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  • A timeline of Trump's missed opportunities on coronavirus news

    As the deadly coronavirus outbreak rapidly spread across America in February and March, President Trump repeatedly asserted that “nobody could have predicted something like this.” But a review of government records shows that repeated warnings were issued to the White House and went unheeded.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 15:32:02 -0400
  • Coronavirus is ushering in a new wave of racially motivated attacks, warns intelligence bulletin news

    Federal agencies are concerned that domestic extremists could use the coronavirus pandemic to attack Asians and Jews, according to a joint intelligence bulletin obtained by Yahoo News. That bulletin mirrors what organizations that monitor online hate content are also finding.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 10:46:59 -0400
  • Doctors rethinking coronavirus: Are we using ventilators the wrong way? news

    As hospitals and health care workers grapple with a shortage of supplies, some doctors are raising questions about how ventilators are currently being used on coronavirus patients — and whether they may actually be doing more harm than good.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 08:37:33 -0400
  • U.S. Coronavirus Daily Death Toll Reaches Record High news

    Coronavirus claimed 1,973 lives in the U.S. on Wednesday, the largest one-day death toll in the country since the start of the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.With over 432,000 Americans infected, almost 15,000 Americans have died in total as of Thursday morning.Earlier on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicated that, while deaths may continue to rise, there actually may be reason to hope the outbreak in the U.S. is slowing."At the same time as we're seeing an increase in death, like typically what we are seeing now from New York, over the last few days, there's been a stabilization and a decrease in the hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care and of the requirements for intubations," Fauci told Fox News. "That means that, as we get further on beyond this week we should start to see the beginning of a turnaround which is a good sign."New York City and the surrounding area is currently the nation's largest coronavirus hotspot, while Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned on Wednesday that Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., may see a spike in cases in the upcoming weeks.New York governor Andrew Cuomo hailed the slowing number of hospitalizations in the state since the weekend as a sign that mitigation efforts were slowing the spread of the disease."There is good news in what we’re seeing, that what we have done and we are doing is actually working," Cuomo said.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 08:08:10 -0400
  • Coronavirus: WHO chief and Taiwan in row over 'racist' comments news

    Taiwan rejects accusations by the UN health body's head that racist slurs against him originated there.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 10:39:29 -0400
  • Hamas arrests Gaza activists after Zoom call with Israelis news

    Hamas-run security forces have arrested several peace activists in the Gaza Strip on treason charges after they took part in a web conference with Israeli activists, officials said Thursday. The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said the activists are accused of “holding a normalization activity with the Israeli occupation.” “Holding any activity or contact with the Israeli occupation under any cover is a crime punishable by law and a betrayal for the people and their sacrifices,” it said in a statement.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 12:06:58 -0400
  • Cases of novel coronavirus in Russia surge past 10,000 after record daily rise news

    Russia on Thursday reported a record one-day rise in cases of novel coronavirus, pushing the official tally to more than 10,000, a day after President Vladimir Putin said the coming weeks would prove decisive in the fight against the virus. The number of cases jumped by 1,459 and 13 more people died, the national coronavirus crisis response centre said on its website. Moscow, the worst-affected region, and many other regions are in their second week of a partial lockdown.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 03:55:48 -0400
  • 'A silent explosion': Coronavirus deaths in U.S. climb past 16,000 news

    COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. surpass 16,000. In New York, new hospitalizations slow, affirming signs that stay-at-home orders are slowing coronavirus spread.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 14:13:58 -0400
  • Wuhan Shows the World Its Post-Coronavirus Future news

