whether the peak has arrived because the healthcare system is already at maximum capacity today. Ventilators are being moved from upstate hospitals to downstate hospitals, along with personal protective equipment like masks, while the U.S. military is bringing the Javits Center in Manhattan online to help New York City hospitals handle the influx of cases.
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Florida Mayor: 1 More Death Tied to Virus-Stricken Cruise

MIAMI—Fourteen people from a cruise ship that docked in Florida over the weekend with CCP virus patients aboard were hospitalized and one of them later died, authorities said Sunday. Two fatalities had been reported previously aboard the Coral Princess.
The Princess Cruises ship, which docked Saturday in Miami, also began disembarking on Sunday fit passengers who were cleared for charter flights out. Passengers with symptoms of COVID-19 or recovering from it were being kept on the ship until medically cleared.
In a statement Sunday night, the Miami-Dade County mayor’s office said one of the six people removed Saturday from the ship had died after being taken by private ambulance to a Hialeah hospital. Two other “critical patients” were hospitalized in Hialeah and three others whose conditions weren’t disclosed had been sent to a Tampa-area hospital. Eight others whose conditions weren’t disclosed were taken off the ship Sunday to hospitals.

The Coral Princess cruise ship arrives at PortMiami during the CCP virus outbreak, in Miami, on April 4, 2020. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
The statement did not immediately indicate whether the 14 people had a confirmed CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, link.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Sunday ordered a local hospital physician and nurses dispatched to PortMiami to assist medical staff aboard the Coral Princess. The statement said officials also replenished the ship’s oxygen supply after determining it was critically low.
Meanwhile, buses lined up near the cruise terminal Sunday to take passengers showing no signs of the illness to the airport, but the process was slow. The cruise line said it was further delayed by a policy the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued overnight, preventing passengers from being placed on commercial flights.
“Princess Cruises continues to work tirelessly to adjust the repatriation plan to meet the new CDC requirements. This will unfortunately result in further delays in disembarkation and onward travel for many guests as we work through this complex, challenging and unfortunate situation,” the company said in a news release.
Even before the new policy was issued, the cruise line said getting passengers home would take several days. Disembarkation was limited Sunday to passengers cleared for charter flights to California, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Before Saturday, the 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members of the Coral Princess had been in limbo for days, awaiting permission to dock. The Coral Princess had been on a South American cruise that was due to end March 19 in Buenos Aires. The ship subsequently encountered obstacles to docking because of various port closures and cancellation of airline flights, the cruise line said.
Last Thursday, Princess Cruises spokeswoman Negin Kamali had said seven passengers and five crew members on the ship had tested positive for the CCP virus. Passengers were self-isolating in their staterooms and meals were being delivered by room service, while crew members were remaining in their quarters when not working.
Princess Cruises is a brand of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company. The cruise line industry announced a voluntarily suspension of most ship operations from U.S. ports on March 13 amid the global pandemic. The next day, the CDC announced a “no sail” order to all cruise ships that had not suspended operations.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, and the vast majority survive. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause pneumonia or death.

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Pentagon Issues New Policy on Makeshift Face Coverings

The Pentagon has mandated all military personnel wear makeshift face coverings, as per the CDC public guidelines, if they need to work closer to each other than the “social distancing” marker of 6 feet.
“Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance in public areas or work centers,” said the official April 5 memo (pdf), made public today.
The rule does not apply to the homes of service members or their families which are located on military installations.
The new guidelines apply to all military personnel, civilian employees, family members, contractors and all other people in DoD property.
The shift in policy is in line with new recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which on Friday recommended that all Americans should start to wear cloth face coverings in public settings. The face coverings aim to block the wearer from unwittingly spreading the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly referred to as novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Each department will provide further detailed guidance for its service members, said the Pentagon. “As an interim measure, all individuals are encouraged to fashion face coverings from household items or common materials, such as clean T-shirts or other clean cloths that can cover the nose and mouth area.”
The Department of Defense will not issue personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators or surgical masks “as these will be reserved for the appropriate personnel.”
“The Department will continue to implement force protective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to our total force and their families, and the American people,” said the statement.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said throughout the pandemic crisis that the 6 feet of social distancing is hard to achieve in some situations and that they had to remain ready to carry out national security missions.
“We can’t always do 6 feet distancing, whether you’re in an attack submarine, a bomber, in a tank,” he told ABC on Sunday.
“So we have to take other measures. And I trust the commanders and our senior NCOs to do that. But we want to provide them all the guidance they need to adjust it in whatever is unique to their situation, their circumstance, or their mission set.”

A woman wears a stars and stripes bandana for a face mask, amid COVID-19 fears, in Washington on April 2, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
The CDC’s recommendation came on the heels of new evidence that COVID-19  can be spread by people before they display symptoms. The wearing of the face covering is not to protect the wearer, but to stop them inadvertently spreading the virus before they know they have it.
The agency urged people to use the cloth face coverings in places where social distancing measures are challenging to maintain, including grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
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Cause of Death for Infant Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 Still Under Investigation: Medical Examiner

The official cause of death for an infant who tested positive for COVID-19 in Connecticut is still under investigation, The Epoch Times has confirmed.
The six-week old baby died on March 26 at the Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that day that the death of the child was caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to tell you that almost all the fatalities are related to people who are over 70 and over 80, but we have a tragic milestone in Connecticut,” Lamont said at a press conference. “Probably the youngest person ever to die of COVID has died here in Connecticut. That baby was less than 7 weeks old, and it just is a reminder that nobody is safe from this virus.”
But the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told the Epoch Times that the cause of death is still being determined following the baby’s March 27 autopsy.
“At the current time, we have not issued a final cause of death. There are numerous tests that we must do on infant deaths before issuing a final cause of death,” the office said. Those include histology, microbiology, and toxicology testing.

A baby in a file photograph. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
In normal times, it usually takes several weeks to complete all the testing. The office didn’t address queries on whether there would be a delay amid the pandemic or whether officials there were concerned about the governor’s early pronouncement linking the baby’s death to COVID-19.
The baby did test positive for COVID-19, the office confirmed.
Pressed on his declaration at a press conference last week, Lamont asked Connecticut State Epidemiologist Matthew Cartter to address the question. Cartter told reporters that public health officials weren’t sure what caused the death of the baby.
“Our definition, what we’re counting at the state health department, is different from what the medical examiner counts. I don’t know the cause of death of this person that you’re about or any of the people, because we don’t determine cause of death,” he said.
“We define laboratory confirmed COVID-19-associated deaths as anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive on a COVID-19 test, before or around the time of death. We do not determine causality.”
Flu surveillance is done the same way, he said.
The Hartford Police Department didn’t respond to a request for comment on the infant’s death.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks during SiriusXM Business Radio’s ‘Making A Leader’ Series at SiriusXM Studios in New York City on Dec. 20, 2019. (Bonnie Biess/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Previous Death
Lamont’s announcement sent shockwaves through the community of pregnant and new mothers, scaring many, according to reports on social media.
COVID-19 primarily affects the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. There was only one documented death caused by the disease among those aged 24 or younger in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That person was between 1 and 4 years old. No other information about that case, including whether it was the case in Connecticut, was available.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said in late March that an infant younger than 1 year old in Chicago tested positive for COVID-19.
“There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death,” state Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.”
Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Bureau of Administration, told The Epoch Times that the cause and manner of death has not been determined at this time. She declined to answer how long officials think the investigation will take.
One infant death was also reported in China. The 10-month-old with intussusception suffered multiple organ failure and died a month after being admitted to a hospital.

Medical staff treat COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Wuhan, China on March 19, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Other Clarifications
At least two other deaths reported by American officials as being caused by COVID-19 were later clarified.
The Georgia Department of Public Health said that an 11-year-old boy in the Atlanta area died from the CCP virus.
The department later said the characterization stemmed from an error.
“The reporting facility made an error when electronically submitting information about a death. Upon review of the medical record, the error was corrected,” Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the department, told The Epoch Times via email.
California health officials said a 17-year-old boy died from the new illness but later said they’re exploring the situation.
“Though early tests indicated a positive result for Covid-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality. Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement.
The death was removed from the county’s list of fatalities from the virus.
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Boston Authorities Urge Curfew, Ask People to Wear Masks Outdoors

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Sunday announced strict new measures for social and physical distancing in a bid to reduce an expected surge in COVID-19 infections in the area.
“I cannot stress enough that the actions we take now through the next several weeks will help curb the spread of this virus, and save lives,” Walsh said in a news release Sunday, after Boston saw its largest one-day jump in reported cases.
The new measures, which will be effective on Monday, April 6, through Monday, May 4, include closing recreational sports areas in city parks, recommending a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., and urging everyone to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose when in public.

A woman wears a stars and stripes bandana for a face mask, amid COVID-19 fears, in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2020. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
The curfew, detailed in a public health advisory issued by the Boston Public Health Commission on April 5, asks residents and visitors to the Boston area to refrain from leaving their homes at night for practically any reason, including for “obtaining necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members.” Only those providing “essential services” related to the outbreak are exempt.
This is in addition to earlier recommendations that residents should remain in their homes during the day as much as possible and only leave for essential needs, like going to the grocery store or pharmacy.
“At this very critical time, we must do everything we can as Bostonians to protect one another. This is bigger than any one person—this is about the greater good of our people. Stay safe, stay inside, and let’s get through this together,” Walsh said.

Wearing a mask and using a stick to keep his distance amid the COVID-19 outbreak, a jobless man named Paul panhandles at an intersection in Falls Church, Virginia, on April 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Regarding enforcement, Walsh said police would not be enforcing the curfew, which is advisory, but he told NBC10 Boston earlier that he has considered stricter measures.
“It’s not normal for me to get up here and scare the people of Boston as the mayor,” Walsh said at Suday’s press conference. “But this is not a normal situation. This is a moment that we need people’s attention.”
At the press conference, Walsh said police officers were empowered to break up gatherings but he hoped people would follow requirements voluntarily.
“They can and will issue violations but it shouldn’t have to come to that,” Walsh said, WBUR reports.
The public health advisory noted: “All reasonable efforts will be made to secure voluntary compliance with this Advisory. The Executive Director may seek the assistance of other City of Boston agencies in encouraging compliance with this order.”

Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City, New York, on April 4, 2020. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)
Authorities said public health models indicated Boston is 11 days away from peak demand for hospital resources and the new measures intend to flatten the curve of the outbreak in the area.
Boston now has 1,877 confirmed cases and 15 deaths attributed to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. That’s an increase of 259 cases from Saturday.
“That’s what a surge looks like and we’re still at the beginning of the surge,” Walsh said of the figures, according to local news outlet WBUR.
Also, the Boston area has also seen an increase in COVID-19 case severity in young people. Authorities said that as of April 5, nearly 45 percent of positive tests in Boston are in people under the age of 40, while almost 80 percent of COVID-19 infections have been confirmed through tests in people under the age of 60.
“This is an unprecedented situation. It’s asked a lot from us,” Walsh said, WBUR reported. “It’s going to ask more from us over the next few weeks.”
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Here’s Who Won’t Get Pandemic Stimulus Checks

A $2 trillion stimulus bill passed last month includes payments of up to $1,200 for people who make less than an earnings cap, but some people won’t be able to receive the checks.
It includes some college students, immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers, and some elderly or disabled adults. One of the major groups includes adults who are claimed as a dependent on another person’s taxes for various reasons.
Individuals earning up to $75,000 will get a check for $1,200, while couples earning up to $150,000 will get $2,400. And parents get $500 for every child under the age of 17.
The package was passed last month by Congress amid business shutdowns and mass layoffs in an attempt to curb the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.
But if someone is claimed as a dependent on another person’s taxes, they won’t get a check. Parents will get an extra $500 payment per child—but only for kids under 17, meaning that many 17-year-olds, some young adults, and a number of college students who are claimed by their parents as dependents on their parents’ taxes will not get an extra $500 or the $1,200 stimulus checks.
“A taxpayer is allowed to claim a full-time student between the ages of 19 and 24 as a dependent, so the parent will not get $500 for a college student, nor can the college student generally claim $1,200,” Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told CNBC.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks while President Donald Trump listens during the daily briefing on COVID-19 in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House, on April 2, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Individuals who get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs can get the $1,200 payments. Disabled adults who are claimed as dependents by their parents or relatives on their taxes will not get the checks, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Seniors who are living with their children who are on Social Security or make less than the income gap can get the $1,200 cash deposits. But seniors who live with their adult children or other relatives and are claimed as dependents on their relatives’ or children’s taxes will not receive payments.
Immigrants who were not given a Social Security number—including those with green cards and those on H-1B and H-2A visas—will not receive checks. Nonresident aliens, temporary workers, and illegal immigrants also won’t receive checks.
Babies who were born in 2020 will not receive checks as the payments from the federal government are based on 2019 and 2018 taxes. Parents will receive $500 credits next year when they file their 2020 taxes.

Medical workers approach a refrigerator truck being used as a morgue outside of Brooklyn Hospital Center amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, on April 3, 2020. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
To qualify for a direct payment, one has to have a Social Security number, meet the adjusted-gross-income thresholds, and file your taxes either independently or jointly with a spouse.
As mentioned before, those who make up to $75,000 as a single filer or up to $150,000 as a couple will get $1,200 and $2,400, respectively, but those payments taper off the more each person makes, up to $99,000 for a single filer, $136,500 for those filing as head of household, or $198,000 if you’re married and file jointly.
The IRS will then calculate and automatically send the payment, with no action required by most Americans. For Americans who have not yet filed their returns for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing.
As noted by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), people who owe back payments on child support won’t receive stimulus checks.

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Pentagon Has Deployed Many Ventilators From Department of Defense Stockpile: Esper

The Pentagon has deployed many of its 2,000 ventilators amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.
Many of the ventilators have been deployed with USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, military hospital ships that were sent to Los Angeles and New York City.
Others are deployed with the field hospitals the military has been erecting in various states, including Texas, Louisiana, and New York.
Several hundred have been prepositioned outside of New York and others are ready to be shipped to where officials are told to ship them to, Esper said on Sunday.
Esper said a report from CNN claiming the Pentagon had not shipped any of its ventilators was not accurate. Only a few hundred have not been sent out, he said.

The USNS Mercy enters the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California on March 27, 2020. (Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo)
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which still has several thousand ventilators in stock right now, is slated to deliver those before the military sends out the ones it still has, according to Esper.
“We’re sitting on them in the sense that they’re prepared to ship once they’re needed, once HHS exhausts its stock,” he said.
Esper spoke about the ventilators during appearances on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Ventilators have become a crucial issue because patients with severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, require assistance breathing. Patients with the disease stay much longer on ventilators than non-COVID patients and around 80 percent of patients with the new illness who require help breathing die, a top New York health executive Gov. Andrew Cuomo said over the weekend.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has estimated his state will need as many as 40,000 ventilators. A major model relied upon by the governor and federal officials was revised overnight and now says the state will need no more than 10,606.

A ventilator is seen at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse, where 400 ventilators arrived and before being shipped out for distribution, due to concerns over the rapid spread of the CCP virus in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on March 24, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)
Cuomo’s office hasn’t responded to requests for information about ventilators, including how many the state has on hand. According to information given at press conferences, the state has north of 12,500, with over 1,000 more on the way, even after an order for 17,000 fell through.
It wasn’t clear if that figure included those ready for deployment by the Pentagon.
“We have sufficient ventilators for the foreseeable future, and we’re obviously getting more supply,” Michael Dowling, the president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York state, said during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Healthcare workers are not at the point of deciding who gets a ventilator and who does not, a point that would only be reached amid shortages.

A woman arrives by ambulance to Wyckoff Hospital in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in New York on April 5, 2020. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said on the same show that he thinks the New York City health system will be “brought right to the brink” but not “go over.”
“They’re expanding their capacity to keep pace with their surge of demand, really a historic effort. And I don’t think they’re gonna run out of ventilators. They’re doing things to convert existing devices into ventilators. And I think they’ll keep pace with it,” he said.
State officials have ordered anesthesia machines to be used as ventilators, the conversion of BiPAPs, and a “splitting” technique that lets a single ventilator serve two patients. Cuomo signed an executive order in recent days allowing the state to seize ventilators from hospitals they say don’t need them. Hospital executives were asked how many they aren’t using and National Guard troops are taking 20 percent of that number from each hospital outside New York City and its environs, Cuomo told reporters at a press conference.
With a slowdown of new cases, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown sent 140 ventilators to New York to help boost capacity. Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee sent 400 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile because of the low numbers of cases there after an early explosion in February.
“Washington is returning 400 ventilators so states like New York and others can have them,” Inslee said in a statement.
Those machines will be sent to “the point of the need,” Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Sunday.
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American Airlines Cuts Most NYC Flights Amid Pandemic

American Airlines announced Sunday it would suspend more inbound and outbound flights at all three major airports in New York as COVID-19 infections continue to mount.
The air carrier said that between April 9 and May 6, it will operate a total of 13 daily flights from New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports and New Jersey’s Newark. In April 2019, American flew an average of 271 daily flights across all three airports, so the drop in flight volume represents a cut of around 95 percent.
“As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York City and the surrounding region continue to increase, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for travel to the area, the demand for flights to the New York area is rapidly evaporating,” David Seymour, American’s senior vice president of operations, said in a statement late Sunday, USA Today reports.

American Airlines planes are seen while a passenger waits for boarding at the Reagan International Airport in Washington, DC, on April 3, 2020. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
The announcement comes a day after United slashed flights to the metro area. Spirit Airlines, JetBlue and other carriers had already suspended service since New York is a hotspot of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
New York, the hardest-hit state, reported on Saturday that there were nearly 600 new deaths for a total of 4,159 deaths and 122,000 total cases.
There were 8,327 new positives reported in New York on Saturday.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he believed there needed to be a mass rollout of rapid testing in order to achieve a “return to normalcy” after the peak of COVID-19 infections passes.
“I think you see the return to normalcy when we have an approved rapid testing program that can be brought to scale, Cuomo told a daily briefing on the coronavirus response. “That is going to be the answer, I believe.”

An emergency room nurse dons her face protectors after taking a break in a driveway for ambulances and emergency medical services vehicles outside Brooklyn Hospital Center’s emergency room in New York, during the CCP virus crisis on April 5, 2020. (Kathy Willens/AP Photo)
Earlier, American said in a statement it was slashing international flights for summer and delaying the launch of new routes for winter due to record low demand.
“American will suspend more than 60% of its total international capacity this summer compared to the same peak period in 2019, which includes an 80% reduction in Pacific capacity, 65% reduction in Atlantic capacity and 48% reduction in Latin America capacity,” the air carrier stated.

Canceled flights are seen on an airport screen as the spread of COVID-19 continues, in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 4, 2020. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an advisory for people returning from international travel that they should self-quarantine for two weeks from the time they return home.
“During this 14-day period, take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing,” the CDC said.
People undergoing such post-travel quarantines should take their temperature twice a day and watch for cough or trouble breathing, the CDC said.
They should avoid public transport, stay around 6 feet away from other people, and avoid leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary.
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Lupus Experts Divided Over Hydroxychloroquine Use Against COVID-19

Some doctors say their patients with lupus aren’t getting COVID-19 while others are cautioning against linking those findings with hydroxychloroquine, a drug approved as an anti-malarial and lupus treatment that’s been prescribed across the nation for the COVID-19.
President Donald Trump on Saturday pointed to a study that showed people with lupus “aren’t catching this horrible virus.” COVID-19 is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
“They’re not affected so much by it. Now, maybe that’s correct; maybe it’s false. You’re going to have to check it out,” Trump told reporters in Washington.
Trump did not name the study. But Chinese researchers published a preprint clinical study (pdf) that, they said, found patients treated with hydroxychloroquine recovered quicker than those who weren’t given the drug.
Researchers in China previously found that 80 lupus patients in Wuhan, where the virus emerged last year, did not contract the illness.

