Coronavirus updates: WHO says the “pandemic is accelerating”

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South Korea reports 76 new cases, 9 more deaths

South Korea on Tuesday reported 76 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and nine more deaths. South Korea now has a total of at least 9,037 cases and 120 deaths.

⁠— The Associated Press 

 

U.S. postpones court hearings for asylum-seekers in Mexico over coronavirus

Citing the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration on Monday moved to postpone all court hearings for the thousands of asylum-seekers it has returned to Mexico. 

The Justice Department said hearings for migrants in the so-called “Remain in Mexico” program that were initially slated to take place before April 22 would be postponed. A spokesperson for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Justice Department branch that oversees the nation’s immigration courts, said the decision will ensure asylum-seekers in the program can have their “day in court,” while safeguarding the health of migrants, officials and U.S. citizens.

Though the spokesperson said the “Remain in Mexico” policy was not being “canceled,” Monday’s move will partially paralyze the centerpiece of the Trump administration’s restrictive asylum policies designed to discourage migration to the U.S. southern border. Under the policy, known officially as the Migrant Protections Protocols, or MPP, U.S. border officials have returned more than 60,000 Latin American migrants to northern Mexico, requiring them to wait there as their asylum cases are adjudicated. 

Read more about the decision here.

 

Activists push for the release of vulnerable inmates during pandemic

The nearly 2.3 million people incarcerated across America are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak, activists warn, and the virus has already made its way behind bars. The close proximity of inmates, coupled with inadequate treatment, can cause diseases to spread quickly inside prisons, where resources like soap, cleaning supplies and warm water can be hard to come by.

The disease, COVID-19, has sickened tens of thousands of Americans, including 21 inmates and 12 staffers at New York City jails, the largest outbreak behind bars to date. There are more than 40,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., including more than 20,000 in New York state alone. 

After freeing two dozen inmates, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and city officials were reviewing the cases of 200 others and considering them for early release. Across the Hudson River, the New Jersey Supreme Court approved the release of up to 1,000 inmates serving time for low-level offenses, which is believed the largest release in response to the virus.

For weeks, activists have been worried about an outbreak that could put inmates’ lives at risk and kick off a public health crisis. The ACLU sent letters to federalstate and local officials urging them to release inmates who are at a heightened risk of infection: individuals over 60 years old and those with chronic health problems.

Read more here. 

 

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee calls for Tokyo Olympics to be postponed

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee on Monday announced that it believes the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo should be postponed due to the coronavirus. The organization said it came to this conclusion after surveying many of the American athletes scheduled to compete in the games. 

“Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner,” the USOPC said in a statement.  

“To that end, it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors,” the group added. 

 

Latest U.S. deaths and number of cases

There are more than 43,600 cases across the U.S., and more than 550 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

 

Unapproved test kits could put public at risk

Entrepreneur Jonathan Cohen says he’s received 4,000 orders for coronavirus tests from China that he says may identify the virus in minutes. Practicing proper social distancing, CBS News met him in the parking lot outside his office last week so we could see how it works.

Cohen said the results were between 88 and 98% accurate, but medical experts and former FDA officials say Cohen’s claims are questionable.

“Saying I have a test from China is not enough to put a test on the market here in the United States, and so in today’s world, where the answers are life and death, it is not appropriate to just buy a test and sell it here to try to make a profit,” said Dr. David Agus, CBS News’ medical contributor.

Separately, a CBS News investigation found other companies blowing through federal regulations, trying to cash in on the public panic. Others skirt FDA guidance.

Unapproved coronavirus test kits could put public at risk
 

Trump says U.S. “was not built to be shut down,” signaling eagerness to reboot economy

Trump on coronavirus: “We will win this war sooner than people think”

President Trump on Monday signaled he wants the economy to be back in full swing as quickly as possible, telling the public during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing that his administration will reevaluate the 15-day guidelines the White House issued last week when that time is up and soon issue new guidelines on how to return to a more normalized economy.

“Our country was not built to be shut down,” the president said Monday night in a briefing that heavily emphasized the need to reopen and boost businesses and the economy. “… We’re not gonna let the cure be worse than the problem.”

