COVID-19 deaths climb in NY; Chris Cuomo tests positive

COVID-19 deaths climb in NY; Chris Cuomo tests positiveMore than 300 New Yorkers died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a somber-sounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday as temporary hospital beds were made available to help relieve the stress on city hospitals inundated with virus patients. City officials announced Tuesday that 250 more ambulances and 500 paramedics and EMTs are headed to New York to help manage record numbers of calls for assistance. Deaths from the coronavirus continued to climb steeply in New York, topping 1,500 by Tuesday, according to Cuomo.



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Border Patrol Stopped a Chinese Biologist Carrying Viable SARS, MERS Viruses at Detroit Airport in 2018

Border Patrol Stopped a Chinese Biologist Carrying Viable SARS, MERS Viruses at Detroit Airport in 2018U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese scientist carrying vials believed to contain the MERS and SARS viruses in November 2018 — just over a year before the first reported Wuhan coronavirus case, according to an FBI tactical intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News.“Inspection of the writing on the vials and the stated recipient led inspection personnel to believe the materials contained within the vials may be viable Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) materials,” the report reads. The vials were labeled “Antibodies”, and the unnamed scientist said he was asked to deliver them to a researcher at a U.S. institute.The report also lays out a pattern of Chinese interference, detailing two other cases from May 2018 and September 2019, in which different Chinese nationals tried to enter the U.S. with undeclared flu strains and suspected E. coli, respectively.“The Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate assesses foreign scientific researchers who transport undeclared and undocumented biological materials into the United States in their personal carry-on and/or checked luggage almost certainly present a US biosecurity risk,” the report states. “The WMDD makes this assessment with high confidence based on liaison reporting with direct access.”The FBI has stepped up its efforts to combat Chinese espionage operations in recent months after admitting failures in preventing the recruitment of U.S. researchers by Beijing’s “Thousand Talents Plan.”“With our present-day knowledge of the threat from Chinese plans, we wish we had taken more rapid and comprehensive action in the past,” John Brown, assistant director of the counterintelligence division at the FBI, told a Senate subcommittee in November. “The time to make up for that is now.”In January, the head of Harvard University’s chemistry department was federally charged with failing to disclose funding from the Chinese government, after he hid his involvement in the talents program, which encourages the stealing of U.S. intellectual property.China has come under fire for its handling of the coronavirus, despite pushing propaganda, which has been parroted by Western media, in an attempt to shift criticism to the U.S. A study released earlier this month detailed how the Chinese Communist Party could have prevented 95 percent of total infections if it had acted sooner to limit the spread and warn others.



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Detainees in US immigration jails living in fear as coronavirus spreads

