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Coronavirus updates from April 7, 2020

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President Trump harshly criticized the World Health Organization during his daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing Tuesday. He accused the organization of being "very China-centric" and "wrong about a lot of things" and said he would look into putting a "very powerful hold on" U.S. funding. 

Meanwhile, New York reported its deadliest day yet with 731 fatalities, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his daily briefing. By Tuesday, 5,489 New Yorkers had lost their lives to COVID-19. Almost 13,000 people have died across the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.  The number of confirmed U.S. cases was on the brink of crossing the 400,000 mark.

Hospitals are at breaking point even as many parts of the U.S. are still seeing an alarming rise in infections.

Worldwide, more than 82,000 people have succumbed to COVID-19. Japan is bracing for a major increase in cases. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care due to the new coronavirus.

Detailed information from the CDC on coronavirus treatment and prevention.


UN suspends peacekeeping deployments

The United Nations on Tuesday suspended new peacekeeping deployments due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The rotation and deployment of U.N. peacekeepers and international police will be suspended until June 30.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric made the announcement, saying the 13 peacekeeping missions of the U.N. "are working full-time to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19" and to ensure that incoming uniformed personnel don't have COVID-19.

Dujarric explained to CBS News, "There is no movement of troops, coming in or out," but added that, "A few, limited exceptions may be considered."

"Our priorities are to ensure the COVID-19-free status of incoming uniformed personnel, and mitigate the risk that UN peacekeepers could be a contagion vector and simultaneously maintain our operational capabilities," Dujarric said. 

Both the pandemic outbreak and expenses related to coronavirus appear to be at issue.

By Pamela Falk

John Prine, folk singer-songwriter, has died at age 73

John Prine, the singer-songwriter who explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in "Angel from Montgomery," "Sam Stone," "Hello in There" and scores of other works, died Tuesday at the age of 73, according to The Associated Press.

His family announced his death was due to complications from coronavirus. He died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where he had been hospitalized last month.

Winner of a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier this year, Prine sang his conversational lyrics in a voice roughened by a difficult life, particularly after throat cancer left him with a disfigured jaw.

He joked that he fumbled so often on the guitar that people thought he was inventing a new style. But his open-heartedness, eye for detail and sharp and surreal humor brought him the highest admiration from critics, from such peers as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and from younger stars such as Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, who even named a song after him. — The Associated Press

Read more here.


Texas Attorney General said he expects the coronavirus abortion ban will reach the Supreme Court

As coronavirus cases continue to climb in the U.S., another public health crisis is brewing. State officials in the South and Midwest have banned most abortions amid the pandemic, arguing the action is necessary to free up resources to fight the virus. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court allowed Texas to continue its near-total ban on the procedure.

In an exclusive interview with CBS News, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he's committed to defending the state's near-total ban on abortion. Two weeks ago, Paxton issued guidance that abortion services were included in the Governor's temporary suspension of "non-essential" procedures in an effort to shore up medical resources needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

"My guess is it'll go to the Supreme Court either way," Paxton told CBS News last week. "We'll either appeal it or Planned Parenthood will appeal it, so my guess is that's where it ends up."

Read the interview with Paxton here.

Texas AG eyes Supreme Court 00:36
By Kate Smith

Wisconsinites brave coronavirus fears and long lines to vote

Voters around Wisconsin traveled to the polls on Tuesday in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday's voting comes after days of legal battles over challenges to the election and some state leaders declining to take action to move the election day, as many other states have done. 

Voters in Milwaukee, and some in other parts of the state, waited in long lines to cast their ballots. Many voters and election workers donned masks for protection and tried to maintain social distancing while waiting in line. 

In the days leading up to the election, local election officials and health experts raised concerns about a lack of poll workers leading to fewer sites and more crowds. State officials encouraged people to vote absentee and the record number of absentee ballot requests has also pushed the limits for clerks trying to keep up with demand. 

By Adam Brewster

Third Colorado Avalanche player tests positive

The NHL announced Tuesday that a third player with the Colorado Avalanche has tested positive for the virus. The league did not name the player but said they were in self-isolation. The player did not have any contact with other players or staffers, the league said.