Rescue workers transport a patient from the Zaandam of the Holland America Line cruise ship, afflicted with COVID-19 at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 2, 2020. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)
‘No Evidence’
Several groups and a number of experts have said there isn’t evidence supporting hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy against COVID-19, asserting that more rigorous, peer reviewed studies are needed, along with clinical trials.
The Lupus Foundation of America said in a statement that “there is no evidence” that taking hydroxychloroquine, also known as Plaquenil, “is effective in preventing a person from contracting the coronavirus.” The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance said that over 25 percent of the 110 COVID-19 patients on its registries were taking Plaquenil at the time of diagnosis. One of those patients later died.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters after Trump spoke that the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine is still being looked at, adding: “We don’t have any definitive information to be able to make any comment … . That’s something that is now being looked at, but we don’t have any data to be able to say anything definitively.”
Taking hydroxychloroquine is subject to approval by a doctor, Trump added before saying: “But I hope they use it because I’ll tell you what: What do you have to lose? In some cases, they’re in bad shape. What do you have to lose?”
No drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating COVID-19 but doctors can prescribe drugs approved for one use for a different use. The agency last month issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and the closely-related chloroquine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said last month that hydroxychloroquine has been administered to hospitalized patients.

Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California in a file photograph. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Few Lupus Patients Get COVID-19
Several doctors who treat lupus patients have said they’ve found suggestions the drug may be effective.
“None of my lupus patients have developed covid, which is quite remarkable,” Dr. Daniel Wallace, a rheumatologist at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, said in a teleconference. The seven hospitals that are affiliated with Cedars-Sinai have treated some 1,000 patients, of whom one had lupus.
“It may be that the drugs that these patients are taking provides them with type of protection. I find this rather interesting and I can’t quite explain it,” Wallace said.
Dr. Peggy Crow, chief of rheumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, said there’s anecdotal evidence from New York hospitals “that many more presumably healthy people are developing infections with COVID-19 than we’ve seen in our lupus patients or rheumatoid arthritis patients.”
Lupus patients are being very careful, she added, and doing well considering the pandemic. Lupus is a chronic long-term disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body, according to the Lupus Research Foundation.
Preliminary indications suggest hydroxychloroquine may be effective in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, Dr. Ken Farber, president and CEO of the Lupus Research Alliance, said during the teleconference.
“Why it’s effective is not entirely clear. It may help prevent the virus from replicating, from reproducing; it may be because Plaquenil has certain properties that allow it to, let’s just say, mellow out the immune system,” Dr. Ken Farber, president and CEO of the Lupus Research Alliance, said during the teleconference. [early, delete; next line–18ish]
If lupus patients are less susceptible for COVID-19, there’s “finally silver lining” for patients with the disease, Farber said.
Demand for the drug has caused shortages in some areas.

Transmission electron micrograph of the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, isolated from a patient. Photo published March 10, 2020. (NIAID)
Previous Studies
Other doctors have also said they’ve found hydroxychloroquine effective. Of over 6,000 physicians across 30 countries asked about the “most effective therapy” in treating CCP virus patients, more than one out of three chose the lupus and malaria drug.
Dr. Ramin Oskoui, CEO of Foxhall Cardiology, said during an appearance on Fox News last week that he doesn’t know of anyone with lupus getting the CCP virus and referenced the study from China. “We’re not seeing patients with lupus who take Plaquenal, we’re not seeing these individuals develop COVID. I’m not aware of any reported case; the Chinese have actually looked at this,” Oskoui said.
Before the Chinese study, two studies in France suggested hydroxychloroquine can be effective against the CCP virus. Neither study was peer reviewed or published as of yet. Hungary, the United Kingdom, and India are among the countries that have banned export of the drug as further study is done; Trump has asked India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to carve out an exception to the ban for the United States.
America recently received 30 million hydroxychloroquine doses and federal officials were distributing them to various states, officials said this week. In addition to prescribing the drug to patients with COVID-19, some doctors have been giving the drug to healthy patients as a prophylactic.
A number of studies are underway in the United States, including a 1,500-person trial at the University of Minnesota. Researchers there expect initial results around the end of April.
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Major Virus Model Updated, Projected US Deaths Drop

A major model relied upon by White House medical experts was updated overnight and projects nearly 12,000 fewer deaths from COVID-19.
The new disease is caused the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. It emerged in China last year.
The major model now projects that between 49,431 and 136,401 (a mean of 81,765) deaths from COVID-19 will take place in the United States by June 19, when the deaths are predicted to hit zero per day. The previous version of the model projected 93,531 Americans would die by that time.
The model in question was published by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which receives funding from the Gates Foundation. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, are among the top state and national officials who have cited it when talking about projected figures related to the virus outbreak.
The apex of daily deaths in the United States is still projected to occur on April 16. Modelers believe deaths that day will be somewhere between 1,282 to 7,703, a mean of 3,130. The previous mean was 2,644.
But the daily deaths are now projected to drop off faster than in the previous model, leading to the revised figure.

A ventilator is seen at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse, where 400 ventilators arrived and before being shipped out for distribution, due to concerns over the rapid spread of the CCP virus, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on March 24, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)
Fewer hospital beds, beds in intensive care units, and ventilators will be needed on the new projected peak hospitalization date, modelers also said.
The IHME model previously expected roughly 120,000 to 430,000 hospital beds would be needed on April 16, a mean of 262,092 beds, along with a mean of 39,727 ICU beds and 31,782 ventilators.
The new means are: 140,823 hospital beds, 29,210 ICU beds, and 24,828 ventilators. Total hospitalizations are also down in the new model.
Many COVID-19 patients who require intensive care are placed on ventilators, machines that help people breathe, and stay on them for weeks. Approximately 20 percent of patients in New York state, which has the most patients in intensive care, recover from the disease after being placed on a ventilator.
Even before the model was updated, hospitalizations in the United States were just a fraction of the projections. The updated model also appeared to be overestimating hospitalizations in some states. For instance, it said New York would require 14,947 to 37,576 hospital beds on April 5; the state had 16,479 in hospitals on Sunday. While as many as 9,277 ICU beds were in the projection, state officials reported 4,376 patients in intensive care units.
New York officials have projected needing up to 40,000 ventilators but the updated model projects needing no more than 10,606.
On the other hand, the IHME was accurately predicting the number of deaths on some days. For instance, it predicted 1,133 to 1,555 COVID-19 deaths for April 4. There were around 1,350 deaths reported that day.

A discarded surgical mask is seen on the sidewalk outside of Wyckoff Hospital in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York City, in a file photo. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)
Model Reflects New Data
Dr. Christopher Murray, the IHME director, said in a statement that the revised model reflects “a massive infusion of new data.”
Data from some states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Colorado, concerning the use of healthcare systems led modelers to revise down the estimated need of the system during the CCP virus outbreak.
“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” Murray said. “And these projections are vital to health planners, policymakers, and anyone else associated with caring for those affected by and infected with the coronavirus.”
Modelers said projections of the pandemic depend on the peak in each state and the peak being reached in seven European regions, including Madrid, Spain, and Lombardy, Italy, helped inform the revised figures.
Murray credited social distancing measures, which include remaining 6 feet away from non-household members, as contributing to the updated model but claimed that the trajectory of the pandemic would change “dramatically for the worse” if people ease up on such measures.
The model assumes that widespread social distancing measures remain in place until the end of May, he said.
President Donald Trump earlier this month extended federal social distancing recommendations to April 30. The advisory prompted a number of governors to either extend social distancing mandates or recommendations and others to announce stay at home orders for the first time.
Trump on Sunday told reporters that models overestimated the number of hospital beds needed in the United States.
“It’s turning out that we need less hospital beds,” Trump said at the task force’s daily briefing. “We may have models, but we’ve been sort of saying that. In New York, we were saying we think you’re gonna need less.”
Petr Svab contributed to this report.
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US Northern Command Deploys 1,000 Medical Personnel to New York

U.S. Northern Command (USNC), which supervises the nation’s military operations in North America, will be deploying some 1,000 medical personnel to the New York City area to assist in fighting the CCP virus pandemic.
The USNC on Sunday announced in a news release that over the next three days, it would deploy 1,000 Air Force and Navy medical personnel to the region at the epicenter of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak in the United States.
“Approximately 300 of these uniformed medical providers will work from the Javits Center and the rest will deploy to other area locations to expand local medical capabilities in the war against COVID-19,” the release said.

Under direction of @USNorthernCmd, in support of @fema, approx. 1000 @usairforce & @USNavy medical providers arrive to #NY area in next 3 days to expand local #MedicalCapabilities for #WarOnCovid19. Includes 300 personnel to #javitscenter & other locations. #COVID19 #coronavirus
— U.S. Northern Command (@USNorthernCmd) April 4, 2020

The Javits Convention Center in New York has been transformed into a makeshift hospital to treat non-CCP virus patients, freeing up hospitals to care for those with the virus as the city grapples with a flood of patients. President Donald Trump on Friday announced the temporary hospital, which will have a 2,500-bed capacity, and will be operated by U.S. military and federal personnel.
Other personnel will work at other hospitals throughout New York City that lack medical staff, the USNC said.
Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday the personnel will “supplement and provide relief to healthcare workers” at the epicenter of the pandemic in the New York City area.
“By this Tuesday we will have another 840 military medical personnel arriving in New York City,” Pence said at a White House CCP virus briefing.
It comes after Trump activated the National Guard earlier this month in New York, Washington, and California state to assist with efforts to tackle the pandemic.
“We’re taking people now out of our military. We’ve been doing it but now we’re doing it on a larger basis,” Trump said at the White House on Saturday. “They’re going into war. They’re going into a battle that they’ve never really trained for.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN he discussed the effort with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday.
“What we plan on doing now is deploying over 1,100 additional doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to New York,” Esper said Sunday. “The bulk of them will go to the Javits Center and then as of late yesterday, we agreed to deploy a few hundred of them to 11 New York City hospitals that are also seeing a deficiency when it comes to medical staff.”
New York—the hardest-hit state—has become the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic with more than 3,000 virus deaths in New York City, according to a tracking map by Johns Hopkins University, which collates official government data.
New York City alone accounted for more than a quarter of the U.S. CCP virus deaths tallied by Johns Hopkins. Hospitals and morgues in the city are struggling to treat the desperately ill and bury the dead.
White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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US Records Highest Daily CCP Virus Death Toll: Cases Surpass 330,000

The United States on Saturday recorded 1,320 deaths from the CCP virus, the highest number of fatalities recorded in a single day since the pandemic started.
There are now 337,620 recorded cases of the CCP virus, which stands for “Chinese communist party Virus” and 9,643 deaths, with 1,344 of those reported on Saturday, according to a CNN report, which cited data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. And hopefully, in the not too distant future, we’ll be very proud of the job we all did. You can never be happy when so many people are dying, but we’re going to be very proud of the job we did to keep the death down to an absolute minimum,” the president said.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus (CCP virus) task force, said health experts are looking toward the “hopeful signs” in Italy and Spain. The number of new cases and deaths there have been declining after nearly four weeks of social distancing and staying at home.
“It’s giving us hope of what our future could be,” she told reporters. “And so we can really see that beginning to work (the strict social distancing measures and staying at home). We’re very hopeful that over the next week, although we’ll see rising number of cases of people who lose their lives to this illness, we’re also hopeful to see a stabilization of cases across these large metro areas where the outbreak began several weeks ago,” she added.
The latest figures from the United States are in stark contrast to Italy, who recorded its lowest number of deaths over 24 hours with 525 deaths, Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency said on Sunday. It’s the lowest such figure in the country since 427 deaths were registered on March 19.

Italy has the highest number of fatalities in the world, with a total of 15,887 deaths and nearly 129,000 confirmed CCP virus cases and has extended its lockdown until April 13. But Borrelli said, along with the declining death rates, the number of intensive care unit beds occupied by CCP virus patients has also shown a decrease in the last few days, including in northern Lombardy, Italy’s most stricken region. Borrelli also noted that the number of those hospitalized but not in ICU beds also has decreased.
“The curve, which had been plateauing for days, is starting to descend,” national health official Silvio Brusaferro told reporters, referring to graphs indicating daily numbers of confirmed cases. However, Borrelli warned, “This good news shouldn’t make us drop our guard.”
As of April 6, there are 1,274,022 confirmed cases of CCP virus worldwide, and 69,464 deaths have been attributed to the disease, which first appeared in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, and spread to nations around the world.

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Governors in Oregon, Washington Return Ventilators to National Stockpile for Use in NYC

The states of Oregon and Washington have returned hundreds of ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile, for distribution to regions harder hit by the CCP virus, Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday night.
Speaking at a White House briefing on the CCP virus pandemic, Pence expressed his “profound appreciation” to both Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for returning the ventilators after examining their individual circumstances.
“The state of Oregon and the state of Washington are leading by example,” Pence said. “Oregon sent 140 ventilators to New York City—they looked at their circumstances and concluded that they could spare those at the point of the need.”
Pence said Inslee decided to return 400 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile “because of the low and steady numbers in Washington state, and in California.”
“Those will be deployed at the point of the need,” he added.
The role of the Center’s for Disease Control Strategic National Stockpile is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies.
The measures from both governors came after President Donald Trump on Saturday stated several states had made “inflated requests” due to fears of shortages amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“It’s very understandable that officials would seek to get the most they can get for their communities,” Trump said of submissions his administration has received to dole out equipment from the strategic national stockpile.
But he pushed back on criticism that the federal government had not done enough to get ventilators to the states, saying some governors were asking for more machines than is possible.
“We had one state asking for 40,000 ventilators,” Trump continued. “Forty thousand. Think of it: 40,000. It’s not possible.
“They won’t need that many, and now they’re admitting they don’t need that many. But we’re getting as many as we can to them.”
Inslee on Sunday said the state of Washington determined the 400 ventilators could be better used in regions more severely impacted by the CCP virus.
As of Sunday, Washington had 7,498 reported cases of COVID-19—the disease caused by the CCP virus—with 319 deaths.

Every state in America is united in the fight to save the lives of our people. Though our mission is the same, our needs are different.
Today, Washington is returning 400 ventilators so states like New York and others can have them.#WeGotThisWA #StayHomeStayHealthy
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) April 5, 2020

“I’ve said many times over the last few weeks: We are in this together,” Inslee said.
According to Jessica Baggett, a spokeswoman for the state’s Joint Information Center, the ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile may not be able to directly treat COVID-19 patients as their lungs could require a a higher amount of pressure support than the machines provide, the Seattle Times reported.
But the ventilators will be able to help free up suitable ventilators, state officials said.
Brown said that her state would also be sending ventilators to New York to help front line medical response efforts to the pandemic.

New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help.
We’ll be sending 140 ventilators to help NY because Oregon is in a better position right now. We must do all that we can to help those on the front lines of this response.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) April 4, 2020

“New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help,” Brown said in a statement. “We’ll be sending 140 ventilators to help NY because Oregon is in a better position right now.”
“We must do all that we can to help those on the front lines of this response.”
Oregon had 1,068 reported cases of the CCP virus and 27 deaths on Sunday.
The state of New York—the hardest-hit state—on Sunday reported for the first time in a week that CCP virus deaths had fallen slightly from the day before. However there were still nearly 600 new fatalities and more than 7,300 new cases.
White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Dairy Farmers in Wisconsin Forced to Dump Their Entire Milk Production—Every Day

A Wisconsin dairy farmer was forced to discard around 56,000 pounds of milk on Wednesday, April 1, because there was no one buying milk amid the CCP Virus pandemic, according to multiple reports.
Mark Mueller, who owns the Mueller Dairy Farm in Greenleaf, Wisconsin, said that a member of the Dairy Farmers of American informed him that he had to get rid of all of the milk, according to WFRV. Amidst the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, the pandemic made it impossible for the farmers to get their milk to the market.
He was forced to discard his milk in a pit on their property. Mueller said that all the milk dumped inside the pit would rot there.
“It’s like the principle of it. You put all that labor and work into the milk, and you hate to see it go down the drain when you know that there are people starving in the world and in our country even. We hate to throw things away,” Mueller said, according to WFRV.
Mueller said that though he will get reimbursed, he will have to continue dumping the milk in the coming days because of the limited number of milk purchases allowed in grocery stores. Other food-related places, Mueller said, didn’t feel like they had any place to take all the milk farmers are producing.
What’s more, many other farms in Wisconsin have also had to dump their milk. WFRV reported that J and J Pickart’s Farm in Fond du Lac was dumping around 65,000 pounds of milk per day.
One family-run farm had to dump around 220,000 pounds of milk a day—up till April 6, according to USA Today. The owners never thought that this would happen.
“Everybody’s rushing to the grocery store to get food, and we have food that’s literally being dumped down the drain,” the owner, Ryan Elbe, said.
“Dairy Farmers of America” has agreed to reimburse Elbe’s family farm for all the milk that’s being dump for now, as the farm is a part of Dairy Farmers of America. Still, even they are in a tough situation, according to USA Today.
Elbe said that it’s essential to figure out what to do now, and not in the next couple of weeks.
Due to the perishable nature of dairy, the products produced have a short shelf-life. So if there aren’t any customers buying their products, dairy farmers would be forced to dump their products down the drain. Various farmers are closing down their processing plant or just cutting down the amount of production of dairy items, as a result of the pandemic, USA Today reported.
“I think that a lot of milk will all of a sudden be dumped. Everyone across the industry is feeling distressed now. Over the last several hours, I have heard this is unfolding. There is definitely a strain on markets now. The whole consumption rate for milk is so much different than it was before COVID-19,” said Julie Sweney, the spokesperson for the FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative in Madison, Wisconsin.
Daniel Smith, the president and CEO of Cooperative Network, said that they had hoped that the disposal of milk could be avoided, and it’s unsettling for him to see that it is happening, according to USA Today. He said that support needed to be given to these dairy farmers as soon as possible, and calls upon the government for help.
“The dairy industry is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that every means of support be given to Wisconsin dairy farmers and cooperatives as quickly as possible. This support should include increased government purchasing and distribution of dairy products,” Smith said.
From NTD News

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Trump Voices Hope for ‘Leveling-Off’ of COVID-19 in US Hot Spots

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump expressed hope on Sunday that the United States was starting to see a “leveling-off” of the COVID-19 crisis in some of the nation’s hot spots, saying Americans were perhaps being given a glipse of “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
New York, the hardest-hit state, reported on Sunday that for the first time in a week, deaths had fallen slightly from the day before, but there were still nearly 600 new fatalities and more than 7,300 new cases.
“Maybe that’s a good sign,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing, referring to the drop in fatalities in New York.
The United States faces a critical week in the COVID-19 crisis, with the U.S. surgeon general warning on Sunday of the coming week: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly.”
Most states have ordered residents to stay home except for essential trips to slow the spread of the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, in the United States where over 335,000 people have tested positive and over 9,500 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that new hospitalizations had fallen by 50 percent over the previous 24 hours, but he cautioned it was not yet clear whether the crisis was reaching a plateau in the state, which has 4,159 deaths and more than 122,000 cases.
“We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said. But he added: “You can never be happy when so many people are dying.”
Trump also said the United States was “very far down the line” on developing vaccines for the CCP virus. “We’ll see what happens,” he said.
By Alexandra Alper and Matt Spetalnick. Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.