    HONG KONG—Trains are leaving Wuhan for the first time since January 23, carrying 55,000 people out of the city in one day. Long-haul buses are moving passengers across provinces. Planes are taking off at the airport again. Roadblocks on outbound highways have been removed, and cars have been streaming through since midnight. The lockdown of the first epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic—after doctors who flagged the unusual virus were gagged by authorities—was lifted at midnight local time on Wednesday. U.S. Eyes Second Coronavirus Outbreak in ChinaIt’s difficult to look back at the lockdown without feeling like it was an 11-week internment. More than 3,300 people reportedly have died in China due to COVID-19, including nearly 2,600 in the city of Wuhan alone. (The official tallies are deemed by medical professionals in China and abroad to be much lower than the actual count.) Intensive care units were, of course, where the most recorded deaths occurred; the mortality rate in Wuhan’s ICUs was between 25 and 30 percent, according to Dr. Peng Zhiyong, who led two ICU teams in the city and maintained the lowest rates of fatalities and hospital transmissions at the facilities where he worked.Now, after daily—hourly, constant—checks on the epidemic curve, there is an uneasy mixture of relief and apprehension as life in Wuhan crawls back to a normal pace and Hubei province reconnects with the rest of the country.There are lessons here for the hard-hit United States, where to date almost four times as many people have died as in China, judging by official numbers. But, sadly, those lessons are limited. Other countries may benefit more from what has been learned in Wuhan.In the United States, the Trump administration apparently expects 50 states to compete with each other, and with the federal government, for vital resources. In China, the all-powerful Chinese Communist Party poured everything it could into Wuhan and Hubei after the very strict province-wide lockdown. It flew in medical workers from all over the country, military assistance, construction workers to build hospitals, and others to enforce the quarantines while enhancing survival rates.For two and a half months, Hubei’s 60 million people—roughly the population of Italy—have been confined to their homes. To venture out in public for crucial supply runs, they had to pass through checkpoints manned by private security guards, neighborhood-level Chinese Communist Party custodians, or police officers. The population’s material needs were taken care of, but there was a constant air of uncertainty about what might happen next. Might there be a surge in infection numbers and deaths the next day? Could one’s neighbor, parent, friend fall ill and fail to find medical assistance at the packed hospitals? What if the pandemic does not end?Today, the physical signs of those weeks of worry remain present. Barbed wire still runs along the tops of walls surrounding some residential complexes, installed to prevent people from leaping over the barriers to cure their cabin fever. Many older buildings—those with only two or three floors—are still boarded up.So far, it hasn’t been a smooth transition for Wuhan. There were plenty of dead car batteries. Social distancing was difficult to achieve on public transportation. Frequent temperature checks and pauses to disinfect slowed down movement across the city—although few were in a rush to begin with.Even at the beginning of the week, Wuhan and the rest of Hubei were coming back to life slowly. Some restaurants lit their stove fires again—patrons couldn’t always dine in, but they placed orders and waited patiently for their takeout, standing five or six feet apart from each other. Sounds and smells of human activity were returning. You could spot people strolling along the quiet waterfront—just a handful, but enough to give the impression that things could go back to normal, that maybe not all of spring was lost. Now, across mainland China, it’s common enough to see people wearing latex gloves and plastic goggles when they are outside of their homes. Masks are mandatory in public areas, meant to limit significantly the virus’ spread in case you are a carrier. This curtails the footprint of the coronavirus—a particularly important act because medical professionals believe that many people who carry the virus are asymptomatic, meaning they may not even realize that they can cause severe illness in others.When much of China was still under lockdown, people spoke of “revenge spending,” a term that harks back to the spike in consumption after the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, now appropriated to outline the urge to splurge after shops reopen when the COVID pandemic subsides. But while businesses in Wuhan, Hubei, and the rest of the country have spun up operations again, consumers have been cautious about their expenditures. Many have drained significant chunks of their savings, and the likelihood of a second wave of infections hitting later this year has people worrying that they will have to hunker down again, this time with even tighter purse strings.China Hijacked This American Mom’s Tweets for Coronavirus PropagandaIn the first three months of this year, nearly half a million businesses in China went belly up. More are expected to declare bankruptcy in the coming weeks. Companies that ship goods to other countries are being hit hard as foreign clients seek delays in shipments or are canceling orders altogether.Firms involved in mass-scale surveillance, however, are more active than ever. Throughout China, smartphone-based tracking measures are now used to indicate a person’s health status and location history. Whip out your phone and call up your assigned QR code—if it’s green, then you can access public transportation, as well as facilities like shopping malls, restaurants, and parks. The same tools are used to determine whether a person can travel throughout the country. The exception is the capital, Beijing, where all arrivals must commit to 14 days of quarantine.This isn’t a policy that is unique to China. Around the world, at least 24 countries are tracking their citizens’ locations using applications that went online during the COVID-19 pandemic, and at least 14 nations have rolled out apps for contact tracing or as part of quarantine protocols, according to information compiled by Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and more than 100 other organizations.Yet even with a digital dragnet over the country, our lack of understanding of the coronavirus and COVID-19 brings about intense uneasiness. It is still unclear how common asymptomatic transmission is, but classified Chinese documents seen by reporters of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post suggest that up to one-third of people who test positive could be carrying the virus without showing any symptoms. People I spoke to in Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou were all anxious about how every human body—including their own—has the potential to become a walking bio-bomb that could kill a friend or loved one. It’s a distressing thought that is compounded when a nation is being steered by its central government to return to the tempo from three months ago.The weekend was a reminder that the pandemic has left indelible imprints on China—and the rest of the world. Last Saturday was a day of mourning for those who died in China due to COVID-19. At 10:00 a.m., people stopped what they were doing to observe three minutes of silence. Sirens wailed. Drivers sounded their vehicles’ horns. Flags flew at half-mast. In every city, town, and village, tears fell. Chinese Communist Party leaders, including President Xi Jinping, gathered at Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the CCP and central government in the capital, where a banner reading “deeply mourn for martyrs and compatriots” now hangs. The party has claimed every casualty as one of its own.Yet none of this implies that China is on the other side of this viral calamity. Last week, Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country “has not reached the end [of the pandemic], but is merely entering a new phase.” The main worry, for now, is that asymptomatic carriers will infect others as people travel across the country to get back to work, ultimately negating the months-long containment efforts that have placed life on hold for many millions of people.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 04:48:02 -0400
  • Sanders' exit could bring Obama into the 2020 fold news

