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Coronavirus updates from April 29, 2020

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Experimental drug shows potential in COVID-19 treatment

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The U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 60,000 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. COVID-19 has already claimed more American lives than the Vietnam War. But despite the mounting toll, more state and city leaders plan to ease restrictions aimed at curbing the virus' spread.

Scientists warn that dropping the measures too soon could bring new waves of COVID-19, which will only be defeated when an effective vaccine is developed and made widely available. Work on several experimental vaccines is racing forward at a pace never seen before, bringing hope that the world could have a real weapon against the new virus as soon as this fall. 

Latest major developments:

Detailed information from the CDC on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

 

UN warns "tragedy beckons" in Syria from virus

The U.N. humanitarian chief said Wednesday that more than 40 cases of COVID-19 and at least three deaths have been reported in Syria, signaling that "tragedy beckons" after nine years of war that has left the country's health care system decimated.

Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that while the number may sound low compared to other countries, testing in Syria is very limited. The U.N. special envoy for Syria, meanwhile, called for a lasting cease-fire to fighting in the country.

With millions of people displaced in crowded conditions and without adequate sanitation, he said Syria can't be expected "to cope with a crisis that is challenging even the wealthiest nations."

Efforts are being made to set up isolation areas in displacement camps and health facilities in Syria, but measures aimed at containing the virus are already having side effects such as skyrocketing food prices in some areas, he said.

Lowcock said essential medical supplies and equipment must be allowed into the country, and that the Al Yarubiyah border crossing from Iraq to Syria's northeast must be reopened.

The border crossing was closed in January at Russia's insistence, and Lowcock said deliveries of medical supplies to the northeast from Damascus have not filled the gap.

By Associated Press
 

Over 70% of tested inmates in federal prisons have COVID-19

Lawmakers are joining advocates for inmates who say they are alarmed by the response from the federal Bureau of Prisons to the growing coronavirus crisis behind bars.

They question whether the agency is doing enough to ensure the safety of the nearly 150,000 inmates serving time in federal facilities.

And even though officials have stressed that infection and death rates inside prisons are lower compared with outside, new figures provided by the Bureau of Prisons show that out of 2,700 tests system-wide, 2,000 have come back positive, strongly suggesting there are far more COVID-19 cases left uncovered.

By Associated Press
 

Elon Musk slams "fascist" social distancing measures in rant about Tesla production

Tesla CEO Elon Musk railed against what he called "fascist" social distancing measures on an earnings call Wednesday. In an expletive-laden rant, Musk warned that shelter-in-place orders in California, where a major Tesla factory is located, also pose a "serious risk" to the company.

"If somebody wants to stay in their house, that's great," Musk said, according to a recording of the call reviewed by CBS News. "They can stay in their house and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their g**d*** freedom."

No state has implemented an order forbidding residents from leaving their homes, although many have ordered residents to only leave for essential purposes.

Read more here.

 

Los Angeles offering free COVID-19 testing to all residents

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday that the city will offer all residents free testing for the coronavirus.

"While priority will still be given to those with symptoms, individuals without symptoms can also be tested," Garcetti tweeted, adding that LA is the first major city in the U.S. to offer such widespread free testing.

By Victoria Albert
 

Britain to test 100,000 people to evaluate COVID-19 spread

Britain's health ministry announced plans to test a randomly chosen group of 100,000 people to evaluate how the coronavirus is spreading throughout its population, Reuters reported. 

Next week, the government will also review the nationwide lockdown announced March 23, Reuters added. So far, more than 26,000 people have died of the virus in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

 

Controversial smartphone app tracks people who have been exposed to coronavirus

A new poll by the University of Maryland and Washington Post reveals that most Americans will not use smartphone apps to trace who has been exposed to COVID-19. These types of apps are up and running in Israel — but they have caused huge controversy.

Watch Elizabeth Palmer's report below:

Controversial smartphone app tracking people exposed to coronavirus
By Elizabeth Palmer
 

Over 80% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Georgia last month were black, study finds

A CDC study released Wednesday found that over 80% of the COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Georgia last month were black. It's the latest analysis showing that communities of color are being hit disproportionately hard by the coronavirus.

The study comes just days after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp started reopening some of the state's businesses - a move condemned as premature and dangerous by local black leaders as well as public health officials and even President Trump.

The study from the CDC, which is headquartered in Atlanta, surveyed eight hospitals in the state - seven in the Atlanta metro area and one southern Georgia. In the sample of 305 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 247 - or 83.2% - were black. By comparison, 32 patients (10.8%) were white, 10 (3.4%) were Hispanic and eight (2.7%) were Asian or Pacific Islander.

Read more here.

By Jason Silverstein
 

Thousands of cruise ship workers stuck at sea over virus concerns

For now, the coronavirus has all but sunk America's $50 billion a year cruise industry. Under orders by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. cruise ships are going nowhere for the next three months, which has left thousands of workers stranded at sea.

At least nine American crew members on Holland America's Oosterdam cruise ship were blocked by the CDC from getting off in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

They are among at least 132 other Americans marooned on cruise ships owned by Carnival Cruise Line companies.

Ryan Driscoll is a performer on one of those ships, currently an island in the coronavirus storm. It was essentially stranded at sea for more than 60 days.

Passengers got off March 13 and he's been quarantined for weeks — only allowed out of his room for meals and temperature checks.

"The fact that they won't let us off is extremely frustrating, irritating, especially for ships that just have crew members that have been quarantined for much longer than 14 days that have no COVID-19 cases," he told CBS News. "We're just stuck here. It does feel like a prison sometimes ... I want to go home. I want to see my family."