The president also repeatedly said that he expects to ease restrictions in a matter of weeks. “I’m not looking at months, I can tell you that,” he said.

The president’s tone Monday represented a significant shift, after a week of the White House issuing dire warnings and urging people to take social distancing seriously. America, Mr. Trump said, “will soon be open for business,” even as public health officials warn Americans should be prepared to continue social distancing and closures for the time being.

Read more about the press conference here.

 

New Yorkers traveling to Florida will need to self-quarantine, governor says

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday said he will issue an executive order to require anyone traveling from New York and New Jersey to self-quarantine for 14 days, CBS Miami reported.

“Today there are over 190 direct flights from the New York City area to Florida,” DeSantis said in a news conference. “I would reckon given the outbreak there that every single flight has someone on it that is positive for COVID-19, and so as we’re working to stop it in the state of Florida.”

The governor announced he would sign an executive order later Monday. DeSantis said he wants to avoid imposing a statewide lockdown as many other states have done.

 

Shortage of possible coronavirus treatment puts others at risk

There has been a rush on medications that many hope can treat coronavirus. That means those drugs are now in short supply. Patients who count on them to treat other conditions may not have access. Struggling to speak in between bad coughs, Dr. Jinesh Patel, of Brooklyn, is a coronavirus patient. The drugs that helped his recovery are now in short supply.

“It feels so helpless,” Patel told CBS News. “So I really urge Gilead and Roche who make these drugs to look into ways to make it easily available and make it available in time so it can be used before it is too late.”

Some drugs like remdesivir, have shown promise. But New York City Dr. Jesse Greenberg, who is now in the intensive care unit, can’t get it.

When asked what the next step is if you don’t get this medication, Dr. Greenberg said, “I don’t know.”

Increase in demand for drugs to treat coronavirus leads to shortages

Read more here.

 

Trump listens “even if we disagree on some things,” Dr. Fauci says in interview about coronavirus task force

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been working overtime the past few weeks as the coronavirus crisis escalated across America. Between his job as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and his crucial position on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci has become a strong and authoritative voice for Americans in the midst of the pandemic — and he’s working alongside another strong voice, President Donald Trump.

In an interview with Science magazine, Fauci admitted he is “sort of exhausted. But other than that, I’m good. I mean, I’m not, to my knowledge, coronavirus infected. To my knowledge, I haven’t been fired,” he added with a laugh.

Fauci has stood by Mr. Trump’s side during almost every White House press conference on the coronavirus, and in some cases he’s spoken up to correct or dial back certain claims the president has made. But in the interview, Fauci stressed they are working together well.

“To [Trump’s] credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens,” Fauci said of the commander in chief. “He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.”

Read more about the interview here.

 

Boris Johnson imposes new restrictions on UK: “You must stay at home”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed severe new restrictions on the United Kingdom on Monday night, banning gatherings and ordering the closure of most retail stores.

“I must give the British people a very simple instruction: You must stay at home,” Johnson said in an address to the nation.

Johnson said people would only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for essentials, to travel to “necessary” work, to assist a person in need of medical care, or to exercise once per day. He said he’ll revisit the restrictions in three weeks.

“To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops, selling non-essential goods,” Johnson said, adding, “We’ll stop all gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with. And we’ll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms, and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.”

He added that police will have the power to enforce the restrictions, by breaking up gatherings and issuing fines.

 

3 workers at facilities housing migrant kids in U.S. custody test positive for coronavirus

Three staff members at facilities that care for unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody, as well as one foster parent, have now tested positive for the coronavirus, federal officials said Monday.

The three staff members work at two different facilities in New York that house migrant children in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The foster parent is in Washington state, one of the epicenters of the pandemic in the U.S.

ORR’s medical team and the affected facilities are currently coordinating with local public health authorities on “appropriate quarantine measures” stemming from the new cases, agency officials said in a statement to CBS News.