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is out, and former President Barack Obama is maybe, possibly in.Sanders dropped out of the 2020 race on Wednesday, saying his "path toward victory is virtually impossible" but pledging to stay on primary ballots through the Democratic National Convention to gain influence in the party. That makes former Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee, and leaves Obama free to campaign for his former second in command.Obama has refused to endorse a primary candidate since the 2020 Democratic race's jam-packed beginnings, though reports did suggest he was quietly backing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Other reports suggested he wasn't thrilled about Biden getting in the race, and told Biden's campaign staff to make sure he didn't "embarrass himself." Biden meanwhile maintained he specifically asked Obama not to endorse him, though he has promised his presidency would essentially be a third Obama term.But Sanders' departure leaves Obama with just one choice, effectively compelling him to take a stand as a Biden surrogate. Obama did reportedly expect to perform a lot of party unifying this summer, after all. There's just one problem: Obama didn't end up turning the tides when he did the same for Hillary Clinton in 2016.More stories from Biden is the weakest major party nominee in recent history — but that might be the point Biden pledges to lower Medicare age and reduce some student debt in olive branch to Sanders supporters 4 important parenting lessons from life in lockdown

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 13:09:48 -0400
  • Pakistan shoots down Indian drone as Kashmir tensions rise news

    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. "This blatant act was aggressively responded to by Pakistan Army troops shooting down Indian quadcopter," the statement read. An Indian army spokesman said the drone "is not ours".

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 03:19:43 -0400
  • This is what I want my friends to do if they have COVID-19 symptoms and are asked to go to the ER news

    As a frontline infectious diseases doctor, this is what I want my friends and neighbors to do if they have COVID-19 symptoms and are asked to go to the emergency room.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 09:20:19 -0400
  • New Yahoo News/YouGov coronavirus poll shows Americans turning against Trump news

    The new survey found that Americans increasingly blame Trump for the vast scale of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:13:15 -0400
  • Coronavirus: New York has more cases than any country news

    Photos emerge of workers in hazmat outfits stacking coffins in a mass grave in New York City.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 23:29:17 -0400
  • Adam Schiff says Intelligence Committee may conduct 'Zoom hearings' during current pandemic news

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., says he is considering using the teleconferencing software Zoom to hold hearings into foreign election interference and other key issues, including the firing of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, while social distancing restrictions remain in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 18:17:59 -0400
  • U.K. truck driver pleads guilty in deaths of Vietnamese migrants found in container news

    Victims died of a combination of a lack of oxygen and overheating in an enclosed space, police said.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 12:50:00 -0400
  • Taiwan rebuffs accusations it racially attacked WHO chief news

    Taiwan on Thursday angrily condemned accusations from the World Health Organization's (WHO) boss that racist slurs against him had come from the island, saying racism did not exist in Taiwan. Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO, due to objections from China which claims the island as its own, has infuriated the Taipei government during the coronavirus outbreak. Taiwan says it has been unable to get timely information and that Taiwanese lives have become political pawns.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 21:22:07 -0400
  • Philippines backs Vietnam after China sinks fishing boat news

    The Philippines on Wednesday expressed solidarity with Vietnam after Hanoi protested what it said was the ramming and sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese coast guard ship in the disputed South China Sea. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila expressed deep concern over the reported April 3 sinking of the boat carrying eight fishermen off the Paracel Islands. China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has built several islands equipped with military installations in the area, one of world's busiest shipping lanes.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 06:51:07 -0400
  • West Virginia Officials Urge State to Quash Gambling on Politics news