American cruise ship workers denied entry because of CDC order
By Kris Van Cleave
 

Trump planning to travel to Arizona next week

President Donald Trump says he is planning to travel to Arizona next week and is looking forward to resuming campaign rallies after spending more than a month mostly cooped up at the White House because of the coronavirus.

Mr. Trump says he is looking forward to his Arizona trip next week and also hopes to visit Ohio soon despite the fact that much of the nation remains on some sort of lockdown as the virus continues to spread. "We're going to start to move around and hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we'll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other," he said.

Mr. Trump wouldn't say exactly when he expects to be able to resume his rallies but said it will depend, in part, on the state.

By Associated Press
 

More than 1,500 federal inmates are currently positive for coronavirus

The Bureau of Prisons announced Wednesday that 1,534 federal inmates and 343 staff members are currently positive for the coronavirus. Thirty-one inmates and zero staff members have died from the virus. 

FCI Terminal Island in California has the most open cases among inmates and staff, according to the BOP. The institution currently has 580 cases of the virus, and all but ten are inmates — meaning more than half of Terminal Island's 1,055 inmates are currently positive for the virus. 

By Clare Hymes
 

Greta Thunberg launching campaign to help fight virus

Climate activist Greta Thunberg is launching a campaign with a Danish foundation to help finance the U.N. childrens' agency's emergency program to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Thunberg said in a statement that "like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child-rights crisis" that will affect youngsters now and in the long-term, especially the most vulnerable.

She urged people everywhere "to step up and join me in support of UNICEF's vital work to save children's lives, to protect health and continue education."

The campaign is being launched with $100,000 from the Greta Thunberg Foundation and $100,000 from Denmark's Human Act Foundation.

SWEDEN-HEALTH-VIRUS-ENVIRONMENT-CLIMATE
Activist Greta Thunberg on April 22, 2020.  Getty
By Associated Press
 

Brooklyn man accused of stealing mail, including stimulus checks

A Brooklyn man was arrested Tuesday and accused of stealing mail that included stimulus checks from the federal government, according to a Wednesday press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

On Tuesday morning, officers saw Chen search inside the medical collection bin at a closed medical office in Sunset Park, New York, and look through the mail left at the door, the DOJ said, citing a complaint and statements made in court. He then allegedly walked to a nearby residential building and went through that mail, before walking into the gated part of a second residential building and leaving with "what appeared to be mail." 

When officers approached, Chen tossed the mail on the sidewalk, the DOJ said. When the officers searched him, they allegedly found checks and economic impact payments totaling $12,000, along with credit cards and other opened mail. 

"The COVID-19 crisis has placed tremendous stress on underserved communities across this country. The Economic Impact Payments are, in many cases, the lifeline needed by these individuals to stay afloat during this crisis. When Mr. Chen stole these checks, he robbed recipients of these much-needed funds,"  U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector-in-Charge Philip Bartlett said in the release.

By Victoria Albert
 

Fed Chair Powell: Second quarter will be "worse than anything we've ever seen"

The Federal Reserve is holding its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero in an effort to offset the crushing economic impact of the coronavirus. The U.S. central bank said Wednesday it would keep rates low until there are "signs the economy has recovered from coronavirus and shutdown."

In a press conference following the policy decision, Fed Chairman Jay Powell said he expects an "unprecedented" drop in economic activity over the next few months. He also hinted at the need for more government stimulus.

"The second quarter's economic data will be worse than anything we have ever seen," Powell said. "I would say that it may well be the case that the economy will need further support from all of us if the recovery is to be a strong one."

Read more here.

By Stephen Gandel
 

Simon Property Group plans to reopen 49 malls nationwide

With more U.S. states moving to ease restrictions on business, Simon Property Group plans this week to start reopening dozens of malls around the country that had closed due to the coronavirus.

Simon, the nation's largest mall operator, plans to reopen 21 Texas locations, including Houston Galleria and Grapevine Mills near Dallas, on Friday, while another 10 malls in Indiana will reopen Saturday. The company will reopen locations under distancing and sanitation guidelines detailed in a memo Simon sent to retailers. Simon employees will wear masks, regularly disinfectant common areas like escalator handrails and door knobs, and be checked daily for body temperature spikes, according to the memo.

"Employees with a fever or cold and flu-like symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose or body aches are required to stay home," the memo states.

Malls are set to reopen as a number states outline their own rules for how retailers can welcome back customers. In Texas, malls are being allowed to reopen starting Friday, but the food court and children's play area must remain closed. In Montana, all sections of malls reopened this week but employees and shoppers must adhere to the six-feet social distancing rule wherever possible.

Read more here.

By Khristopher J. Brooks
 

U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 60,000

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, over 60,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States. The U.S. passed 50,000 deaths from the virus less than a week ago. 

Over 200,000 people have died from the virus worldwide, and more than three million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. Over one million of those cases have been reported in the U.S. 

New York City accounts for over 17,000 of the U.S. deaths, the largest percentage by far of any region. The next closest location is Wayne, Michigan, with more than 1,600 deaths, followed closely by Nassau, New York.

By Audrey McNamara
 

Chicago mayor unveils "pledge" for landlords and tenants

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants renters who are left unemployed during the pandemic to know that landlords and lenders will help them. But all parties have to keep lines of communication open. Called the "Housing Solidarity Pledge" it's set up to make sure they can work together to make sure people don't lose their residences because of the coronavirus.

