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Coronavirus updates from April 16, 2020

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More than 145,000 people have died worldwide of COVID-19, the flu-like disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States has the highest confirmed death toll, with more than 33,000 fatalities. 

Here are the latest major stories:

Detailed information from the CDC on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

 

China's Wuhan hikes virus death toll 50%, to almost 4,000

China's coronavirus ground-zero city of Wuhan on Friday abruptly raised its death toll by 50 percent, saying many fatal cases were "mistakenly reported" or missed entirely in an admission that comes amid growing global doubts about Chinese transparency.

The city government said in a social media posting that it had added 1,290 deaths to the tally in Wuhan, where the global pandemic emerged and which has suffered the vast majority of China's fatalities from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. That brings the total number of deaths in the city to 3,869.

The change also pushes the nationwide death toll up by nearly 39 percent to 4,632, based on official national data released earlier on Friday.

China has come under increasing pressure over the coronavirus pandemic from Western powers led by the United States, which has raised doubts about Chinese transparency and is probing whether the virus actually originated in a Wuhan laboratory.

Wuhan's epidemic prevention and control headquarters cited several reasons for the missed cases, including the fact that the city's medical staff were overwhelmed in the early days as infections climbed, leading to "late reporting, omissions or mis-reporting".

It also cited insufficient testing and treatment facilities, and said some patients died at home and thus their deaths were not properly reported. 

-- Agence France Presse

 

Philippines' Duterte threatens martial law-like virus crackdown

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened a martial law-like crackdown to stop people flouting a virus lockdown in the nation's capital.

Duterte spoke a day after authorities reported an upsurge of cars on Manila's roads, which had been nearly deserted since a sweeping lockdown was imposed a month ago on about half the country's 110 million people.

"I'm just asking for a little discipline. If not, if you do not believe me, then the military and police will take over," Duterte said in a televised speech late Thursday. "The military and police will enforce social distancing at curfew... It's like martial law. You choose."

Duterte has repeatedly threatened to impose nationwide military rule over the Philippines, where the mere words evoke the worst rights abuses of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

The closest Duterte has come is the imposition of martial law over Mindanao, the nation's southern third, in response to Islamic State-inspired militants' siege of the city of Marawi. 

-- Agence France Presse

 

China suffers worst economic drop since '70s in virus battle

China suffered its worst economic contraction since since at least the 1970s in the first quarter as it fought the coronavirus, and weak consumer spending and factory activity suggest it faces a longer, harder recovery than initially expected.

The world's second-largest economy shrank 6.8% from a year ago in the three months ending in March after factories, shops and travel were closed to contain the infection, official data showed Friday.

That was stronger than some forecasts that called for a contraction of up to 16%, but still China's worst performance since before market-style economic reforms started in 1979.

By Associated Press
 

Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland asks for early prison release, citing coronavirus concerns

Billy McFarland, the creator of the failed 2017 Fyre Festival, on Tuesday requested to be released early from prison and serve the remainder of his six year sentence under "home confinement." McFarland cited the coronavirus spread in the Ohio prison where he is currently being held as the reason he should be released, according to court documents obtained Thursday by CBS News. 

McFarland's request for compassionate release was made in a letter sent from his attorneys to Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawyers argue in the letter that McFarland's "preexisting conditions" make him "particularly vulnerable to catching and suffering from severe or fatal consequences of the virus."  

McFarland told his lawyers that he was diagnosed with asthma as a teenager, and that has been informed he is "on the 'extreme' scale of the allergy spectrum, for issues related to breathing and his cardiovascular system," according to the letter. The attorneys also said he has experienced heart issues since he was in his early 20s. 

Read more here. 

By Danielle Garrand
 

Activists are rushing to pay bail for inmates amid coronavirus threat

Jason Hammond walked into Chicago's Cook County Jail last month with a stack of cashier's checks totaling $75,000. The volunteer for the Chicago Community Bond Fund was bailing out eight inmates at once, his largest group yet in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're not just fighting for a few people, we're fighting for everyone to be bonded out," Hammond told CBS News. "We were doing that before the coronavirus, but now it feels like a double emergency. The cases in prisons are about to explode."

Community bond funds are working overtime as experts warn how quickly disease can spread inside jails. The organizations typically rely on private and small donors to assist those who can't make their cash bail. Criminal justice reform advocates argue the public health crisis is highlighting wealth inequality, as an estimated 450,000 people sit behind bars because they're unable to afford the payment.

Read more here. 

By Tyler Kendall
 

Debt collectors are going after Americans' stimulus checks—and the CARES Act allows it

The U.S. Treasury is sending out 80 million stimulus checks this week, the first part of its effort to put cash into Americans' hands to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. But many of those checks will never reach the people they're intended for.

John Keffer, a 65-year-old living in Newton, Kansas, is one such person. Keffer told CBS MoneyWatch the state claims he owes more than $8,000 for back child support, which he disputes. But having found out about stimulus checks, Keffer called the state and was told he wouldn't be getting any of the $1,200—it would all go to offset his debt.

"They're going to keep all of my check," said Keffer. He draws a federal pension and Social Security benefits, and was planning to use the extra cash to move to a better apartment.

Kansas child services officials disagree with Keffer's contention. But child support is just one of many ways that people expecting a stimulus check could lose it. 

Anyone with a judgment against them for credit-card debt, medical debt or any other kind of private debt can lose their stimulus to a debt collector. The CARES Act made clear that the stimulus checks were not subject to most state and federal debt, but did not address the issue of private debt that includes everything from doctor bills to education loans.

"Congress unfortunately put in no protections in place for poor or working-class families, to prevent these checks being seized by debt collectors or banks themselves," said Rohan Pavuluri, CEO of Upsolve, a nonprofit that helps people file for bankruptcy.

Read more here. 

