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CDC recommends masks, U.S. deaths rise by more than 1,000 in one day

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Face mask reflection
A person wearing protective masks due to coronavirus concerns walks in Philadelphia, on April 2, 2020.Matt Rourke / AP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended that people wear "cloth face coverings," in places where it is hard to maintain social distancing — like grocery stores. Officials say surgical masks or respirators should be reserved for health care workers.

President Donald Trump announced the recommendations but said he is choosing not to wear one.

The U.S. recorded more than 1,000 deaths between Thursday and Friday, according to NBC News' tally. As of Friday night, more than 7,000 U.S. deaths have been linked to the disease. Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate soared to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent.

Support on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats for an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the outbreak appeared to be growing.

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967d ago / 11:25 PM UTC
967d ago / 11:18 PM UTC

5 million more N95 masks set for release

Another 5 million N95 masks — highly sought by medical professionals in their fight against coronavirus — will be released from the national stockpile to the Department of Health & Human Services, the Pentagon said Friday.

The announcement was made by chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are clamoring for more N95 masks and other forms of  personal protective equipment as they face a constant wave of COVID-19 patients.

967d ago / 11:15 PM UTC

Trump lashes out at reporter when pressed for clarification over federal stockpile

Trump on Friday told a reporter she "ought to be ashamed" of herself and chided her for having a "nasty tone" after she asked for clarity about White House adviser Jared Kushner's comments about the federal government's ventilator stockpile. 

"It's such a basic simple question you try and make it sound so bad," Trump told Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." 

 

At Thursday's briefing, Kushner was pressed on why states were bidding on ventilators rather than the federal government sending them. "The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use," Kushner said. 

Trump doubled down at Friday's briefing. 

"Because we need it for the government, the federal government," Trump said about Kushner's comments. "The federal government needs to it too not just the states."

967d ago / 11:13 PM UTC

Walmart to limit customer access

Walmart will limit the number of customers allowed to enter its stores and launch new efforts to keep shoppers moving one way once inside, the company announced on Friday.

Starting on Saturday, only five customers per 1,000 square feet can enter a Walmart, which will be about 20 percent of each locale's listed capacity, according to a statement by Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith.

And in many stores next week, markers will be put down to direct shoppers to one-way foot traffic "so to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop," according to Smith.

For the full story, read here.

967d ago / 10:56 PM UTC

Fact check: Trump falsely claims he inherited 'broken' COVID-19 tests

“The original test, the ones we inherited… were broken, they were obsolete, they were not good tests,” Trump said during Friday night’s news conference.

We’ve fact checked this claim before. It's impossible for Trump to have inherited a broken testing system for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The novel coronavirus did not exist until late last year, when researchers believe it was transmitted from an animal to a human for the first time.

Read more of the fact check here.

967d ago / 10:45 PM UTC
967d ago / 10:08 PM UTC

1 in 4 New York City emergency medical services workers out sick

As the New York City Fire Department announced the coronavirus death of Deputy Chief Inspector Syed Rahman, newly released data shows that nearly one in four of its Emergency Medical Services members is out sick.

Nearly two in 10 firefighters, or 17 percent, are also on medical leave, the FDNY said. About 3,000 total first responders were out sick; 376 have tested positive for the virus, the department said.

Rahman, 59, served 22 years with FDNY, leading a team that ultimately oversaw potentially high-risk buildings under construction, as well as those slated to undergo demolition and asbestos abatement.

"Deputy Chief Inspector Rahman dedicated his life to helping others through his service to the Department, and New Yorkers were safer because of his outstanding work," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. He is survived by his wife Sadia and four sons.

967d ago / 9:52 PM UTC

NYC sends emergency alert to phones

New York City has transmitted an emergency alert to phones, asking all licensed health care workers to support the city's health facilities by logging on to a website to find out where help is needed the most.

The city expects ventilator and healthcare worker shortages in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and now senior city officials are sounding the alarm to all available health care workers. 