"People can't just forgo making any effort to pay rent or a mortgage. We just can't do that. We all have obligations to each other. and we must endeavor, even in this difficult time, as best we can to meet those obligations," Lightfoot noted.

Some of the proposed plans under the pledge include:

  • • A grace period for rent payments: offer deferred payments with repayment terms that avoid repayment at the end of the deferral period.
  • • A written repayment plan: permit renters with a missed rent payment to amortize the payments over time.
  • • No late fees for missed payments: provide relief from rent-related late fees.

Read more at CBS Chicago.

 

Food crisis deepens as Puerto Rico school cafeterias shutter

Puerto Rico's government is refusing to open school cafeterias amid coronavirus health concerns and has not tapped into millions of federal dollars set aside for the island, even as a growing number of unemployed parents struggle to feed their children in a U.S. territory where nearly 70% of public school students are poor. 

The local Department of Education has offloaded food to nonprofit organizations and a food bank to distribute to children, but activists, teachers and a federally appointed control board say it's not enough and it's not reaching those most in need.
 
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has some $290 million available to feed school children in Puerto Rico, but the money remains untouched after more than a month because Puerto Rican officials have not submitted a plan detailing how they intend to use it.
 
"It makes you say, 'Damn it, where is the help?'" said Joalice Santiago, a 4th grade teacher who buys food for her students and, like many of her co-workers, goes house by house to distribute it.

By Associated Press
 

Leaving Rikers Island and coming home to a pandemic

Reynaldo Lopez was released from New York City's Rikers Island jail last month after spending two months behind bars on a parole violation. The 50-year-old was greeted with a home-cooked meal — fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans and cornbread — but he couldn't hug his wife, Millicent, when she welcomed him back to their home in the Bronx, out of fear that he could expose her to the coronavirus. 

"I didn't want to spread the virus to my family," Lopez told CBS News. 

Jails and prisons, where social distancing is nearly impossible, have emerged as potent breeding grounds for the new coronavirus. More than 1,300 people in the New York City jail system have tested positive for the virus, according to the city's Department of Corrections. Three inmates have died, along with 10 staffers. Raymond Rivera, one of the inmates who died, was also being held on a parole violation at Rikers, by far the city's largest jail complex.

As the pandemic began to ravage New York last month, the city started releasing inmates who were held on technical parole violations or awaiting trial on minor crimes from Rikers and other facilities. More than 2,200 people have been set free across the city since March 16, according to the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. 

But former inmates, health care workers and advocates say the release process is overwhelmed, offering little guidance for some inmates who are suddenly thrust back into society, many of whom may have been exposed to the virus themselves.

Read more here.

Rikers Island
This 2014 file image shows the Rikers Island jail complex in New York. AP
By Justin Carissimo
 

Avoiding the hospital over coronavirus fears could be leading to deaths, ER doctor says

Fear of going to the emergency room during the nationwide coronavirus outbreak may be leading to unnecessary deaths and illnesses, a North Carolina ER doctor said Wednesday. Dr. Ryan Lamb said people should still be seeking medical help for illnesses other than COVID-19.

"With both distancing and masks and washing our hands, we can protect people," Lamb told CBSN Wednesday. "It is safe to come in and get seen."

Lamb said he fears some people are making the mistake "of waiting too long and missing that critical timeline when we can make a very good intervention and help people."

"We're seeing a lot more both deaths and comorbidities and illness as a result of people not seeking care," he said. 

Read more here.

Dangers of avoiding medical treatment during COVID-19 pandemic
By Nicole Brown
 

Texas A&M starts trial of tuberculosis vaccine to fight virus

Doctors at Texas A&M University announced the start of a clinical trial of a 100-year-old tuberculosis vaccine. It can help boost the immune system, and they hope it will work for COVID-19.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said, "Sometimes we've found that an old drug, one that we've used for years can serve a new purpose."

An advantage of old drugs for new purposes: they've been used before, so doctors know a lot about their safety profile. One disadvantage is since it wasn't designed specifically for COVID-19, it might not work on the novel coronavirus, and it could be harmful to some.

"Seems a bit of a stretch, but it's very novel and desperate times demand desperate measures. It's worth the clinical trial," Schaffner said.

Read more at CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.

 

Costco to require employees and customers to wear masks

Starting Monday, May 4, Costco will require all customers and employees to wear face masks.

The retailer announced on its website that all employees, members and guests will have to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth. The only exceptions is for children under the age of 2 and anyone unable to wear a mask because of a medical condition.

Officials with the largest U.S. retailer say they are making the move to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The face coverings will have to be worn in the store "at all times" and members and guests will also still have to practice social distancing.

Read more at CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.

 

Fauci shares "positive" remdesivir treatment trial results

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday shared news of a potential treatment for coronavirus patients after preliminary results of a randomized study showed positive results.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut and significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Fauci said at a press briefing at the White House Wednesday. He called the early findings from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases "highly significant."

Fauci said the data so far shows that patients who took remdesivir recovered in 11 days compared to 15 days. "The mortality rate trended toward being better," he said, but noted that it had not yet reached statistical significance and the data needed to be further analyzed.

"Some numbers may change a little, but the conclusion will not change."

Dr. Anthony Fauci on positive signs from coronavirus drug study on remdesivir
By Audrey McNamara
 

Why experts aren't too worried about patients retesting positive for the coronavirus

South Korea has managed to keep its coronavirus outbreak relatively under control, with about 10,700 confirmed cases and only 1,600 patients still being treated today. So it has prompted concern around the world that officials say 292 of the patients who've recovered from the disease and been discharged from hospitals have since retested positive.

