Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

CNN - April 30, 2020

Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the US Department of Labor, as American workers continue to suffer from devastating job losses, furloughs and reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic. It was the second largest number of initial unemployment claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967. Altogether, more than 14 million American workers have sought aid in the form of jobless benefits since mid March.

Coronavirus pandemic: NY now has more reported cases than any country

NBC News - April 30, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York has reached 151,598, according to NBC News' tracking, outpacing any country except the United States as a whole.

Coronavirus leaves federal stockpile of protective equipment nearly depleted

NBC News - April 30, 2020

The Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients. The Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press Wednesday that the federal stockpile was in the process of deploying all remaining personal protective equipment in its inventory. The HHS statement confirms federal documents released Wednesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee showing that about 90% of the personal protective equipment in the stockpile has been distributed to state and local governments.

US coronavirus predictions are shifting. Here’s why

CNN - April 30, 2020

Things are still getting worse. The US death toll crossed 14,000 on Wednesday, with a record 1,858 deaths reported just on Tuesday. Since the outbreak started, about 425,000 cases have been diagnosed in the US. And researchers say the peak has yet to come. But the main model used by the White House and pretty much everyone else was updated Wednesday to show far fewer projected US deaths from Covid-19 -- down to 60,415 people by August, from the 82,000 the model showed on Tuesday (which was already lower than previous projections). New data on the pandemic's trajectory -- from the United States and around the world -- has been fed into the model almost every day, driving the changes. And the downward adjustment suggests that social distancing may be working better than expected in some places.

Feds loosen virus rules to let essential workers return

AP - April 30, 2020

In a first, small step toward reopening the country, the Trump administration issued new guidelines to make it easier for essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to get back to work if they do not have symptoms of the coronavirus. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Wednesday at the White House that essential employees, such as health care and food supply workers, who have been within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of a confirmed or suspected case of the virus can return to work under certain circumstances if they are not experiencing symptoms. The new guidelines are being issued as the nation mourns about 15,000 deaths from the virus and grapples with a devastated economy and medical crises from coast to coast.

Top public health official says number of dead could be lower as Americans practice social distancing

CNN - April 30, 2020

A week after unveiling a stunning projection for the number of people who would die from coronavirus in the US -- 100,000 to 240,000 -- White House officials have yet to fully explain how they arrived at those numbers. Some administration officials are now saying the number could be lower than they originally warned -- but it comes as there are continued questions about how the administration got to the high number. The final number could end up being higher or lower than the dramatic estimates released one week ago in a briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, according to federal health officials and researchers who are creating models to forecast the outbreak.

Trump pledges to put a hold on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization

STAT - April 30, 2020

“They’ve been wrong about a lot of things,” Trump said. “We’re going to put a hold on money [sent] to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it.” Later in the briefing, Trump said his announcement was not a decision to end all U.S. funding for the agency, but rather a chance to give his administration the chance to “look at it.” The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. has provided the agency with $893 million during the agency’s current two-year funding period, which includes about $236 million in dues. That funding accounts for about 14.67% of the WHO’s total funding, according to the organization’s website.

Wisconsin voters wait for hours, others stay home amid virus

AP - April 30, 2020

Despite federal health recommendations, thousands of Wisconsin voters waited hours in long lines outside overcrowded polling stations on Tuesday so they could participate in a presidential primary election that tested the limits of electoral politics in the midst of a pandemic. Thousands more stayed home, unwilling to risk their health even as Republican officials pushed forward with the election amid a stay-at-home order.

China lifts 76-day lockdown on Wuhan as city reemerges from coronavirus crisis

CNN - April 30, 2020

China has ended its lockdown of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, as the city reemerges from a deadly outbreak that is now raging across the globe. But even as Wuhan reopens its borders after 76 days, some restrictions within the city will remain in place, and officials warn that the threat of further infections remains far from over. The metropolis of 11 million, where the coronavirus was first detected in December, had been sealed off from the outside world since January 23 in an unprecedented effort to contain the outbreak.