967d ago / 9:48 PM UTC

Trump administration says Americans should wear non-medical masks

President Donald Trump on Friday said Americans should wear non-surgical masks when they're out of their homes to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

"The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as a voluntary health measure," Trump, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during his daily briefing on the pandemic. "It is voluntary."

"The CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade or surgical-grade masks," he added.

The decision, made after the cities of New York and Los Angeles advised their residents to wear cloth masks, was expected. Officials want to save surgical-grade and N95 masks for health workers.

967d ago / 9:44 PM UTC

Alabama governor issues stay-at-home order

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Friday she's ordering residents who aren't essential workers to stay at home unless getting takeout food, groceries or gas starting at 5 p.m. Saturday.

As state health officials reported 1,454 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths related to the disease in Alabama, Ivey said on Twitter, "I plead with you" to help stop the spread of the virus by staying home and practicing social distancing.

"You CAN still go get groceries & medicines," she said. "You’re ENCOURAGED to still order food out from your favorite restaurants, but the stores will be required to institute more stringent rules to keep a safe number of customers shopping at any one time."

967d ago / 9:28 PM UTC
967d ago / 9:26 PM UTC

McConnell: Expect 'plenty of mistakes' as stimulus package is implemented

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday there are “bound to be plenty of mistakes” as the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package is implemented across the country. 

“You can’t pass a bill of this magnitude in a week and have a perfect implementation of $2.2 trillion, so sure there are going to be glitches,” McConnell, R-Ky., told McClatchy in a phone interview. 

He refused to say what he thinks might be needed for a "phase 4" relief package, saying his main focus now is "watching how this is implemented." 

McConnell also suggested Congress might not reconvene on April 20th, since the president has extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April.

 

967d ago / 9:09 PM UTC

Shasta County, California, to receive state's fifth federal pop-up hospital

Image:
Lt. Col Shane Patty, right, gestures while speaking to Captain Torrance Pineau-Brown at a possible COVID-19 treatment site on April 1, 2020, in San Mateo, Calif. The National Guard is currently setting up the federal cache, which includes cots and personal protective equipment needed to establish a federal medical station with capacity up to 250 beds.Ben Margot / Pool via AP

A team of 40 to 60 soldiers from the California National Guard is set to deploy Saturday to Redding, California, about 160 miles north of Sacramento. Their mission will be to quickly construct the state’s fifth “federal medical station,” or FMS, effectively a pop-up hospital, at the Redding Convention Center and Civic Auditorium.

Shasta County, where Redding is located, has 11 reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date. The state's other pop-up hospitals are in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, with more likely to come. They were all constructed recently in one to two working days usually by teams of 60 to 100 guardsmen, as ordered by the California Office of Emergency Services to help mitigate hospital overflow from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an undated fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an FMS has beds, supplies and medicine for 250 patients for up to three days.

967d ago / 8:41 PM UTC

New York City needs 45,000 medical professionals

New York, hit harder by the coronavirus than any other city in the country, needs 45,000 clinical employees for an incoming tidal wave of patients, officials said Friday. 

The outbreak started with 125,000 medical employees in America's largest city, but a massive spike is coming that'll require 45,000 more to join those ranks this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

About 7,500 of those employees will be needed in traditional, standing hospitals while 37,500 others would work at hastily constructed field hospitals, such at those popping up at the Javits Center, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and hotels.

 

967d ago / 8:22 PM UTC

Lawmaker who forced colleagues to return to DC for coronavirus vote skipped earlier one

The Kentucky congressman who forced lawmakers around the country to return to Washington, D.C., for a vote on the coronavirus stimulus legislation last week skipped out on a vote on the previous aid bill to attend a fundraiser in his home state.

"I would be a 'no' on that bill anyway. I'm not going to sit up there in D.C. and wait for four people in a back room to cook something up that I know I'm not going to vote for," Rep. Thomas Massie told a local radio show of his decision to not show up for the vote on the earlier, $850 billion coronavirus package.

On the day of the March 14 vote, Massie tweeted that he and his wife were organizing their pantry.

Read the full story here.