By Justin Bey

Biotech company's chief scientific officer talks timeline for possible treatments

With no proven treatment or vaccine for coronavirus, the scientific community has turned to a promising near-term solution with the use of antibody drugs. Regeneron is one of several biotech companies developing such an approach. Regeneron President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. George Yancopoulos sat down with "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell to discuss the company's efforts to combat the pandemic.

Watch the interview below:

The science behind treating coronavirus 02:37

Trump calls mail-in ballots "corrupt"

President Trump expressed disdain for mail-in ballots Tuesday night, despite the fact that many states are urging voters to vote by mail to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

"The mailed ballots are corrupt, in my opinion. And they collect them, and they get people to go in and sign them, and then they're forgeries in many occasions. It's a horrible thing,"  Mr. Trump said at the task force briefing.

The president also discussed Wisconsin, which is holding its primary election today. It's the only state that is holding in-person voting this month, despite "stay-home" guidance from Governor Tony Evers. Mr. Trump was asked about the possibility that people might get sick after standing in long lines for hours to vote in Wisconsin. He blamed Democrats, claiming that Wisconsin Democrats tried to delay the primary date for the state only after he had endorsed a judicial candidate in Tuesday's election. 

"As soon as I endorsed him, they wanted to move the election," Mr. Trump said.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, tried to move the date of the primary to June and extend absentee voting, citing concern for the safety of voters amid the pandemic. Republicans in the legislature blocked him with state and federal lawsuits. Both the U.S. and state supreme courts weighed in, denying the extension of absentee voting and stopping Evers from moving the primary date.

Residents wait in a long line to vote in a presidential primary election outside the Riverside High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Getty
By Ellen Uchimiya

Poor and minority communities hit hard in the South

The coronavirus has been exploding across the South. In a dozen Southern states, there have been nearly 65,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.

Governor John Bel Edwards reported 70 new deaths Tuesday and said they're still bracing for the worst.

There's an alarming disparity in the state: more than 70% of the coronavirus deaths are African Americans, who comprise only 32% of the population.

"It's very sad to say I'm not shocked this is happening if you have a disease that's going to kill more people with hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and you have a health disparity like this, it's not shocking," said Dr. Amy Lessen of Dillard University. Louisiana has one of the nation's highest rates of people with preexisting conditions.

Read more here.

Coronavirus explodes across poor and vulnerable populations in the South 02:20

Nearly 20% of NYPD's uniformed workforce out sick

The New York City Police Department said that 19.5% of its uniformed workforce - 7,060 people - called in sick on Tuesday. More than 2,000 members of the uniformed workforce and nearly 350 civilian employees have tested positive for the virus, according to the department.

The department also announced the death of Police Communications Technician Ava Walker, who died Tuesday from coronavirus-related complications. Walker had worked for the department for more than 20 years. 

By Victoria Albert

Trump says U.S. will have 110,000 ventilators by June

President Trump on Tuesday gave reporters a schedule outlining the federal government's effort to push 110,000 ventilators out to states and hospitals. The president was initially criticized for being slow to use the Defense Production Act to force the production of ventilators and other necessary medical equipment.

"I don't think we'll need them. Hopefully, we won't need them," the president said.

The death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. now tops 10,000, as the country heads into what public health officials say will be a difficult week for the nation.

"We see glimmers of very, very strong hope. This will be a very painful week," the president said Tuesday at the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing. "This is a monster we're fighting."

By Ellen Uchimiya

Trump slams WHO for being "China-centric," threatens to put a hold on funding

President Trump slammed the World Health Organization on Tuesday, accusing it of opposing his ban on travelers from China as the COVID-19 was spreading and of being "very China-centric."

The U.S. closed its borders to China on January 31, in response to the growing threat of the coronavirus. 

"They criticized my China travel ban and they were wrong about that," the president said. "They're wrong about a lot of things. They seem to be very China-centric. We have to look into that."

"They called it wrong. They called it wrong. They missed the call," Mr. Trump added. "They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. And they should have known. And they probably did know." 

Arguing that "we pay for a majority of the money that they get," Mr. Trump also said that he would look into putting a "very powerful hold on" or ending U.S. funding into the United Nations' agency that advises on global health responses. The White House has already proposed cutting funding to WHO by half in its 2021 budget. 