 

Texas becomes latest state to halt abortion services amid coronavirus outbreak

The Texas Attorney General’s office just ordered all clinics that provide abortion to immediately stop providing the procedure in order to comply with the state’s temporary suspension of surgeries that are not deemed “medically necessary,” according to a statement from the office shared with CBS News. Texas is the latest state to halt abortion services amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Attorney General’s office, “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother” must be suspended. Those in violation will face “penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time.”

On Sunday evening, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order “to expand hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus.” On Monday afternoon, the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, clarified that abortion services would need to be suspended as part of that directive.

“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers,” Paxton said in a statement shared with CBS News on Monday afternoon. “Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”

Read more here.

 

Alaska Democrats cancel in-person voting for primary

The Alaska Democratic Party announced Monday that it has canceled all in-person voting in the state’s party-run primary in favor of mail-in ballots. The party also extended the vote by mail deadline from March 24 to April 10.

“The Alaska Democratic Party has already mailed ballots to over 71,000 registered Democrats across the state, seven times the number of people that participated in the 2016 caucuses. We want to continue to allow for maximum participation in this historic primary while respecting the health and safety of our voters and volunteers,” said the party’s executive director, Lindsay Kavanaugh.

Alaska, which initially scheduled the primary for April 4, is the third state to cancel some in-person voting due to the coronavirus. Wyoming Democrats canceled their in-person caucus, and Hawaii Democrats have also canceled in-person voting for their primary.

 

White House Correspondents Association says a member has tested positive

The White House Correspondents Association, an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the president, told its members Monday that a colleague who visited the White House multiple times in recent weeks has tested positive for coronavirus. The advisory said that the person had been at the White House on March 9, 11, 16 and 18. 

The association urged its members not to come to the White House if they’re feeling sick, and to work remotely if possible.  

 

NYC’s Javits Center is transforming into a field hospital

Jacob Javits Center — coronavirus hospital
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announces plans to convert the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side into a field hospital as coronavirus cases continue to rise on March 23, 2020, in New York. Getty

Conversion of the main showroom floor of the Javits Center in Manhattan is expected to begin this week, turning the 1.8 million square feet of convention space into New York City’s first field hospital to respond to the coronavirus crisis, CBS New York reports.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the plans Saturday and toured the space Monday afternoon. He said setting up four 250-bed field hospitals at the site would take about a week to 10 days.

“This is going to get much worse before it gets better,” said Cuomo. “We are still in the relative calm before the storm. You’re going to see the number of infections, the number of cases increase dramatically.”

“You’re going to see an over-capacity of our health system,” he said. “Right now we’re projecting you’ll see more people come into the health care system than we can handle.”

New York City converting Javits Center into emergency field hospital

Read more about the plans here.

 

Justice Department seeks to expand judicial powers during crisis

The Justice Department has submitted legislative recommendations to Congress that address how court cases should proceed as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. 

The proposals were sent to Capitol Hill at the request of lawmakers, who are currently working on a third legislative response to the coronavirus, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Sunday. The measures were first reported by Politico, and CBS News has not been able to independently verify the content of the documents submitted to Congress.
 
According to Politico, one of the measures includes the ability to seek approval to indefinitely detain people without trial during times of national emergency, like the one the nation is experiencing now.
 
Kupec wrote on Twitter on Sunday that the recommendations were developed in consultation with Congress and the federal judiciary and are designed to ensure the federal courts can “administer fair and impartial justice during the pandemic.”
 
“Criminals should not be able to avoid justice because of a public health emergency,” Kupec said, noting the recommendations were “draft suggestions.” — Clare Hymes and Melissa Quinn

Read more about the recommendations here

 

UN chief calls for a global ceasefire to focus on the “true fight of our lives”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire on Monday to help the world focus on the fight against the coronavirus.

“I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world,” the U.N. chief told reporters during a virtual press conference. “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

 With conflicts still endangering the delivery of aid in Yemen, Syria, Libya and several countries in Africa, the U.N. is attempting to get much-needed humanitarian assistance, medical supplies and testing kits for the coronavirus to the developing world.

“To warring parties, I say: Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns, stop the artillery, end the airstrikes,” Guterres said. 