967d ago / 8:17 PM UTC

Wisconsin gov calls back lawmakers to consider delaying election deadline

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Friday that he wants all registered voters in the state to receive an absentee ballot and have until May 19 to return them, which would effectively delay Tuesday’s election amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order Friday calling for a special session of the GOP-controlled state Legislature to consider his proposed changes to Tuesday's election, which includes both the Democratic presidential primary between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and a general election for municipal officers and the state Supreme Court.

"I can't move this election or change it on my own. My hands are tied,” Evers said during a telephone news conference. He said proceeding with the election without changes would be an “unnecessary public health risk.”

Read the full story here.

967d ago / 8:04 PM UTC

Influencer Arielle Charnas faces more backlash

YAGP's 20th Anniversary Gala 'Stars Of Today Meets The Stars Of Tomorrow'
Arielle Charnas attends YAGP's 20th Anniversary Gala at Lincoln Center on April 18, 2019 in New York.Jared Siskin / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images file

Social media influencer Arielle Charnas, who sparked outrage in March when she disclosed she tested positive for COVID-19 after being screened by a friend, is facing renewed backlash for retreating to the Hamptons.

Charnas, based in New York City, said in a lengthy statement Thursday to her 1.3 million Instagram followers that she wanted to "share the truth" and "above all else," express her sincerest remorse.

Charnas said she was speaking out, in part, to address accusations she had falsified her test results, which she said was "unequivocally untrue." She also claimed to have received death threats against her entire family, including her two young daughters.

Read the full story here

967d ago / 7:55 PM UTC
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967d ago / 7:47 PM UTC

First TSA employee dies from COVID-19

Francis "Frank" Boccabella III in 2015 with his previous canine partner, Zmay.
Francis "Frank" Boccabella III in 2015 with his previous canine partner, Zmay.TSA

A employee at Newark Liberty International Airport became the first TSA employee to die from complications of COVID-19, authorities said Friday.

Francis Boccabella III, 39, handled a bomb-sniffing dog that screened air cargo going aboard  passenger aircraft, the TSA said.

His canine partner was Bullet, a 6-year-old German Short-haired Pointer.

967d ago / 7:38 PM UTC

With unemployment surge, millions expected to lose insurance, turn to Medicaid

If unemployment continues to grow, an additional 10 million to 20 million Americans could enroll in Medicaid and millions could live without health care coverage altogether, a study published Friday found. Insurance provided by employers could drop by 11 million to 23 million.

This could prove to be a huge burden on state Medicaid programs as enrollment grows, the cost for coronavirus treatment proves to be costly and state revenues continue to plummet. 

The study, published by research firm Health Management Associates, looks at three scenarios — unemployment at 10 percent, 17.5 percent and 25 percent — and the effects it would have on insurance coverage.

If unemployment rose to 25 percent, Medicaid enrollment nationally would grow from 70 million people to 94 million, employer-sponsored coverage could drop by 35 million people and the number of uninsured Americans would jump from 29 million before the outbreak to nearly 40 million people.

Medicaid enrollment will expand by roughly 5 million even without any increase in unemployment because the states that take funding from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act aren't able to unenroll people from the program. 

Read the more about the issue here

967d ago / 7:22 PM UTC

Supreme Court cancels courtroom argument for rest of the term

The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it will scrap the oral argument schedule for the rest of the term amid the coronavirus pandemic but left open the possibility that it might hear a few cases before the term ends in late June.

Nine cases were to be argued during the two-week session beginning April 20, including one of the most important of the term — a challenge to the current system used for electing the president

The court earlier canceled oral argument in March as measures like stay-at-home orders and social distancing directives were implemented across the country to slow the spread of the virus.

Read the full story here

967d ago / 7:17 PM UTC

A reassuring message in the sky over Los Angeles

967d ago / 7:16 PM UTC

Photo: Lining up for groceries in Johannesburg

Shoppers wait to enter a grocery store in Johannesburg on April 3, 2020.
Shoppers wait outside a store in Johannesburg on Friday. South Africa is in a 21-day nationwide lockdown. Jerome Delay / AP
967d ago / 7:07 PM UTC

Making your own face mask? Some fabrics work better than others

Sewing machines across the U.S. are whirring to life now that the federal government is expected to recommend that people living in coronavirus hot spots cover their face to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

But if you are making your own covering, new research finds that some fabrics are better than others at filtering out viral particles.

