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Coronavirus updates from April 20, 2020

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The coronavirus has sickened almost 2.5 million people worldwide and killed more than 170,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., more than 42,000 have died and over 787,000 have contracted COVID-19. Some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe and Asia cautiously starting to reopen for business, and some U.S. states have partially restarted their economies.

Latest major developments:

Detailed information from the CDC on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

 

BOP announces two more inmates have tested positive

497 federal inmates and 319 staff have tested positive for COVID-19, the Federal Buruea of Prisons announced Monday. A total of 22 federal inmates have died from the coronavirus so far.

According to BOP, no staff members have died as a result of the coronavirus yet, however Robin Grubbs, an employee at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta died last week and posthumously tested positive. BOP is waiting on the results of an autopsy to determine is her death was a result of the virus.

Cassidy McDonald contributed reporting.

By Clare Hymes
 

Trump says he will sign executive order temporarily banning immigration

President Trump tweeted late Monday that amid the coronavirus pandemic, he will be signing an executive order that will temporarily halt immigration

"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!" Mr. Trump tweeted.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBS News.  

Camilo Montoya-Galvez and Caroline Linton contributed reporting.  

 

Judge orders ICE to consider releasing all immigrants at risk of dying if infected by coronavirus

A federal judge in California on Monday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to actively and rapidly review the cases of all detained immigrants at increased risk of severe illness or death if they contract the coronavirus. The judge also ordered ICE to determine whether high risk detainees should be released to shield them from the deadly contagion.

Judge Jesus Bernal of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles said ICE needs to identify all immigrants in its custody who are either over the age of 55, pregnant or suffer from chronic medical conditions — like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer and HIV — in the next 10 days or within the first five days of detention for future detainees. He required the agency to make "timely custody determinations" for all detainees that fall into any of the high-risk categories he outlined. 

Bernal underscored a sense of urgency in his order, admonishing ICE several times for what he described as inadequate and slow efforts to protect detainees. 

"At this stage of the pandemic, the threat is even clearer. The number of immigration detainees testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase at an alarming rate," he wrote.

Coronavirus cases among the more than 31,000 immigrants held by ICE surged to 220 on Monday, with the agency reporting 96 new cases across the country, according to a notification to Congress obtained by CBS News. 

Read more here. 

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

3 million Americans are not making mortgage payments right now

The number of Americans struggling to pay their mortgages has skyrocketed as the economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 3 million Americans behind by at least one month on their mortgage payments in the week ending April 12, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. 

Nearly 6% of all mortgages were in forbearance, the industry term for being behind on payments. The week before, 3.7% of home loans were past due by at least a month. The first week of March, just 0.25% of such loans were past due by a month.

This high a figure on a nationwide level is unprecedented, said Mike Fratantoni, MBA's chief economist.

"You might have seen this high of a share in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, but it was always a local phenomenon," he said. "What's different this time is it's national. To have 6% of mortgage loans in forbeareance, that's about 3 million homeowners saying they can't make their mortgage payments due to COVID-19."

By Irina Ivanova
 

30 NYPD members have died of coronavirus

The NYPD announced an additional death from the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the department's total to 30. The department identified the patient as Traffic Section Commander Mohammed Chowdhury, who died Sunday after working for the department for nearly 30 years. 

More than 4,900 uniformed NYPD members — 13.8% of the force — called in sick Monday, down from a high of 19.8%. More than 4,400 NYPD members have tested positive for the virus, and over 2,300 have already recovered and returned to work. 

By Victoria Albert
 

UN teams up with Microsoft to help with remote schooling

Microsoft and UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, have partnered to help keep reading, writing, and arithmetic in the minds of millions of the 1.57 billion children out of school in 190 countries through a program called "Learning Passport."

"UNICEF's Learning Passport is uniquely positioned as a learning solution to bridge the digital learning gap for millions of students to bring their classroom into their home during the pandemic," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a statement Monday.

UNICEF said in a press release that the Learning Passport provides country-specific platforms on which students can access "a digitized curriculum with textbooks and a selection of supplemental content, in national languages, that is jointly curated at country-level to best serve learners' and educators' specific needs."

But there are limits to what the program can do. The Learning Passport can only be used by teachers and students who have an internet connection and a device at home, UNICEF's Chief of Education Robert Jenkins told CBS News.

Learning Passport has begun work for around 6.5 million children thus far and includes online books, videos and additional support for parents of children with learning disabilities, Georgina Thompson, a communications specialist at UNICEF's New York office, told CBS News.

"From school closures, to isolation, to a persistent sense of fear and anxiety, the effects of this pandemic are impacting childhoods worldwide," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

By Pamela Falk
 

Emergency room doctors facing pay cuts and understaffing during pandemic

The financial fallout of the pandemic is affecting some of the most vital health workers in the country. CBS News spoke with ER doctors in nearly a dozen states who say they're taking pay cuts of up to 40%.

The American College of Emergency Physicians says cutting benefits and shifts could force some emergency rooms to shut down.

ER doctor Leslie Simon is chair of the emergency medicine department at the Mayo Clinic and is seeing patients with COVID-19 symptoms daily. 