Among the key questions, researchers are still grappling with on COVID-19 is the extent to which survivors will have immunity to the coronavirus that causes it, and whether it can flare up again in a patient who appeared to recover.

But the head of South Korea's Central Clinical Committee on New Infectious Diseases (KCDC) has downplayed concerns that those 292 test results suggest a worrying trait of the disease. Dr. Myoung Don Oh and his team say there's a "high possibility" the new positive tests are due to the limitations of the tests themselves, rather than COVID-19 reinfections.

The widely-used "PCR" tests are designed to detect even tiny quantities of virus in a patient's nose or throat, but they can't differentiate between dead virus and live, infectious virus particles.

Myoung, who spoke at a conference Wednesday, said tests on animals have suggested COVID-19 patients could have some immunity to the virus for at least a year from the time of infection. The KCDC has repeatedly said more research is required, but it isn't sounding alarm bells.

Read more here.

By Jen Kwon
 

Trump backtracks after saying U.S. would "very soon" hit 5 million tests a day

On Tuesday, when a reporter asked in an East Room event whether the U.S. would surpass 5 million coronavirus tests per day, the president said that's coming "very soon." But on Wednesday, the president claimed he never said that, blaming a "media trap."

The backtracking came as the demand for increased testing continues, and states begin to plot their economic reopening. The president also said the administration's 30-day "slow the spread" guidelines, which expire Thursday, will be faded out, although Vice President Mike Pence said they would largely be incorporated into guidelines to reopen states. 

Here is the exchange in which the president claims the U.S. will "very soon" be able to test 5 million people a day, according to the official White House transcript:

Reporter: "Did I hear you saying you're confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day? Is that -"

President Trump: "Oh, well, we're going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we're getting very close. I mean, I don't have the exact numbers. We would've had them if you asked me the same question a little while ago because people with the statistics were there. We're going to be there very soon. We're really - we're really doing - I mean, I watched your report on NBC today and it was an incorrect report, because we're really doing a great job on testing..."

Read more here.

coronavirus trump
President Trump on April 28, 2020, in Washington, D.C.  Getty
By Kathryn Watson
 

Trump says federal social distancing guidelines will expire Thursday

President Donald Trump says the federal government will not be extending its social distancing guidelines when they expire Thursday at the end of the month. Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that the coronavirus guidelines will be "fading out" because of work that governors are doing in their states.

Vice President Mike Pence said the guidelines issued 45 days ago have been incorporated into guidance provided to the states on how they can begin the process of gradually reopening their economies.

The guidelines – which were originally supposed to last 15 days and were then extended another 30 - included encouraging Americans to work from home and avoid restaurants and discretionary travel as well as telling older Americans and those with serious underlying health conditions to isolate themselves.

By Associated Press
 

Gilead Sciences stock rises on hopes for COVID-19 treatment

Wall Street on Wednesday cheered another round of positive news on Gilead Sciences' experimental drug remdesivir, which the company says helped some people recover more quickly from COVID-19 than those given regular care. Shares of Gilead jumped as much as 7% as investors embraced optimism that the antiviral treatment might prove effective in fighting the global pandemic that has killed nearly 60,000 Americans.

The much-watched drug has moved markets before, and its efficacy in early trials remains a matter of debate among experts but is of particular interest in that there are no approved treatments or vaccines for the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Gilead on Wednesday issued a news release on a study from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases without elaborating on the findings. The NIAID is running a trial to examine whether remdesivir helped COVID-19 patients get better more quickly with it than without it. Further details could come in the weeks ahead, Gilead said in a statement.

Read more here.

By Justin Carissimo
 

Britain's death toll passes 26,000

Britain's official death toll from the coronavirus has jumped to more than 26,000, after deaths in nursing homes were added to the daily total for the first time. The government says 3,811 more people died after testing positive for the coronavirus than had been previously reported.

The death toll now stands at 26,097, up from the 21,678 announced Tuesday. Until now, hospital deaths have been reported daily, while deaths in nursing homes and other settings were reported separately on a weekly basis.

The new total is the second-highest official toll in Europe after Italy, although countries do not use exactly the same measures. It is still likely is an underestimate because testing has not been routinely carried out in nursing homes until recently.

By Associated Press
 

New York begins antibody testing on transit workers

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday the state has begun antibody testing on public transit workers in order to help determine the spread of coronavirus among frontline workers. An initial 1,000 workers will be tested this week, he said. 

The state has already started testing members of the New York police and fire departments, Cuomo said. According to the governor, about 10% of the NYPD has so far tested positive, and about 17% of FDNY. 

He said the high number of positives in the fire department is likely due to EMT workers' greater exposure to coronavirus patients.

By Audrey McNamara
 

Cuomo demands plan from MTA to disinfect subways every night

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he's demanded the MTA to come up with a plan to disinfect all subway trains. Cuomo said the transit authority has until Thursday to deliver.

"Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that the train was disinfected the night before. We don't want them to stay home. We owe it to them to be able to say, the train you ride, the bus you ride has been disinfected and is clean," he said.

Cuomo also addressed images from The New York Daily News and other tabloids that depict homeless people sleeping on subways and what he called "the deterioration of the conditions" on the trains.

"If you let homeless people stay on the trains in the middle of a global health pandemic with no masks, no protective equipment, you are not helping the homeless. Letting them endanger their own life and the lives of others, it's not helping anyone," Cuomo said Wednesday.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
A subway station stands nearly empty during the Coronavirus outbreak on April 13, 2020, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty
By Justin Carissimo
 

Italy's new coronavirus cases remains steady

Italy's day-to-day increase in new cases of COVID-19 is nearly the same as the previous day's number. The health ministry said there were 2,086 new cases in the 24-hour period ending Wednesday evening, compared to an increase of 2,091 registered a day earlier. Italy's overall total of known coronavirus infections now stands at 203,591.

