Tag Archives: Coronavirus

Sturgis motorcycle rally spread coronavirus across the nation, leading to $12 billion in health care costs

Sturgis motorcycle rally spread coronavirus across the nation, leading to $  12 billion in health care costsA month after 460,000 motorcycle enthusiasts converged on Sturgis, S.D., researchers have found that thousands have been sickened across the nation, leading them to brand the rally a “superspreader” event that will involve more than $ 12 billion in health care costs.

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Colombia coronavirus quarantine to be extended until Aug 30

Colombia coronavirus quarantine to be extended until Aug 30Colombia’s national lockdown to curb infections of the new coronavirus will be extended by one month until the end of August, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday. The Andean country has reported more than 267,300 coronavirus cases and 9,074 deaths. “Obligatory preventative isolation, as the general concept, will continue until August 30,” Duque said in his nightly broadcast.



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White House: children should go back to school even if studies show they spread coronavirus

White House: children should go back to school even if studies show they spread coronavirusChildren still should go back to school even if it turns out that they are transmitting the deadly novel coronavirus that has claimed more than 140,000 U.S. lives, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Friday. President Donald Trump is pushing to re-open U.S. schools, which abruptly shuttered this past spring when the coronavirus first began spreading across the country – despite teachers’ and families’ concerns that children could contract or transmit the disease should they return to classrooms. “Even if there is transmission and later studies come out, let’s say, we believe that students should be going back to school because the effect on a child we know – scientifically, they are not affected in the same way as an adult,” McEnany said in answer to a press briefing question about comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, about how the disease behaves in small children.



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On coronavirus, Trump insists the U.S. has the world's 'No. 1 low mortality rate.' He's wrong — and it's the wrong way to measure success.

On coronavirus, Trump insists the U.S. has the world's 'No. 1 low mortality rate.' He's wrong — and it's the wrong way to measure success.The problem with President Trump’s new strategy is that his prized data point is a mirage — an illusion that dissolves under closer inspection, revealing the opposite of the “success” it’s supposed to show.



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‘Shame on you!’ Florida governor heckled as coronavirus cases continue to spike in state

‘Shame on you!’ Florida governor heckled as coronavirus cases continue to spike in stateFlorida governor Ron DeSantis was interrupted by protesters during a press conference on Monday, where he asked residents with Covid-19 to donate blood, amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.The event that was hosted at the Orlando office of blood-donation agency OneBlood was intended to highlight the importance of donating plasma to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic in Florida.



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It's too late for masks alone to turn the tide on coronavirus. Why the U.S. needs to lock down hot spots right away.

It's too late for masks alone to turn the tide on coronavirus. Why the U.S. needs to lock down hot spots right away.Masks are necessary to combat America’s resurgent coronavirus pandemic. But they may no longer be enough. Patterns from countries that are faring much better than the U.S. suggest we won’t bring the virus to heel until we start locking down hot spots as well.



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Coronavirus can damage the heart, major study finds

Coronavirus can damage the heart, major study findsCoronavirus can damage the heart, with more than half of hospitalised patients revealing abnormal scans, a major new study has found. A survey of 69 countries, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), found that 55 per cent of 1,261 patients studied had abnormal changes to the way their heart was pumping, with around one in seven showing evidence of severe dysfunction. The majority (901 patients) had never been diagnosed with heart problems before, leading scientists to conclude that Covid-19 itself may seriously affect the heart. Among this group, heart scans were abnormal in 46 per cent of patients and 13 per cent had severe disease. Just over half of all the scans were performed in intensive care, with others carried out on general wards, heart and lung wards and in A&E.; The results follow a number of studies indicating that the virus can cause long-term damage to the brain. Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation and a consultant cardiologist, said: "Severe Covid-19 illness can result in damage to the heart and circulatory system. "We urgently need to understand more about why this is happening so we can provide appropriate care – both short and long term. "This global study – carried out at the height of the pandemic – shows that we must be on the lookout for heart complications in people with Covid-19 so that we can adapt their treatment if needed." The study, published in the European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Imaging, found the abnormalities were almost evenly split between the left and right chambers of the heart. Some three per cent of patients had suffered a recent heart attack, according to the scans. As a result of their scan, one third of patients had their treatment changed, including being given medicines for heart failure, or more careful control of fluids and therapy designed to support heart function. The study was carried out by researchers from the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Edinburgh. The team cautioned that the study cannot conclude how common heart changes are in people who did not receive scans. They stressed that all patients in the study were in hospital and had suspected heart complications. Professor Marc Dweck, who led the research, said: "Covid-19 is a complex, multi-system disease which can have profound effects on many parts of the body, including the heart. "Many doctors have been hesitant to order echocardiograms for patients with Covid-19 because it's an added procedure which involves close contact with patients. "Our work shows that these scans are important – they improved the treatment for a third of patients who received them. "Damage to the heart is known to occur in severe flu, but we were surprised to see so many patients with damage to their heart with Covid-19 and so many patients with severe dysfunction. "We now need to understand the exact mechanism of this damage, whether it is reversible and what the long-term consequences of Covid-19 infection are on the heart."