"You go through the stages of grief when you get a pay cut," Simon said. "And we all did."

Simon and her team just took a 10% salary reduction — a consequence of the hospital's anticipated $3 billion revenue loss.

Health care workers face benefit and pay cuts amid coronavirus outbreak
By Nikki Battiste
 

Concerns rise over accuracy of coronavirus antibody testing

Health officials say blood tests that look for signs of whether someone has developed antibodies against coronavirus are key to re-opening the economy. But researchers at Harvard said the U.S. needs to nearly triple the current rate of testing to at least 500,000 people per day.

And at the same time, there are concerns about the accuracy of these tests.

On Monday, New York state kicked off the most aggressive antibody test survey in the nation — randomly sampling 3,000 people for evidence they have been infected by the coronavirus.

"We're starting the largest antibody test ever done today in New York. The largest sample," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

Already more than 35,000 New Yorkers have reached out to Mount Sinai to see if they qualify for the antibody test developed by researchers there — one of four tests granted "emergency use authorization" by the FDA.

High demand has spawned dozens of tests onto the market, and the FDA is being criticized for favoring speed over accuracy – allowing too many to be sold without regulation.

Read more here. 

Concerns raised over coronavirus antibody tests as states eye reopening
By Mola Lenghi
 

Democratic governors ask White House for help calling off protesters

Democratic governors under political pressure to ease stay-at-home restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 on Monday asked the White House to help encourage Americans to adhere to those local guidelines.

The request comes after President Trump this weekend tweeted support for small bands of conservative protesters that rallied in the state capitals of Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia and elsewhere against restrictions put in place by Democratic governors.

On the Monday call, Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer told Vice President Mike Pence that "any help on the national level to reiterate the importance of stay-at-home orders would be helpful,", according to audio of the meeting obtained by CBS News.

Acknowledging weekend protests against her stay-at-home orders at the State Capitol in Lansing, Whitmer said, "I know that people are getting frustrated, certainly, and want to do the wonderful American tradition of dissent and demonstration, but it's just so dangerous to do that.

"This is a phenomenon that's nationwide and to the extent there might be some help on the national level to reiterate the importance of staying home until we get these numbers down and we can start to reopen would be incredibly appreciated," she added.

"Governor, we will certainly do that," Pence told Whitmer, adding later: "We will make a point today and going forward to continue to reiterate that."

By Ed O'Keefe
 

Trump says Cuomo will visit him at White House on Tuesday

President Trump told reporters Monday that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo may visit him at the White House on Tuesday.

"They're getting it together in New York — a lot of good things are happening in New York," Mr. Trump said at the task force briefing. "And I think the governor is going to come in and see us tomorrow. He's coming to the Oval Office tomorrow afternoon."

The announcement came after Mr. Trump suggested that some governors didn't fully understand what resources they had available to them. But he singled out New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for praise, citing Cuomo's recent comment that "'I think the president's right when he says that the states should lead.'"

Earlier today, Cuomo said at his daily briefing that hospitals, schools and local governments would face 20% cuts in state aid if the federal government fails to include more funding in the next coronavirus stimulus package. Aid to the states is not included in the PPP bill that is expected to be agreed upon this week.

The White House Holds Daily Briefing On Coronavirus Pandemic
President Donald Trump speaks during a daily briefing of the Coronavirus Task Force at the White House on April 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.  / Getty Images
By Ellen Uchimiya
 

U.S. may put as much as 75 million barrels of oil into Strategic Petroleum Reserve after prices plummet, Trump says

President Trump said Monday that the U.S. may buy up to 75 million barrels of oil to add to the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). He said the decision was based on the "record-low price of oil" caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We're filling up our national petroleum reserves — you know, the strategic reserves — and we're looking to put as much at 75 million barrels into the reserves themselves — that would top it out," Mr. Trump said.

The president also said the White House was continuing to push Congress to replenish the PPP. He said he hoped for an agreement "very soon" and also said he hoped the Senate would be able to vote on the measure tomorrow. 

By Ellen Uchimiya
 

Walmart now requires 1.5 million employees to wear face masks

Starting Monday, wearing a face mask is now part of the job for Walmart and Sam's Club workers. The nation's largest retailer is changing its policy on face coverings from optional to mandatory given the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation that people wear masks in public places to help curb the spread of COVID-19, company executives stated in a Friday memo to workers.

Although most state and local governments do not require masks, it is in "everyone's best interest to use masks or face coverings" Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner and Sam's Club CEO Kath McLay jointly wrote in the memo, citing the CDC recommendation. The mandate involves workers at stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, as well as Walmart's corporate offices, they explained. Employees can bring their own face covering or use a company-provided mask.

Company executives had previously said that Walmart would start checking workers' temperatures and make masks and gloves available. The retailer is also encouraging shoppers to wear masks or face coverings to help protect workers and other customers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

By Kate Gibson
 

Gyms, bowling alleys and salons will reopen in Georgia on Friday

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced Monday that a number of non-essential businesses including gyms, bowling alleys and salons will be allowed to reopen this Friday, according to CBS affiliate WTOC

Kemp also said he plans to allow restaurants to reopen dine-in services by next Monday, as long as they meet specific guidelines that will be announced later in the week. 

