Live

Watch CBSN Live

Coronavirus updates from April 30, 2020

get the free app
  • link copied
CBSN
CBSN Live

This live blog has finished. Click here for the latest coronavirus updates.

Federal stay-at-home guidelines expired Thursday as states began loosening social distancing restrictions. There's still a divide in the U.S. about whether the nation is moving too quickly — or not fast enough — to reopen.

Nationwide, there are more than 1,069,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 63,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Latest major developments:

Detailed information from the CDC on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

 

China's famed Forbidden City, other Beijing parks and museums reopen

Beijing's parks and museums — including the ancient Forbidden City — reopened to the public Friday after being closed for months by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Forbidden City, past home to China's emperors, is allowing just 5,000 visitors daily, down from 80,000. And parks are permitting people to visit at 30% of the usual capacity.

Large-scale group activities remain on hold and visitors must book tickets in advance online, according to Gao Dawei, deputy director of the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau.

Beijing on Thursday downgraded its level of emergency response to the virus from first to second tier, but temperature checks and social distancing remain in force.

The change comes at the start of the five-day May 1 holiday and in advance of China's rescheduled gathering of the National People's Congress on May 22. The sessions were delayed from early March. 

The two-week annual meetings are largely ceremonial, with the legislature rubber-stamping decisions reached earlier by Communist Party leaders, but in typical years they are a colorful spectacle in the nation's capital. It's not yet clear if the 3,000 or so delegates will come to Beijing, or if sessions will be held virtually through videoconference. 

By Associated Press
 

Dueling May Day protests planned

Essential workers are planning strikes nationwide on Friday — May Day — to demand safer conditions during the coronavirus outbreak, while other groups plan rallies against tight stay-at-home orders they say are crippling the U.S. economy. 

Organizers say employees of Amazon, Whole Foods, Target and FedEx have become the unexpected frontline workers of the pandemic. Workers will walk off the job or call out sick to demand unpaid time off work, hazard pay, sick leave, protective gear and cleaning supplies. 

Meanwhile protesters will take to the streets in cities nationwide to demand states loosen shelter-in-place rules and "reopen." 

By Associated Press
 

Jobless claims spiral up and up, and millions still await first checks

It's been six weeks since recruiter Lynn Atwood of Lafayette, Indiana, was furloughed along with all her staffing company's employees. She's still waiting for her first unemployment check to arrive.

Atwood belongs to a Facebook group of more than 2,000 Hoosiers who've spent much of March and April expressing their frustrations with hold-ups in collecting unemployment benefits. She initially applied on March 20 and says she hasn't a clue when the money will come. Meanwhile, not too far from her Lafayette home, Simon Property Group plans to reopen the local mall this weekend

"They're reopening the malls here and we don't even have unemployment money to spend there," Atwood said. "It doesn't make sense."

Atwood lives in one of five states with the worst backlogs of unemployment claims, according to a Century Foundation analysis. Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota and South Carolina each had about 98% of its new unemployment applicants from March still waiting for money when the month ended, the analysis found. 

Another 3.8 million Americans officially joined Atwood in the unemployment line last week, for a total of 30 million people who've lost their jobs since March. And that 30 million unemployed total could actually be even higher, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The center-left think tank reports that up to 12 million people were unable to file a claim on their state's unemployment system between mid-March and mid-April. 

Read more here. 

By Khristopher J. Brooks
 

Queen and Adam Lambert release music video honoring "Champions" of the coronavirus fight

Queen and singer Adam Lambert have a message for workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight: "You Are the Champions." Brian May, Roger Taylor and Lambert recently gathered virtually to record a new version of the Queen classic, "We Are the Champions."

"You Are the Champions" was released early Friday on all streaming and download services, with proceeds going to the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

"I thought, this is a great way to use the legacy that we have to do some good in the world," May said.

"You know, we don't really need to make money anymore. We don't need to be any more famous. We need to use what we have in the best possible way."

Queen + Adam Lambert - 'You Are The Champions' (New Lockdown version! Recorded on mobile phones!) by Queen Official on YouTube
By Associated Press
 

Huge Volkswagen auto plant cautiously ramps back up after coronavirus shutdown

After seeing its plants across Europe and North America shuttered for almost a month and a half amid the coronavirus pandemic, Volkswagen Group is slowly resuming production at its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The world's largest automaker has been burning through about $2.1 billion every week in running costs with its factory floors silent and car dealers shut. This week, 8,000 employees came back to work in Wolfsburg after an extensive reworking of its production lines to allow for social distancing.

CBS News got a look inside the Wolfsburg facility this week to see some of the changes forced by COVID-19

The size of New York's Central Park and usually staffed by almost 70,000 employees, the plant is initially operating at just 10% to 15% of capacity, with only about 1,400 vehicles expected to roll off the assembly lines this week.

Employees are asked to take their temperatures every morning before coming to work, and several hundred hand-washing facilities have been installed throughout the site.

Read more here. 

