China this week officially reopened Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected, claiming that new infections were in the single digits. In recent days, however, everyone from the CIA to Chinese investigative journalists has accused Beijing of reporting inaccurate counts of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, pointing to patterns in other countries, to frequent unexplained changes in China's accounting, and even to pallets of urns being delivered to funeral homes in Wuhan. Rather, they evince a degree and type of weakness that may surprise some critics abroad, who think the Chinese government effectively controls all aspects of life in the country with an iron fist.
President Donald Trump's re-election campaign took heat for a new campaign advertisement about former Vice President Joe Biden that seemed to suggest Gary Locke, the former governor of Washington, was a Chinese official. The roughly minute-long ad, posted Thursday on YouTube, says Biden has "stood up for China" and says Biden worked with his son Hunter Biden on deals with Chinese business partners. "Biden stands up for China ... while China cripples America," text on screen reads.
The possibility of reinstating Navy Captain Brett Crozier, who was relieved of his command after sounding the alarm about coronavirus on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, is not off the table, according to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. More than 400 of the 4,000-person crew on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Navy aircraft carrier docked in Guam, have tested positive for the coronavirus so far. Then-acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said the captain went outside the chain of command by not bringing his concerns to his direct superior.
A row has erupted after the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) accused Taiwan's leaders of spearheading personal attacks on him. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had been subjected to racist comments and death threats for months. But President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan opposed any form of discrimination, and invited Dr Tedros to visit the island.
U.S. spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at a public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November, two current and one former U.S. official told NBC News, but the information was not understood as the first warning signs of an impending global pandemic. The intelligence came in the form of communications intercepts and overhead images showing increased activity at health facilities, the officials said. The intelligence was distributed to some federal public health officials in the form of a "situation report" in late November, a former official briefed on the matter said.
Vice President Mike Pence has blocked Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, as well as other top U.S. health officials, from appearing on CNN following the network's decision to not air the White House coronavirus press briefings in full. “When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air,” a spokesman for the vice president told CNN. Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Pence, have been giving daily briefings to the press for several weeks after rising numbers of Americans have been infected.
New York City officials have hired contract laborers to bury the dead in its potter's field on Hart Island as the city's daily death rate from the coronavirus epidemic has reached grim new records in each of the last three days. The city has used Hart Island to bury New Yorkers with no known next of kin or whose family are unable to arrange a funeral since the 19th century. Typically, some 25 bodies are interred each week by low-paid jail inmates working on the island, which sits off the east shore of the city's Bronx borough and is accessible only by boat.
New York state on Wednesday reported the most coronavirus cases in the world, overtaking Spain, according to a Reuters tally.
Thousands of people normally attend the pope's Holy Week celebrations at the Vatican, but needless to say things are going to be a little different in the Eternal City this year. For what is believed to be the first time in modern history, "all the Liturgical Celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful" due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Vatican writes. Pope Francis will still head two masses on Friday: The Vatican Liturgy of the Lord's Passion at 12 p.m. ET, and the Stations of the Cross, or Via Crucis, at 3 p.m. ET, which will be held in front of Saint Peter's Basilica rather than at the Colosseum, as is traditional.
David Lat described what it was like being placed on a ventilator for six days after having trouble breathing from COVID-19 in a Washington Post op-ed. Lat is a 44-year-old legal recruiter and blogger who previously ran marathons. He suffered from asthma as a child and later had exercise-induced asthma that was managed with an inhaler as an adult.
Donald Trump isn't benefiting from what political scientists refer to as a “rally 'round the flag” effect — a traditional surge in popularity as the nation unites behind its leader during an emergency situation. Throughout the first three years of his presidency, Trump's approval rating has traded in a narrow band. The mixed-to-negative views of Trump's handling of the coronavirus emergency also poses a significant threat to his reelection prospects, now that former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee and the virus threatens to become the dominant issue of the 2020 campaign.
After announcing its first infection more than two weeks ago, the federal Bureau of Prisons had 284 infected inmates and eight deaths as of Thursday morning. At least 169 sick inmates were in medical isolation Thursday in Texas, and more than 28,000 have been assigned some form of medical restriction limiting their movements because they may have been exposed to COVID-19. "Due to the sheer size of our system, when you add one more thing to the equation, it's going to be a challenge," said Jeremy Desel, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which operates the largest state prison system in the country with 140,000 offenders.