Italy has the most deaths of persons with COVID-19 of any European country. On Wednesday, 323 deaths were reported, giving Italy an overall toll of 27,682. The nation is in its eighth week of national lockdown, with some partial easing of restrictions on everyday life slated to take effect on Monday.

By Associated Press
 

Texas to partially reopen Friday despite concerns over COVID-19 testing

Texas is going ahead with its planned partial-reopening on Friday despite mounting coronavirus cases and calls for more widespread testing. Data suggests the state is doing less than half of its ideal projection of testing 40,000 people a day and, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said his area needs "about four times as much testing" as they currently have before returning to business.

"Texas - it fights each day to be either dead last or next to last on the amount of testing," Jenkins told CBS News' Omar Villafranca, "To open up, you need to see [the number of cases] go down for two weeks."

Jenkins also called for testing to be put in place for those returning to work, so that if an employee gets sick they can be quickly detected and isolated in order to keep others safe.

"We're not able to do that yet," he said.

Rural areas are also experiencing testing issues. Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at an Amarillo hospital that serves thousands in rural Texas, said they simply do not have enough tests to give.

"There's a lot of patients who are coming to our emergency rooms who may have symptoms that suggest COVID, and we send them home and say, 'Take care of yourself. We can't test you,'" Weis described. "We just really don't have the capability to test right now."

The state has reported over 26,000 coronavirus cases and more than 700 deaths in its roughly 29 million residents. At the time of reporting, Dallas county had tested less than 1% of their 3.6 million residents, and over 3,000 had already tested positive for COVID-19.

Read more here.

 

Paycheck Protection Program replenished, but loopholes remain

The Trump administration has closed several gaping loopholes in a coronavirus relief program for small businesses that let hundreds of larger companies stake claims on the federal loans. Yet gaps remain, heightening concerns that Main Street could be shut out even in this second round of relief. 

Demand for the forgivable, low-interest loans through the Paycheck Protection Program remains intense, especially once the money started flowing again on Monday after Congress injected another $310 billion in funding. But bigger players, including publicly traded companies, can still access the PPP funds.

Read the full story here.

By Stephen Gandel
 

Navy extends investigation into caption of virus-stricken U.S. warship

Acting Secretary of the Navy James McPherson said in a statement Wednesday that an investigation into Captain Brett Crozier has been extended due to "unanswered questions." Crozier is the former captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier where an outbreak of the coronavirus infected hundreds of sailors and left one one.

Crozier was fired after sending a memo outside his chain of command to alert superiors of the dire situation aboard, and ask for a majority of the sailors to be evacuated off the ship. 

Chief of naval operations Adam Gilday officially recommended last week that Crozier be reinstated as Roosevelt's commander. In his recommendation, Gilday essentially exonerated the captain for sending out the memo that later went public. 

Navy recommends reinstatement of captain fired over virus warning

McPherson said Wednesday that he still has questions after Gilday's investigation.  "Following our discussion, I have unanswered questions that the preliminary inquiry has identified and that can only be answered by a deeper review," reads his statement. 

Every sailor assigned to the USS Roosevelt has now received an initial coronavirus test, according to the Navy. As of Monday, there were 955 cases amongst the crewmembers, and nearly all sailors have been moved ashore.

By Audrey McNamara
 

Spike in domestic abuse under South Africa's strict coronavirus lockdown

More than 120,000 people — double the usual number — called South Africa's national domestic abuse helpline in the first three weeks of the country's COVID-19 lockdown, which began on March 27, the AFP news agency reported Wednesday.

South Africa has imposed some of the strictest lockdown restrictions in the world. No one is permitted to go outside unless they work for an essential business.

Mara Glennie, who founded the TEARS Foundation, an anti-sexual violence nonprofit, told AFP that if a victim or survivor of domestic abuse wanted to flea her home under the current lockdown restrictions, she would have to go to court to get a permit.

Kathy Cronje, who runs a shelter for domestic violence victims called Safe House, told AFP that her organization had received fewer calls at the start of the lockdown.

Lockdowns could mean millions more domestic violence cases, UN says

"We were wondering why," Cronje said, adding that she presumed "the fear of corona(virus) was maybe bigger than the fear of staying at home."

That changed when South Africa's lockdown, initially set to be in place for 21 days, was extended for another two weeks. Now Safe House is facing a surge in requests for help, and struggling to find room to house people, AFP reported.  

By Haley Ott
 

Quest Diagnostics is selling coronavirus antibody tests directly to consumers

Quest Diagnostics is selling a direct-to-consumer antibody test that the coompany says will make it easy for people to check whether they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. After ordering the $119 test online, consumers must make an appointment at one of the 2,200 blood-draw centers Quest operates in the U.S.

Consumers can receive the results in one to two days after a blood draw, the company said in a statement. The test is designed to shed light on whether Americans have antibodies to the virus, although Quest notes that it's unclear whether antibodies can provide protection against reinfection or how long any protection might last.

Even as Quest rolls out the service, scientists have raised questions about the accuracy of antibody tests. On Friday, the World Health Organization noted that "no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans." Click here to read more.