By Anna Noryskiewicz
 

States begin easing coronavirus restrictions as nationwide debate rages

Federal stay-at-home guidelines will expire on Thursday night as 35 states begin loosening social distancing restrictions. There is still a divide in this country about whether we are moving too quickly — or not fast enough — to reopen.

Some restaurants are beginning to serve customers again. In other states, including New Jersey and California, there are increases in coronavirus infections and deaths.

For most of the day, California was bracing for the worst. After reports Governor Gavin Newsom would close all beaches statewide, he announced Thursday that the closures are targeted only in Orange County where there's the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state and the sight of crowded beaches rang alarms.

"My job as governor is to keep you safe," Newsom said. "And when our health folks tell me they can't promise that if we promote another weekend like we had, then I have to make this adjustment."

Los Angeles County reported a record increase of more than 1,500 new cases on Wednesday. The City of Los Angeles is offering free COVID-19 tests to anyone, whether they have symptoms or not.

Many states will have eased virus restriction... 03:55
By Victoria Albert
 

Hundreds of poultry workers fall ill to coronavirus as consumer demand spikes

One of the nation's largest beef processing plants is shutting down after workers stopped showing up over concerns about the coronavirus. The Tyson Foods plant in Nebraska produces enough beef in one day to feed 18 million people. It's one of two dozen plants that have closed during the pandemic.

Poultry is big business in Maryland where it's the state's top agricultural product. But in Salisbury, Dr. Christopher Snyder said it's also the driving force behind a spike of COVID-19 cases.

"They share rides together to work. They're transported in vans back and forth," Snyder said of the workforce. "They don't have their own vehicles so it's a difficult situation for them."

Read more here.

Coronavirus cases spike at poultry processing... 02:46
By Nancy Cordes
 

At a federal prison in California, more than half of the inmates currently have coronavirus

Six hundred inmates at California's Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island — more than half the total inmate population at the facility — are currently positive for the coronavirus, the Bureau of Prisons said Thursday.

Nationwide, 1,692 inmates and 349 staff members have tested positive, the BOP added. Thirty-three inmates and zero staff members have died.

By Clare Hymes
 

Gilead's coronavirus drug remdesivir: What to know about the experimental treatment

Two months ago, virtually no one had heard of remdesivir. But now the antiviral drug is on people's lips around the world — including Dr. Anthony Fauci's. The nation's top infectious disease specialist says the experimental treatment can help some seriously ill COVID-19 patients recover more quickly. And that's raising a host of questions about the medication, ranging from its clinical benefits to its potential cost. 

Remdesivir (pronounced rem-des-eh-veer) is an antiviral medication developed by the pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences, which originally developed it to treat Ebola and other deadly viruses. Preliminary data from an international COVID-19 drug trial "shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Fauci told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. 

Still, experts say remdesivir is likely to play only one part in the broader public health response to the coronavirus, while its commercial importance to Gilead remains to be determined, even as enthusiastic investors drove up its stock price nearly 10% in recent days.

"We've characterized remdesivir as an important part of the public health solution," said Jim Birchenough, a Wells Fargo analyst who covers Gilead Sciences. "There are hundreds of trials going on evaluating other therapeutics. We think this could be just the beginning."

Read more about remdesivir here.

By Aimee Picchi
 

Dozens gather at Michigan capital to protest stay-at-home order

Dozens of people, including some who were carrying firearms, protested at the state capital on Wednesday to end the state's stay-at-home order.

The protesters carried signs including "Shut down the lockdown," "No work no freedom," and "Tyrants get the rope." Some people yelled "Lock her up," referencing Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

"The virus is here. It's going to be here ... it's time to let people go back to work. That's all there is to it," one protester told CBS Detroit.

Read more at CBS Detroit.

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-PROTEST
Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber in Lansing on April 30, 2020.  JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty
By Victoria Albert
 

Amazon's quarterly sales surge to record $75 billion

Amazon recorded sales of $75.4 billion in the first three months of the year, a record for the ecommerce giant, as many consumers stepped up their online purchases during coronavirus-fueled lockdowns.

North America sales rose 29%, while AWS — the company's cloud-computing segment — increased 33%, the company said in an earnings release. At the same time, the company's cost of fulfillment jumped 34% as it hired thousands thousands of new workers and increased pay. Amazon posted an operating profit of $3.9 billion for the quarter, a nearly 10% drop from this period last year.

The "current crisis is demonstrating the adaptability and durability of Amazon's business as never before, but it's also the hardest time we've ever faced," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Bezos said the company would spend at least $4 billion on costs related to the COVID-19 outbreak in the coming three months, outlining an increase in personal protective equipment and pay bumps for workers, more intense cleaning of warehouses, and investments to develop internal coronavirus testing capabilities. 

Some Amazon workers say those measures aren't sufficient. Amazon and Whole Foods workers have called for a strike Friday, asking for better paid leave, more protective equipment and a reinstatement of workers who have been fired after speaking out.

