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Boris Johnson in intensive care, U.S. death toll tops 10,000

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: UNLV Medicine Nearing Point Of Running Out Of Coronavirus Testing Kits
From left, certified medical assistants Lakietha Flourney, Yatziri Perez and Evelyn Laolagi conduct tests for COVID-19 at a drive-up testing station in the parking lot of UNLV Medicine in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 6, 2020.Ethan Miller / Getty Images

The number of deaths in the U.S. topped 10,700 by Monday night, according to NBC News' tally.

The rising toll comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said Sunday that the U.S. is "struggling" to get the coronavirus outbreak under control. The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has passed 337,000. Globally, the number of deaths has topped 70,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken into an intensive care unit for coronavirus, his office announced Monday. He had tested positive in March and was hospitalized Sunday for exhibiting symptoms for more than 10 days.

Meanwhile, an internal government watchdog report released Monday said that hospitals across the country face dire shortages of vital medical equipment — including testing kits and thermometers.

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Outages and delays mar new small business loan program

The electronic system the Small Business Administration is using to set up new coronavirus loans was down much of Monday, according to senior banking executives, making it impossible for many new loans to be guaranteed.

Billions of dollars in loans sought by small businesses trying to pay employees and keep their doors open were on pause as the SBA, supported by the Treasury, grapples with the demand on its system.

Read full story here

MLB reportedly discussing plan for all teams to play in Arizona

Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.

The sides held a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.

Ideas are still in the early stage, and the Arizona option would have many obstacles to overcome, the people said.

“It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide Major League Baseball to America,” said Scott Boras, baseball’s most prominent agent. “I think players are willing to do what’s necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment.”

New Zealand’s health minister demoted after going to beach during lockdown

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s health minister has described himself as an “idiot” and has been stripped of some responsibilities after breaching the country’s strict lockdown measures.

David Cook drove about 12 miles to the beach to take a walk with his family. He said that at a time when the government was asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices by staying at home, he had let them down.

“I’ve been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me,” he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said under normal circumstances, she would sack Clark. But she said the country couldn’t afford massive disruption in its health sector while it was fighting the virus. Instead, she said, she was stripping Clark of his role as Associate Finance Minister and demoting him to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings.

New Zealand is nearly halfway through a planned four-week lockdown aimed at minimizing the spread of the virus.

USNS Comfort crew member tests positive

A crew member on the Navy hospital ship the USNS Comfort, dispatched to New York City to help in the coronavirus outbreak in the region, has tested positive for the illness COVID-19.

The Navy said in a statement that the crew member tested positive Monday and is isolated from other crew or any patients.

"There is no impact to Comfort’s mission, and this will not affect the ability for Comfort to receive patients," the Navy said. 

The USNS Comfort, with a capacity of around 1,000 beds, was initially supposed to take non-virus patients in order to help local hospitals care for cases associated with the epidemic, but on Monday the governor and President Donald Trump said it would take COVID-19 patients. Trump said it would also take patients from New Jersey.

Trump aide Navarro reportedly warned White House of pandemic risks in January

U.N. secretary-general to brief Security Council on pandemic

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will brief the U.N. Security Council for the first time on the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, behind closed doors.

The U.N.’s most powerful body has come under criticism for not addressing the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 disease. The council has in the past spoken out on two public health emergencies — HIV/AIDS and Ebola.

The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution on April 2 recognizing “the unprecedented effects” of the coronavirus pandemic and calling for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat” the COVID-19 disease. Resolutions of the 193-member world body reflect global opinion but are not legally binding.

More than 800 die in France in 24 hours

PARIS — France’s health minister has reported the country’s highest 24-hour death toll recorded in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Olivier Veran said Monday evening that 833 people died of coronavirus in hospitals and nursing homes since Sunday.

Though some predicted that the infection rate might start to slow, Veran said that “we have not reached the end of the ascent of this epidemic.”

France has only recently started counting nursing home deaths in their COVID-19-related death counts, and previously only reported deaths in hospitals.

The total number that have died from the coronavirus stands at 8,911.

Texas teen faces terrorism charge after threatening to spread coronavirus, police say

Police in Texas are searching for an 18-year-old girl who claimed in a series of Snapchat videos to have tested positive for and to be "willfully spreading" the coronavirus.

18-year-old Lorraine Maradiaga.
18-year-old Lorraine Maradiaga.Carrollton Texas Police Department / via Facebook

The teenager, identified by police in Carrollton, near Dallas, as Lorraine Maradiaga, faces a charge of making a terroristic threat.