Detainees in US immigration jails living in fear as coronavirus spreadsRecordings obtained by Guardian reveal people in Ice centers in the south concerned they are not being properly cared forDetainees at immigration detention centers across the American south have alleged heavy-handed crackdowns amid increasing panic and protest over the coronavirus pandemic, according to advocates and recordings of detainees obtained by the Guardian.A number of detainees have expressed concern they are not being properly cared for in packed detention centers. Former senior immigration officials and attorneys have called for the release of nonviolent detainees. Judges in New Jersey, New York and California have ordered the release of small numbers, based on health concerns.“People are terrified for their lives and think that they’re going to die there,” said Phoebe Lytle, a law student volunteer who has spoken with detainees at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) facilities in Louisiana. “I don’t think anyone is saying it in a light or flippant way.”Jaclyn Cole, an outreach paralegal at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said she was called on Tuesday by a Cuban asylum seeker who said officers dressed in riot gear were shooting rubber bullets and using chemical agents on detainees after a dispute with guards.During the five-minute call to Pine Prairie Ice processing center, Cole said she heard between 10 and 15 shots.Ice spokesperson Bryan D Cox did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has previously denied that the privately operated facility possesses rubber bullets, after detainees have reported their use. Cox did confirm to Mother Jones that seven people at Pine Prairie were pepper-sprayed on Tuesday.Elsewhere in Louisiana, guards at the LaSalle Ice center allegedly sprayed a man with what he called “toxic gas” on Monday after two other detainees cautioned detainees to forgo meals because food could carry Covid-19. The man was hospitalized, said Verónica Fernández, a project coordinator with the SPLC’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative.Cox did not respond to a request for comment on that incident. He did confirm a separate use of force at LaSalle on Wednesday to Buzzfeed News.Since Covid-19 started spreading through the US, health and immigration experts have expressed concern that Ice is unequipped to deal with the crisis. The US runs the largest immigration detention system in the world and there is a well-documented record of infections ballooning into outbreaks in such facilities. Now, coronavirus has infected some of the agency’s employees and detainees, which experts said was inevitable.Two detainees in New Jersey Ice facilities and five employees at four facilities in Texas, Colorado and New Jersey have confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Ice. No cases have been publicly announced in southern states.The Trump administration has massively expanded the use of immigration detention facilities, with hardline policies that have driven the detention population to record highs. States in the deep south have opened more new facilities than anywhere else.Advocates say immigrants held in Louisiana suspect Covid-19 has reached their facilities as the state becomes a major virus hotspot. At Ice’s South Louisiana center, a woman alleged she saw officers in hazmat suits feeding someone through a slot in a door, Cole said. At LaSalle, Fernández said, a dorm has reportedly been quarantined, and detainees believe two people have the disease.“They’re not giving people what they need to protect themselves, and that is social distancing,” said Fernández. “That’s not something people can do in detention.”Ice has said detainees’ “health, welfare and safety … is one of the agency’s highest priorities”.“Since the onset of reports of Covid-19, Ice epidemiologists have been tracking the outbreak, regularly updating infection prevention and control protocols, and issuing guidance to Ice Health Service Corps (IHSC) staff for the screening and management of potential exposure among detainees,” according to the agency’s website.Some detainees believe they will not receive fair treatment in government care. In a recorded call from Richwood correctional center in Louisiana, released by the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and shared with the Guardian, one detainee said: “They’re not going to take a facemask from anyone, from any American, to put it on an immigrant. This means we are going to die.”Advocates say anyone in detention is likely to have a compromised immune system, but some also have pre-existing conditions. Lytle said she spoke to a 61-year-old asthmatic at Jackson Parish correctional center, another facility used by Ice in Louisiana, whom she said was “very, very worried” and called to tell her people in his dorm were refusing meals.A woman named Denisse, whose husband is at Stewart detention center in Georgia, feared what might happen as new detainees arrived and guards came and went.“It’s just spreading rapidly, you know?” Denisse said. “And his immune system is already weak.”Her husband has a pre-existing condition that has become worse since he arrived at the facility in September, she said, adding that he recently underwent a procedure and uses a catheter. She shook with relief when she learned he would be released on Monday. The reason for his release was unclear.Hilda Jorge Perez, whose husband is at Richwood, said he had heart problems and high blood pressure. She worried that if he got infected, she would not be able to see him.Perez’s husband was among at least 60 people who staged a hunger strike earlier this week. The protesters were forced to end the strike after officials told them they would be put in Ice’s version of solitary confinement and have phone and television privileges removed, Perez said.Detainees at Stewart planned a similar strike. They demanded they either be released or deported instead of waiting to be infected, according to recordings of calls provided by a North Carolina advocacy group.“We’re not going to eat until Ice comes here and gives us answers, and gives us a solution,” one man said.A spokesperson for Ice accused advocates of circulating rumors about a hunger strike at Stewart, which she said never happened.



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China sends medical aid to Pakistan to combat virus outbreak

China sends medical aid to Pakistan to combat virus outbreakChina sent a plane loaded with medical personnel and supplies Saturday to help Pakistan fight the spread of the coronavirus in one of the world’s most populous nations. In Iran, which is battling the worst outbreak in the region, state TV said Saturday another 139 people had died from the virus. China has sought to portray itself as a global leader in the fight against the outbreak, which began a few months ago in its Wuhan province.



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Italy, Spain suffer record virus deaths as British PM tests positive

Italy, Spain suffer record virus deaths as British PM tests positiveItaly on Friday recorded the most daily deaths of any country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and Spain had its deadliest day, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive. Italy reported 969 new deaths, Spain 769 and France 299 as Europe reeled from a crisis that led the United States on Friday to finalise an unprecedented $ 2 trillion stimulus package. In other grim milestones, AFP tallies showed more than 26,000 deaths worldwide, and a total of 300,000 cases now recorded in Europe, after the United States overtook China as the country with the most infections.



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New Yahoo News/YouGov coronavirus poll: 59 percent of Americans say Trump's Easter timeline is 'too soon' to restart economy

New Yahoo News/YouGov coronavirus poll: 59 percent of Americans say Trump's Easter timeline is 'too soon' to restart economyA large majority of Americans disagree with President Trump that the nation’s battle against the coronavirus is winding down and that normal economic activity should resume sooner rather than later, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.