White House Coronavirus Task Force Holds Daily Briefing At The White House
President Trump speaks to reporters on April 7, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Getty
By Ellen Uchimiya

7 NYC Department of Corrections staffers have died

Seven staffers at the New York City Department of Corrections have died after contracting the virus, the department said, citing family members who notified them of the deaths.

As of Tuesday, 287 inmates and 406 staffers in the city's jail system have tested positive for the virus, the department said. The outbreak in the city's jail system is one of the largest at U.S. correction facilities.

Over the weekend, an inmate at the city's Rikers Island died after testing positive for the virus.

Read more here.

Rikers Island
This 2011 file image shows a sign outside Rikers Island in New York City. AP
By Justin Bey

241 federal inmates have tested positive for coronavirus

The Bureau of Prisons announced Tuesday that 241 federal inmates and 72 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus.

Louisiana's FCI Oakdale I has the most cases among inmates and staff with 42. North Carolina's FCI Butner has 41, and California's USC Lompoc has 35.

By Clare Hymes

ICE says it will consider freeing vulnerable immigrants

As coronavirus cases among detained immigrants continue to rise, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said it has directed officials across the country to consider releasing detainees who are at increased risk of getting severely ill or dying from the highly contagious virus.

Citing the "unprecedented nature" of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 12,000 people in the U.S., ICE said it is evaluating whether to release immigrants over the age of 60, as well as those who are pregnant. The agency said it is also reviewing guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine whether it should consider additional factors to free other categories of detainees.

As of March 30, the agency has identified 600 vulnerable immigrants in its custody and released more than 160, according to a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

Read more here.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Texas' coronavirus ban can continue, appeals court rules

Texas can continue to legally implement its near-total ban on abortion services amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday afternoon. Abortion services in Texas have been unavailable for more than two weeks, driving some patients to seek the procedure in neighboring states or terminate their pregnancy themselves.

Per guidance from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, any abortion "not medically necessary to preserve the life or health" of the patient must be halted as part of the state's directive suspending "non-essential" medical procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors who violate the order face "penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time."

In a split ruling Tuesday, two federal judges — Judge Kyle Duncan and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod — ruled the directive was constitutional, despite Supreme Court precedent that protects access to abortion. In their 47-page decision, they wrote that "the 'drastic and extraordinary' remedy of mandamus is warranted.

Read more here.

By Kate Smith

Acting Navy secretary resigns amid uproar over leaked speech

Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the Navy, submitted his resignation on Tuesday, one day after a recording of him disparaging the ousted captain of an aircraft carrier dealing with a coronavirus outbreak became public.

Defense officials confirmed to CBS News that Modly has submitted his resignation and will be replaced as acting Navy secretary by James McPherson, the acting undersecretary of the Army. — Stefan Becket and Grace Segers

Read more here.


173 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive

The U.S. Navy announced Tuesday that 173 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus. The Navy added that 61% of the crew have been tested so far and that 1,999 sailors have been moved off the ship. 

The Roosevelt was thrust into the national spotlight last week when its former Captain Brett Crozier sent a memo to more than 20 people, expressing his fears that the virus was moving quickly through the ship. In the memo, Crozier asked for most of the crew to be evacuated to prevent the virus from spreading further. 

That memo leaked, which led to Crozier being ousted by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly last week. 

Virus Outbreak Aircraft Carrier
In this April 13, 2018, file photo, the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier is anchored off Manila Bay west of Manila, Philippines. Bullit Marquez / AP
By Victoria Albert

NFDA wants to help "overwhelmed" funeral directors in New York

The National Funeral Directors Association called on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday to pass an executive order temporarily allowing out of state funeral directors and embalmers to assist with handling the deceased. The association said the order is necessary to help New York funeral directors who have been "overwhelmed" by the coronavirus pandemic.

"As it stands, members from other states are currently not authorized to assist due to their licenses not being valid in New York," the association said in a statement. "Once the executive order is passed, these members would be granted a temporary license in the state of New York to immediately assist overwhelmed local funeral directors and embalmers amid the pandemic."

As CBS News previously reported, funeral directors in the state say they're struggling to help families find peace as the body count continues to rise.

John D'Arienzo, the owner of D'Arienzo Funeral Home in Brooklyn, said last Friday he hadn't slept in 48 hours. He said he had just 90 seconds to describe his situation.