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Pro-Life Activists Assert Right to Public Prayer During Pandemic

Pro-life activists who had been praying on public sidewalks outside an abortion provider in Greensboro, North Carolina, are suing that city’s mayor after local police arrested them for allegedly violating stay-at-home orders aimed at containing the CCP virus.
The lawsuit comes as the nation’s governors have invoked sweeping emergency powers to combat the virus, placing most Americans under stay-at-home orders. Government officials claim the so-called lockdowns, in which some states are threatening to fine and imprison violators, are critical components in the effort to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, or prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.
Some critics have been questioning the wisdom of stay-home orders, which can vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. And some advocates say the economy must be re-opened, even if only in stages, because the damage caused by economic and social upheaval may be greater than the suffering caused by the virus.
The plaintiffs in this case are pro-life “witnesses” who had been walking and praying on public ways outside an abortion clinic known as A Woman’s Choice of Greensboro. Their activities consisted primarily in walking and praying in order to share alternatives and inform the women going to the clinic of the dangers they say are inherent in abortion. Some were wearing “love life” shirts, according to their lawyer.
The mayor being sued is Nancy Vaughan, a Democrat, whom critics have accused of suppressing free speech at city council meetings. She didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
“It’s almost completely non-obstructive, non-confrontational, as peaceful and benign as you could imagine,” Stephen Crampton, senior counsel at the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a public-interest law firm specializing in religious freedom issues, told The Epoch Times.
“Our people were complying with all so-called social distancing requirements and health and safety requirements here. The issue is whether you have any First Amendment right to engage in peaceful expressive conduct under these circumstances. Of course, you should. You must,” he said.
“If we allow them to shut down all free speech in public right out of the box, what does that mean in the next go-around? We’ve got the next worst thing to martial law going on around here, and are we just going to roll over and forfeit our rights without even a whimper?”
The lawsuit challenges Greenboro’s Stay-at-Home Order and the state’s Stay-at-Home Order, known as Executive Order 121, which was issued by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, claiming they violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs seek injunctions preventing the orders from being enforced.
“Prayer is still legal during this pandemic,” Crampton said.
“Greensboro’s Mayor Vaughan should be ashamed of herself for using the cover of this national crisis to attack public expressions of religious faith that she disagrees with. If Mayor Vaughan were truly interested in saving lives, she would shut down this abortion clinic, which is using up critical personal protective equipment needed for COVID-19 response.”
Crampton said, “Our many other clients have continued their life-affirming witness on public sidewalks outside abortion providers across the country, in full compliance with other states’ stay-at-home orders. Greensboro police have misused the stay-at-home orders here to silence the free speech and free exercise of religion guaranteed to every American citizen by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Even some abortion opponents have been reluctant to support the prayer-walkers involved in this legal dispute, he said.
“Some folks, even people who would otherwise be in favor of our clients’ activities are a little squeamish because of the pandemic and health and safety concerns and so forth. I think it’s really important that we not lose sight of the bigger picture; we can’t just compromise and in fact forfeit fundamental constitutional rights every time there’s an emergency or a disaster.
“And the whole point of the so-called outdoor activity exception in these stay-home orders is to allow, in fact, encourage people to go out walking, biking, jogging, get your outdoor activities so that you’re not just going nuts on the inside and maintaining healthy lifestyles. So walking is encouraged. It appears the city of Greensboro just doesn’t want you walking and praying outside their abortion clinic.”
Crampton said he expects there will be a hearing in the case, known as Nisley v. Vaughan, on April 7 in federal court in Greensboro. The lawsuit was initiated April 2.

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CCP Virus: US Hospitalizations Way Below Projections

While tens of thousands are hospitalized across the United States due to the COVID-19 disease caused by the CCP virus epidemic, the numbers are a fraction of what experts predicted just a few days ago.
The main reason appears to be that the projections were already off the day they were released.
The model in question was published by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). It was repeatedly referenced by Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, during President Donald Trump’s daily press briefings on the epidemic.
On March 30, the model’s authors released a paper that warned the country will need about 8,000-250,000 extra hospital beds to cope with the epidemic (pdf).
“Even with social distancing measures enacted and sustained, the peak demand for hospital services due to the COVID-19 pandemic is likely going to exceed capacity substantially,” they said. “Alongside the implementation and enforcement of social distancing measures, there is an urgent need to develop and implement plans to reduce non-COVID-19 demand for and temporarily increase capacity of health facilities.”
The CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, broke out in Wuhan, China, around November and was allowed to spread around the world due to the coverup and mismanagement by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In the United States, over 320,000 have tested positive for the virus and over 9,000 have died as of April 5.
Way Off
The interactive projections model on IHME’s website was last updated on April 1.
But the numbers were already off. It said New York would need 41,000-58,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients on April 1. But even by April 3, the state had less than 16,000 hospitalized.
The model is supposed be updated later on April 5, a spokesman for the institute told The Epoch Times. He didn’t explain why the predictions were off and by so much.
“Sorry, wish I had more to offer you right now,” he said via email.
The lead author of the model, Health Metrics Sciences Professor Christopher Murray, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
How Many Are Currently Hospitalized?
The model was off about states other than New York too, but exactly how far off is often hard to determine because many states don’t make their daily CCP virus hospitalization data easily available.
Only 13 states list the day-by-day hospitalization count in a readily accessible form, such as on the virus information web page of its health department.
Another 28 states only provide the cumulative hospitalization count, which includes patients who have already been released and the deceased. For these, the current hospitalization numbers can be estimated by subtracting the number of deceased from the cumulative hospitalization counts, assuming every deceased patient was first hospitalized and no hospitalized patients have recovered.
For the nine remaining states and the District of Columbia, no hospitalization numbers were available by the time of publication.
Given that states with available data had a current hospitalization rate around 6-20 percent, if each of the no-data states had a rate of 20 percent, the hospitalizations for the whole country would add up to some 47,000 as of April 3-4.
The IHME model expected about 114,000-181,000 hospital beds would be needed nationwide on April 3 and roughly 120,000 to 430,000 on April 16.
State by State
Among states with available data, the model was only accurate for one—Missouri. It predicted the need for 282-431 hospital beds on April 4. Missouri had 413 hospitalized that day.
The model was the least accurate for Minnesota, which had 95 hospitalized, as of April 4. That’s about 9-12 percent of the projected need of 790-1,117.
For the other 11 states, the data breaks down as follows:
Arkansas had 72 CCP virus patients hospitalized as of April 4. That’s about 13-19 percent of the projected need of 378-571 hospital beds for that day.
California had 2,300 hospitalized as of April 3—about 33-57 percent of the projected 4,015-6,897.
Delaware had 95 hospitalized, as of April 4—about 13-28 percent of the projected 334-757.
Iowa had 85 hospitalized, as of April 4—about 14-18 percent of the projected 480-598.
Louisiana had 1,726 hospitalized, as of April 4—about 18-56 percent of the projected 3,073-9,580.
North Carolina had 271 hospitalized, as of April 4—about 21-29 percent of the projected 950-1,304.
New Mexico had 41 hospitalized, as of April 4—about 9-19 percent of the projected 214-444.
New York had 15,905 hospitalized, as of April 3—about 22-34 percent of the projected 46,211-71,568.
Rhode Island had 93 hospitalized, as of April 4—about 22-43 percent of the projected 218-423.
Vermont had 29 hospitalized, as of April 4—about 14-26 percent of the projected 110-202.
At least in some other regards, the IHME model appears accurate. For instance, it predicted 1,133 to 1,555 COVID-19 deaths for April 4. There were around 1,350 deaths reported that day.
Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab

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Chinese Officials Take to Twitter to Spread CCP Virus Disinformation

China has been using tools from Twitter to Tiananmen Square massacre-like conspiracy theories to spread an aggressive disinformation campaign about its role in and responsibility for the deadly CCP virus that is threatening populations around the world.
China has long spun an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the 1989 demonstrations in Beijing, which led to its massacre of thousands of unarmed Chinese citizens, were fueled and supported by “foreign forces,” in particular the United States.
Now, in its attempts to deflect a rising tide of worldwide criticism for its coverup of the coronavirus, the Chinese regime is again using a conspiracy-type theory, this time to suggest that the virus may have been the work of the United States Army.
In this modern version of Chinese disinformation, analysts who follow the Chinese regime’s techniques show that China has recently changed tactics by allowing official government ministries and spokespersons to have and generously use Twitter accounts as a medium for propaganda.
In the space of just the last quarter of 2019, China went from having 33 official Twitter accounts to having over 100, says Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, an investigative journalist who covers China’s propaganda machine, among other issues.
It seems, she said, that “they decided that everybody is going to have a Twitter account.”
Allen-Ebrahimian presented her findings April 2 at an online event sponsored by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington. The talk addressed the topic of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) efforts to spread disinformation on the CCP virus, which is often referred to as the novel coronavirus.
Hong Kong Protests
The impetus for this surge into a social media platform with which the Chinese government did not initially feel “confident,” Allen-Ebrahimian said, was the challenge to the Chinese regime presented by the ongoing Hong Kong protests that rocked the nominally autonomous region for most of the last half of 2019.
There is, of course, a profound irony in Chinese officialdom’s adoption of Twitter as a means to spread “positive messaging” and propaganda around the world. Twitter is usually associated with a great extension of individual expression that potentially undercuts state messaging.
As a tacit recognition of Twitter’s power, the Chinese regime bans the app from use by anyone physically present within the borders of mainland China.
Exceptions, it seems, are made for Chinese officials who can be trusted to tweet the politically-correct, CCP-approved messages, and who are presumably not in danger of being corrupted or swayed by the “foreign forces” who may tweet them back.
Allen-Ebrahimian noted that China made a departure from its typical propaganda paradigm when, in the summer of 2019, it waged a Russian-style disinformation campaign that used social media to target Hong Kong citizens and protesters who were successfully bringing the former British colony to a standstill.
Russian disinformation campaigns, Allen-Ebrahimian pointed out, typically are designed to “destabilize the information environment, and to create confusion and chaos in target countries.” Russian methods include propagating “multiple conflicting theories,” and building third-party “conspiracy websites” to promote theories that the state wants to amplify in the public domain, she said.
Ultimately, Twitter suspended up to thousands of accounts believed to be tied to and coordinated by a Chinese regime-backed disinformation campaign directed from within China. Facebook also took down accounts it found suspicious for the same reason.
The experience with Hong Kong may have influenced China’s official use of Twitter, now that it has pivoted to messaging on the CCP virus crisis.
The experience of the last three months shows that China is now using Twitter with more nuance and precise messaging than in its clumsier attempts during the Hong Kong crisis, Allen-Ebrahimian said.
A Timeline of CCP Virus Propaganda
The Center for Security Policy in Washington has put together a timeline that chronologically details the disinformation and propaganda messages and methods that the Chinese government, at municipal, provincial, and national levels, has been using since the first hint of a SARS-type coronavirus was detected in Wuhan.
The timeline, put together and regularly updated by the Center’s J. Michael Waller, shows that a new appreciation for the power and reach of Twitter, in particular, has weaponized the CCP’s determination to deflect blame for the worldwide catastrophe from itself to the United States.
Between Jan. 20 and Feb. 10, the timeline reports, a study by the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center found a “massive wave” of 2 million tweets promoting conspiracy theories and disinformation on the virus. Some blame the United States for manufacturing the virus; some are coordinated and suggest the tweets are part of a planned campaign.
The timeline reports that by the week of March 2, according to a report in the French paper La Croix, the CCP took an extraordinary step.
According to a confidential report cited by La Croix’s Dorian Malovic, the CCP issued an edict to its overseas diplomats. Stating, from the French, that “It is imperative that all Chinese ambassadors abroad spread the following message from their Twitter account, or in foreign media,” the diplomats are instructed to say that “the real origin” of the virus “remains unknown.”
“We are trying to find out exactly where it comes from,” the orders go on to tell diplomats to disseminate on Twitter and in the foreign press.
The motivation? “Everything that links China to the virus must be questioned and disappear from all history books,” the edict says.
Chinese embassies abroad were also told to begin calling the virus by the name of each host country. Therefore, the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo should refer to the “Japanese virus”; the embassy in Rome should use “Italian virus,” and so on.
Allen-Ebrahimian noted that on March 9 China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that “China’s endeavor to combat the epidemic has bought time for international preparedness.”
Not content to just cast China as the savior rather than the villain of the pandemic, by March 12, a senior Chinese official decided to suggest who that actual villain was.
Writing again on Twitter, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, suggested in a now infamous tweet that the U.S. Army “brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
Allen-Ebrahimian commented that Zhao Lijian “doubled down on that, and others picked it up.”
“It was shocking to me,” she said. “That was the first time I had heard a [Chinese] official spewing anti-foreign conspiracy theories” that relate to public health.
“Leaders in Beijing are deploying a strategy not seen in any significant way since the Cold War,” Allen-Ebrahimian said of China’s suggestion that the United States deliberately created and disseminated the CCP virus.
She is referring to the 1950s-era accusation that China made alleging that the United States used biological weapons during the Korean War. Papers from a reputable Chinese source who refuted the charge were published in China only in 2013, according to a paper written in 2016 by Milton Leitenberg for the Johns Hopkins Press.
China has in recent years taken a diplomatic posture of refraining from openly targeting or criticizing the behaviors and policies of other nations, in an attempt to receive reciprocal treatment in return.
“The effect,” Allen-Ebrahimian said, “was the perception that the U.S.-China relationship had hit a new low, the lowest in decades.”
“Why have they changed their strategy?” she added.
“It shows how deeply concerned they are about their role and how they are perceived, and their coverup that this deadly, once-in-a-century epidemic came from China.”

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Discharges Outpace Hospitalizations in New York for 4th Straight Day

Hospitals in New York State have discharged more COVID-19 patients than they have hospitalized for four days in a row, according to the latest data from the state hit hardest by the CCP virus pandemic.
Hospitals in the state admitted 574 COVID-19 patients on April 4 while discharging 1,709 patients. The number of daily discharges had also surpassed the daily hospitalizations on the three prior days, state data shows.
“Discharge rate is way up and that’s great news,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on April 5.
New York state is the epicenter of the breakout in the United States of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus. New York City is bearing the brunt of the break, although there has been an increasing shift to Long Island, which now accounts for 22 percent of the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The number of daily deaths from COVID-19 dropped for the first time on April 4, when 594 people died, down from 630 deaths the day before, with a total of 4,159 people dying from the disease statewide.
“What is the significance of that? It’s too early to tell,” Cuomo said.
The governor had ordered the state’s non-essential workers to stay home until at least April 15. Guidance is also in place from the White House, which has asked non-essential workers to stay at home until April 30.
New York state has reported more deaths from the CCP virus than the next nine hardest-hit states combined. Cuomo has repeatedly cited projections that estimate the state has fewer hospital beds than will be needed when the outbreak reaches its apex.
“The coronavirus is truly vicious and effective at what the virus does. It’s an effective killer,” Cuomo said.
The federal government, at the direction of the White House coronavirus task force, has rushed personnel, equipment, and supplies to the state as officials brace for the possibility that the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed.
The government deployed 1,000 doctors, nurses, and respiratory technicians on Sunday, Cuomo said. The White House has also deployed a 1,000-bed hospital ship and directed the retrofitting of a convention center into a temporary COVID-19 hospital.
President Donald Trump on Saturday told Americans to prepare for the deadliest two weeks of the CCP virus outbreak. Models used by the White House estimate that 100,000 to 240,000 people may die from the pandemic by the time it is extinguished.
The White House on Saturday urged Americans to be extra vigilant about following federal and local social distancing guidelines and orders in the coming week, including, if possible, limiting essential chores, like trips to the supermarkets and pharmacies.
“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx said on Saturday. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe.”
Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov

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Florida Fire Destroys 3,500 Rental Cars at Airport Near Fort Myers: Official

A fire next to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Meyers has been contained but not before it destroyed or damaged more than 3,000 cars.
There were 3,516 cars destroyed or damaged by the fire, Vicki Moreland, communications director for the airport, told the News-Press. About 3,850 are undamaged, Moreland said.
The fire broke out in an area where rental cars were parked and weren’t occupied. Witnesses said they heard explosions, flames, and sparks.

Lee County, where Fort Meyers is located, and parts of the Florida peninsula are suffering from moderate drought conditions, according to the United States Drought Monitor.
Plumes of thick smoke from the fire could be seen 20 miles away, reported WINK-TV. Several agencies sent crew members to battle the blaze on the ground and from the air.
A number of spectators gathered to view the massive fire despite a stay-at-home order caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus. Some people said the people were not engaging in proper social distancing measures.
“This isn’t an essential activity,” Jennifer Bonhoff, a local woman, told the News-Press. “We’d be sitting at home,” she said, adding that it broke up the boredom of sitting at home.
Officials have launched an investigation into the blaze.
Ryan Mason of the Florida Forest Service said that “100 percent containment does not mean the fire is 100 percent out, once we call a fire controlled that means that its dead out, but until then we will continue to monitor it,” Fox4 reported.
Investigators Walt Zalisko told the station this fire might have been the result of a simple mistake.
“They could have moved a car whose undercarriage was still warm and that would have ignited the grass, or one of these car shuttlers could have left the engine running. When you are moving hundreds of cars you are bound to make a mistake,” said Zalisko.

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Search Resumed for 2 Kennedy Family Members Lost in Chesapeake Bay

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Divers and boats on Saturday resumed the search in the Chesapeake Bay for the bodies of the daughter and a grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland police said.
The search began Thursday afternoon after a report of a canoe in the bay that didn’t return to shore and appeared to be overtaken by strong winds. The search was suspended Saturday night and would resume Sunday morning, a Maryland Natural Resources Police news release said.
The missing canoeists were identified as Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and McKean’s 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean.

David McKean, Maeve Kennedy Townsend Mckean and family attend the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Hosts 2019 Ripple Of Hope Gala & Auction In NYC in New York City on Dec. 12, 2019. (Mike Pont/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
“With profound sadness, I share the news that the search for my beloved daughter Maeve and grandson Gideon has turned from rescue to recovery,” Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said in a statement Friday night.
Kennedy Townsend, who served two terms as Maryland’s lieutenant governor, is the eldest daughter of the late U.S. Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and niece of the late President John F. Kennedy.
Vessels on Saturday conducted sonar operations around the area where the two were last seen and where their overturned canoe was recovered, according to police.
The mother and son may been paddling the canoe from a home in Shady Side, Maryland, to retrieve a ball and couldn’t paddle back to shore, police said earlier.

Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean. (Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean/Twitter via AP)
Maeve McKean, a public health and human rights lawyer, served as executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative. She graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and law school.
“Maeve was a master connector who brought together faculty and students across disciplines and schools in order to advance our shared mission for improving health and advancing justice, particularly for those left out or left behind,” John Monahan, an adviser to Georgetown’s president, said in a news release Saturday. Monahan said the university community is “heartsick” about what happened.

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Trump Warns US Will See ‘A Lot of Death’ in Coming Weeks From CCP Virus

President Donald Trump has asked Americans to brace for a big spike in fatalities from the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, in the coming weeks, as the country faces what he says may be the toughest two weeks of the pandemic.
“There’s going to be a lot of death, unfortunately,” Trump said during a somber start to his briefing with reporters.
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Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Brief Reporters

He urged certain media outlets to “stop spreading false rumors and creating fear” during the national emergency because it is “essential” that national leaders be able to cut through the “fog of confusion in order to follow the facts and the science” in the battle against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.
Trump said that tight coordination between state and federal government is needed to ensure that all available ventilators in FEMA’s strategic national stockpile are in use and not wasted as the country nears its predicted peak caseload of infections.
“It’s very understandable that officials would seek to get the most they can get for their communities,” he said of the requests his administration has received for ventilators. “But the fears of shortages have led to inflated requests.”
Governors are asking for more machines than they are using, the president said.
“We have one state asking for 40,000 … It’s not possible.
“Wherever local shortages are reported, we’re asking states to immediately meet the demand.”
He added that with faster data-sharing from the states, the White House Coronavirus Task Force would be working to coordinate equipment levels with the hope of staying several days ahead of critical medical needs in each state.
“Let me be extremely clear about one point, we will move heaven and earth to safeguard our great American citizens,” Trump said.

President Trump: “So, let me be extremely clear about one point, we will move heaven and earth to safeguard our great American citizens.” #CCPVirus
— Emel Akan (@mlakan) April 4, 2020

More than 306,000 people have now tested positive for the CCP virus in the United States and over 8,300 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, even if social distancing rules are followed.
“We are coming up to a time that is going to be very horrendous,” Trump said at the White House. “We probably have never seen anything like these kind of numbers. Maybe during the war, during a World War One or Two or something.”
‘Like a Fire’
In the grimmest day yet for New York state, which has been hit hardest by the pandemic, coronavirus-related illnesses killed 630 people in the last 24 hours, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday.
The disease has now killed 3,565 people in New York and the situation is particularly worrying on Long Island, east of New York City, where the number of cases “is like a fire spreading,” Cuomo told a news conference.
Health experts calculate that New York, home both to bustling Manhattan and hilly farm country stretching to the Canadian border, might be around a week away from the worst point in the now-global health crisis.
“We’re not yet at the apex, we’re getting closer … Our reading of the projections is we’re somewhere in the seven-day range,” Cuomo said.
“It’s only been 30 days since our first case,” he said. “It feels like an entire lifetime.”
New York City alone accounted for more than a quarter of the U.S. CCP virus deaths tallied by Johns Hopkins University from official government data. Hospitals and morgues in the city are struggling to treat the desperately ill and bury the dead.
Cuomo said that the state of Oregon had volunteered to send 140 ventilators to New York’s hotspots that are in need.
Following discussions on March 27 between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Beijing, the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, and Jack Ma, who along with Tsai founded Alibaba, also offered to send 1,000 ventilators to New York that will arrive at JFK airport on Saturday, a source familiar with the discussions said.
Meanwhile, the CCP has continued with its global disinformation efforts to deflect blame over the regime’s initial mismanagement of the outbreak that started in Wuhan.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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This Nurse Demonstrates Just How Fast Germs Spread Even If You’re Wearing Gloves

To stop the spread of CCP virus, many states are under stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions limit where you can go.
But that doesn’t mean many well-meaning people may not wind up exposing themselves to germs unwittingly.
On a recent trip to the grocery store, Molly Lixey, a former emergency room nurse in Saginaw, Michigan, told CNN she noticed a lot of people wearing gloves, which she thought was great.
But what wasn’t so great? All the cross-contamination she saw.
In an off-the-cuff Facebook video, Lixey decided to demonstrate just how quick and easy it is to spread germs at a grocery store.
“I was doing some painting around the house and it hit me that paint would be a perfect medium to use to explain this (cross contamination),” she told CNN. “It terrifies me to think people believe they’re safe only because they are wearing gloves and not have them be aware that they could still be harming themselves or others,” she said.
We know that coronavirus can spread through sneezes and coughs, and new research shows it can be passed from talking, or possibly even just breathing, which makes passing germs from object to object that much easier.