Major oil producers except Mexico agreed to cut output in May and June by 10 million barrels per day, OPEC said Friday, after marathon talks to counter a collapse in prices. The videoconference led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has been seen as the best chance of providing support to prices, which have been wallowing near two-decade lows due to the coronavirus pandemic and a price war between key players Saudi Arabia and Russia. The agreement, which also reduces production by eight million bpd from July to December, depends on Mexico's consent for it to take effect, the oil cartel said after the meeting.
David Visnjic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Austrian officials plan to begin incrementally loosening coronavirus restrictions starting with small shops on April 14 and larger businesses from May 1. The country's government took aggressive steps to put the nation of nearly 9 million people on lockdown in mid-March. "Austria has reacted faster and more restrictively than other countries.
The leading British scientific journal Nature apologized in an article published on Tuesday for “associating” the coronavirus with its origin place in China on the grounds that the linkage had inspired racist attacks against people with Asian heritage across the world. The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China and first appeared in bats thought to have infected wild animals that were sold in the city's wet markets. “It's clear that since the outbreak was first reported, people of Asian descent around the world have been subjected to racist attacks, with untold human costs – for example, on their health and livelihoods,” the article read.
Some African countries could see a peak in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks and testing should be urgently increased in the region, World Health Organization officials said on Thursday. "During the last four days we can see that the numbers have already doubled," Michel Yao, the WHO Africa programme manager for emergency response, told a media teleconference on Thursday. "If the trend continues, and also learning from what happened in China and in Europe, some countries may face a huge peak very soon," he said, adding that it could arrive in the coming weeks, but without naming countries.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday officials are "cautiously optimistic" that the infection rate is slowing in the state. Cuomo said "we are flattening the curve" and must continue to do so. The three-day average of hospitalizations has seen a dramatic decline in numbers, Cuomo said, adding that the change in ICU admissions is a negative number for the first time since the pandemic started.
A woman suffering flu-like symptoms gave birth standing and fully clothed while detained near the Mexican-US border, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Guatemalan woman, 27, was being processed at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station near San Diego when her complaints of pain and pleas for help were allegedly ignored by agents, according to a complaint filed on Wednesday by the ACLU and Jewish Family Service of San Diego with the US Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General. "This horrific case is just the most recent and one of the most egregious examples of this agency's abuse," said ACLU attorney Monika Y. Langarica.
South Korea reported on Friday that 91 recovered coronavirus patients have tested positive for the disease again, raising questions over health experts' understanding of the pandemic. The prospect of people being re-infected with the virus is of international concern, as many countries are hoping that infected populations will develop sufficient immunity to prevent a resurgence of the pandemic. The reports have also prompted fears the virus may remain active in patients for much longer than was previously thought.
Colorado's Democratic Gov. Jared Polis made it clear his state was in desperate need of ventilators. In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence sent March 28, Polis asked for 10,000 ventilators and other medical supplies, cc'ing his state's Democratic and Republican senators. But when President Trump announced Wednesday that Colorado was getting 100 ventilators, he said it was at the request of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.
Residents of Nairobi's Kibera slum, spotting a food distribution, tried to force their way through a gate outside a district office for their chance at supplies to keep their families fed for another day. The scene in Kenya's largest slum reflected the fears of millions across Africa as nearly 20 countries have imposed full lockdowns and others have shut down cities or imposed curfews. Already, Rwanda and South Africa have extended their lockdowns by two weeks.
Pakistan's army said Thursday it had shot down a small Indian surveillance drone in Kashmir, as tensions rose over continued cross-border shelling in the disputed territory. According to a statement from the army media wing, the Indian quadcopter -- about the same size as a commercially available hobby drone -- had crossed 600 metres (650 yards) over the de facto border known as the Line of Control (LoC). "This blatant act was aggressively responded to by Pakistan Army troops shooting down Indian quadcopter," the statement read.
President Trump's former personal attorney has reportedly been placed in solitary confinement at a federal prison.
Australian authorities have seized the black box of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, according to an AFP report. After being allowed to disembark from the ship on March 19 in Sydney, Australia, Ruby Princess passengers have since been linked to hundreds of COVID-19 cases. The COVID-19 Cruise Tracker currently puts the ship at the Port of Kembla, and The Guardian reported that around 1,040 crew members remain onboard.
China's agriculture ministry has reclassified dogs, which it previously deemed livestock, as pets in response to the coronavirus pandemic. “As far as dogs are concerned, along with the progress of human civilization and the public concern and love for animal protection, dogs have been 'specialized' to become companion animals, and internationally are not considered to be livestock, and they will not be regulated as livestock in China,” the Ministry of Agriculture said in guidelines published on Wednesday that are now open to public comment. The new coronavirus is thought to have originated in bats that then infected wild animals that were sold in the so-called wet markets of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.