"The entities which I am reopening are not reopening as business as usual," Kemp said. "Each of these entities will be subject to specific restrictions including adherence to the minimal basic operations, social distancing and regular sanitation."

By Victoria Albert
 

Ohio inmates constitute nearly quarter of coronavirus cases

Ohio inmates make up nearly one in four of the state's coronavirus cases following a spike in identified infections as universal testing takes place inside three state prisons.

Figures released Sunday show 1,828 positive tests at Marion Correctional Facility in north-central Ohio, out of about 2,500 total inmates, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

In addition, 109 employees at Marion have tested positive, out of a total of about 350 workers, which includes about 295 guards. One Marion prison guard died earlier this month.

Systemwide, 2,400 inmates have tested positive and six have died, including five at Pickaway Correctional Facility in central Ohio, where 384 inmates have tested positive out of a population of about 2,000. Even the head of the prison guards' union, Christopher Mabe, is in self-quarantine after his wife, a guard at Lorain Correctional Institution, tested positive.

The spike in prison infections sent the state's tally of cases on Sunday to more than 11,600, which includes 471 deaths.

By Associated Press
 

Nearly all abortions in Texas must stop, again, federal appeals court rules

In a ruling that seems destined for the U.S. Supreme Court, nearly all abortions in Texas must again be halted, the Fifth Circuit ruled Monday afternoon. The federal appeals court allowed the state to reinstate its ban on nearly all abortion services, including the procedure in Governor Greg Abbott's Executive Order suspending all "non-essential" medical procedures.

Monday's decision reverses both the court's own previous ruling as well as a lower court's decision that allowed medication abortion, a pregnancy termination method conducted by pill, to resume despite the state's ban. The court offered one exception: patients who would be past the state's legal limit by April 22, when the order is set to expire.

Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, two of the groups challenging the ban on behalf of Texas' abortion providers, did not have a comment immediately available. A spokesperson for the Texas Attorney General's office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

Read more here. 

By Kate Smith
 

Novak Djokovic says he's "opposed" to the idea of mandatory virus vaccination

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic said he's "opposed to vaccination" and doesn't like the idea of being required to get a coronavirus vaccine in order to return to playing once a vaccine is developed. He made the controversial remarks in a Facebook chat with other Serbian athletes Sunday.

"Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn't want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel," Djokovic said, according to a translation from Reuters. "But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision. I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don't know."

"Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine and there is no vaccine yet," he added.  

Public health officials say it's likely to take at least a year to 18 months before a vaccine could become available. The World Health Organization said in a report last week that three potential vaccines are currently being tested in clinical trials and more than 60 others are in earlier stages of development. 

Read more here. 

Britain Wimbledon Tennis
Novak Djokovic in London on Sunday, July 14, 2019. Ben Curtis / AP
By Christopher Brito
 

Oil prices go negative as demand collapses

Oil futures plunged below zero for the first time on Monday as demand for energy collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic and traders sought to avoid owning crude with nowhere to store it. 

Stocks were also slipping on Wall Street in afternoon trading, with the S&P 500 down 1.2%, but the market's most dramatic action by far was in oil, where benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery plummeted to negative $35.20, as of 2:30 pm. Eastern time. It was nearly $60 at the start of the year before business-shutdown orders swept the world and idled factories, offices and automobiles.
 
Much of the drop was chalked up to technical reasons - the May delivery contract is close to expiring so its trading volume was light, which can exacerbate swings. But prices for deliveries even further into the future, which were seeing larger trading volumes, also plunged. Demand for oil has collapsed so much that facilities for storing crude are nearly full.
 
Tanks could hit their limits within three weeks, according to Chris Midgley, head of analytics at S&P Global Platts. And traders are willing to pay someone else to take that oil for delivery in May and shift the burden of figuring out where to keep it.
 
Benchmark U.S. crude oil for June delivery, which shows a more "normal" price, fell 16.5% to $20.90 per barrel. Big oil producers have announced cutbacks in production in hopes of better balancing supplies with demand, but many analysts say it's not enough.

Read more here.

By Associated Press
 

NYC cancels all public events in June, including Pride March and Puerto Rican Day Parade

As New York City continues its battle against the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced permits for June events would be canceled. The city's Pride March, Puerto Rican Day and Salute to Israel parades have all been canceled. The mayor said they may be rescheduled for later in the year.

"I think everyone does want to consider, from what I've heard, the option of going and looking at opportunities, you know, late in the summer or into the fall. And we'll know a lot more in the coming weeks, according to these indicators I go over each day, and how we see this disease act and how we all act," de Blasio said.

"As the days have passed, it has become more and more clear that even with a decline in the spread of COVID-19, large-scale events such as ours are unlikely to happen in the near future," said Maryanne Roberto Fine, NYC Pride Co-Chair. "We understand that we need to reimagine NYC Pride events – and have already begun to do just that."

Read more at CBS New York.