UK’s Johnson is stable in ICU with virus, received oxygen

AP - April 30, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent the night in the intensive care unit of a London hospital with the new coronavirus, but is not on a ventilator, a senior government minister said Tuesday, as pressure grew on the government to release more details of Johnson’s condition. Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital late Sunday, 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the first major world leader to be confirmed to have the virus. He was moved to the ICU Monday after his condition deteriorated.

U.S. reports 1,200 coronavirus deaths in one day as China lifts lockdown

NBC News - April 30, 2020

The virus killed 1,264 over 24 hours in the U.S. as of 2:05 am ET on Tuesday, according to NBC New's tracker. A total of 10,906 have been recorded killed by COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said on Monday he was "cautiously optimistic" that the worst projections could be avoided "if we keep our foot on the accelerator" — referring to social distancing policies in force throughout much of the country.

China reports no new coronavirus deaths as cases decline

Reuters - April 30, 2020

Mainland China reported no coronavirus deaths for the first time since the pandemic began, and a drop in new cases, a day before the central city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged late in December, is set to lift its lockdown. China had 32 new infections by Monday, down from 39 a day earlier. For the first time since the commission began publishing nationwide data in late January, Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan saw no new deaths, joining the rest of mainland China, which has recorded none since March 31. Wuhan, a city of 11 million that reported only two new infections in the past fortnight is due to allow residents to leave the city on Wednesday, for the first time since it was locked down on Jan. 23 to curb the spread of the virus.

Wisconsin primary set to go ahead Tuesday after courts block attempts to delay voting due to coronavirus

CNN - April 30, 2020

Wisconsin's primary will go forward Tuesday, with polling places opening for in-person voting and absentee ballots required to be postmarked by Election Day, after courts halted Democratic efforts to delay the primary and extend the deadline for ballots to be returned by mail. The state Supreme Court on Monday evening blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' executive order signed Monday to delay the primary until June. Shortly afterward, the US Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had given voters six more days to turn in their absentee ballots -- ruling that only those postmarked by Tuesday and arriving by April 13 be counted. Of nearly 1.3 million absentee ballots requested, about 550,000 had not yet been returned as of Monday morning.

Trump warns parts of nation to brace for coronavirus ‘peak’; surgeon general says this week will ‘be our Pearl Harbor moment’

Washington Post - April 30, 2020

President Trump and his advisers said during Sunday’s White House briefing that parts of the country are nearing a peak in cases of the novel coronavirus, suggesting the hard weeks ahead could foretell the turning of a corner. “We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump claimed at a White House briefing. This came just hours after U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned that the coming week could be a national catastrophe comparable to Pearl Harbor or the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Covid-19 deaths countrywide have pushed past 9,500, but experts say the true count is certainly higher.

As cases surge, 3 in 4 US hospitals already facing COVID-19

AP - April 30, 2020

Three out of four U.S. hospitals surveyed are already treating patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, according to a federal report that finds hospitals expect to be overwhelmed as cases rocket toward their projected peak. A report due out Monday from a federal watchdog agency warns that different, widely reported problems are feeding off each other in a vicious cycle. Such problems include insufficient tests, slow results, scarcity of protective gear, the shortage of breathing machines for seriously ill patients and burned-out staffs anxious for their own safety. “There’s this sort of domino effect,” said Ann Maxwell, an assistant inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services. “These challenges play off each other and exacerbate the situation. There’s a cascade effect.” The inspector general’s report is based on a telephone survey of 323 hospitals around the country, from March 23-27. With hundreds of new coronavirus cases daily, the situation is becoming more dire for many the nation’s 6,000 hospitals. Others can still scramble to prepare. “Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with known or suspected COVID-19, and keeping staff safe,” the report concluded.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hospitalized with virus

AP - April 30, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital because of “persistent” coronavirus symptoms, a spokesman confirmed Sunday. Johnson tested positive for the virus 10 days ago and had been self-isolating at his official residence. He hospitalized overnight in what his office described as a “precautionary step” after persistent symptoms. The 55-year-old Conservative leader, who had a fever for days, is the first known head of government to fall ill with the disease.