With new measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Senators returned to Washington on Monday. Soda machines were taped off, tables were spread out and basketball-size circles painted on the ground reminded visitors how far apart six feet is. Lawmakers were scheduled to take their first vote Monday night.
At the U.S. Supreme Court, justices conducted their first-ever oral argument by conference call. The audio was streamed live — also a first — on news sites and is available on CSPAN.
A report by the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence service details China's efforts to cover up the depth of its coronavirus outbreak while stockpiling medical supplies. The details come one day after one day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China must be held accountable for spreading the deadly virus.
More than 68,000 people have been sickened with the disease across the United States, according to an NBC News tally. New York state tops the list, with more than 25,117 deaths. More than 1 million Americans have contracted the virus.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. are starting to reopen.
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Amazon VP quits over firing of coronavirus whistleblowers
A vice president and engineer at Amazon said he quit on May 1 "in dismay" at the company's firing of "whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19."
Tim Bray, who announced his resignation on his personal blog, worked at Amazon for five-and-half years said the move to fire employees sounding the alarm on working conditions was "chickens---."
"At the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response," Bray wrote. "It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential."
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
'If they can do it, so can we'
While trains are empty, rail companies entertain on Twitter
As millions of commuters continue to stay home, Britain's rail companies are using their Twitter accounts to entertain the public with bedtime stories and cute animal photos.
Instead of the usual updates on train delays and timetable changes, London North Eastern Railway's customer service reps are posting videos of themselves reading Thomas the Train out loud to sleepy train enthusiasts, and video updates on a mother goose who has chosen to lay her eggs in the flower bed of an almost-empty railway station in York, Yorkshire.
Not wanting to miss out on the fun, ScotRail has been providing behind-the-scenes videos like a virtual trip through a train wash, as well as content guaranteed to please all ages: cute animal photos. "Please enjoy this picture of a very fluffy alpaca," wrote one customer service rep yesterday. "That's it. That's the Tweet."
Experts define inflammatory disorder likely linked to COVID-19 in kids
A group of experts from around the globe announced Monday a case definition for a new inflammatory disorder in children that's likely linked to COVID-19.
The group, with experts specializing in pediatric infectious disease, cardiology and intensive care management, met in a webinar on Saturday to discuss cases of what they're now calling "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome." The syndrome appears to cause an inflammation of blood vessels, as well as a toxic shock-like response and fever.
"This rare syndrome shares common features with other pediatric inflammatory conditions including: Kawasaki disease, staphylococcal and streptococcal toxic shock syndromes, bacterial sepsis and macrophage activation syndromes," the panel of experts wrote in its case definition.
It's unclear how many children may have this condition. A handful of cases have been reported in the New York area, as well as in the U.K.
One German state plans to reopen restaurants to limited capacity
Lower Saxony, a state in northwest Germany, announced Monday that it will allow restaurants and cafes to reopen in a week, on May 11, but only at 50 percent capacity and for people who make reservations.
Vacation rentals and campgrounds will open, too, with reduced availability, but bars and clubs will remain closed.
The state's plan was released despite an agreement between local leaders and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that they would discuss reopening restaurants and bars later. A government spokesperson would not comment on the state’s plan.
How will colleges recover from coronavirus? Campuses that survived disasters offer clues
Before the coronavirus shut down college campuses, some had already suffered natural disasters that decreased enrollment, slowed students’ progress and deprived faculty and staff of income.
Officials at these colleges said they can offer lessons in how institutions can respond not just to wildfires and hurricanes, but also to a pandemic. Strategies include offering additional financial and emotional support to struggling students.
When it comes to crises that can bring a campus to a halt, said Marvin Pratt, director of environmental health and safety at California State University, Chico, which was closed for two weeks by the 2018 Camp fire, “All of us have learned that no one is immune.”
Jersey City makes beautiful discovery during City Hall renovation
Bureaucrats in Jersey City made an exciting discovery while taking advantage of coronavirus downtime to make improvements to the city.
Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted on Sunday that builders renovating City Hall had uncovered and restored a stunning early 20th century tiled floor that had spent nearly six decades hidden under grey speckled linoleum.
"We thought we’d find garbage," Fulop said, "but instead we found the original from 100 yrs ago."
'60 Minutes' correspondent Lesley Stahl details recovery from coronavirus
The veteran journalist who has been with "60 Minutes" for nearly three decades opened by sharing a tenet of journalism: "Don't become part of the story."
"But instead of covering the pandemic, I was one of the more-than-one million Americans who did become part of it," she revealed.
Stahl concluded by thanking that "valiant army in scrubs and masks."
"They were fulfilling a mission, answering the call. Thanks to them, like so many other patients, I am well now," she said.
Five European countries have yet to reach COVID-19 peak, E.U. says
The head of the European Union agency for disease control said on Monday that five European countries have yet to reach the peak of their coronavirus outbreaks.
Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, told EU lawmakers that in Britain, Poland, Romania and Sweden the agency had seen "no substantial changes in the last 14 days," and Bulgaria was still recording an increase in cases. The statement contradicted the U.K. government's line, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying on Thursday that Britain was past the peak and "on the downward slope."
For all other European countries there was a drop in cases, she said. "As of Saturday, it appears that the initial wave of transmission (in Europe) has passed its peak," Ammon told lawmakers in a videoconference.
J. Crew files for bankruptcy as retailer succumbs to COVID-19 fallout
J. Crew Group Inc filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday with a plan to hand over control to lenders, adding to a list of brick-and-mortar retailers pushed to the brink by widespread store closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The New York-based chain, known for preppy clothing at times worn by former first lady Michelle Obama, filed for bankruptcy in a Virginia federal court with an agreement to eliminate its roughly $1.65 billion of debt in exchange for ceding ownership to creditors. It is the first big retailer to file during the pandemic.
Anchorage Capital Group, Blackstone Group Inc's GSO Capital Partners and Davidson Kempner Capital Management hold significant portions of J. Crew's senior debt and are in line to take control of the company.
Brown bear seen in Spanish mountains for first time in 150 years
A brown bear was filmed in the mountains of northwestern Spain for what's believed to be the first time in 150 years, according to the production company Zeitun Films.
The film-makers spotted the bear using automatic camera traps in the Montes do Invernadeiro Natural Park in Galicia region. It is thought to be a male between 3 and 5 years old.
There have been many reports of wildlife sightings during coronavirus-related lockdowns. Park agents said they believe the bear likely spent the winter in the area. It follows years of conservation work there, the film-makers said.