New York's Gay Pride Parade Celebrates Passage Of Same-Sex Marriage Law
People stand outside of The Stonewall Inn during the 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March on the streets of Manhattan on June 26, 2011, in New York City. Jemal Countess / Getty
 

London mayor calls for British government to gather ethnicity data on virus patients

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Sunday called for the British government to start gathering data on the ethnicity and cultural backgrounds of those affected by the coronavirus after early figures suggested minorities were being disproportionately affected by the outbreak in Britain. 

Currently, only a person's age and sex are routinely collected if they contract and die from COVID-19 in the hospital. Mounting evidence suggests that —as in the United States — minority communities in the U.K. are being hit especially hard by the disease.

A study of early data by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre found that more than a third of almost 2,000 critically ill patients were from a minority ethnic background, despite making up only 13% of the U.K. population.

"If the information was collected and published in real time, it would help bring the true scale of the problem to light and provide more evidence about how to protect communities from the virus," Khan wrote in an editorial in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"Even though it can be uncomfortable for some to acknowledge, we cannot ignore the barriers of discrimination and structural racism that exist in our society, which contribute to ethnic minorities being more likely to suffer from poverty, have underlying health conditions and work in insecure, low-paid jobs," Khan said.

Khan's editorial came after the British government announced it would be conducting a review of why minority groups are being hit hard by the pandemic. Though he welcomed the review, he said it would be more valuable to have any data gathered made available immediately.

"Once this crisis is over, we will need to forge a new social contract that advances the twin causes of racial and economic equality, and prioritises the welfare and wellbeing of every single community in this country," Khan said.

By Haley Ott
 

Cuomo says hospitals and schools face 20% cuts without coronavirus aid from D.C.

New York Governor Cuomo said Monday that hospitals, schools and local governments will face 20% cuts in state aid if the federal government fails to include more funding in the next coronavirus stimulus package. Cuomo said he is worried about empty promises from Washington, D.C.

"You can't spend what you don't have," Cuomo said about funding state infrastructure. "You would be cutting schools 20%, local governments 20%, and hospitals 20%"

Cuomo added: "Now, federal government has said from day one: 'Don't worry. We're going to provide funding to the states.' Yeah. 'Don't worry,' but I'm worried because I've heard this over and over again."

Read more here.

By Stephen Smith
 

Pennsylvania will begin reopening economy on May 8

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Monday said the state is going to move towards reopening its economy on May 8. Wolf announced small steps like allowing curbside liquor sales and starting construction projects while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

"We cannot relax," he says. "We're going to continue to take precautions that limit our physical contact with others, cutting down transmission links while we move toward an opening on May 8."

Read more at CBS Pittsburgh.

 

Dallas County will test grocery and retail workers regardless of symptoms

Coronavirus testing is now open in Dallas County to all grocery, big box and other essential people working in retail, regardless of symptoms, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced on Twitter.

"The testing at #EllisDavis and @AACenter is now open to all grocery, big box store and other essential in person retail regardless of symptoms. Over 65, underlying conditions, healthcare workers and first responders also without symptoms. Others still need 99.6 fever."

Read more at CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.

By Justin Carissimo
 

Man who served 44 years in prison dies weeks before his release

A Michigan inmate who was set to be paroled just weeks from now after serving nearly 44 years behind bars died last week from COVID-19, prison officials said. William Garrison had a chance to be released earlier this year, but decided to complete his full sentence so he'd be free from supervision after his release.

Garrison was 60, and had been in prison since he was 16, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. He was serving time for first-degree murder during an armed robbery in 1976.

The Michigan Department of Corrections had already offered to parole Garrison this year, but he "refused to leave prison," department spokesman Chris Gautz said. "He did not want to be on parole, he wanted to wait and just walk out completely free from supervision in September," Gautz said.

At least 17 inmates in Michigan have died from the virus and more than 520 have tested positive, according to the Department of Corrections.

Read more here.

By Justin Carissimo
 

U.S. extends border restrictions, allowing officials to continue expelling migrants

The Trump administration on Monday announced it is extending a sweeping public health order that border officials have been using to expel thousands of unauthorized migrants and asylum-seekers who the government says could spread the coronavirus if allowed into the U.S.

The order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, which was first issued on March 20, invoked a World War II law that allows the government to deny entry to foreigners it deems could "introduce" an infectious disease into the country. Through a notice published Monday, CDC Director Robert Redfield extended the order for another 30 days.

Not extending it, Redfield wrote, "would be counterproductive and dangerous," undermining efforts to contain the deadly coronavirus pandemic "by permitting the introduction of persons outside the United States who pose a risk of transmission of COVID-19 within DHS facilities or the U.S. interior."­

Bypassing U.S. immigration and asylum laws, border officials expelled more than 6,300 migrants, including unaccompanied children, from the U.S. southern border in March. Earlier this month, Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said his officials had expelled more than 11,000 people to Mexico or their home countries under the public health order.