"I'm here at Walmart about to infest every motherf------, because if I'm going down, all you motherf------ are going down," Maradiaga says in the video, according to police.

Read the full story here

Trump: White House, 3M have reached agreement on mask production

President Donald Trump said Monday that after much discussion, the administration had reached an “amicable” agreement with manufacturing giant 3M to produce millions of high-quality face masks.

The company will make roughly 55 million masks each month, which will result in over 166 million masks for frontline health care workers over the next three months, Trump said.

“The 3M saga ends very happily,” the president told reporters at a White House briefing. 

Trump had previously clashed with the company, with the administration claiming 3M had not done enough to help fill the shortage of medical equipment such as masks, or to stop price-gouging. 

On Friday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel 3M to send masks made in foreign factories to the U.S. and to stop exporting masks made in America. Peter Navarro, Trump's trade adviser and Defense Production Act coordinator, also accused 3M of "acting like a sovereign nation." Mike Roman, the company's CEO, called claims 3M was not doing all it could do "absurd." 

On Monday, the company also announced it reached a deal with the administration to continue to export overseas. 

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern: Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy still working

Image: New Zealanders Adjust To Life In Lockdown Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during her post-Cabinet media update at Parliament on April 6, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.Mark Mitchell / Pool via Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday declared the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy "essential workers" — while gently warning kids that Peter Cottontail might miss his annual visit.

"You'll be pleased to know that we do consider both the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny to be essential workers," Ardern told reporters,  updating her nation's struggle against COVID-19.

The prime minister smiled as she asked children to be understanding if the egg-carrying rabbit can't get to everyone by Sunday: "And so I say to the children of New Zealand, if the Easter Bunny doesn't make it to your household, then we have to understand that it is a bit difficult at the moment for the bunny to perhaps get everywhere."

Fact check: Did the Obama administration ignore swine flu?

“Take a look at the swine flu. It was a disaster, 17,000 people died, the other administration…it’s like they didn’t even know it was here,” President Donald Trump claimed during a Monday press briefing.

Swine flu killed an estimated 12,469 people in the U.S. during the Obama administration. The first case was detected on April 15, 2009. Within two weeks, according to archived CDC records, the federal government had declared a public health emergency, begun work on a vaccine, started releasing PPE from the federal stockpile and purchasing antivirals, and had rolled out a test.

Fact check: Were the early coronavirus tests 'obsolete'?

“We’re the federal government, we’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing,” President Trump said at Monday's coronavirus task force briefing. “Initially speaking, the tests were old, obsolete and not really prepared. We have a brand-new testing system that we developed very quickly, and that’s you’re result and you should say congratulations, great job, instead of being so horrid in the way you ask a question.”

We've fact checked this before, and Trump's claims are false. 

There was no test for the novel coronavirus before it existed. The Trump administration chose to develop their own test — as the U.S. has done with previous infectious diseases, such as Ebola — and initially ran testing through just a handful of government labs. The U.S. only started allowing private labs to do testing after February 29.

U.S. coronavirus deaths now over 10,000

The death toll in America's ongoing struggle against the coronavirus pandemic surged past 10,700 on Monday night, according to an NBC tally.

There have been at least 10,742 fatalities from COVID-19 and more than 363,434 positive tests of coronavirus in the 50 states, District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

The Wisconsin election is back on after courts rule in GOP favor

US-VIRUS-HEALTH-POLITICS-VOTE
A man leaves the Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building after not being able to cast his ballot at the already closed drop-off site in Milwaukee on April 6, 2020.Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Wisconsin's controversial election is back on for Tuesday and voters will get no extension on the deadline to return absentee ballots despite the coronavirus crisis, thanks to two top courts sided with Republicans Monday evening.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, issued an executive order Monday afternoon postponing the election to June 9, citing the public health risk. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court hours later overturned the governor, siding with the Republican-controlled legislature that had appealed his order.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wisconsin Republicans on a separate issue, voting along ideological lines 5-4 to overturn a lower federal court's decision to extend the deadline for absentee balloting.

Read the full story here. 

Trump insisted on surprise Sunday briefing to counter 'dour' message of his own experts

Image: U.S. President Trump leads the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington
President Donald Trump during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on April 5, 2020.Joshua Roberts / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Sunday was supposed to be a quiet day at the White House, with no briefing scheduled and a decision from senior aides to call a “lid” before noon, indicating there was no expectation of seeing President Trump for the rest of the day. 