By Irina Ivanova
 

Century-old tuberculosis vaccine could be a weapon against coronavirus

Researchers in at least four countries are testing whether the century-old vaccine for tuberculosis can lessen the severity of some COVID-19 cases. The vaccine has been around for over a century but researchers argue it might boost the body's ability to fight off the infection before it gets worse.

In Australia, 4,000 health care workers were injected with the vaccine. Those trial results are still a few months away - but it's hoped the old vaccine could become a new weapon in the war against the disease.

"If we find that the BCG vaccine and its ability to boost the immune system does decrease the severity of COVID-19 [...] we would have something kind of off the shelf that we can use, hopefully, during this pandemic or if there was a second wave," said professor Nigel Curtis of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia. Curtis is running the trial of the vaccine.

By Debora Patta
 

Coronavirus closed down colleges – now some LGBTQ students fear an abusive "war zone" at home

Colleges across the United States have kicked residential students out of their dorms in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But for 19-year-old John, who is transgender and gay, losing student housing has left him with a difficult choice: Go back into the closet or be forced to live on the streets.

John, who did not want his name used in fear for his safety, said he is now stuck in a small, rural Kansas town where he continuously gets death threats for his gender and sexual identity. His parents, who he said are aware of the threats and continuous harassment, refuse to use the name and pronouns he goes by, and regularly threaten to kick him out if he doesn't hide his gender identity and sexual orientation. 

When they suspected him of being transgender a few years prior, he said they forced him to go to church. They do not want his gender identity to be public because it puts their jobs at risk, he said.

"They told me that they thought the devil was yanking at my chain," he said, adding that there was also a threat of conversion therapy, which is still legal in the state. 

"I don't know what unconditional love feels like. I thought that they love me, at least enough to help me through this," John told CBS News. "I didn't think [their] love was conditional, but it is. It's entirely based on whether or not I am who [they] want me to be."

Read more here. 

By Li Cohen
 

U.S. still investigating origins of COVID-19 outbreak

The U.S. intelligence community has not ruled out the possibility that the novel coronavirus was inadvertently introduced to a human carrier or released into the broader environment by a research laboratory, rather than a wet market, in Wuhan, China. Neither scenario has been deemed more or less plausible, though the notion that the virus itself was human-engineered has been effectively dismissed, officials said.    

"We are actively and vigorously tracking down every piece of information we get on this topic and we are writing frequently to update policymakers," a U.S. intelligence official said. "The [intelligence community] has not come down on any one theory."
 
"It would be normal practice for the IC to be focused on this issue and to take some time to come to a conclusion," said Michael Morell, former CIA deputy director and CBS News senior national security contributor.
 
Public health authorities in China first linked the disease to a wet market in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province, called the Huanan Seafood Wholesale market. But according to a February article published by a group of Chinese researchers in the Lancet, a top medical journal, the first known patient with the virus did not have direct exposure to the seafood market; nor did 13 of 41 patients first hospitalized with the virus.

"As far as it's understood, this was a one-time episode where an animal in nature - or even a bat in nature, because this virus is very close to viruses in bats - infected a human and that human then infected others," WHO adviser and noted epidemiologist Dr. David Heymann said in an interview with Margaret Brennan on Face The Nation last month. 

"And there was some mass event in the city of Wuhan where many, many different people were infected at the same time and sent off chains of transmission among their contacts that traveled internationally and also within China."

Read more here. 

By Olivia Gazis
 

Following California's lead, New York City will offer relief checks to undocumented residents

New York City announced on Thursday evening it will offer cash assistance to up to 20,000 undocumented residents excluded from the relief funds in the federal government's $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package to salvage the U.S. economy.

Using a $20 million donation from the Open Society Foundations, the city will be teaming up with community groups to distribute one-time checks to residents of the city who lack legal status. According to the city, individuals will receive $400, couples and single parents will get $800 and families with multiple adults and children will be eligible for a $1,000 payment.

"Immigrants are the heart of this City – they are our friends, neighbors and colleagues," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "This crisis has shown it is now more important than ever for New Yorkers to look out for each other."

Officials said the initial donation is designed to help undocumented immigrants facing financial hardship because of the pandemic, which has killed more than 11,000 people in New York City alone.

The move follows California's announcement on Wednesday that the state will become the first in the nation to dispatch direct one-time payments to undocumented immigrants who will not be getting stimulus checks from the Treasury Department.

Earlier Thursday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that an initiative similar to California's would not be feasible because of the state's ballooning deficit and instead said he wished Congress would pass more inclusive relief measures.  

"When you are broke, it would be irresponsible to do these things," Cuomo told reporters.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

CDC investigates outbreak linked to South Dakota pork factory

The largest coronavirus hotspot in the country is the Smithfield pork factory in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. CDC officials on Thursday visited the plant, where hundreds have been infected with the virus.

Workers there told CBS News they felt pressured to stay on the job — even after getting sick. In a single day, the number of infected employees jumped by 80, bringing the total to a staggering 598.

The plant is closed, but mechanic Tommy Daranikone was still asked to work as part of an essential team.

"I had a co-worker who quit because he was scared," Daranikone told CBS News.

Read more here.

By Adriana Diaz
 

Trump says U.S. will open "one careful step at a time"

President Trump announced new phased guidelines for states to begin to reopen Thursday evening. "We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time," President Trump said at the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing, adding that states will reopen their economies at different times. CBS News obtained a copy of the guidelines earlier Thursday afternoon.

But Mr. Trump expressed eagerness to take those steps, telling reporters that "we're opening up our country...we have to do that" because "America wants to be open."

And he reiterated that a national shutdown is "not a sustainable long-term solution." Once the country reopens, "I believe it will boom," he said. 

The president said that nationwide, there are nearly 850 counties, or 30% of the country, that have reported no new cases in the last seven days. He also claimed that no one in the U.S. who has needed a ventilator has been denied one.

Vice President Pence said that states would open at the "time and manner of their choosing."