WHO says there's no evidence of immunity after coronavirus infection
By Aimee Picchi
 

Coronavirus linked to increased risk of stroke in younger adult patients

COVID-19 might raise stroke risk in young and middle-aged adults, with virus-linked blood clots causing severe damage to their brains, doctors warn.

Word has already spread that the novel coronavirus appears to increase clotting in some patients, experts say.

Now, a series of five cases at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City indicate that those clots might cause strokes in young patients, according to a new report in the April 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Click here to read more.

Doctors finding COVID-19 patients with unexpected blood clots
 

Millions of Americans out of work and facing threat of eviction

With millions of Americans out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic, there's a growing concern many could be evicted from their homes. 

While the federal CARES Act temporarily shields some people living in federally subsidized housing and some states have put a short-term halt on evictions, some renters are facing eviction when they shouldn't be, and others don't have any protections at all. Click here to read more.

Americans struggle to pay rent amid pandemic as fears of a housing crisis loom
 

U.S. economy shrank nearly 5% in the first quarter as pandemic struck — worst slump in a decade

The U.S. economy, which began 2020 riding the crest of a record-long expansion, is now officially in free-fall.

The first-quarter gross domestic product — the broadest measure of all economic activity — dropped at a 4.8% annualized rate, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It's the biggest contraction in a decade and the sharpest drop in four years.

And yet, analysts predict a far bigger contraction for the current April-June quarter, when business shutdowns and layoffs have struck with devastating force.

Trump and Fauci at odds on reopening economy
By Associated Press
 

Plan to try hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 prevention on Indian slum residents reportedly abandoned

An anti-malarial drug lauded by President Trump as a possible "game changer" in the fight against COVID-19 will no longer be tested on tens of thousands of healthy people in India's slums, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The plans were dropped after criticism that the residents of Mumbai's sprawling Dharavi slum were going to be used as guinea pigs in a bid to prove the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a preventative drug for the new coronavirus disease.

Dharavi is India's biggest and most crowded slum. More than 330 COVID-19 infections and 18 deaths have been reported there so far. Last week, the state government said it would administer HCQ as a prophylaxis in the densely populated area.

The Wider Image: Indians build their own lockdown barricades in the country's slums
A doctor checks the temperature of residents during a nationwide lockdown in India to slow the spread of COVID-19, in Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, in Mumbai, India, April 11, 2020. Francis Mascarenhas/REUTERS

Now, according to the AP, health officials will stick to the federal government's guidelines permitting its use only for certain high-risk groups.

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has authorized hydroxychloroquine for use only in drug trials and for emergency use in coronavirus patients under close clinical observation, noting possible complications.

By Arshad R. Zargar
 

Former Obama Ebola adviser says global "coalitions of the willing" critical pandemic response

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a crippling impact worldwide as the global death toll reached over 200,000 this week. President and CEO of the ONE Campaign Gayle Smith says this pandemic "strikes the hardest at people who have the fewest things to fall back on."

She says she's concerned about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the most vulnerable communities.

"I totally understand the imperative of leaders to be focused on the countries they lead," Smith told "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan in an interview Tuesday. She added, "It's equally important that they focus on the spread of this pandemic around the globe because it can come back, it can be re-imported, and we could end up in a vicious cycle if we're not looking outside at the same time we're focusing inside." 

Before leading the ONE Campaign, Smith served as the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and was a key figure in the response effort to the Ebola crisis of 2014 during her time at the National Security Council. She says organizations like the United Nations and financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank play an important part in the global response to pandemics. 

She told Brennan that "coalitions of the willing" are critical to combating similar global pandemics such as coronavirus. Click here to read more.

Gayle Smith: AIDS fight is winnable, but "world is not paying attention"
 

Large funeral gathering for NYC rabbi sparks police response and a warning from the mayor

Hundreds of people gathered in Brooklyn Tuesday evening for a rabbi's funeral, sparking a stern warning for New York City's mayor and a response from the NYPD. CBS New York reported many could be seen wearing face masks, but they were standing close together.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says "the time for warnings has passed" after a large crowd was found gathering for a funeral in Brooklyn during the coronavirus pandemic. Police officers were on the scene to help with crowd control.

In a tweet, the mayor wrote: "We have lost so many these last two months and I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths and more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance." Click here to read more.


 

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing says its cutting 10% of workforce as COVID-19 grounds aviation

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing has confirmed the coronavirus pandemic is forcing it to slash its workforce by about 10%, and those cuts have already begun, "through a combination of voluntary layoffs (VLO), natural turnover and involuntary layoffs."

In a letter to employees sent Wednesday, President and CEO Dave Calhoun warned that the cuts would be proportionally deeper "in areas that are most exposed to the condition of our commercial customers — more than 15% across our commercial airplanes and services businesses, as well as our corporate functions."

Calhoun said the Chicago-based corporation would be able to limit overall staff reductions thanks to "the ongoing stability" of its portfolio in the defense and space sectors.

Explaining the cuts, Calhoun noted that the COVID-19 crisis had all but grounded commercial planes, driving global "passenger volumes down more than 95% compared to last year" and leaving commercial airlines — some of Boeing's biggest customers — with expected revenue losses of $314 billion this year.

How coronavirus has affected the airline industry
By Tucker Reals
 

Medicare application delays raise anxiety for seniors amid coronavirus crisis

At greater risk from COVID-19, some seniors now face added anxiety due to delays obtaining Medicare coverage.

Advocates for older people say the main problem involves certain applications for Medicare's "Part B" coverage for outpatient care. It stems from the closure of local Social Security offices in the coronavirus pandemic.

Part B is particularly important these days because it covers lab tests, like ones for the coronavirus. Click here to read more.