But President Trump was not satisfied with that plan, according to a source close to the task force, and didn’t want the “dour” messages from the surgeon general and Dr. Anthony Fauci to be the only public-facing moments of the day. He felt it was important to have a presser to stress “glimmers of hope,” according to this person.

Read the full story here. 

South Carolina ends holdout and issues stay-at-home order

Image: Test site
A car turns in at a location for drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Prisma Richland Hospital, in Columbia, S.C. on April 3, 2020.Meg Kinnard / AP

Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday ordered South Carolina's 5 million residents to stay home, making his state the last one east of the Mississippi River to issue such a coronavirus-related mandate.

McMaster had fought demands to issue a stay-at-home order, questioning the constitutionality of such sweeping, executive action. 

"The evidence and the facts ... the rising infection rate" prompted Monday's action, McMaster said.  "I'm confident that what we're doing today is legal, constitutional and is similarly protecting the people without destroying families."

Anyone out and not performing essential duties is subject to a misdemeanor criminal charge, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, according to the governor.

The South Carolina health department on Monday said there have been 2,232 positive tests for coronavirus and 48 deaths in the Palmetto State.

Louisiana pastor cited for defying coronavirus order hosts hundreds on Palm Sunday

Image: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Baton Rouge
Pastor Tony Spell talks with journalists before attending Sunday service on April 5, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

A Louisiana pastor accused of violating government orders to limit crowds during the coronavirus pandemic hosted hundreds of churchgoers on Palm Sunday, according to police.

Pastor Tony Spell welcomed worshipers at Life Tabernacle Church in Central, near Baton Rouge.

Spell has already been hit with six misdemeanors for the six services he has held since March 16 when Gov. John Bel Edwards announced an order against gatherings of more than 50 people.

Read the full story here. 

Indiana extends stay at home order for additional 2 weeks

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a new executive order extending the state's stay-at-home measures for another 14 days. 

Holcomb's initial order on March 24 was set to expire Monday evening, but the governor asked residents to continue isolating at home and following social distancing guidelines as the pandemic continues. 

"Hoosiers have done a great job adapting to the new rules put in place during this public health emergency, but I believe the next two weeks to month could be the most critical for all of us," Holcomb said. 

California courts suspend foreclosures and evictions during coronavirus crisis

The California Judicial Council voted Monday to effectively suspend the legal proceedings used to evict tenants or foreclose on homeowners, until after the coronavirus emergency declaration is rescinded by Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

The Council said that Newsom and local officials who directed that there be a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures did not necessarily have the authority to block action from continuing in court. This decision will do that.

The Council is considering a number of other items related to court operation, including allowing many more defendants to appear in court remotely via phone or video conference, and setting bail at zero for most nonviolent infractions. 

Third passenger from Coral Princess cruise dies

Wilson Maa, left,  and his wife Toyling were on the Coral Princess and got sick.
Wilson Maa, left, and his wife Toyling were on the Coral Princess and got sick.Courtesy Maa family

A Northern California man died of complications from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, shortly after being taken off the Coral Princess — leading loved ones and a Florida lawmaker to wonder if the ill passenger was treated fast enough.

Wilson Maa, a 71-year-old South San Francisco resident, died late Saturday night at Larkin Community Hospital in Hialeah, Florida, after the ship docked in Miami in the morning.

"The family had to call 911 from out of state to get help for a family member," niece Kellie Yuh told NBC News. "They had to wait over four hours for an ambulance and he died two hours later at the hospital."

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., asked if the California man received timely medical care, tweeting: "It’s devastating and exasperating that we will never know if Mr. Maa’s death could have been prevented with a swift and urgent medical response that this situation deserved." 

Before Maa's death, two others had passed away from COVID-19 complications aboard the ship. Operator Princess Cruises said it too wants to know the timeline leading to the man's death, issuing a statement: "All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Maa. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and those impacted by this loss." 

Civil rights group, medical professionals demand federal racial data on coronavirus victims

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a letter signed by 400 medical professionals to the Trump administration on Monday demanding the release of racial data related to coronavirus cases and deaths. 

The group sent the letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calling for the release of data related to testing, cases and outcomes related to race and ethnicity because of growing concerns of the infection rate in black communities. 

“We are deeply concerned that African American communities are being hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that racial bias may be impacting the access they receive to testing and health care,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the civil rights group. "To fully confront this pandemic, we must ensure that communities of color receive equitable health care and treatment during this crisis."

The CDC is not currently publicly reporting racial data for coronavirus cases or tests performed across the country, but some state and local governments have released data. 