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More than 1,000 US coronavirus deaths, near 70,000 cases: tracker

More than 1,000 US coronavirus deaths, near 70,000 cases: trackerThe number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus rose to 1,031 in the United States on Wednesday, with 68,572 confirmed cases nationwide, a tracker run by the Johns Hopkins University showed. The United States has the third highest number of confirmed cases behind China and Italy, and the US death rate is now 1.5 percent, based on reported cases. A projection shared with Congress earlier this month said that between 70 to 150 million people could eventually be infected in the United States.



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Whoopi Goldberg Confronts Newt Gingrich for Suggesting Nurses Will Abandon Coronavirus Patients

Whoopi Goldberg Confronts Newt Gingrich for Suggesting Nurses Will Abandon Coronavirus PatientsNewt Gingrich joined The View live from Rome on Thursday morning where he has been quarantined for weeks with his wife, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Calista Gingrich. And yet despite living in the horror that could be America’s near future, the former Republican Speaker of the House had only mild criticism for the way President Donald Trump has handled the coronavirus crisis. Gingrich acknowledged that the president and his task force should probably be “social distancing” during their daily press briefings. And he threw some cold water on Trump’s promise to get the economy up and running again by Easter.  “I think the president's direction is right, but probably the speed won’t happen as fast as he wants it to,” he said diplomatically. But the most contentious part of the interview came when co-host Sunny Hostin asked Gingrich to weigh in on the $ 2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate Wednesday night. Joe Biden Blasts Trump on ‘The View’: We Can’t Just ‘Let People Die’“Several Republican senators are worried unemployment benefits will be so enticing that people will stop working,” Hostin said. “Senator Graham even implied that the benefits would incentivize well-trained nurses to stay home and collect a check.” She was citing a joint statement from Senators Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott that read, “If the federal government accidentally incentivizes layoffs, we risk life-threatening shortages in sectors where doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are trying to care for the sick, and where growers and grocers, truckers and cooks are trying to get food to families’ tables.” “Do you share their concern?” Hostin asked.“Sure, as a practical matter you have to,” Gingrich replied. “As I understand it, there's one part of this where you can actually make more money not working. That’s not a very good incentive.” Of course, the unemployment relief in the stimulus package would only benefit workers who are laid off due to the economic crisis—not doctors and nurses who are needed more than ever in this moment. As he continued talking, Whoopi Goldberg could be heard off-screen saying, “That’s so disrespectful!” She added later, “Lindsey Graham should be ashamed of himself.” “It just seems to me the suggestion that nurses who are on the front line are not going to work and sacrifice the way that they have because they're going to be making a few hundred dollars more is ludicrous,” Hostin told Gingrich, “but that's just my opinion.” “It's insulting! It's insulting!” Goldberg added. She repeated, “Lindsey Graham should be ashamed of himself to say something like that in the middle of all of this.”  Fox News Host Martha MacCallum Nails Kellyanne Conway for Rewriting Trump’s Coronavirus HistoryRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Fauci: Italy ‘Hit Very Badly’ By Coronavirus Due to Prevalence of Chinese Tourists

Fauci: Italy ‘Hit Very Badly’ By Coronavirus Due to Prevalence of Chinese TouristsDr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, said Thursday that Italy has been impacted particularly badly by the coronavirus pandemic because the country hosted a high number of Chinese tourists in recent months."When you look at the different patterns of what happened in different countries, China versus South Korea versus what we're seeing in northern Italy, it really gives you some interesting insight into certain things, not only in the explosive nature in certain places versus others, but as you get to your peak, how do you know when you're turning the corner," Fauci said on CNN.“It’s when the new infections each day start to level off to be the same and then start going down, then you see the curve go down,” Fauci said, adding that Italy is "not there yet."Italy has reported declining numbers of new infections but still added more than 3,400 new cases on Tuesday. More than 57,500 people are currently infected with the coronavirus in Italy, and the country's death toll passed 7,500 on Wednesday."Italy got hit very badly because they had a large number of importations from China by Chinese tourists," Fauci said."Before they even knew what was going on, there was enough baseline people spreading that it essentially got out of hand, and it became difficult for them, as good as they are, and they're very good, to be able to contain it in a way that is contact-tracing. It was more mitigation," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases continued.Fauci also noted that the outbreak of the virus in Washington state differs from the outbreak in New York City, which is "getting hit terribly hard.""We're a big country, and there are different patterns," he explained.Washington state's outbreak involved the coronavirus spreading in several elder care homes, while New York City is a travel hub that experiences an "influx of travelers," Fauci said.New York City reported 100 new deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 385 as the number of infections topped 37,200.