By Associated Press
 

Utah governor's office was warned of risks a week before buying $800,000 worth of controversial drug

State officials in Utah were warned by an infectious disease expert of possible risks associated with making a controversial anti-malaria drug available for use in COVID-19 patients a week before the state spent $800,000 on a bulk order of it, CBS News affiliate KUTV has learned.

KUTV's report cites an email chain in which the scientist says they'd learned of plans for the state government to make hydroxychloroquine available directly to the public and warning that, "to make an unproven drug available to the public, independent of diagnosis and without physician oversight and safety monitoring sets a dangerous precedent."

President Trump was touting the drug at the time as a possible "game changer" in the fight against COVID-19, despite a complete lack of scientific evidence that it's safe and effective as a treatment for the new disease.   

Utah Governor Gary Herbert's chief of staff was looped in on the email chain. Herbert has acknowledged that a possible mistake in the purchase of the drug, and his office is investigating the matter, according to KUTV. Asked again on Tuesday about the matter, Herbert reiterated that it was "still under review" and said he'd "probably have something to report on that in the next day or two."

By Tucker Reals
 

Coronavirus-diagnosed federal inmate dies after giving birth while on a ventilator

A pregnant inmate whose baby was delivered by cesarean section while she was on a ventilator after being hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms has died in federal custody, the Bureau of Prisons said Tuesday. Andrea Circle Bear, 30, died on Tuesday, about a month after she was hospitalized while serving a 26-month sentence for maintaining a drug-involved premises.

She is the 29th federal inmate to die in the Bureau of Prisons custody since late March. As of Tuesday, more than 1,700 federal inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. About 400 of those inmates have recovered.

Circle Bear was first brought to FMC Carswell, a federal prison medical facility in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 20 from a local jail in South Dakota. As a new inmate in the federal prison system, she was quarantined as part of the Bureau of Prisons' plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Prison in the time of coronavirus
By Associated Press
 

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and fiancee Carrie Symonds welcome baby boy amid virus crisis

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds announced the birth of a baby boy Wednesday morning, just days after Johnson returned to work after recovering from the new coronavirus disease. Johnson was reportedly present for the birth of his son at a hospital in London.

A spokesman for the couple said both mother and child were doing well.

Johnson and Symonds are the first unmarried couple to move into the prime minister's residence at Number 10 Downing Street together.  

Johnson and his second wife, Marina Wheeler, divorced in 2019. Johnson and Wheeler have four children together.

The prime minister had previously said he intended to take paternity leave after the birth of his child, but CBS News partner network BBC News said Wednesday that he was back at Downing Street and would not be going on leave for the time being. Click here to read more.

"London Calling": Boris Johnson under fire for response to coronavirus crisis
By Haley Ott
 

Study suggests men and women at equal risk of COVID-19 infection, but men fare much worse

The preliminary results of a study published Wednesday by Chinese researchers suggests that while the new coronavirus attacks men and women in roughly equal numbers, men appear to be far more vulnerable to serious cases, including fatal infections. 

The study, published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Public Health, found that 2.4 times more men diagnosed with COVID-19 died of the disease than women. The scientists from two research universities, one in Beijing and the other in the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan, said the results echoed findings from studies on the related SARS virus.

"While men and women have the same prevalence, men with COVID-19 are more at risk for worse outcomes and death, independent of age," the study said.

COVID-19 is known to be far more lethal for all patients of advanced age and those with underlying health problems, particularly cardiac or pulmonary issues, but the authors of the Chinese study say it is the first to look at how gender may affect the outcomes of patients.

U.S. surpasses 1 million coronavirus cases
By Tucker Reals
 

COVID-19 crisis forces major change to Oscars rules, making stream-debuted movies eligible

Movies that debuted on a streaming service without a theatrical run will be eligible for the Oscars, but only for this year. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Tuesday announced the change for the 93rd Academy Awards as a response to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the film industry.

The film academy also said it will condense the two sound categories into one and prohibit DVD screeners for 2022's 94th Oscars in an effort to become more carbon neutral.

Oscars eligibility has been a major question since stay at home and social distancing orders led to both the cancellation of major film festivals and the closure of movie theaters. Previously, a film would have to have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater in order to be considered for film's highest honor. Now films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are made available on a home video on demand service may qualify for best picture and other categories.

"We're dealing with the unfolding reality of an unanticipated, unprecedented global health crisis and trying to be responsive to what's going on in the world and at the same time support our filmmakers who are in a circumstance beyond their control," film academy president David Rubin told The Associated Press Tuesday.

By Associated Press
 

With fever checks and masks, Dubai's mega-mall reopens after month-long corona-closure

Clutching bags from designer boutiques in their gloved hands, customers are back at Dubai Mall, one of the world's largest shopping havens that has reopened under strict safeguards against coronavirus.

At a main entrance where customers hand over their sports cars and luxury SUVs for valet parking, employees greet them with black T-shirts reading "Welcome back".

Smiling as they point an infrared thermometer "temperature gun" at visitors' foreheads, they check for the fever that is a telltale symptom of COVID-19 infection.

Dubai Mall is a key attraction of the city state that has built its wealth and world renown on mega-projects and a diversified economy to become a tourism and shopping hub, as well as for finance and real estate. 

With more than 1,300 stores arrayed around a vast lake and overlooked by the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, Dubai Mall attracts some 80 million visitors a year and its reopening on Tuesday was a symbolic step as the country emerges from lockdown.

