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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACLU sues ICE over detention of immigrants vulnerable to coronavirus

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

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

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

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

 

'Wonder Woman' sequel and 'In The Heights' postponed

The superhero sequel "Wonder Woman 1984" and the musical adaptation "In The Heights" have joined the growing list of movie releases to be pushed back due to coronavirus.  

Warner Bros. released a statement Tuesday announcing that the anticipated "Wonder Woman" follow-up will be moved back to August instead of June, while the screen version of Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In The Heights" will be postponed indefinitely. 

Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich said that pushing the release of "Wonder Woman" would allow fans to enjoy the film on the big screen. "We hope the world will be in a safer and healthier place by then," Emmerich said. 

Miranda addressed the "In The Heights" delay on Twitter, saying the cast and crew had "the best summer of our lives" filming in the Washington Heights area of New York City. "When we can safely gather again, flags in hand, we will be there, enjoying this movie in theaters," Miranda said. "We'll have the premiere uptown. The best summer of our lives, together." 

Celebrated playwright Terrence McNally dies from coronavirus complications

The award-winning playwright Terrence McNally died at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida from complications due to coronavirus Tuesday, according to his publicist. He was 81.

McNally, who was a lung cancer survivor with chronic COPD, was frequently described as the "bard of American theater" and was known for writing "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Ragtime" and a number of farcical plays throughout his sixty-year career. 

He is survived by his husband, Tom Kirdahy, and his brother, Peter McNally.

Photo: Livestreaming funerals in Vienna

Deacon Otmar Gindl and undertakers rehearse the livestreaming of a funeral Tuesday in Vienna. Because the Austrian government has temporarily banned all gatherings of more than five people, undertakers are offering the livestreaming service to mourners who can't attend the funerals in person.Thomas Kronsteiner / Getty Images

Judge slaps down Michael Cohen's coronavirus-based bid to get out of prison

Michael Cohen’s effort to have his sentence reduced or to serve the balance of his sentence in home confinement has been tossed by the judge overseeing his case.

The former personal lawyer to President Donald Trump is currently serving a three-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to several crimes in late 2018, including making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump and lying to Congress about the president's business dealings with Russia.

“Apparently searching for a new argument to justify a modification of his sentence to home confinement, Cohen now raises the specter of COVID-19,” Judge William Pauley III wrote in a court order denying Cohen's reduction requests.

"Ten months into his prison term, it’s time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far reaching institutional harms.”

Los Angeles County gun shops drew a barrage of buyers before lockdown

Los Angeles County residents rushed to gun stores as the coronavirus spread across the U.S. last week, forming long lines in a fit of panic-buying, a top law enforcement official told NBC News.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the gun buying bonanza came just before a stay-at-home order was put in place. Gun shops, like other nonessential businesses, are now closed across the county.

"You can't shoot a virus," Villanueva told NBC News. “But if we ever get to the point of a foreign invasion or zombie apocalypse, I’ll make sure they are open.”

Transit systems in free fall beg for federal help over coronavirus

An empty New York subway car on Monday.Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

The nation's public transit systems are asking for federal help as ridership plummets because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As more and more states and major urban centers call upon residents to work from home and shelter in place to slow the spread of the virus, public transit systems around the country are taking a major hit, with declines in ridership of up to 90 percent.

In New York, an epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has seen a 60 percent decline in ridership on its subways, while in San Francisco, where residents have been ordered to stay home, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has seen a decline of almost 90 percent and is losing millions per week, forcing it to reduce service times.

The steep drops in riders, plus the added costs of safety measures such as disinfecting subway cars and cleaning the stations, could have catastrophic financial consequences for public transit systems even after the crisis is over.

Read the full story here.

Coronavirus cases surpass 50,000 in the U.S.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has now risen to more than 50,000. New York has the biggest number of cases by far, at over 25,000. That's largely due to increased testing for the virus. 

California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington have all reported more than 1,000 cases each.

Nationwide, 637 people have died from the coronavirus.