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.
President Trump on Sunday speculated that New York state hospitals are running short of respirator masks to protect doctors and nurses from the coronavirus because supplies are being stolen. How do you go from 10 to 20 [thousand masks per week] to 300,000? Ten [thousand] to 20,000 masks, to 300,000,” Trump said at a briefing by the coronavirus task force in the Rose Garden.
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.
Associated Press Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that the US is starting to see "glimmers" that social distancing is having a dampening effect on the spread of the coronavirus. There's a "reasonably good chance" that a second wave of the virus hits later this year, he said in an interview with CNN. Fauci said that while people who survive the virus are likely to be immune, there won't be enough of them to provide "herd immunity" to prevent community spread.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) plans to call DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz to testify before congress regarding his office's audit of the FBI's FISA application process, which was released Tuesday and revealed potentially systematic abuses of the transparency measures required of the Bureau when agents interact with the FISA court. I have just been briefed on Inspector General Horowitz's audit of FISA applications involving American citizens. This random audit shows discrepancies regarding verification of the information under the Woods Procedures,” Graham said in a press release.
The vicious stabbing of an Asian-American family, including a 2-year-old girl, at a Sam's Club in Texas earlier this month has been deemed a hate crime by the feds, as authorities continue to raise alarm bells about a potential surge in racially motivated crimes amid the coronavirus outbreak. Jose L. Gomez, 19, confessed to authorities that he attempted to murder three Asian-American family members, including the toddler and a 6-year-old, on March 14 at the Midland, Texas store, according to the Midland Police Department.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As of Friday, at least 11 students at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, have reported symptoms suggesting they have the COVID-19 coronavirus, Dr. Thomas Eppes Jr., the physician in charge of student health services, told The New York Times on Sunday. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. came under fire last week when he reopened the campus to students at the end of their spring break, despite public health officials warning against it and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) banning gatherings of more than 100 people in the state. Falwell said 1,900 students returned to campus last week, and more than 800 have since left.
The doctor said medical staff have been fighting over rationed personal protective equipment, pediatric doctors have been asked to care for patients in their 70s and 80s, orthopedic doctors and cardiologists have been asked to help treat coronavirus patients and urologists have been working as senior intensive care unit staff. They're pulling in doctors from everywhere to deal with the patient load,'' the doctor said. "It's changed the way the whole hospital culture operates."
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."
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.
President Trump on Sunday asked why a White House reporter does not act “a little more positive” in covering the administration's coronavirus response.
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.
Wuhan residents are increasingly skeptical of the Chinese Communist Party's reported coronavirus death count of approximately 2,500 deaths in the city to date, with most people believing the actual number is at least 40,000. “Maybe the authorities are gradually releasing the real figures, intentionally or unintentionally, so that people will gradually come to accept the reality,” a Wuhan resident, who gave only his surname Mao, told Radio Free Asia. A city source added that, based on the aggregation of funeral and cremation numbers, authorities likely know the real number and are keeping it under wraps.
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.
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.
Kimberly White/Getty AIrbnb has set aside $250 million to pay hosts impacted by its coronavirus policy, the company announced Monday. Airbnb will pay hosts 25% of what they normally would have received through their own cancellation policies for trips with check-in dates between March 14 and May 31. Hosts had expressed outrage after Airbnb overrode their policies by allowing travelers to cancel reservations and get full refunds, leaving hosts bearing most of the financial burden.