By Ellen Uchimiya
 

NYPD to fly flags at half-mast to honor 27 members killed by virus

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced Thursday that he has ordered all NYPD, New York City and American flags at police departments across the city to be lowered to half-mast to honor the 27 members killed by coronavirus. Shea also directed members to wear black mourning bands across their shields. 

"This unprecedented crisis has already taken a significant toll on our NYPD family. We do not know how long it will last, so we will continue to honor our colleagues in this way for the foreseeable future," Shea said in a statement. 

More than 6,000 uniformed members of the NYPD — 16.7% — called in sick on Thursday, down from a high of 19.8%. More than 4,100 members of the NYPD have tested positive for the virus, and 1,450 members have returned to work after recovering, the department added. 

US-HEALTH-VIRUS
An NYPD car is parked outside of the Brooklyn Hospital on April 1, 2020, in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP/Getty
By Victoria Albert
 

100 adults and 46 children in U.S. immigration custody test positive for coronavirus

At least 100 adult immigrants in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody have tested positive for coronavirus as of Thursday, according to the agency.

The cases originate from more than two dozen local jails and privately operated prisons across 13 states. At least 25 direct ICE employees at detention centers have also tested positive for the virus. The agency is not tracking cases among contractors at these facilities.

In response to the pandemic, ICE has released nearly 700 immigrants at risk of becoming severely ill if infected by the virus because of their medical conditions and age. The agency has also announced a policy to consider the release of older immigrants and pregnant women.

But ICE is still detaining more than 32,000 immigrants whom the government wants to deport, and advocates have continued to call for the release of more detainees, including the thousands of asylum-seekers being held by the agency.

In addition to the cases among adult immigrants held by ICE, at least 46 unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. government custody have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency charged with caring for these minors.

ice-agent.jpg
CBS News
By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

18 federal inmates have died of coronavirus

The Bureau of Prisons said Thursday that two additional federal inmates have died of coronavirus, bringing the BOP's total to 18. One of the inmates was incarcerated at FCI Oakdale in Louisiana; the other was incarcerated at Ohio's FCI Elkton.

More than 470 federal inmates and 270 staff members have tested positive for the virus across the nation.

California's USP Lompoc leads the nation with the number of open cases among federal inmates and staff, with 91. North Carolina's FCI Butner Medium I has 76, and FCI Elkton has 73. 

FCI Oakdale
This file image shows FCI Oakdale. Bureau of Prisons
By Clare Hymes
 

Millions are still waiting for their unemployment checks

A month of unemployment has gone by and Kyle Quigley of Portland still hasn't received an unemployment check from the state of Oregon. The out-of-work restaurant server said he filed his jobless claim on March 16, waited, and waited, then got a letter in the mail two weeks ago.  

He said state officials wanted more information about Quigley's job history this year and asked him to file extra paperwork. He did so, but hasn't heard back. "So now, I'm just waiting on something [else], I guess," said Quigley, 25. "I mean, I didn't think that it'd take this long."

Quigley is one of an estimated 6.2 million Americans who've filed unemployment applications with their states in the past month yet still haven't received their first payment, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis of unemployment claims data from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Read more here.

By Khristopher J. Brooks
 

Trump gives governors guidelines on reopening the economy

During a call with the nation's governors on Thursday, President Trump provided a document outlining guidance for reopening the economy.

The 18-page document, obtained by CBS News from a person familiar with the call, details three phases for opening a state's economy, and presents suggested criteria to be met before moving between the phases that include a decline in "covid-like syndromic cases" over a 14-day period and a robust testing program for health care workers.

At the start of the meeting, President Trump told governors, "You're going to be running it, we're going to be helping you. We're going to be supplying you as needed, if you need something that you don't have," according to audio of the meeting obtained by CBS News.

"You're going to call your own shots," Trump added on the call, according to the audio. "We'll be standing right alongside of you and we're going to get our country open and get it working and our people want to get working."

Read more here. 

Guidelines by News Team on Scribd

By Ed O'Keefe
 

Houses of worship and states battle over coronavirus restrictions

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend daily life for millions of Americans, with nearly the entire population subject to mandatory stay-at-home orders, the public health crisis is pitting state and local officials against worshippers in some states.

To curtail the spread of the coronavirus, governors in nearly all 50 states have issued orders requiring residents to remain in their homes, while local officials have taken their own steps in response to the crisis. The orders have led nonessential businesses such as restaurants, retailers and movie theaters to close their doors, while houses of worship — which are exempt from stay-at-home orders in at least 12 states — have altered their practices in accordance with federal, state and local social distancing guidelines.

But even as many faith leaders move to holding virtual worship or drive-in services, the restrictions in some cities have led to clashes between churches and local officials over what is permitted.

Read more here.

 

Brazil's president fires health minister

Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro fired the country's health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, on Thursday, Mandetta said on Twitter. The pair had sparred for weeks over how to handle the country's coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

Brazil has reported more than 25,000 cases but researchers believe the real number could be 10 times higher. Despite this, Bolsonaro has continued to mock the threat of the virus.

 

California governor expands benefits for food workers

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday said that he has signed an executive order to help essential workers in the food industry, including fast-food chains and delivery services. Newsom said there will be "two weeks of supplemental sick leave for workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been exposed to isolation or quarantine orders by local health officials or state or federal officials."

"I think about the people that grow our food, that pick our food, the people that pack our food, deliver our food, cook, serve and sell our food," Newsom said. "That sector by definition is essential to our livelihoods ... it has been hard hit by strife and by challenges in terms of health and safety ... This is a serious issue and requires a serious response."

Read more here.

California aiding essential food workers 03:32
By Peter Martinez
 

Read the diary of an ER nurse in Brooklyn

A nurse who works in the emergency room at Brooklyn's Wyckoff Hospital wrote a first-person account of what it's like to be on the frontlines of the pandemic. Jillian Primiano shared her story with CBS News, detailing her experiences from recent shifts at the hospital.

My alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. but I am already awake. Since coronavirus came to New York, I've been waking up early and abruptly, thinking of my patients, my coworkers, and our governor, Andrew Cuomo. My mind is full of COVID.

Yesterday, I had a sore throat and unusual fatigue. I check my temperature (not that it matters, many of the patients I see don't have a fever). It's normal. I finish my coffee and grab a size small N95 face mask that a friend sent (the ones we're being provided feel too loose on me) and some bleach wipes (we ran out of our usual ones).

I wonder if I'll leave in tears like I did the other day when a lot of nurses were out sick with COVID symptoms.

Read more of her story here.

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JILLIAN PRIMIANO
By Justin Carissimo
 

California to give $500 in aid to undocumented immigrants

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that his state will give $500 to undocumented immigrants who were not eligible for aid from the federal government's $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Newsom said the aid will be covered by a combination of taxpayer and charitable dollars: $75 million will come from state funds while a group of charities has committed to raise another $50 million.

"Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together," Newsom said. 

California has an estimated 2 million undocumented immigrant residents. Newsom said they make up 10% of the state's workforce paid $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.

Advocates praised the state's action. "This virus doesn't discriminate - it doesn't care about race, class, or wealth. Our response to this crisis shouldn't either. California is leading at a time when Congress should be doing more for immigrants in #COVID19 relief efforts," tweeted the National Immigration Law Center, an advocacy group focused on immigration issues. 

Read more here.

By Christopher Brito
 

3M to donate $20 million to research, health care workers and disproportionately impacted populations

Minnesota-based 3M said will donate $20 million to support health care workers, COVID-19 research and communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, CBS Minnesota reported. The company announced the multi-million dollar donation on Thursday.

"It's important that 3M holds true to its core values during this pandemic by supporting our communities and improving lives," Chairman and CEO Mike Roman said in a statement. "Throughout this global crisis, we will continue to look for ways to help in the fight against COVID-19."

The company said half of the funds will go to Direct Relief's COVID-19 Fund for Community Health. The fund provides community health centers with direct financial support for health care workers. Additionally, $5 million will go toward the United Way, which is working to provide food, shelter and rent assistance to vulnerable populations around the world.

The remaining money will go toward COVID-19 research and development initiatives, with $2 million going to the University of Minnesota.

3M boxes
Boxes with the 3M logo on April 16, 2020, in Grossbeeren, Germany.  Getty
 

Colin Kaepernick kicks off virus relief fund by donating $100,000

Colin Kaepernick on Thursday started a new virus relief fund for black and brown communities by donating $100,000. African American and Latino communities have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

"We've launched the Know Your Rights Camp COVID-19 Relief Fund to directly impact the disproportionate effect coronavirus is having on our communities," Kaepernick said in his announcement.

The initiative aims to tackle several areas stricken within minority communities, including housing, employment and transportation. 

By Justin Carissimo
 

Coronavirus impact "potentially catastrophic" for millions of kids, UN report says

A report released by the United Nations says more than 1.5 billion children have been affected by countrywide school closures. Millions are facing a lack of school meals and are impacted by the economic downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic, it says.

"The socio-economic impact of the virus – and of the containment and mitigation measures governments have put in place around the world – is potentially catastrophic for millions of children," it says. "What began as a health crisis risks evolving into a broader child-rights crisis."

As he released the report, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said children's lives globally "are being totally upended," and he appealed to families and world leaders to "protect our children."

Read more here.

By Pamela Falk
 

New Jersey governor "outraged" bodies were "allowed to pile up" in makeshift morgue

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday said he was "outraged" that 17 bodies were "allowed to pile up" at an overwhelmed nursing home's morgue this week. The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, in Andover, was only equipped to handle four bodies.

"I am heartbroken by the tragic news that several individuals have lost their lives in a coronavirus outbreak at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II," Murphy tweeted. "I am outraged that the bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue at the facility."

According to police, the bodies were discovered after New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer received a request from the nursing home for 25 body bags. The high number of fatalities at the nursing home was unknown to authorities, prompting a police visit. 

Read more here.

17 Bodies Found In New Jersey Nursing Home Morgue After Anonymous Tip
Medical workers arrive at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center on April 16, 2020, in Andover, New Jersey.  Getty
By Audrey McNamara
 

Emirates airline begins testing passengers for coronavirus

The Dubai-based Emirates airlines has begun conducting coronavirus tests on all passengers before they board a flight. The company on Wednesday announced that passengers on flights to Tunisia were tested for the coronavirus before departing from Dubai International Airport. The results from the blood test, conducted by the Dubai Health Authority, were available within 10 minutes.

"We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights," said Chief Operating Officer Adel Al Redha. "This will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers traveling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates."

Read more here.

Emirates
An Emirates aircraft takes off from Dubai International Airport on April 6, 2020. Getty
By Chevaz Clarke
 

Governor Andrew Cuomo extends New York's shutdown to May 15

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he is extending the state's shutdown — in coordination with other states — to May 15. The stay-at-home order that was issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic was set to expire at the end of April.

"What happens after then? I don't know," he said at his daily coronavirus briefing. "We will see depending on what the data shows."

Cuomo said social distancing orders have "controlled the beast" in New York, but that the state is not yet in the clear. "We have to continue doing what we're doing," he said.

The governor said he understands the unprecedented burden the order has placed on people and businesses, but stressed it is the best way to protect the public's health.

"These are some of the most life-changing policies that government has ever issued," he said.

"They are being implemented by people because people are choosing to do the right thing."

He said the tentative plan is to phase-in businesses that are the most essential, and have lowest risk of spreading the virus. "There's no light switch, it's not all businesses go back tomorrow," he said.