"This is catastrophic what's going on," he said. "I still have families that had deaths two days ago that I haven't had a chance to sit with. I have four funerals tomorrow. I have four funerals on Monday."

Coronavirus death toll puts huge strain on funeral homes 06:08

32 people have died at Virginia nursing facility

Virginia's Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center announced Tuesday that 32 residents have died of coronavirus. Four of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, the center said in a statement.

The center added that 84 of its residents are currently positive for the virus. Thirty-five of those residents are asymptomatic, and 49 are experiencing mild to severe symptoms. An additional 35 residents have tested negative for the disease.

So far, 25 staff members have also tested positive for the virus, although the center noted that some test results are still pending.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those who have passed, and we deeply feel the loss within our community," the center said in the statement. "We also recognize this is an incredibly stressful time for anyone with an elderly or infirm family member, particularly in a group setting; at Canterbury, the care of these loved ones is our primary focus." 

Virus Outbreak Virginia
This March 27, 2020 photo shows the Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Richmond, Virginia.  Steve Helber / AP
By Victoria Albert

Trump removes internal watchdog tasked with overseeing relief funds

President Trump has removed the acting inspector general tasked with overseeing more than $2.2 trillion in spending included in the coronavirus relief package approved by Congress, his latest move to reshuffle internal watchdogs at agencies across the government.

On Monday, the president removed Glenn Fine from his position as the acting inspector general at the Pentagon, effectively ousting him from his role as head of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PARC). The panel is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the relief bill, known as the CARES Act.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon Office of Inspector General confirmed the president on Monday designated Sean O'Donnell, the newly minted inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to serve as acting Department of Defense inspector general in addition to his EPA duties.

Read more here.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Mandate to cover nose and mouth in effect in Miami Beach

Miami Beach has mandated that people cover their nose and mouth when going into stores. People and employees are now required to wear a mask or bandana inside a grocery store, pharmacy or restaurant, CBS Miami reports.

At the Whole Foods in Miami Beach, law enforcement was turning away people who were not following the new executive order.

Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements said officers are enforcing local and statewide orders, but a criminal violation is not the first approach.

"These are what the rules are. This is what we are all being governed by, so we have to make sure we follow them," he said.

Shoppers said they feel safer now that the new orders are being applied.


China's virus pandemic epicenter Wuhan ends 76-day lockdown

The lockdown that served as a model for countries battling the coronavirus around the world has ended after 11 weeks: Chinese authorities are allowing residents of Wuhan to once again travel in and out of the sprawling city where the pandemic began.

As of just after midnight Wednesday, the city's 11 million residents are now permitted to leave without special authorization as long as a mandatory smartphone application powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.

The occasion was marked with a light show on either side of the broad Yangtze river, with skyscrapers and bridges radiating animated images of health workers aiding patients, along with one displaying the words "heroic city," a title bestowed on Wuhan by president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. Along the embankments and bridges, citizens waved flags, chanted "Wuhan, let's go!" and sang a capella renditions of China's national anthem.

The latest government figures reported Tuesday listed no new cases. 

— The Associated Press


N.J. governor says he is signing an order extending public health emergency

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday he is signing four executive orders, including one that extends a public health emergency declared in the state in early March for another 30 days.

He is also closing all state and county parks statewide due to "far too many instances" of people gathering in parks in large groups, adding, "Don't think that I take this action lightly."

"My focus, our focus, our sole mission right now is the health of every New Jersey family, and we must not just flatten this curse, we must crush this curve," he said.

New Jersey has reported the second-most confirmed COVID-19 cases of any state nationwide: more than 44,000.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

McConnell backs boost in funding for Paycheck Protection Program

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he will work with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to approve more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, a key part of the $2.2 trillion relief package signed by President Trump last month to respond to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $359 billion program was aimed at providing loans to help small businesses retain workers and pay bills. McConnell said additional funding could be passed by a voice vote or by unanimous consent as soon as Thursday.

Read more here.

By Grace Segers

Deaths and cases continue to rise in France despite weeks of lockdown

France is now in its fourth week of lockdown, but the numbers of deaths and new confirmed cases continue to rise. The number of patients moving onto life support is also rising.

Authorities are encouraging people to wear some form of mask or face covering when out in public, and some French towns are planning on making that mandatory. In Paris, the mayor promised to distribute 2 million cloth masks to residents.