“War doesn’t make any sense when we have an epidemic, but war doesn’t make any sense in any circumstances,” he added, noting that it’s vital “to open precious windows for diplomacy,” in order to “bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

 

Senate again fails to advance coronavirus stimulus bill

The Senate on Monday failed for the second time to clear a key procedural hurdle to advance a massive legislative package designed to provide economic relief to American workers and industries battered by the coronavirus outbreak, as tensions boiled over among senators who vocalized their frustrations with one another over negotiations.

Senate Democrats blocked the yet-to-be-finalized stimulus package from advancing in a vote of 49 to 46, denying Republicans the 60 votes needed to move forward. Monday’s action was yet another setback for senators following a failed party-line procedural vote Sunday.

The vote followed tense and heated exchanges on the Senate floor, with Republicans accusing Democrats of exploiting a crisis while time runs out to pull the economy back from the brink.

Read more here.

 

New Jersey to release up to 1,000 inmates

New Jersey will release up to 1,000 inmates from county jails on Tuesday to fight the spread of coronavirus. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner signed an order Sunday approving the release of inmates serving time for low-level crimes.

The order does not commute sentences, but rather temporarily suspends them.

“Unprecedented times call for rethinking the normal way of doing things, and in this case it means releasing people who pose little risk to their communities for the sake of public health and the dignity of people who are incarcerated,” Amol Singha, executive director at the ACLU of New Jersey, said in a statement.

 

WHO says the pandemic is accelerating

The World Health Organization on Monday said the pandemic is accelerating. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, said it took 67 days from the first case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and four days for the next 100,000 cases.

 

Could COVID-19 survivors’ blood help save seriously ill patients?

As more people recover from COVID-19, more people should have antibodies against the virus. And it’s possible that blood donations from those survivors could help protect or treat other people, according to some infectious disease experts.

The general notion is far from new. In the first half of the 20th century, doctors used “convalescent serum” in an effort to treat people during outbreaks of viral infections like measles, mumps and influenza — including during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

The principle is fairly simple: When a pathogen invades the body, the immune system produces antibodies that latch onto the enemy, marking it for destruction. After recovery, those antibodies remain circulating in a person’s blood, for anywhere from months to years.

In theory, transferring some of those antibodies to other people with the same virus could help their bodies fight it off. Click here to read more.

— Amy Norton

 

Florida college students test positive for coronavirus after going on spring break

At least five students from the University of Tampa have tested positive for coronavirus after traveling with other students from the school for spring break, the university announced on Twitter. This comes after crowds of spring-breakers in Florida were criticized for ignoring social distancing guidelines and packing beaches in complete disregard of the potential risk.

University of Tampa announced on Friday that it learned that one student, who resides off-campus, tested positive for the virus. Just a day later, the school confirmed that five students, who were part of a larger group traveling together during spring break, had tested positive.

Are college students taking coronavirus seriously?
 

Former Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar’s husband has COVID-19

Senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar said Monday that her husband had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The Minnesota Democrat made the announcement in a tweet Monday morning, saying: “I love him & not being able to be by his side is one of the hardest things about this disease. So many are going through this & much worse. I pray for him & you & meanwhile I will do all I can to get help to the American people.”

Klobuchar dropped her White House bid early this month and threw her support behind Joe Biden. In an earlier tweet she made it clear she was still in Washington working with other Senators to negotiate a massive new financial relief package for American businesses.

Senators return for continued negotiations on coronavirus relief package
 

COVID-19 kills 19 Italian doctors as virus spreads among under-equipped health workers

Italy’s National Health Service said Monday that 4,824 health care workers in the country have contracted the new coronavirus.  That represents 9% of all coronavirus infections in Italy, more than double the figure reported in China.  As of Monday, 19 Italian doctors have died with the disease.

In one hospital in the hard-hit Lombardy region, 25 of the 90 doctors are infected. In the city of Bergamo, 22% of the city’s family doctors are infected or quarantined after possible exposure. The infections are compounding the strain on a health care system that is already stretched to the limit.