Amazon's financial success stands in stark contrast with the many brick-and-mortar stores that have been forced to shut their doors during the pandemic.

By Irina Ivanova
 

New York City subways will shut down overnight for the first time

The city that never sleeps is being forced to get some rest starting next week, when New York City's subway system will begin shutting down overnight. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unprecedented move Thursday, which they said is necessary to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. 

Starting Wednesday, May 6, New York City subways will shut down between 1-5 a.m. to clean the public transit system on a daily basis. Ridership has decreased by 92% during the pandemic, and those hours have the fewest number of riders, the governor said. 

Currently, the MTA is cleaning its network of trains and buses every 72 hours — but Cuomo said it's not enough. The governor said disinfecting the transit system daily is necessary so essential workers can get to work safely, without fear of being infected during their commute. 

"This is going to be one of the most aggressive, creative, challenging undertakings that the MTA has done," he said during his daily press briefing.

"I would wager in the history of public transportation in this nation, you've never had a challenge of disinfecting every train every 24 hours. You have to disinfect every place that a hand could touch on the subway car. Every rail, every pole, every door, wherever a hand could touch. Or coughing, sneezing, where ever droplets could land. Right? You have to disinfect that entire interior of the car and then you have to disinfect the stations." 

Read more here.

Cuomo on cleaning up subways 01:40


By Sophie Lewis
 

U.S. meat industry seen as source of most new COVID-19 hotspots

Outbreaks of the coronavirus in meat processing plants appear to play an outsized role in a handful of states with new infection rates far higher than the rest of the country. Or, as economist Ian Shepherdson put it Thursday: "The U.S. meat industry is the source of most new COVID hotspots."

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose by more than 27,000 on Wednesday, an increase of 2.7% but down from the 3.5% hike seen on the same day a week earlier, Shepherdson, the chief economist at the U.K.-based Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted in his daily COVID-19 update.

"The latest emerging hotspot is Minnesota, where confirmed cases jumped by 11% yesterday, after a 10% increase on Tuesday. The average over the past week is a hefty 8.0%, two-and-a-half times faster than the national increase," Shepherdson wrote. "Yet again, outbreaks in meat processing facilities appear to be a big part of the story, as is the case in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and North Dakota."

Read more here.

By Kate Gibson
 

"COVID toes" and other skin symptoms may be a sign of coronavirus

There is still much to learn about the novel coronavirus, including a wide range of symptoms that appears to be expanding. Common symptoms of the respiratory illness include fever, cough, shortness of breath and chills, but some doctors have reported less obvious symptoms in some patients — including what some are calling "COVID toes" and other skin ailments.

Esther Freeman, director of Global Health & Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor a Harvard Medical School, said "COVID toe" cases look similar to pernio or chilblains, a condition of inflamed blood vessels caused by cold temperatures.

"We're seeing this inflammatory response that we would normally see when someone was exposed to the cold temperature... like someone who has been playing outside with wet socks," Freeman told CBS News. "However, in this setting, we're seeing it in warm climates and we're seeing it in patients who have been indoors and sheltering in place."

Freeman said it's not unusual for a virus to cause a rash, so most dermatologists aren't surprised that COVID-19 could cause skin symptoms. "What is surprising to me are these 'COVID toes,' these pernio-like lesions...because we haven't seen as many reports of these in other viruses."

Read more here.

By Caitlin O'Kane
 

"Never prepared": Report details poor conditions at ICE jails with coronavirus cases

At least 449 immigrants have tested positive for coronavirus while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, according to the agency's latest tally. More than 45% of all detainees tested for the virus have tested positive. At least 102 migrants deported by ICE to Guatemala have also tested positive, according to the government there.

The growing number of cases has alarmed advocates and civil rights researchers, who say problems that have long plagued ICE facilities — as well as stringent asylum policies instituted by the Trump administration — have made the world's largest immigration detention system ill-equipped to confront a public health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is now a fully-fledged humanitarian disaster in detention centers across the country," Eunice Cho, an ACLU attorney who specializes in immigration detention, told CBS News. "We have to ask at this point how we got here."

Read more here.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

Little League World Series canceled for first time

For the first time in nearly 75 years, there will be no Little League World Series. The virus pandemic has forced the cancellation of the Little League World Series.

The event was supposed to take place in August.

"This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events," said Little League President Stephen Keener. 

Read more at CBS Philly.

 

California governor closes Orange County beaches after crowded weekend

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all beaches in Orange County to close. 

"We're going to do a hard close in that part of the state, just in the Orange County area," Newsom said at his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday. 

Newsom said the state is "working with the county" to implement the closure. Orange County is the only county in the area where beaches have remained open, as counties north and south of it have shut down their public spaces. 

Tens of thousands of people flocked to some of the county's beaches last weekend as a heatwave hit the state.

Read more here.

Newport Beach — Orange County, California
People are seen gathering on the beach north of Newport Beach Pier on April 25, 2020, in Newport Beach, California. Getty


By Audrey McNamara
 

NASCAR to resume season on May 17 without fans in attendance

NASCAR announced on Thursday that its racing season will resume Sunday, May 17, with race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Officials said it will be the first of seven races over an 11-day span at two different race tracks.

