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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has long had an uneasy relationship with both the media and the overwhelmingly Democratic residents of his state. He has let the vital New York City subway fall into ruin, actively connived with Republicans to give them control of the state Senate, and generally been a thorn in the side of anyone who wants to do anything good. But now, thanks to the novel coronavirus outbreak, suddenly everyone loves him.
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.
Images of homeless people sleeping in a converted parking lot in Las Vegas have sparked criticism, even as the city officials describe an “emergency situation” and say the solution was the best option after another shelter was forced to close amid the coronavirus crisis. Over the weekend, authorities in Las Vegas needed to find additional sleeping space for the city's sizable homeless population when a 500-bed overnight shelter closed after a client tested positive for the new coronavirus. Officials turned a parking lot into a makeshift shelter, saying spaces for sleeping were drawn 6ft apart in observance of federal social distancing guidelines.
Getty Images Related Video: What COVID-19 Symptoms Look Like, Day by Day The coronavirus pandemic has forced doctors to make difficult decisions about which patients get immediate medical care. In New York City, where more than 38,000 cases have been reported, hospitals are reserving tests for patients with severe illness, while patients with mild cases — which can still be painful and long-lasting — have been told to stay home. But doctors still know very little about the symptoms that serve as warning signs in the lead-up to a severe case of COVID-19.
President Trump on Sunday asked why a White House reporter does not act “a little more positive” in covering the administration's coronavirus response.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Rebecca Cook/Reuters A new study from the University of Minnesota created a 3D model of the new coronavirus and found that it could bind far more efficiently to human cell receptors than the SARS virus. This might explain how the new coronavirus could spread across the globe at such a dizzying speed. This 3D map could help scientists create vaccines that block these cell receptors, stopping the new coronavirus before it can replicate.
In a post on Instagram on Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand had 18 million masks in reserve, with 80,000 more being made a day. It's not clear how many of these are surgical masks, as opposed to the more effective N95 respirators. The US, which has just under 330 million people, has a national stockpile has about 12 million N95 masks and 30 million surgical masks.
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.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the rate of hospitalizations because of the coronavirus pandemic is slowing in the state.
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.
Islamic State prisoners on Sunday seized control of the ground floor of a major prison in northeastern Syria run by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with some of the militants managing to escape, an SDF spokesman said. The SDF, which is spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, mounted an operation to capture those who fled as security forces sent reinforcements to crush the mutiny in Hasaka prison, spokesman Mustafa Bali said in a tweet. "The situation is tense inside the prison currently and we sent anti-terror forces and additional troops to control the situation," Bali said.