President Trump shied away Wednesday from issuing domestic travel restrictions or a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that, in a best-case scenario, is expected to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. Asked at a White House briefing if he was considering limiting domestic air travel, Trump said he was thinking about it, a phrase he frequently applies to subjects he wishes to avoid discussing. We're thinking about doing that, but at the same time we just, to start these airlines and to start this whole thing over again is very tough, John [Roberts, Fox News reporter].
Elon Musk's ventilator giveaway may do more harm than good. After weeks of brushing off the COVID-19 pandemic as "dumb," the billionaire Tesla founder earlier this week announced he had 1,000 "FDA-approved ventilators" and ended up donating 40 to New York City's hospital system. Except the devices Musk gave away aren't powerful enough to use in the ICU, and health officials have actually warned against using them on COVID-19 patients because they could spread the virus further.
The Chinese city of Shenzhen has banned the eating of dogs and cats as part of a wider clampdown on the wildlife trade since the emergence of the new coronavirus. Scientists suspect the coronavirus passed to humans from animals. Some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to a wildlife market in the central city of Wuhan, where bats, snakes, civets and other animals were sold.
While leaders across the country are urging Americans to stay in their homes to stop the spread of the coronavirus, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is openly mocking former Vice President Joe Biden for setting that example. During a press gaggle outside the White House, Conway called it “completely unhelpful” to have the former vice president “in his bunker in Wilmington just lobbing criticisms” at the current president.
Wuhan doctor Ai Fen, who expressed early concerns about the coronavirus to the media, has disappeared and is believed detained by Chinese authorities. Fen, the head of emergency at Wuhan Central Hospital, was given a warning after she disseminated information about the coronavirus to several other doctors. The reprimand from her boss came after Fen took a photo of a patient's positive test results and circled the words 'SARS coronavirus' in red.
The viral illness is extremely contagious, and spreads from person to person easily through close contact. The most severe coronavirus cases (20%) often include difficulty breathing, and may require hospitalization, where patients may be hooked up to ventilators, which help blow more oxygen into a person's lungs. The novel coronavirus has already killed more than 3,000 people in China, 9,000 in Spain, 12,000 in Italy, and it isn't done yet.
Early this week, the streets of the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak were bustling with shoppers as ultra-Orthodox residents, obeying their religious leaders, ignored pleas to stay home in the face of the coronavirus threat. The city has become a lightning rod for anger and frustration by some secular Israelis who allege insular Haredi communities — with disproportionately high numbers of confirmed cases — are undermining national efforts to contain the virus. The pandemic also has threatened to upend deep-seated customs in the religious world, including blind obedience to religious leaders and the belief that religious studies and traditions take precedence over the rules of a modern state.
Iran on Thursday reported 124 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising its total to 3,160, as President Rouhani warned that the country may still battle the pandemic for another year. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced the latest toll in a news conference and confirmed 3,111 new infections over the past 24 hours, bringing Iran's total to 50,468. Iran has been scrambling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak since it reported its first cases on February 19.
The head of the World Health Organization has voiced deep concern over the “rapid escalation” and global spread of the new coronavirus pandemic, as the United States nears a grim milestone of 5,000 deaths. The stark warning comes as the United States barrels towards marking 5,000 coronavirus-related deaths, with more than 4,800 already recorded across the country as of early Thursday morning. Having first emerged in China in December, four months later it is the United States that has registered by far the highest number of coronavirus cases, more than 210,000 as of Thursday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Afghanistan has begun its first face-to-face talks with the Taliban on exchanging thousands of prisoners. Details of the initial meeting in Kabul emerged on Wednesday, ahead of a planned second day of talks, as Afghans observed tight restrictions on movement because of the coronavirus pandemic. Under a US-Taliban deal, the government will free 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while the militants will release 1,000.
The U.S. topped 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time Wednesday, a daily death toll more than double that of two of America's most deadly illnesses – lung cancer and the flu. Death counts from the virus are difficult to keep up to date, but the Johns Hopkins coronavirus database – whose sources include the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European CDC and the National Health Commission of China – shows that the U.S. hit 1,040 cases Wednesday at 10:25 p.m. EDT. Since the virus' first appearance in the U.S. in late January, 5,116 people have died and more than 215,000 have been infected.
