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Coronavirus updates: CDC recommends use of non-surgical face masks

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Follow along with Saturday's coronavirus live updates

President Trump on Friday said the CDC is now advising all Americans to wear cloth or fabric masks in public on a voluntary basis in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Medical-grade masks, officials say, are to be reserved for frontline health care workers.

As of Friday afternoon, there were more than 277,000 confirmed cases across the U.S. and over 7,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University

Detailed information from the CDC on coronavirus treatment and prevention.


5 things to know about the virus pandemic from Dr. Tom Inglesby

President Trump on Friday announced new voluntary guidelines that Americans should wear non-medical cloth masks when out in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, joined the "CBS Evening News" to speak about the benefit of masks for the general public and a possible vaccine.

Click here for the five major takeaways from the discussion, and watch the interview below. 

Dr. Tom Inglesby on coronavirus pandemic 02:08

Barr tells BOP to focus on three prisons most impacted by COVID-19 when considering home confinement

Attorney General William Barr on Friday instructed the Bureau of Prisons to focus their assessment of eligibility for home confinement on the three prisons most affected by coronavirus: Louisiana's FCI Oakdale, Connecticut's FCI Danbury and Ohio's FCI Elkton.

The announcement comes after he issued a directive last week requesting that the BOP prioritize home confinement for inmates that qualify, including the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

"We have to move with dispatch in using home confinement, where appropriate, to move vulnerable inmates out of these institutions," Barr wrote.

As part of the directive, he told the BOP to assess all inmates at risk of contracting the virus at the three institutions.

"You should begin implementing this directive immediately at the facilities I have specifically identified and any other facilities facing similarly serious problems," Barr wrote.

Even if chosen, inmates will still be subject to a 14 day quarantine.

Despite the directive to expedite the process, Barr maintained that public safety is paramount. "We cannot simply release prison populations en masse onto the streets," he wrote. "Doing so would pose profound risks to the public from release prisons engaging in additional criminal activity, potentially including violence or heinous sex offenses."

By Clare Hymes

"We're all in this together": Food bank teams up with online marketplace to provide jobs and feed families

Thousands of people in Dallas, Texas, lined up on Thursday for free meals provided by the school district. In many places, there aren't enough helping hands to keep pace with the demand for food. But one program is hiring workers laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic to help feed families in need in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Texas. 

Typically, volunteers at the North Texas Food Bank prepare the 77 million meals the bank distributes each year — but COVID-19 has kept them away. The solution? A partnership between the food bank and Shiftsmart, an online marketplace connecting workers with employers. 

One of those workers is Anna Morris, who lost her bartending job a few weeks ago. 

"This is great money, and a good opportunity to— to keep my spirits high," Morris said. 

Read more here.

Food bank teams up with online marketplace to provide jobs and feed families 01:46
By Mireya Villarreal

91 federal inmates have tested positive for coronavirus, BOP says

The Bureau of Prisons  announced Friday that 91 inmates and 50 staff have tested positive for coronavirus. It also said that three more inmates died on Friday, bringing the total in federal prisons to eight. 

According to the BOP, the prisons with the highest number of cases among inmates are Connecticut's FCI Danbury (20), Louisiana's FCI Oakdale I (18) and California's USP Lompoc (14). 

But at Oakdale, the local prison employees' union claimed that numbers are higher than what the BOP reported. The union claims 24 inmates and 21 staff members have tested positive, that 18 inmates and 2 staff members are in the hospital, and that 727 inmates are in quarantine because they were exposed to someone with symptoms. 

By Clare Hymes

18.5% of NYPD uniformed workforce out sick

Nearly 19% of the NYPD's uniformed force — more than 6,600 people — called in sick on Friday, according to a report from the department. More than 1,600 uniformed members and 220 civilian employees have tested positive for the virus, the department said.

The department also announced the death of school safety agent Luis Albino, who died on Friday from complications caused by the virus.

By Victoria Albert

Home health care workers are taking care of America's most vulnerable – and they're doing it without PPE

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to flood hospitals in the U.S., governments, businesses, and communities have rallied to provide overburdened emergency care staff with personal protective equipment (PPE). But for the more than 3.2 million home health care workers who care for more than 8.3 million people in the U.S., access to PPE remains relatively scarce. 

"I buy [the masks] myself," said Stephanie Williams, a 58-year-old home health care worker in Philadelphia, where more than 1,850 people have been infected and at least 13 people have died from coronavirus. "I have to use the same masks for my clients. I'm paying out-of-pocket and I just can't afford it, especially on an every day basis," she added. 