In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, as of April 6, African Americans made up 46 percent of the country's 1,270 coronavirus cases, while only 27 percent of the population. Black residents are also among the hardest hit in areas such as Washington, D.C, and Illinois.

Tyson Foods suspends operations at Iowa plant

Tyson Foods has suspended operations at its pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, after more than two dozen workers tested positive for COVID-19, the company announced Monday.

This suspension, along with worker absenteeism and other worker safety precautions such as social distancing, have slowed production across the company’s meat and poultry plants, the company's chief executive Noel White said in a statement.

“We’re working hard to protect our team members during this ever-changing situation, while also ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people across the country,” White said. The company has been taking workers’ temperatures before their shifts and deep cleaning and sanitizing parts of the plant including employee break and locker rooms, he added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson transferred to intensive care unit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is battling the coronavirus, has been transferred to the intensive care unit at a London hospital after his symptoms worsened, his office said in a statement Monday.

"The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary," Johnson's office said. "The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication."

Trump approves Cuomo request to have Navy hospital ship take coronavirus patients

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday asked President Donald Trump if the Comfort, a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship now docked in New York City, could be shifted to take patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

The ship, brought to New York City to free up much-needed hospital space for infected patients, had previously been reserved for non-virus patients. The Comfort had only 20 patients as of Thursday night. 

"As it turned out, there's not a lot of non-COVID people in the hospital system, which is a separate story," Cuomo said. "A byproduct of shutting everything down is you have fewer car accidents, crime rate is way down, fewer trauma cases, so there is not a large non-COVID population in the hospitals." 

Cuomo said later Monday on MSNBC that Trump agreed to the request. The governor said the move adds 1,000 beds to the fight against the disease, which will hopefully alleviate some of the stress on the state's healthcare system.

Cuomo also said schools and non-essential businesses would remain closed through at least April 29 and that the fine for those who violated restrictions on social distancing would increase, from $500 to $1,000.

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U.S. Army places temporary hold on sending new recruits to basic training

The U.S. Army has paused the movement of future U.S. soldiers to basic combat training, the department announced Monday.

"This tactical pause will allow commands to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place and are operating effectively at training installations," the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, which oversees training of Army recruits, said in a statement.

The pause does not affect recruits currently in basic training. They will continue under screening and monitoring guidelines established in March, and proceed to their next assignment upon graduation. Current protocols include "social-distanced-enabled training" and reduced movement of trainees.

"The decision to pause the shipment of trainees to [Basic Combat Training] for two weeks will allow leaders to focus on setting conditions so movement can be conducted in a safer manner in the future,” said Gen. Paul Funk, II, head of the Command.

Wisconsin Gov. Evers suspends in-person voting for Tuesday primary amid coronavirus concerns

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday signed an executive order suspending all in-person voting for Tuesday's primary and moved the date of the election to June 9 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The order also convenes the state legislature for a special session on Tuesday to deal with the issue.

“Today, I signed an executive order suspending in-person voting for tomorrow’s election,” Evers said in a statement. “Frankly, there’s no good answer to this problem — I wish it were easy.”

“As municipalities are consolidating polling locations, and absent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing. The bottom line is that I have an obligation to keep people safe, and that’s why I signed this executive order today,” he added.

Read the full story here.

More than 16,000 dead in Italy

Image: Doctors treat a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Rome on March 26, 2020.
Doctors treat a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Rome on March 26, 2020.Antonio Masiello / Getty Images file

Italy reached another grim milestone in the pandemic as more than 16,000 people there have now died from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

The official death toll was listed at 16,523, officials said Monday, a spike of 636 fatalities from Sunday night's reported total of 15,887. No nation has been hit harder by COVID-19 deaths than Italy. 

There have been at least 132,547 positive coronavirus cases, Italian officials said Monday, an increase from 128,848 a day earlier.

 

New York rabbi: 'We can be many faiths during this week, but we are one family'

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, spoke about the challenges of safely continuing religious practice amid the coronavirus outbreak in a Monday interview with Craig Melvin on MSNBC.

"It's really a time of contradiction," Rabbi Potasnik said. "We say let everyone enter, when it comes to our house of worship, and the doors are locked."

In the days leading up to Passover and Easter, Rabbi Potasnik encouraged people to practice in ways that are safe, such as turning to online services, and encouraged unity during tough times. 

"We can be many faiths during this week but we are one family and I think when this is over there's going to be a recognition that we need each other, face to face," he said.