Cuomo extends N.Y. shutdown to May 15 05:28
By Audrey McNamara
 

Single-day death toll drops in New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that 606 people died from the coronavirus on Wednesday, down from 752 on Tuesday. That marks the lowest single-day death toll in the state since April 10. 

Cuomo said the majority of Wednesday's deaths — 577 — occurred in hospitals, and 29 were reported from nursing homes. 

The governor said it is still a "tragic rate" of death, and that the rate of hospitalizations remains high. 

By Audrey McNamara
 

Putin postpones Russia's massive annual Victory Day military parade over COVID-19 fears

President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that Russia would have to postpone its annual Victory Day military parade due to a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

"May 9 is a holy day for us," Putin said on national television, referring to the landmark celebrations that take place every year, and which this year would have marked the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. Adding that "the life of each human is sacred," he said it wasn't safe to gather thousands of people in central Moscow.

A number of world leaders were invited to attend this year's celebrations, including President Trump and France's Emmanuel Macron.

The parade is an annual display of Russia's military might, with thousands of troops and shiny new military hardware paraded through Moscow's Red Square, and the government has been reluctant to postpone it. Until this week, officials had insisted that all the preparations for the bash were going ahead as planned.

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Russian military vehicles and Topol M intercontinental ballistic missile launchers drive on Red Square in Moscow, May 7, 2019, during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade. Getty

Putin did not announce a new date for the parade.

His announcement came after veterans' organizations officially asked the Kremlin to reschedule the parade, warning that participants would be in danger of contracting the killer virus.  

Russia has seen surge in COVID-19 infections in recent days, most of them in Moscow. Officials reported 3,448 new cases on Thursday, bringing the national total to 27,938, with 232 deaths. 

By Alexandra Odynova
 

U.S. warship virus cases rise to 655

The number of USS Theodore Roosevelt crewmembers who have tested positive for coronavirus continues to grow. On Thursday, the U.S. Navy said 655 sailors assigned to the ship had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Navy said as of Thursday, 94% of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier's crew have been tested for COVID-19, and 4,059 sailors have moved ashore. Six sailors who have the virus are being treated in U.S. Naval Hospital Guam and one of them is in the ICU due to shortness of breath.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that a Navy official said Wednesday that about 60% of the positives on the Roosevelt have been asymptomatic.  

USS Theodore Roosevelt
This 2020 image shows the USS Theodore Roosevelt. U.S. Navy via Getty
By Stephen Smith
 

The Paycheck Protection Program is out of money

A key piece of the government's stimulus efforts to help small businesses is now out of money, shutting out thousands of potential borrowers seeking aid during the economic plunge. The U.S. Small Business Administration said Thursday that the Paycheck Protection Program won't be accepting any additional applications.

The agency reported approving over 1.6 million Paycheck Protection Program loan applications that totaled more than $339 billion from over 4,900 lending institutions. While that money has been approved, most borrowers are still waiting for the loans to be funded, and for money to show up in their accounts.

The Paycheck Protection Program is focused on helping businesses with 500 employees or less. Loans through the program have an ultra-low 1% interest rate, and the interest on the loans doesn't have to be paid for the first six months.

Read more here.

By Stephen Gandel
 

PGA Tour plans to resume in June, with no fans

The PGA has announced plans to resume its season in June. But no fans will be in attendance. 

"At this time, the TOUR plans to resume play with the first four events closed to the general public but will continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations of local and state authorities in order to determine the most appropriate on-site access in each market," the PGA said in a statement Thursday. 

The tournament was originally scheduled for May 18-24 but is now expected to begin almost a month late. The PGA said it hopes the season will resume on June 8 for the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. 

PGA Championship - Round Three
Rory McIlroy in the second round of the 2019 PGA Championship in Farmingdale, New York. Getty
By Audrey McNamara
 

Line forms before dawn at testing site in Florida

Hundreds of cars were lined up as early as 3 a.m. Thursday as people awaited testing for coronavirus at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The line stretched for miles, CBS Miami reports

On Wednesday, the state increased the capacity at the site from 400 to 750 tests per day. The Hard Rock Stadium site is now testing people of any age who have symptoms. People who have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus can also get tested, as can health care workers and first responders.

People who planned to go to the site are urged to fill their gas tanks, bring snacks and a picture ID, and use a restroom beforehand. Those wanting to be tested should expect a long wait.

On Wednesday, 18 cars were left stranded without gas and people were not allowed to use the restrooms at the site once getting out of their vehicles. 

 

Senate and White House at impasse over small business loans as funding runs dry

White House and Senate negotiators have not yet reached an agreement to pass additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans for small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, initial funding for the program was exhausted.

The Senate is convening for a pro forma session later on Thursday, and Republicans and the White House support a "clean" bill to add funding to the $350 billion program, which was approved as part of the $2.2 trillion relief package that was signed last month by President Trump. This bill would provide an additional $250 billion for the program.

The Small Business Association, which is overseeing the program, said it has exhausted its $350 billion in funding and could not accept any new applications.

Click here to read more.

By Grace Segers
 

Police find 17 bodies at overwhelmed New Jersey nursing home

New Jersey police discovered 17 bodies inside inside an overwhelmed nursing home's morgue on Monday. The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, in Andover, New Jersey, was only equipped to handle four bodies. 

According to police, the bodies were discovered after New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer received a request from the nursing home for 25 body bags. The high number of fatalities at the nursing home was unknown to authorities, prompting a police visit.  

Upon visiting the center, police learned that the morgue was holding 17 bodies, and one was kept in a shed before being moved into the small morgue. 

nj-nursing-home.jpg
An aerial view of the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover, New Jersey. CBS

The New York Times reported that the 17 bodies were among 68 recent deaths linked to the facility, and 26 of the people who died had tested positive for COVID-19.

Nursing homes across the country have been struggling to protect their vulnerable residents from the deadly coronavirus. A CBS News investigation found that a lack of mandatory testing for residents and employees, staffing issues, and a shortage of personal protective equipment are the center's biggest problems.    