A member of the LA Fashion District Clean Team disinfects a side walk in the Fashion District in Downtown Los Angeles, Calif., on April 2, 2020. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)
In her video, Lixey simulates going to the grocery store and she starts off by putting gloves on her hands, grabbing her cell phone as she leaves her car, cleaning a shopping cart and grabbing some toilet paper. She uses a piece of cardboard as her cell phone and dips her fingers in a plate of paint to symbolize the germs on her hands as a result of grabbing toilet paper.
“But it’s (the germs) on my gloves, that’s fine right? It’s on my gloves,” she said in the video. “But now I’m walking along and my phone rings, so I’ve now touched my hands together a couple times, I reach for my phone and oh I have a text message from my husband.”
Lixey continues to pretend she’s walking through the grocery store and as she imitates picking up new items to put in her cart, she dips her fingers back into the paint to mimic the germs she’s picking up throughout this process.
“I understand as a nurse I have had extensive training in the use of PPE, but many people in the general public have not,” she said. “They are all so fearful right now they will do anything to protect themselves, but it’s important they do so properly. ”
Eventually, after picking up a simulated phone call, the paint winds up on her cheek, symbolizing the germs that would have traveled to her face. Even once she takes the gloves off, Lixey shows the paint had wound up on her makeshift phone, which she holds after taking the gloves off — ultimately resulting in cross-contamination.
Her general message? “There’s no point in wearing gloves, if you’re not gonna wash your hands every time you touch something,” she said in the video.
That’s because whatever gets on the gloves would migrate to the phone if someone picked it up. Then unless the person disinfects the phone, the germs on it would travel to his or her hand once the gloves were off and the person touched the device.
Lixey currently works inside an infusion clinic at a doctor’s office. She said if the virus continues to spread in her area more, she will go back to working in a hospital setting.
She isn’t the only one taking to social media to educate on the importance of understanding how germs spread.
Hays Earls, a registered nurse in Dallas, Texas, made a TikTok video of an experiment she did to show her three-year-old son how germs stick to our hands and how washing them with soap removes them.
In the video, Earls’ son dips his finger into a bowl of water with pepper sprinkled on the top. When he takes his finger out, it’s covered in pepper, simulating how germs cling to skin. She then pumps some soap on a clean finger and as he dips that into the bowl, the pepper spreads away from his finger.
Earls said she’s happy to pass the experiment onto other parents and that the visual lesson worked with her son. In fact, now her son wants to do the ‘washing hands trick’ every time they pass a sink.
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Another Cruise Ship With CCP Virus Victims Docks in Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—Another cruise ship with coronavirus victims on board, including two fatalities, has docked in Florida.
Princess Cruises spokeswoman Negin Kamali said in an email Saturday the Coral Princess ship has docked in Miami. The ship with 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members has been in limbo for days awaiting permission to dock.
As of Thursday, Kamali said seven passengers and five crew members had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Anyone in need of hospitalization will disembark first, the cruise line said, although it wasn’t immediately clear when that would happen. Those who are fit to fly will begin leaving on Sunday, while others who have symptoms of respiratory illness will remain on board until cleared by ship doctors.

People look out from the Coral Princess cruise ship as it is docked at PortMiami during the new coronavirus outbreak, Saturday, in Miami,on April 4, 2020.(Lynne Sladky/AP)
A day earlier, the cruise ships Zaandam and Rotterdam were permitted to dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, with 14 critically ill people taken immediately to hospitals. The remaining passengers were slowly being allowed to board flights for home.
The Coral Princess had been on a South American cruise that was due to end March 19 in Buenos Aires. Since then, the ship has encountered obstacles to docking because of various port closures and cancellation of airline flights, the cruise line said.
Passengers have self-isolated in their staterooms and meals have been delivered by room service. Crew members also have remained in their quarters when they are not working.

The Coral Princess cruise ship arrives at PortMiami during the new coronavirus outbreak, in Miami,on April 4, 2020.(Lynne Sladky/AP)
The Coast Guard said in a news release Saturday it has been involved with processing about 120 vessels carrying some 250,000 passengers over the past three weeks because of the CCP virus pandemic.
The Coast Guard statement said as of Saturday there are 114 cruise ships, carrying 93,000 crew members, either in or near U.S. ports and waters. That includes 73 cruise ships, with 52,000 crew members, moored or anchored in U.S. ports and anchorages. Another 41 cruise ships, with 41,000 crew members, are underway and close to the U.S.
The cruise line industry announced a voluntarily suspension of most ship operations from U.S. ports on March 13. The next day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a “no sail” order to all cruise ships that had not suspended operations.
“We commend the decision by the cruise industry to cease operations. However, pausing a global tourist industry does not happen instantaneously or easily,” said Vice Admiral Dan Abel, Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations. “The federal, state, local and industry cooperation to achieve this feat truly represents the whole-of-nation approach directed by the president and is essential to fighting the spread of this virus and working to minimize the loss of life.”
Princess Cruises is a brand of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company.
By Curt Anderson

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BP Gives Discount on Gas to COVID-19 Responders, Health Care Workers

Seeking to support first responders and health care staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak in America, BP announced it would be giving these groups of workers a fuel discount.
One of the world’s seven oil and gas supermajors, BP, said in a statement it is providing discounts totaling $1 million in the form of 50 cents off a gallon for those battling the pandemic.
“Join us in supporting your local first responder, doctor, nurse or hospital worker to provide them with a 50 cents off per gallon discount to use on their next fill up at BP and Amoco stations,” BP said in the statement.

First responders evacuate sick crew members from two cruise ships at the Port of Miami after the Florida Department of Health reported more than 2,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Miami, Florida, on March 26, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
The company said eligible participants in the discount program have until April 30 to claim a special discount code, which will remain valid until June 30.
“The world is in a fight against COVID-19 and I want to thank all the people looking after us,” chief executive Bernard Looney said in a separate statement. “Many, many are giving their time and risking their own well-being so that we can stay safe and sound. We rely on them, we are indebted to them, and I want to pay tribute to the sacrifices they are making on our behalf.”
With the move, BP joins other major companies taking extra steps during the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus.

A doctor wears a protective mask as he walks outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan during the outbreak of the CCP virus in New York City, New York on April 1, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
For example, tech giants Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, and Apple have all announced they would be giving employees who test positive for COVID-19 unlimited paid sick leave.
Mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a range of forbearance measures, including suspending foreclosures and allowing homeowners to put off mortgage payments amid the outbreak.
Goldman Sachs, AMEX, and Capital One said they would be providing interest payment relief for people with credit card debt.
Airbnb said it will provide free housing for 100,000 COVID-19 responders around the world.

A victim of the COVID-19 virus is evacuated from the Mulhouse civil hospital, eastern France on March 23, 2020. (Jean-Francois Badias/AP Photo)
Just Capital, an NGO, publishes a “COVID-19 Corporate Response Tracker,” which seeks to provide “a snapshot of the types of actions the 100 largest companies have taken to date in response to the pandemic.”
“The coronavirus pandemic and impending recession have created an urgent, unprecedented opportunity for CEOs and corporate leaders to put the promise of purpose-driven leadership and stakeholder capitalism into practice,” the NGO said in a statement.
It lists companies and tags them with actions they have taken, such as “Back-Up Dependent Care,” where companies offer contingency care services to employees with dependents struggling with disruptions like school closures.
More than 300,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States and over 8,100 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, depending on how the public follows sweeping orders to stay at home and limit social contacts.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

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CCP Virus Infection in US Most Concentrated in Three NYC Suburbs, New Orleans

As the CPP virus swipes through the United States, much attention has been paid to the situation in large cities. That’s not, however, where the rate of infection has been the highest.
The epidemic has been the most concentrated in three suburbs around New York City as well as in New Orleans.
While New York City has the highest number of confirmed cases, over 57,000, when counted per capita, the worst hit is Rockland County, a neighboring suburb of some 325,000 on the west side of the Hudson River.
More than one in 67 Rockland residents has tested positive, a rate over twice as high as in New York City.
Westchester County, a large suburb across the river from Rockland, has about one in 74 residents confirmed infected, a total of more than 13,000 cases as of April 3, according to the state’s Department of Health.
New Orleans, the largest city in Louisiana with a population of nearly 400,000, is the third most affected area in the nation, with more than 1 in 100 testing positive.
Nassau County, a large suburban area on Long Island just east of Queens, is in a similar situation with nearly one in 100 residents confirmed as infected.
In New York City and Westchester, it appears the pace of the epidemic has somewhat plateaued. Not so in Rockland, where the rate of infection still seems to be rapidly accelerating. Nassau, as well as the Suffolk and Orange counties, have experienced a quickening of the spread as well.
The CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, broke out in Wuhan, China, around November and was allowed to spread around the world due to the coverup by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
More than a million people have been confirmed as infected and nearly 64,000 have died. In the United States, over 300,000 tested positive and over 8,000 died. New York state has more than 3,500 dead. Louisiana over 400.
A prognosis published by researchers under the University of Washington in Seattle expects the peak of the epidemic in 12 days, when the death rate could reach between about 1,200 and 4,100 in a single day.
By that model, roughly between 40,000 and 180,000 would die before July 1.
The White House coronavirus task force has issued guidelines for Americans to slow the spread of the disease, dubbed COVID-19. They recommend keeping distance of at least 6 feet from others when outside of home, washing hands frequently, avoid touching one’s face and eyes, and covering one’s face with a scarf or a mask in settings where maintaining distance is difficult. Depending on how disciplined Americans will be with the guidelines, fatalities may fall below the above projections, said Deborah Birx, the task force’s response coordinator, at its March 3 press briefing.
“If another major metropolitan area ends up having epidemic like the New York metro area, that could dramatically change not the model, but the reality of the impact of this virus on Americans.”
President Donald Trump said at the briefing he’d like to achieve a death toll far below the projected numbers.
“I want none, but it’s too late for that,” he said. “But I want very few people relative to what the models are saying.”
The epidemic has put health care workers and resources under great strain in the most heavily affected areas.
Meanwhile, states’ mitigation measures, such as orders to close all non-essential businesses, have choked the economy. Payrolls have dropped by more than 700,000 between the second week of February and March, even before many of the stricter measures were taken. Unemployment claims increased to a record high of more than 6.6 million for the week ending March 28.
Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab

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Beijing’s Coverup of CCP Virus ‘Crime of the Century,’ Says Former US Ambassador to Japan

A former U.S. ambassador to Japan has criticized the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its coverup of the CCP virus in the early stages of the deadly outbreak, calling the regime’s mishandling of the virus “the crime of the century.”
Bill Hagerty, who is now a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, told “The Jeff Poor Show” on Friday that he believes the Chinese regime’s efforts to suppress information and conceal the virus before it became a pandemic makes it “the greatest cover-up in human history.”
“I’ve worked with China and seen how they operate for years. And I can tell you, what they’re trying to do right now with this Wuhan virus is the crime of the century in my view,” Hagerty told the radio host, Jeff Poor.
“When they tried to act like it didn’t from come there—they even said the United States, our military somehow put it there. It’s just unbelievable,” he added.
Between mid-December and mid-January, the Chinese regime displayed a pattern of behavior of withholding information and making misrepresentations about the severity of the disease. There was evidence that the CCP had failed to expeditiously provide the World Health Organization (WHO) with important information about the virus such as the transmissibility of the virus, details of the virus’s genome, and infection of healthcare workers. Experts have found that this lack of transparency and candor hindered the international response to the virus.
One study, currently in preprint from researchers at the University of Southhampton in the UK, found that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier, the number of cases could have been reduced by 95 percent.
The Chinese regime was also not responsive to international requests to learn about the virus and the outbreak. U.S. Health and Human Sevices Secretary Alex Azar previously said the United States had been trying to send a group of experts to understand the outbreak’s transmission and severity since Jan. 6. However, the United States’ repeated offers were left unanswered for a month.
The Chinese regime eventually agreed to allow the WHO to send a group of international experts to study the virus in late January. This came after the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus returned from a visit from China full of praise for its leader Xi Jinping and the regime’s response efforts.
Moreover, when multiple Wuhan doctors attempted to warn their colleagues and the public about a “pneumonia with an unknown cause,” later known to be the CCP virus, authorities attempted to silence them and reprimanded them for “rumor-mongering.” The most notable of them was Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who ultimately succumbed to the disease after contracting it from a patient he was treating.
“We know it was their efforts to try to hide it, to not disclose it to the rest of the world. It cost Chinese lives. Now it has gotten out,” Hagerty said. “It cost lives, and it has cost economic damage all around the world. The Chinese are playing what I believe is a public relations game, and what they should have been playing is working hard on public health.”
Hagerty argued in an op-ed published on Breitbart in March that the Chinese regime should be held accountable for the CCP virus.
“[T]he Wuhan coronavirus is underscoring the real threat posed by the communist leadership in China that—rather than working to save the lives of its own people—prefers to silence opposition from within as it works to spread anti-American propaganda,” he wrote.
Some legal experts have shared a view that the Chinese regime could be held accountable for failing to meet its legal duty under international law.
James Kraska, chair and Charles H. Stockton Professor of international maritime law in the Stockton Center for International Law at the U.S. Naval War College, previously told The Epoch Times he believes the Chinese regime could have violated the International Health Regulations (IHR) by failing to be forthright about the virus in the early stages and share information about it to WHO.
The IHR (pdf), an agreement between 196 countries, requires state parties to notify the World Health Organization (WHO) “of all events which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern within its territory.”
“This is a legal duty that states freely have entered into, and China like all states that are a party … have agreed to do that,” Kraska said.
“But it appears in this case, China did not fulfill its duty.”
U.S. lawmakers have also voiced their concerns about Beijing’s mishandling of the virus in the early stages.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced a bipartisan House resolution, HR 907, in March to condemn the CCP for intentionally downplaying the outbreak through censorship and disinformation.
Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) are also calling for an international investigation into how CCP’s initial handling of the virus may have endangered the United States and the rest of the world.
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Kobe Bryant Posthumously Inducted Into Hall of Fame

The late Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January, has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of Hall of Famers.
“An amazing class,” Duncan said.
Basketball coaches Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, and Barbara Stevens as well as WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings and French basketball executive Patrick Baumann were the other Hall of Fame inductees.
A five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant is the only NBA player in history to have two numbers—No. 8 and No. 24—retired on his behalf by the same team.

Two Los Angeles Lakers jerseys in Los Angeles, California, on March 8, 2020. Kobe Bryant is the only player in NBA history to have two numbers—No. 8 and No. 24—retired by the same team, the Lakers. (Kirby Lee-USA Today via Reuters)
“We wish that he was here with us to celebrate,” Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, said on the ESPN broadcast of the class announcement. “But it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here. So we’re incredibly proud of him.”
Bryant died about three weeks before the Hall of Fame announced he was a finalist.

Kobe Bryant adjusts his jersey during a game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, Arizona, on Feb. 19, 2012. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, was cited by NBC as saying that this class was “undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time.”
“In 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19,” Doleva said. “We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today.”
The news of who makes it into the Hall of Fame is normally revealed at the site of the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four, which this year would have been Atlanta, but the entire NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus.
Bryant was 41 when he died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash, which claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.
He was an 18-time All-Star, five-time NBA champion, two-time scoring champion, and the 2007-08 Most Valuable Player.
The Los Angeles Lakers great ranks fourth in NBA history in points, and he was selected to the All-Defensive team 12 times.
“The highest of congratulations to you, dear friend,” Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement, Sports Illustrated reported.
“This one is so well deserved—for all the hard work, sweat and toil. Now, a part of you will live in the Hall with the rest of the all-time greats, where your legend and spirit will continue to grow forever,” Pelinka said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Georgia Beaches Reopened by Governor’s Executive Order After Closing Over Virus

Beaches in Georgia that were closed over CCP virus fears re-opened under Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order, which went into effect late Friday.
Kemp’s order says people can go outside to exercise as long as they stay at least six feet apart during COVID-19 pandemic. The disease is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
The governor’s order supersedes all local ordinances that conflict with it.
Kemp shared photographs on his social media accounts showing people scattered on several beaches, including one at Tybee Island and St. Simon’s East Beach.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety and the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement division “report no issues as they patrol the beach and surrounding areas,” Kemp said.

Photos from Tybee Island – ⁦@GaDNRLE⁩ and ⁦@ga_dps⁩ report no issues as they patrol the beach and surrounding areas. Beachgoers are mostly locals and complying with social distancing orders. We will continue to monitor conditions. pic.twitter.com/aS9OCGUTUC
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 4, 2020

“Beachgoers are mostly locals and complying with social distancing orders. We will continue to monitor conditions,” he said of Tybee.
People in St. Simon’s were also enjoying the beach but complying with social distancing measures, according to the governor.
A FAQ issued with Kemp’s order states that it “supersedes all local ordinances to the extent that they conflict and states that no local ordinance can be more restrictive or less restrictive.”
Josh Hildebrandt, director of Public and Governmental Affairs for the Department of Natural Resources, confirmed the order applies to beaches. “This Executive Order thus lifted any local ordinances or orders that had closed or restricted access to Georgia beaches,” he told WJCL.
Glynn County’s board of commissioners said in a statement, that, in compliance with Kemp’s order, beaches in the county are “open for purposes of exercise.”
“However the use of chairs, tents, and umbrellas on Georgia’s coastal beaches is prohibited,” they added, citing Georgia Department of Natural Resources guidance, from April 3 through April 13.
Everyone who visits a beach must maintain a distance of more than six feet from people who don’t live in their household, Glynn County officials said.