The NASCAR Cup Series race will be held without fans in attendance and will be "NASCAR's first on-track action in more than two months" since the pandemic virtually brought life to a standstill.

"NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community."

NASCAR said all races will be "strictly tailored" to follow CDC guidelines. NASCAR was among the many sports that shelved their seasons due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

NASCAR Darlington Raceway
This 2017 image shows Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Sarah Crabill / Getty
By Peter Martinez
 

Russian PM says he tested positive

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says he has tested positive for the new coronavirus and has told President Vladimir Putin he will self-isolate. First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov will temporarily perform Mishustin's duties.

Mishustin, 54 was named prime minister in January. Also, the mayor of Moscow says he doesn't think the Russian capital is close to overcoming the spread of coronavirus.

Moscow accounts for half of Russia's reported 106,000 infections and on Thursday recorded nearly 3,100 new cases.

"We're not even at the midpoint, in my opinion; at best we have passed a quarter of this way," Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. Moscow quickly built one hospital to handle coronavirus cases and Sobyanin said the need for more could be filled by establishing treatment facilities at shopping malls, sports venues or the sprawling Stalin-era VDNKh exhibition complex.

By Associated Press
 

Sanitizers vs. disinfectants: Expert explains the difference

Cleaning products like sanitizers and disinfectants have become a part of people's daily lives since the coronavirus pandemic hit, but with so many products on the shelves, many are wondering what the difference is. According to Keri Lestage, Ph.D., the COO of Byoplanet, a chemical deliveries manufacturer, the main distinction is in "how well it actually kills germs off the surface."

Lestage said the confusion is understandable because the terms are often used interchangeably.

Popular TV ads for cleaning products that claim they kill 99.99% of germs usually refer to disinfectants, Lestage told CBSN anchors Vladimir Duthiers and Anne-Marie Green. Sanitizers, specifically antiseptics like hand sanitizer and any products that contain peroxides and alcohol, are generally "geared for using on your skin."

She recommended cleaning "high-touch surfaces" such as doorknobs and countertops with disinfectants.

Read more here.

Cleaning methods to kill coronavirus 07:09
By Elizabeth Elkind
 

UN chief worried about lack of coronavirus solidarity with the poor

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday he is "worried about the lack of sufficient solidarity with developing countries" in the coronavirus pandemic response. He said his concerns are in the failure to equip poorer countries to respond to the pandemic and to deal with the economic downturn affecting them.

The U.N. chief said the pandemic "risks spreading like wildfire" in the developing world.

"COVID-19 continues its path of worsening destruction," he said.

He said the U.N. has three goals with regard to the pandemic: achieving a global ceasefire, addressing the economic downturn in the "most dire" situations, and planning for post-pandemic recovery.

Turning to the issue of climate, Guterres said: "Recovery from COVID-19 can help to steer the world on a safer, healthier, more sustainable and inclusive path." He cautioned that "taxpayers' money should not be used to subsidize fossil fuels or bail out polluting, carbon-intensive industries."

By Pamela Falk
 

Frontline workers call for May Day strike over working conditions

Workers at some of America's largest companies are planning to strike on Friday, accusing their employers of covering up the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak in their workplace and failing to provide them with protective equipment.  

Labor organizers at Amazon, its groceries subsidiary Whole Foods, Instacart and Target-owned Shipt have said they plan to walk out on May 1, a holiday commonly celebrated internationally as a day to honor workers. Their demands, while diverse, include an expansion of paid sick leave, access to personal protective equipment, better pay and enforcement of social distancing in the workplace.

"It's a matter of life and death," said Christian Smalls, a former Amazon worker who organized a walkout at the company's Staten Island, New York, warehouse in March and subsequently was fired. The dismissal caught the notice of New York elected officials, who accused the company of illegal retaliation. Amazon maintains that it fired Smalls for failing to comply with its social-distancing guidelines. 

Read more here.

By Irina Ivanova
 

NYC subways to close during overnight hours

New York City subways will shut down from 1-5 a.m. starting Wednesday, May 6, to clean the public transit system on a daily basis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday. He said the missing train service will be supplemented by alternative transportation in the form of buses and for-hire vehicles that will be provided at no cost essential workers.

The MTA is currently cleaning its network of trains and buses every 72 hours. On Wednesday, Cuomo said he had requested the agency ramp-up its cleaning to every 24 hours, saying he expected it to produce a plan to accomplish the undertaking by Thursday. 

He said on Wednesday that disinfecting the transit system is necessary so essential workers can safely get to work. "We have to be able to do it as a society, we have to," he said.

Cuomo orders NYC to clean subway cars 02:14
By Audrey McNamara
 

Rural Texas hospitals and clinics on brink of closure

Texas, like other states, will begin a slow, gradual re-opening of business Friday. But health care providers in rural areas of Texas tell Sharyn Alfonsi if COVID-19 outbreaks get worse in rural areas their financially fragile care systems could become overwhelmed. Some are already on the brink of closing. 