Paris has decided to introduce even more stringent restrictions on movement, banning all outdoor exercise during the day, starting Wednesday. People will still be allowed out of their homes to buy food or attend medical appointments, but joggers will have to be out before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

The move is an effort to limit the number of people on the streets in the capital, as soaring temperatures and blue skies tempt more and more people outside.

By Elaine Cobbe

New UN report: 200 million could be out of work

 A new report by the United Nations' International Labour Organization (ILO) calculates that around 200 million full-time jobs may be lost in the second quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The report says full or partial lockdown measures now affect almost 2.7 billion workers - around 81 percent of the world's workforce. 

"Indeed, no matter where in the world or in which sector, the crisis is having a dramatic impact on the world's workforce," it says.

The 11-page report published Tuesday says the majority of job losses will occur in hardest-hit sectors and that 1.25 billion workers – or 38% of the global workforce - are employed in sectors that are now facing a severe decline in output and a high risk of workforce displacement, including retail trade, accommodation and food services, and manufacturing.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder called the projections "a job catastrophe."

The report says "governments are already taking unprecedented actions in response to an unprecedented crisis" and that 'most advanced economies have announced extraordinary measures to fill temporary drops in income and aggregate demand, to ensure adequate levels of social protection and to stabilize credit and financial markets."

By Pamela Falk

Nationwide coronavirus test backlog leaves tens of thousands in "constant worry"

Tens of thousands of coronavirus tests are still pending because of a nationwide backlog affecting hospitals and health labs, CBS News' Jericka Duncan reports. Quest Diagnostics tells CBS News it is still working to clear 80,000 tests it is behind on, while Michigan resident Mike Hoffer said he was left waiting for over a week before his family finally got his results.

"I think you want to know what's going on with your body and then what you might be facing, you know, further ahead," Hoffer told CBS News.

His wife, Lisa Hoffer, described the stressful eight days that preceded the diagnosis.

"You're in this constant worry of, you know, is he going to wake up in the morning? Is he going to wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air?" she said.

Read more here.


New York's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine to become a field hospital

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City is being turned into an emergency field hospital. The "mother church" of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and the seat of its bishop, will be able to hold at least 200 patients.

The dean of the cathedral, Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III, told The New York Times that nine medical tents will be set up inside the church's nave —where thousands of chairs normally seat worshipers — by the end of the week. The cathedral's crypt, which runs below the 600-foot-long nave, will act as a "staging area" for medical personnel, he said.

St. John the Divine is the largest cathedral in the world, and is one of the five largest church buildings "measured by length or internal volume," according to its website.

Read more here.

By Audrey McNamara

Cuomo: "We can't stop" coronavirus from killing vulnerable people

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, "This virus is very good at what it does. And it kills vulnerable people. That's what it does. And it does that very well. And we can't stop that."

Cuomo said he doesn't believe a single person died in the state because "we couldn't provide care." He said the question is: "Are you saving everyone you can save? And there, the answer is yes, and I take some solace in that fact."

"People we lost, we couldn't save despite our best efforts," he said. 

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 138,000 cases. New Jersey has the second-most number of cases nationwide, with more than 41,000.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

New York reports largest single-day increase in deaths yet

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that 5,489 New Yorkers have lost their lives to the coronavirus, up from 4,758 a day earlier. He said the total marks the largest single-day increase in deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic started. 

He said officials are projecting that the state is reaching a plateau in hospitalizations, but added, "It still depends on what we do, and what we do will affect those numbers."

A slide at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Tuesday press briefing shows the daily number of coronavirus deaths in the state from April 2 - April 6, 2020. CBS News
By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

WHO-backed study says world short 6 million nurses as it battles COVID-19 pandemic

Nurses are among those on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, and a new report says the world has 6 million fewer than needed.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN), Nursing Now, and the World Health Organization (WHO) released the 144-page study Tuesday, World Health Day, calling for international investment in nursing, "to strengthen nursing leadership, advance nursing practice, and educate the nursing workforce for the future," according to Nursing Now co-chair Lord Nigel Crisp.

"What do nurses hope will happen now? Quite simply, that political leaders will implement all recommendations. This is not optional or nice to do in light of COVID-19, it is a 'must do,'" said Howard Catton, a nurse and CEO of the Geneva-based International Council of Nurses.