This scanning electron microscope image shows the CCP virus, (round yellowish objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the United States. Photo published on Feb. 19, 2020. (NIAID-RML)
Tybee Island
Kemp’s spokesperson Candice Broce told WTOC that roughly 150 people were on beaches at Tybee Island. Broce said she spoke directly with Tybee Mayor Shirley Sessions, who asked Kemp in a letter to allow the island’s beaches to remain closed.
“I have spoken directly with the Mayor and explained how we stand ready to provide resources to ensure compliance with the order,” Broce said, adding that Kemp was guided by recommendations from state Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, other public health officials, and emergency management officials.
Sessions said on Saturday that Kemp threatened any leaders who refused to follow the executive order with prison and/or fines.
“Tybee City Council and I are devastated by the sudden directives and do not support his decisions. The health of our residents, staff, and visitors are being put at risk and we will pursue legal avenues to overturn his reckless mandate,” she said.
Tybee won’t have beach access and parking lots will remain closed, according to the mayor. No lifeguards will be on duty.
In the letter, dated April 3, Sessions told Kemp that it would be “a devastating blow to the safety of our residents to reopen the beach at this time.”
State Rep. Jesse Petrea told constituents in a statement that the executive order “rescinds all local COVID 19 orders in place previously.”
The order only allows exercise on the beach by individuals or family groups but will not allow people to congregate, and guidelines will be enforced by law enforcement, Petrea added.
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As Coronavirus Cases Grow, Hospitals Adopt a System to Rank Patients for Treatment

With the peak of COVID-19 infections still ahead and medical supplies scarce, hospitals and physicians are gearing up for a nearly impossible challenge: deciding who gets a life-saving ventilator and who doesn’t.
“Physicians who work in parts of the world that don’t have adequate resources have had to make decisions like this maybe even on a routine basis, but physicians in the United States have never faced anything like this before,” said Dr. Robert Truog, director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. “It is going to be extremely difficult.”
If the current rate of hospitalization and intubation continues in New York, “we have about six days” left of ventilators in the stockpile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during Thursday’s CCP virus briefing.
“If a person comes in and needs a ventilator and you don’t have a ventilator, the person dies. That’s the blunt equation here,” Cuomo said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the press at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, on March 27, 2020. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)
The demand for ventilators has skyrocketed in intensive care units across the country as coronavirus patients have flooded in. Typically, adult patients will stay in the ICU—and on a ventilator—for only three to four days, as one Connecticut doctor explained, but COVID-19 patients need them for up to two or three weeks, dramatically increasing demand.
Truog said he worked all weekend helping hospitals develop policies that determine who receives intensive care during a public health emergency. One of the better frameworks to follow, he said, is one developed by Dr. Douglas White, a professor of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UMPC).
White said he began to develop his framework more than a decade ago during the avian influenza epidemic.
It is essentially a point system calculating a patient’s likelihood to benefit from ICU care, based on two considerations: 1) saving the most lives and 2) saving the most life-years.
The lower the patient scores, the higher their prioritization for care. In the system’s eight-point scale, the first four points illustrate the patient’s likelihood to survive hospitalization, and the last four points assess whether, assuming they survive hospitalization, they have medical conditions associated with a life expectancy of less than one year or less than five years.
In the event of a tie, White’s framework directs doctors to consider life cycle, with priority being given to younger patients.
“These are inevitably tragic choices with only bad options,” White said. “But the only thing worse than developing a clear allocation framework is not developing one, because then decisions made during a crisis will be biased and arbitrary.”
White said that his framework is meant to be inclusive and nondiscriminatory against people with disabilities.
“It is critical to make clear that stereotypical judgments about quality of life have no role in these decisions, and no one is disqualified from treatment because of disabilities,” White said.
In 2007, White said he reviewed the existing recommendations for the allocation of critical care resources and realized those recommendations were often based on “exclusion criteria,” which simply barred access to critical care for large groups of people during a public health crisis.
“Advanced age, severe cognitive impairment, and chronic heart and lung diseases were all used as exclusion criteria. That didn’t seem ethical to me. Exclusion criteria send the wrong message that there are some lives that are not worth saving,” White said.
This could lead to a perception of unfairness, he has said, during a public health emergency where trust is essential. By contrast, the framework White and his team developed ensures no one is disqualified from critical care from the outset.
“Everyone who is normally eligible for intensive care remains eligible in a public health emergency,” White said.
Several hundred hospitals around the country have adopted White’s framework, he said. The first set of hospitals, including Johns Hopkins and Medstar, came on board after a 2009 article on the system, White said.
But since early March this year, his email has been flooded by hospitals’ requests for guidance. UPMC confirmed that its 40 hospitals have since adopted the framework, and White said the state of Pennsylvania has implemented interim guidance to public hospitals based on his framework as well. Pennsylvania’s Department of Health would not give details on the basis for their interim guidelines but said they intend to publish final guidelines soon.
As hospitals across the country try to figure out how they would ration insufficient supplies in an emergency—with their discussions sometimes causing public outrage, as when a proposed letter to patients in the Henry Ford Health System leaked last week—some states’ guidelines have until recently excluded certain types of people from critical care under those conditions.
Alabama’s 2010 Emergency Operations Plan, for example, states that “persons with severe or profound mental retardation” and “moderate to severe dementia” are “unlikely candidates for ventilator support.”
Those guidelines were updated in February 2020, but the new guidance makes no mention of how to triage patients in the event of ventilator shortages. The Alabama Department of Public Health did not confirm whether exclusion criteria are still being used.
In a 2014 document, Indiana similarly listed exclusion criteria for ventilators during a respiratory disease pandemic, including severe burns or being dependent on dialysis. The state told a CNN reporter that these are “not part of our current response plan” and sent a link to a new plan. Like Alabama’s, it lacks guidance on how to triage patients for access to ventilators.
That is hardly a solution, White said after reviewing the new Alabama guidelines.
“So their crisis standard of care guidance now basically provides no guidance to doctors about what to do in the face of ventilator shortages, which of course introduces its own thicket of problems around variability and bias,” White wrote in an email.
Two other states, Tennessee and Kansas, had guidelines that excluded some people from care in the event of a pandemic emergency, but pulled the guides offline on Friday after a CNN reporter inquired about them.
A Tennessee list of exclusion criteria finalized in 2016 included patients with traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, severe dementia, ALS and end-stage MS; the state says it is not planning to replace the 2016 guidelines. Kansas removed a document on public health emergencies, including exclusion criteria, that was last revised in 2013.
“The document you’re referencing is an old one not intended for COVID-19 response. We are working to update our guidelines,” a Department of Health spokesperson wrote.
At Harvard, Truog, who supports White’s framework, has recently published articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Boston Globe to help prepare hospitals, doctors and the public for the decisions and outcomes he thinks they could be facing soon.
That kind of forethought by specialists is important, White has argued, so that doctors facing a pandemic don’t have to struggle with such dire ethical questions case by case. White believes that triage committees should be created of non-frontline doctors, to “enhance objectivity, avoid conflicts of commitments, and minimize moral distress.”
Dr. Ira Byock, a palliative care physician in Los Angeles and founder of the Institute for Human Caring based at Providence TrinityCare Hospice in California, said that the usual clinical ethics for doctors change during a public health crisis.
“For the first time in our experience, we have to balance the well-being of the community with the well-being of individual patients, which is usually our sole focus,” Byock said.
But even with the ethical guidance that a framework like White’s provides, Truog said, that responsibility means the road ahead for American doctors will not be easy.
“It could very well be the case that in the next few days physicians are going to have to make decisions that they never even contemplated before, and the emotional toll for some is going to be absolutely disabling,” Truog said.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.
The Epoch Times staff contributed to this report

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US Carrier Supremacy Faces New Foe in the Pacific: COVID-19

COVID-19 has succeeded where China’s two decades of military buildup has failed—by sidelining a U.S. aircraft carrier in the pacific.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently out of action in a port in Guam, while the crew of over 4,000 is systematically evacuated and quarantined after an outbreak of the CCP virus onboard. The plight of the carrier was first highlighted by a captain in a leaked memo that later got him fired.
This is the scenario that the Pentagon has tried so hard to avoid: a carrier sidelined by a virus breakout, potentially strategic information leaked, and a breakdown in communication stoking the fears of loved ones ashore.
But most analysts offer a reassuring picture, saying that if push came to shove in the pacific, the Navy could shrug off any strategic disadvantages of having the carrier parked up.
If other carriers are hit by further outbreaks, however, most agree that it could have some knock-on effect on the usual clout of the United States in the region.
U.S. carrier groups are the “ultimate insurance policy” that guarantees the freedom and independence of Taiwan, Robert J. Bunker, Adjunct Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College, told the Epoch Times via email. “These groups also allow the U.S. to project its military power and influence throughout the South China Sea in support of its allies, who are being challenged by the expansive and ongoing CCP regime territorial ocean grab taking place.”
China has chipped away at the dominance of U.S. carriers in the pacific by building up an array of long-range missiles and anti-aircraft measures. In response, the U.S. military has been scrambling to reinvent itself for the last two years to tackle the new strategic environment.
But it is too early to know how the virus has impacted the broader strategic dynamic in the area, most analysts say—although there is little sign that China has stopped its saber-rattling and harassment.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt
The plight of the Theodore Roosevelt hit the headlines when a dramatic March 30 memo from Captain Brett Crozier was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle in which he said that the COVID-19 outbreak was “ongoing and accelerating.”

People stop to look at the USS Theodore Roosevelt anchored off Stokes Bay in Portsmouth, England, on April 6, 2009. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” wrote Crozier in the memo in which he implied that sailors would die unless the crew was taken off and the ship disinfected.
The Navy later announced that they were already taking measures to evacuate the carrier—and that Captain Crozier had been fired.
Acting Secretary Modly said that the letter was sent via non-secure unclassified email outside of the chain of command, “raised alarm bells unnecessarily,” and “created the impression that the navy was not responding to his questions.”

Captain Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, on the ship’s flight deck in the eastern Pacific Ocean on Dec. 19, 2019. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Huynh/Handout via Reuters)
The Navy has said that as many as 3,000 will be taken off the ship and quarantined by Friday. As testing continues, the ship will keep enough sailors on board to sustain essential services while it is sanitized in port.
One of the issues raised by the Captain was that the close quarters of the ship make it hard to follow the CDC guidelines on tackling the CCP virus.
“Social distancing is very hard to hard to do on a ship,” says Harrison Schramm, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “You can’t stay six feet apart in a corridor that is less than six feet wide, for example.”
However, Schramm is confident in the resourcefulness of the crew in tackling the challenges.

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transits the Arabian Sea on Jan. 31, 2020. (2nd Class Scott Swofford/DoD)
“I am absolutely certain that whatever things can be done or can be invented, they are going to do them,” he told the Epoch Times. “Because I know the people involved, I personally have great faith in the Navy both as individual units and corporately to overcome this.”
Although the carrier is no longer in a state of immediate readiness, that would be the case for any ship in port, says Dakota Wood, senior research fellow in defense programs at the Heritage Foundation. “If it needs to deploy in an emergency situation, it would do so and the Navy has the ability to reinforce the crew with additional sailors if needed.”
The Pentagon was happy to sideline the ship precisely because they did not perceive a heightened risk of conflict in the area, says Sidharth Kaushal, Research Fellow in Seapower at the Royal United Services Institute.
“The quarantine of the sailors on the Roosevelt was deemed necessary, but also deemed acceptable, partly because they don’t see any risk of a direct conflagration on the horizon, at least in the short term,” he told the Epoch Times.
The Navy will quickly hospitalize or care for the infected crew and then decontaminate the ship, according to Rick Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center  “It will resume its mission soon.”
The Impact of Further Carrier Outbreaks
“Even if the U.S. had to stop aircraft carrier operations, there are sufficient other U.S. naval, air, and army forces in the Western Pacific to deter potential enemies,” said Fisher.
Richard Bitzinger, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Military Transformations Program at Nanyang University, told the Epoch Times that in the event of more carriers being sidelined, U.S. influence would be clipped.

Sailors stand on the flight deck after launching an F/A-18F Super Hornet from the the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the North Atlantic, on Sept. 18, 2018. (2nd Class Anthony Flynn/DoD)
“If the U.S. could not send carrier groups to the Indo-Pacific, it would greatly diminish its abilities to project sustainable and robust power,” Bitzinger said via email.
“The U.S. Navy operates largely in terms of “carrier strike groups” (generally one aircraft carrier, supported by 3-4 destroyers, a frigate, and two submarines). Losing these types of power packages greatly undermines the USN’s ability to patrol, make its presence and impact felt, and in general underpin US authority in the region.”
If more U.S. carriers and ships are struck by COVID-19, U.S. influence could be impacted, says Wood.
However, in the event of imminent conflict, ships and sailors would be redirected from other missions and ships already in the region to include those in port, he notes.
“They might be understrength for a period of time and while this would not be preferable, clearly, it would not differ from a ship having to fight with some of its crew wounded.”
“The US military would do things in a wartime situation it would not do in peacetime, ” he said.
Beyond the Roosevelt, the U.S. military has been impacted in other ways by the CCP virus pandemic.
“The need to observe ‘social distancing’ does affect normal education, training, and exercise routines,” said Wood. “This has resulted in events being canceled. Military readiness can be maintained for several months in such situations but after many months, perhaps six or more, individual, unit, and force readiness will begin to degrade.”
The upcoming biannual RIMPAC exercises between the United States and allies in the Pacific—the largest military exercises in the world—could be canceled due to the pandemic, with discussions currently underway, says Kaushal.
Such joint exercises aren’t just geopolitical chest-beating, but a key ingredient of military power, says Kaushal.
“Under a war-time scenario, troops are operating almost on autopilot,” says Kaushal. “That constant drumbeat of exercises is critical, particularly if you are operating with allies that don’t always work with you all year round. [It’s] that readiness that allows things to move like clockwork in wartime.”
Missing one round of exercises wouldn’t degrade effectiveness much, he says. but in the longer term, the effect would be more pronounced.
Impact on China?
It’s not just the United States’ military taking a hit.
“Naval, air, and land forces of the great powers are being impacted across the board by the pandemic,” said Bunker.
“Chinese warships have probably seen outbreaks but the information is likely being classified, as it should be—disclosing that your military capacity is diminished to states you are in geo-political competition with does not make strategic sense.”
But the Chinese regime places a different value on the life of troops, notes Bunker. “They are far more expendable than U.S. military personnel. For instance, a Chinese warship whose crew was infected by COVID-19 would be allowed to continue to operate if it furthered the CCP’s geo-political position—the good of the communist party takes precedence over individual human life. “  
Other analysts agree that little is known of the impact on the Chinese military.
“It most certainly has affected units in Hubei Province, which includes nuclear missile bases,” says Fisher. “But the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will not be issuing any press releases anytime soon. “
The Chinese military appears to be carrying on as normal with its saber-rattling in the pacific.
During the pandemic, the CCP is continuing to position itself at the expense of allies, says Bunker. “For instance, new research stations are being placed on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) and Zamora (Subi) Reef.”
“They are also engaging in ongoing information warfare concerning the origins of the pandemic and the amount of COVID-19 fatalities in Hubei province (and across China itself), as well as attempting to sow dissension and panic amongst the American public related to it.”
Wood says it’s too premature to assess whether the outbreak has changed the military dynamics between the United States and adversaries. “While we have some insight into what is happening with the U.S. military, we have very little insight into the military forces of other countries. Thus we cannot yet know whether China, Russia, Iran, or others feel emboldened to act or carry their own worries about whether their forces remain combat-effective.”
Fisher says that the pandemic raises the specter of Chinese bioweapons attacks.
He says that the impact on the USS Theodore Roosevelt can be “considered a “passive” biological attack, aggravated by Chinese Communist Party’s perfidy in concealing the truth about this virus.”
The PLA will be closely monitoring the response of every nation “to assess their willingness and capability to defend against future bioweapon attack,” he says.
“It is well known that China has for decades been developing bioweapons that would have a far more devastating impact on U.S. forces in Asia, or anywhere,” said Fisher. “We must also consider the Chinese Communist Party’s stark history of malevolence against its own people, up to 70 million killed, as proof that the CCP may have no hesitation to use bioweapons against anybody else.”
Bitzinger says he fears that the United States may lose ground to China as it turns to tackle the domestic crisis of COVID-19. “The U.S. is going to be extremely internally focused for several months, and the leadership is not going to be able to think about or deal with Chinese efforts to chip away at U.S. superiority and hegemony in the Western Pacific or Indian Ocean. This distraction with domestic affairs (exacerbated by the upcoming election) will, I fear, leave the U.S. unable to deal with foreign policy.”
Beyond any potential geopolitical shifts, the virus will likely impact U.S. strategic decisions by hitting where it hurts: in the wallet.
“The United States just passed a $2 trillion stimulus package; that’s real money,” says Schramm. “That is obviously going to have some sort of impact on the defense budget, particularly with modernization and procurement.”
“It’s not just the topline that’s going to change,” says Schramm. “There will clearly be an appetite for restructuring the money that’s already on account. For example, things like hospital ships, or that could be rapidly converted into hospital, general purpose logistics ships are going to be more important. My sense is that medicine and construction battalions (“Seabees”) will be more important in the future.”
But, with the pandemic upending so many norms, he is cautious about any concrete predictions. “Anything that I would say about the restructuring right now would be writ in water.”
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Alabama and Missouri Issue Stay-at-Home Orders, 9 States Yet to Announce

Nine American states have yet to declare mandatory stay-at-home orders after the governors of Alabama and Missouri on Friday told residents to avoid going outside except for “essential activities.”
Alabama governor Kay Ivey on April 3 issued a statewide shelter in place order, effective Saturday, April 4, and set to expire on April 30, according to a release.
“My fellow Alabamians, I plead with you to do your part to #StopTheSpread of #COVID19. We’ve got to take this order dead serious; otherwise, the fact is more people will end up dying,” Ivey said in a tweet.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announces a statewide stay-at-home order on April 3, 2020. (Office of the Governor)
As of Friday afternoon, Alabama had 1,432 reported COVID-19 infections and 34 deaths, according to AL.com.
“Folks, April stands to be very tough, and potentially very deadly,” Ivey said at a press conference, the outlet reported. “You need to understand we are past urging people to stay at home. It is now the law,” she added.
The restrictions in Alabama include “essential retailers” allowing no more than 50 percent occupancy and preventing customers from standing closer than 6 feet apart.

A shopper passes a self-distancing queue outside Trader Joe’s, as they limited the amount of shoppers allowed in the store to help prevent the spread the CCP virus, in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia, on March 31, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/File Photo/Reuters)
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on April 3 issued a similar stay-at-home order, effective April 6 to April 24, according to a release.
“There comes a time when we have to make major sacrifices in our lives. Many of us make sacrifices each and every day, but now more than ever, we must all make sacrifices,” Parson said. “This is not about any one individual person. This is about our families, friends, neighbors, and the entire state of Missouri. For the sake of all Missourians, be smart, be responsible, and stay home, Missourians.”
As of Friday, Missouri had 2,113 positive CCP virus cases out of 24,727 tested in a total population of 6 million Missourians, officials said. According to these figures, around 8.5 percent of people tested in the state were infected with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The Missouri order explicitly states that people residing in the state of Missouri must avoid leaving their homes or places of residence unless necessary.
Among other guidelines, the Missouri order forbids social gatherings of 10 or more people and essential businesses are restricted to 25 percent occupancy.

An employee at a cafe and bakery wears a mask in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 17, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
“The order does not prohibit Missourians from accessing essential services, such as grocery stores, gas stations, and banks, or engaging in outdoor recreation, provided that necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19,” the press release said.
White House task force projections predict that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could lose their lives due to the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a member of the virus task force, has urged states to adopt stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the disease.
Most states have, with the nine holdouts being Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
Meanwhile, the United States recorded the highest-ever daily death toll from the CCP virus outside China, at 1,321 fatalities between April 2 and April 3, according to statistics site Worldometers.
The figure excludes China due to persistent doubts about the reliability of state-reported figures.
According to the tracker, 6,071 people in America lost their lives due to the disease as of Thursday, while on Friday that count increased to 7,392.
Looking ahead, experts see aggressive testing and contact tracing as key to handling subsequent waves of the virus.
Kenneth Castro, a professor of global health, epidemiology, and infectious diseases at Emory University, said local, state, and federal governments should start recruiting an “army” of people to handle contact investigations.
“Identify and contain is better than having society shutdown. It’s a balancing act,” said Castro, who oversaw the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tuberculosis effort for two decades through 2013. “We won’t be able to maintain physical distancing forever.”
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Search Suspended for 2 Members of Kennedy Family Lost in Chesapeake Bay

The search for two members of the Kennedy family—Maeve Kennedy McKean and her son, Gideon—was suspended 26 hours after they were reported missing in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland, the Coast Guard said Friday night.
Authorities confirmed McKean and her 8-year-old son were the missing individuals. They were last seen on Thursday evening.
“This was a difficult case, and even more difficult to make the decision to suspend the search,” said Cmdr. Matthew Fine, deputy sector commander and active search suspension authority at Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region command center, late Friday night. “Our crews and partners did everything they could to find them. We’ve kept the family informed at every step during the search, and our thoughts are with them tonight.”

This undated image posted on Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean’s Facebook account shows her with her family, including her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, bottom right. (Twitter via AP)
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, McKean’s mother, said earlier in the evening that the search had turned from a rescue to a recovery mission.
“With profound sadness, I share the news that the search for my beloved daughter Maeve and grandson Gideon has turned from rescue to recovery,” Townsend said in a statement.

