The Trump administration said Sunday that it was “beginning to see the glimmers of progress” in the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the United States and across the globe. “We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress,” Vice President Mike Pence said during a hastily called briefing of the White House coronavirus task force, adding, “The experts will tell me not to jump to any conclusions, and I'm not.” Dr. Deborah Birx, a leading expert in infectious disease on the task force, said that there were encouraging signs in Spain and Italy, two countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Another approach is to harvest antibodies, protective substances produced in response to an infection, from the blood plasma of people who have been infected. Dr. Jacob Glanville, one of the researchers featured in the Netflix documentary “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak,” thinks he has found a shortcut. Glanville is the president of Distributed Bio, a computational immunoengineering group that focuses on making antibody therapeutics and vaccines.
The governor of Wisconsin has issued an executive order to postpone the state's embattled elections on Tuesday for at least two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, following mounting criticism over the upcoming in-person vote. Governor Tony Evers (D-WI) delayed the presidential primary until 9 June, saying in a statement about the executive order: “Frankly, there's no good answer to this problem—I wish it were easy. I have been asking everyone to do their part to help keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe, and I had hoped that the Legislature would do its part—just as the rest of us are—to help keep people healthy and safe.
Italian officials said Sunday they may soon have to consider easing restrictions after seeing the daily coronavirus death toll plunge to its lowest in over two weeks. The 525 official COVID-19 fatalities reported by the civil protection service were the Mediterranean country's lowest since 427 deaths were registered on March 19. "The curve has started its descent and the number of deaths has started to drop," Italy's ISS national health institute director Silvio Brusaferro told reporters.
The Trump administration is seizing the opportunity of the coronavirus pandemic to push a cause that has long been an irritant in U.S. relations with China: Taiwan. The virus has added yet another dimension to U.S.-China tensions that were already wracked by a trade war and heated discussions over intellectual property, human rights and Chinese policies in Hong Kong and the South China Sea. And, while U.S.-China differences over Taiwan have waxed and waned for decades, they have persisted and are reaching new heights as the world grapples with the exponential spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has approved the withdrawal of one billion euros from the country's sovereign wealth fund to help fight the coronavirus epidemic, President Hassan Rouhani's official website said on Monday. Iran is the Middle Eastern country worst-affected so far by the coronavirus, with 3,739 deaths and 60,500 people infected as of Monday, official data showed. Shut out of international capital markets and facing a further hit to its finances with the collapse in global oil prices coming on top of U.S. sanctions, Iran is struggling to shield its economy from the coronavirus pandemic.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images) Sweden took the unusual step of not implementing a lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The country urged people to practice social distancing, but left places like shops and restaurants open, breaking the model followed by countries across Europe and around the world. Sweden has 477 deaths from the virus so far, but Stefan Löfven, the prime minister, is now warning that thousands will die from COVID-19 and the parliament may bring in more restrictive measures.
At the start of what is expected to be the deadliest week of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the White House tried to offer some hope that measures to contain the spread were working. The virus killed 1,264 over 24 hours in the U.S. as of 2:05 am ET on Tuesday, according to NBC New's tracker. Meanwhile in China, where the pandemic broke out, not a single new death was reported, and the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, where the new virus was first identified, prepared for lockdown measures to be lifted.
Acting navy secretary Thomas Modly on Monday flew to Guam where he gave a speech to sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, criticizing the former captain of the ship for his handling of a coronavirus outbreak onboard. Modly termed a letter sent by Captain Brett Crozier to superiors pleading for help with the ship's coronavirus outbreak, which was subsequently leaked to the press, a “betrayal of trust.” The navy secretary's speech was obtained by the Daily Caller.
As the Trump administration scrambles to get a hand on the spread of the new coronavirus across the U.S., it is keeping one eye on developments in China, the country where the pandemic originated. According to two officials with knowledge of those efforts and cables reviewed by The Daily Beast, the administration is monitoring China's second wave of coronavirus cases, gathering data on the ground on the number of individuals newly infected and the reasons for the recent uptick. Over the past few days Chinese officials have noted an emergence of new cases, particularly in asymptomatic individuals.
For 10 patients severely ill with the new coronavirus, a single dose of antibodies drawn from the blood of people who had recovered from COVID-19 appeared to save lives, shorten the duration of symptoms, improve oxygen levels and speed up viral clearance, newly published research reports. The preliminary findings emerged from a “pilot study” published Monday in the journal PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. Conducted at three hospitals in China, it underscored the promise of harvesting immune antibodies from recovered people (a therapy also known as convalescent plasma) and administering them to people battling a severe case of COVID-19.