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South Africa reimposes alcohol ban, curfew as coronavirus cases spike

South Africa reimposes alcohol ban, curfew as coronavirus cases spikeSouth Africa will reimpose a ban on the sale of alcohol and a nighttime curfew to reduce pressure on its hospitals as coronavirus infections rise rapidly, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday. Ramaphosa’s government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in late March and delayed a surge in infections, but it has since eased many restrictions over fears for its struggling economy. Ramaphosa said in a televised address that the country could not afford for its hospitals and clinics to be burdened with avoidable alcohol-related injuries.



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Chinese coronavirus vaccine approved for use in country's military after clinical trials

Chinese coronavirus vaccine approved for use in country's military after clinical trialsChina's military has approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by its own research staff and a Chinese biotech firm, it was announced on Monday. The vaccine was given the green light for use by troops after trials proved it was both safe and effective, said CanSino Biologics, the biotech firm involved. However, its use for the time being will be restricted to military personnel, who offer a tighter medical control group than the general public. The vaccine candidate, named Ad5-nCoV, was developed jointly by CanSino and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in the Academy of Military Medical Sciences. It has been in development since March. CanSino said the results showed the vaccine candidate has potential to prevent diseases caused by the coronavirus, which has killed half a million people globally. The company added that it was not yet possible to say if it could be a commercial success, which would depend on being able to produce the vaccine cheaply as well as safely.



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US records highest one-day total in coronavirus cases since April

US records highest one-day total in coronavirus cases since April* US federal government starts to roll back testing program * Americans urged to stick to guidelines as several states hit by increasesThe US has recorded a one-day total of 34,700 new Covid-19 cases, the highest level since late April, when the number peaked at 36,400, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.A coronavirus resurgence is wiping out two months of progress in the US and sending infections to worrying new levels in southern and western states.Administrators and health experts warned on Wednesday that politicians and a public that, in many cases, is tired of being cooped up are letting a disaster unfold.While new infections have been declining steadily in early hotspots such as New York and New Jersey, several other states set single-day records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma.North Carolina and South Carolina joined some other states in breaking hospitalization records.“People got complacent,” said Marc Boom, the chief executive of the Houston Methodist hospital system. “And it’s coming back and biting us, quite frankly.”With the US death toll creeping towards 122,000 on Wednesday, and confirmed cases at almost 2.4 million for the US, a widely-cited University of Washington computer model of the outbreak projected nearly 180,000 deaths by 1 October.Stocks slid on Wall Street as the news dampened hopes for a quick economic turnaround. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 700 points for a drop of 2.7%. The broader S&P 500 fell 2.6%.Experts urged Americans to continue following guidelines to stop the spread of coronavirus as, in total, seven states reported record-high hospitalizations and 19 others saw new cases rising compared to last week.The increase is hitting states which eased lockdown restrictions in the past month. The federal government is also starting to roll back testing programs, including in states most affected by the resurgence in cases.The record-high hospitalizations indicate the rise in cases is not simply because of increased testing, a point confirmed by the leading public health expert on the White House coronavirus task force, Anthony Fauci, and in sharp contrast to views put forward by Donald Trump.Dr Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, said on Wednesday he expected that hospitals in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona would need to again suspend elective surgeries in order to have capacity to deal with coronavirus patients.“They’re going to be on a trajectory to get overwhelmed again,” Gottlieb said on CNBC.Epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers warned the national case count is going in the “wrong direction”.Rivers, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said in addition to her concerns about the increase in hospitalizations, she was worried about the higher percentage of positive tests.“In some ways this feels worse than April, because at least then there was energy around gaining control,” Rivers tweeted. “I sense less of that now.”Rivers is one of several public health experts to express concern that people are taking public health guidance less seriously though the threat of infection remains.States across the US have eased lockdown restrictions, but with inconsistent policies on what can open, where crowds can gather and how much these rules are enforced. Outside a Trump rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, few people wore masks and social distancing guidelines were ignored.Despite eased restrictions across the country, it is still important to follow local health guidance. This includes wearing masks, frequent hand washing and isolating if experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.> The safest place for you is at your home> > Greg AbbottTexasgovernor Greg Abbott urged people to stay at home, as a children’s hospital in Houston was forced to admit adults because of increasing coronavirus cases. Texas began lifting its shutdowns on 1 May and hospitalizations have doubled and new cases have tripled in two weeks. Abbott told local station KFDA-TV that the state is facing a “massive outbreak”.Meanwhile on Wednesday, California reported over 7,100 new cases in 24 hours, an all-time high. Florida’s single-day count surged to 5,500, a 25% jump from the record set last week and triple the level of two weeks ago.Amid the increase in cases, the Trump administration is ending funding and support for 13 testing sites in states including Texas this month, local officials told Talking Points Memo.Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for the city of Dallas, told the website that the city had asked the federal government to extend the testing program but it refused.Testing is crucial for monitoring the spread of the illness and for helping people to know when to isolate and warn others of possible exposure.Republican senator John Cornyn of Texas offered a rare rebuke of the president from the GOP over the president’s decision to wind down funding for testing sites – including some in Texas.“I know there’s concern, concern I share, over some of the statements being made about withdrawing federal support for coronavirus testing in Texas at the end of June,” Cornyn said. “It’s pretty clear to me, and I think it’s clear to all of us, that with the uptick of cases, now is not a time to retreat from our vigilance in testing.”He called on the White House to extend federal support for Texas, “at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed”.And a spokesman for Ted Cruz, the other Republican senator of Texas, told NBC News that he “has urged and will continue to urge [health officials] to extend the community testing sites in Texas”.