This undated image posted on Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean’s Twitter account shows her son Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean. (Twitter via AP)
“My heart is crushed, yet we shall try to summon the grace of God and what strength we have to honor the hope, energy and passion that Maeve and Gideon set forth into the world,” the statement read. “My family thanks all for the outpouring of love and prayers as we grieve and try to bear this devastating loss.”
McKean is the granddaughter of former U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. She is a public health and human rights lawyer and serves as the executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative.
McKean’s husband, David McKean, wrote in a Facebook post Friday that “it is clear that Maeve and Gideon have passed away. The search for their recovery will continue, and I hope that that will be successful.”
“At this time, our family asks for privacy and that everyone keep Maeve and Gideon in their prayers,” the Kennedy family said in a statement provided by a spokesperson earlier Friday.
David McKean remembered his wife and son in his Friday post.
“It is impossible to sum up Gideon here. I am heartbroken to even have to try. I used to marvel at him as a toddler and worry that he was too perfect to exist in this world. It seems to me now that he was,” he wrote in part. And of his wife he said: “She was my everything. She was my best friend and my soulmate.”
The family was self-quarantining at Townsend’s home on the Chesapeake Bay, when Gideon and Maeve were playing kickball and one of them kicked the ball into the water, according to David McKean. “They got into a canoe, intending simply to retrieve the ball, and somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay,” he wrote.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, also a grandchild of Robert F. Kennedy, memorialized the two on Twitter, saying: “We love you Maeve. We love you Gideon. Our family has lost two of the brightest lights. Grateful for the prayers. Hold your loved ones tight.”
Coast Guard officials had received a report of “two individuals … seen struggling to return to shore in a canoe” near Herring Bay, 10 miles south of Annapolis, and were “not seen again,” according to a statement Friday from the Coast Guard.
Capt. Erik Kornmeyer of the Anne Arundel Fire Department told CNN that a call from a “concerned citizen” came in at 4:30 p.m. ET Thursday.
Queen Anne Police Department, Arundel Police Department, Maryland Natural Resource Police, and Maryland State Police have been assisting in the search, the Coast Guard said in a statement Friday.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday that “an intensive search has been underway since yesterday” for Maeve and Gideon.
During a news conference, Hogan said he spoke with McKean’s mother Friday morning.
“On behalf of the people of Maryland, I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies and prayers to her and to her entire family during this difficult time,” Hogan said.
McKean also advised the Obama administration for the State Department’s global AIDS program and has volunteered in Mozambique for the Peace Corps, established by her great uncle, former President John F. Kennedy. Last year, McKean, along with Townsend and former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, wrote an op-ed for Politico in which they denounced the anti-vaccine views of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., calling them “tragically wrong.”
The McKeans also have a 7-year-old daughter Gabriella and a 2-year-old son Toby.
Over the decades, the Kennedy family has endured high-profile tragedies. Both McKean’s grandfather and great uncle were assassinated. McKean’s cousin, John F. Kennedy Jr., and his wife, Carolyn, were killed in a plane crash two decades ago.
This story has been updated with comment from David McKean and Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Paddleboarder Arrested for Using Ocean During COVID-19 Pandemic

A paddleboarder in California was chased down on the Pacific Ocean by sheriff’s deputies for violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order.
Lifeguards flagged down Los Angeles County Sheriff Department deputies on Thursday, telling them that an adult male was in the water and not listening to orders to stop paddling.
The suspect was in the water paddle boarding for 30 to 40 minutes before sheriff deputies brought in a boat from Marine Del Rey Station.
“Once the Sheriff’s boat arrived on scene, the suspect complied and swam to shore,” the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station said in a statement.
An Instagram video filmed from the shore showed the man paddling away from the boat before he was caught by a lifeguard boat. A photograph showed the man in handcuffs, escorted by two sheriff’s deputies.
The male was transported to the local sheriff’s station, where he was booked and released on a promise to appear in court, deputies said.

Transmission electron micrograph of the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, isolated from a patient. Photo published March 10, 2020. (NIAID)
He was arrested for disobeying a lifeguard and violating the governor’s order. The paddleboarder now faces up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Newsom last month ordered residents to stay at home except for essential trips such as going to the grocery store or a pharmacy.
A page on the state government website says that Californians can still exercise as long as they maintain a distance of six feet from people who aren’t part of their household.
“It is ok to go outside for exercise, a walk or fresh air,” it stated.
Many state beaches have been closed to try to prevent the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. Lifeguards and law enforcement are working together to block people from the beaches, crack down on violators, or, in areas where beaches are still open, remind them of social distancing measures.

An aerial drone view of Dillon Beach, which is closed because of the CCP virus, in California on April 1, 2020. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
A surfer in Manhattan Beach last month received a $1,000 fine for refusing to leave.
“Everyone has been very cooperative, it was just that one guy,” Manhattan Beach police Sgt. Mike Sistoni told the Orange County Register. “Everyone else has been pretty cool… I don’t know if he was having a bad day or what.”
Lifeguards contacted law enforcement when the man declined to obey orders to leave the beach, Sistoni said.
Video footage captured from the shore showed surfers being forced to leave the ocean except for the man who was ticketed.
California State Parks announced in recent days the closure of a number of state parks, including many in Los Angeles County. The system said last weekend it was cutting off vehicular access to all of the 280 parks in the state.
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US Records Highest Single-Day CCP Virus Death Toll Outside China

The United States recorded the highest-ever daily death toll from COVID-19 outside China, at 1,321 fatalities between April 2 and April 3, according to statistics site Worldometers.
The figure excludes China due to persistent doubts about the reliability of state-reported figures.
According to the tracker, 6,071 people in America lost their lives due to the disease as of Thursday, while on Friday that count increased to 7,392.
Another running tally maintained by Johns Hopkins, which uses different sources and updates data at different times, puts America’s COVID-19 death count at 7,159 as of Friday.
Both statistics services showed on Saturday that more than 277,000 Americans have tested positive for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

A medical worker in protective gear stands in a refrigerated container truck used as a temporary morgue at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City on March 31, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)
Two of the principal U.S. CCP virus hot spots—New York and Louisiana—reported their biggest jumps in deaths yet on Friday.
Surging deaths in New York City and New Orleans showed that a wave of lethal CCP virus infections is expected to overwhelm hospitals.
Governors, mayors, and physicians have voiced alarm for weeks over crippling scarcities of personal protective gear for first responders and frontline healthcare workers, as well as ventilators and other medical supplies.

An army specialist inspects his glove fit while awaiting to forward deploy to a CCP virus testing site in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, on April 2, 2020. (Pennsylvania National Guard/Master Sgt. George Roach/Handout via Reuters)
Cities across the country have also scrambled to expand hospital capacity and recruit healthcare professionals out of retirement to meet looming shortages of sick beds and personnel.
Overcrowded mortuaries are another problem as cities struggle to meet demand for storage of the dead and families wrestle with rules on social distancing that make the usual funeral rituals impossible.

Refrigerated trailers are seen parked at the site of a makeshift morgue being built in New York City on March 25, 2020. (Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)
Med Alliance Group, a medical distributor in Illinois, has been besieged by calls and emails from cities around the country requesting refrigerated trailers for storage of bodies.
“They’re coming from all over: From hospitals, health systems, coroner’s offices, VA facilities, county and state health departments, state emergency departments, and funeral homes,” said Christie Penzol, a spokeswoman for Med Alliance. “It’s heart-wrenching.”
The company has rented all its trailers and there’s an 18-week wait for new materials to build more, she said.
With both medical experts and the White House now estimating the death toll from the CCP virus pandemic could reach 240,000 nationwide, the sheer practicalities of death—where to put the bodies—are worrying just about everyone as cities, hospitals, and private medical groups clamor to secure additional storage.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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‘We Are Turning a Corner:’ NYU Langone Professor Urges New Yorkers Stay Home

A medical doctor and professor at NYU Langone said Saturday the run of the COVID-19 epidemic in New York appears to be showing signs of abating.
“The daily new death and case count from NYC is devastating. But I really do think we are turning a corner,” Leora Horwitz, MD, said in an April 4 tweet.
She pointed to encouraging data from NYC Health that showed a drop in emergency department visits by people with influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and respiratory symptoms.
“Daily ED visits for both ILI and respiratory symptoms are dropping. Still insanely higher than normal. But dropping,” she said, sharing a chart of emergency visits that showed falling numbers.

The daily new death and case count from NYC is devastating. But I really do think we are turning a corner. Daily ED visits for both ILI and respiratory symptoms are dropping. Still insanely higher than normal. But dropping. #StayHome a little longer, NYC! pic.twitter.com/UiJBD8nZy9
— Leora Horwitz (@leorahorwitzmd) April 4, 2020

Horwitz, an associate professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine at NYU Langone, urged New Yorkers to “#StayHome a little longer,” in reference to repeated calls by officials for social distancing measures to curb the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.

Army medical personnel walk amongst cubicles in Javits New York Medical Station in New York City, on April 3, 2020. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)
All of New York State has been put, in the words of Governor Andrew Cuomo, “on pause,” with all non-essential workers directed to work from home and social distancing measures in place that require people to maintain a 6-foot distance from others in public.
“We set two missions. One was hospitals. Second was individual responsibility. The individual responsibility is about discipline. It’s about selflessness and being informed. The basic point is stay at home. Stay at home. I know it’s hard to stay at home and I know everyone thinks, you know, I can go out, I can be smart, and I won’t get infected because it’s me. I’m a superhero. It’s not going to be me. That is not true,” Cuomo said at a March 31 briefing.

Firefighters remove personal protective equipment after responding to a medical call amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on April 3, 2020. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)
New York on Friday reported its biggest jump in COVID-19 deaths, with the city suffering over a quarter of the 7,000-plus virus-related fatalities to date nationwide.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City, the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter, has mere days to prepare for the worst of the outbreak.
New York is in an “extraordinary race against time,” de Blasio told a news briefing on Friday, renewing his call for the federal government to mobilize the U.S. military.
“We’re dealing with an enemy that is killing thousands of Americans, and a lot of people are dying who don’t need to die,” he said. “You can’t say, every state for themselves, every city for themselves. That is not America.”
In New York, the state hardest hit by the coronavirus in sheer numbers of infections and lives lost, the cumulative number of fatalities rose to nearly 3,000.
“Personally, it’s hard to go through this all day, and then it’s hard to stay up all night watching those numbers come in,” Cuomo said at a briefing.
Still, besides the hopeful emergency department visit numbers cited by Horwitz, there are other encouraging figures. On April 2, there were 1,452 COVID-19 patients leaving hospitals in New York State, which is the first time since March 23 that the state reported more discharges than hospitalizations.
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51 Nursing Home Residents Test Positive for CCP Virus Despite Showing No Symptoms

Over half of the residents at a Massachusetts nursing home tested positive for the CCP virus despite showing no symptoms.
A growing body of evidence shows some people infected with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, never show symptoms and others who will ultimately show symptoms can transmit the virus while being asymptomatic.
Pointe Group Care said late Friday that 51 of the 98 residents at AdviniaCare in Wilmington tested positive for the virus.
“Residents who have tested positive will be isolated from those who did not, and will receive the specialized care and support provided by staff and a team from Partners [Healthcare],” the company said in a statement.
Chris Hannon, chief operating officer of the company, said the testing results came as a surprise.
“Considering how aggressive we have been, this points to how insidious this virus is; we are fighting an invisible enemy. We are ensuring that residents with the illness get the specialized care and support that they need,” he said.
The care center was slated to soon become a 142-bed virus recovery center but those plans have been put on hold after the test results came back. Residents were going to be moved to other facilities but had to test negative before being transferred.

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round magenta objects), which the Epoch Times refers to as the CCP virus, emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML)
Dr. Charles Tsun-Zhi Pu, Partners Healthcare’s medical director for population health, said that testing patients before transferring them helped prevent the virus from spreading outside the facility.
“It makes clear the challenging clinical circumstances that we are all operating under, and the important role that testing plays in battling this pandemic,” he said in the statement.
State officials are identifying facilities that can care for patients with COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, to prepare for a projected surge of cases later this month.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long the positive tests would delay the conversion of AdviniaCare into a COVID-19 care facility. Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Worcester, another nursing home selected to help deal with the expected surge, said earlier in the week it would postpone those plans after one of its 147 residents tested positive.
Nursing homes have been a concern since the virus began spreading in the United States. The first major cluster of cases was identified at Life Care Center of Kirkland, a nursing facility in King County, Washington state. The facility was ultimately linked to 37 deaths and sued by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after public health authorities found it didn’t have enough personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, and other items.

A stretcher is moved from an AMR ambulance to the Life Care Center of Kirkland where one associate and one resident were diagnosed with the CCP virus on Feb. 29, 2020. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)
Staff members sometimes worked despite showing symptoms and at times were unaware or didn’t follow recommendations about being cautious when in close contact with patients.
Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a recent report that 23 of the 76 Life Care residents who were tested for the CCP virus tested positive and approximately half were not showing symptoms on the day of testing.
Symptom-based screening of skilled nursing facility residents might fail to identify all cases of the new illness and patients without symptoms might contribute to transmission of the virus, the researchers said.
The report was one of seven cited by federal officials in announcing new recommendations on Friday night that all Americans wear masks when leaving their homes.
Nearly two-thirds of the residents and staff at the Kirkland facility were ultimately infected.
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Why Federal Officials Are Finally Recommending People Wear Masks

After weeks of debate and confusion over the efficacy of masks, United States officials are finally recommending the general public wear them when leaving their home.
“STOP BUYING MASKS!” Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Americans in late February. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, which causes a disease called COVID-19.
In recent weeks, a number of countries started urging people to wear masks, as did state and local officials in America. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to tell people to wear masks only if they were sick or were a frontline worker like a doctor or police officer.
What changed?
Earlier recommendations were “based on the best evidence available at the time,” Adams told reporters in Washington on April 3 as officials announced the new recommendations. The evidence showed wearing a mask wouldn’t have a significant impact on whether or not a healthy person would contract COVID-19.
“We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms,” Adams said. Even people who eventually develop symptoms can spread the virus before they show symptoms.

Rhode Island National Guard Sergeant Cora Brown is fitted with protective gear during training to administer CCP virus tests to the public in Warwick, Rhode Island, on March 30, 2020. (Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. John Vannucci/Handout via Reuters)

Masks and hand sanitizers are displayed at a Hyundai Happy World supplements store during the CCP virus outbreak in Niles, Ill., on April 3, 2020. (Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo)
Up to one in four patients who contract the CCP virus will never show symptoms, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said this week. Researchers from the agency looking at cases in Singapore identified, in a study also published this week, seven clusters of cases where the “most likely explanation” for the secondary cases becoming infected was “presymptomatic transmission.”
“We are constantly looking at new data and one of the new information [sic] that became clear is: there is a greater number of people that are asymptomatically infected than we previously thought,” Redfield told reporters at the White House.
Officials said the younger a person is, the more likely they are to be asymptomatic. They also urged people to follow social distancing guidelines, claiming the virus can’t jump from one person to another if it has to go more than six feet.
The new recommendations, published by the CDC, cite seven studies.
They are:
A February 19 study examining asymptomatic cases in a family in China
A February 21 letter from researchers saying they found a presumed asymptomatic carrier
A March 5 study looking at transmission from a person showing no symptoms to a healthy Germany businessman
A March 16 research article that estimated 86 percent of all CCP virus infections were undocumented, meaning patients showed mild, limited, or no symptoms
A March 19 study that found a similar amount of the CCP virus in asymptomatic patients than that found in symptomatic patients
The April 1 report from CDC researchers looking at patients in Singapore
An April 3 report from the CDC that found approximately half of residents in a Washington nursing home were asymptomatic or presymptomic on the day of testing.
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Navy Probe to Decide Future of Fired US Carrier Commander

WASHINGTON—Even as he is hailed as a hero by his crew, the fired commander of a CCP virus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier is being reassigned while investigators consider whether he should face disciplinary action, acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told Reuters on Friday.
Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his command of the Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday after a scathing letter in which he called on the Navy for stronger action to halt the spread of the virus aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was leaked to the media.
Modly said in an interview that the letter was shared too widely and leaked before even he could see it.
But the backlash to Modly’s decision to fire Crozier has been intense. In videos posted online, sailors on the Theodore Roosevelt applauded Crozier and hailed him as a hero, out to defend his crew—even at great personal cost to his career.
“And that’s how you send out one of the greatest captains you ever had,” exclaimed one sailor in a video post, amid thunderous applause and cheering for Crozier as he left the carrier and its 5,000 crew members in Guam.
Modly did not suggest that Crozier’s career was over, saying he thought everyone deserved a chance at “redemption.”
“He’ll get reassigned, he’s not thrown out of the Navy,” Modly said.
But Modly said he did not know if Crozier would face disciplinary action, telling Reuters it would be up to a probe that will look into issues surrounding “communications” and the chain of command that led to the incident.

Sailors spell out #USA with the American flag on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in a file photo. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class/U.S. Navy, CC BY)
“I’m not going to direct them to do anything [other] than to investigate the facts to the best of their ability. I cannot exercise undue command influence over that investigation,” he said.
The dismissal, two days after the captain’s letter leaked, demonstrated how the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus has challenged all manner of U.S. institutions, even those accustomed to dangerous and complex missions such as the military.
Crozier’s removal could have a chilling effect on others in the Navy seeking to draw attention to difficulties surrounding CCP virus outbreaks at a time when the Pentagon is withholding some detailed data about infections to avoid undermining the perception of U.S. military readiness for a crisis or conflict.
Reuters first reported last week that the U.S. armed forces would start keeping from the public some data about infections within its ranks.
On Friday, the Pentagon said U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper backed the Navy’s firing of the commander.
Asked if Esper had confidence in Modly, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told a news briefing: “He does.”
‘Decisive Action’
In his four-page letter, Crozier, who took command in November, described a bleak situation aboard the carrier as more of his crew began falling ill.
He called for “decisive action:” removing more than 4,000 sailors from the ship and isolating them, and wrote that unless the Navy acted immediately it would be failing to properly safeguard “our most trusted asset—our sailors.”
The letter put the Pentagon on the defensive and alarmed the families of those on the vessel, whose home port is in San Diego.
President Donald Trump, when asked about the captain during a White House news conference on Thursday, disputed the notion that Crozier appeared to have been disciplined for trying to save the lives of sailors.
“I don’t agree with that at all. Not at all. Not even a little bit,” Trump said.
The outbreak aboard the Theodore Roosevelt is just the latest example of the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the CCP virus, within the U.S. military. Navy officials say sailors on a number of ships have tested positive, including an amphibious assault vessel in San Diego.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is seen while entering into the port in Da Nang, Vietnam, on March 5, 2020. (Kham/File Photo/Reuters)
Modly said that for now the Navy was not considering an operational pause to stem the spread of the virus.
“Generally speaking, we have to keep these ships ready just in case they’re needed,” Modly said.
As of Friday, 978 active-duty service members had tested positive for COVID-19, more than 250 of them in the Navy.
‘We Want Our Captain Back’
Modly said he had relayed a message to the ship’s crew and it was “extremely well received when it was explained to them.”
But sailors on the ship and their family members have expressed frustration, even anger, at the Navy’s move.
An online petition calling for Crozier to be reinstated had been signed by more than 120,000 people.
“With them firing our [commanding officer] it feels like they are saying they don’t care about us,” a sailor on board the carrier told Reuters, while speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We are really disappointed in how they handled it and we want our captain back.”
By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.

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Singer Pink Says She Had COVID-19, Gives $1M to Relief Funds

LOS ANGELES—The singer Pink had tested positive for the CCP virus, she said Friday, also announcing that she is donating $500,000 each to two emergency funds.
In a pair of tweets, she said she and her three-year-old son were displaying symptoms two weeks ago, and she tested positive after accessing tests through a primary care physician.
Her family had already been sheltering at home and continued to do so, she said. They were tested again “just a few days ago,” and were negative.

(1 of 2) ❤️ pic.twitter.com/giodqm0PWf
— P!nk (@Pink) April 4, 2020

(2 of 2) pic.twitter.com/miIDZYLnPq
— P!nk (@Pink) April 4, 2020

The Grammy Award-winning artist behind eight studio albums and hits like “Get the Party Started,” “What About Us,” “Raise Your Glass” and “Just Give Me a Reason” called for free and widespread testing.
“It is an absolute travesty and failure of our government to not make testing more widely accessible,” she wrote.
“This illness is serious and real. People need to know that the illness affects the young and old, healthy and unhealthy, rich and poor, and we must make testing free and more widely accessible to protect our children, our families, our friends and our communities.”
She announced she’s donating $1 million across two coronavirus-related relief funds, with $500,000 each going to the Temple University Hospital Fund in Philadelphia and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus response fund run by the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles.
The Temple University donation honors the singer born Alecia Moore’s mother, Judy Moore, who worked at the hospital’s cardiomyopathy and heart transplant center for nearly two decades, she said.
She called health care workers “heroes” and ended her post with an appeal to the public.
“These next two weeks are crucial: please stay home,” she wrote. “Please. Stay. Home.”
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.