Read more.

967d ago / 6:46 PM UTC

Polish official who relayed horrors of Holocaust dies of coronavirus

The secretary who took down the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to be smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Poland has died at age 107 from the coronavirus at a New York City hospital, the Polish Press Agency reported.

Walentyna Janta-Polczynska was the personal secretary of Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski, leader of the wartime Polish government in exile in London, when she was tasked with taking dictation from Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski.

Karski later personally delivered word of the mass slaughter of the Jews by the Germans to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After the war, Janta-Polczynska settled in New York City where her home in Elmhurst, Queens, became a literary salon for exiled Polish writers. 

 

967d ago / 6:35 PM UTC

USAID asks relief groups around the world for medical supplies, protective gear for U.S. use

The U.S. government's main international relief agency has issued an "urgent request" to aid groups around the world that work with refugees and impoverished people asking them to find personal protective gear and medical supplies that could be made available to the federal government, according to an internal email obtained by NBC News.

The U.S. Agency for International Development's appeal offers yet another sign of how the Trump administration is scrambling to secure badly needed medical equipment amid shortages of gear at American hospitals due to the coronavirus epidemic.

It's unclear how much medical equipment the aid groups have to spare, and how the request could affect relief work with refugees and other vulnerable populations around the world. Humanitarian aid groups have already issued warnings that the coronavirus outbreak could have a devastating effect on refugees who often lack access to clean water and are living in crowded conditions.

Read the full story here.

967d ago / 6:31 PM UTC
967d ago / 6:17 PM UTC

The Week in Pictures: Coronavirus tightens vise around the globe

The Week in Pictures

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 1 million. See more powerful images of the impact of the virus here.

967d ago / 6:02 PM UTC

Two more federal inmates dead from coronavirus

Two more federal inmates have died of the coronavirus, officials said Friday, raising the toll to seven. 

Wallace Holley, Jr., 56, died Thursday, seven days after he suffered respiratory failure at the Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale in Louisiana. Holley, who was serving a 28-year sentence for several charges including armed robbery, had pre-existing conditions, officials said.

Margarito Garcia-Fragoso, 65, who was held at Federal Satellite Low Institution Elkton in Ohio, also died on Thursday after being hospitalized six days earlier. He was serving a 10 1/2 year sentence on drug and weapons charges. Officials said Garcia-Fragoso also had pre-existing conditions.

Of the seven inmate deaths across the system, five were held at Oakdale and two at Elkton.

967d ago / 5:39 PM UTC

N.J. to fly flags at half-staff to honor coronavirus victims

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that all flags on state buildings across the Garden State be flown at half-staff indefinitely to honor coronavirus victims.

“COVID-19 has taken far too many relatives, friends, and loved ones in New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement. “This virus has affected every corner of our state, and as we continue to work to break the back of this pandemic, we recognize those who have been lost to this terrible illness and all those affected by it. Many families cannot hold funerals for their loved ones at this time. By doing this, we remind them that their losses are not forgotten.”

As of Friday, the death toll in New Jersey was 646 with 29,895 total cases.

967d ago / 5:35 PM UTC

CNN's Brooke Baldwin says she's tested positive for the coronavirus

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin said in an Instagram post on Friday that despite her following the social distancing guidelines and "doing ALL the things we're being told to do," she has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

"I am OKAY. It came on suddenly yesterday afternoon," she wrote."Chills, aches, fever." 

Baldwin said she has no underlying conditions and feels like she's "one of the lucky ones." 

"I look forward to being on [television] and seeing you real soon. And shoutout to the doctors and nurses who are doing the real work right now," she said, ending her post with a touching message to singer Bill Withers, who died Monday from heart complications

"I am listening to Bill Withers on repeat. I knew him, adored him and will miss him," Baldwin said. 

Fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has also tested positive for the coronavirus. On Thursday, he said he was "doing pretty well, all things considered." 

967d ago / 5:31 PM UTC

Rogue paddleboarder arrested at California beach

The suspect remained in the water on the paddle board for approximately 30-40 minutes.
The suspect remained on the paddle board for approximately 30-40 minutes.Lost Hills Sheriff's Station

A rogue paddleboarder who disobeyed Los Angeles County orders to stay off the beach was arrested on Thursday, officials said.

Deputies at the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff's station needed the help of a county sheriff's boat, dispatched from down the shore in Marina del Rey, to direct the paddleboarder back to land after spending at least 30 minutes on the water, officials said. Once the boat arrived, the paddleboarder complied and swam to shore.

He was arrested for disobeying a lifeguard and failing to obey a lawful order. After he was booked at a sheriff's station, he was booked and released on a promise to appear.

The county shut down all beaches and hiking trails last week as part of the effort to keep Southern California residents at home to slow the spread of coronavirus.

 

967d ago / 5:07 PM UTC

Massive hospital ship in NYC has only about 20 patients, but mayor says it will be full 'very soon'

A massive U.S. Navy hospital ship that was brought to New York City to help overwhelmed hospitals dealing with the coronavirus pandemic had only 20 patients, first reported by NBC News Thursday night.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday he expects the number of patients on the 1,000-bed USNS Comfort to "change very rapidly." 

"I talked to our colleagues in the Navy. I don’t have a question in my mind that number’s going to change very rapidly,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I’m sure that ship will be very full soon," he continued. "They have to be smart about what cases they take and create a protocol that’s going to work because it’s going to get very busy, very quickly next week. So I’m convinced over the next few days they’ll be prepared and they'll be filling up." 

A second hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, was sent to Los Angeles. 

967d ago / 4:56 PM UTC

Photo: Video call with relatives from a hospital bed

Image:
A COVID-19 patient connects with relatives at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, northern Italy on Friday.Claudio Furlan / LaPresse via AP
967d ago / 4:41 PM UTC

Watch sailors cheer Navy captain relieved of command after raising alarm on coronavirus

A cheering and applauding crowd of sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt can be seen in videos saying goodbye to their captain, who was relieved of command after he raised concerns about a coronavirus outbreak on his ship in a letter that was leaked to the news media.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the ship's commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, who was ousted Thursday, "demonstrated extremely poor judgment" in the middle of a crisis. The Roosevelt is an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000,

A video posted to Twitter shows sailors chanting "Cap-tain Cro-zier" as he disembarked. The user who uploaded the Twitter video captioned it, in part: "Wrongfully relieved of command but did right by the sailors."

Read the full story here

967d ago / 4:05 PM UTC

New York closes in on 3,000 deaths as Cuomo says he will order redistribution of ventilators

As the number of deaths from coronavirus approaches 3,000 in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said he would sign an executive order authorizing the National Guard to take and redistribute ventilators and personal protective equipment.

The announcement comes a day after Cuomo said the state would run out of available ventilators in six days at the current rate of use.

The governor said ventilators would be taken from health care facilities that don't need them now and redistributed to those that do. Health care centers where ventilators are taken for redistribution would either get them back later or be paid for them, he said.  

New York's deaths from the virus stood Friday morning at 2,935, an increase of 562 in one day. That compares to increases of 432 deaths on Thursday and 391 on Wednesday.

The state's total number of coronavirus cases is 102,863, up by 10,482.

New York City has 57,159 of those cases, an increase of 5,350. Once again Long Island had troubling increases in positively tested cases, Cuomo said. Nassau County's cases rose by 1,437 to 12,024, and  Suffolk County's increased by 1,408 to 10,154. 

967d ago / 3:56 PM UTC

Cuomo says he spoke to Pelosi, will work with her on next relief bill

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Friday morning about the next piece of legislation that Congress could consider to aid struggling states in the coronavirus fight.

Pelosi is working on boosting financial assistance to states in the next measure and Cuomo said she “fully understands” the needs of state and local governments. Cuomo said that he will work with the speaker and New York’s congressional legislation on what his state needs from federal relief legislation. 

“She understands my position on how New York was short-changed in the last bill,” Cuomo said during his daily news conference in Albany. 

New York's death toll hit 2,935 as of Friday, an increase of 562 deaths.

967d ago / 3:07 PM UTC

Photo: Mt. Sinai medical workers protest equipment shortage

Image: Mt. Sinai Medical Workers Protest Over Lack Of PPE
A Mt. Sinai medical worker holds a photo of a colleague who died from the coronavirus in New York City on Friday.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
967d ago / 2:36 PM UTC

Mosques stay open in Pakistan even as virus cases rise

Mosques were allowed to remain open in Pakistan on Friday — the important Muslim sabbath when adherents gather for weekly prayers — even as the pandemic spread and much of the country had shut down.

Some provinces, however, have issued their own lockdown orders to prevent Muslims from gathering for Friday prayers. In southern Sindh province, a complete lockdown is being enforced from noon until 3 p.m. — the time when the faithful gather for prayers. Anyone found on the streets will be arrested, according to the provincial local government minister in a statement. Authorities in Pakistan have struggled lately to persuade conservative religious groups to maintain social distancing.

Still, mosques remain open in the rest Pakistan, even as they have been shut down across much of the Middle East and elsewhere.

Pakistan has reported nearly 2,500 people infected with the virus, the highest in South Asia.

967d ago / 2:33 PM UTC

Fauci: 'I don't understand' why all states are not under stay-at-home orders

Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested Thursday night that all Americans should be under a stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and that all states should be operating under the same guidelines.

“I don't understand why that's not happening,” Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview on CNN.

There has been no federally mandated order for everyone to follow the same guidelines, and Fauci appeared to stop short of endorsing one by the Trump administration.

Read the full story here.

967d ago / 2:31 PM UTC

Trump admin advises nursing homes to set up separate COVID-19 facilities

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is recommending that nursing homes work with state and federal governments to designate separate facilities or units for COVID-19 only patients.

"To avoid transmission within nursing homes, facilities should use separate staffing teams for residents to the best of their ability," the agency wrote in a Friday press release announcing the new recommendations. The administration is also recommending nursing homes ensure all staff use appropriate personal protective equipment when interacting with patients and residents.

"Our members are doing their utmost to provide care for older adults in this unprecedented, challenging situation," said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services. She cautioned that the new recommendations are not feasible without assistance from the federal and state governments to secure resources. "Our providers do not have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources to adequately protect staff and to ensure the well-being of residents,” she said.

967d ago / 2:19 PM UTC

Engel calls on White House to cut exports of coronavirus PPE

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., on Friday called on the White House to restrict the export of personal protective equipment, citing the shortage of that vital gear amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the administration’s coronavirus task force, Engel said that the administration should use the Export Control Reform Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to take action.

“There is mounting evidence that the critical shortages of surgical masks and other personal protective equipment are being exacerbated by the unregulated export of such medical supplies from the United States,” Engel wrote. “Despite this alarming development, the White House Task Force on the Coronavirus has taken no steps to order the national regulation of personal protective equipment.”

967d ago / 2:04 PM UTC
967d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stay in self-isolation

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will continue self-isolating until further notice due to a continued fever, he said in a video update tweeted on Friday.

He said that although he has completed seven days in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, “alas, I still have one of the symptoms,” he said.

 

Despite this, Johnson said that he and the rest of the government had still been working throughout the past week. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday a plan to carry out 100,000 COVID-19 tests-per-day in England by the end of April. Health care experts and other politicians have slammed low numbers of testing.

He also mentioned that while there may be nice weather this weekend in the U.K., he urged people not to “hang out and start to break the regulations.” Britain is in the second week of a three-week lockdown.