By Audrey McNamara
 

COVID-19 lockdowns appear to be fueling an increase in poaching in Africa

There's mounting fear that endangered animals could become additional casualties of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many African nations have implemented lockdowns to try and slow the disease's spread, and as the wildlife tourism industry is brought to a standstill, there are already signs in some countries that poaching is on the rise.

National stay-at-home orders, travel bans and other measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 have severely constricted Africa's $39 billion tourism industry. In addition to probable job losses, the other tragedy is that this business also helps fund wildlife conservation across the continent. 

A South African rhino rescue organization says it has responded to at least one poaching incident every day since the country went into lockdown. In neighboring Botswana — usually one of the most protected places for wildlife — there have been at least six rhinos poached since the country closed its borders.

While poaching is not unusual on the continent, the recent incidents in Botswana and South Africa were unusual because they occurred in tourism hotspots which, until now, were considered relatively safe for wildlife.  

Rhino poaching surges across Africa amid viru... 02:27

In Kenya, too, there are fears that the collapse of the tourism industry could result in massive lay-offs, which in turn would threaten the protection of wildlife.

By Debora Patta
 

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security boss joins calls for Trump to reverse course on WHO funding

The director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Dr. Tom Inglesby, one of the top infectious disease experts in the country, has warned that "now is exactly the worst time" for President Trump to temporarily withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. funding for the World Health Organization.

Mr. Trump announced Tuesday that he was "instructing my administration to halt funding of the WHO while a review is conducted to assess the WHO's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," blaming the United Nations' health agency for the extraordinary death toll from the coronavirus around the world.

Several foreign governments have sharply criticized Mr. Trump's move. Adversaries accuse him of trying to deflect scrutiny of his own government's handling of the disease, which has claimed almost 31,000 lives in the U.S. — more than any other nation — and even close allies such as Britain have made it clear they do not share his suspicion of the WHO.

Doctors and nurses unions in the U.S. have also called on Mr. Trump to reverse course and keep the vital funding flowing to the global health body. 

By Tucker Reals
 

5.2 million more jobless claims push the ranks of America's unemployed to 22 million

The ranks of jobless Americans continue to surge, with about 5.2 million filing for unemployment benefits in the second week of April. More than 22 million workers have filed for the benefit in the past five weeks as the coronavirus lockdown keeps much of the economy shuttered. 

Still, the number of people filing for unemployment in the week that ended on April 11 was a decline of 1.37 million from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday. Unemployment claims, reported weekly, are a barometer for the job market because they indicate how many workers have lost their jobs amid the pandemic. 

In just five weeks, the economy has lost far more jobs than the 18.3 million positions created during the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The layoffs, which started in service-sector jobs that were dependent on tourism and travel, are now reaching into other sectors of the economy, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. 

Former Trump adviser on reopening the economy... 06:02
By Aimee Picchi
 

Nearly all COVID-19-positive pregnant women monitored for study were asymptomatic

Yanira Soriano met her newborn son for the first time Wednesday after spending nearly two weeks in a medically induced coma. She was eight months pregnant when she showed coronavirus symptoms, tested positive and was quickly intubated, her husband, Walter Sanchez, told CBS News.

At that point, Walter said, the doctors conducted an emergency cesarean section while Yanira was on the ventilator. Hospitals across New York are preparing for similar situations.

"We really advocate for assessment on a case-by-case basis," said Dr. Dena Goffman, with the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

Goffman co-authored a new study that tested more than 200 pregnant women admitted for delivery in two New York City hospitals for coronavirus, whether they showed symptoms or not. Thirty-three women tested positive, but 29 of them showed no symptoms, according to the results published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"If we're not checking, we really do risk missing people who are carrying the virus," Goffman said.

Click here to read the full story.

Study tests 200 pregnant women for COVID-19 03:19
 

Spain's COVID-19 toll soars past 19,000, but numbers reflect continued slowdown

Spain's coronavirus death toll soared past 19,000 on Thursday after another 551 people died of COVID-19, with the numbers reflecting a slowdown after nearly five weeks on lockdown.

One of the worst-hit countries in the world, Spain has seen the increase in the number of deaths and infections come down over the past fortnight, with the overnight fatalities taking the toll to 19,130.

But there are growing concerns that the toll may be far higher, with regional authorities in Madrid and Catalonia insisting they each had thousands more victims than the official count.

Madrid, which by Thursday counted 6,877 deaths, has mooted a figure well above 10,000, while Catalonia, where some 3,855 have died, believes its toll to be nearly double that after changing counting method.

Spain also recorded 5,183 new cases of COVID-19, taking the overall figure to 182,816 -- officially second highest in the world behind the United States. 

SPAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS-ELDERLY
A woman is wheeled into an ambulance outside the Vitalia care home for the elderly in Las Rozas near Madrid on April 16, 2020 amid a national lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Getty

Health authorities say the virus has peaked in Spain since the number of daily deaths reached 950 people on April 2, but they have insisted on maintaining the March 14 lockdown that is likely to be extended into mid-May.

One of the tightest lockdowns in Europe, the restrictions allow just essential workers out, otherwise the rest of the population can only leave home to buy food and medicine, to attend a medical emergency or to briefly walk the dog. 

AFP

 

Syria's last war-torn rebel enclave braces for coronavirus: "It would be a disaster"

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have survived nine years of civil war and waves of indiscriminate bombing now face a growing threat from a new, silent, invisible enemy: the coronavirus. The roughly 3 million people who live in Syria's northwest Idlib province have very little to defend themselves against the global pandemic.

Local doctors are urging the international community to step up efforts to help prevent what is already a humanitarian disaster becoming a complete catastrophe.   

An outbreak in the region could kill 100,000 people, according to the Idlib Health Directorate.