Italian health care workers have warned since the beginning of the crisis that shortages of personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves are putting them and their patients at risk. In at least two hospitals in Lombardy, patients infected medical personnel who then went on to infect other patients.

“That is one factor that has helped the virus spread so quickly,” said Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research.  

Italy has fast-tracked training to get new doctors, nurses and technicians to the front lines. 

Medical staff wearing protective masks, glasses and suits treat patients suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po hospital in Cremona
Medical staff wearing protective masks, glasses and suits treat patients suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po hospital in Cremona, Italy March 19, 2020. FLAVIO LO SCALZO/REUTERS

Meanwhile, Italian authorities were cautiously hopeful Sunday when latest infection and fatality figures showed what appeared to be a decline in the growth rate of the virus. The number of new infections rose by a relatively modest 10.4% percent, and the 651 fatalies for the day, although high, was significantly lower than the 793 recorded the day before.

– Anna Matranga

 

Dozens of House Democrats renew call for remote voting over coronavirus fears

Representative Katie Porter, an outspoken freshman Democrat from California, is renewing her call to allow remote voting in the U.S. House of Representatives so lawmakers can continue working while avoiding close contact amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

“We write to request that you enact a temporary change to House Rules to allow remote voting by Members of the House during national emergencies, especially the current one involving COVID-19,” Porter wrote in the letter to House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, which was signed by 66 of her colleagues. 

The California Democrat’s letter, sent Monday morning, picked up dozens of signatures over the weekend in the wake of Sunday’s revelation that Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky tested positive for the coronavirus. Two other senators said they would self-quarantine for 14 days due to their contact with Paul. 

Molly Hooper

 

Stocks drop despite Federal Reserve’s vow of unlimited help

Stocks declined on Monday despite the Federal Reserve’s announcement of an unlimited expansion of bond purchasing programs to grease the economy’s wheels as the coronavirus pandemic causes U.S. business to grind to a halt. The Fed’s pledge failed to reverse a plunge in futures trading on Sunday night after a stimulus bill stalled in the U.S. Senate. 

The Dow declined 550 points, or 2.9%, to 18,624 in morning trading. The broad-based S&P 500-stock index also fell 2.9% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slipped 1.7%. 

The Fed announced a series of sweeping steps Monday morning, saying it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments, on top of extending its bond buying programs to a range of companies. The Fed’s ongoing efforts to support the flow of credit through an economy ravaged by the viral outbreak buoyed investors after Wall Street suffered brutal losses last week, wiping out the stock market gains of President Donald Trump’s entire presidency so far.

 

“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” Surgeon General warns Americans

“I didn’t expect to be starting off my week with such a dire message for America, but the numbers are going to get worse this week,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said on “CBS This Morning” Monday.

“Things are going to get worse before they get better, and we really need everyone to understand this is serious, to lean into what they can do to flatten the curve,” he said.

Asked about health officials and governors warning the Trump administration about shortages of critical medical supplies, Dr. Adams said: “I’m getting those calls every minute of the day. I got calls from people literally while I was sitting here waiting to talk to you. I want the health care workers of America to understand, these are my colleagues, these are my friends, and I will not rest until you all have the tools you need to keep yourselves safe.”

U.S. surgeon general on federal government’s efforts to distribute medical supplies
 

2 senior Egyptian military officials die with COVID-19 in 2 days

A second senior military officer in Egypt has died of the new coronavirus, state television reported Monday, as the officially declared death toll stood at 14 from 327 cases recorded nationwide.

Major General Shafee Dawood, head of major infrastructure projects at the military engineering authority, became the latest high-ranking figure in Egypt to die from COVID-19 in hospital.

His death comes after Major General Khaled Shaltout, the army’s chief of water management, died from the virus late Sunday. State television said Shaltout contracted the disease after having taken part in “sterilization” procedures to stave off the virus.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who met on March 3 with both of the generals who have now died, said Sunday his government has dealt with the pandemic with “full transparency” and denied the true infection rate was being suppressed.

On social media, Egyptians have been critical of the government’s perceived slow handling of the pandemic.