Alfonsi's report will be broadcast on "60 Minutes," Sunday, May 3 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

Sid Miller, who as agriculture commissioner also oversees the state's rural health care system, says 60 of the 163 rural facilities he's struggling to keep open in Texas have less than 30 days of cash on hand. Hospitals already teetering on the brink of financial collapse lost precious revenue from nonessential surgeries and procedures like colonoscopies the state cancelled to prepare for the pandemic. 

"It pushed them over the edge," Miller says. "I'm afraid— this pandemic... we're going... to continue to lose health care providers in rural Texas and across the nation," he tells Alfonsi. "We had one filing for bankruptcy this week."
 
Read more here.

 

Cuomo outlines New York's massive contact tracing plan

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo detailed the state's plan to trace all coronavirus cases during his daily press briefing Thursday. He said the system aims to trace the whereabouts of everyone who tests positive for the virus, then notify anyone they came in contact with while infected. 

According to the governor, 4,681 people tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday. 

"That is an overwhelming scale to an operation that has never existed before," he said. 

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, is leading the operation. He joined Cuomo's briefing via video on Thursday.

Cuomo said they will train 30 "contact tracers" for every 100,000 people in an affected area. If that estimate is reached, New York could need anywhere from 6,400 to 17,000 tracers statewide. "It will require, under any scale, a tracing army," he said.

Employees in the state's health department, as well as other government employees who are currently working from home, will be recruited to become tracers, according to the governor.

"This problem is bigger than any one of us, but it is not bigger than all of us," he said.

cuomo-bloomberg.jpg
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg discuss contact tracing on April 30, 2020. CBS News
By Audrey McNamara
 

Dutch gamble on limited "intelligent lockdown" to control virus

The shops are open and families cycle along in the sunny spring weather in the Netherlands, which has opted for what it calls an "intelligent lockdown" to curb the coronavirus pandemic. In contrast to most other European countries where people are virtually housebound, the Dutch authorities have merely advised people to stay home and keep five feet of social distance.

While restaurants, bars, museums and its infamous sex clubs remain shut, and the famed cannabis "coffee shops" are open for takeaway only, the outdoors-loving Dutch are otherwise allowed to leave home when they want. Schools start to reopen from May 11.

The Dutch position - very similar to Sweden's - reflects a wider philosophical split in both Europe and the world on how to balance the need to curb the disease against the catastrophic economic damage caused by harsh lockdowns.

Read more here.

-CBS/AFP

 

City of Miami to help people who can't pay rent, utilities

The City of Miami is coming to the aid of some people who are taking an economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic with a new program that will help those in need with rent and utilities. The Miami City Commission is meeting Thursday and will vote on the plan, which provides relief to people who can't pay their rent or utilities because they have lost their job due to the pandemic, CBS Miami reports.

$2.2 million is being allocated for the relief, which would be a one-time payment of $1,500 for rent or utilities. 

"In times like these when we know people are devastated in terms of their economic opportunities, we're doing everything we can in the city to feed people, to provide subsidies for rent, small business loans. We're doing everything we can in the city to help people stay on their feet and stand up and hopefully at some point we can return back to normal when it's safe," said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

To qualify, individuals would have had to lose their jobs due to COVID-19. A family of four would have to earn less than $57,000 a year.

 

NYC to hand out face coverings in parks and public spaces, mayor says

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that New Yorkers will soon be able to find free face coverings in park and other public spaces, CBS New York reports.

"We want to make it easy for people to have face coverings, so we're going to start to give them out free in our city parks," de Blasio said Thursday. "

"We're going to focus on parks where we expect a lot of people to be," said the mayor. "We're going to focus on communities that have been the hardest hit by the disease."

De Blasio said essential businesses, like grocery stores and pharmacies, have the right to refuse customers who don't cover their faces.

"No one goes into a grocery store, a supermarket or a pharmacy without a face covering on. If you try to, the people of the store have every right to send you right back the other way out," he said. "We will back them up 100%. Really clear rules. Let's all follow them."

He also reiterated that N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for health care workers and first responders. "Again, face coverings mean a scarf, a bandanna, anything you can make at home. Not a fancy, medical-grade mask," he said.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
People keep their personal distance as they enjoy a spring afternoon in Brooklyn Bridge Park on April 28, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Getty
By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

U.S. intel community says coronavirus "not manmade or genetically modified"

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the coronavirus "was not manmade or genetically modified," but investigations into the origins of the outbreak are ongoing, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said Thursday.

"The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China," the ODNI said in a statement. "The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified."

The ODNI said the intelligence community "will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan."

Read more here.

By Olivia Gazis
 

Patient in remdesivir drug trial says he left hospital "improving drastically"

The antiviral drug remdesivir is showing promise against the coronavirus. Preliminary results from a clinical trial from the National Institutes of Health found patients taking the experimental drug recovered an average of four days sooner than those on a placebo.