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U.S. Attorney General Orders Release of More Federal Inmates Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON—U.S. Attorney General William Barr declared on Friday that the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is facing emergency conditions due to the fast-spreading CCP virus, paving the way for the agency to begin releasing more inmates out of custody and into home confinement.
Barr said under his emergency order, priority for releasing vulnerable inmates into home confinement should be given first to those housed in federal prisons that have been hardest hit by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. That includes facilities such as Oakdale in Louisiana, Elkton in Ohio, and Danbury in Connecticut.
Barr’s order comes after five inmates at FCI Oakdale 1 and two at FCI Elkton 1 died from the CCP virus.
The BOP said Friday that 91 inmates and 50 of its staff throughout its 122 institutions have fallen ill with the virus. Union officials and families of prisoners have told Reuters they believe the number of people sickened with the viral infection is much higher.
Earlier this week, the BOP took the unprecedented step of ordering all of its facilities to place inmates into a 14-day quarantine by confining them to their cells or living quarters.
The $2 trillion stimulus bill signed by President Donald Trump last week included a provision designed to make it easier for federal prisons to release more inmates into home confinement to help control the pandemic. Before the stimulus law, the BOP could release to home confinement only inmates who had already served at least 90 percent of their sentences or had no more than six months left to go.
The new law allows the BOP director more considerable discretion to release a larger cohort of inmates. But it required that Barr first declare a state of emergency for the federal prison system.
“For all inmates whom you deem suitable candidates for home confinement, you are directed to immediately process them for transfer and then immediately transfer them following a 14-day quarantine,” Barr directed the BOP in a memo released late Friday.
Criminal-justice advocates have warned for months that U.S. jails and prison are potential hothouses for infection. Inmates live in close quarters, share bathrooms and dining halls, and often have limited access to health care.
Earlier on Friday, Reuters reported that federal prosecutors around the country in recent weeks had fought back against a variety of efforts by inmates to be released, even temporarily, due to the pandemic.
In court filings, prosecutors have urged judges to deny release on bond to defendants who are in jail awaiting trial and suggested that some inmates with pre-existing medical conditions would be safer in prison than at home, among other arguments.
U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler cheered Barr’s order on Friday, saying it was a much-needed action to help lower the prison population amid the pandemic.
“This is a positive development, and I urge appropriate and swift use of this power,” Nadler said in a statement.
By Sarah N. Lynch

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19 Lawmakers Seek Information From Zoom Amid Scrutiny of Its Privacy Practices

A group of 19 House lawmakers is requesting information from video conferencing platform Zoom amid scrutiny of the company’s privacy practices, as more Americans turn to the platform to meet their working from home needs.
In a letter address to Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan on Friday, the Democratic lawmakers from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce asked him to “shed light” on the company’s data collection practices, including information on attendee attention tracking, cloud recording, and automatic transcriptions of conferences. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), who is the chair of the subcommittee on consumer protection and commerce, are among those who signed the letter.
“Our new dependency on such solutions raises important questions about the privacy practices of the companies many of us are interacting with for the first time,” the letter stated.
Zoom gained intense popularity in recent weeks as millions of Americans are required to work from home as part of measures to control the spread of the CCP virus pandemic. The company said reached more than 200 million daily users around the world in March, which is up from 10 million daily participants at the end of December last year.
The letter comes as the company came under the spotlight for a range of privacy and security concerns in recent weeks. Most recently, the company’s privacy and security features are being carefully examined after hackers exploited a screen-sharing feature by hijacking meetings and online classrooms with messages in an emerging phenomenon called “zoom-bombing.”
The FBI Boston’s division issued a warning about zoom-bombing on March 30 after it received multiple reports about conferences being interrupted by pornographic or hate images and threatening language sent. In one example, an online class conducted on the platform was interrupted when an unidentified individual dialed into the call and yelled profanity to the participants. The individual then shouted the teacher’s home address in the call.
Officials using the platform for meetings have also fallen victim to the phenomenon. Connecticut’s Attorney General William Tong said on Friday that he was “zoom-bombed” by hundreds of “profane and racist comments” during a Zoom call earlier this week. Tong said that his office is working with other attorneys general offices across the country to probe the company for potential privacy violations, he told reporters in a call on Friday, reported CNBC. He added that at least two other offices—New York and Florida—are part of the effort.
The New York Times reported earlier this week that New York Attorney General Letitia James had sent a letter to the company asking them what new security measures have been put in place to handle the increased traffic as the platform become more popular during the CCP virus pandemic.
The company is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in California for allegedly collecting and sharing personal user data to third parties including Facebook, without the user’s knowledge or permission.
The suit accuses the company of failing to adequately safeguard the personal information of the increasing millions of users of its software application (“Zoom App”) and video conferencing platform.”
Yuan released multiple statements on blog posts addressing concerns about its data-sharing practices. He claimed that the sharing of data to Facebook came out from the feature that allows users to “login with Facebook” for Apple devices and that they were only made aware that the Facebook software package was collecting device information on March 25.
In a separate recent statement on Wednesday, he acknowledged that his company had fallen short of the community’s privacy and security expectations, adding that the application was originally built for enterprise customers and did not factor in that it would become popular with the public.
“[W]e did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,” he wrote. “We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.”
He said that they have updated its privacy policy to “to be more clear and transparent around what data we collect and how it is used” and that they had removed the software package that sent information to Facebook. He also said that for the next 90 days, his company would dedicate resources to identify and address issues of the program.
The lawmaker’s letter seeks further information about what data the company retains, what information is being shared to third parties, and which third parties are receiving the information.
“Despite Zoom’s recent clarifications to its privacy policy, a review of Zoom’s privacy policy shows that Zoom may still collect a significant amount of information about both registered and non-registered users from their use of the platform as well as from third parties,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
The company is expected to provide answers to the lawmakers’ questions by April 10.
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Senate Democrats Demand 2 Billion for K-12 Internet Funding for Pandemic Relief

Democratic Senators are asking congressional leaders to fund K-12 internet access in the next pandemic response package. The lawmakers want the phase 4 package to include funding for the government’s most extensive educational technology program, known as E-Rate, to guarantee all students have access to online virtual learning programs during the pandemic.
In a letter to congressional leaders, senators stated their “disappointment with the lack of funding dedicated for distance learning” in the recently signed $2 trillion “CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.” relief package.
The Phase 3 package includes $30 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts, and institutions of higher education for costs related to the CCP virus.
Opponents of the additional $2 billion for E-Rate are suggesting that states allot a part of The $30 billion Phase 3, to expand the internet for students instead of including it in further pandemic relief packages.
But the 34 senators see a different need. “We request that the next coronavirus relief package include at least $2 billion in E-Rate funds for schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots or other devices with Wi-Fi capability to students without adequate connectivity at their home,” wrote the senators.
“The coronavirus pandemic has shone a bright light on the “homework gap” experienced by the 12 million students in this country who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework—at a time when more than 70 percent of educators assign schoolwork that requires internet access,” the senators continued.
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Friday, together with 31 of their colleagues sent the letter to Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
With the pandemic causing schools’ short and long-term closures, over 55 million children across the United States are having to homeschool and use virtual learning platforms.
According to the most recent Education Department data, out of the approximately 9.4 million children ages 3-18, 94 percent have a computer at home, but only 64 percent have internet access.
“With tens of millions of students at home and educators seeking ways to deliver instruction, every student needs the technology to ensure they don’t fall behind. Our request of $2 billion to address the ‘homework gap’ is a drop in the bucket in a multi-trillion-dollar bill, and Congress should correct this omission in its next relief package, much like Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer had proposed for this package,” said Lily Eskelsen García, National Education Association President.
“Congress must address this issue by providing financial support specifically dedicated to expanding home internet access in the next emergency relief package so that no child falls behind in their education,” the democrats continued, “We believe providing funds to the E-Rate program is the best way to help students continue their education at home.”
The E-Rate program was set up to provide discounts when assisting schools and libraries in the United States in obtaining affordable telecommunications and internet access. This program is also known as the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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Trump to Invoke Defense Production Act to Ban Export of N95 Masks, Other Critical Supplies

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to stop U.S. companies from exporting N95 respirators and other critical personal protective equipment and medical supplies, to ensure that American hospitals and health care facilities are equipped to weather the CCP virus pandemic.
“I’m signing a directive invoking the Defense Production Act to prohibit [the] export of scarce health and medical supplies by unscrupulous actors and profiteers,” Trump said at a White House briefing.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security will work with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] to prevent the export of N95 respirators, surgical masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment,” he added, referring to acting Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf. “We need these items immediately for domestic use. We have to have them.”
The Defense Production Act, passed in 1950, grants the president the power to expand industrial production of crucial materials or products for national security and other reasons.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, infected over 275,500 and killed 7,087 in the United States by April 3, according to data on confirmed cases.
Trump noted that his administration had already moved to prevent the price gouging and hoarding of critical supplies amid the CCP virus pandemic.
“We have already leveraged the DPA to stop the hoarding and price gouging of crucial supplies,” the president said.
“Under that authority this week the Department of Health and Human Services, working with the Department of Justice took custody of nearly 200,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks, 600,000 gloves, as well as bottles—many, many, many bottles—and disinfectant sprays that were being hoarded,” he said. Adding that all the items are being sent to health care workers.
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Feds Distribute Thousands of Masks, Gloves Seized From Hoarders to Healthcare Workers

Trump said the federal government is providing about 8.1 million N95 respirators, 200,000 of which have been given to New York City.
Trump on March 27 authorized the use of the DPA to compel General Motors to move faster on producing ventilators.
On Thursday, he again authorized the use of the DPA for more companies, to further ramp up ventilator production in the United States.
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Trump Invokes Defense Production Act for More Companies, Including 3M

Separately, the president on Thursday singled out 3M in a memorandum ordering the Secretary of Homeland Security to use “all authority available under the Act to acquire, from any appropriate subsidiary or affiliate of 3M Company, the number of N95 respirators that the Administrator determines to be appropriate.”
At a White House briefing on the CCP virus pandemic earlier on Thursday, Trump announced he had signed a DPA order for 3M to produce face masks. “Hopefully they’ll be able to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.
Later that day, Trump wrote on Twitter saying, “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks,” in an apparent reference to reports that 3M had been exporting many of its masks to other countries instead of reserving them for domestic use.
“P Act. all the way,” Trump continued, with P apparently referring to the Defense Production Act. “Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing—will have a big price to pay!”
Following the announcement of the DPA order, 3M said in a statement on Friday it would work closely with FEMA to increase the production of respirators. However, it warned of the “humanitarian implications” of limiting supply to other countries.
Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.
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CDC Recommends Using Face Coverings in Public Setting, Especially In CCP Virus Hot Zones

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NYC Residents Should Cover Face When in Public, Mayor Says

ALBANY, N.Y.—As the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, cases soared, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio asked New Yorkers on Thursday to wear a face covering when they go outside to prevent the spread of the CCP virus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that the state’s supply of breathing machines could be exhausted in six days. And the COVID-19 death toll climbed to at least 2,400. While New York City remained a hotspot, there were troublesome trends around the state as the outbreak spread to every county. Unemployment filings skyrocketed too, as the pandemic wreaked economic havoc.
The latest developments in New York:
Face Covering
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio asked New Yorkers to wear a face covering when they go outside and will be near other people.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks during a video press conference on the city’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak held at City Hall in New York City on March 19, 2020. (William Farrington-Pool/Getty Images)
He cited research showing asymptomatic people could be spreading the CCP virus without realizing it. “When you put on that face covering, you’re protecting everyone else,” he said.
The mayor said it could be a scarf or a bandanna or anything homemade, but it should not be a surgical mask needed by medical workers.
A recent study by researchers in Singapore became the latest to estimate that somewhere around 10 percent of new infections may be sparked by people who carry the virus but have not yet suffered symptoms.
A bandanna might not prevent someone from coming into contact with the virus, but it could help a person who has it not give it to others when they sneeze, cough or breathe.
The mayor of Los Angeles also told everyone in the city to start wearing masks on Wednesday.
Ventilators Running Low
Cuomo warned New York could be six days away from exhausting its supply of ventilators as the state reported 432 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to nearly 2,400.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to the media at the Javits Convention Center which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases, in New York City on March 24, 2020. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
More than 13,300 people were hospitalized statewide with about 3,400 in intensive care.
Ventilators have become the crucial piece of equipment sought by state and city officials as hundreds of patients a day are admitted to intensive care units.
The state sent 400 ventilators to New York City and another 200 to its suburbs. But the governor saw problems ahead.
“At the current burn rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile,” the governor said at a briefing at the Capitol.
If supplies run short, the state is ready to use anesthesia and converted BiPAP machines, usually used to treat sleep apnea, or put more than one patient on a single ventilator.
More than 92,000 state residents have tested positive for the virus. The true number is likely much higher because officials have rationed tests and encouraged all but the most seriously ill people not to seek treatment and instead ride it out at home.
Most people who get the virus experience mild or moderate symptoms, including fever and cough. Others, though, develop pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.
Unemployment Claims
More than 464,000 people have filed for unemployment in New York state in the three weeks since the pandemic shattered the economy, an increase of over 1,000 percent from the same period last year, according to the state Department of Labor.
Last week alone, more than 369,000 unemployment claims were filed, an increase of more than 2,600 percent from the same time last year.
The Department of Labor’s unemployment filing system has seen a 16,000 percent increase in phone calls and a nearly 900 percent increase in web traffic in recent weeks.
Outbreak Spreads
Cases have now been confirmed in every county, with worrisome trends in some regions.
Cuomo said Thursday that there’s a “troubling rise” in suburban Long Island and Westchester County.
At the other end of the state, Buffalo and surrounding Erie County reporting 19 deaths and about 730 cases as of Thursday.
Among those infected in Buffalo is Common Council President Darius Pridgen, along with three of his adult children. His daughter was taken off a ventilator late Wednesday and began breathing on her own just before Pridgen went live on Facebook to offer an update from his own quarantine, frequently coughing and his voice hoarse.
“It was pretty rough for a couple of days,” he said of his daughter.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center could be used as an intensive-care hospital if needed during the projected peak in late April or early May.
Teacher Dies
Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, who taught third grade at an elementary school in Brooklyn, is the first New York City school teacher reported to have died of COVID-19.

In this undated family photo provided by Victor-Luis Vizcaino, his father embraces his mother, Sandra Santos-Vizcaino. (Vizcaino Family/Via AP Photo)
“This is a devastating tragedy,” schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said Thursday. “Sandra was a beloved teacher at P.S. 9.”
Santos-Vizcaino, 54, was a more than 20-year veteran of the city’s school system. She was recognized for her contributions to education in the Dominican Republic and won a grant to study bird sanctuaries there in 2009.
“The notion that we’ve lost a teacher is very painful,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We lost a principal last week, a young woman full of extraordinary promise.”
Brooklyn principal Dez-Ann Romain was the first city education employee reported to have died of the virus.
Students in New York City haven’t been to school since March 13.
Prison Masks
Administrators of the state prison system said they will allow guards to wear masks on duty. Staff had been prohibited from wearing masks unless medically necessary.
Also, inmates subject to quarantine will be issued a surgical-type mask to further reduce the risk of any secondary transmission, officials said.
The state corrections department said Thursday that 176 employees and 24 inmates have had confirmed cases of COVID-19.
That includes Harvey Weinstein, the film producer serving 23 years for rape and sexual assault.
Other Developments
The virus hasn’t spared any part of New York City, but new data shows that a few poorer neighborhoods in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn are getting hit especially hard.
Cuomo’s press briefing included a live video appearance by his younger brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who has tested positive for coronavirus.
New York state is racing to roughly triple its hospital capacity as virus cases surge. Officials worry the massive effort won’t be enough in the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic.
By Marina Villeneuve and Michael Hill
NTD staff contributed to this report

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Walmart Will Limit Number of Customers in Stores Starting Saturday

Walmart announced it will limit the number of people inside its stores at the same time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All Walmart stores across the United States, starting on Saturday, will start to monitor the number of people who are allowed inside the store.
“Starting Saturday, we will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity,” according to a release.
Store employees will start a line at a single-entry door and will tell customers to go there to queue. They will then be allowed in the store one-by-one, according to the company.
“Associates and signage will remind customers of the importance of social distancing while they’re waiting to enter a store–especially before it opens in the morning,” the store wrote.
Customers will be admitted inside one at a time when a store reaches capacity.
“We’ll also institute one-way movement through our aisles next week in a number of our stores, using floor markers and direction from associates. We expect this to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop,” the Arkansas-based retailer said.
“And once customers check out, they will be directed to exit through a different door than they entered, which should help lessen the instances of people closely passing each other,” it said.
Some Walmarts this week have already started implementing the measures this week.

Target has announced similar measures to curb the COVID-19 spread. (Illustration – Shutterstock)
“We want to encourage customers to bring the fewest number of people per family necessary to shop, allow for space with other customers while shopping, and practice social distancing while waiting in lines. We’re also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control—which has created some confusion regarding shopping,” the chain explained.
Target on Thursday announced a similar measure to promote social distancing as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus continues to spread.
The Minneapolis-based firm wrote in a news release that starting April 4, it “will actively monitor and, when needed, meter guest traffic in its nearly 1,900 stores nationwide to promote social distancing.”
If a store has to limit shoppers, a “designated waiting area outside with social distancing markers” will be used, the chain said.
“The measures we’re announcing today are aimed at ensuring we are creating a safe environment for the guests who continue to turn to Target, while also providing our team with additional resources as they fulfill an essential service in communities across the country,” John Mulligan, Target’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

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Supreme Court Postpones April Oral Arguments

The Supreme Court has postponed another session of oral arguments in order to comply with guidance to mitigate the spread of the CCP virus pandemic.
The top court said in a statement that oral arguments scheduled between April 20-29 are postponed in keeping with public health guidance. This comes after the court postponed a number of cases scheduled for the March session, including oral arguments in challenges to assess President Donald Trump’s financial records.
There are 15 deaths and 757 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease the CCP virus causes, in Washington as of Thursday, according to state officials. Meanwhile, the surrounding states, Maryland and Virginia, have more than 2,000 cases each.
The court did not indicate when the arguments will resume this term but stated that it will consider rescheduling some postponed cases from the March and April sessions before the term ends if circumstances permit.
The court also said it is open to considering “a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the term,” but it did not specify the types of alternatives it was considering. Some federal and state courts have turned to video and telephone conferences for oral arguments during the pandemic.

The Supreme Court in Washington on March 10, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Decisions on cases that have already been argued will continue to be released on the court’s website. The court also emphasized that the justices will proceed to hold their private conferences to consider issues, like cases, to be added to the docket.
Some of the cases (pdf) impacted by the postponement include two cases on the enforceability of state laws against “faithless electors” and an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor on the contraception mandate.
Earlier on Friday, the court spokeswoman told reporters that all justices are healthy and took part in their regular private conference via phone.
The CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has shown to be more dangerous to the elderly and six of the nine justices are 65 years or older. Only Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Elena Kagan are under the age of 65. Meanwhile, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Clarence Thomas are over 70.
The court building also remains closed to the public but will be opened for official business.
As of Friday, there are more than 270,ooo confirmed cases of the virus across the United States and over 6,900 deaths as well as nearly 9,500 recoveries, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

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Former Southern California Admissions Official to Plead Guilty for Faking Transcripts for Students From China

A former admissions official accused of helping students from China cheat their way into the University of Southern California’s graduate school has agreed to plead guilty to a federal wire fraud charge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Hiu Kit David Chong, an assistant director at the UCS’s Office of Graduate Admissions from 2008 to 2016, admitted in his plea agreement that in exchange for money, he placed “college transcripts with inflated grades, phony letters of recommendation and fraudulent personal statements” into the admissions packets of those otherwise unqualified Chinese students.
Chong, even after he left the USC, continued to promise to students from China that he could help them get admitted into the graduate degree program at the university. He bought forged college transcripts purporting to be from Chinese universities with falsely inflated GPAs, and submitted those phony documents along with fabricated letters of recommendation and personal statements to the USC.
In an undercover operation in July 2017, an FBI agent disguised as a friend of a Chinese national sent Chong an e-mail with the subject line “Help to get in university,” reported USC Anneberg Media, citing court documents. The agent asked Chong to help get his fictitious friend’s son “Lin Guoqiang” into an American college with a mediocre GPA of 2.1. Chong informed the agent the following year that he had submitted an application on behalf of Guoqiang with a 3.47 GPA.
Chong charged the FBI agent $8,500 for helping non-existent Guoqiang get admitted to USC. In all, Chong admitted to helping three unqualified international students gain admission to USC and collecting approximately $40,000, including from the undercover FBI agent.
“The university has cooperated with the government’s investigation,” the USC wrote in a statement to Annenberg Media. “Chong concealed these actions from the university and continued engaging in them for two-and-a-half years after he left USC. Based on what we know, these actions were isolated to one rogue former employee.”
Chong’s attorney Stanley L. Friedman told Annenberg Media during an interview that his client was living in China until recently.
“He hopes that the court will find mitigation in the fact that he is very remorseful for what he did and voluntarily came back from China to handle the charges of the case,” Friedman said.
According to the terms of the deal, Chong will plead guilty to one count of wire fraud, which is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

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Pennsylvania Governor Asks All Residents to Wear Masks in Public

Pennsylvania residents are suggested to wear a cloth mask in public to curb the spread of COVID-19, said Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday, becoming the first U.S. governor to make such a recommendation.
Wolf noted that the Trump administration is readying guidelines on wearing face masks and called on Pennsylvanians to make their own and wear them when they are out in public, namely at the grocery store, pharmacy, and other places where people gather.
“Wearing a mask will help us cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander, like that grocery store cashier, the pharmacist, or someone stocking shelves,” Wolf said during a video news conference, via WPVI. “These folks are keeping us alive by getting us the supplies we need. We owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them safe. Right now, that means wearing a mask.”
Amid a shortage of N95 respirators during the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic, residents should not buy them, he said. Those masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, the governor said.
Wolf added in the news conference that masks are not a substitute for the social distancing measures that were put in place.
“Masks help prevent people from sharing illnesses. But, they don’t do a great job at keeping people from getting sick and they’re not foolproof, so it is critical that our first act is to ask ourselves if we really need to leave our house. If we don’t really, truly need to leave, then we shouldn’t,” he said.
Homemade Masks
The state’s Department of Health posted guidance (pdf) on “homemade masks” on its website.
“Homemade masks made out of fabric and cloth are not considered” personal protective equipment, according to the website.

