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.
Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab

Continue viewing...

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.”

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.”
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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 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.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

Continue viewing...

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.”
Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.”

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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 […]

Continue viewing...

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 […]

Continue viewing...

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 […]

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

Wisconsin voters go the polls Tuesday in Biden, Sanders primary, after dramatic day of legal moves

Polls are open Tuesday for the Wisconsin presidential primary, following a dramatic day in which the governor and the country’s highest court intervened as a result of the coronavirus. 
Voters will pick between Democratic candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and front-running Joe Biden, the former vice president who has a seemingly insurmountable delegate-count lead.
The race for the Democratic presidential nomination has in recent weeks and months faded from the national attention, as the fatal coronavirus sweeps across the country and Americans stay indoors trying to slow the spread and largely focus on other news like the virus death tolls and whether their city might be the next hotspot. 
On Monday, Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tried with an executive order to postpone in-person voting by two months – as a result of stay-at-home mandates. But within hours, the state Supreme Court ruled Evers does not possess the authority to delay such voting, so the state’s primary will still be held on Tuesday. 
The ruling was followed by the Supreme issuing a 5-4 ruling that Wisconsin cannot have extended absentee voting. The decision overturns a U.S. district judge’s ruling that added six days to absentee voting for the state.
Biden leads Sanders in the officials delegate count 1,196 to 883, in the race to 1,991 to win the nomination at the party convention in Milwaukee, which has been postponed from mid-July to August 17.

Continue viewing...

'Violent, ruthless' al-Shabaab leader killed by U.S. strike in Somalia

American military forces killed a key al-Shabaab terror group leader in an airstrike in Somalia last week, U.S. Africa Command said Tuesday.
The leader, Yusuf Jiis, was one of three enemy fighters killed in a joint, April 2 strike with the Federal Government of Somalia. The strike took place near Bush Madina, about 135 miles west of the capital city of Mogadishu.
Jiis was a foundational member of al-Shabaab and held key positions within the group, according to AFRICOM.
“This individual was a key leader in the al-Shabaab organization,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, who leads the command. “He was violent, ruthless, and responsible for the loss of many innocent lives. His removal makes Somalia and neighboring countries safer.”     
Another AFRICOM official, Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, said that the terrorist, fundamentalist jihadi group continues to present a significant threat to peace in the region.
“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 Gayler, the AFRICOM director of operations. “Putting pressure on this network helps contain their ambition and desire to cause harm and destruction.”
“Al Shabaab is the largest and most violent of al Qaeda’s branches worldwide,” Townsend said earlier this year at the African Land Forces Summit in Ethiopia. “They have attacked innocent civilians throughout the region and have a desire to attack Americans and U.S. interests in the world. It’s our job to prevent that.”
The missions against al-Shabaab continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, AFRICOM leaders said.
“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.                 
Roughly 500 American troops are now in Somalia. Among them are special operations troops who train the Danab Brigade of Somalia’s special forces. Others launch the air strikes.
“American air support is key,” Somalia’s ambassador to the United States, Ali Ahmed, recently said. “The drone attacks have increased under (President) Trump.”

Continue viewing...

N.J. Gov. Murphy further tightens restrictions on day of highest-ever coronavirus deaths

Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday he’s extending New Jersey’s coronavirus public-health emergency by 30 days.
Murphy, speaking at a daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, said that he ordered all state and county parks closed and extended the closure of all public schools “indefinitely.”
“We want to make sure this continues our current footing,” Murphy said.
New Jersey — a state of 9 million residents — now has at least 44,416 cases and at least 1,232 deaths, Murphy announced.
New Jersey has the second highest COVID-19 cases, after New York and more than all but eight countries. Federal officials have identified New Jersey as a coronavirus “hotspot” in America.

Continue viewing...

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham to leave post: report

White House press Secretary Stephanie Grisham will reportedly leave her position as President Trump’s chief spokesperson.
Grisham will reportedly return to the East Wing of the White House to work for first lady Melania Trump, for whom she worked prior to her present role, according to Politico.
Grisham has been in her current position for less than a year, she maintained a lower-profile throughout than her predecessors Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer. She did not hold a press briefing during her tenure in office. 
President Trump’s new Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is fielding several candidates for the position. Top contenders reportedly include Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for the Trump 2020 campaign, and Alyssa Farah, the current spokeswoman for the Department of Defense.

Continue viewing...

Cuomo reports New York has its largest one-day increase in deaths since pandemic

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the state saw it largest daily increase in coronavirus deaths — the largest single-day increase in deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic.
But there are signs the outbreak is slowing. 
He reports another 731 coronavirus deaths in New York, and comes even as the three-day average of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions are dropping, Cuomo said.
“Behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, is a brother, is a sister. So, a lot of pain again today,” he said at a press conference in Albany.
In total, more than 5,400 New Yorkers have died from the virus. In all, there have been more than 138,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the state.

Continue viewing...

All Things Trump: Aid to U.K., Navy ship intervention and media battles

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday has reportedly been taken to the intensive care unit as he continues suffering from the coronavirus.
Related Stories

Read more here.