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Kazakhstan's ex-president is asymptomatic after positive coronavirus test, report says

Kazakhstan's ex-president is asymptomatic after positive coronavirus test, report saysKazakhstan’s powerful former president Nursultan Nazarbayev is feeling well and showing no symptoms associated with coronavirus despite a positive test, his spokesman told local news website Tengrinews on Saturday. Nazarbayev, 79, who resigned last year, remains an influential figure in the oil-rich nation of 19 million where he is seen as a guarantor of stability. “The disease is asymptomatic,” Ukibay told Tengrinews.



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Hard hit New York City begins reopening as coronavirus infection rate plummets

Hard hit New York City begins reopening as coronavirus infection rate plummetsExactly 100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in New York City, some workers began returning to jobs on Monday at the start of reopening from a citywide shutdown to battle the epidemic that killed nearly 22,000 of its residents. “This is clearly the hardest place in America to get to this moment because we’re the epicenter,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. New York, by far the hardest-hit U.S. city, on Monday reported the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus fell to a new low of 3%, well below its threshold for reopening of 15%, de Blasio said.



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Coronavirus: Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro forced into U-turn on releasing death figures following national uproar

Coronavirus: Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro forced into U-turn on releasing death figures following national uproarFar-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been forced into a U-turn on releasing data showing Brazil’s total number of Covid-19 cases and deaths following a national uproar.In a move officials said was personally ordered by the president, months’ worth of coronavirus data vanished from Brazil’s health ministry website overnight on Friday, with a supreme court judge describing the manoeuvre as “totalitarian”.



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Satellite images of packed Wuhan hospitals suggest coronavirus outbreak began earlier than thought

Satellite images of packed Wuhan hospitals suggest coronavirus outbreak began earlier than thoughtCoronavirus may have broken out in the Chinese city of Wuhan much earlier than previously thought, according to a new US study looking at satellite imagery and internet searches. The Harvard Medical School research found that the number of cars parked at major Wuhan hospitals at points last autumn was much higher than the preceding year. It also found that searches from the Wuhan region for information on “cough” and “diarrhea”, known Covid-19 symptoms, on the Chinese search engine Baidu spiked around the same time. It has led researchers to suggest that the outbreak began much earlier than December 31, the date the Chinese government notified the World Health Organisation of the outbreak. The findings add weight to US calls for Beijing to cooperate with investigators attempting to understand the origins of a virus which has now claimed more than 400,000 lives worldwide.



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Andrew Cuomo is no hero. He's to blame for New York's coronavirus catastrophe

