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.
Flattening the curve does not necessarily mean seeing a decrease in total cases right away; it would first produce a decline in the number of new cases, which should result in fewer hospitalizations and death in the weeks that follow. With some of the most affected countries like Spain and Italy on lockdown for weeks, many are wondering if their efforts are actually working. Italy has been under a nationwide lockdown for about four weeks and the country has begun to flatten the curve.
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.
President Trump on Monday said he and former Vice President Joe Biden had a “really wonderful, warm conversation” on the phone.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a religious rights dispute brought by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington against the Washington area transit authority over its policy barring advertisements in its stations and on buses and trains on divisive issues including religion. The conservative-majority court, usually receptive to religious rights claims, declined to review the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's 2015 policy that bars political, religious and advocacy advertisements in the transportation system that serves the U.S. capital region. One of the nine justices, conservative Brett Kavanaugh, would not have been able to participate due to his prior service on a court that previously dealt with the case.
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.
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.
Stark statistics from Chicago health officials have underscored the heavy toll of coronavirus on black Americans. Black Chicagoans account for half of all coronavirus cases in the city and more than 70% of deaths, despite making up 30% of the population. Other cities with large black populations, including Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans and New York, have become coronavirus hotspots.
The military branches are requiring troops to make their own cloth face masks after the Pentagon's latest policy directed face coverings for all personnel during the novel coronavirus outbreak. The Defense Department announced Sunday that troops, DoD civilian employees, contractors and family members are encouraged to make simple coverings out of clean T-shirts and other household materials. The do-it-yourself face coverings are mandatory whenever people cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or places of work, according to the policy, signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Under pressure from President Trump, the Indian government Tuesday lifted a ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine, paving the way for the anti-malaria drug to be shipped to the U.S. for use against the coronavirus. The decision came after Trump appealed to Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi in a phone call, then told a White House news conference Monday that India could face “retaliation” if it didn't release the drug. "I said, 'We'd appreciate your allowing our supply to come out,'" Trump said of his call with Modi.
A coronavirus projection used by the White House to warn that the country could face between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in a “best case scenario” has dramatically reduced its estimates, cutting the number of hospital beds needed by 58 percent and the death forecast by 12 percent. The IHME model, produced by the University of Washington, updated its numbers overnight to show that projected deaths decreased from 93,531 to 81,766, and the projected total bed shortage fell from 87,674 to 36,654, after projected needed hospital beds fell 45 percent from 262,000 to 141,000 and needed ICU beds decreased 26 percent from almost 39,700 to 29,200. New Jersey's projection rose dramatically from 2,100 to 9,690, while the projection for Illinois remained essentially the same.
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.
New York City's death toll from the coronavirus officially eclipsed the number of those killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11, health officials said Tuesday. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in intensive care with the virus. At least 3,202 people have died in New York from COVID-19, according to the count released by the city.
The pace of coronavirus deaths in Spain ticked up for the first time in five days on Tuesday, with 743 people succumbing overnight, but there was still hope the national lockdown might be eased soon. Tuesday's toll from the health ministry compared to 637 people who died during the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 13,798, the second highest in the world after Italy. Still, the proportional daily increase of 5.7% was about half that reported a week ago.
Wisconsin's presidential primary remains scheduled for Tuesday with in-person voting even amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, an idea a group of mayors is calling "irresponsible and contrary to public health." Amid calls for Wisconsin to postpone its primary as other states have done in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Tony Evers (D), who previously issued a safer-at-home order, recently called a special session of the GOP-held legislature to consider canceling in-person voting and extending the deadline to mail in ballots. Wisconsin general elections are also set for Tuesday.
Cardinal George Pell is allowed to leave jail immediately after Australia's highest court overturned his conviction for sexually abusing two choir boys. “The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant's guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place,” the court said in a two-page summary of the ruling, according to The Guardian. Pell, 78, will now be released from Barwon Prison, near Melbourne, after spending more than 400 days behind bars.
More than half of the people in Chicago who have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, and over 70% of those who have died are African Americans, health officials and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday. African Americans make up 30% of the city's population, according to the city's data. According to data shared by the city on Sunday, 98 people have died from COVID-19 in Chicago.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned as "racist" the comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa. "Africa can't and won't be a testing ground for any vaccine," said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The doctors' remarks during a TV debate sparked outrage, and they were accused of treating Africans like "human guinea pigs".
President Donald Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said Monday that Dr. Anthony Fauci's caution about the effectiveness of an anti-malaria drug that the president has been urging as a treatment for the coronavirus warrants a "second opinion." Asked about an Axios report that he and Fauci got into a heated argument about the drug during a coronavirus task force meeting Saturday, Navarro told CNN, "There was that discussion on Saturday, and if we didn't have disagreement and debate in the Trump administration, this administration would not be as strong as it is." A source told Axios that the dispute started when Navarro said the studies he'd seen on the effects of the drug, hydroxychloroquine, show "clear therapeutic efficacy."
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 continues to grow in the US. Mike Pence, the vice-president, is overseeing the US response to the coronavirus. So far, 80% of patients experience a mild form of the illness, which can include a fever and pneumonia, and many of these cases require little to no medical intervention.
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 U.S. military said Tuesday it has killed a high-ranking leader of the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group with an airstrike in Somalia. A statement by the U.S. Africa Command said Yusuf Jiis was one of three extremists killed in Thursday's airstrike near Bush Madina in the Bay region. The U.S. called Jiis a “foundational member” of al-Shabab, which controls parts of central and southern Somalia and frequently carries out attacks in the capital, Mogadishu.
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.
US Navy Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt reportedly believed his dire letter warning of the coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship would not be allowed to be sent by his superiors. The acting Navy secretary, Thomas Modly, said that Crozier was "panicking" and was flabbergasted by him being "so out of character," he said to the Washington Post. Modly claimed that he eventually fired Crozier because he "didn't want to get into a decision where the president would feel that he had to intervene."