The U.S. Navy on Wednesday declined to rule out punishing the captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote a scathing letter to Navy leadership asking for stronger measures to control a coronavirus outbreak onboard. In a four-page letter, the contents of which were confirmed by U.S. officials to Reuters on Tuesday, Captain Brett Crozier described a bleak situation aboard the nuclear-powered carrier as more sailors tested positive for the virus. Sailors and their families have expressed anxiety and frustration.
Border closures and strict lockdowns prompted by the Covid-19 crisis have disrupted the migrant trail through Central America and Mexico, forcing some would-be migrants to postpone their journeys – and stopping many others in their tracks. The result has been a deterrent more effective than any wall Donald Trump could build. Activists across the region have reported a steep decline in the number of migrants coming from Central America since the restrictions were implemented.
Astronomers have revealed the best evidence yet for an elusive cosmic oddity: the intermediate black hole. These medium-sized black holes are smaller than supermassive black holes, but larger than stellar-mass black holes. Supermassive black holes, it turns out, may form from intermediate-mass black holes.
Thomas Peter/Getty The US intelligence community has determined that the Chinese government concealed the extent of its coronavirus outbreak and gave false statistics to other countries, Bloomberg News reported, citing three US officials. Officials transmitted a classified report of their findings to the White House last week. Bloomberg described its sources as saying that the report's main conclusion was that China's public reporting of coronavirus cases was "intentionally incomplete" and that its numbers were fake.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday directed companies that service government-insured mortgage loans to give beleaguered borrowers the option to defer payments for up to a year, effective immediately. The move — coming just 15 days after HUD announced a two-month moratorium on evictions and foreclosures — underscores the urgency of the deepening economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The $2 trillion economic rescue package passed by Congress last week included up to a year of payment relief on federally backed mortgages.
Oil prices rocketed Thursday, posting the largeset percent increase ever, after US President Donald Trump said Russia and Saudi Arabia planned to end their price war by slashing output. But the initial surge cooled after Russia denied it had spoken with Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest exporter of crude. After Trump tweeted that Saudi and Russia could slash production by up to 15 million barrels, Brent hit $36.29 a barrel, up almost 46 percent, and West Texas Intermediate soared around 35 percent to $27.39.
At the coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump said he didn't want to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order to fight the pandemic because there are some states that don't have a large number of positive coronavirus cases.
Even as states are struggling to process a record number of jobless claims, experts warn that even greater challenges loom: A Labor Department report found that, as recently as February, unemployment insurance trust funds in nearly half the states were underfunded. The staggering 6.6 million jobless claims filed last week call into question even the best-funded states' ability to pay unemployment benefits over a sustained period, said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making it likelier than not that more federal intervention will be needed. "We're talking about 10 million people filing for unemployment insurance in two weeks.
A Pakistani court on Thursday commuted the death sentence of the main person accused in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of an American Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, and acquitted three other co-accused in the matter. All four had been convicted in connection with Pearl's kidnapping and murder, including British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding the murder. Pearl, 38, was investigating Islamist militants in Karachi after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002.
Iran's parliament speaker has contracted the new coronavirus, the country's highest-ranking government figure yet to catch the disease, while in Israel, several top officials entered quarantine when the health minister tested positive on Thursday. Iran's parliament announced Ali Larijani's illness on its website, saying he was receiving treatment in quarantine. Iran, the regional epicenter of the virus, has been fighting one of the world's worst outbreaks.
Shenzhen has become the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. It comes after the coronavirus outbreak was linked to wildlife meat, prompting Chinese authorities to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals. Shenzhen went a step further, extending the ban to dogs and cats.
REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Picture Elon Musk was criticized on Thursday for apparently sending BiPAP machines, not the life-support ventilators most-needed to save coronavirus patients, to a New York hospital. New York City Hospitals thanked Musk and Tesla in a tweet for sending "40 ventilators" to a hospital in Queens, but the photo appears to show a BiPAP machine, which is more commonly used for sleep apnea. Some medical experts have warned that CPAP and BiPAP machines could be harmful in treating coronavirus patients by potentially spreading the disease.
The president of the Philippines said Wednesday in a televised address that people who violate coronavirus lockdown rules could be shot.