Andrew Cuomo is no hero. He's to blame for New York's coronavirus catastropheHis record was terrible before coronavirus, but his abysmal handling of the crisis should get him thrown out of officeAndrew Cuomo may be the most popular politician in the country. His approval ratings have hit all-time highs thanks to his Covid-19 response. Some Democrats have discussed him as a possible replacement for Joe Biden, due to Biden’s perceived weakness as a nominee. And there have even been some unfortunate tributes to Cuomo’s alleged sex appeal.All of which is bizarre, because Cuomo should be one of the most loathed officials in America right now. ProPublica recently released a report outlining catastrophic missteps by Cuomo and the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, which probably resulted in many thousands of needless coronavirus cases. ProPublica offers some appalling numbers contrasting what happened in New York with the outbreak in California. By mid-May, New York City alone had almost 20,000 deaths, while in San Francisco there had been only 35, and New York state as a whole suffered 10 times as many deaths as California.Federal failures played a role, of course, but this tragedy was absolutely due, in part, to decisions by the governor. Cuomo initially “reacted to De Blasio’s idea for closing down New York City with derision”, saying it “was dangerous” and “served only to scare people”. He said the “seasonal flu was a graver worry”. A spokesperson for Cuomo “refused to say if the governor had ever read the state’s pandemic plan”. Later, Cuomo would blame the press, including the New York Times for failing to say “Be careful, there’s a virus in China that may be in the United States?” even though the Times wrote nearly 500 stories on the virus before the state acted. Experts told ProPublica that “had New York imposed its extreme social distancing measures a week or two earlier, the death toll might have been cut by half or more”.But delay was not the only screw-up. Elderly prisoners have died of coronavirus because New York has failed to act on their medical parole requests. As Business Insider documented:“Testing was slow. Nonprofit social-service agencies that serve the most vulnerable couldn’t get answers either. And medical experts like the former CDC director Tom Frieden said ‘so many deaths could have been prevented’ had New York issued its stay-at-home order just ‘days earlier’ than it did. On March 19, when New York’s schools had already been closed, Cuomo said ‘in many ways, the fear is more dangerous than the virus.’”The governor has failed to take responsibility for the obvious failures, consistently blaming others and at one point even saying “governors don’t do pandemics”. (Actually, some governors just don’t read their state’s pandemic plans.) But much of the press has ignored this, focusing instead on Cuomo’s aesthetic presentation: his poise during press conferences, his dramatic statements about “taking responsibility” (even when he obviously hasn’t), and his invisible good looks.> Cuomo’s record was shameful long before coronavirus beganThe mask mural is yet another publicity stunt mistaken by the press as a sign of leadership. On 29 April, Cuomo unveiled a wall of handmade cloth masks that had been sent to his office by concerned citizens all over America. He called it “a self-portrait of America. You know what that spells? It spells love.” Since the arrangement of masks doesn’t form words, the mural doesn’t actually spell anything, but it is a perfect symbol of Cuomo’s leadership failures. Handmade cloth face coverings are not as effective as N95 masks, of course, but if unsuitable for healthcare workers they would still have been perfectly appropriate to distribute to New Yorkers (some of whom have been brutally arrested for not wearing masks). But Cuomo, rather than putting the needs of New Yorkers first, chose to tack hundreds of cloth masks on a wall as a monument to himself.Cuomo’s record was shameful long before coronavirus began. He enabled the IDC (Independent Democratic Conference), a group of conservative Democratic state lawmakers, in allying with the Republican minority to block progressive legislation. (Cuomo denies any role in the IDC, but that stretches credulity.) Before the pandemic, he pushed through Medicaid cuts which shut down necessary hospital space in the name of “efficiency” despite the warnings of medical professionals. And on 3 April, as 3,000 New Yorkers already lay dead from the virus and hospitals like Elmhurst in Queens were overwhelmed with cases, Cuomo forced through further Medicaid cuts, slashing $ 400m from hospital budgets.As the state now staggers to its feet, Cuomo has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine education” (which almost certainly means privatization), and with the ex-Google chief Eric Schmidt to – as Naomi Klein puts it – “permanently integrat[e] technology into every aspect of civic life”. All of this has happened without the democratic input of New Yorkers, who would likely prefer that the progressive legislators they elected could govern without interference, that their hospitals have enough money to function and that billionaires don’t infiltrate and control every element of civic life.There’s something disturbing about Cuomo being hailed as the hero of the pandemic when he should rightly be one of the villains. As Business Insider notes, he is now only able to attain praise for his actions because his earlier failures made those actions necessary. He’s lauded for addressing a problem that he himself partly caused. Of course, part of this is because Donald Trump has bungled the coronavirus response even more badly, so that Cuomo – by not being a complete buffoon – looks like a capable statesman by contrast. But this is the problem: for too long, Democrats have measured their politicians by “whether they are better than Republicans”. This sets the bar very low indeed, and means that Democrats end up settling for incompetent and amoral leaders who betray progressive values again and again. * Lyta Gold is the managing editor and amusements editor of Current Affairs. Nathan Robinson is the editor of Current Affairs and a Guardian US columnist



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CIA Believes China Tried to Prevent WHO from Declaring Coronavirus ‘Global Health Emergency’: Report

CIA Believes China Tried to Prevent WHO from Declaring Coronavirus ‘Global Health Emergency’: ReportThe CIA reportedly believes that China attempted to prevent the World Health Organization from declaring a global health emergency during the beginning stages of the coronavirus pandemic in January.In a report titled "U.N.-China: WHO Mindful But Not Beholden to China," the CIA detailed that China threatened to cease cooperating with the WHO's coronavirus investigation if the agency declared a global health emergency, Newsweek reported on Tuesday. The threats came at the same time that China reportedly "intentionally concealed the severity" of the outbreak in order to hoard medical supplies.U.S. officials told Newsweek that they could not say whether Chinese premier Xi Jinping was personally involved in the effort to pressure the WHO. A German intelligence report published by Der Spiegel last week concluded that Xi was indeed involved in the effort.The WHO declared a global health emergency on January 30, about one month after China confirmed the emergence of the then-unidentified pathogen in the city of Wuhan."Let me be clear: This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China's capacity to control the outbreak," WHO Director-General Tedros Anhanom told reporters at the time. The coronavirus outbreak has since become a pandemic, causing over 4,000,000 confirmed infections and killing almost 300,000 worldwide as of Tuesday.Accusing the WHO of mishandling the crisis and kowtowing to China, President Trump in April announced he would suspend U.S. funding for the organization."I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the WHO while a review is conducted to assess the WHO’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Trump said at a White House press conference. “The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable.”



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New Zealand to end coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand to end coronavirus lockdownNew Zealand will phase out its coronavirus lockdown over the next 10 days after successfully containing the virus, although some restrictions will remain, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday. Ardern said that from Thursday shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds will reopen — with the country moving to Level Two on its four-tier system. The 39-year-old leader warned “none of us can assume COVID is not with us” but said New Zealand currently had only 90 active cases after a seven-week lockdown.