Top Trump aide says Fauci's caution on possible coronavirus treatment warrants a 'second opinion'

President Donald Trump's top trade adviser Peter Navarro said Monday that Dr. Anthony Fauci's caution about the effectiveness of an anti-malaria drug that the president has been urging as a treatment for coronavirus warrants a "second opinion."

Asked about an Axios report that he and Fauci got into a heated argument about the drug during a coronavirus task force meeting on Saturday, Navarro told CNN, "There was that discussion on Saturday, and if we didn't have disagreement and debate in the Trump administration, this administration would not be as strong as it is."

A source told Axios the dispute started when Navarro said the studies he'd seen on the effects of the drug, hydroxychloroquine, show "clear therapeutic efficacy." Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Navarro there's only anecdotal evidence, leading Navarro to angrily declare the studies he'd seen are "science, not anecdote."

Read the full story here.

California to loan 500 ventilators to hard-hit New York

California is loaning 500 ventilators to the national stockpile to help hard-hit states like New York treat critically ill coronavirus patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Monday.

“We still have a long road ahead of us in the Golden State — and we’re aggressively preparing for a surge — but we can’t turn our back on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now," Newsom said in a statement. "I know that if the tables were turned and we were experiencing a hospital surge, other states would come to our aid and provide ventilators just as we are today.”

New York has the most coronavirus cases of any state, with more than 130,000 confirmed as of Monday. While the total number of daily patients admitted to intensive care units has dipped in recent days, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned the state could run out of ventilators to treat patients whose respiratory symptoms have advanced past the point of being able to breathe on their own.

Photo: Sanitizing shoppers in Albania

Image: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tirana
A woman passes through a disinfection tunnel before entering a market, as authorities take measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, in Tirana on Monday.Florion Goga / Reuters

Billie Eilish, Lizzo and other stars to perform in globally televised concert to support health care workers

Broadcast TV networks are collaborating to air an unprecedented, globally televised fundraiser to celebrate and support health care workers on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus, the World Health Organization and Global Citizen announced on Monday. 

The special, “One World: Together at Home,” will air on April 18 at 8 p.m. ET and will feature musicians alongside health care workers from around the globe discussing their experiences.

"Through music, entertainment and impact, the global live-cast will celebrate those who risk their own health to safeguard everyone else’s,” Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen, said in a statement Monday.

Three late-night comics — Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert — will helm the event, along with characters from "Sesame Street."

The star-studded event will feature a long list of musical artists, including Elton John, Keith Urban, Andrea Bocelli, Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Paul McCartney.

The show will be broadcast by ABC, NBC, CBS and radio operator iHeart Media. It will be streamed on various platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Instagram, and YouTube.

Trump, Biden trade barbs over possible virtual Democratic convention

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden traded shots Monday over the possibility that Democrats could hold a virtual convention this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“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?” Trump tweeted Monday afternoon.

Biden hit back moments later.

“Mr. President, I hope we can gather in Milwaukee, but that is going to depend on you stepping up and doing what needs to be done to handle this pandemic,” he tweeted. "I have laid out how you can do that.”

Read the full story here.

Fact check: Trump doubles down on unproven hydroxychloroquine claims

Trump spent much of his Sunday night coronavirus briefing boasting about the potential use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, as a COVID-19 treatment.

When the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was asked about the drug, which has not been proven as an effective treatment for COVID-19, on Sunday night, Trump intervened: “I’ve answered that question — maybe 15 times. You don’t have to answer."

“There’s signs it works on this — very strong signs,” the president said. “I’ve seen things that I sort of like. What do I know, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doctor, but I have common sense. The FDA feels good about it. As you know they’ve approved it — they gave it rapid approval.”

This isn’t true: The FDA has not approved a proven treatment for COVID-19. Read our fact check here.

Cuomo says New York state may be seeing 'possible flattening of the curve'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said the curve of the coronavirus outbreak in New York state may be flattening.

Cuomo said that 599 more people had died in the state, a number similar with that of the previous day. The total number of deaths is 4,758.

"The possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases we have seen," Cuomo said. "New York is still far and away the most impacted state."

The total number of hospitalizations, patients who were admitted to intensive care units and daily intubations are all down, Cuomo said. 

"The big question that we're looking at now is what is the curve?" Cuomo said. 

The Masters eyes November for rescheduled tournament

Claim that bodies would end up in NYC parks gets swift pushback from officials

Mark D. Levine, the chair of the New York City Council health committee, received swift pushback on Monday when he said that city parks would likely "soon" be used as temporary burial sites for the dead when cemeteries got overwhelmed with bodies. 