Read more here.

By Li Cohen

Hobby Lobby to close all stores, furlough "nearly all" store workers without pay

Retail chain Hobby Lobby announced Friday that it will close all of its stores across the country and furlough "nearly all" of its store workers without pay. 

"As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m.  The stores will remain closed until further notice," the company said in a statement.

The company added that it will end emergency leave pay and suspend paid time off benefits so that workers can qualify for relief from the federal government — but said it will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits through at least May 1, 2020, and pay for employee premiums. 

The announcement comes after Hobby Lobby faced scrutiny for refusing to close its doors. The company initially followed orders in several states that called for non-essential businesses to close — but it then argued that it was essential, and should be able to re-open. Employees in several states were told last weekend to return to work, sparking fury from local officials.  

By Victoria Albert

Trump defends Kushner's comment about federal stockpile

President Trump did not clear up confusion about the appropriate usage of the national stockpile on Friday, after he was asked about a remark senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner made on Thursday about the stockpile of medical equipment housed by the federal government.

"The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile," Kushner said. "It's not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use."

When CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang pressed the president on what Kushner meant by "our," he dismissed the question as a "gotcha." 

"'Our, our' — it means the United States of America," the president said.

Mr. Trump said the stockpile is needed for the "federal government," to keep for the country "because the federal government needs it, too, not just the states."

The president accused Jiang of using a "nasty" tone in her question. 

Governors have implored the president to provide them more ventilators and other much-needed equipment, but the president has repeatedly put the blame on the states for not stocking up on the equipment themselves.


Coronavirus and self-isolation will likely lead to increase in domestic violence, WHO warns

The World Health Organization has warned that quarantine measures to combat the new coronavirus will likely lead to an increase in domestic violence.

"Women may have less contact with family and friends who may provide support and protection from violence," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"If you are experiencing or are at risk of domestic violence, speak to supportive family and friends, seek support from a hotline, or seek out local services for survivors," he urged.

The WHO also called on countries to include services for addressing domestic violence in their COVID-19 response.

In France, the government has launched a number of measures to combat domestic violence, including urging women to go to their local pharmacy for help. If they can't go alone, they can use the code words "Mask 19" to alert the pharmacist, who can then discreetly call the police.

Read more here. 

By Elaine Cobbe

Alabama and Missouri announce stay-at-home orders

The governors of Alabama and Missouri announced stay-at-home orders Friday afternoon, joining 40 other states. Only eight states have not asked residents to stay home. 

"My fellow Alabamians, effective at 5 p.m. TOMORROW, I am mandating a #StayAtHome order for our entire state," Governor Kay Ivey tweeted

"Since March 6, we've taken several aggressive actions to reduce the spread of #COVID19," she added. "Dr. Harris & I have tried everything we knew to do to keep from having to take this next step. But late yesterday, it became obvious that more had to be done."

Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced a similar order. "To stay ahead of the battle, as the Governor of the State of Missouri, I am ordering a statewide 'Stay Home-Missouri' Order for ALL Missourians beginning at 12:01 a.m., Monday April 6 until 11:59 p.m., Friday April 24," Parson tweeted. 

The states that have not yet announced a stay-at-home order are Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. 

By Victoria Albert

Trump invokes DPA to ban export of crucial medical supplies in most cases

President Trump announced during the briefing that he has signed a directive of the Defense Production Act to ban the export of scarce medical supplies by "unscrupulous actors."

He said that his administration had already leveraged the DPA to "stop the hoarding and price gouging of crucial supplies."

Mr. Trump said that under this authority, HHS and the Justice Department have taken custody of medical supplies including surgical masks. "All of this material is now being given to health care workers," Mr. Trump said.

The president added later that there could be exceptions, noting that if a country like Italy, which has been ravaged by COVID-19, has existing contracts for medical supplies like masks, he'd "let them go out in certain circumstances."

"I'm not going to be stopping them," he said. "I think that would be very unfair."

By Ellen Uchimiya

Government will cover expenses for testing and treating uninsured virus patients, Trump says

President Trump announced Friday that the federal government will cover expenses for testing and treating uninsured virus patients. 

"Today I can so proudly announce that hospitals and health care providers treating uninsured coronavirus patients will be reimbursed by the federal government using funds from the economic relief package Congress passed last month," Mr. Trump said, adding, "This should alleviate any concern uninsured Americans may have about seeking the coronavirus treatment." 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar expanded on the decision. "As a condition of receiving funds under this program, providers will be forbidden from balance billing the uninsured for the cost of their care," he said. "Providers will be reimbursed at Medicare rates."  