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Putin calls for sanctions 'moratorium' at G20 summit

Putin calls for sanctions 'moratorium' at G20 summitRussian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for sanctions relief during the coronavirus pandemic, telling G20 leaders it was a matter “of life and death”. “Ideally we should introduce a… joint moratorium on restrictions on essential goods as well as on financial transactions for their purchase,” Putin said at a virtual meeting of G20 leaders Thursday. “These matters should be freed of any politics,” Putin added.



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India to go under total virus lockdown, says PM Modi

India to go under total virus lockdown, says PM ModiIndia’s 1.3 billion people will go under “total lockdown” for 21 days to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday, sparking panic buying with shoppers clearing out shelves. “From 12 midnight today (1830 GMT Tuesday), the entire country will be in lockdown, total lockdown,” Modi said in a national television address to the world’s second most-populous nation. “To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family… every street, every neighbourhood is being put under lockdown.”



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Iran rejects 'foreign' help as virus death toll nears 2,000

Iran rejects 'foreign' help as virus death toll nears 2,000A senior Iranian official Tuesday ruled out “foreign” help on the ground to deal with the coronavirus epidemic after an offer from a France-based medical charity, as the country’s death toll from the illness neared 2,000. “Due to Iran’s national mobilisation against the virus and the full use of the medical capacity of the armed forces, it is not necessary for now for hospital beds to be set up by foreign forces, and their presence is ruled out,” Alireza Vahabzadeh, advisor to Iran’s health minister, said on Twitter. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour earlier said a record 1,762 new cases have been confirmed in Iran over the past 24 hours and 24,811 people are now known to have been infected with the new coronavirus.



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"I hope to be roaming outside freely and without a face mask very soon," says an American quarantined in Beijing

"I hope to be roaming outside freely and without a face mask very soon," says an American quarantined in BeijingPatrick, who is an American citizen, returned back to his current home in Beijing recently and per law is being quarantined in his apartment for 14 days since his arrival back to China. “Right now, [I’m] keeping my spirits up and enjoying it. I hope to be roaming outside freely and without a face mask very soon.”



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Hawley, Stefanik Introduce Bill to Investigate China for Coronavirus Coverup

Hawley, Stefanik Introduce Bill to Investigate China for Coronavirus CoverupSenator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) on Tuesday introduced a bicameral resolution to condemn the Chinese Communist Party for its initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and called for an international investigation to determine how the coverup hastened the emergence of a global pandemic.“Since day one, the Chinese Communist Party intentionally lied to the world about the origin of this pandemic. The CCP was aware of the reality of the virus as early as December but ordered laboratories to destroy samples and forced doctors to keep silent,” Hawley, who first called for an investigation last week, said in a press release.“There is no doubt that China’s unconscionable decision to orchestrate an elaborate coverup of the wide-ranging and deadly implications of coronavirus led to the death of thousands of people, including hundreds of Americans and climbing,” Stefanik added. “This Resolution calls for China to provide compensation for the harm, loss, and destruction their arrogance brought upon the rest of the world. Simply put China must, and will, be held accountable.”The bill calls the international community to “quantify the harm caused” by China’s actions and to “design a mechanism for delivering compensation” from the CCP to those affected.Reports have detailed how Wuhan laboratories in December discovered that coronavirus was related to the deadly SARS virus which broke out in 2002-2003, but were subsequently gagged by government authorities, who ordered them to turn over or destroy evidence.China has also promoted a propaganda campaign to push a conspiracy theory that the virus originated in the U.S., which experts have called “a counteroffensive” and “a kind of blame-shifting.”



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Taiwan says WHO ignored its coronavirus questions at start of outbreak

Taiwan says WHO ignored its coronavirus questions at start of outbreakTaiwan accused the World Heath Organization of ignoring its questions at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, part of what it has long described as a pattern that puts it at risk because of Chinese pressure to exclude it from international bodies. Taiwan is barred from membership in the WHO under pressure from China, which views it as a province rather than a state. It responded early to the coronavirus outbreak in China, and has had notable success in limiting contagion so far, with just two deaths and 215 cases.



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As coronavirus cases increase, Defense Secretary Mark Esper places new restriction on Pentagon

As coronavirus cases increase, Defense Secretary Mark Esper places new restriction on PentagonDefense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday he is again raising the protection condition on the Pentagon, which will further restrict access to one of the world’s largest office buildings. The Pentagon will now be at Level C, the second highest of the military’s five health protection conditions.



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