The province is the last rebel-held area in Syria, and since December Syrian and Russian airstrikes have forced almost 1 million civilians to flee toward the Turkish border. A fragile ceasefire is currently in place. 

Thousands have been forced to flee their homes and are now livign in makeshift shelters and overcrowded camps, where self-isolation is an unattainable privilege.

As of Wednesday health workers had tested 166 people for COVID-19 in Idlib, including some tests in the crowded camps, and there have been no positive tests yet, but Dr. Ihsan Eidy, who works there, says once it arrives, the virus will spread fast among the displaced population.

"If you advise a person who got infected to isolate himself in a room and [say] don't be in touch with other family members, how could he do this if he is living in one tent with 10 members of the family? It is impossible," Eidy told CBS News.  

"The United States — the strongest country in medicine, science, in military, in all this — can't cope with it [COVID-19]," he said. "All we can do is to try to prevent this infection, to deal with it if it happens. It would be disaster."

— Pinar Sevinclidir

Coronavirus poses grave threat in Syria 03:06
 

U.S. meat giant Smithfield Foods forced to close 2 more plants over COVID-19

Smithfield Foods will temporarily close its plants in Cudahy, Wisconsin and Martin City, Missouri because of the coronavirus pandemic. The plant near Milwaukee will be closed for two weeks while the facility in Missouri is closed indefinitely. The Missouri plant receives raw material from the company's Sioux Falls, South Dakota facility, which is also closed.

Smithfield Foods has reported 518 infections in employees in Sioux Falls and another 126 in people connected to them, making it the nation's biggest COVID-19 outbreak and putting more pressure on Governor Kristi Noem,  who has thus far declined to declare a statewide lockdown.

Smithfield said a small number of employees at the Wisconsin and Missouri plants have tested positive for COVID-19. The company is based in Smithfield, Virginia and employs over 1,000 workers at the Cudahy plant.

Coronavirus puts food supply workers at risk 02:09

John Eiden, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1473, raised concerns that the company wasn't doing enough to protect workers in a letter to Smithfield's human resources department, the Journal Sentinel reported.

The March 26 letter said two employees have tested positive for coronavirus, but not all union members were informed of the second case. 

— CBS/AP

 

Nurses suspended for refusing to help COVID-19 patients without N95 masks

Ten nurses are being paid but not allowed to return to work at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, pending an investigation by human resources after they refused to treat COVID-19 patients without N95 masks, according to the National Nurses Union.

A handful of nurses, including Mike Gulick told their managers they wouldn't enter COVID-19 patient rooms without the masks, which filter out 95% of all airborne particles, including ones too tiny to be blocked by regular masks.  

Administrators at the hospital said the protective gear wasn't necessary, and didn't provide the masks, according to the Union. Click here to read more.  

-CBS/AP

NYC hospitals short on protective equipment 13:24
 

WHO says almost half of world's COVID-19 cases in Europe, as epidemic spreads in new countries there

"The storm clouds of this pandemic still hang heavily over the European Region," warned the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe on Thursday. 

Hans Kluge said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Europe was still climbing fast — nearly doubling in just 10 days to almost 1 million. That is almost half of the cases worldwide. 

"Sadly, over 84,000 people in Europe have lost their lives to the virus," Kluge said, adding that while "there have been optimistic signs in terms of declining numbers in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland in recent weeks," other European countries were seeing "sustained or increased levels," including the U.K., Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia. 

"The next few weeks will be critical for Europe," Klug warned.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London
A woman cleans a shopping cart outside a Tesco supermarket in Kensington, London, as the spread of the coronavirus continues in Great Britain, April 16, 2020. Reuters

Russia has implemented new measures this week aimed at curbing the spread of the disease, particularly in the hard-hit Moscow region, and British authorities were widely expected to extend the nationwide lockdown there — already a month old — for another three weeks. 

By Tucker Reals
 

Japanese city asks for donated rain coats as COVID-19-slammed hospitals run short on PPE

Plastic raincoats have begun pouring into Osaka City Hall in western Japan after local officials said hospitals were so short on vital personal protective equipment for medical workers that they'd resorted to wearing trash bags. 

The unusual plea for plastic ponchos and raincoats — unused, any size or color — reminded at least one resident of wartime procurement campaigns from the 1940s. But many were happy to pitch in.

A woman in her fifties, who bought 30 raincoats to donate, told the Mainichi newspaper she was moved by the plight of hospital workers. 

With close to 1,000 COVID-19 cases, Osaka is second only to Tokyo as epidemic hotspots in Japan. 

This week it announced a shortage of 100,000 protective gowns and 160,000 face shields for the coming month. 

A city hall worker, surveying more than 10,000 donated raincoats, called the bounty "a happy surprise."  

Hospitals across the U.S. have grappled with similar PPE supply shortages for weeks.

States, hospitals still scrambling for suppli... 13:45
By Lucy Craft
 

California nurse describes monthlong battle with coronavirus: "I felt I met death"

Getting along with the help of a walker, Marcial Reyes was still extremely weak after contracting the novel coronavirus. 

"I still have 100% body pains," he told CBS Los Angeles on Wednesday. But the 47-year-old nurse says his spirit has never been stronger, and his own battle with the disease isn't "going to damper my desire to help the community."

The charge nurse survived a brutal fight with COVID-19 that left him hospitalized at his own workplace for almost 30 days.

For 11 of those days, Reyes was in a medically-induced coma, attached to a ventilator. 

"Because my lungs were collapsing already," he said. That's when Reyes said he had a vivid, terrifying near-death experience.

"I felt I met death," he said. "And I saw my mother, I saw my brother, I saw my dad."

Reyes said he told his family members he needed to live for his 5-year-old son and his wife.

"Suddenly they left me," Reyes said.

Reyes said he was treated with a cocktail of Vitamin C, the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and retrovir, an antiretroviral medication commonly used to slow the progress of HIV.