Mr. Trump also announced that Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the country's major insurance providers, has agreed to forgo copays for coronavirus treatment for 60 days, joining companies like Cigna and Humana. 

"For them to do that, it's a big statement, we appreciate it," Mr. Trump said. 

By Victoria Albert

CDC recommends public wear non-surgical masks

President Trump announced Friday that the CDC is recommending that the public wear a "basic cloth or fabric mask" in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks may be purchased online or made at home, he said. 

Mr. Trump also said that not this was not a recommendation for the use of "medical-grade or surgical-grade masks."

And he stressed that this is a voluntary measure — one that he personally did not plan to adopt.

"I don't think i'm going to be doing it," he told reporters at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

While he said it was the "safest way to avoid infection," he added, "I'm choosing not to do it."

Surgeon General Jerome Adams explained that there are a significant portion of people infected by the virus who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic, but who can nonetheless transmit the virus. The recommendation to wear masks in public is intended to prevent these individuals from unknowingly infecting others.

He, too, stressed that Americans, if they choose to wear masks, should not wear medical-grade masks. He added that the recommendation does not replace the guidance that people should practice social distancing in public. 

By Ellen Uchimiya

Stocks drop for the week as layoffs spook Wall Street

Stocks fell on Friday after the government said U.S. employers cut 701,000 more jobs than they added last month, the first drop in nearly a decade. Wall Street suffered its third losing week of the last four as the economic outlook worsens for workers and businesses.

The Dow slumped 358 points, or 1.7%, to 21,055 on Friday, bringing the index's weekly loss to a decline of 2.7%. The broad-based S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq both lost 1.5% on Friday. The S&P 500 last week had posted a 10.3% surge and a 15% drop in the prior two weeks.

The losses came after the government said U.S. employers cut 701,000 more jobs than they added last month, the first drop in nearly a decade. The latest employment report shows that the coronavirus has brought a sudden stop to a record 113 straight months of job growth. But economists believe the job market is likely in much worse shape than even today's stark numbers suggest. — CBS/AP

Read more here.


TSA reports first employee death from coronavirus

The TSA announced Friday that one of its employees has died of coronavirus. The administration identified the patient as Francis "Frank" Boccabella III, a 39-year-old canine handler who worked out of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. 

"His passing represents a personal loss to all of us who knew him and cherished both his friendship and professionalism," the TSA said in a statement. 

The statement added that Boccabella joined the TSA in 2004 at JFK International Airport in New York and that he eventually moved into explosive detection canine handling with a 6-year-old dog named Bullet. 

"Frank and his canine partners screened hundreds of thousands of passengers, keeping them and the transportation network safe," the administration wrote. "He is the first federal TSA employee who we have lost to COVID-19. The news of this loss strengthens our determination to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19." 

By Victoria Albert

Louisiana hits 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

Louisiana now has more than 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It has the fifth-highest number of cases in the country, behind New York, New Jersey, California, and Michigan. 

Despite the rising numbers, some Louisiana residents continue to attend packed services at a local church, defying a ban against gatherings of more than 50 people. At least 370 people have died in the state, according to Johns Hopkins. 

By Victoria Albert

Supreme Court postpones 2 weeks of oral arguments for April

The Supreme Court on Friday announced it would postpone two weeks of oral arguments that were scheduled to begin on April 20. 

"In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Court will postpone the oral arguments currently scheduled for the April session (April 20-22 and April 27-29)," the Court said in a news release.

The Court said it "will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the Courtroom before the end of the Term," which is typically in late June. 

The Court said it would continue to deliberate over cases heard earlier in the term. 

"The court will continue to proceed with the resolution of all cases argued this Term," it said. "Opinions will be posted on the Court's Website. The Court is continuing to hold its regularly scheduled conferences and issuing Order Lists."

U.S. Supreme Court Cancels All Oral Arguments Through Early April Due To COVID-19
A man walks past the Supreme Court on March 16, 2020, in Washington, D.C.  Drew Angerer / Getty
By Audrey McNamara

Pennsylvania governor asks residents to wear masks in public

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is asking all residents to wear a mask now when they go out in public as the number of coronavirus cases climbed above 8,400 on Friday. Twelve more people also died from COVID-19 and the death toll now stands at 102, CBS Philly reports.

"Wearing a mask will help cut down the possibility that we will be infecting an innocent bystander," Wolf said during a state briefing.