Dr. Anthony Fauci called the results "a very important proof of concept that a drug can block this virus," and the Food and Drug Administration may now consider an emergency approval to broaden its use. But, there are also reasons to be cautious and the drug is not a cure.

One patient in the study, Drew McDonald, spoke to CBS News senior medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula about his experience. His battle against COVID-19 had just landed him in the hospital when doctors asked the 29-year-old to join a clinical trial of remdesivir. He was already getting intravenous medication for double pneumonia. 

"So I thought, you know, 'Why not? Absolutely,'" he said.

"By the time I left the hospital, I was already improving drastically," McDonald said.

McDonald was one of more than 1,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the nationwide trial. Those receiving remdesivir recovered 31% faster and were slightly less likely to die than those getting a placebo.

Read more here and watch the full story below: 

Remdesivir shows promise as COVID treatment 03:24
 

Massachusetts city closes Walmart after 23 employees get coronavirus

A Walmart in Worcester, Massachusetts, was closed down by the city Wednesday afternoon after 23 employees tested positive for the coronavirus in a three-week period, CBS Boston reports.

"A couple of cases [were in] early April, but the bulk of those 23 have happened in the last seven days," Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said in a news conference.

Initially, the store posted on Facebook saying it intended to close Thursday and reopen Friday after a deep cleaning, but the city set strict guidelines and all 400 employees at the store have to be tested for the virus before returning to work, which will likely delay the reopening.

The store will reopen once it is deep cleaned by a certified third-party company and has met the city's requirements.

In a statement, Walmart said it is "working with local officials to ensure we take all the necessary steps before reopening the store."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

USNS Comfort set to depart New York City

The USNS Comfort is scheduled to depart New York City at noon today, exactly one month after it arrived CBS New York reports.

The Navy hospital ship has been docked at Pier 90 on Manhattan's West Side since March 30. It started accepting coronavirus patients a week later. All the patients have now been discharged or transferred. 

The Comfort is scheduled to return to Norfolk, Virginia, where it will be ready for any future deployments needed during the pandemic.

USNS Comfort Releases Last Patients, Prepares To Leave New York
The USNS Comfort Navy hospital ship is docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan on April 27, 2020, as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey.  Getty
 

Doctor takes Pennsylvania's testing problem into her own hands

Pennsylvania has tested less than 2% of its 12.8 million population for COVID-19. For many in Philadelphia, testing can be hard to find.

Pediatric surgeon Dr. Ala Stanford took matters into her own hands to get much-needed tests to the residents of the local community. "Every time someone got turned away, I would get a call," Dr. Stanford told CBS News' Jericka Duncan.

Her solution? To pay for the tests herself.

Stanford said she and her team of volunteers have been able to test more than 1,600 people in three weeks. When CBS News caught up with her on Friday, they had given diagnostic tests to over 200 people in a Philadelphia church parking lot.

Read more here and watch the full story below: 

Doctor administers free virus tests to locals... 02:40
 

Mobile clinic brings free testing to Sacramento homeless shelters

A health clinic is traveling throughout California's Sacramento County to provide free coronavirus testing for its homeless population, CBS Sacramento reports. Elica Health Centers is using one of its three mobile clinics to target eight shelters with the highest populations around the county. 

Shelter guests are first pre-screened and required to put on a mask, then are taken to a tent to be tested. Results are available anytime between one and three days after they're submitted, according to the Sacramento County Department of Health Services.

"Bringing as many of these necessary units on-site to minimize the need for folks to leave to seek services elsewhere is very important," said Meghan Marshall with the Sacramento County Department of Health Services.

Aide Long, director of Elica Health mobile medicine, said the response from the homeless community has been positive, testing more than 100 people in the three first days. "They are very willing to get tested because they know how dangerous it is," she said.

The mobile clinic will continue to test at the eight shelters for two weeks.

 

Maryland governor orders universal COVID-19 testing of all nursing home residents and staff

Gov. Larry Hogan has issued an executive order that requires universal testing of residents and staff at all Maryland nursing homes. Facilities will be prioritized based on an "imminent outbreak or a current rising threat risk," according to the Hogan administration.

"Even when best practices and care is in place, this virus may still be transmitted by asymptotic staff, meaning that every patient interaction comes with some risk," Gov. Hogan said.

Under the order, it will be mandatory for facilities to fully comply with strike teams deployed by the state. All nursing homes must have a physician, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or registered nurse to evaluate all residents on a daily basis. Click here to read more from CBS Baltimore.

 

Turkey sends 2nd military plane full of coronavirus medical supplies to U.S.

A second Turkish military plane took off from an air base near Ankara on Thursday carrying more medical aid to the United States which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cargo plane is carrying a second consignment of personal protective equipment, including masks, hazmat suits and disinfectants, the Defense Ministry announced.

Turkey also dispatched a planeload of medical supplies on Tuesday that included 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 528 gallons of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N-95 masks and 500 face shields. 