"The second day they were giving that medication to me, my fever went away," he said, adding that wihle scientists can debate all day about which of the treatments turned his health around — he had already has an explanation to his recovery.

"There's always divine intervention," he said.

 

Japanese government expected to extend state of emergency nationwide as COVID-19 spreads

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to put his entire country under an official state of emergency that will last until at least May 6 in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus there, Japanese media said Thursday.

In Tokyo, along with the country's third largest city Osaka and five other prefectures, the Japanese equivalent of states, citizens have already been under a state of emergency for more than a week. Most people are staying home and the normally teaming streets have been largely empty.

New virus cases in Asia spur resurgence fears... 01:59

The expanded declaration would add Japan's 40 remaining prefectures, giving all of Japan's governors the power to request their citizens stay home and for businesses to close. Under Japan's laws citizens can't be forced to stay home under mandatory lockdowns like the ones we've seen imposed by governments in China, India, Italy and some U.S. states.

Abe was consulting an expert advisory body in Tokyo on Thursday ahead of the expected official announcement of the nationwide state of emergency expansion.

Japan's number of confirmed coronavirus infections has more than tripled since April 1 to over 8,700.

Critics have accused the government of dragging its heels in testing members of the public for the disease and in declaring a state of emergency to begin with. Economists say the country is on the brink of recession and the government may have been hoping to keep businesses open as long as possible.

By Ramy Inocencio
 

Trump threatens unprecedented move to adjourn both houses of Congress

Citing the coronavirus crisis, President Trump has threatened to adjourn both houses of Congress in a bid to entice the Senate to approve more of his nominees. No U.S. president has ever forced both houses of the U.S. Congress to stop their work in this way.d

In recent years, Congress has refused to fully adjourn during most breaks precisely to prevent the president from making recess appointments. Little or no business is conducted in such "pro-forma sessions," but they give members of both chambers of Congress the chance to go back home without going into recess. Lawmakers used the same process to thwart former President Obama's nominees.

But Mr. Trump says he's had enough, and warns he'll seek to adjourn both the House and Senate if lawmakers don't formally declare a proper recess, which would enable him to appoint some nominees without the Senate's approval. 

"Perhaps it's never been done before, nobody's even sure if it has, but we're going to do it," Mr. Trump said Wednesday.

The Constitution doesn't spell out a unilateral power for the president to adjourn Congress. It states only that he can decide on adjournment if there's a dispute over it between the House and Senate. Such a disagreement doesn't now exist, nor is it likely to arise.

Trump plans to reopen U.S. economy in May 02:22

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley tweeted that the Constitution gives a president authority in "extraordinary occasions" to convene or adjourn Congress. However, he said: "This power has never been used and should not be used now."

Turley, the only one of four legal experts to testify on behalf of Republicans in a House impeachment hearing in early December, wrote that "a pandemic should not be an invitation for pandemonium. Indeed, we need regular order now more than ever."

-CBS/AP

.  

 

Rams' Brian Allen first NFL player known to test positive

The first active NFL player known to have tested positive for COVID-19 has been revealed. 

On Wednesday night, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on "Fox Football Now" that center Brian Allen of the Los Angeles Rams tested positive for coronavirus three weeks ago. Rams coach Sean McVay confirmed the news on the program. 

The team then said in a tweet that Allen was "feeling good, he's healthy and he's on the road to recovery."

- Jordan Dajani, CBSSports.com

 

Big banks could see $71 billion in loans sour after coronavirus shock

The novel coronavirus has already caused unemployment around the U.S. to surge and the stock market to tumble. Now the pain is spreading to the banking industry, with lenders this week reporting that they expect tens of billion in loans to sour.

The nation's four largest banks - Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo - say the financial stress caused by the pandemic could cause borrowers to default on upwards of $71 billion in debt. The disclosures came as part of the biggest banks' quarterly earnings announcements. Profits plunged at all four banks, another sign of the nation's financial troubles.

The banks said the projected loan losses were as of March 31 and that their estimates factor in the impact of the government's various economic relief plans. That means the current loan-loss estimates only reflect the economic damage of the first few weeks of the coronavirus shutdown, and have probably grown in the ensuing two weeks. New York, the worst-hit state, didn't officially shutter businesses until March 22.

Read more here.

By Victoria Albert
 

16 federal inmates have died of COVID-19, BOP says

The Bureau of Prisons announced Wednesday that two more federal inmates have died of coronavirus, bringing the total to 16. One of the inmates was incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Elkton in Ohio; the other was housed at FCI Terminal Island in San Pedro, California.

CBS News has learned from a union official that another inmate died at a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, but that individual was not included in Wednesday's BOP report.

More than 450 inmates and 280 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide, the BOP said.

The government's penitentiary in Lompoc, California, has the most open COVID-19 cases among inmates and staff, with 91. North Carolina's FCI Butner Medium I has 76, and FCI Elkton has 73.

By Clare Hymes
 

United Airlines says it faced a 97% drop in demand in the first two weeks of April, compared to the same time frame in 2019

United Airlines' president and CEO said in a joint letter to employees Wednesday that the company saw a 97% drop in demand in the first two weeks of April compared to the same time frame last year. 

"Travel demand is essentially zero and shows no sign of improving in the near-term," the pair wrote. "To help you understand how few people are flying in this environment, less than 200,000 people flew with us during the first two weeks of April this year, compared to more than 6 million during the same time in 2019, a 97 percent drop. And we expect to fly fewer people during the entire month of May than we did on a single day in May 2019." 

The company also said that while it will protect U.S. employees from involuntary furloughs and pay rate cuts through the end of September 2020, there will likely be job cuts in the months that follow. 

"The challenging economic outlook means we have some tough decisions ahead as we plan for our airline, and our overall workforce, to be smaller than it is today, starting as early as October 1," the executives wrote.

Airline industry in historic freefall 02:05
By Victoria Albert
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