Wolf is asking residents to make their own masks and leave N95 and paper masks for health care workers. Wolf says directions to make homemade masks can be found at


Fake drive-thru coronavirus testing sites investigated in Kentucky

Fake coronavirus testing sites were discovered in multiple locations across Louisville, Kentucky, this week, city officials say. One of the scam sites was at Sojourn Church Midtown, where church leaders were contacted by an organization offering drive-thru COVID-19 testing. They agreed to host the site in their parking lot – unbeknownst to them, the testing was illegitimate. 

"After we performed an initial screening and researched the organization, and after the organization assured us that they were in communication with Louisville Metro government, we agreed to let them use our parking lot for the dates of Monday, March 30 through Wednesday, April 1," Jack Brannen, the church's director of communications said in a statement.

Brannen said they wanted to make COVID-19 testing available to their neighbors and they promoted the testing location on the church's website. But when the staff of the so-called testing organization showed up, church leaders developed some concern.  

Read more here

By Caitlin O'Kane

UN climate change conference postponed due to COVID-19

The world's most consequential international climate meeting, the United Nation's 26th Conference of Parties (COP26), has been postponed due to COVID-19. The yearly conference, held in different countries each year, brings together representatives from all nations to discuss - and come to terms on - how to combat the global climate crisis.  

This climate conference was slated to be the most important since Paris' COP21 in 2015, when the Paris Agreement was negotiated. 2020 is the deadline for countries to submit updated plans with, theoretically, more aggressive plans to cut emissions, which signatories are encouraged to do every five years. 

Every country on Earth signed the agreement, although President Trump is planning to pull the U.S. out of the agreement later this year.

The meeting was scheduled to take place in November in Glasgow, Scotland, at the SEC arena. But the Scottish government now plans to turn the venue into a field hospital to treat virus victims, and the meeting is rescheduled for October 2021.

"The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting COVID-19," said COP26 president-designate Alok Sharma.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said that while COVID-19 is "the most urgent threat facing humanity today … we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term."

While some environmentalists are concerned this delay may slow climate action, others believe this may give the U.S. a longer window of time to change course, especially if a new president is elected in November.

By Jeff Berardelli

New Jersey reports 29,895 cases, second highest in nation

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Friday his state has 4,372 new COVID-19 cases, raising the state's total to 29,895 cases. That's the second most cases in any state nationwide, after New York, which has more than 100,000. 

Murphy said 646 people in New Jersey have died due to COVID-19.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Small businesses applying for Paycheck Protection Program express frustration and fear

Small business owners applying for federal aid on Friday say they are confused about the requirements to participate in the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program.

Business owners said they are unclear about what information they must provide to get a loan under the government initiative, part of the $2.2 trillion economic relief package signed into law by President Donald Trump last week. Although the government's portal for the loan program opened on Friday, some banks also say they aren't ready to handle an expected influx of millions of applications.

Read more here.

By Megan Cerullo

When will you get your federal stimulus check?

Millions of Americans will have a federal stimulus payment directly deposited in their bank account by April 15, the Treasury Department says. But some people without direct deposit information may not get checks until mid-August or later, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

That document, from the House Ways and Means Committee, provides a slightly different timeline than the Treasury for the payments, which are designed to offset the financial impact many are facing amid the coronavirus pandemic. The memo says the IRS will make about 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April, likely the week of April 13. The IRS has direct-deposit information for these individuals from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns.


Read more here  


Google releases location tracking data for virus lockdown movement

Google is digging into its massive trove of data tracking the movements of people around the world to produce a series of reports designed to help policymakers and researchers in the fight against the coronavirus.

The internet giant published so-called Community Mobility Reports for 131 countries. They show localized data on how travel to places like stores and parks has changed in the last month. For the United States, Google's data is broken down county by county, showing massive decreases people's movement in urban and suburban communities — drops of up to 80% in some cases — with comparatively modest declines in rural areas.

For example, Google's mobility tracking data for New York shows a 62% decline for retail and recreation venues, 68% decline for public transit hubs such as subway, bus, and train stations, 46% decline for workplaces, and 32% decline for grocery stores and pharmacies as of March 29. 

In New York County (Manhattan), the drop-off is even more dramatic: down 86% for retail and recreation, 78% for transit, 57% for workplaces, and 51% for groceries and pharmacies.

Read more here.

By Graham Kates

New York reports "highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started"

New York's death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 2,935, the "highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started," Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday. On Thursday, 2,373 people had died in the state from the virus.

There have been 102,863 confirmed cases statewide and 14,810 people are currently hospitalized in New York, the U.S. epicenter of the global outbreak.

Cuomo said the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which was converted into a temporary hospital to handle an overflow of patients in New York City who don't have COVID-19, will now be "COVID-19 only." He said it will have ICU beds. 

Read more here

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Prince Charles opens new London hospital remotely

Britain's Prince Charles remotely opened a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients at London's main exhibition center Friday that can accommodate up to 4,000 people as the number of coronavirus-related deaths reported in the U.K. surpassed China's official total.

Charles, who on Monday completed a week of self-isolating while recovering from COVID-19, said via video link that he was "enormously touched" to be asked to open the new Nightingale Hospital, which was built in just over a week at the vast ExCel conference center in east London. It will only care for people with COVID-19, and patients will only be assigned there after their local London hospital reaches its capacity.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he remained in isolation with a fever eight days after he tested positive for the new virus.

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, is seen on a monitor as he speaks during the opening of the "NHS Nightingale" field hospital in London on April 3, 2020. Getty

— The Associated Press


NYC mayor urges residents to cover their faces outside

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says in a video posted on Twitter the No. 1 question he is getting from New Yorkers is if they should wear a mask from now on.

"We're now advising all New Yorkers, when you go outside and you're close to other people, not your own family and people under your same roof, but when you're close to other people, have a bandanna, a scarf, some kind of face covering you can use when you happen to be in close proximity to other people," he said. 

He said this will help stop the spread of COVID-19. "It will help make sure that, if God forbid, you contract the disease even if you're not yet symptomatic, that you wont inadvertently spread it to someone else," he said. "It's a precaution to help protect others."

The mayors of both Los Angeles and New York City recommend that residents wear homemade masks or scarves over their nose and mouth when they leave their homes.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Germany's Angela Merkel gets back to work after 12-day precautionary isolation

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has returned to her office after a 12-day quarantine following possible exposure to the new coronavirus.

Merkel self-isolated at her home in Berlin after learning that a doctor who gave her a vaccination had subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

She continued to work and held government meetings via video conference while in quarantine.

"Thankfully the chancellor tested negative for the coronavirus several times," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday.

Merkel Announces Further Coronavirus Measures Following Teleconference With State Governors
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen in a March 22, 2020, photo in Berlin, Germany. Getty

Merkel has now left her home for the first time in almost two weeks and returned to her office in the chancellery, but will continue to observe social distancing rules and hold meetings online.

— Anna Noryskiewicz


Trump says administration "hit 3M hard" over face masks

President Trump blasted the company 3M in a tweet Thursday evening after invoking the Defense Production Act to force the company to produce face masks. N95 face masks are critical for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and there have been issues with mask shortages.

"We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. "P Act" all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing - will have a big price to pay!" Mr. Trump wrote, referring to the Defense Production Act.

Mr. Trump announced during the White House coronavirus task force briefing on Thursday that he had signed an order for 3M to produce face masks.

By Grace Segers

Millions of businesses expected to seek Paycheck Protection Program loans today

Millions of small businesses are expected to apply for a desperately needed rescue loan Friday, a stern test for a banking industry that has had less than a week to prepare for the deluge. The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program is aimed at helping small businesses retain workers and pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The program is being overseen by the Small Business Administration but banks are the ones who handle the application process. The Small Business Administration's "streamlined" verification process starts here, and involves a five-page process for which lots of patience is advised. 

The banking industry is trying to temper expectations about how many businesses will get the cash they need on Friday. Banks large and small will have to process these loans as quickly as possible in order to get their customers a slice of the program. Click here to read more.



U.S. warns Americans to leave Japan amid "significant increase" in COVID-19 cases

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has urged Americans to leave Japan, using its strongest language to date and noting a "significant increase" in the country's coronavirus infections

"If U.S. citizens wish to return to the United States, they should make arrangements to do so now," the embassy said in a notice posted to its website, "unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period."

The U.S. State Department's current advisory for Japan stands at "Level 2," which calls on Americans to "exercise increased caution." A global health advisory says Americans should "avoid all international travel."

Japan reported more than 650 new infections over the past three days, with the country's biggest jump happening Thursday. An explosive surge in infections is inevitable if Japan doesn't rapidly adopt tough restrictions like those in the U.S. and Europe, Hokkaido University Professor Hiroshi Nishiura told Nikkei.

— Ramy Inocencio

Nearly 38 million under "stay home" advisory in Tokyo 01:10

With schools closed, kids face another type of viral threat: misinformation online

Melissa Lau, a veteran middle-school science teacher, is getting used to a new reality shared by parents and educators across the country: virtual classrooms and remote learning. 

School closures due to the coronavirus outbreak have impacted public and private schools that serve over 55 million students across the U.S. Many have shifted to online learning. Of the myriad challenges this poses to teachers, parents and students, Lau is particularly concerned about the misinformation kids are likely to encounter online.

Watch CBSN Originals "The War on Science" in the video player below.   

War of Words 46:06
By Ines Novacic

U.S. economy lost more than 700,000 jobs in March

The U.S. government's employment report shows that hiring plunged in March as the coronavirus crisis brought a sudden stop to a record 113 straight months of job growth — and that, unfortunately, is the good news. The bad: The job market is likely in much worse shape than even today's dire numbers suggest.

The economy lost 701,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4%, the Labor Department said on Friday. The leisure and hospitality industries saw the sharpest declines, with 460,000 jobs lost.

"There is accumulating evidence that activity fell off a steep cliff in mid-March," analysts at Barclays wrote in a note.

-Irina Ivanova and Alain Sherter


U.S. farmers are "gonna be in trouble" as COVID-19 crisis dries up foreign labor

Some American farmers tell CBS News there aren't enough people to get their spring crops harvested. Foreign labor, mostly migrant workers, filled more than 250,000 agriculture jobs in the U.S. last year. But this spring there's a potential labor shortage as the coronavirus epidemic rages across the country.

"This coronavirus has got everybody so stirred up," Georgia farmer Bill Brim told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

Worrying about his farm keeps him up at night. "I sleep about two and a half, three hours a night," he said.

Seasonal foreign labor, mainly from Mexico, helps Brim get his crops in, but as he faces a series of spring harvest deadlines, he says he could be 200 workers short: The coronavirus crisis has delayed the U.S. government's processing of their work visas.

Click here to read more.


National Guard helps Maryland brace as governor says his region likely to become "next hot spot"

Maryland's National Guard has stepped up to help the state prepare for their own coronavirus surge, which Governor Larry Hogan says is "about two weeks behind New York." The National Guard has set up cots for a field hospital at a Baltimore convention center, a COVID-19 testing site at the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field and are busy moving pallets of face shields and surgical gloves to areas where medical staff need them most

"We're going to be the next hot spot," Hogan told CBS News' Catherine Herridge, counting Washington, D.C. and Virginia in his prediction as well. He compared the pandemic to a "terrible hurricane" that is "hitting all 50 states, and it keeps coming every day, and it keeps intensifying and getting worse."

Click here to read more.


Australia tells virus-stricken cruise ships to go home

Australia insisted Friday it would not let the crew of multiple virus-stricken cruise ships into the country, slapping aside suggestions it was falling short on legal and moral obligations. More than a dozen ships are believed to be off Australia's coast, carrying around 15,000 crew and some experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19.

"We have issued notices to all of these ships to leave Australian waters," Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram told local media Friday.

"If ever there was a time, I think, for ships to go back to where they're registered, it's probably during a time of a global pandemic like this."

Many vessels fly under flags of convenience - registered to countries such as Panama, the Bahamas and Liberia, which have scant capacity to screen or treat an influx of possible virus carriers. 

Cruise liner Spectrum of the Seas sits in Sydney Harbour after coming in to refuel and restock on April 3, 2020.  Getty

Australian authorities say they will not risk unleashing a wave of COVID-19-positive people into the country, burdening local health services that are already scrambling to increase capacity. Cruise ships have already accounted for almost 10 percent of Australia's more than 5,000 infections and several deaths. 



"Don't let us die": Women in ICE custody plead for release amid coronavirus pandemic

The women detained at the for-profit jail in the small, rural town of Jena, Louisiana, hail from all corners of Latin America. Some are asylum-seekers who fled repressive regimes. Others are lawful U.S. permanent residents who were picked up by immigration authorities after serving time in prison. Some are mothers and even grandmothers. 

Right now, they're all terrified.

Like many of the more than 35,000 immigrants currently in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, the women held at the LaSalle detention center in Jena feel powerless to shield themselves from the highly contagious coronavirus, which has killed more than 53,000 people worldwide, including more than 6,000 in the U.S. At least 310 people have died in Louisiana alone, where a recent surge in cases has threatened to overwhelm the state's health care system.

Click here to read more.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Jay-Z and Meek Mill's organization is sending 100,000 surgical masks to jails and prisons

Jay-Z and Meek Mill's criminal justice reform organization is sending nearly 100,000 surgical masks to several correctional facilities across the U.S., including the troubled Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City. The masks will be sent to the facilities to help correctional officers, health care workers and inmates in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The REFORM Alliance on Friday announced it would send 40,000 masks to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, 5,000 masks to Parchman and 50,000 to Rikers, and another 2,500 to a Rikers medical facility. The organization said correctional facilities have been especially impacted by the global shortage of protective gear.

By Tyler Kendall

Indian couple names newborn twins Covid and Corona "for now"

A couple in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh have named their newborn twins Corona and Covid, according to the country's Press Trust of India news agency. 

The twins, a boy and a girl, were born exactly a week ago in a public hospital in the city of Raipur, two days after India's government imposed a 21-day lockdown to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus.  

The couple said they hoped the twins' names would symbolize triumph over the hardships of the global pandemic and remind them about all the difficulties of living under the lockdown, according to the PTI report. 

"We have named them Covid (the boy) and Corona (the girl) for now," Preeti Verma, the 27-year-old mother told PTI. "Indeed, the virus is dangerous and life-threatening but its outbreak made people focus on sanitation, hygiene and incalculate other good habits. Thus, we thought about these names." 

The parents did say they might rename their kids later.  

-Arshad R. Zargar


Chinese expert says asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers unlikely to spark another major outbreak

Chinese data suggest asymptomatic patients appear to have low viral transmission rates and are therefore unlikely to cause another major outbreak of the new coronavirus, a Chinese epidemiologist says.

At a Thursday news conference in Beijing, Wu Zunyou, a leading expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said a coronavirus patient showing the typical symptoms could be expected to infect about three other people, while an asymptomatic patient was likely to pass the virus on to "less than one person," according to the research carried out at a disease control center in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

He said only about 4.4% of confirmed COVID-19 cases were believed to have been contracted from asymptomatic carriers.

A worker takes the temperature of people arriving at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing, April 3, 2020, amid the COVID-19 epidemic. Getty

Wu cautioned that more research was needed to better understand the impact of such silent carriers, but he expressed confidence that in areas where epidemics have occurred but there have been no new confirmed cases for more than two weeks, there were unlikely to be new, asymptomatic infections detected unless they came from outside the area.

China has recently put more focus on detecting asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, and began reporting its data on those patients on April 1. There were about 1,000 such cases under medical observation in the country as of Thursday.

-Grace Qi


Milan forced to close crematorium to clear backlog of remains amid COVID-19 outbreak

The Italian city of Milan is closing its main crematorium due to a lack of capacity amid the overwhelming outbreak of COVID-19 in the city and surrounding region. 

It's scheduled to remain closed until the end of the month to give workers there time to catch up with a growing backlog of human remains, according to a statement from the city. 

Waiting times for cremations had already reached 20 days, the statement said, warning that any longer delays could cause "hygiene and health problems."

Virus Outbreak Italy
People leave the Lambrate cemetery and crematory in Milan, Italy, April 2, 2020, a day before it was officially closed to allow the facility to try and clear a backlog of bodies amid the coronavirus outbreak in the region. Luca Bruno/AP

Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region, an industrial powerhouse in Italy where the new coronavirus has reaped its heaviest toll in the country. Europe's first COVID-19 death was recorded in Lombardy on February 21. It has now recorded 7,960 of Italy's 13,915 official coronavirus fatalities — the highest death toll in any country in the world. 

-Chris Livesay


Philippines' COVID-19 numbers surge as leader orders lockdown violators shot "dead"

Coronavirus numbers in the Philippines continue to rise exponentially. The country's Health Department reported 385 new cases Friday, taking the total to 3,018. The death toll surged to 136 after the biggest single-day jump in fatalities of 29.

Health department officials have repeatedly said the numbers reflect an expansion of the government's testing capability, and the latest casualty count, they said, includes previously unreported deaths.  

Despite getting more laboratories up and running and making more test kits available, however, the man in charge of the Philippine government's coronavirus action plan, Secretary Carlito Galvez, said mass-testing might only be possible from April 14, just as the lockdown that has been imposed on half the country is set to be lifted.

Meanwhile, social unrest is increasing. Police arrested 21 people Wednesday who they accused of violently protesting the lack of government aid. President Rodrigo Duterte responded with a warning to "shoot dead" anyone who creates trouble.

-Barnaby Lo


Spanish woman released from hospital after marking 101st birthday under treatment for COVID-19

A family in Spain hopes the story of its centenarian matriarch's victory over the new coronavirus will be a message of hope. Encarnacion Buisan celebrated her 101st birthday in a hospital in the city of Huesca, after becoming the first patient officially admitted with COVID-19 on March 15.

Two weeks later, she's going home. 

"I want this to be hope for everyone who is ill, that they see that my mother, at 101 years old — she
was admitted at 100 years old and she celebrated her 101st here — well that they see that there is hope, and that we are very, very happy," daughter Mari Carmen told reporters at the hospital on Friday. "You have to fight because you can get out of it."

Encarnacion Buisan lays in a hospital bed in Huesca, Spain, just before being released to go home following two weeks of successful treatment for COVID-19, as her daughter Mari Carmen speaks to a Reuters reporter. Reuters

Spain has suffered the second deadliest outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, according to available data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

By Tucker Reals

China's top government medical adviser says pandemic "can be brought under control" this month

The COVID-19 pandemic could be brought under control by the end of April, the China's leading respiratory expert has said, warning that it could resurge next spring. 

"With every country taking aggressive and effective measures, I believe the pandemic can be brought under control. My estimate is around late April," Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government's senior medical adviser on investigating and managing the coronavirus outbreak, told Shenzhen Television Broadcast in an interview on Wednesday.

"No one can predict whether the coronavirus outbreak will return as flu every year, as the virus could mutate to better adapt [to infect] humans with lower mortality rate," he said, adding that he was confident the new virus' spread would diminish with higher temperatures. Other researchers have expressed hope, but less confidence on how the change of seasons will impact the disease.

This photo taken on January 20, 2020 shows Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at China's national health commission, speaking during a press conference in Beijing about the new coronavirus. Getty

Stressing the need for global efforts to rein in the pandemic, Zhong said "even the United States is now taking measures; the most original and effective measure would be isolation at home."

When asked about the situation in China, he said he believed the country's monitoring and quarantine system would prevent a major second wave of COVID-19.

-Grace Qi


Bus driver who railed against coughing passenger dies from COVID-19

 A Detroit bus driver who had expressed anger on Facebook about a coughing passenger has died from COVID-19, officials said Thursday. Jason Hargrove felt ill about four days after posting a passionate video on social media on March 21. He died Wednesday, said Glenn Tolbert, the head of the drivers union.

Hargrove posted a profanity-laced video complaining about a woman he said repeatedly coughed while on his bus. The coronavirus can spread through coughs. The woman wasn't in the video.

Hargrove said drivers are "public workers doing our job, trying to make a honest living, take care of our families."

"For you to get on the bus ... and cough several times without covering up your mouth and you know (we're) in the middle of a pandemic — that lets me know that some folks don't care," Hargrove said. "At some point in time, we've got to draw the line and say enough is enough. I feel violated."

Mayor Mike Duggan said "everybody in America" should watch Hargrove's video. 

— The Associated Press


Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine ordered released from prison four months early due to coronavirus concerns

Daniel Hernandez, also known as the rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, was ordered released from prison four months early amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. In the decision, U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer cited Hernandez's asthma and the greater risk he would face behind bars. 

"In light of the heightened medical risk presented to Mr. Hernandez by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are extraordinary and compelling reasons to reduce Mr. Hernandez's sentence in the manner requested — to wit, releasing Mr. Hernandez from custody and requiring him to serve his first four months of supervised release in home confinement, on specified conditions," Engelmayer wrote. 

Hernandez was originally sentenced to two years in prison for his ties with the street gang Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. He could have been sentenced for decades for his crimes, but he reduced his sentence by becoming a star witness for the prosecution. 

"We are very happy that the Court allowed my client, Daniel Hernandez, to serve the remainder of his sentence at home," Hernandez's lawyer Lance Lazzaro said in a statement. 


Trump says states need to "work out" competing bids for medical equipment for themselves

President Trump on Thursday said states need to work out competing bids for medical equipment among themselves, and continued to blame states for failing to stockpile medical equipment like ventilators. Governors are sounding the alarm that they are bidding against themselves, as well as the federal government, for much-needed medical equipment and supplies. 

"Well they have that, and they have to work that out," Mr. Trump said, when asked about what should be done when states are fighting over orders of medical equipment. 

Mr. Trump said states "should have been building their stockpiles," adding that the federal government is a "backup." 

"We're a backup, we're not an ordering clerk, we're a backup, and we've done an unbelievable job," Mr. Trump said. 

Read more here.

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