Virus Outbreak Turkey US
In a handout photo provided by the Turkish Defense Ministry, Turkish soldiers load a Turkish military cargo plane with Personal Protection Equipment donated by Turkey to help the United States combat the coronavirus, at the Etimesgut airport outside Ankara, Turkey, April 30, 2020. Turkish Defence Ministry via AP

The items dispatched Thursday were sent in boxes displaying the words of 13th-century Sufi Poet Jalaluddin Rumi in Turkish and English: "After hopelessness there is so much hope and after darkness there is much brighter sun." The government didn't immediately provide a breakdown of what was in the shipment. 

By Associated Press
 

Japan PM expected to extend pandemic state of emergency, warns nation to expect "endurance race"

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to extend the ongoing coronavirus state of emergency beyond its scheduled end on May 6.

Abe said Thursday that hospitals are still overburdened and medical workers are under severe pressure to deal with the patients still on the rise.

"I believe it will be difficult to return to our normal daily lives after May 7," Abe said. "We must expect an endurance race to a certain extent."

Abe said he will consult with experts to decide how long the measures should be extended. Local officials and medical experts have called for an extension for another month nationwide.

The rise in the cases somewhat slowed in the last few days. But Japan still had more than 200 new cases overnight, bringing a national total to some 14,000 cases, with 415 deaths.

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

3.8 million more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week

Another 3.8 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment insurance benefits last week, bringing the total number of Americans who have sought jobless aid since March to nearly 30 million. All told, the layoffs amount to the fastest loss of jobs on record.

"This is a decline from the week before, but still more than five times the previous all-time high," Nick Bunker, director of the Indeed Hiring Lab, said in a statement. "A number in the low millions may be a relief compared to earlier this month, but it's objectively a horrifying statistic." Click here to read more.

Americans struggle with losing health care 04:29
By Irina Ivanova
 

Tajikistan reports its first cases of COVID-19

Tajikistan registered its first coronavirus cases on Thursday, one of the last countries in the world to confirm it had been affected by the pandemic.

Five people had tested positive for the disease in the capital Dushanbe and a further 10 in the northern region of Sughd, the state information agency Khovar said, citing the government's coronavirus response body.

The coronavirus response group "officially confirmed the existence of COVID-19 infections in the Republic of Tajikistan," Khovar reported.

The same body also said it was now compulsory for citizens to wear masks. 

Tajikistan has taken a stop-start approach to enforcing precautions against the spread of the infection. Mosques across the majority-Muslim country were shut earlier this month shortly after being allowed to reopen following an initial shutdown in March. 

Soccer Football - Major League - FC Lokomotiv-Pamir v FC Fayzkand - Dushanbe, Tajikistan
A General view of players on the bench as soccer competitions in Tajikistan continue despite the global coronavirus outbreak, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on April 5, 2020. Reuters

Tajikistan was also one of the few countries where professional football was still being played up until the weekend, when the local federation suspended the season until at least May 10.

Tajikistan, which borders China, began placing returning nationals and arriving foreigners under quarantine from the beginning of February.  

- AFP

 

European economy shrinks record 3.8% in first quarter as pandemic plunges countries into recession

The European economy shrank a record 3.8% in the first quarter as hotels, restaurants, construction sites and manufacturing were frozen by coronavirus shutdowns. It was the biggest drop in the eurozone since statistics began in 1995 and compares to a 4.8% contraction in the U.S.

Lockdowns that turned major European cities into ghost towns are plunging nations into recession. France's economy shrank an eye-popping 5.8% in the first quarter, the biggest quarterly drop since 1949, and the Spanish economy shrunk 5.2% in the same period. 

New unemployment figures Thursday covering the 19 European countries that use the shared euro currency underscored how massive job-protection programs are temporarily keeping millions of Europeans on payrolls, sparing them the record-setting flood of layoffs battering tens of millions of Americans

U.S. economic fallout continues during pandem... 02:26

But as Europe's economies splutter back to life and workers adapt to the strangeness of new barriers designed to keep them apart, governments are watching infection rates and public behavior like hawks, wary of a second wave of deaths.  

By Associated Press
 

Governor Gavin Newsom expected to order California beaches and state parks to close

Governor Gavin Newsom will order all beaches and state parks closed Friday after tens of thousands of people flocked to the seashore last weekend during a heat wave despite his stay-at-home order, according to a memo sent Wednesday evening to police chiefs around the state and obtained by CBS Los Angeles and other news outlets.

Eric Nuñez, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said it was sent to give chiefs time to plan ahead of Newsom's expected announcement on Thursday.

A message to the governor's office seeking comment wasn't immediately returned. Click here to read more.

— CBS/AP

Legal rights during coronavirus pandemic 11:31
 

South Korea reports first day without any new domestic cases since COVID-19 outbreak spread

South Korea detected its first case of the new coronavirus on January 20, in a Chinese tourist arriving from the ground-zero city of Wuhan. But it wasn't until infections started spreading fast among members of a religious sect in the city of Daegu in February that the outbreak hit South Korea full-on. During the peak of the outbreak, almost 1,000 new cases were confirmed in South Korea daily.

