In late November 2018, just over a year before the first coronavirus case was identified in Wuhan, China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese biologist with three vials labeled “Antibodies” in his luggage. The biologist told the agents that a colleague in China had asked him to deliver the vials to a researcher at a U.S. institute. “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,” says an unclassified FBI tactical intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News.
At the first formal press briefing with his coronavirus task force on Feb. 26, President Trump said he didn't agree with the assessment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that an outbreak was “inevitable” in the United States, noting that the country had just 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths attributed to the virus. “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done,” Trump said at the time. Ever since, Trump has been moving the goalposts on the pandemic, and on Sunday, with coronavirus cases and deaths mounting, Trump said that keeping the U.S. death toll between 100,000 and 200,000 would be “a very good job.”
Two of the most debated businesses that have been deemed essential in some places are marijuana dispensaries and gun shops. Several states have allowed all pot retailers to stay open, while others are allowing sales only for medicinal use. Gun stores have been shuttered in a handful of states, and in others they have been allowed to stay open.
Associated Press Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that the US is starting to see "glimmers" that social distancing is having a dampening effect on the spread of the coronavirus. There's a "reasonably good chance" that a second wave of the virus hits later this year, he said in an interview with CNN. Fauci said that while people who survive the virus are likely to be immune, there won't be enough of them to provide "herd immunity" to prevent community spread.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) plans to call DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz to testify before congress regarding his office's audit of the FBI's FISA application process, which was released Tuesday and revealed potentially systematic abuses of the transparency measures required of the Bureau when agents interact with the FISA court. I have just been briefed on Inspector General Horowitz's audit of FISA applications involving American citizens. This random audit shows discrepancies regarding verification of the information under the Woods Procedures,” Graham said in a press release.
The vicious stabbing of an Asian-American family, including a 2-year-old girl, at a Sam's Club in Texas earlier this month has been deemed a hate crime by the feds, as authorities continue to raise alarm bells about a potential surge in racially motivated crimes amid the coronavirus outbreak. Jose L. Gomez, 19, confessed to authorities that he attempted to murder three Asian-American family members, including the toddler and a 6-year-old, on March 14 at the Midland, Texas store, according to the Midland Police Department.
While officials from Montreal to Moscow have placed populations under some form of lockdown designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, one man continues to hold firm to the notion that the rest of the world has lost its mind: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees!” Lukashenko told a Belarusian television reporter Saturday when asked whether the coronavirus could stop him from hitting the rink for a propaganda-filled hockey game. Lukashenko, one of the longest-serving leaders in the former Soviet Union, has been in power for over 25 years.
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.
State prosecutors in Venezuela have summoned opposition leader Juan Guaido for an alleged "attempted coup d'etat" and attempted assassination, Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced Tuesday. In a statement broadcast on state television, Saab said Guaido had been summoned to appear before prosecutors next Thursday following an investigation last week into the seizure of a weapons cache in neighboring Colombia that he said was to be smuggled into Venezuela. The subpoena was delivered to his head of security on Monday night, Saab said.
Syrian air defenses opened fire Tuesday night on missiles launched from Israeli warplanes on the central province of Homs, shooting down some of them, state media said. State TV said the warplanes fired the missiles while flying in Lebanese airspace. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said Israeli warplanes fired eight missiles at the Shayrat air base in Homs province.
President Trump on Sunday speculated that New York state hospitals are running short of respirator masks to protect doctors and nurses from the coronavirus because supplies are being stolen. How do you go from 10 to 20 [thousand masks per week] to 300,000? Ten [thousand] to 20,000 masks, to 300,000,” Trump said at a briefing by the coronavirus task force in the Rose Garden.
Ezra Acayan/Getty The Philippines' main island Luzon, which has a population of more than 57 million, is on lockdown. Along with people's movements being restricted, soldiers are covering residents and the streets in disinfectant, and open coffins have been left on the roads as a warning to people to stay inside. On Sunday, the Philippines reported 343 new coronavirus cases in a day — its highest one day increase yet.
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.
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.
Joe Biden said Monday he still opposes a "Medicare for All" system for health care coverage, arguing that the policy isn't the answer to the growing coronavirus emergency. "Single payer will not solve that at all," the Democratic presidential front-runner told MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian in a TV interview. The former vice president's remarks come as the issue remains a Democratic fault line in his battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the leader of the national movement for a single-payer system, who is pressing his presidential campaign even as his odds of winning the nomination shrink.
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."
In late November 2018, just over a year before the first coronavirus case was identified in Wuhan, China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese biologist with three vials labeled “Antibodies” in his luggage.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday signed into law two anti-transgender bills, making Idaho the first among states that introduced some 40 such bills this year to enact them. The Republican governor approved legislation that prohibits transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates, and another that bans transgender girls and women from competing in women's sports. The birth certificate measure ignores a 2018 federal court ruling that a past law barring transgender people from making the birth certificate changes violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
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.
As of Friday, at least 11 students at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, have reported symptoms suggesting they have the COVID-19 coronavirus, Dr. Thomas Eppes Jr., the physician in charge of student health services, told The New York Times on Sunday. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. came under fire last week when he reopened the campus to students at the end of their spring break, despite public health officials warning against it and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) banning gatherings of more than 100 people in the state. Falwell said 1,900 students returned to campus last week, and more than 800 have since left.
Taiwan is seen as one of the few places in the world which has successfully stemmed the spread of the coronavirus without resorting to draconian measures. This all exploded over the weekend when a top WHO official appeared to avoid questions about Taiwan in a TV interview that has gone viral, attracting criticism and even accusations of bias. On Saturday, Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK aired an interview with Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director-general, who spoke to journalist Yvonne Tong on a video call.
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.
Alaska: Gov. Mike Dunleavy has forestalled evictions and foreclosures of any tenant or homeowner covered by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, while the state Supreme Court has halted eviction hearings until May 1 and barred enforcement of outstanding ejectment orders against quarantined people. Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered a 120-day stay on eviction orders against anybody quarantined or experiencing hardship because of COVID-19, starting March 24, and has launched a $5 million rental assistance fund. The state's “Save Our Home AZ Program” is offering principal reduction assistance, monthly mortgage subsidy assistance, and second lien elimination assistance.
The doctor said medical staff have been fighting over rationed personal protective equipment, pediatric doctors have been asked to care for patients in their 70s and 80s, orthopedic doctors and cardiologists have been asked to help treat coronavirus patients and urologists have been working as senior intensive care unit staff. They're pulling in doctors from everywhere to deal with the patient load,'' the doctor said. "It's changed the way the whole hospital culture operates."