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Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat Plant

Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat PlantOn April 10, Tony Thompson, the sheriff for Black Hawk County in Iowa, visited the giant Tyson Foods pork plant in Waterloo. What he saw, he said, "shook me to the core."Workers, many of them immigrants, were crowded elbow to elbow as they broke down hog carcasses zipping by on a conveyor belt. The few who had face coverings wore a motley assortment of bandannas, painters' masks or even sleep masks stretched around their mouths. Some had masks hanging around their necks.Thompson and other local officials, including from the county health department, lobbied Tyson to close the plant, worried about a coronavirus outbreak. But Tyson was "less than cooperative," said the sheriff, who supervises the county's coronavirus response, and Iowa's governor declined to shut the facility."Waterloo Tyson is running," the company said in a text message to employees April 17. "Thank you team members! WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!"Five days later, the plant was closed. Tyson said the reason was "worker absenteeism." As of Thursday, the county health department had recorded 1,031 coronavirus infections among Tyson employees — more than one-third of the workforce. Some are on ventilators. Three have died, according to Tyson.The plant didn't stay closed for long. As meat shortages hit grocery stores and fast-food restaurants, political pressure built to get the dozens of plants across the country that had shut down because of virus outbreaks up and running again. After an executive order by President Donald Trump declared the meat supply "critical infrastructure" and shielded the companies from certain liability, Tyson reopened its Waterloo facility Thursday.New safety precautions have been added, like plexiglass barriers along the production line, infrared temperature scanners to detect fevers, and face shields and masks for the workers.Now the question is: Will America's appetite for meat be sated without sickening armies of low-wage workers, and their communities, in new waves of infection?Workers and their advocates say Tyson's actions — and recent federal safety guidelines — have come far too late. They point to lapses that Tyson made in the first three weeks of April as the virus tore largely unimpeded through the Waterloo plant.As high-level executives lobbied the White House to help protect Tyson from lawsuits, the company was failing to provide adequate safety equipment to Waterloo workers and refusing the requests of local officials to close the plant, according to more than two dozen interviews with plant employees, immigrant-rights advocates, doctors, lawyers and government officials.While Tyson began changing its policies on short-term disability benefits in late March to encourage sick workers to stay home, many employees were not certain of the rules, and some went to work sick to avoid losing pay. Rumors and misinformation spread among workers, many of whom are not native English speakers. As the workforce dwindled, fear gripped the plant.Steve Stouffer, head of Tyson's beef and pork operations, said in an interview that the company had made the best safety decisions it could in a rapidly evolving situation. But he acknowledged that the company might have done more."Looking at it in the rearview mirror, you can always be better," he said.Thompson said that he was thankful for the new safety precautions but that Tyson had been too slow to act."Which is more important?" he asked. "Your pork chops or the people that are contracting COVID, the people that are dying from it?"'A Time of Fear and Panic'A squat gray building branded with the slogan "A Cut Above the Rest," the Waterloo plant is Tyson's largest pork operation in the United States, responsible for almost 4% of the nation's pork supply. Before the pandemic, it operated around the clock, breaking down up to 19,500 hogs a day into cuts of meat that traveled on a fleet of trucks across the country.It is tough, demanding work, usually performed by workers standing close together.During a conference call March 9, union leaders in the meat industry discussed how to spread out workers in plants and take other precautions to prevent an outbreak. But at the time, the problem seemed a long way away from eastern Iowa, said Bob Waters, president of the local union for the Waterloo plant."We thought it might come, but we hoped it didn't," he said. Iowa, like several other Midwestern states, never issued a statewide stay-at-home order.By early April, however, the Black Hawk County emergency operation center had started getting complaints about dangerous conditions at the plant.Workers and their relatives reported a lack of protective gear and insufficient safety protocols and said employees were starting to test positive for the virus.Tyson had put some precautions in place. In March, it began checking workers for fevers as they entered the plant and relaxed its policies so workers who tested positive or were feeling unwell would be paid a portion of their salary even if they stayed home.But workers were still crowded together on the factory floor, in the cafeteria and in the locker room, and most did not wear masks. Tyson said it offered cloth bandannas to workers who asked, but by the time it tried to buy protective gear, supplies were scarce.At least one employee vomited while working on the production line, and several left the facility with soaring temperatures, according to a worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, and local advocates who have spoken with workers at the plant.Because of patient privacy laws, Tyson and the union had difficulty obtaining information from state officials about which workers had tested positive — hampering their efforts to isolate colleagues in close contact with them.Older employees, as well as those with asthma or diabetes, became increasingly afraid of entering the plant."It was really a time of fear and panic," said state Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, who works at a coronavirus clinic in Waterloo. "They had not slowed the line down. They were not practicing any sort of social distancing."On the night of April 12, she said, nearly two dozen Tyson employees were admitted to the emergency room at a hospital, MercyOne.Tyson employed interpreters to communicate with its diverse workforce, which includes immigrants from Bosnia, Mexico, Myanmar and the Republic of Congo. But misinformation and distrust spread.One worker who died had taken Tylenol before entering the plant to lower her temperature enough to pass the screening, afraid that missing work would mean forgoing a bonus, said a person who knows the worker's family and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their privacy.Workers at the plant were confused about why so many colleagues seemed to be getting sick and missing work. Supervisors told them that it was the flu, some said, or warned them not to talk about the virus at work.In an emailed statement, Tyson said it had "worked with the information available to us at the time to help keep our team members safe." The company said earlier information from the Black Hawk County Health Department would have helped its decision-making.Dr. Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye, director of the Black Hawk County Health Department, said that before the state changed the rules on April 14 to help speed public health investigations, she was legally prevented from sharing the names of employees who had tested positive with the company. But she said that she had been in constant communication with the plant and shared her concerns."I think they had enough information," she said, "to take the necessary measures."A Vulnerable WorkforceIowa, an overwhelmingly white state, has long had a complicated relationship with meatpacking plants. While the industry is an engine of the state's economy and the country's food supply, it also employs many immigrants, who have faced periodic raids to enforce immigration laws.Even with union representation, immigrants at the plant say they are afraid to raise concerns about working conditions."The narrative is shifting the blame to the workers instead of focusing on the true incompetence, in my opinion, of the government — not just the governor, but also leaders here at Tyson," said Nilvia Reyes Rodriguez, president of the Waterloo chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "It was their responsibility to protect their workers."She added, "Because of the population in those industries, I think there is a disregard for those communities."Tyson said in a statement that it took pride in its diversity and that its immigrant workers have advanced to management positions, including at the Waterloo plant. But some of those tensions simmered as local politicians became locked in a struggle with the state and then the federal government over closing the plant.After Thompson's visit, he and other local politicians began lobbying Tyson and Gov. Kim Reynolds for a shutdown. The governor sided with Tyson. She issued an executive order April 16 stating that only the state government, not local governments, had the authority to close businesses in northeast Iowa, including the Waterloo plant."We're making sure that the workforce is protected and, most importantly, that we're keeping that food supply chain moving," Reynolds said.But the number of infections continued to increase. After Tyson closed the plant, the company invited workers back for coronavirus testing. But that process may have infected more workers, said Christine Kemp, chief executive of a local health clinic. Employees bunched together outside the plant and crowded the stairwells. Some left without being tested, afraid they would catch the virus in line.The virus had already spread through the community, including to a nursing home where several workers are married to Tyson employees. The Tyson employees who have died included a Bosnian refugee, survived by a grieving husband, and a man with three daughters. The mother died from cancer last year, and the oldest daughter, 19, will take guardianship of her sisters.A maintenance worker at the plant, Jose Ayala, 44, is lying unresponsive on a ventilator. Zach Medhaug, 39, a fellow worker, has been calling him to talk to him and play his favorite music.Medhaug also caught the coronavirus but has recovered and said he was ready to return to work. "But I'm also in a different position than some other people are," he said. "I'm over COVID. For other people, it's very scary."Reopening the PlantThe political stakes of the reopening in Waterloo are high.With meat supplies disrupted nationwide, the White House has pushed Tyson and other meat companies to continue operating. And Tyson officials have had plenty of chances to air concerns, dining at the White House and participating in several calls with the president and vice president in recent months.Since he issued the executive order April 28, Trump has been quick to declare that the supply chain is back on track.Asked Wednesday about a hamburger shortage at Wendy's, he turned to the secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue. "Basically, you're saying, in a week and a half, you think everything is going to be good, or sooner?" the president asked."Yes. These plants are opening as we speak," Perdue said."You're going to have to push them," the president replied. "Push them more."But the reopening may have to proceed in fits and starts. Tyson executives cautioned that it would take time to return to normal. The Waterloo plant reopened Thursday at about 50% capacity. And ramping back up could take weeks as workers return from quarantine.Stouffer, the Tyson executive, said he hoped the worst was over. But health officials warn that a rush to full production could cause a second wave of infections."History will be the judge, eventually," Stouffer said. "But we have attempted very hard — our entire team, our entire organization, from the chairman of the board on down — to do the right thing."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company