The declaration would cover seven regions including Tokyo and Osaka and last for about a month. Due to civil liberties enshrined in Japan's postwar constitution, the government cannot send police to clear people off the streets, as has happened in places including France, Italy and the U.K. The country's strongest enforcement measure could be public obedience -- and it remains to be seen whether that will be enough. The prevalence of the virus varies widely among the country's 47 regions and prefectures, with Tokyo seeing a rapid surge and three regions yet to confirm any cases as of April 5.
China demanded an explanation from Brazil Monday after the far-right government's education minister linked the coronavirus pandemic to the Asian country's "plan for world domination," in a tweet imitating a Chinese accent. In the latest incident to strain ties between Brasilia and Beijing, Education Minister Abraham Weintraub insinuated China was behind the global health crisis. "Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis?" he wrote on Twitter Saturday.
Mohammed al-Dulfi's 67-year-old father died on March 21 after a brief struggle against the new coronavirus, but it would take nine days for his body to find a final resting place in the Shiite holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq. On two occasions, the family rejected remote burial plots proposed by the government outside Baghdad for him and seven other coronavirus victims, al-Dulfi said. A fight broke out between the families and the Health Ministry's team.
It has taken between three and four weeks since the countries ordered lockdowns for daily new infections and deaths to begin to decline. On Sunday, each country had recorded at least a two-day consecutive decline in deaths from the virus, and new recorded cases also appear to be dropping, according to figures on Worldometer. The numbers from China, however, suggest it may take more like a month for the impact on coronavirus deaths to really be felt.
When the White House projected on March 31 that, even with social distancing measures, 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die of COVID-19, the numbers were not necessarily shocking to those who had been paying attention. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had already said he projected between 100,000 to 200,000 U.S. deaths, and estimates by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington are not much different, projecting 81,766 American deaths by Aug. 4, as of Monday afternoon. White House is now setting the goal posts at 100-200K dead as a good job.
India's 21-day lockdown is set to end next week but several state leaders have called for an extension or only a partial lifting of restrictions, saying is the only way to avoid a coronavirus epidemic that will be difficult to tackle. India has so far escaped a big surge in cases after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked its 1.3 billion people to stay indoors in the world's biggest lockdown last month that authorities have enforced tightly. But shuttering down the $2.9 trillion economy has left millions of people without work and forced those who live on daily wages to flee to their homes in the countryside for food and shelter.
President Donald Trump went after the acting inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at his daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, raging over a recent report highlighting “severe shortages of testing supplies” in some hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. “Give me the name of the inspector general,” Trump said at one point. The president took the opportunity to lash out at reporters as he suggested the official, Christi Grimm, was biased.
There are many lessons to be learned from the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Were China a more civilized nation, this outbreak would have been stopped early, and with far less harm, inside and outside of China. As Marion Smith wrote in these pages on Sunday, China's first response was to clamp down on reports of the then-new disease that had appeared in Wuhan.
As the number people killed by the coronavirus in the United States topped 10,000 by Monday night, the country's top medical officials warned that the worst was yet to come. The number of cases has ballooned to at least 364,167 — nearly three times higher than in the second-worst hit country, Spain — with 10,772 people killed as of 7:30 p.m. ET, according to NBC News' tracker. At the center of the outbreak in the U.S., New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said critical medical supplies and personnel have been secured but warned that the magnitude of the crisis equals that of the 1918-19 flu and the Great Depression.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Sunday called the next week of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic the modern era's "Pearl Harbor moment." In other words, it'll be the "hardest moment" of many Americans' lives, and Adams hopes every person in every state does their part to slow the spread. But while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) may agree with most of that assessment, he told NBC's Chuck Todd during Sunday's edition of Meet The Press that he isn't sure why the federal government is so intent on remaining as a backup for the states, especially if the White House believes we're in a war-like moment.
Japan is to declare a state of emergency in the capital Tokyo and six other regions in an attempt to tackle the rapid spread of coronavirus. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the move could come as early as Tuesday. Japan has a relatively small number of infections compared to other countries, but there are concerns a sudden surge in cases in Tokyo could lead to a major outbreak in the world's biggest city.
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a Catholic church in Washington, D.C., that sought to place religious-themed ads on public buses. The justices are leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling that found no fault with the Washington transit agency policy that banned all issue-oriented advertisements on the region's rail and bus system. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington sought to place an ad on the outside of public buses in the fall of 2017.
United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta announced massive cuts to its New York City-area flights, as the region braces for the worst weeks of the coronavirus outbreak. United was left with just 17 flights a day from Newark and LaGuardia — down from 460 the previous year. American was down to a total of 14 from LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark, one of which will be cut later this week, down from 270 last April.