A shopper and cashier both wear masks and gloves and the cashier also has on a plastic visor at the checkout station Pat’s Farms grocery store in Merrick, New York, on March 31, 2020. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
But homemade masks such as a scarf or bandana can limit the spread of droplets containing the CCP virus.
“When a homemade mask can’t be acquired a scarf or bandana can be utilized. By implementing community use of these homemade fabric or cloth masks, everyone will have a higher degree of protection from this virus,” the department said.
Wearing such a mask, the department said, might be helpful for shopping at essential businesses, visiting a doctor or hospital, using public transportation, interacting with people at businesses, or when feeling sick.
“Because homemade masks protect everyone else from the droplets created by the wearer, it is important that as many people as possible wear these masks when leaving their homes. This helps prevent those who may be infectious but are only mildly symptomatic or not symptomatic from spreading the virus to others in the community. Everyone should remember the phrase ‘my mask protects you, your mask protects me,’” it said.
There are also online tutorials for making face masks on YouTube and on other websites. Online retailers, including Etsy, are selling cloth masks.
So far, more than 8,400 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state, while more than 100 deaths have been reported, according to online tallies.

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NJ Governor Authorizes Police to Seize Ventilators and Masks

New Jersey state police are now authorized to seize medical supplies and equipment such as ventilators and masks from private companies if they are needed in hospitals as they battle with COVID-19.
Governor Phil Murphy signed the order on April 2, which uses his full authority under the New Jersey Disaster Control Act to commandeer personal services, real estate, or personal property.
The move was followed today by a similar announcement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said state officials will be able to seize ventilators from hospitals and other institutions that officials decide don’t need them.
With 646 deaths, New Jersey has the second-highest death toll among the states, trailing only neighboring New York, where today the death toll hit 2,935.
Unsurprisingly, the New Jersey cases are heavily skewed into the heavily populated eastern edge that borders Manhattan and forms part of the New York Metropolitan Area—the largest urban area in the United States.
The New Jersey governer’s order follows an earlier executive order which demanded companies provide an inventory of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, ventilators, and anesthesia machines.
“We have a tough, tough road ahead of us and it’s already proven to be a tough road. But look at the lives, the hundreds of lives lost. The numbers are going to keep going up,” Gov. Murphy said in a statement.
Officials said that they hoped that companies would step forward without the state interventing, but that they would step in if needed.
Four FEMA field hospitals are to be set up in the state.

The governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, places the first bet at the William Hill Sports Book at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., on June 14, 2018. (Kotinsky/Getty Images for William Hill Race & Sports Bar )
Many states, along with many European countries, are rushing to procure and manufacture ventilators and personal protective gear before the COVID-19 peak sweeps in.
Ventilator Shortage in New York
In New York, some officials have said as many as 40,000 ventilators will be needed. New York currently has around 12,700 ventilators, according to figures given by state officials in recent days, and it has ordered 17,000 more.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday the city only has enough ventilators until early next week.

“I don’t know after Sunday if we’re going to have what we need, and that’s just the ventilators” de Blasio told CNN, adding that New York City can “only get to Monday or Tuesday at this point. We don’t know after that.”
Ventilators used to cost around $20,000 each but the cost has spiked to around $50,000 amid the pandemic.
New York has, by far, the most cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the country.
A number of clothing companies such as Under Armour, Brooks Brothers, MyPillow, Honeywell, and Gap have shifted production to masks.
President Trump last week used the Defense Production Act to lean on GM to speed up the production of ventilators it was already contracted to make for the government.
In a statement, Trump said, “Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time.”
GM has partnered with Ventec Life Systems, a manufacturer of the ventilators, to expand the production capacity for the devices.
“Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for weeks to meet this urgent need,” GM stated in an emailed response to Trump’s announcement. “Our commitment to build Ventec’s high-quality critical care ventilator, VOCSN, has never wavered.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
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Louisiana Chief Justice Calls on Courts to Reduce Jail Populations Amid Pandemic

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s chief justice has called on courts throughout the state to reduce inmate populations in parish jails in an effort to prevent the spread of the CCP virus.
Chief Justice Bernette Johnson wrote a letter to state district judges urging them to “safely minimize the number of people detained in jails where possible.” She asked the judges to work with prosecutors, public defenders, and sheriffs to conduct a “heightened risk-based assessment” of all detainees to see whether alternatives to jail would be a better option.
Johnson issued a set of guidelines that judges could consider, including a nominal bail amount or a release on recognizance order for people charged with misdemeanor crimes, other than domestic abuse battery; a modification to a release and supervised probation or time served for people convicted of a misdemeanor crime; a reduction in bail obligation or a release on a recognizance order for people charged with a non-violent offense; and to consider whether bail revisions are appropriate for others who have been charged in other criminal matters.
She also asked judges to suggest to law enforcement, whenever practicable, that they issue summons and citations for misdemeanor crimes and non-violent offense instead of arrest, with a notice to appear in the future.
“During this very challenging time, the health of thousands of people is dependent on you, the District Judges of Louisiana,” Johnson wrote (pdf).
Similarly, Tennessee’s Supreme Court chief justice has also been considering the reduction of the local jail population as a measure to stop the spread of the pandemic.
Chief Justice Jeff Bivins ordered judges in each district to submit a plan for a reduction in the local jail population and to work with “local law enforcement, prosecutors, and public defenders to review their local jail populations and make reductions when possible.”
“Reduction in local jail populations is a critical component in controlling the spread of COVID-19,” Bivins said in a statement on March 25.
“There are low-risk, non-violent offenders who can safely be released and supervised by other means to reduce local jail populations. Judges, law enforcement, and attorneys must work together to identify and create an action plan to address this issue,” he added.
This comes during a time public health experts and advocacy groups are raising concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in state and federal prisons across the country. They say many prisons are overcrowded and inmates often have limited access to products such as hand sanitizer and soap.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus in prisons, several states have begun or have committed to releasing inmates, including in New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In federal prisons, the Bureau of Prisons said prisoners have begun a two-week confinement to their cells or quarters in order to stop the spread.
Attorney General William Barr is also considering releasing some older low-risk prisoners for home confinement in an attempt to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in federal prisons.
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IRS Sounds Alarm on Virus-Related Phishing Scams

Tax authorities are warning Americans that cybercriminals are likely to exploit the COVID-19 crisis to target them with new types of hacks and scams.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said in a statement on Thursday that its Criminal Investigation Division discovered “a wave of new and evolving phishing schemes against taxpayers” that could lead to identity theft and tax-related fraud.
To avoid being scammed, Americans should be especially wary of schemes tied to economic impact payments. An immediate red flag should be correspondence with the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment,” the IRS said, because the official term is “economic impact payment.”
“We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
Seniors, in particular, should exercise greater caution at this time. No one from the IRS would be contacting retirees in any form about the economic impact payment, sometimes also referred to as a rebate. Officials said seniors that don’t typically have to file a tax return would get the $1,200 economic impact payment automatically.

Internal Revenue Service Headquarters Building in Washington on Sept. 19, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Tax officials warned of a probable surge of calls and email phishing attempts related to COVID-19, the disease the CCP virus causes.
“That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information,” Rettig said in the statement.
Taxpayers were advised not just be careful with emails but to bear in mind that criminals might embed phishing links in text messages, on websites, and in social media communications. Clicking a link or opening an attachment may install malware, like viruses, ransomware, or spyware.
“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort.
Scammers might try ask taxpayers to sign over their economic impact payment check to them, or ask for verification of personal or banking information. Criminals might claim that by giving this information, people will get their relief check faster.
“While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant,” Fort said.
Typically, the IRS will deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account that the agency has on file from previously filed tax returns.
People who did not provide direct deposit information earlier to the IRS will be able to do so on a secure website at IRS.gov.
The agency said it would mail a check to the address on file if it does not have a taxpayer’s direct deposit information.
Officials also said criminals might mail bogus physical checks to people and ask them to call a number or go online and provide information to cash it.
Other scams could involve criminals claiming they could work on behalf of their victims to process an economic impact payment faster. This could be done in person or on social media, the IRS warns.
“Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov,” the agency said.
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Businessman Sheldon Adelson Announces Plan to Pay Workers for 2 Months, Urges Others to Follow Lead

Business mogul Sheldon Adelson will pay workers for two months despite his businesses being closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he announced this week.
Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands resort-hotels are shut down but he said he’s still paying every one of his nearly 10,000 workers as though they were still working.
“I hope to do that right up until the time that we can reopen our businesses. It’s not only the right thing to do—it’s good business,” he wrote in an op-ed in the New York Post.
The 86-year-old has a net worth of 27.9 billion.
Adelson recounted growing up poor and said he didn’t want his workers wondering where their family’s next meal would come from. He praised President Donald Trump, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom for “taking decisive actions” during the pandemic before urging fellow corporate executives to step up and follow his lead.
“The coming weeks will be tough, and the months that follow will be unsteady. To my fellow business leaders, let us lead by example. I will gladly participate in an ongoing discussion with each of you on ways we can work together to protect this nation’s workforce. Let us prove the greatness, compassion and resiliency of this country, once again,” he wrote.
Adelson, who donates to the Republican party and candidates, also had two million masks produced in China, along with 20,000 protective suits, and said he would donate them to hospitals in New York and Nevada.

An exterior view shows guest rooms at Wynn Las Vegas in Nevada on March 31, 2020. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
“Hopefully our donations will help protect people on the front lines so they can continue their invaluable work, and we can start to see the numbers of people affected begin to diminish,” Adelson said in a statement.
Wynn Resorts, owned by Steve Wynn, announced on Wednesday it would pay all employees through May 15 for a total of 60 days of payroll continuance.
“It is our shared responsibility to follow the direction of health and safety professionals to stay home, and limit social contact,” said Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox in a statement. “We owe it to each other, our families and to our community.”
Other moguls have helped contribute to the CCP virus response effort. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and one of the richest men in the world, said on Thursday he’d donate $100 million to food banks across the United States.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
“Even in ordinary times, food insecurity in American households is an important problem, and unfortunately COVID-19 is amplifying that stress significantly,” Bezos said a statement. “Millions of Americans are turning to food banks during this time.”
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Republican Lawmakers Introduce ‘Global Public Health Accountability Act’

Congressman John Curtis (R-Utah), announced Friday that he has joined with fellow Republicans to introduce a bill that would hold accountable any foreign official who tried to hide public health information related to COVID-19 during its early phase or any official who would hide future outbreaks.
“The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act—named after the heroic Chinese doctor whistleblower—will ensure that dictators and their cronies think twice before once allowing a local health crisis spiral out of control into a pandemic that endangers the globe,” Curtis said while introducing the bill last week with cosponsors Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mont.).
Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who blew the whistle on the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus—commonly known as the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19—ultimately succumbed to the disease after contracting it from a patient he was treating. The Republicans will be introducing the bill in the Senate in the near future.
“As Dr. Li Wenliang said, ‘A Healthy Society Shouldn’t Only Have One Voice,’” Curtis said. “By suppressing critical public health information, officials in China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and elsewhere have demonstrated they care more about maintaining their grip on power than the health and wellbeing of their people.”
In a press statement, Curtis explained how foreign officials will be held accountable if they are found to be endangering global public health.
“The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act would sanction any foreign senior official responsible for deliberately concealing vital public health data concerning the outbreak of a disease with the potential to become a pandemic. It would also sanction any official who profited off of the concealment of information, and anyone acting on their behalf. Sanctions include the revoking of visas and the seizing of assets.”
When the virus first threatened China, the CCP was not responsive to international requests to learn about the virus and the outbreak. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the United States had been trying to send a group of experts to understand the outbreak’s transmission and severity since Jan. 6. However, the United States’ repeated offers were left unanswered for a month. The Chinese regime eventually agreed to allow the World Health Organization (WHO) to send a group of international experts to study the virus in late January. This came after WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus returned from a visit from China full of praise for the regime’s response efforts.
Meanwhile, the regime silenced individuals from raising the alarm about the burgeoning outbreak. When multiple Wuhan doctors attempted to warn their colleagues and the public about a “pneumonia with an unknown cause,” later known to be the CCP virus, authorities attempted to silence them and reprimanded them for “rumor-mongering.” The most notable of them was Wenliang.
Other lawmakers have also started voicing their concerns over Beijing’s mishandling of the virus in the early stages.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) recently introduced a bipartisan House resolution, HR 907, to condemn the CCP for intentionally downplaying the outbreak through censorship and disinformation.
Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) are also calling for an international investigation into how the CCP’s initial handling of the virus may have endangered the United States and the rest of the world.
“It is time for an international investigation into the role their coverup played in the spread of this devastating pandemic,” Hawley said, in a joint press release with Stefanik.
“The CCP must be held to account for what the world is now suffering.”
Janita Kan contributed to this report

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Google Launches Movement Tracking Tool To Help Fight Pandemic

Google has launched a movement tracking tool aimed at helping public health officials combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
As health officials seek to evaluate and optimize response strategies like social distancing, Google’s new COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports intends to provide insights into how policies like work-from-home and shelter-in-place, aimed at flattening the curve of the pandemic, are impacting peoples’ movement and behavior.
“We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19,” said two Google executives, Jen Fitzpatrick, SVP Geo, and Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer at Google Health, in an April 3 announcement.
The tech giant said the reports would initially cover 131 countries and regions, and use aggregated and anonymized data.

A student works on a home schooling project in New Rochelle, New York, on March 18, 2020. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Google insists the tool meets stringent privacy protections and the information it generates will contain no personally identifiable information.
“For these reports, we use differential privacy, which adds artificial noise to our datasets enabling high quality results without identifying any individual person,” the executives said in the announcement, adding that the data comes from users who have switched on the Location History setting on their devices, which is off by default. People who do not wish to have their data be used for this purpose can turn off the location feature and delete their Location History data.
The mobility reports will be broken down according to time and location and across categories of places like retail, recreation, groceries, pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential areas.
For example, a March 29 report (pdf) covering all of the United States shows a 47 percent drop in retail and recreation activity and a 51 percent drop in transit stations compared to a pre-outbreak baseline. At the same time, it shows that residential areas saw a 12 percent uptick in activity, suggesting shelter-in-place policies are having an effect.
Still, despite data protection measures in effect, the tool feeds into the debate over privacy.
Mark Skilton, director of the Artificial Intelligence Innovation Network at Warwick Business School in the UK, told CBS that Google’s decision to use public data “raises a key conflict between the need for mass surveillance to effectively combat the spread of coronavirus and the issues of confidentiality, privacy, and consent concerning any data obtained.”
“COVID-19 is an emergency on such a huge scale that, if anonymity is managed appropriately, internet giants and social media platforms could play a responsible part in helping to build collective crowd intelligence for social good, rather than profit,” Skilton told the outlet.
On March 28, the Wall Street Journal reported that mobile advertising companies were sharing data with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local governments, to supply officials with insights into the outbreak. Similarly aggregated and anonymized, the data intends to help officials respond more effectively.
Similarly, infectious disease researchers are using Facebook’s mobile location data to provide daily updates to U.S. cities and states evaluating the effectiveness of social distancing orders.
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Robert F. Kennedy’s Granddaughter, Young Son Missing in Maryland

The granddaughter of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and her young son were both reported missing by the influential political family in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
A Kennedy family spokesperson told CBS that Maeve Kennedy McKean, 41, and her 8-year-old son, Gideon, were last seen in a canoe off Chesapeake Bay on Thursday evening.
“At this time our family asks for privacy and that everyone keep Maeve and Gideon in their prayers,” the family said in a statement to the network.
They had rowed a canoe out at 4 p.m. to retrieve a ball that was kicked into the water by children in the yard, according to her husband, David McKean.
“They just got farther out then they could handle, and couldn’t get back in,” husband David McKean told the Washington Post.
Kennedy McKean is the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy and is the daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who had served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor.
Emergency services told the paper that they received calls at 4:30 p.m. about two people in a canoe trying to return to the shore. Later, an overturned canoe matching the same one that went missing was retrieved, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources police.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan confirmed the two went missing during the start of a news conference on Friday.
“I spoke with the former Lieutenant Governor and, on behalf of the people of Maryland, I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies to her and to her entire family,” he said during the conference.
Officials said the conditions were windy at the time.
“At 4:30 p.m., our 911 Center received a call from a concerned citizen,” Anne Arundel County Fire Department said in a statement to the Post. “The caller stated he saw two people in a small canoe or kayak drifting in the bay. A water rescue assignment was dispatched to the area bringing marine resources to the area. Firefighters arrived at the pier and confirmed the sighting of two people in a small vessel several miles from the pier drifting south in the Chesapeake Bay.”
The Kennedy family has a history of tragic incidents, including the deaths of Robert F. Kennedy and former President John F. Kennedy. The president’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., and his wife died in a plane crash in July 1999.

In this Sept. 20, 2016, photo, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, right, granddaughter of Ethel Kennedy and her late husband Robert F. Kennedy, holds a relative’s baby before a ceremony for naming the Robert Kennedy Navy Ship at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Robert F. Kennedy’s son, David, died of a drug overdose in 1984, and another son, Michael, died in a skiing accident in the late 1990s.
Last year, Saoirse Roisin Kennedy Hill, who is also the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, died at the family compound in Massachusetts.

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Anyone Near Trump, Pence Will Given Rapid CCP Virus Test: White House

The White House said on Friday that anyone who will be near President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a rapid test to see if they have COVID-19, the new disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“As the physician to the president and White House Operations continue to protect the health and safety of the president and vice president, starting today anyone who is expected to be in close proximity to either of them will be administered a COVID-19 test,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
The test will “evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,” he added.
The White House didn’t immediately return a request for more details.

President Donald Trump holds up the results of his CCP virus test in the press briefing room with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in Washington on April 2, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trump told reporters late Thursday that he took a second test to see if he had the new virus. Both tests returned negative.
“It took me literally a minute to take it,” he said.
Results came back in around 15 minutes, he said.
“I think I took it, really, out of curiosity to see how quickly it worked and fast it worked, and it’s a lot easier. I’ve done them both. And the second one is much more pleasant,” he added.
Trump was first tested on March 14. His daughter Ivanka Trump, a senior advisor to the president, and wife Melania Trump, the first lady, are among those close to Trump who have also been tested. No one in Trump’s cabinet has tested positive, nor have any senior advisors.
Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence were tested last month after one of Pence’s aides tested positive. The vice president and his wife tested negative.
The White House began screening reporters who attend daily briefings given by Trump, Pence, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force for elevated temperatures in March and fewer reporters have been attending the briefings.
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