Nurses share heartbreaking stories amid cross-country protest 04:25

The report says that in spite of an increase of about 4.7 million between 2013 and 2018, there are still fewer than 28 million nurses worldwide. That equates to a global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses, according to the study, with the biggest gaps in Africa, Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region, as well as Latin America. 

By Pamela Falk

German police bust 101-year-old nursing home resident who broke lockdown rules to see daughter

A 101-year-old woman crept out of an old people's home in a bid to visit her daughter on her birthday, German police said Tuesday.  Officers intercepted her after she escaped via an emergency exit at the home in northern Germany.

Brunswick police said they were called out after the enterprising senior lost her way in her search for her daughter's house in a suburb. She claimed that she lived with her daughter, but when officers brought her to the house, the daughter explained that her mother had moved into the old people's home only two weeks before and had been "missing her daughter terribly." 

Police said the elderly woman was able to see her daughter — from the safety of the patrol car's window — before they brought her back to the home.

Germany has been under nationwide lockdown for more than two weeks, with gatherings of more than two people in public banned and most businesses and institutions closed.



German official warns "right-wing radicals" trying to use virus crisis to spread anti-Semitism

Hatred against Jews has spiked in Germany with the spread of the new coronavirus, the government's anti-Semitism commissioner warned Tuesday. 

"There are direct links between the current spread of the coronavirus and that of anti-Semitism," Felix Klein said in Berlin at the launch of a new government research project into the issue. 

"There is a boom in conspiracy theories in times of crisis," he said, describing anti-Semitism as a virus of its own that is "contagious on a social level".

He cited claims circulating online that the pandemic is the result of a failed bioweapon test by the Israeli secret service.

"In recent weeks, right-wing radicals have increasingly tried to leverage the coronavirus crisis for their own ends," Klein said.

Anti-Semitic crimes have increased steadily in Germany in recent years. According to government figures, the country recorded 1,799 anti-Semitic offences in 2018, up nearly 20 percent on the year before. Of those, 69 were classed as violent attacks. 

— The Associated Press


Pandemic-linked Tylenol shortages popping up in some places

It's becoming a rare sight on some pharmacy shelves — Tylenol. The medication is selling out or is being rationed in many stores due to a belief that it might be a good way to fight COVID-19, reports CBS Miami.

Dr. Parham Eftekari, a nephrologist and internist, told the station Tylenol is preferred for fever over non-steroidal, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.

"It is safer to give Tylenol or acetaminophen (Tylenol's main ingredient) for fever," he said. "Try to stay away from the non-steroidal. Non-steroidals are good for arthritis, headaches, migraines sometimes, but prolonged use of it definitely has adverse outcomes for the heart, the kidney and now, recent evidence shows, possibly the immune system."

A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, acknowledged the shortage and said the company is working to overcome it.  


COVID-19 case forces Kansas City Public Schools to end free meal program for students

Kansas City Public Schools has suspended its free meal distribution program for students after a food service worker helping with the effort tested positive for COVID-19, district officials said.

The district announced the suspension Monday, the Kansas City Star reported. Officials gave no timeline for when the program might resume, but suggested families go to the Harvesters Community Food Network website to locate food pantries and mobile distribution sites.

"This was not an easy decision," district spokesman Ray Weikal said. "We understand that many of our families depend on school meals to help meet the nutritional needs of their children." 

Most school districts in the Kansas City area launched grab-and-go food pickup programs when the spread of coronavirus closed schools. The programs were meant to help ensure children in at-risk homes were getting enough to eat.  

— The Associated Press


U.K.'s COVID-19-infected leader Boris Johnson getting oxygen in ICU, but not on a ventilator

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent the night in intensive care with a COVID-19 infection. He has been getting oxygen but has not, according to his office and official residence at 10 Downing Street, been placed on a ventilator. His spokesman reportedly said Tuesday that there had been no diagnosis of pneumonia. 

Late last week, Johnson emerged briefly from his home to applaud health workers, but in a Twitter video he admitted he still had a fever and wasn't well enough even then to end his isolation. That was clearly an understatement.