Morgan and other top officials have maintained the order is designed to avert coronavirus outbreaks inside Border Patrol stations, which they say would strain public health resources along the borderlands. But human rights groups and immigrant advocates say the U.S. is abdicating its obligations under U.S. law and international treaties to offer humanitarian protections to those fleeing persecution.

"It's obvious that the Trump administration is exploiting a serious public health crisis to achieve its long-held goal of closing the border to asylum seekers," Ruthie Epstein, a policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced it would be extending the restrictions on non-essential travel along the country's land borders with Canada and Mexico for another 30 days. The measures do not ban commercial traffic or affect U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

478 New Yorkers died Sunday

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday said 478 New Yorkers died yesterday from the virus, a third consecutive day of a dropping death toll. "That number is still horrific," Cuomo said of the number of lives lost.

By Justin Carissimo
 

French case raises questions over how easily children can spread virus

A nine-year-old who contracted COVID-19 in eastern France did not pass the virus on to any other pupils at three ski-schools, according to new research that suggests infants are not large spreaders of the disease.

The child was infected in France's Haute-Savoie region in one of the first coronavirus clusters in the country, which saw 12 people catch the disease after a British man returned from Singapore and went on a ski holiday.

A study published this month in the U.S. journal Clinical Infectious Diseases looked at the case of the child, who continued to attend three ski clubs while unknowingly infected.

Through rapid intervention by health authorities, it was ascertained that the child, who only displayed mild symptoms, came into contact with 172 people while sick. All of them were placed in quarantine as a precaution, but none of them contracted COVID-19, not even the child's two siblings.

Authors of the study said the case could "suggest that children might not be an important source of transmissions of this novel virus." — AFP

By Justin Carissimo
 

Contact tracing efforts expand nationwide to track coronavirus, but will it be a "hard sell"?

Success in the fight against the coronavirus may depend in part on two things: learning who has the disease, and who could get it.

Health officials use a method called contact tracing to find out who infected patients may have met. After a person who tests positive tells the health department with whom they've been in contact, the health department then alerts those people and asks them to monitor their symptoms and to quarantine if needed.

Right now it is up to city, county and state health departments to coordinate efforts. Health departments are expanding their rosters of tracers, and some of the world's biggest tech companies have also stepped in to help.

But as contact tracing efforts expand fast across the country, CBS News looks at why those efforts could meet some resistance in a country where personal privacy is so cherished. 

Health departments stepping up coronavirus contact tracing
By Jericka Duncan
 

Psychiatric hospital a "haven" for spread of coronavirus, say employees

The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on nursing homes, but it's also hitting patients and staff at psychiatric facilities across the U.S. 

There have been 34 confirmed cases (28 staff and 6 patients) at Western State Hospital, just outside Tacoma, Washington — one of the largest psychiatric hospitals west of the Mississippi. The state's epidemiologist called the outbreak at Western State "serious," but gave the hospital credit for taking early action to try to slow infections.

It's one of nearly 2,000 inpatient psychiatric facilities in the U.S., and caring for this population brings unique challenges in a pandemic.

"We are a hospital, too," said social worker Maria Claudio, who works at Western State. It's the state's largest psychiatric hospital, with over 800 beds. "We are not a medical hospital, but these are patients, and just because they have a mental condition and some of them are violent, they're still human beings."

CBS News asked if there were any special measures being taken to protect patients on the high-risk wards? "No," Claudio replied. "Nothing." 

Click here to read more.

Psychiatric hospitals face potential coronavirus outbreaks amid unique challenges
By Catherine Herridge
 

It's back to business for thousands of businesses in Germany - but not as usual

The first relaxations of Germany's coronavirus lockdown came into effect Monday, with all stores with a sales area of 8,600 square feet or less being permitted to reopen. Car dealerships, bicycle shops and bookstores are also permitted to open their doors again in some parts of Germany, regardless of size.

Book and bike shops in Berlin were always excluded from the shutdown. 

Restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels remain closed and major events are still prohibited until at least the end of August. Hairdressers are allowed to reopen from May 4, provided they adhere to strict hygiene rules. 

Even in the re-opened stores, shopping will be far from "back to normal," with protective face masks, social distancing measures and entrance controls implemented widely.  

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Germany
A shopping window of a shoemakers store is seen, during the spread of coronavirus disease in Berlin, Germany, on April 20, 2020. Reuters

Representatives of religious communities and churches hope to work with the government on a way for services to resume in the coming days. The eastern state of Saxony wants to allow public worship services with a maximum of 15 participants, under certain conditions, to resume this week, but no decisions have been finalized.

By Anna Noryskiewicz
 

Police clash with residents in locked-down Paris suburbs

Police fought running battles in at least five suburbs of Paris overnight with residents who accused officers of using heavy-handed tactics to enforce France's strict coronavirus lockdown.

Residents burnt cars and shot fireworks at police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas in the northern suburbs of Villeneuve-la-Garenne and Aulnay-sous-Bois, witnesses and police said on Monday. The violence began on Saturday when a motorcyclist was injured during a police check in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, prompting a crowd to gather.

A police statement said the group targeted officers with "projectiles" in a near two-hour standoff.

