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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
The long lines and stacks of ash urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan are spurring questions about the true scale of coronavirus casualties at the epicenter of the outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the virus in the central Chinese city, where the disease first emerged in December, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight local funeral homes starting last week. As they did, photos circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in.
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.
And do health care professionals say they need ventilators or respirators – or both? Three weeks ago, USA TODAY published a guide to new vocabulary words popping up as the new coronavirus spreads globally. As the situation around the world changes, new words have entered dinner table conversations and social media feeds.
The body of a 5-year-old boy was discovered near an Alaskan trail after his mother said they got lost during a hike. A ground search team found the child, Jaxson Brown, around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, three days after he and his mother went for a hike along Lunch Creek Trail in Ketchikan. The boy's mother, Jennifer Treat, told Alaska State Troopers that she and Jaxson went on a hike Wednesday afternoon.
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.
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.
Officials across India are searching for hundreds of people who attended a religious event in the capital that has set off several Covid-19 clusters. At least six regions have reported cases that can be directly traced to the days-long congregation at a mosque. Delhi officials are now clearing the building, where more than 1,000 people have been stranded since the government imposed a lockdown last week.
Restricted visa services, quickly evolving regulations and increased border controls risk wider labor shortages in the United States produce industry that may leave grocery stores scrambling for fruits and vegetables as spring and summer harvests spread across the United States. On Thursday, more than 100 workers waited in a stifling park in the center of Monterrey, Mexico, backpacks and rolling suitcases in hand, for news about their H-2A temporary agriculture worker visas.
Dr Marc Lipsitch: What makes seasonal viruses seasonal is a combination of opportunities for transmission – whether school is in term, which facilitates transmission – and what proportion of the population is immune, combined with weather. Humidity is lower in the winter, which is good for transmission. Low humidity makes [virus-carrying] droplets settle more slowly because they shrink to smaller sizes and then friction keeps them in the air, whereas high humidity doesn't do that.
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.
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.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez said Monday that she's been "diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection," three days after she spoke on the House floor and stood near 80-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the signing of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. In a statement, Velazquez, D-N.Y., 67, said she first started feeling sick "in the wee hours of Sunday morning." At the advice of The Attending Physician, neither COVID 19 laboratory testing nor a doctor's office visit was recommended.
The Justice Department inspector general said it does “not have confidence” in the FBI's FISA application process following an audit that found the Bureau was not sufficiently transparent with the court in 29 applications from 2014 to 2019, all of which included “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.” Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report in December which found that the FBI included “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications and many errors in the Woods Procedures” during its Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign.
The Trump administration is prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Venezuela in support of a new proposal to form a transitional government requiring both Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó to step aside in favor of a five-person governing council, U.S. officials said. The one-page “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela” was presented Tuesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It echoes a proposal made over the weekend by Guaidó that shows how growing concerns about the coronavirus, which threatens to overwhelm the South American country's already collapsed health system and economy, are reviving U.S. attempts to pull the military apart from Maduro.
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.
A large religious gathering in New Delhi has sparked a manhunt across India for suspected coronavirus cases after being linked to dozens of infections and several deaths. The gathering emerged as one of India's major virus hotspots after thousands flocked to an Islamic religious centre in the Nizamuddin West neighbourhood of Delhi. Some returned home to other states after the gathering, but many remained in the vicinity, saying they were trapped because public transport had been shut down due to the virus.