Levine wrote on Twitter that trenches in parks "will be dug for 10 caskets in a line."

"It will be done in a dignified, orderly — and temporary — manner. But it will be tough for NYers to take," he further detailed. "The goal is to avoid scenes like those in Italy, where the military was forced to collect bodies from churches and even off the streets."

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner quickly clarified that sending bodies to parks is a scenario in a prepared disaster plan, but not currently being considered as the city grapples with a massive wave of coronavirus cases. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo answered a question about the supposed plan by telling reporters during his Monday news conference that he had heard nothing about it, though he said he had "heard a lot of wild rumors."

Spokespeople for Mayor Bill de Blasio's office said the city was nowhere near the point where burials in parks would occur. De Blasio said earlier in the day that the place that would be relied on for mass burials would be Hart Island in the Bronx.

The city has the ability to accommodate 19,000 dead people at Hart Island. That capacity would have to be exceeded before parks would be considered for caskets. 

This plan was finalized in 2008 and is part of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's plan for pandemic influenza outbreaks. Currently, New York City's daily death rate is far below the “maximum scenario” the plan was designed to handle. 

The plan assumes no federal assistance when it comes to handling the dead, predicting that a pandemic "is likely to affect the entire country and limited federal assets may be allocated to other areas.” 

Levine later clarified that using parks for burials "is a contingency NYC is preparing for BUT if the death rate drops enough it will not be necessary." 

NYC mayor says surgical gowns urgently needed, thanks feds for masks

US-HEALTH-VIRUS
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has his temperature taken before he tours local companies that have teamed up to make thousands of protective hospital gowns at their Brooklyn Navy Yard facilities on April 6, 2020.Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday the city "urgently" needed to find more surgical gowns. 

New York City hospitals and nursing homes used 1.8 million gowns last week, and are expected to use 2.5 million this week as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Crye Precision, a combat apparel company, and Lafayette 148, a fashion company, will create about 9,200 reusable surgical gowns at the Brooklyn Navy Yard this week, de Blasio said following a tour of the facility, where the two firms are hard at work.

He said he was coordinating with the federal government to get more. He thanked President Donald Trump for sending 600,000 N95 masks for New York City's independent hospitals. He said 200,000 masks arrived for public hospitals on Friday.

A doodled look at some feel-good Google trends

RNC chairwoman says nationwide voting by mail would undermine democracy

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Monday that the push by some Democrats for a nationwide vote-by-mail option amid the pandemic would undermine American democracy. 

McDaniel wrote in an op-ed published by Fox News that the GOP “will always defend free and fair elections” and that the party will “continue to fight and win against attempts by Democrats to use the pandemic as an excuse to circumvent election integrity.”

A number of Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden have suggested in recent days that voting by mail may need to be expanded for the 2020 elections amid the coronavirus outbreak. Congressional Democrats have been calling for increasing funding to states that would allow for such a scenario.

McDaniel argued that voting by mail would lead to an increase in fraud and weaken confidence in elections.

In a coronavirus contingency plan released in late March by the Brennan Center, one of the recommendations is extending mail-in ballots to all voters. According to MIT’s election data and science lab, there are very few documented instances of fraud related to voting by mail, though it says that some scholars argue voting by mail could lead to more fraud than in-person voting. 

U.K. Prime Minister tweets he is in 'good spirits' after hospitalization

Global Update: Early signs of a slowing death rate in Europe’s worst-hit countries

Austria plans to start easing coronavirus restrictions

Image: A man wearing a protective mask walks a dog on a shopping street during the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna
A man walks a dog in Vienna on Monday. Lisi Niesner / Reuters

The Austrian government is planning to slowly re-open shops, hotels and restaurants as the country hopes to start returning to normal life amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At a press conference on Monday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the re-opening is being "cautiously planned" for after Easter, but the dates could still be moved depending on the spread of the virus. The country went into lockdown three weeks ago. 

Kurz said smaller shops will be allowed to resume their business after Easter, followed by larger shops, shopping malls and hairdressers, which are expected to re-open by May 1. At the end of this month, the government will decide if restaurants and hotels can reopen in mid-May, he added. 

At the same time, officials have extended a requirement to wear face masks in supermarkets to include public transport and shops that re-open. More than 12,000 coronavirus cases have been recorded in Austria, with 204 deaths. 

Signs of hope in Italy as daily death toll falls again

The number of daily coronavirus deaths in Italy fell to the lowest level in more than a week, as the head of the country's National Health Institute, Silvio Brusaferro, said that the number of deaths and infections "has reached a plateau and begun to descend.”