FRANCE-POLICE-ACCIDENT-UNREST
French CRS anti-riot police officers walk in a street in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, in the northern suburbs of Paris, early on April 20, 2020. Getty

By Monday morning, calm had returned to Villeneuve-la-Garenne after a second night of standoffs with police, according to an AFP journalist. There were also standoffs in nearby Aulnay-sous-Bois, where police claimed they were "ambushed" by residents in a district of dense, high-rise social housing of mainly immigrant occupants.

Police said they arrested four people after being targeted by residents using fireworks as projectiles.

— AFP

 

Criminals are targeting federal stimulus check recipients for scams, officials warn

Criminals are targeting the federal stimulus payments being distributed to tens of millions of Americans left cash-strapped by the coronavirus crisis. Word that the money would soon land in bank accounts and mailboxes across the country has led to a surge in scam phone calls, text messages or emails, with some fraudsters falsely claiming people have to provide personal information to collect the government money. 

The FBI is now seeing about 3,000 to 4,000 complaints every day through its internet portal, up from about 1,000 complaints pre-coronavirus, the agency's deputy assistant director in the cyber division, Tonya Ugoretz, said during an Aspen Institute virtual event. As many as 150 million households are eligible for the full or partial stimulus checks, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center. 

In one coronavirus con making the rounds, people are sent a message or see a social media post about an "economic impact check." Click here to read more.

Criminals look to exploit coronavirus anxiety with fake tests, online scams
By Kate Gibson
 

Iran eases COVID-19 restrictions in bid to rescue economy already crippled before the pandemic

Iran's president has announced a second-phase easing of coronavirus control measures. From Monday, some businesses deemed lower risk, including large shopping centers and most services, are allowed to open back up for business.

President Hassan Rouhani said highway travel between cities would also be allowed to resume, but higher-risk businesses including restaurants, sports clubs and wedding and funeral services were to remain closed until further guidance.

Iranian authorities, including Rouhani, have said the Islamic Republic's enemies want to see its economy remain shut down. They have not blamed any specific enemies, but the term generally refers to the U.S. Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

Iran has condemned the U.S. for refusing to lift devastating economic sanctions during the virus crisis, which it claims have prevented it from acquiring medical equipment to fight COVID-19. The Trump administration has rejected those claims, insisting the sanctions in no way impede necessary medical imports and noting that the U.S. has even offered to send medical assistance to Iran.

Iran has rejected any help from the U.S. and even suggested the country could is become a supplier of medical supplies to other countries.

IRAN-HEALTH-VIRUS
Iranians, some wearing protective masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, walk past closed shops at the Grand Bazaar market in Tehran, April 18, 2020. Getty

Iran's economy, already suffering under the weight of sanctions, has been hit hard by the business closures, leading Iranian economists to warn the government about potential consequences and urging it to let business resume.

By Seyed Bathaei
 

Jordan says early action helped to "flatten the curve quite well;" is starting to ease lockdown and to send supplies to U.S.

The Jordanian government has said it will start gradually easing the country's strict, month-old coronvirus lockdown. Some parts of the economy will be allowed to go back work from Tuesday. 

Last week large supermarkets were permitted to operate, and now this will be extended to other parts of the economy as long as they follow strict social distancing and hygiene measures. Businesses including auto repair shops, electricians, stationery shops, and cell phone and computer repair shops will be allowed to open this week. Other retail outlets including clothing and home furniture stores, will be allowed to deliver goods but remain closed for walk-in business.

The stay-at-home order will also be eased in three southern regions, but residents must remain within the borders of their own governate, or state. 

Jordan's King Abdullah says country will export medical equipment to U.S. to fight coronavirus

The changes come amid signs that the spread of COVID-19 has been brought under control in Jordan. The Jordanian Ministry of Health reported fewer than 10 new cases per day for the past week, and no deaths.2

"We acted quite early on, and that helped us flatten the curve quite well," Jordan's King Abdullah II told CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. He also said Jordan would soon export medical equipment to the U.S. to help fight the coronavirus.

— Amjad Tadros

 

Brooklyn nursing home without single confirmed case could be one of nation's biggest COVID-19 clusters

As residents at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, began dying in late February from a coronavirus outbreak that would eventually take 43 lives, there was little sign of trouble at the Cobble Hill Health Center, a 360-bed facility in an upscale section of Brooklyn.

That quickly changed. By the middle of March, the CEO began sending increasingly alarmed emails about banning visitors, screening staff, confining residents, wiping down all surfaces, and having all-hands-on-deck meetings to prepare everyone for the coming coronavirus "freight train."

"I'll be darned if I'm not going to do everything in my power to protect them," Donny Tuchman wrote before things got worse. More than 100 staffers, nearly a third of the workforce, went out sick. Those left began wearing garbage bags because of a shortage of protective gear. Not a single resident has been able to get tested for the virus to this day. 

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
Two ambulances sit parked outside the Cobble Hill Health Center on April 18, 2020 in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  Getty

Now listed with 55 deaths it can only assume were caused by COVID-19, among the most of any such facility in the country, Cobble Hill Health Center has become yet another glaring example of the nation's struggle to control the rapid spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes that care for the most frail and vulnerable.