After a month-long closure, crowds have been far thinner, as expatriates in jeans and Emiratis in traditional white Gulf robes roam the bright alleys that showcase everything from chic to bling.

- AFP

 

Turkey claims success treating COVID-19 patients with blanket use of drug touted by Trump

Turkey has the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, with more than 114,000 confirmed infections. Almost 3,000 people have died. But while the number of cases has risen fast for six weeks, the fatality rate has remained relatively low, at about 2.5%. That's much lower than in many European countries, or the U.S.

The Turkish government imposed weekend-only lockdowns and banned only those under the age of 20 and over 65 from leaving their homes during the week, in an effort to limit the economic impact of the pandemic. 

Turkey's Ministry of Health says the relatively low death toll is thanks to treatment protocols in the country, which involve two existing drugs — the controversial malaria drug hydroxychloroquine touted by President Trump, and Japanese antiviral favipiravir.

"Doctors prescribe hydroxychloroquine to everyone who is tested positive for coronavirus," Dr. Sema Turan, a member of the Turkish government's coronavirus advisory board, told CBS News. Hospitalized patients may be given favipiravir as well if they encounter breathing problems, Turan said.   

She said the combination of drugs appeared to "delay or eliminate the need for intensive care for patients."  

TURKEY-HEALTH-VIRUS
Health workers help a woman who has tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19 at Bagcilar in Istanbul, April 28, 2019. Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients, but has warned it should only be used in clinical trials or under the close observation of doctors, citing risks of heart complications.

By Pinar Sevinclidir
 

Vaccine skeptics casting doubt on virus med before it even exists

A coronavirus vaccine is still months or years away, but groups that peddle misinformation about immunizations are already taking aim, potentially eroding confidence in what could be humanity's best chance to defeat the virus.

In recent weeks, vaccine opponents have made several unsubstantiated claims, including that vaccine trials will be dangerously rushed or that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, is blocking cures to enrich vaccine makers. They've also falsely claimed that Microsoft founder Bill Gates wants to use a vaccine to inject microchips into people — or to cull 15% of the world's population.

Vaccine opponents in the U.S. have been around for a long time. Their claims range from relatively modest safety concerns about specific vaccines or the risk of side effects to conspiracy theories that border on the bizarre.

The movement is receiving renewed attention, especially as it aligns itself with groups loudly protesting restrictions on daily life aimed at controlling the spread of the virus. Health professionals say vaccine misinformation could have lethal consequences if it leads people to opt for bogus cures instead. Click here to read more.

Most Americans support stay-at-home orders, CBS News poll finds
By Associated Press
 

Trump invokes Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday invoking the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open, a senior White House official told CBS News. Plants owned by some of the country's largest food companies have struggled with outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers and a growing death toll.

The executive order also applies to plants that have already closed, which will have to reopen with healthy workers.   

The executive order declares meat processing plants critical infrastructure to protect against disruptions to the food supply, a person familiar with the matter said earlier Tuesday. The federal government will also provide workers with additional protective gear and guidance, the person said. Click here to read more.

Fears over meat shortages as virus impacts food supply chain


 

Oxford scientists hopeful COVID-19 vaccine could be widely available by September

In the global race to find a vaccine, Oxford University just jumped way ahead of the pack. Human testing is already underway, and scientists say they're hopeful a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available by September.

Technology the lab had already developed in previous work on inoculations for other viruses, including a close relative of COVID-19, gave it a head start.

"Well personally, I have a high degree of confidence about this vaccine, because it's technology that I've used before," said Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the university.

The vaccine takes the coronavirus' genetic material and injects it into a common cold virus that has been neutralized so it cannot spread in people. The modified virus will mimic COVID-19, triggering the immune system to fight off the impostor and providing protection against the real thing. Click here to read more.

Oxford says coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September
By Charlie D'Agata
 

Trump again says virus is "going to go away," contradicting health experts

President Trump on Tuesday said the coronavirus is "going to go away," repeating a claim that contradicts his own health experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration's leading infectious diseases expert, has said the deadly virus will not disappear, and the U.S. should be prepared for another wave in the fall. 

Mr. Trump said a vaccine is looking promising, but he thinks the virus is going to go away, and if it does return in a "modified" form in fall, the U.S. will handle it. 

CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy asked Mr. Trump how, with no known treatment or cure and states starting to reopen, he could be so confident.

"Hopefully we're going to come up with a vaccine. You never know about a vaccine, but tremendous progress has been made. Johnson & Johnson and Oxford and lots of good things, you've been hearing the same things as I do," Mr. Trump replied, noting "tremendous progress" on possible vaccines.  

"But I think what happens is it's going to go away," Mr. Trump added. "This is going to go away, and whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we'll be able to handle it, we'll be able to put out spurts, and we're very prepared to handle it." Click here to read more.

Trump says "this is going to go away" about coronavirus


By Kathryn Watson
 

Almost 70 residents at one veterans facility in Massachusetts have died of coronavirus

Nearly 70 residents sickened with the coronavirus have died at a central Massachusetts home for aging veterans. State and federal officials are trying to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S.

While the death toll at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers' Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care while the state's top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action.

Sixty-six veteran residents who tested positive for the virus have died, officials said Monday, and the cause of another death is unknown. Another 83 residents and 81 staff have tested positive. The home's superintendent, who's been placed on administrative leave, has defended his response and accused state officials of falsely claiming they were unaware of the scope of the problem there.

Virus Outbreak Soldiers Home
Tributes to veterans cover a sign, April 28, 2020, near an entrance road to the Soldiers' Home, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Rodrique Ngowi/AP
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