About 48 hours later, Johnson was in the hospital. Early in the outbreak, Johnson fronted the U.K. campaign to promote hand washing, but also boasted about shaking hands with coronavirus patients, which suggests multiple exposures.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in ICU for coronavirus 01:54

Johnson is a regular tennis player and cyclist, but he's also 55 years old, and male, which elevates his risk of complications from the coronavirus. His pregnant partner Carrie Symons has had coronavirus symptoms, too, but is said to be recovering.

On Monday, Johnson formally handed the running of Britain's government over to his deputy, Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb.

By Elizabeth Palmer

As state of emergency takes effect in Japan, PM warns people to pay heed or pay the price

Japan now under COVID-19 state of emergency 02:17

In an unprecedented address shortly after declaring an unprecedented national state of emergency, Prime Minister Abe appealed to Japan's citizens Tuesday to help turn back the country's coronavirus epidemic by dramatically curtailing their daily behavior. 

But it is a shelter-in-place request, not an order, and can only be implemented on a voluntary basis because of Japan's constitutional civil liberties protections. 

Abe said the nation's health care system was already strained to breaking point. He warned that COVID-19 cases in Tokyo alone — now at just over 1,000 — could skyrocket to 80,000 within one month unless residents cut their social interactions by at least 70%, and ideally 80%. 

Japan To Declare A State Of Emergency To Contain Coronavirus Outbreak
People wearing face masks walk to work the day before a state of emergency is expected to be imposed, April 6, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Getty

If they do adopt drastic self-restraint, Japan's coronavirus epidemic could peak in as little as two weeks, he said, well before the state of emergency is set to end in early May. The declaration covers Tokyo and six other prefectures, comprising much of the country's most densely-populated regions and about 35 million people — and the lion's share of its coronavirus cases.

By Lucy Craft

WhatsApp limits message forwarding to spare an "overwhelmed" public COVID-19 fake news

WhatsApp, the widely used personal messaging platform owned by Facebook, says it is limiting users' ability to forward already-widely-shared messages to multiple groups of people simultaneously in a bid to ease the digital information wave inundating so many around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The move was announced in a blog post on the company's website early Tuesday morning.

"We've seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation," the statement said. "We believe it's important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation."

The new restrictions apply to messages that carry the double arrow icon within the app, indicating they were forwarded from a non-close contact. Now WhatsApp says "these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time." There's still no limit on how many different chats a user can forward any message to, it will just require more steps to send it to multiple chats. 

By Tucker Reals

As domestic violence surges, BBC journalist anchors news with hotline number written on her hand

After Britain's national domestic abuse hotline reported a 25% surge in calls and a 150% percent increase in traffic to its website since the country's coronavirus lockdown began, one BBC News journalist scrawled the number for the hotline on her hand as she anchored the national news.

Victoria Derbyshire presented the news on the BBC's main news channel with the number 0808 2000 247, which is the hotline women in the U.K. can call for help, written on the back of her hand.

Experts had warned that self-isolation measures could lead to an increase in domestic abuse as people are forced to stay in their homes. On Sunday, the U.N. secretary-general called for plans to tackle domestic abuse to be included in every national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are a survivor or victim in the U.S. and it is an emergency, dial 911. Other resources include: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or text LOVEIS to 22522. If it is an emergency in the U.K., call the police at 999, or for additional resources in Britain you can dial the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 0808 2000 247.

By Haley Ott

Pennsylvania nursing home presuming all 800 patients and staff have COVID-19

Pennsylvania nursing home presumes all staff and residents have COVID-19 01:30

A Beaver County nursing home is operating under the presumption that all of its 800 patients and staff members have COVID-19, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

The Brighton Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, northwest of the city, says they'll all be treated as such.

Over the weekend, a union representative from the nursing home reported at least 42 of the 450 patients living there had tested positive and three had died.

Read more here.


On 70th annual World Health Day, Queen Elizabeth honors health workers battling a pandemic

Tuesday is the 70th annual World Health Day. The occasion was enshrined as a day to thank health workers across the globe by the U.N.'s World Health Organization in 1950.

This year it bears special significance as a new disease has shown in dramatic fashion how desperately important nurses, doctors, paramedics and every other front-line health worker is to humanity. Scores of them are among the nearly 75,000 people already killed by the COVID-19 disease that emerged in central China late last year — and the pandemic is still growing.

In a message marking the day, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to health workers' "selfless commitment and diligence."