By Associated Press
 

French case raises questions over how easily children can spread COVID-19

A nine-year-old who contracted COVID-19 in eastern France did not pass the virus on to any other pupils at three ski-schools, according to new research that suggests infants are not large spreaders of the disease.

The child was infected in France's Haute-Savoie region in one of the first coronavirus clusters in the country, which saw 12 people catch the disease after a British man returned from Singapore and went on a ski holiday.

A study published this month in the U.S. journal Clinical Infectious Diseases looked at the case of the child, who continued to attend three ski clubs while unknowingly infected. 

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Doctor Henri Metzger examins a resident and her daughter at a specialized accommodation center managed by social aid association Aleos for COVID-19 patients on April 17, 2020, in Mulhouse, eastern France. Getty

Through rapid intervention by health authorities, it was ascertained that the child, who only displayed mild symptoms, came into contact with 172 people while sick. All of them were placed in quarantine as a precaution, but none of them contracted COVID-19, not even the child's two siblings.

Authors of the study said the case could "suggest that children might not be an important source of transmissions of this novel virus."  

-AFP

By Joe Pawlikowski
 

Thailand alcohol sales bans extended in bid to keep coronavirus epdemic trending downward

Authorities in the Thai capital Bangkok have extended a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages to the end of April as efforts continue to contain the spread of COVID-19. A ban was originally imposed for April 10-20, when Thais would normally celebrate the annual Songkran Lunar New Year festival with drinking-fueled merrymaking at large public gatherings. Official celebrations of the holiday were postponed until a date to be decided.

Sales bans were separately ordered in all 76 of Thailand's provinces with different ending dates, according to the Interior Ministry.

Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, a spokesman for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, announced the extension, and said other provinces were expected to follow suit. He also said people with alcohol dependency problems could be treated for free at the city's medical facilities. 

Thailand's Buddhist Monks Attend School Amid The Coronavirus Outbreak
A woman walks past a COVID-19 warning poster, April 17, 2020, in Bangkok, Thailand. Lauren DeCicca/Getty

Health officials on Monday confirmed 27 new cases of the disease, bringing the nation's total to 2,792, including 1,999 recoveries and 47 deaths. New cases have dropped from a March 22 high of 188 per day to 45 or less for the past 10 days.

By Associated Press
 

Queen Elizabeth's husband issues rare statement in praise of medical and scientific workers

Queen Elizabeth II's husband has made a rare public statement praising those tackling the new coronavirus pandemic and keeping essential services running.

Prince Philip, who turns 99 in June, said he wanted to recognize the "vital and urgent" work of medical and science professionals.

He also gave thanks to key workers including people working in food production, garbage collection, and postal and delivery services. 

TOPSHOT-BRITAIN-ROYALS-WEDDING-EUGENIE
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Alastair Grant/AFP/Getty

The royal, who retired from public duties in 2017, signed off simply with "Philip."

Philip has been staying with the queen at Windsor Castle with reduced staff for their safety. 

By Associated Press
 

Chinese lab boss insists "there's no way this virus came out from us" amid mounting U.S. speculation

The director of a Chinese government infectious disease research center that U.S. officials, including President Trump, increasingly point to as a possible origin of the coronavirus pandemic says, "there's no way this virus came out from us."

U.S. intelligence officials told CBS News last week that the possibility the virus accidentally slipped out of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory was still among the theories being investigated. Thus far, U.S. officials have pointed only to circumstantial evidence to back the theory, which was initially dismissed — and still is to some degree — by disease experts as scientifically baseless.

The first known cases of the disease  were reported in Wuhan, just several miles from the lab, which has worked with other coronaviruses, including those found in bats.

U.S. explores theory virus spread started in Chinese lab

"I can tell you for sure that none of our retirees, students or any of our staff has been infected," lab director Yuan Zhiming told China's state-run CCTV in a recent interview.

"There's no way this virus came out from us — we have a strict regulatory regime and a code of conduct for research, so we are confident of that," he said.

Yuan called the propagation of "rumors" by American officials "horrifying" and accused some, specifically naming Republican Senator Tom Cotton of "deliberately trying to mislead people."

By Tucker Reals
 

Singapore sees spike in COVID-19 infections as tiny city-state becomes Southeast Asia's hotspot

Singapore's confirmed number of coronavirus cases shot up to nearly 8,000 after 1,426 infections were reported Monday, a single-day high for the tiny Southeast Asian city-state.

Singapore now has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia at 7,984, a massive surge from just 200 on March 15. Authorities say most of the new cases were again linked to foreign workers.

More than 200,000 low-wage workers from Asia live in tightly packed dormitories that became virus hotspots after they were overlooked earlier by the government. Officials have said that cases are expected to rise as testing continues at the dorms, but are hoping that a partial lockdown until May 4, mandatory wearing of masks and strict social distancing measures will help curb the spread of the virus. 