-Trump says he’ll intervene in the Navy case of the T Roosevelt ship
-White House continues dispute w/press over access to briefing room 

Continue viewing...

House Armed Services chairman calls for Trump to fire Navy secretary

House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) is calling for acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to resign for his criticism Monday of ex-Capt. Brett Crozier, who Modly fired last week for his handling of a coronavirus outbreak on his ship.
Modly told the crew of the USS Roosevelt, that their former captain “native and stupid” for having wrote a letter requesting assistance due to coronavirus cases on the ship.
“There is no, no situation where you go to the media, because the media has an agenda and the agenda that they have depends on which part of the political aisle they sit,” Modly said in the leaked audio recording. “And I’m sorry that’s the way the country is now, but that’s the truth and so they use it to divide us. They use it to embarrass the Navy.”
Smith characterized Modley’s decision to remove Crozier “at best an overreaction to the extraordinary steps” that Crozier took to “protect” his crew on the ship. “Acting Secretary Modly’s decision to address the sailors on the Roosevelt and personally attack Captain Crozier shows a tone-deaf approach more focused on personal ego than one of the calm, steady leadership we so desperately need in this crisis,” Smith said in a statement. “I no longer have confidence in Acting Secretary Modly’s leadership of the Navy and believe he should be removed from his position.”
Other Democrats including Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have called for Modly to resign or be removed.

Continue viewing...

University of Pittsburgh scientists vaccine trial shows promise

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have announced successful work on a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
The test subjects are generating a surge of antibodies against the coronavirus within 14 days of the “micro-needle” patch. The vaccine has, of now, only been tested in mice.
In the micro-needle process, unlike a flu shot, an individual is given a finger-tip sized patch of 400 needles that dissolves into the skin.
The vaccine, which they are calling PittCoVacc, is the result of work by scientists who had worked on the SARS and MERS outbreaks in 2003 and 2014, respectively.
“These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” said Andrea Gambotto, a co-senior author of the paper and associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine.
The authors of the study are currently applying for an investigational new drug approval from the FDA. They hope to start a phase 1 human clinical trial in the next few months.
Though testing in human patients would usually require at least 12 months and probably longer, these doctors are unsure of how this situation will play out, due to the urgent nature of the pandemic.

Continue viewing...

Coronavirus Update: Japan declares state of emergency, New York considers mass graves

More than 175 countries now have confirmed coronavirus cases, with Japan declaring a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other regions to slow the virus spread. 
The worldwide scope of the deadly virus hit home for many around the world Monday with the announcement that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care as he tries to recover from the infection.
New York remains the epicenter of the virus, with projections that the peak infection date for the state – and elsewhere around the country – will be April 16. 
The number of virus-related deaths is now at 10,938, with 4,786 of them in New York alone. New York city, densely populated with roughly 8.6 million people, has been the hardest hit city in the U.S.
Temporary hospitals have been set up across the city to help treat the sick, with officials considering mass graves to help morgues attend to the hundreds of dead bodies as a result of the virus. However, U.S. officials and health experts have expressed optimism about the rate of infection slowing in New York. They also project that the number of deaths in the country could reach 150,000 to 200,000. 

Continue viewing...

Navy Secretary issues apology, following incendiary comments aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt

Just hours after harshly worded comments from acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly were leaked to the press, the Naval leader issued an apology to ex-Capt. Brett Crozier and the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Modly’s comments were reportedly broadcast over the ship’s speaker system, addressing the firing of Crozier following a leaked letter he had written about the ship’s struggle with a coronavirus outbreak.
Modly had initially said that Crozier’s actions were either “naive” or “stupid,” or a deliberate plot to cause a media frenzy over conditions on the ship.
The head of the Navy clarified, “Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive nor stupid … I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming emailing with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship.”
“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,” Modly also said in his apology.

Continue viewing...

Harlem Hospital nurses protest over lack of protective gear

Dozens of health care workers rallied outside Harlem Hospital in New York City on Monday, demanding better protection from COVID-19.
“This isn’t a sob story. This is not a story about desperation,” said Sarah Dowd, a registered nurse at the hospital.  “This is a story about the fight for our lives.”
Standing six feet from each other outside the municipal hospital, nurses accused hospital management of limiting their access to personal protective equipment, including N95 masks. The group outlined other demands, including longer sick time for health care workers and adequate staffing, including respiratory therapists, technicians and social workers.
“Patients before profits,” read a sign.
“Who will care for you when we are dead?” said another.

Continue viewing...

Small government governors steadfast on not issuing stay-at-home orders

Despite calls for action to the contrary, President Trump has resisted issuing a nationwide shelter-in-place order, stating repeatedly that he prefers to put such decisions into the hands of governors.
As of last week, about 90% of the U.S. population was under some type of state- or city-mandated stay-at-home order, but nine states have issued no such order.
Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming are all holding out on shutting down completely, as residents take it upon themselves to be careful about spreading the novel coronavirus.
None of the states resisting shelter-in-place orders are considered hotbeds for the infectious disease. All are governed by Republicans, who, to some degree campaigned on belief in small government.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem spoke last week about her state’s response to the pandemic.
“The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety,” she said. “They’re free to exercise their rights to work, to worship and to play. Or to even stay at home, or to conduct social distancing.”
Noem has also tried to draw a distinction between her state and geographic locations being hit hard by the virus.
“South Dakota is not New York City,” she said. “t’s so important not to turn on the news and look at NYC and think that that’s what Lemmon, South Dakota, is going to face in a month, it’s absolutely nor true.”
Noem has also been critical politicians who act as though the pandemic is hitting all states equally.
“The calls to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to this problem is herd mentality, not leadership,” the governor said. 
Supporters of some states not having stay-at-home orders argue they’re holding up the U.S. economy, which has largely, otherwise shuttered. Another argument is several of the states are agriculture based, helping keep the U.S. food supply running.
Nevertheless, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams this past weekend asked states without a 30-day, shelter-in-place plan to consider a 7-day order. 
“Ninety percent of Americans are doing their part, even in the states where they haven’t had a shelter-in-place,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But If you can’t give us 30 days, governors, 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.” 
Though none of the governors has yet to change course, most businesses in their states have modified their business plans to observe social distancing.
Restaurants have largely converted themselves to take-out and drive-through only. Childcare centers that remain open are only supervising the children of essential workers. Car dealerships are requiring their employees to remain six feet away from customers.
Precautions are being taken without direct state intervention. An end date for the pandemic is not yet in site, with that in mind, these governors are attempting to ensure that life for the residents of their states remains cautious but tenable for the foreseeable future.

Continue viewing...

Warning for Biden: former VP near bottom in survey ranking Democratic leadership during coronavirus

In a warning sign for Joe Biden, the former vice president finished near the bottom of a survey of American voters looking at which Democratic leaders have shown leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen.
Just 6% of Americans surveyed ranked Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, as the top Democratic official for coronavirus leadership, compared to 30% for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 12% for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, 9% for Biden’s main primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and 7% for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Governor Cuomo has been front and center on the coronavirus story since New York is the epicenter of the U.S. caseload,” Rasmussen said. “He has worked with — and periodically praised — President Trump. Despite the highly partisan nature of 21st century politics, Cuomo is seen by 30% of voters as the best Democratic leader during the crisis. That includes 35% of Democrats. In fact, Cuomo leads the field among just about every measured demographic group (though Sanders edges him by 2 points among voters under 35).”
Some observers say that Biden is lagging behind Cuomo, who called for a post-partisan response to coronavirus, in part because the former VP was late to shed his strident voice in opposition to President Trump’s leadership in combatting COVID-19 in favor of a more cooperative tone. 
“Biden does best among African-American voters, trailing Cuomo by just four points (20% to 16%) and leading all other contenders,” Rasmussen said. “In most demographic categories, he trails his top competition for the nomination, Senator Sanders. Normally, a political party’s nominee becomes the chief spokesperson for the party, the voice of the party. So far, in the eyes of voters, Biden has failed to fill that role.”
Cuomo’s favorability rating sharply rose to 71% among New Yorkers during the pandemic — an increase of 27% from the prior month. President Trump has even quipped that Cuomo would be a more formidable presidential campaign opponent than Biden.
“The poll highlights one of the reasons some Democrats are pining for Cuomo to become the Democratic nominee,” Rasmussen said. “However, it is hard to see that happening in 2020.”
Respondents were asked: “Which of the following Democratic officials has provided the best leadership in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?” Responses were ranked as below:
30% Governor Andrew Cuomo
12% Governor Gavin Newsom
9% Senator Bernie Sanders
7% House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
6% Former Vice President Joe Biden
2% Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
34% Not Sure
The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted April 2-5, 2020 by Rasmussen, a polling veteran. Margin of sampling error: +/- 2.8% for full sample. 
To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click below:

Continue viewing...

McConnell planning on Thursday vote for additional aid to small businesses

Despite most of the Senate being away from Washington, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is attempting to prepare a bill for an additional $250 billion to help small businesses across the country. 
“It is quickly becoming clear that Congress will need to provide more funding or this crucial program may run dry,” McConnell said Tuesday. “That cannot happen.”
The $2.2 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed last month included $350 billion for small business relief under the Paycheck Protection Program.
The bill may be brought to the floor as soon as Thursday.
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, chairman of the Small Business Committee, estimated that the additional package will cost $200 billion to $250 billion.
There are already talks in Washington about a fourth stimulus package focused on a variety of issues including the health care system and American infrastructure.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the phase four bill will “easily” top $1 trillion.
President Trump as recently as Monday expressed interest in infrastructure-related legislation. 

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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!
— 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.

Continue viewing...

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.”
— 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!
— 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.”

Continue viewing...

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. 

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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.”

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.”

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.”
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

An Unhealthy Military Is Struggling to Fight COVID-19

An outbreak on an aircraft carrier. Infections in basic training. Office-bound contractors unable to work from home. The coronavirus has hit the military-industrial complex, and this is not an enemy it knows how to fight.The U.S. armed forces and their supporting industries, with people wedged into shared barracks or in 96-person ship berths sleeping inches away from one another, are especially vulnerable to the spread of the virus. The military is also the world’s largest employer, with more than 3 million on the Defense Department payroll alone—not even counting legions of contractors that assist the entire enterprise.
The virus now threatens to be deadlier to U.S. citizens than any of America’s recent armed conflicts, and take many multiples the number of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks. And the institution that seeks to protect the United States from threats cannot stop the single biggest one the U.S. has faced in a generation. Meanwhile, even as the military is called upon to help with the domestic response, the nature of the virus strikes right at the core of its culture and ethos. The whole point of a military is to mass together to destroy an enemy. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do when confronting a transmissible virus.

Read: How the pandemic will end
Nevertheless, the U.S. government is relying on the military for a significant part of its effort to contain the pandemic. The Army Corps of Engineers is retrofitting convention centers and hotels into medical facilities in New York and Seattle, the Navy has sent hospital ships to New York and California, and the National Guard is unloading trucks at grocery stores in Arizona. The Defense Department is offering millions of masks and other equipment for the fight; the Army is asking its retired medical service members to consider coming back. But how can the military protect America when it can’t protect itself?
More Stories

“We are not at war,” wrote Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in a letter asking superiors for help following an outbreak on the ship while it had 4,800 people aboard. Certain risks the crew would necessarily take in wartime were unacceptable in peacetime, he wrote. But the Navy “cannot allow a single sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily.”

“The environment most conducive to the spread of the disease is the environment the crew of the TR is in right now,” Crozier wrote in the letter, which the San Francisco Chronicle published. Thousands of sailors in a confined space. Shared restrooms. Close contact in narrow passageways. Ladders, hatch levers, doorknobs all being touched by numerous other people. Within days of the letter becoming public, the Navy relieved him of command of the ship.
Similar obstacles to social distancing apply to the military as a whole, not just on ships—which is why the Defense Department has largely delegated decisions about health protections to commanders. The lack of unified instruction from the Pentagon’s leadership about necessary precautions and social-distancing enforcements has created a haphazard approach to containment, with more than 1,500 infections and five deaths so far across the military and Defense Department civilians, dependents, and contractors. “I can’t put out a blanket policy, if you will, that we would then apply to everybody, because every situation’s different,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters in March, when the virus had recently taken the life of one defense contractor. “Tell me, how do I do six-feet distancing in an attack submarine? Or how do I do that in a bomber with two pilots sitting side by side?”

Navy leadership has defended its actions not evacuating everyone from the Teddy Roosevelt, now docked in Guam with thousands of sailors still aboard after about 100 people tested positive for the coronavirus—all of whom, per Navy officials, have been moved off the ship and isolated. The true number of infections could be higher—as of Wednesday, most of the crew hadn’t even been tested yet, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters. Still, “we cannot and will not remove all the sailors from the ship,” Modly said. “This ship has weapons on it, it has munitions on it, it has expensive aircraft, and it has a nuclear power plant. It requires a certain number of people on that ship to maintain the safety and security of the ship.”
Close quarters have historically contributed to the spread of disease in the military, whether on ships or in boot camps or at overseas bases. For instance, the 1918 Spanish-flu epidemic first appeared in the U.S. at the Army’s Fort Riley, in Kansas, and spread rapidly from there, eventually killing nearly 700,000 Americans within a year.

“All of this was entirely predictable. How could it have not been predictable?” Andrew Milburn, a Marine colonel who retired last year, told me. The original sin, in his view, was Esper’s decision to delegate safety standards to commanders. The result has been a patchwork of different restrictions and regulations across different services and units. The Army halted basic training in March and then reversed itself. The Navy is delaying new boot-camp arrivals by a week after a recruit tested positive. The Marines kept training going until its own outbreak of more than 20 recruits at the Parris Island recruit depot forced it to stop accepting new arrivals until mid-April. The Marine-barracks gym in Washington, D.C., was still open last week as the rest of the city shut down. The Marines haven’t relaxed grooming standards across the service, again delegating the decision down the chain; at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina barbershops remain open on the base, albeit with restrictions, even as the governor has ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shut down across the state.

“This was one time when hierarchical decision making was really, really needed,” Milburn said. “And it just didn’t happen.”
Esper has defended the decision to delegate and even announced enhanced counternarcotics operations, deploying more cramped ships, helicopters, and planes to the Southern Hemisphere and putting yet more service members in risky close quarters. “There seems to be this narrative out there that we should just shut down the entire United States military and address the problem that way,” Esper said at a press conference on Wednesday. “That’s not feasible.” This kind of delegation also isn’t Pentagon-specific; the country as a whole lacks a unified response to the virus, with individual governors deciding when and how severely to restrict residents’ movements.
Read: The case against waging ‘war’ on the coronavirus
The military is a highly bureaucratic organization that values toughness, sacrifice, and, maybe above all, standard operating procedures. That culture applies to all kinds of illnesses. “In the Marine Corps, the typical solution [is to] have Motrin and drink water,” said a Marine lieutenant colonel who spoke with me on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to talk to the press. “And there are times when that’s not the appropriate answer.”

Tom Crabtree, who spent 24 years as an Army surgeon, told me that this approach to treatment was common enough that people referred to Motrin as “Ranger candy.” While he doesn’t see the “Carry on” ethos as unique to the military—“I see the same things at Walmart”—the implications for America’s safety in the world are entirely different. “It’s a very simple fact: A healthy military is a capable military. For all the things that it needs to do and can do,” he said. “An unhealthy military is not.”
And as commanders try to balance protecting the United States from external enemies while battling its own internal pandemic, the question is, when exactly does risking people’s health end up damaging all those other protection missions?
Milburn thinks the military can afford further restrictions. And the Teddy Roosevelt carrier was a case in point. If some ships have to be mothballed for a few weeks to get cleaned and protect the sailors for an actual war when there is one, to him, it’s worth the cost. “Are we really going to cede control of the seas in this short period of time?” he asked.

Continue viewing...

‘Effective immediately’: Pentagon tightens face mask policy for all military personnel

The Pentagon on Sunday tightened its policy on face masks to stop the spread of coronavirus, issuing new guidance that requires all military and civilian personnel, along with family members, contractors and guests on military installations, to wear a “cloth face recovering” if they’re unable to stay at least six feet away from others.
The new protocol, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a memo, is designed to bring the Pentagon in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that masks be used to prevent transmission of the virus.
“Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers,” Mr. Esper says in the memo, adding that the guidance does not apply to a service member’s home on a military base.

Each military department, he said, will soon issue formal “guidance on wear” for service members.

“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 memo reads.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Continue viewing...

U.S. Military Seeks More Funding for Pacific Region After Pandemic

WASHINGTON — United States military officials have outlined a spending request to bolster deterrence against China after the coronavirus pandemic ebbs, a sign of how national security leaders are already studying ways to shore up the country’s standing in the Asia-Pacific region once the outbreak ends.A report from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, delivered to Congress last week, calls for $20.1 billion in additional spending between 2021 and 2026. The funds would be spent on new radar warning systems and cruise missiles, and would also pay for more exercises with allies, deployments of additional forces and new intelligence-sharing centers. The efforts would help improve the U.S. military’s ability to deter the People’s Liberation Army.The request, which was first reported by Defense News, shows that many in the military believe tensions between the United States and China are likely to grow amid the pandemic. President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China cut an uneasy peace in late March, each promising to dial back accusations of who was at fault for the spread of the virus, which is believed to have originated late last year at a market in Wuhan. But U.S. intelligence officials have said they expect tensions to flare again, and China to restart its efforts to deflect blame for the virus and spread disinformation about the United States’ role in its origin.While Congress commissioned the report from the Indo-Pacific Command before the coronavirus plunged the world economy into chaos and heightened tensions between the United States and China, current and former national security officials said the spending request was more relevant now.China is sure to use the aftermath of the virus to try to strengthen its hold on the Pacific region, according to lawmakers. But the United States will also have an opportunity to shore up its traditional allies.

Continue viewing...

The US Military Coronavirus Response

The U.S. military’s coronavirus response includes protection help for service members and families, along with resources and many announced cancellations. Like the response from civilian officials nationwide, the military’s plans change day-by-day. is staying up-to-date with the latest coronavirus changes and resources available from Defense Department officials. Check back often for the latest or subscribe to our newsletters for weekly updates.
Military Coronavirus Resources and Information
Learn how veterans and Tricare users can get tested for the coronavirus.
View the latest coronavirus-related changes and cancellations for military exercises, training, boot camp, Reserve and Guard units, academies and bases.
See how the coronavirus stop-movement order impacts military families.
Find military mental health resources for dealing with coronavirus-related stress.
See an updated list of military coronavirus cases.
Find ideas for dealing with coronavirus-related military move delays.
Learn how to stay fit while social distancing.
What Is the Novel Coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can spread between people. Symptoms can include a fever, dry cough, body aches and difficulty breathing.
Officials have asked those who have traveled to a high-risk area or who have come in contact with someone known to be infected with the virus to self-isolate for 14 days. Self isolation or quarantine should include staying home from school or work, avoiding contact with others and watching for signs of infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Coronavirus News

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

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

Continue viewing...

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.

Continue viewing...

White House coronavirus official Birx under attack for no active doctors license, doesn't need one

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator, is under fire from some conservatives for purportedly no longer being licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania, where her license expired in 2014. 
However, a medical license or a medical degree is not required to be an expert immunologist or epidemiologist, critics fail to point out.
“There’s certainly individuals that have PhDs who are immunologists and people working in labs with less than a PhD,” Dr. Tom Price, a medical doctor and President Trump’s former Health and Human Services secretary, told Just the News.
“In terms of working as an immunologist in the world of public health service or the National Institutes of Health or the [Centers For Disease Control] CDC or the like, there are many, many immunologists and epidemiologists who don’t hold either an M.D. or a D.O. [doctor of osteopathy] degree, and they are incredibly pivotal to the whole healthcare team.”
Birx is listed in Pennsylvania records as residing in Maryland, and is reportedly not licensed in that state either. 
She graduated from Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, in Hershey, in 1980 and earned a state medical license in 1987. According to Birx’s official State Department biography, starting in 1980, she trained in internal medicine and basic and clinical immunology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health.
Her biography also states that Birx is board certified in internal medicine, allergy and immunology, and diagnostic and clinical laboratory immunology.
“Dr. Birx has practiced and has given remarkable service to the country,” Price also said. “She is an extremely knowledgeable and dynamic individual. She has dedicated her life to public health and public service.”
Price said  House rules prohibit sitting members from continuing to practice medicine, something that affected him during his stint as a Georgia congressman. 
Senators don’t face that same restriction, with Price noting that the late Dr. Tom Coburn, a former Oklahoma senator, who recently passed away, continued his obstetrics-gynecology practice while in office, and that ophthalmologist Dr. Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky (and the first sitting senator to test positive for coronavirus), continues his practice while in office.

Continue viewing...

Trump, Biden have phone conversation about coronavirus

President Trump said Monday that he spoke earlier in the day with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden about the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Trump said Biden called him and that the two likely General Election nominees spoke for about 15 minutes. He also suggested the focus of the talk was about strategies to slow and stop the virus.
“We had a really wonderful, warm conversation,” Trump said. “He gave me his point of view, and I fully understand that. It was very friendly.”

Continue viewing...

Gov. Cuomo: N.Y. may be seeing 'possible flattening of the curve'

Governor Andrew Cuomo said that although there are now 4,758 deaths in New York state, the rate of deaths has been “effectively flat for two days.”
There are more than 130,000 positive cases in the state, but the total number of new hospitalizations, ICU admissions and daily intubations in New York have decreased each of the past three days — an indication that social distancing may be working.
Also, Cuomo announced he would extend New York’s stay-at-home order until April 29 and raise the potential maximum fine for social distancing violations from $500 to $1,000.

Continue viewing...

Trump strikes a positive note: 'We're having fewer hospital visits' for coronavirus patients'

President Trump said Americans’ measures to stop the spread were working, resulting in fewer hospital visits than projected.
“Numbers are coming in where, because of what the American people are doing, we’re having fewer hospital visits,” Trump said during Monday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing. “I think that could be the case in New York, it could be the case in a few other states. And fewer beds, fewer hospital visits mean fewer ventilators.  So we’ll see whether or not our original hospital projections were right.”
Just the News reported that a Web site that tracks hospital beds in use suggests the model used by top White House health officials to project the trajectory of the coronavirus has so far overestimated the number of Americans hospitalized by the disease by tens of thousands. 
Trump said he’d spoken with the governors of New York and New Jersey, two hot spots for the coronavirus.
“I think they’re very happy, extremely happy about what we’re doing for them,” Trump said. “The next week, week-and-a-half is going to be a big surge, the professionals tell us. And I think we’re in good shape for it.”
Trump said there have now been 1.79 million coronavirus tests conducted in the U.S.
He said the federal government had also built 22 hospital sites and 18 state alternative care sites and released 8,450 hospital beds from federal stockpile. He also said FEMA had distributed 11.7 million N-95 masks, 5.3 million face shields, 4.4 million surgical gowns and 22.6 million gloves.
“So it’s good timing, really good timing,” Trump said. “We can have the stuff there. It’s already there, for the most part. But we’re bringing a lot of different resources to the various locations, especially where the surge is looking like it’s going to take place.”
Trump said he spoke Monday by telephone with executives of pharmaceutical companies Regeneron, Gilead, Genetech and Amgen to discuss strategies for combatting coronavirus.
Trump said California has distributing 500 excess ventilators, possibly to Washington state, Arizona or elsewhere.
“At the present time, most of the critical needs are being more than met,” he said. “States have to continue sharing detailed information.”
Trump also said that he had a “very nice conversation,” with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to discuss the coronavirus, what Tump called a “really wonderful, warm conversation.”
Trump said the conversation “lasted probably 15 minutes, and it was really good. It was really good. Really nice, I think it was very much so. I appreciated his calling.” 

Continue viewing...

Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects governor's attempt to delay in person primary voting

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers does not possess the authority to delay in-person primary voting, so the state’s primary will still be held on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, the governor sought to delay the voting because of the coronavirus crisis, but the state’s Supreme Court ruled 4-2 against him.
The governor had previously indicated that he did not have authority to move the election by himself.

Continue viewing...

Trump says the goverment has reached a deal with 3M after contentious negotiations

President Trump announced Monday that the White House had reached an “very amicable” with 3M for the delivery of an additional “55.5 million high-quality face masks each month.”
Speaking at the White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, Trump said 3M would produce a total of 166.5 million masks — nearly all N95s — after Trump bashed the company last week.
“Mostly that’s going to be for our front line health care workers,” he said.
The company will make 55.5 million face masks per month, for a total of 166.6 million masks, Trump said at a White House press briefing, calling it a “very amicable agreement.”
3M said in a statement Friday that the Trump administration asked it to stop exporting its U.S.-made respirator masks to Canadian and Latin American markets. The president criticized the company for continuing to sell some masks overseas.
“The 3M saga ends very happily,” he said. “We’re very proud now to be dealing with 3M.”

Continue viewing...

Americans far more worried about loss of income than health during pandemic, poll finds

Americans are far more concerned about loss of income and finding supplies during the coronavirus pandemic than about their health, according to the Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen.
Among registered voters surveyed, 30% ranked “loss of income” and 27% ranked “finding needed supplies” as their top concerns about coronavirus in their daily lives, compared to just 4% choosing “loss of health” as their top concern.
“Most (57%) have felt the biggest impact from the economic shutdown — either by loss of income or inability to find supplies,” Rasmussen said. “A huge number (23%) are impacted mostly by the social isolation.”
Rasmussen said that other polling data suggests that people are broadly supportive of efforts to fight the coronavirus.
“However, these numbers highlight the fact that it is coming at a heavy cost,” Rasmussen said. “These other costs cannot be indefinitely ignored by policymakers. They can be deferred, but sooner or later will need to be addressed. I suspect many people will be cautious about re-entering social life, but it’s important for them to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Finding the right balance will be a real challenge for leaders.”
Respondents were asked: “The coronavirus has impacted the daily life of Americans in many ways. Which of the following has been the single most difficult impact on you and your immediate family?” 
Their responses:
30% loss of income
27% finding needed supplies
23% boredom, depression, and isolation
4% loss of health
3% finding care for kids
13% none of the above
The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted April 2-5, 2020 by Rasmussen, a polling veteran. Margin of sampling error: +/- 2.8% for full sample. 
“We do not have any information on the none of the above categories,” Rasmussen noted. “But it’s important to remember that some people may not yet have felt any significant impact. I know of several people who are skeptical of the news coverage because they aren’t seeing it for themselves.”
To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click below.

“It’s also worth noting that these impacts are felt in every segment of society,” Rasmussen said. 

Continue viewing...

Trump will review case of fired Crozier: 'I don't want to destroy somebody for having a bad day'

President Trump said Monday that he would intervene in a heated Navy dispute over a firing of the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt who wrote an unclassified memo about a coronavirus outbreak on his aircraft carrier.
“The letters should not have been sent to many people, unclassified,” Trump said during a daily White House coronavirus task force briefing. “That was a mistake. It’s a mistake that shouldn’t have been made, because it’s unfair to the families of the people on the ship, because they get nervous. And it shows weakness, and there’s nothing weak about us now, not anymore. We have the strongest military we’ve ever had. And we’re not going to be showing weakness to anybody.”
The fired commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was removed from his post after reportedly writing a lengthy memo to top Navy officials about a coronavirus outbreak on his aircraft carrier and intentionally leaking it to the media. The memo also purportedly urged officials to take action to save the vessel’s sailors.
“We don’t want to have letter-writing campaigns where the fake news finds a letter or gets a leak,” Trump said. “With all of that said, his career prior to that was very good. So I’m going to get involved and see exactly what’s going on there. Because I don’t want to destroy somebody for having a bad day.”
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Monday reportedly skewered Crozier, telling the crew that the ex-commander was “too stupid” to be in command.
“I haven’t heard it exactly, I haven’t heard. I heard they had a statement that was made,” Trump said about Modly’s statement. “And if that were the statement that was made, that was a strong statement. Look, the letters shouldn’t have been sent, and certainly they shouldn’t have been leaked. This is a military operation. I must tell you, I’ve heard very good things about the gentlemen, both gentlemen, by the way. And I may look into it maybe from the standpoint that something should be resolved.”
Trump said his peacemaking skills could help solve the dispute between Modly and Crozier.
“I may just get involved,” he said. “Because you know what, you have two good people, and they’re arguing. And I’m good, believe it or not, at settling arguments. I’m good at settling these arguments. So I may look at it in detail, and I’ll be able to figure it out very fast.”

Continue viewing...

You Vote: Should illegal immigrants be entitled to collect coronavirus stimulus checks?

A group of Democratic lawmakers is pushing to allow illegal immigrants to collect stimulus checks from the coronavirus relief law passed by Congress last week.
You can read about their effort here. President Trump says he hasn’t decided yet.
Here is your chance to weigh in.

Do you think taxpayer money should be used to pay coronavirus relief to illegal immigrants?


Continue viewing...

Military deploying 1,100 more doctors, nurses to New York to staff the Javits Center

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday signaled that the military would be sending 1,100 additional doctors and nurses to New York City to provide their services on the frontline of the continued fight against coronavirus.
Most of the additional personnel will report to the Javits Convention Center on the West Side of Manhattan, which could be ready to begin accepting patients as soon as this week. A few hundred of the nurses and doctors will report to 11 local New York City hospitals that are now overwhelmed with coronavirus cases.
“Our hope is to be able to decrease the pressure on some of our medical providers,” Col. Kimberlee Aiello on Fox News on Monday morning.
In the past days, the Javits Center has been converted by the Army Corps of Engineers into a makeshift hospital with 3,000 beds and 48 intensive care units.
Initially, the center was being prepped to accept non-coronavirus patients, overflowing from local hospitals, similar to the efforts of the Navy medical ship USNS Comfort, now docked off of Manhattan’s West Side.
However, the decision was made to prepare the center for coronavirus positive patients who have made it past the most serious stages of the illness and are no longer in need of ventilators.
The hospital will be equipped with ventilators, should a patient need to go back on one.
“The United States military will soon be running the largest hospital in the United States,” Esper said He called the military’s efforts in New York a demonstration of how “all in,” they are in the fight agains the novel coronavirus.
The Army has already deployed about 600 personnel to New York City from medical units in Kentucky and Texas. The additional 1,100 personnel will primarily come from Navy and Air Force medical units.

Continue viewing...

Wisconsin governor orders halt to in-person balloting in Tuesday's primary

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has made a last-minute decision to delay in-person balloting in his state’s presidential primary Tuesday, following pleas for a postponement because of the coronavirus. 
The Democratic governor issued an executive order that postpones balloting for two months and that is expected to get a court challenge. 
Supporters of postponing the vote argue in-person balloting would conflict with Americans’ efforts to distance themselves from one another to prevent the spread of the virus and exposing poll workers to infection. 
Evers reportedly decide to postpone the primary until June 9 after failing to strike a deal with the state’s Republican-controlled legislature on the matter. 
The governor’s order allows Wisconsin residents to request absentee ballots. Prior to the order, Friday was the last day to request a ballot.
Evers issued a stay-at-home order to his state late last month, but had previously said that he did not possess the authority to delay an election.
Evers called the state legislature into a special Saturday session to discuss measures taken around the primary election. He will call the legislature into another special session on Tuesday to “consider an act upon legislation to set a new in-person voting date for the 2020 Spring election.”
Statehouse Republicans, who are expect to appeal Evers’ order to the state Supreme Court, called the last-minute order by Evers an “unconstitutional overreach.”
“There’s no question that an election is just as important as getting take-out food. … Gov. Evers can’t unilaterally run the state,” read a statement from State House Speaker Robin Vos and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Evers has reached out to Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine for advice on how to postpone the Wisconsin election using his executive authority.
DeWine attempted to postpone his state’s primary election in March, just hours before it was set to start. His effort did not result in a formal postponement of the election, but the Ohio state legislature did extend absentee voting through April 28.
The order from Evers extends the terms of hundreds of local and state officials currently serving in offices that were up for election on Tuesday.
As recently as April 1, Evers states that he wasn’t able to postpone the election on his own without violating state law.

Continue viewing...

State Department refuses to back Hillary Clinton attempt to avoid deposition

The State Department on Monday rejected Hillary Clinton’s effort to avoid depositions for herself and her former chief of staff in a lawsuit brought by the government watchdog organization Judicial Watch.
The former Secretary of State and her former top aide Cheryl Mills are seeking a writ of mandamus to avoid a judge’s order requiring their testimony in an open records case involving Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business.
“The government did not seek and thus does not support the extraordinary relief of mandamus due to the unique circumstances of this case,” reads the State Department’s response signed by multiple members of the Justice Department.
“One aspect of the district court’s rulings, although not central to the pending petition, is of particular concern to the government: assertions that the government acted in bad faith in litigating this FOIA request are wholly without basis,” the Department’s response says.
U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth in early March granted the request to depose Clinton about why she utilized a private email server, her grasp of “State’s records management obligations,” and any information she has about materials pertaining to the 2012 Benghazi attack. 
Clinton and her former Chief of Staff later in March sought a writ of mandamus from the Court of Appeals to avoid having to sit for depositions.
Clinton has long come under scrutiny for her use of a private email server while serving as the Secretary of State. 

Continue viewing...

U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000

The U.S. coronavirus death-toll has now surpassed 10,000 fatalities.
Many of those deaths have occurred in the New York, which has been the hardest hit U.S. state by far amid the pandemic. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced 4,758 deaths. However, he also said the number of deaths in his state has been “effectively flat for two days.”
He also said that the “possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen.” 
New York’s numbers during the past few days went from 630 deaths on April 3, down to 594 on April 4, then slightly up to 599.
While President Trump on Sunday said that the coming days will be “very difficult,” he also spoke of “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Continue viewing...

Acting Navy secretary: Fired commander either 'too stupid, too naive' to be in charge

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Monday reportedly skewered the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, telling the crew that the ex-commander was “too stupid” to be in command.
The fired commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was removed from his post after reportedly writing a lengthy memo to top Navy officials about a coronavirus outbreak on his aircraft carrier and intentionally leaking it to the media. The memo also purportedly urged officials to take action to save the vessel’s sailors.
Modly told the crew that Crozier was either “too naive or too stupid” to be in command, according to remarks obtained by CNN.
“It was a betrayal. And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public’s forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, D.C.” also said Modly, according to a transcript of his remarks, copies of which the cable news network reportedly received from multiple Navy officials.

Continue viewing...