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The COVID-19 coronavirus is only the 7th known to infect humans

The COVID-19 coronavirus is only the 7th known to infect humansThere has been some confusion that COVID-19 is the 19th coronavirus disease, but the 19 refers to the year the new virus jumped to humans, 2019. In fact, "of the millions, perhaps billions, of coronaviruses, six were previously known to infect humans," The Washington Post reports.> Four cause colds that spread easily each winter, barely noticed. Another was responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed 774 people in 2003. Yet another sparked the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012, which kills 34 percent of the people who contract it. But few do. SARS-CoV-2, the bad seed of the coronavirus family, is the seventh. It has managed to combine the infectiousness of its cold-causing cousins with some of the lethality of SARS and MERS. [The Washington Post]"This is a virus that literally did not exist in humans six months ago," Geoffrey Barnes, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, told the Post. "We had to rapidly learn how this virus impacts the human body and identify ways to treat it literally in a time-scale of weeks." But scientists do know that coronaviruses invade the body by breaking into ACE2 receptors, which regulate blood pressure and are plentiful in the lungs, intestines, and kidneys. And they suspect the "corona" — or spikes on the outside of the virus — in the COVID-19 virus are more effective at attaching to the receptors, making it easier for them to infiltrate the cells to replicate, as the Post explains in this video.The coronavirus hijacking your cells "would be as if somebody walked into a car factory and snapped his fingers and said suddenly, 'You're making Twinkies!'" David Leib, chair of microbiology and immunology at Dartmouth College, told WGBH. "It takes the virus roughly 10 minutes to get inside that cell and then to begin its replication cycle," and within days "you are a walking bottle of virus."The coronavirus had infected at least 4.1 million people around the world by early Monday, including 1.3 million in the U.S., and officially killed 282,727 people, including 79,528 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.More stories from theweek.com The dark decade ahead White House reportedly rejected 'ludicrous' coronavirus relief plan that would have curbed retirement benefits 5 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's coronavirus strategy



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Russia's Putin orders gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown despite surge in cases

Russia's Putin orders gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown despite surge in casesRussian President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown measures despite a new surge in infections which took Russia’s tally past Italy’s, making it the fourth highest in the world. Putin, in a televised nationwide address, said that from Tuesday he would start lifting restrictions that had forced many people to work from home and businesses to temporarily close. The Russian leader emphasised the lifting of restrictions would be gradual and that individual regions in the world’s largest country would need to tailor their approach to varying local conditions.