967d ago / 1:56 PM UTC

Schumer, Wyden call for Labor Dept. to speed extra unemployment cash

In a call with reporters on Friday, Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the Department of Labor needed to do more to speed the delivery of the additional $600 that Congress added to augment individual states’ monthly maximum unemployment benefits, particularly after it became clear that the $1,200 stimulus checks could be delayed for some recipients by weeks.

Schumer said that the new unemployment numbers are “jaw-dropping” and that his constituents in New York are worried about being able to pay their housing costs and buy food. The additional $600 in federal benefits should ensure that the majority of laid-off U.S. workers receive benefits equivalent to their normal wages at least through July, he said. 

Wyden said, “We keep hearing reports of people who just don't see how they are going to be able to keep walking this economic tightrope,” adding that he was at his desk in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in order to press the Dept. of Labor today. “If we don't hear from the Labor Department by noon, I’m going to be calling them and we’re just gonna call, and call, and call, until we get this program up and running,” he said. 

The senator said it was possible there would be additional congressional stimulus measures because of “relentless” job loss numbers.

967d ago / 1:49 PM UTC

Sen. Gardner calls for investigation into ventilator stockpile

WASHINGTON — Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., announced Friday that he is calling for an investigation into reports that thousands of ventilators in the national stockpile are not operational, contributing to the low supply around the country as states scramble for supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Troubling reports indicate that potential contracting delays and maintenance failures are contributing to a low supply of operational ventilators during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic at a time when our country desperately needs them,” Gardner said in a statement.  

Gardner called the reports “unacceptable” and said there needed to be an "immediate investigation" into whether there was a gap between contracts that led to a lapse in maintaining the ventilators, how long ventilators went without proper maintenance and whether there are regulatory changes that need to be made to prevent this from happening in the future.

Gardner, who is up for re-election this year, self-quarantined earlier this month after coming into contact with a constituent who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

967d ago / 1:44 PM UTC

How contagious is the coronavirus?

In just three months, more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world, including close to a quarter-million in the U.S. alone. The virus has killed more than 50,000 people and defied many countries' efforts to stop its spread.

The grim statistics raise a question: Just how contagious is the coronavirus?

Read more.

967d ago / 1:13 PM UTC

Senators pushing bill to aid evacuated Peace Corps volunteers

A trio of senators are set to unveil legislation Friday aimed at ensuring that more than 7,000 recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteers get coronavirus-related unemployment benefits.

The bipartisan legislation would qualify the volunteers for the unemployment assistance provided in the coronavirus aid package that Congress passed last week and allow them to apply for additional health insurance coverage under the Peace Corps. It would also instruct the Peace Corps to connect volunteers with AmeriCorps and FEMA to help address the coronavirus crisis domestically, an issue that a group of lawmakers proposed in a recent letter to the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and FEMA. 

Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are backing the measure. “The burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on these public servants should not be overlooked during this economically challenging time," Collins said.

Murphy said the legislation was needed given the difficulties the evacuated volunteers are facing now that their service has been cut short. "The Peace Corps has always been about a belief that the American people are the best ambassadors to liaison with the rest of the world about our country’s values,” he added.

967d ago / 1:11 PM UTC

Mexico's Grupo Modelo to stop brewing Corona beer

Mexico’s Grupo Modelo said on Thursday it will temporarily stop brewing Corona beer and other brands exported to 180 countries after its business activities were declared non-essential under a government order aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The Mexican government this week declared a health emergency and ordered the suspension of non-essential activities as the number of virus cases in the country surpassed 1,500.

The brewer said in a statement that the suspension will go into place from Sunday and that it was already in the process of scaling down production to a level at which it could resume once the suspension is lifted.

967d ago / 12:39 PM UTC

U.S. economy lost a total of 701,000 jobs in March

The U.S. economy lost a total of 701,000 jobs in March, bringing a record 10-year streak of employment gains to a screeching halt as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer the workforce and shatter economic growth.

The closely watched monthly jobs data, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also shows the unemployment rate soared to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent, after months at a half-century low.

March's data represents the tip of the iceberg, however, since the survey was conducted in the first half of the month, prior to the pandemic's grip on the economy. 

Read the full story here.