“It is a result that we have to achieve day after day. If this is confirmed, we need to start thinking about the second phase and keep down the spread of this disease,” said Brusaferro. The country recorded 525 deaths on Sunday, bringing its total toll to 15,887.

Italy's Health Minister Roberto Speranza issued a plan for "phase two" of coronavirus response, which would soften lockdown restrictions but still keep social distancing measures in place. Despite the positive news, Speranza warned it is too early to know when the country will exit lockdown, telling the Italian daily La Repubblica "there are difficult months ahead."

Trump health official on coronavirus: 'We may be seeing the worst upon us right now'

A top Trump administration health official, Adm. Brett P. Giroir, said Monday that several parts of the country including New York, New Jersey and Detroit are expected to hit their peaks this week in terms of the number of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. 

In an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show, Giroir said "we may be seeing the worst upon us right now,” but added that that experts believe some areas are “turning a corner because of all of the physical distancing that we’re doing.” 

Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, said that other cities like New Orleans will hit their peaks in a few weeks. “We'll see some rolling peaks across the country as the next few weeks unfold,” he said, but warned that if people let their “foot off the gas,” then the situation could worsen.

Spain sees daily death toll drop for fourth day

Image: A plane from China arrives at Madrid airport Sunday with medical supplies on board to fight the coronavirus epidemic in Spain.
A plane from China arrives at Madrid airport Sunday with medical supplies on board to fight coronavirus in Spain. Getty Images

The number of new coronavirus deaths in Spain declined for the fourth day in a row on Monday, giving hope to the country’s health officials that the epidemic could be slowing down. 

A total of 637 new deaths were reported as of Sunday, the lowest number recorded since April 1, when Spain recorded 950 deaths, the highest one-day toll for any country since the start of the epidemic. 

"We are observing that the pandemic's growth rate is slowing down in almost every region," Maria Jose Sierra, deputy head of Spain’s Health Emergency Committee, told reporters at a virtual news conference Monday.

Health minister Salvador Illa said Monday the country, and the rest of the world, are facing "the worst health emergency in the past one hundred years."

The total number of coronavirus cases has reached more than 135,000 as of Sunday, the highest in Europe and second only to the U.S. 

U.N. chief warns of 'horrifying' surge in domestic violence amid lockdowns

The U.N. chief appealed to all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic amid a "horrifying global surge" in domestic violence. 

"For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest — in their own homes," Antonio Guterres said in a tweeted video Monday, asking for increased investment in online services for victims, declaring shelters as essential services and ensuring judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers. 

Reports of domestic violence increased in March in many cities across the U.S. as the coronavirus pandemic spread, according to law enforcement officials. In Europe, where a number countries are in strict lockdowns, women's rights groups have raised the alarm about the hardship that domestic violence victims can experience in lockdown conditions.

Government watchdog: Hospitals face severe shortages of medical gear, confusing guidance from government

Hospitals across the country face dire shortages of vital medical equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak — including testing kits and thermometers — and fear they can't ensure the safety of health care workers needed to treat patients with COVID-19, according to an internal government watchdog report released Monday.

The alarming findings, based on interviews conducted from March 23 to March 27, represent the first government assessment of how the country's hospitals are coping with the outbreak and confirm previous media reports and warnings from health workers that the medical system is under unprecedented strain.

Hospital administrators also said conflicting guidance from federal, state and local governments on how to use personal protective gear and other issues has led to "a greater sense of confusion, fear and distrust among staff that they can rely on hospital procedures to protect them," according to the report from the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS.

Read the full story here.

Japan to declare a state of emergency as early as Tuesday

Image: A man walks past a screen in Tokyo showing a news report that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to soon declare state of emergency on Monday.
A man walks past a screen in Tokyo showing a news report that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to soon declare state of emergency on Monday.Eugene Hoshiko / AP

Japan’s prime minister said Monday he could declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures as early as Tuesday, but not on the scale seen overseas, as the number or coronavirus cases continues to rise. 

Speaking to reporters, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will not close cities “as we have seen overseas,” citing experts saying Japan will not have to adopt such measures. Public transportation will continue to operate and supermarkets will stay open, but the public will be asked to avoid crowded areas and close contact, he said. 

On Monday, the chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, an independent body representing the city's doctors, said the capital, which has more than 1,000 cases, is in a “critical situation,” prompting them to declare their own medical state of emergency.