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More than 700 released from immigration detention centres as coronavirus prevents deportation

More than 700 released from immigration detention centres as coronavirus prevents deportationMore than 700 detainees including convicted criminals have been released by the Home Office from immigration detention centres because the coronavirus pandemic means they cannot be deported. The Home Office was forced to release at least 50 of them by judicial tribunals despite warning that they could pose a risk to the public. The Government has had to free them because by law they can only detain them if they can remove them from the UK “within a reasonable time.” More than 40 countries to which the Home Office planned to remove them have either closed their borders or imposed travel restrictions, making deportation impossible and requiring the detainees to be released. A further 370 – described as largely convicted foreign offenders by the Home Office – are still being held in immigration detention centres The release follows legal action begun in March by Detention Action, which claimed a “significant proportion” of the 1,500 held in immigration detention centres had serious underlying health conditions which left them facing a “significant risk of serious harm or death” from coronavirus. It warned their continued detention was unlawful given the lack of flights in which to remove them within a “reasonable period of time.” The Government challenged the release of 58 of the immigrants who had appealed their detention, saying it was reasonable “in light of their particular situation, the likelihood of their absconding if released, and the level of risk they pose to the public.” The 700 include those who have overstayed their visas, asylum seekers, illegal migrants and people with convictions. Detention Action is now considering further legal action to force the release of the remaining 370 to protect them from the deadly coronavirus. Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said any foreign offenders released would have served their time and be subject to the same conditions as British offenders including probation and licence restrictions. “We are thinking about options that I think will involve some future litigation because we don’t think the response so far is adequate,” she said. Meanwhile, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said a spike in migrant boats making the dangerous crossing of the English Channel is linked to lockdown restrictions on road and train crossings.



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Coronavirus spreads among Indian police enforcing world's largest lockdown

Coronavirus spreads among Indian police enforcing world's largest lockdownHundreds of Indian police have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days, raising alarm among an over-stretched force as it attempts to enforce the world’s largest lockdown to contain the pandemic. TV footage early in the crisis showed police beating back migrant workers as they tried to board city buses to reach their villages, making a mockery of social distancing. India has been under lockdown since March 25 and confirmed nearly 50,000 coronavirus cases and some 1,694 deaths.



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Ministers 'fully aware' China was covering up extent of coronavirus outbreak in early weeks of crisis

Ministers 'fully aware' China was covering up extent of coronavirus outbreak in early weeks of crisisMinisters were made "fully aware" by intelligence agencies that China had covered up the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak, it was claimed on Sunday night, raising questions over Britain's decision to delay the lockdown. The UK Government was told "not to believe Beijing’s claims" from the outset and to treat information coming out of China with scepticism, The Telegraph understands. A senior former MI6 official said the intelligence agencies knew what was "really happening" in China and passed that information to ministers. Doubts are also being expressed over China's insistence that the outbreak began in a so-called "wet market" in Wuhan, where live animals were being sold. The spotlight is being turned on the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology amid claims that lax biosecurity may have allowed the disease, being examined in the lab, to somehow escape. A Chinese television news report dating from two years ago shows scientists in the institute's "emerging viruses group" wearing only lab coats and latex gloves but no other form of protective personal equipment. The latest studies suggest the true number of people infected in China in the first wave, dating back to mid-February, was close to a quarter of a million – four times higher than the official figure. China has also since revised its death toll up by 50 per cent. Downing Street continued to use China's official figures in comparative graphs on the scale of the outbreak until just over a week ago, but then dropped the country from the charts over concerns about the accuracy of the data.



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Coronavirus and the 'new normal': What's coming in the months ahead

Coronavirus and the 'new normal': What's coming in the months aheadThe COVID-19 pandemic has already affected the lives of every American. And while politicians and experts disagree on how best to confront the disease and mitigate its economic ramifications, there is a broad understanding that we are entering a “new normal” — an upending of our lives that will continue at least until a vaccine is developed — and perhaps well beyond that.



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Gov. Cuomo Is Blaming the New York Times for His Own Coronavirus Mistakes