SINGAPORE-HEALTH-VIRUS
Residents queue for their food at Tuas South foreign workers dormitory that has been placed under government restriction as preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus in Singapore on April 19, 2020. Getty
By Associated Press
 

Japan's plan to revive the virus-battered economy: Give every single man, woman and child $927

Japan is moving to adopt an emergency package worth a whopping $1 trillion — equal to one-fifth its GDP — to cope with economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Despite pushback within the conservative ruling party, Tokyo dumped a more targeted relief plan at the eleventh hour in favor of one-off, universal cash handouts of ¥100,000 ($927) for each of its 126 million citizens, including children.  

"The package is huge in size, and will be fast-implemented," said Martin Schulz, chief policy economist for Fujitsu Research Institute, hailing the decision.   

If parliament enacts the plan as expected around May 1, money could start flowing by the end of the month. "Those who need it will get it, and better-off households will spend also," Shulz said, adding that "later on, it will be clawed back in tax hikes."

The emergency relief program includes subsidies for sole proprietors and medium-sized firms that have taken a significant hit because of COVID-19. Local governments will receive money to compensate businesses closing down under the nationwide state of emergency, which runs through May 6. 

Japan expanding state of emergency as number of coronavirus cases soar

Shulz said the most critical element of re-starting the economy is ramping up testing for the disease and enabling companies to do contact tracing. 

"Government can shut down the economy," he said, "but only companies can re-start it."

By Lucy Craft
 

Shake Shack returning $10 million virus-linked small business loan

The burger chain Shake Shack says it has obtained new funding and will return a small-business loan it got to help weather the coronavirus crisis.

Shake Shack has laid off or furloughed hundreds of its employees and needed the assistance, its CEO, Randy Garutti, and its founder, Danny Meyer, said in a statement seen Monday.

But the company said it was able to get extra funding late last week through an "equity transaction" and decided to "immediately return" the $10 million paycheck protection loan it obtained through the CARES Act. Click here to read more.

Head of U.S. Chamber of Commerce expects deal in Congress on small business loans
By Associated Press
 

India records sharp spike in cases as lockdown begins to ease

India recorded its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases on Sunday, with 1,553 new patients, government data show. India's Health Ministry said the spike brought the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 17,265.

The number of deaths rose by 36 to 543. The government also said more people were overcoming the disease, however, with the overall rate of recoveries rising from 10% last week to 14%. More than 2,500 patients have recovered from the illness so far.

Experts believe the outbreak will peak in India between May and June.

India, under a strict nationwide lockdown since March 25, eased several restrictions Monday in areas least affected by the virus. Agriculture, along with some industries and businesses, are now allowed to resume in these select areas until May 3, when the lockdown is scheduled to end.

INDIA-HEALTH-VIRUS
Police personnel stop motorists at a checkpoint during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the coronavirus in Allahabad on April 20, 2020. Getty

There's no relaxation on the restrictions yet in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai. 

Across India's 14 states, 54 districts have reported no new COVID-19 cases in two weeks, officials said Sunday. Even when the nationwide lockdown ends, the government says restrictions will be lifted gradually.

By Arshad R. Zargar
 

Congress, White House near deal on $350 billion in additional small business aid

The Trump administration and Congress expect an agreement Monday on an aid package of up to $450 billion to boost a small-business loan program that has run out of money and to add funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.

As talks continued, President Trump said there's a "good chance" of reaching a bipartisan agreement with Democrats. "We are very close to a deal," Mr. Trump said Sunday at the White House.

Along with the small business boost, he said the negotiators were looking at "helping our hospitals," particularly hard-hit rural health care providers.

The Senate is scheduled for a pro forma session Monday, but no vote has been set. The House announced it could meet as soon as Wednesday for a vote on the pending package, according to a schedule update from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. 

Click here to read more.

By Associated Press
 

Ventura County in California easing restrictions in modified stay-at-home order

Ventura County is extending its stay-at-home order until May 15, but the county is starting to ease its restrictions in hopes of reopening soon, CBS Los Angeles reports.

The new order, which went into effect Sunday, allows some business that were formerly considered "nonessential" to operate with 10 employees. This includes bike shops, car dealerships and golf courses.

All businesses, according to the order, must maintain social distancing inside. In addition, social gatherings are now being allowed with up to five people. Click here to read more.

 

CBS News presses Trump over coronavirus response in February

At Sunday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House, CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang pressed President Trump on his remarks earlier this week that China should have warned the U.S. sooner.

"Many Americans are saying the exact same thing about you: That you should have warned them the virus was spreading like wildfire through the month of February instead of holding rallies with thousands of people," Jiang said. "Why did you wait so long to warn them and why did you not have social distancing until March 16?"

CBS News presses Trump on February response to coronavirus

Mr. Trump did not directly answer her question, instead insisting "that if you look at what I did in terms of cutting off China," he was "very early" in response. 

Jiang pushed him on how coronavirus was already in the states when the president issued the ban and on March 23, he said he knew it was going to be a pandemic. When she asked "so do you acknowledge you didn't think it would spread," Mr. Trump said "keep your voice down." He continued by saying "I believe there were zero deaths at the time I closed up the country, nobody was there, and you should say thank you very much for good judgment."

By Caroline Linton
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