On Thursday, however, there was good news.

"For the first time in 72 days, we have zero new domestic cases," President Moon Jae-in wrote on his Facebook page.

South Korea still registered a handful of new cases Thursday, but they were imported from abroad, in people flying into the country from the U.S. or Europe.

As a six-day holiday kicks off in South Korea, there are fears, however, that the country's success in suppressing COVID-19 could be tested. 

Some 240 flights to Jeju, a tourist Island at the southern tip of the country, are scheduled every day during the holiday period, and those flights are already 60-70% booked.

South Koreans Mark Buddha's Birthday Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic
Buddhist believers burn incense during a birthday of Buddha and service to pray for overcoming the coronavirus pandemic at Jogyesa Temple on April 30, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. Getty

J.H. Shin, a data researcher in Seoul, told CBS News that plans to head to Jeju as, after a month working from home, she wants to "get out of the city and rest alone."  

When asked if she's worried about travelling with the coronavirus still lingering, she said she "can't ignore COVID-19," and she's bringing her masks and hand sanitizer, and while she knows she "can't wander around much," at least she'll have a sea view.

By Jen Kwon
 

Overwhelmed NYC funeral home stored bodies in unrefrigerated trucks, causing "overwhelming" stench

Police were called to a Brooklyn neighborhood Wednesday after a funeral home overwhelmed by the number of bodies from the COVID-19 pandemic resorted to storing them on ice in rented trucks, and neighbors complained about the odor, officials said. Dozens of bodies were found in two unrefrigerated U-Haul trucks at the funeral home, reports CBS New York.

One neighbor told the station the stench was "overwhelming."  Some area residents said they've been complaining about the smell for a couple of weeks.

National Guard aiding NYC medical examiner 00:33

Investigators learned the business was overflowing with so many deceased that workers had to put bodies in two large U-Haul trucks outside that had no refrigeration, CBS New York said. The Associated Press reported that they were stored on ice. Click here to read more.

— CBS/AP

 

AstraZeneca expects to have "good idea" of efficacy of experimental vaccine by July

The chief executive of British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca told BBC radio on Thursday that the company expects to know by June or July whether a coronavirus vaccine it's working on with University of Oxford researchers will be effective.

"By June, July we will already have a very good idea of the direction of travel in terms of its potential efficacy," CEO Pascal Soriot told the BBC. 

"We'll continue working with the Oxford Vaccine Unit to bring it to patients, and to regulatory authorities first of all as soon as possible," he added.

CBS News' Charlie D'Agata reported this week that, in the race for a vaccine, the Oxford team has jumped way ahead of the pack. Human testing is already underway, and scientists leading the project have said they're hopeful it can be widely available by September.

Oxford says vaccine could be ready by Septemb... 01:49

The experimental vaccine reportedly protected monkeys that were exposed to heavy quantities of COVID-19. In the human trials, 550 participants are being given the vaccine while 550 others get a placebo.

"Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation," Soriot said in a statement Thursday, announcing his company's collaboration with the Jenner Institute for vaccine research at Oxford.

By Tucker Reals
 

Fauci voices optimism about remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, is optimistic about the ability of the antiviral drug remdesivir, produced by Gilead Sciences, to shorten the time it takes seriously ill patients to recover from a COVID-19 infection. Preliminary data analysis from an international COVID-19 drug trial "shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Fauci told reporters at the White House Wednesday.

This development is "really quite important for a number of reasons," Fauci said, calling the data "highly significant." He said that the recovery time was reduced from 15 days to 11 days in the drug trial, which involved over 1,000 hospitalized patients in the U.S., Germany, Denmark, Spain, Greece and other countries, and was, he said,"the first truly high-powered, randomized, placebo-controlled" trial for a coronavirus treatment.

"Although a 31% improvement doesn't seem like a knockout 100%, it is a very important proof of concept," Fauci said, adding that "what it is proving is that a drug can block this virus."

Click here to read more.

 

Russia sees largest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases

Russia reported its highest one-day increase in coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the country's official total to 106,498.

The increase of 7,099 new confirmed infections was a 7% jump from Wednesday's tally. The country's total death toll from the virus stood at 1,073 on Thursday.

When asked whether the epidemic in Russia had started to plateau, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a Russian television station: "this is what everyone would like to see."

The Kremlin has urged Russians to adhere to lockdown regulations during upcoming public holidays at the beginning of May, when citizens traditionally rush to the countryside and get together for barbecues.

By Alexandra Odynova
 

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

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

Elon Musk
Elon Musk seen March 9, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Getty

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

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

Click here to read more.

 

Los Angeles becomes 1st major U.S. city to offer all residents a free coronavirus test

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

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

By Victoria Albert
 

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

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

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

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

By Jason Silverstein
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue