Janelle Burell has your morning headlines.
President Trump on Monday criticized attempts by Democrats in Congress to expand voting access for the presidential election in the fall, saying increased voter turnout would keep Republicans from getting elected. Trump said that Democrat-proposed voting reforms to the $2.2 trillion rescue package passed last week by Congress — which were largely cut from the deal — would have led to “levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Democrats have pushed to mandate that states make plans to expand early voting and mail-in balloting for the fall election, in the event that the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person voting unsafe.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese scientist carrying vials believed to contain the MERS and SARS viruses in November 2018 — just over a year before the first reported Wuhan coronavirus case, according to an FBI tactical intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News. “Inspection of the writing on the vials and the stated recipient led inspection personnel to believe the materials contained within the vials may be viable Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) materials,” the report reads. The report also lays out a pattern of Chinese interference, detailing two other cases from May 2018 and September 2019, in which different Chinese nationals tried to enter the U.S. with undeclared flu strains and suspected E. coli, respectively.
Remo Casilli/Reuters Italy is showing very early signs that it's turning a corner with the coronavirus outbreak as the numbers of new reported deaths and cases have slowed, according to multiple reports. The country's strict three-week lockdown is due to be lifted on Friday, but officials have said it's likely to be extended. It's a sign that those under lockdown "save lives" by staying home, Luca Richeldi, a government health adviser, said on Sunday.
Police in India fired tear gas to disperse a stone-pelting crowd of migrant workers defying a three-week lockdown against the coronavirus that has left hundreds of thousands of poor without jobs and hungry, authorities said on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country's 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15, declaring such self-isolation was the only hope to stop the viral pandemic. But the vast shutdown has triggered a humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of poor migrant laborers employed in big cities such as Delhi and Mumbai seeking to head to their homes in the countryside on foot after losing their jobs.
Citing a public health order to curb the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration is swiftly deporting unaccompanied migrant minors apprehended near the U.S.-Mexico border, upending a long-standing practice required under a federal law designed to protect children from violence and exploitation. Despite initially maintaining that the new measures would not apply to unaccompanied minors, Customs and Border Protection on Monday said its officials could deny entry to children who cross the southern border alone under an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. The agency said some minors could be excluded from the CDC directive if a border official "suspects trafficking or sees signs of illness."
Prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot, state media reported Monday, the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. Israel meanwhile announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will enter self-quarantine after an aide tested positive for the virus. His office says the 70-year-old leader has undergone a test and will remain in quarantine until he receives results or is cleared by the Health Ministry and his personal doctor.
China's government indicated it will start releasing data on how many people are infected with coronavirus but don't have symptoms, seemingly responding to a growing chorus of domestic and international criticism of China's data on the outbreak. Local governments should emphasize their ongoing efforts to monitor, track, isolate and treat cases of so-called “asymptomatic infection,” a meeting on Covid-19 led by Premier Li Keqiang said Monday. Doing so will reduce loopholes in epidemic control work, according to the statement which was released on the website of the State Council, the top administrative body in China.
In Israel, the coronavirus is spreading in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities up to eight times faster than anywhere else in the country. Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for 12 percent of Israel's population, but they make up 40 to 60 percent of coronavirus patients at four of the country's largest hospitals, officials told Israeli media. Health experts said the virus is moving so quickly in these communities because the ultra-Orthodox have large families, don't trust the government, and pay little to no attention to secular media.
The administration made three mistakes: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention test kit was flawed, and its response to that error was slow; the Food and Drug Administration was slow to allow hospital labs to develop their own tests; and the Department of Health and Human Services didn't work with commercial labs to start developing broadly available private sector tests until far too late. Because of this, communities missed the first indications of community spread, and response only ramped up after large numbers of cases started to appear, weeks after transmission began. Failure to identify early community spread provided a false sense of security.
US President Donald Trump has ordered General Motors to make ventilators for coronavirus patients after attacking the car giant's chief executive. He invoked the Korean War-era Defense Production Act, which allows a president to force companies to make products for national defence. Mr Trump said that "GM was wasting time" and action was needed to save American lives.
Wuhan residents are increasingly skeptical of the Chinese Communist Party's reported coronavirus death count of approximately 2,500 deaths in the city to date, with most people believing the actual number is at least 40,000. “Maybe the authorities are gradually releasing the real figures, intentionally or unintentionally, so that people will gradually come to accept the reality,” a Wuhan resident, who gave only his surname Mao, told Radio Free Asia. A city source added that, based on the aggregation of funeral and cremation numbers, authorities likely know the real number and are keeping it under wraps.
More than 3,000 people had died of the novel coronavirus in the US as of Monday night after a single-day death toll of more than 500. Previously, the highest death toll in 24 hours was 446 deaths, according to The Washington Post. The top US infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN the country could see "millions of cases" as the outbreak pans out, with 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
MEXICO CITY/BADIRAGUATO, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday defended his weekend handshake with the mother of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, calling her a "respectable old lady" and seeking to cast his critics as the principal menace to the country. In a 30-second video posted on Twitter on Sunday, Lopez Obrador could be seen approaching Maria Consuelo Loera's car, parked on a dirt road on the outskirts of Badiraguato, a mountainous municipality in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. Surrounded by onlookers, Lopez Obrador told Loera she need not get out of the car, they shook hands and after a brief exchange he told her he had "received her letter."
Authorities say a 22-year-old man fatally shot a Phoenix police commander and wounded two other officers as they tried to remove him from a home after his roommates complained he was acting erratically. Cmdr. Greg Carnicle, a 31-year-old police veteran who was set to retire in the fall, and the two other officers were shot Sunday night as they walked up stairs in the house after Jacob Emry Mcilveen refused to leave, said Phoenix police spokeswoman Sgt. Mercedes Fortune. Mcilveen remained in the home several hours after the injured officers were removed.
As hospitals across the United States face a shortage of medical supplies in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, planes are gearing up to bring in reinforcements. The first aircraft in a series of flights scheduled by the White House over the next 30 days arrived in New York from Shanghai on Sunday morning, bringing with it 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 17.6 surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 hand sanitizer units, and 36,000 thermometers, all of which will be distributed throughout the New York tri-state area. A non-government distributor had actually already bought the supplies and planned to sell them in New York, but they'd normally arrive on ships.
Taking into account estimates of the number of cases that may not have been clinically confirmed -- that is, mild or asymptomatic infections -- the data showed the hospitalisation rate of patients in their fifties was 8.2 percent. The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, estimated that the mortality rate from confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China was 1.38 percent. If unconfirmed cases were taken into account, the death rate dropped to 0.66 percent.
The U.S. military is set to put almost half of its 8,500 South Korean civilian workers on furlough, as the two sides bicker over the Trump administration's demands for a massive increase in troop funding. About 4,000 workers have been told not to report to American military bases in South Korea as of Wednesday, if the two countries can't find some way to extend a cost-sharing deal that expired Dec. 31. A breakthrough seems unlikely with President Donald Trump asking for as much as a five-fold increase and South Korea showing no signs of paying anywhere near that much.
The move is supposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, but there are fears the returnees may spread the virus further. The video - which has been viewed nearly 400,000 times after it was uploaded by a Times of India journalist - shows the group squatting on the ground while medical and fire department officials dressed in hazmat suits spray them with a "chemical solution". In the full video seen by the BBC, the officials shout instructions over a megaphone asking the workers to close their eyes and mouths.
Associated Press Officials in Wuhan, China, reported that 2,535 people in the city have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. But some residents contest the official death toll, citing an increase in the shipment of urns to the city's eight funeral homes. "The incinerators have been working round-the-clock," one resident told Radio Free Asia.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Pope Francis' vicar for the diocese of Rome, on Monday became the highest-ranking Catholic official known to test positive for coronavirus. De Donatis' office said he was tested for the virus after feeling unwell and was admitted to a Rome hospital. A pope is also the bishop of Rome but appoints someone to act as his vicar to administrate the vast diocese.
The White House coronavirus response coordinator said Monday that she is "very worried about every city in the United States" and projects 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths as a best case scenario. In an interview on "TODAY," Dr. Deborah Birx painted a grim message about the expected fatalities, echoing that they could hit more than 2 million without any measures, as coronavirus cases continue to climb throughout the country. "I think everyone understands now that you can go from five to 50 to 500 to 5,000 cases very quickly," Birx said.
USNS Mercy, one of the U.S. Navy's two seaborne floating hospitals, has deployed all over the world in support of humanitarian operations and training exercises. Mercy is not the only help sought by the city. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced via Twitter that the LA Convention Center will be converted to a federal field hospital and that the California National Guard will also be mobilized to help local hospitals.
The Russian capital, Moscow, on Monday woke up to a lockdown obliging most of its 13 million residents to stay home, and many other regions of the vast country quickly followed suit to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. A stern-looking President Vladimir Putin warned his envoys in Russia's far-flung regions that they will be personally responsible for the availability of beds, ventilators and other key equipment. “We have managed to win time and slow down an explosive spread of the disease in the previous weeks, and we need to use that time reserve to the full,” Putin said.