"In testing times, we often observe that the best of the human spirit comes to the fore; the dedication to service of countless nurses, midwives and other health workers, in these most challenging of circumstances, is an example to us all. My family and I send our enduring appreciation and good wishes," she said.

By Tucker Reals

South Korea to issue guidelines for experimental use of plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients

South Korea says it will soon announce a guideline for hospitals on experimental coronavirus treatments using donated blood from patients who survived. Kwon Jun-wook, an official from South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday the guideline will draw from the country's experience with similar treatments on patients who contracted the MERS virus during an outbreak in 2015.

Kwon said officials were examining recent recoveries of two elderly COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Seoul who had been infused with survivors' plasma — the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies — after other treatment attempts failed to improve their conditions.

He cautioned there's still no guarantee that plasma treatment will work, and that health authorities and civilian experts are continuing to debate its effectiveness. Similar trials have been carried in the U.S., at least on a very small scale. A Houston doctor told CBS News' Dr. Jon LaPook late last month that he had injected plasma into two COVD-19 patients, and hoped to expand the efforts to "as many as possible" in short order. 

Doctors hope the blood of coronavirus survivors can help save lives 01:47



Daily rate of new COVID-19 infections dropped Monday for 4th day in a row

The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows there are at least 337,590 active COVID-19 cases across the United States as of Tuesday morning. That figure does not include about 20,000 patients who have already recovered from the disease, and almost 11,000 who have died of it.

The rate of new infections continues to rise across the U.S., but some major hotspots — New York in particular — have seen a "flattening" of the rate of newly recorded cases. The daily infection rate in New York has dropped by approximately 1% over each of the last four days, with an increase of about 7% on Monday.

New York hospitals struggle as military reinforcements arrive to battle coronavirus 04:20

Only two states, Connecticut and South Dakota, saw a daily rise of 20% or higher on Monday.

In both California and Washington state, where lockdown measures were implemented as some of the first outbreaks surfaced in the U.S., the rate of new infections on Monday was below 10%

By Tucker Reals

India agrees to export hydroxychloroquine after "retaliation" threat from Trump

Hours after President Donald Trump warned of "retaliation" if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to allow the export of anti-malarial drugs, India said it would supply hydroxychloroquine to "nations that have been badly affected," without naming the United States or any other country specifically.

"In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told the press

The anti-malarial drug is being tested widely as a treatment for the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus. Mr. Trump has described it as a potential "game-changer" and touted its use even before it is approved to treat the new disease.

Trump clashes with doctors on possible coronavirus treatment 02:15

Last month India restricted exports of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines made from them to ensure sufficient stocks at home. Hours before India's decision to allow the export, Mr. Trump said "there may be retaliation" if India refused to export hydroxychloroquine.

— Arshad R. Zargar


No deaths reported in China over last 24 hours

China on Tuesday reported no new deaths from the coronarivus over the past 24 hours and just 32 new cases, all from people who returned from overseas.

Another 12 suspected cases - also all imported - were being kept under observation, along with an additional 30 asymptomatic cases, officials said. 

China said it has 1,242 confirmed cases in treatment and 1,033 asymptomatic cases under isolation and monitoring.

The country that gave rise to the global pandemic said it has recorded 3,331 deaths and 81,740 total cases. Numbers of daily new deaths have been hovering in the single digits for weeks, hitting just one on several occasions.

— The Associated Press  


First Rikers Island inmate dies after testing positive for coronavirus

An inmate housed at New York City's Rikers Island died after contracting coronavirus, his legal team announced Monday. Michael Tyson, a 53-year-old with underlying health conditions, was being held at Rikers over an alleged parole violation, according to the Legal Aid Society. 

Last week, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit against city and state officials calling for the release of inmates who are at a higher risk of serious illness from the virus. Tyson was one of 100 inmates named in the suit.

Read more here.

By Justin Bey

Miami launches antibody testing to measure spread of coronavirus

An ambitious testing program by the University of Miami began in South Florida on Monday. The goal is to clear up the chaotic picture of just how widespread the virus is, helping some governments plan their response.

The test looks for a person's antibodies and the proteins the immune system makes to attack the COVID-19 virus. It doesn't look for current infection; instead, it detects who has had it in the past.

Miami launches antibody testing to measure spread of coronavirus 01:44
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