CBS/AFP

 

Pompeo says Iran’s COVID-19 “fabrications” put world “at greater risk”

Iran continues to accuse the U.S. of crippling its coronavirus response with sanctions and the U.S. continues to accuse Iran of lying about how and why the disease has spread so fast in the Islamic Republic.

As CBS News’ Seyed Bathaei reports from Tehran, the Iranian authorities have argued for weeks that harsh U.S. sanctions have made it hard for the country to import the medical equipment needed to fight the epidemic. Some Iranian officials have even pushed a claim that the U.S. government created the virus and deliberately unleashed it on the country.

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly said the sanctions do not affect medical resources, and visiting Afghanistan on Monday, Pompeo said Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “fabrications” about the disease were “dangerous and they put Iranians and people around the world at greater risk.”

Pompeo then listed five “facts,” accusing Iran’s regime of choosing to spend state money supporting global terrorism rather than fighting COVID-19. He blasted Iran for allowing direct flights to and from mainland China in February and blamed the Islamic Republic for spreading the disease around the Middle East. 

 

Black and Hispanic workers less able to work from home

The governors of California, Illinois and New York have imposed lockdowns on their states requiring non-essential workers to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Those restrictions hit certain minority groups especially hard, research suggests. 

A disproportionately high share of black and Hispanic workers cannot telecommute, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute based on federal labor data. Asian workers, followed by white workers, were most likely to be able to do their jobs remotely.

From 2017 to 2018, 29.9% of white workers surveyed said they could work from home, compared to 19.7% of black or African American workers and 16.2% of Latino workers. Thirty-seven percent of Asian workers said they could do their jobs remotely, according to the report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

“I’m scared”: Pandemic hitting small businesses and hourly workers hard

As U.S. businesses shut their doors, unemployment claims are surging. The number of Americans affected by the closures is staggering; some experts say 7 million people could lose their jobs between April and June, and the unemployment rate could shoot up to nearly 9 percent by later this year.

It’s unclear how long the economy, and many Americans’ livelihoods, will be paralyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The closures have been especially hard on the retail, hospitality, restaurant and travel industries. Roughly 82 million people – three-fifths of the U.S. workforce – are hourly employees, most of whom won’t be paid if they don’t work.

CBS News national correspondent Jericka Duncan met some of the people in this dire situation already, and as you’ll see in the video below, the fear is real, and like the virus, it’s spreading.

Small businesses worried about surviving coronavirus crisis
 

Germany reports early progress with new infection rate “flattening off slightly”

The drastic measures imposed in Germany to slow the spread of the new coronavirus have begun to have an effect. While the number of new cases continues to rise, the head of the country’s public health agency says the rate of increase is slowing.

“We are seeing signs that the exponential growth curve is flattening off slightly,” Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute, said Monday. He cautioned that he would only be able to confirm the positive trend with more data by mid-week, but said: “I am optimistic that the measures are already having an effect, which is very early because they have only been in place for a week.”

The epidemic does continue to spread fast, Wieler cautioned, with 22,672 cases confirmed in Germany on Monday, an increase of 4,062 since Sunday. There have been 86 deaths blamed on the disease in Germany.

Merkel Announces Further Coronavirus Measures Following Teleconference With State Governors
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media to announce further measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, March 22, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Following her speech, Merkel went home to quarantine after a doctor she was in contact with tested positive for coronavirus. CLEMENS BILAN /POOL/Getty

Wieler repeatedly warned that Germans to heed the latest restrictions on social contacts, announced Sunday by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The chancellor, now quarantined herself after close contact with a doctor who was later diagnosed with COVID-19, has banned gatherings of more than two people who do not live in the same household. 

Anna Noryskiewicz

 

India banning all flights as virus lockdowns clear the roads – and the poisonous air

With 19 of India’s 28 states under complete lockdown orders and partial curbs being enforced in six others to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, about 1 billion people are now largely off the streets.

All but essential business and most ground transport has been shut down. The government decided Monday to stop all domestic passenger flights from Tuesday at midnight. International flights were banned last week. 

The government announced the new restrictions as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country started rising sharply, with private labs now also allowed to administer tests. 

