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Trump ponders return to normal life by Easter as death toll climbs

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: New York City Hospital Adds New Protocols And Triage To Address Coronavirus
Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) in set-up tents to triage possible COVID-19 patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020 in New York.Misha Friedman / Getty Images

The number of coronavirus cases continued to accelerate in the United States on Tuesday, and early Wednesday Senate leaders announced they had reached a deal on a massive $2 trillion spending bill aimed at alleviating the economic impact of the outbreak.

The White House coronavirus coordinator asked people who have recently been in New York, where the death toll continues to climb, to quarantine themselves for 14 days, because they may have been exposed before leaving.

President Donald Trump is pushing for the country to get back to business by April 12, Easter Sunday, when he said he would like to see churches full of people.

And after growing international pressure, Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the 2020 Tokyo games until next year but said they would happen no later than summer 2021.

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Fact checker Snopes says it's overwhelmed by coronavirus misinformation

Fact-checking website Snopes told readers that the “magnitude of misinformation spreading in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming our small team,” and is demanding social media companies Facebook and Google “do more right now to shut down misinformation on their platforms.”

The site said it is scaling back routine content production to focus on coronavirus stories that can provide a “significant impact.” The shift comes weeks after the World Health Organization said that unreliable information circulating on the web is contributing to an “infodemic” worldwide.

“Facebook and Google are absolutely failing their users and the fact checking industry isn't really doing anything about it despite having so much leverage,” Snopes vice president of operations Vinny Green said.

Over 1,000 claims about coronavirus on Google have received fact checks from the company’s verified fact checking network since January.

D.C. mayor announces the district will close all nonessential businesses

ICE detainee tests positive for coronavirus

An immigrant detained at a New Jersey facility operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has tested positive for COVID-19, the agency said Tuesday, marking the first coronavirus case of an ICE detainee.  

The agency said in a statement the individual has been “quarantined and is receiving care" and intake at the Bergen County facility is temporarily suspended

NBC News has previously reported extensive problems with the quality of health care in ICE detention facilities, including the deaths of 24 detainees since the start of the Trump administration.

Earlier Tuesday, the ACLU filed three lawsuits against ICE demanding that vulnerable inmates be released from three different detention centers.  


Biden on Trump's Easter timeline: 'Let's be realistic'

Joe Biden on Tuesday dismissed President Donald Trump’s desire to have the country back to business by Easter Sunday — even as the coronavirus pandemic worsens — as unrealistic and “bizarre.”

“I would like to open up the government tomorrow if it were possible,” Biden told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace on “Deadline: White House." “Let’s be realistic.”

“This curve is going up and up and up because we did not act when we should have acted," Biden said. “It just seems, to me, bizarre.”

Public health experts and local and state leaders have cautioned against easing coronavirus restrictions too early, saying it could put an enormous strain on hospitals and lead to even more deaths and economic damage.

Minor, under the age of 18, dies of coronavirus in Los Angeles County

Another four people have died in Los Angeles County from coronavirus, including a minor, according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.  

“Tragically, one the people who died was a person under the age of 18," Ferrer said. "A devastating reminder that COVID-19 infects people of all ages."

Ferrer did not expand on the patient's age or whether they had any underlying conditions, but a press release from the department said the minor was a resident of the city of Lancaster.

Los Angeles County has seen a total of 11 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus. The county has a total of 662 positive cases, including more than 250 that were confirmed in the last two days.

Why science matters in finding coronavirus treatments

In Nebraska, researchers are studying whether an experimental drug, remdesivir, can treat COVID-19, the illness that results from coronavirus infection. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state would begin trials looking at the drug combination hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax.

All told, more than 100 clinical trials of dozens of potential treatments have already begun in multiple countries.

Read more. 

Watch people crowd London subways, despite calls for social distancing

Apple may re-open some stores in April — but not necessarily in the U.S.

Apple may start to reopen some of its retail stores in the first half of April, according to a person at the company who is familiar with the matter but was not authorized to speak publicly.

Re-opening stores will depend on the state of the coronavirus pandemic at that time and will not necessarily include U.S. stores, the person said.

The iPhone maker announced earlier this month that it was closing all retail stores outside of China due to the global spread of the coronavirus. It had initially planned to start reopening stores on March 27.

FDA will allow doctors to treat coronavirus patients with blood from survivors

Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for COVID-19 outside of St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24.Misha Friedman / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration will allow doctors across the country to begin using plasma donated by coronavirus survivors to treat patients who are critically ill with the virus, under new emergency protocols approved Tuesday.

The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, dates back centuries and was used during the flu pandemic of 1918.

“Just based on its track record with a number of other viruses, I think it has a very good chance of working,” Dr. Jeffrey Henderson, of the Washington University School of Medicine, said.

Read the full story here. 

Dow ends the day up 2,000 points as $2T stimulus bill takes shape

Wall Street roared back on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging by over 2,000 points for its biggest daily points gain ever.

It was a strong day for all three major averages, with the Dow ending the day up by more than 11 percent. The S&P 500 rallied by over 9 percent, while the Nasdaq notched up gains of just over 8 percent.

Trader optimism was focused on the $2 trillion stimulus bill, which lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say is close to approval.

ACLU sues ICE over detention of immigrants vulnerable to coronavirus

The ACLU filed three lawsuits against Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tuesday demanding that the law enforcement agency release immigrant detainees in Pennsylvania, Maryland and California who are vulnerable to COVID-19.  

In Maryland, the ACLU cited a pregnant detainee who was diagnosed with tuberculosis in February 2020 as being at risk. “ICE’s needless detention of immigrants has always been cruel and excessive, but today, it also recklessly endangers their lives,” said Sirine Shebaya, executive director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

An ICE spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuits but the ICE website says vulnerable detainees “are housed separately." ICE says on its site that if a detainee developed coronavirus symptoms the person would be put into a “single medical housing room” “depending on available space.” 

The agency says it has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in ICE detention facilities. The agency owns or operates 900 facilities housing an average of 42,000 detainees per day as of 2018.