Gov. Cuomo Is Blaming the New York Times for His Own Coronavirus MistakesNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo has an answer for critics who say the state didn’t react to the novel coronavirus quickly enough: Blame The New York Times.Over the past several days, the governor has repeatedly used his press conferences to take shots at the self-described “Paper of Record,” lumping the publication in with other official organizations that were slow to react to the spread of COVID-19.“Where were all the experts?” Cuomo said during a press conference earlier this week. “Where was The New York Times? Where was The Wall Street Journal? Where was all the bugle blowers who should say, ‘Be careful, there’s a virus in China that may be in the United States.’”On Thursday, the governor got more specific. When asked about his response to critics who said other states were quicker to adopt measures to curb the spread of the virus, Cuomo instead said the paper’s editorial writers should be blamed along with other organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that supposedly did not sound the alarms early enough about the dangers of the virus.“They didn’t write an editorial saying I should close down until after I closed down, right?” he complained. “Where was The New York Times editorial board?” Cuomo continued moments later. “Everybody missed it. Governors don’t do global pandemics, that’s not in my job description.”Either Cuomo didn’t actually read the Times’ coverage, or he has selective amnesia about the paper’s articles and the recommendations in op-eds when contrasted with his own response. Beginning in mid-January, the Times has run multiple stories daily about the spread of the virus, tracing the pandemic from its initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, and chronicling scientists’ warnings about the disease and the first cases and deaths in many countries. Later that month, the paper was running at least half a dozen increasingly alarming items per day about the spread of the virus, particularly in Asia, and its effects on global markets.At the time, some of the paper’s opinion columnists had a message as well: The threat of the virus is real, and scientists need to be driving policy. In one column that ran on January 23, the same day Wuhan was sealed off from the rest of China by its government, Dr. Saad B. Omer, the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, warned about the danger of the novel virus. He argued that politicians need to let scientists dictate policy on issues: “border screenings, travel restrictions and potential quarantine have major public health consequences, and they should be driven by science and emerging biological and epidemiological evidence.”“We are once again faced with the outbreak of an emerging pathogen with potentially global implications,” he wrote. “We don’t know how bad it will get. But there is no excuse for not getting ready for the worst. We already know the consequences of inaction.”In January, before there were any confirmed known cases in New York, the Times ran at least ten opinion pieces speculating about the dangers of the virus and how the U.S. should react. The editorial board itself warned about the risks of the virus on Jan. 28, saying the U.S. needed to heed the concerns of health experts. And by mid-February, the Times opinion section ran op-eds arguing how “the rapid—sometimes necessarily draconian—response of governments and health authorities has made a dent in transmission.”In an email to The Daily Beast, the governor’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi reiterated Cuomo’s claim that the paper’s editorial board did not call for travel bans or a shutdown order until five days after the governor put New York on “pause.”“For all of the Monday morning quarterbacking, it’s important to acknowledge the role everyone played, and didn’t play,” he said. “No one is saying articles weren’t written on the topic generally, but the point is, no one—not the experts, not the major health organizations, not the media who covered them, even The New York Times—were sounding the alarm on the potential for thousands of cases in the New York Metropolitan area before any testing confirmed a single case.”While there were certainly mixed messages and little outright direction from the U.S. government, New York was still slower to react than other states and countries. Infectious disease experts and doctors urged the closing of schools for days before the state eventually announced such action (Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said in late February that states should be prepared to close schools). The state government also dragged its feet as top health officials suggested that it was possible that many states would see stay-at-home measures. By the middle of the month, as New York attempted to mount a response to the virus, Cuomo was still feuding with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, declaring, “There’s not going to be any ‘you must stay in your house’ rule” (which he, in effect, reversed course on three days later when he put the state on “pause”).And while Cuomo’s public approval rating has jumped and he has become a media darling and Democratic Party hero, in the months after the Times’ coverage, New York state still lagged behind some of the other localities affected by the coronavirus. Though the state’s cases were growing, New York waited until after Washington and California had adopted widespread social-distancing measures to institute similar policies. In public statements, Cuomo attempted to reassure the public by proclaiming that the virus would not hit New York as particularly hard. “When you’re saying, what happened in other countries versus what happened here, we don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries,” Cuomo said in early March.“New York City as a whole was late in social measures,” the city’s former deputy health commissioner Isaac B. Weisfuse said in a recent interview. “Any after-action review of the pandemic in New York City will focus on that issue. It has become the major issue in the transmission of the virus.”Cuomo’s complaints about the press have not, however, reached the level of pettiness displayed daily by President Donald Trump, who continues to use the pandemic as an opportunity to complain about media coverage of his administration. As The Daily Beast reported this week, the president even encouraged his friend and unofficial adviser, Fox News host Sean Hannity, to explore legal action against the paper for its critical coverage.And certainly Cuomo realizes the paper’s editorial board and opinion section have become easy punching bags for public figures of all political persuasions.Over the past year several years, the paper’s op-ed section has been admonished for serious errors and bizarre editorial decisions. The Times opinion section hired and quickly fired a tech columnist who had a public friendship with a neo-Nazi. Another op-ed columnist was widely ridiculed for tweeting that an American-born Olympic ice skater was an immigrant. Climate-change skeptic Bret Stephens has repeatedly generated controversy from his perch at the Times, from peddling arguments with whiffs of race-science to attempting to get a George Washington University professor reprimanded by his bosses for mean tweets. The editorial board’s unprecedented endorsement of two Democratic presidential primary candidates (who both went on to lose without winning a single state) was also widely criticized for its lack of relevance or teeth in a crucial election year. The Times was also far from perfect on the issue of the virus. The opinion section has published several columns downplaying the severity of the virus or suggesting that the measures pushed by top global epidemiologists were useless. But the depth of reporting on the virus on the paper’s news side, coupled with the warnings on the opinion side, do not make fair scapegoats for questions about the governor’s response to the virus.“Public health professionals will also need to work with political leaders to make hard decisions on if or when large events should be canceled, workers should be told to telecommute, schools should change the way they operate or schools should close,” the Times opinion section warned in March, weeks before the governor put his state on “pause.” Read 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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