Iran's paramilitary women turn mosque into protective gear factory

Image: Iranian women, members of the Basij paramilitary organisation, make face masks and other protective items at a mosque in the capital Tehran on Sunday.
Iranian women, members of the Basij paramilitary organisation, make face masks and other protective items at a mosque in the capital Tehran on Sunday.Atta Kenare / AFP - Getty Images

'His Achilles' heel': Coronavirus crisis highlights Trump's lack of health care plan

Health care was already a vulnerability for President Donald Trump before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now his lack of a plan to fix the system is coming under a new microscope as the crisis costs many Americans their coverage and overwhelms providers.

The clarity in Trump's health care vision begins and ends with repealing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, also known as Obamacare. His budget proposals would strip away funding for the law, and he has endorsed a lawsuit to wipe it off the books. But the president hasn't thrown his weight behind a replacement bill or even an outline, and he has rejected calls to reopen Obamacare for enrollment during the current crisis.

Trump's focus on mitigating the economic damage has kept health care on the back burner. Some allies worry that with millions of newly unemployed Americans poised to lose coverage during a public health crisis, Trump's lack of a plan for the needy will be a political liability in his re-election bid.

Read the full story.

Irish PM returns to work as a doctor to help in coronavirus crisis

Image: Ireland's Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a news conference on March 24.
Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at a coronavirus news conference on March 24.Steve Humphreys / Reuters file

It’s back to his scrubs for Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. The former doctor re-registered as a medical practitioner last month to help the country's healthcare system as it deals with the coronavirus epidemic, his office said Sunday.

Varadkar will work for the health service for one session a week “in areas that are within his scope of practice,” a statement from his office said. 

"He wanted to help out even in a small way," the statement added. According to a report in the Irish Times, Varadkar is helping out with phone assessments of coronavirus patients. 

Governors plead for food stamp flexibility

Yvonne Knight, who has respiratory problems that make her especially vulnerable in the coronavirus pandemic, can't buy groceries online with her food stamps, even though each trip to the store is now a risky endeavor.

Going out to buy food terrifies the 38-year-old woman with cerebral palsy, but she is one of millions of people who receive food aid through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that can't be used in flexible ways. “Every time I go out, I put myself at risk — and other people,” said Knight, who lives in Erie, Pennsylvania. 

Buying groceries online — which many Americans are doing to reduce how often they leave their homes — is only open to SNAP recipients in six U.S. states, and Pennsylvania is not one of them.

Now, state governments and food security activists across the country are imploring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make the program more flexible and easier to access at a time when so many people are losing their jobs and turning to the government for support.

Duran Duran's John Taylor reveals coronavirus recovery

John Taylor
John Taylor of Duran Duran, shown last year, said Sunday he is recovering from COVID-19.Amy Harris / Amy Harris/Invision/AP

LOS ANGELES — Duran Duran bassist John Taylor took to Facebook on Sunday to reveal he had tested positive for coronavirus and is on the mend. Taylor was diagnosed with COVID-19 "three weeks ago" and has been self-quarantining.

"I am speaking out to answer to the enormous amount of fear being generated by the pandemic, some of it entirely justified, and my heart goes out to everyone who has had to deal with real loss and pain," he wrote. "But I want to let you know that it isn't always a killer, and we can and will beat this thing."

The entertainment community has been rocked by the virus, having recently lost Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, country star Joe Diffie and jazz musician Ellis Marsalis Jr., among others.

Stocks appear set to jump, with Dow futures up more than 500 points

U.S. stock futures rose Sunday night as Wall Street tried to recover from another decline last week while investors shook off rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures traded 531 points higher, implying a gain of about 565 points at the Monday open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also pointed to Monday opening gains for the two indexes.

Last week, the major averages posted their third weekly decline in four. The Dow slid 2.7% while the S&P 500 lost 2.1%. The Nasdaq Composite closed last week down 1.7%. Stocks are also deep in bear-market territory as concerns over the coronavirus outbreak have virtually shut down the global economy and have dampened sentiment around corporate profits. 

Read the full story here. 

California county orders people to wear face coverings outside

Public health officials in Riverside County, California, made it mandatory Sunday for people who go outside to wear face coverings to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county's public health officer, said people could use bandanas, scarves and other items without visible holes in them to shield their faces. He cautioned against using industrial and surgical masks, saying they should be reserved for first responders.

The order came after 30 patients and staff members at a local nursing home tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to NBC Los Angeles. Two deputies have also died from the disease, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans on Friday to wear face coverings to keep people who may not be showing symptoms of the disease from spreading it to others.