INDIA-HEALTH-VIRUS
A car is allowed to continue its journey as incoming traffic to Delhi is stopped by policemen at a checkpoint at the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi border along the Delhi-Meerut Expressway to inforce a lockdown order by Delhi’s government as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, in Ghazipur on March 23, 2020. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty

The widespread lockdowns have at least helped clear India’s noxious air, vastly improving air quality in cities including Delhi, Gurugram, Lucknow, and Kanpur, which typically rank among the world’s most polluted. 

On Monday, the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was around 50, or “good” – rare for the Indian capital, which usually remains in the “unhealthy” to “hazardous” zones with an AQI between 250 to 350. On the worst days of the year in the winter, the AQI in Delhi can exceed 999, the highest figure air quality monitors can even register.

Arshad R. Zargar

 

Senate resumes negotiations on mammoth COVID-19 relief package

U.S. Senators returned to Capitol Hill Monday morning to resume negotiations after hitting a partisan wall Sunday night as they craft another coronavirus relief bill expected to cost the nation as much as $2 trillion.

Republicans say they’ve already made big concessions, with some calling the bill “unemployment insurance on steroids,” but Democrats say there aren’t enough protections for workers and some are upset over what they’re calling a new “slush fund” in the bill. 

Watch the video below for CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes’ explanation of what the proposed legislation would do, and when it might pass.

Senate hits partisan wall on coronavirus relief bill
 

Fear for Lupus patients after Trump wrongly touts vital drug as COVID-19 treatment

Two of the drugs President Trump has touted as treatments for the new COVID-19 disease, in spite of the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved them for such use, are vital medications for patients with Lupus.

Amid reports that people with the debilitating disease were already struggling to fill their long-standing prescriptions, the Lupus Foundation of America released a statement saying it recognized that the possible new use “means that these drugs may be in high demand in the coming weeks.”

“We are actively working with our medical and scientific advisors, other patient groups, partners, and the federal government to take steps that ensure people with lupus will be protected from a disruption in access to critical medications,” the foundation said, adding that “hospitals and clinics that treat people with lupus also are working to ensure that those with existing prescriptions will be able to continue their course of treatment.”

The FDA last week was forced to walk back Mr. Trump’s claim that chloroquine had already been approved for use as a COVID-19 treatment.

 

Nigeria reports chloroquine poisonings after Trump says drug “approved” for COVID-19

Authorities in Lagos, Nigeria say hospitals have seen cases of chloroquine poisoning after U.S. President Donald Trump touted the drug as a treatment against the new coronavirus.

Mr. Trump on Thursday said the anti-malarial drug had been “approved” to treat COVID-19 by America’s Food and Drug Administration, only for the head of the agency to row back and say it had not yet been given a definitive green light.   

The drug has recently been used to treat coronavirus patients in China and in France, where some researchers said it showed great promise, though scientists agree that only more trials would determine if it really works and is safe.   

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when asked whether there’s any evidence that the drug is useful for COVID-19, replied bluntly: “No.”

He said the hopes Mr. Trump expressed were based on “anecdotal” information. 

“It was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can’t make any definitive statement about it,” Fauci said.  

CBS/AP

 

China accuses U.S. of wasting “precious time” by “politicizing the epidemic”

China’s foreign ministry says the U.S. is “completely wasting the precious time” Beijing had won in attacking the global coronavirus outbreak that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing Monday that the U.S. has attempted to “discredit others and look for a scapegoat to shift its responsibilities.”

He added that the U.S. should “stop politicizing the epidemic, stop stigmatizing and defaming China and other countries.”

China’s health ministry says Wuhan has now gone five consecutive days without a new infection, showing the effectiveness of draconian travel restrictions that are slowly being relaxed around the country.

At the same time, China is stepping up measures to prevent the virus from being brought back from overseas, requiring international flights into Beijing to first stop at airports outside the capital for inspection. 

– Associated Press

 

World Health Organization warns criminals posing as staff as fraud efforts mount

The World Health Organization says criminals are increasingly posing as WHO officials in an effort to swipe information or money from people during the coronavirus crisis.

Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Monday that attackers are using “multiple impersonation approaches” such as fraudulent phone calls and phishing on email and through social media.

The U.N. health agency said it is working to confirm and debunk such attempts and alert local authorities. It has set up a website to help people prevent fraud during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Coronavirus scams claim to offer vaccines, treatment and testing

“Always take time to think about a request for your personal information, and whether the request is appropriate,” WHO said.

WHO says its official emails come from the “who.int” domain. 

– Associated Press

 

OECD chief says virus demands “sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated” response

Governments scrambling to defend their own economies against the coronavirus pandemic are being urged to coordinate to ward off a long-term global recession and future waves of infections. The head of the OECD group of advanced economies said the coordination ought to exceed both the 1930s New Deal and the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II.

A global recession looks “increasingly likely” in the first half of this year, “and we must act now to avoid a protracted recession,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Only a sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated effort can deal with the immediate public health emergency, buffer the economic shock and develop a path towards recovery,” he said in a weekend statement.

While many governments are unveiling titanic spending packages against the COVID-19 pandemic, exceeding even the 2008 financial crisis, there has so far been no collective action plan from fora such as the G7 or G20.

AFP

 

Summer Olympics in Tokyo headed for almost certain delay

The Tokyo Olympics are going to happen, but almost surely in 2021 rather than in four months as planned.

This became clear after the International Olympic Committee on Sunday announced it was considering a postponement and would make a final decision within four weeks. Major Olympic nations like Canada and Australia have added pressure by saying they will not send teams if the games are staged this year, over fear of the still-spreading coronavirus disease.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach sent a letter to athletes explaining the decision, while also acknowledging the extended timeline might not be popular. 

OLY-2020-TOKYO-JPN-FLAME
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame is displayed outside the railway station in Tono, Iwate prefecture on March 22, 2020.  Getty

“I know that this unprecedented situation leaves many of your questions open,” he wrote. “I also know that this rational approach may not be in line with the emotions many of you have to go through.” 

— The Associated Press

 

Hong Kong to ban all non-resident arrivals over virus

Hong Kong will ban all non-residents from entering the financial hub from Wednesday, its leader said Monday, as it tries to halt a recent spike in virus infections from people returning from abroad.

“From midnight of March 25, all non-Hong Kong residents flying in from overseas will not be allowed into the city,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, adding the order would be in place for at least two weeks.

— AFP

 

Japan requiring 2-week quarantine for all visitors from U.S.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that Japan will require all visitors from the United States to be quarantined for 14 days. That includes Japanese and Americans and is effective Thursday through the end of April.

He cited escalating COVID-19 infections around the world, especially in the U.S. and Europe in recent weeks.

Japan on Sunday raised a travel advisory for the U.S., urging the Japanese citizens not to make nonessential trips to the U.S.

 Abe noted the U.S. recently took similar measures and urged Americans not to make nonessential trips to Japan and required a 14-day quarantine for entrants. 

He said Monday’s quarantine requirement is in line with measures taken by other countries.

— The Associated Press

 

Secret Service employee tests positive

The U.S. Secret Service says one of its employees has COVID-19, but it’s not saying whether that employee is an agent.

The service said in a statement early Monday that an employee tested positive for the disease and is in quarantine.

It said it did a thorough check and determined the employee hasn’t had contact with any other Secret Service employee or person the service protects for almost three weeks. 

 

South Korea ramps up screenings of air passengers from Europe

South Korea says it tested more than 1,440 passengers arriving from Europe for the coronavirus as the country tightens border controls to prevent the illness from re-entering from the West.

The office of Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun on Monday said 152 of the passengers who arrived on Sunday were tested at airport isolation facilities after exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms.

The office says the other 1,290 passengers were taken to an employee training center of the SK business group in Incheon and that six of them have so far been sent home after testing negative.

South Korea began testing all passengers arriving from Europe on Sunday and enforcing 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals arriving from Europe and foreigners entering the country from Europe on long-term stay visas.

Chung says his government is also considering expanding the measures to passengers arriving from North America. 

— The Associated Press

https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-latest-news-deaths-2020-03-23/

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