Aid groups ‘race against the clock’ to prevent COVID-19 outbreak in refugee camps
For the world’s most vulnerable communities -- from the Greek island of Lesvos to Jordan’s refugee camps -- aid groups like the Norwegian Refugee Council are sounding the alarm on insufficient resources.
“We’re now in a frantic race against the clock and against the pandemic to try to get a minimum of water and sanitation and decongestion, shelter to the most vulnerable groups before it is too late,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General for the Norwegian Refugee Council, in Oslo, whose organization serves nine million displaced people globally.
From supplies like water and sanitation material to following basic precautionary measures like hand washing in overcrowded areas, these groups are urging governments to step in and help before the 25 million refugees and more than 70 million displaced people worldwide are affected.
“Even things like dispensing hand sanitizer, there’s simply not enough,” Katie Muirhead, who heads a medical non-governmental organization and serves refugees on Greece’s island of Lesvos, told NBC News. “Unless we can find somewhere we can donate…and how long would that last anyway? That’s sort of a band aid solution.”
Minnesota orders its citizens to stay home
Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday ordered the 5.6 million residents Minnesota — other than those performing essential services — to stay home in the state's ongoing battle against coronavirus.
"We must take bold action to save the lives of Minnesotans," he said in a statement. "As a former Command Sergeant Major in the Army National Guard, I believe in having a plan — which is why I’m directing Minnesotans to stay at home and limit their movements to essential services."
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 287 confirmed cases and at least 1 death due to coronavirus. Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said that her husband has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage
More than 140 nursing homes have reported coronavirus cases. Federal officials won’t say which ones. [The Washington Post]
Newest shortage in New York: The city is running out of dogs to foster [Bloomberg]
How Ford is using seat ventilation fans to build thousands of respirators [Road and Track]
Tony Awards, Grammys Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event postponed
The 74th Tony Awards and the Recording Academy's 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event have been postponed due to the coronavirus.
A new date for the Tonys — which was supposed to take place June 7 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City — has yet to be announced, according to a spokesperson.
The 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event will now take place on Nov. 7, instead of May 2, at the same location: the Public Hall Auditorium in Cleveland.
Broadway theaters began canceling show in mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak, and since then the theaters have shut down. Meanwhile, a handful of Broadway stars have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, including Aaron Tveit and Matt Doyle.
Trump approves disaster declaration for Florida and Texas
President Donald Trump approved disaster declarations for Florida and Texas on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, opening up additional sources of federal funding to the states' governments to respond to the outbreak.
The two massive states are seeing a growth in the number of cases — 1,034 in Texas and 1,467 in Florida as of Wednesday. Meanwhile, 11 people have died of the disease in Texas, while 22 have died in Florida.
BuzzFeed to cut salaries, CEO to go unpaid
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has informed the vast majority of staff that they will receive a pay cut for the months of April and May as the company struggles to endure revenue losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Peretti himself said he would not be taking a salary for several months. BuzzFeed employees who are making less than $125,000 a year — roughly 70 percent of staff — will see a pay cut of less than 10 percent, according to Peretti's memo. Executives will take pay cuts between 14 and 25 percent of their current salaries.
The move comes as media companies large and small suffer declines in advertising revenue.
"We’ve been monitoring the human and economic impact of the coronavirus and it’s clear we will see a major economic downturn in the next few months," Peretti wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News.
Hundreds of police officers exposed to coronavirus
Hundreds of police officers have been exposed to the coronavirus, and confirmed infections are expected to climb as testing becomes more widely available, according to the National Police Foundation, which launched an online data portal tracking the virus’ spread through American law enforcement agencies.
The tracking tool, which relies on agencies' voluntary reports, so far only reflects a tiny portion of the 18,000 or so police departments across the country. But it provides a glimpse of the virus’ potential to deplete their ranks. As of Wednesday afternoon, about 300 officers had been exposed, and 250 officers were unable to work, according to the portal.
The numbers do not include the New York Police Department, where more than 100 officers have tested positive, and more than 2,000 employees have called out sick.
James Burch, the foundation’s president, said police are desperate to get officers tested quickly so they can more effectively quarantine those who have been infected. Some agencies have put large numbers of officers in isolation because they may have been exposed.
The data portal also measures police shortfalls in protection equipment, including masks and gloves.
"The data shows a lot of officers exposed but not a lot diagnosed," Burch said. "We assume that's because there's not a lot of testing out there yet, but once testing improves we might see an increase."