    (Bloomberg) -- One day after FanDuel Inc. briefly began taking bets on the 2020 presidential election, citing permission from the West Virginia Lottery, state officials condemned the idea.West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said on a radio show that he disapproved of allowing people to wager on elections. Secretary of State Mac Warner said in a statement that it was a “terrible idea.”“Gambling on elections has been illegal in West Virginia since 1868,” Warner said. “Gambling on the outcome of an election has no place in our American democracy. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”Their comments add further confusion to what was already a bizarre series of events. On Tuesday night, FanDuel announced it had received permission in West Virginia to take wagers on the election, a first for a U.S. state. Forty minutes after posting odds and saying it was accepting wagers, FanDuel took down the option and refunded the money of anyone who had placed bets.The West Virginia Lottery, which oversees betting in the state, said it initially approved election wagering, but then asked operators to hold off on launching until it had more time to research the matter and understand the consequences. Late Tuesday night, a representative for the lottery said gambling on politics was “no longer approved.”Betting on politics has long been considered a massive opportunity for sportsbooks, given the interest and media attention that national elections command. That’s especially true now, since there are virtually no sports for gamblers to wager on.States, however, have been hesitant to allow it for a variety of legal and integrity concerns.Political bets are popular elsewhere, such as the U.K. Betfair customers plunked down almost 200 million pounds ($247 million) on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 14:29:05 -0400
  • Walmart Says It Will Invest $425 Million to Expand Presence in Wuhan over the Next Five Years news

    Walmart’s China branch announced at an investment conference hosted by the Wuhan city government on Wednesday that it was committing 3 billion yuan ($425 million) to expand its presence in the origin point of the coronavirus pandemic over the next five years.According to Walmart China, the company will be putting up at least four new Sam's Club stores, 15 additional shopping malls, and more community stores in the capital of China's Hubei province. The U.S.-based retailer already has 34 stores and two distribution centers in the city, where the global coronavirus pandemic first emerged in December.Wern-Yuen Tan, President and CEO of Walmart China, announced the decision in collaboration with Wuhan’s municipal government, saying “the framework marks a new milestone between the two parties and a new beginning for a win-win situation.”Wuhan ended its city-wide lockdown on Wednesday, after 76 days of mandatory shutdown, despite fears that the city was still hosting many asymptomatic cases. City residents have dismissed the official death toll of approximately 2,500, while U.S. intelligence concluded last week that the city has been lying about its number of cases.The corporate response to China’s handling of the coronavirus has been mixed. The American Chamber of Commerce polled 119 companies last month on their China outlook, with 40 percent saying they would maintain their planned levels of investment in China this year, while 24 percent said they plan to cut investment. A third said it was too early to determine coronavirus’s impact.U.S. lawmakers have grown increasingly critical of the U.S.’s over reliance on China in recent months, especially relating to medical supplies — with experts suggesting that “thousands” of basic pharmaceuticals are sourced in China.Last month, Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) warned that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposed stimulus package did not address U.S. dependence on Chinese supply chains, despite bipartisan concerns about the issue.Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) also proposed a phase-four relief package last week that promoted bringing “critical supply chains back to this country from China and elsewhere and to encourage domestic production.”

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 11:53:24 -0400
  • South Korea reported that 51 coronavirus patients' infections went away then 'reactivated' But it's unlikely the virus has a dormancy period. news

    Health authorities said 51 COVID-19 patients in recovery tested negative then positive again within a "relatively short time." It's not clear how.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 19:48:00 -0400
  • Trump’s Fox News Cabinet Tells Him the Coronavirus Crisis Is Over news

    Throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump’s decisions and stances have seemingly been influenced by the unofficial advisers he treasures most: Fox News primetime hosts.After downplaying for weeks the threat of the virus, just as many on Fox News did the same, the president began taking it seriously last month after Tucker Carlson personally confronted him before delivering an on-air monologue calling for action. Elsewhere, Fox stars have been the primary driving force behind Trump’s incessant promotion of an unproven anti-malarial drug as the miracle COVID-19 cure.And in recent days, it seems, the president has been receiving his newest coronavirus intel briefing from Fox News. This time, they say, the pandemic is over and it’s time to move on.Throughout Tuesday night’s primetime stretch, Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham were in lockstep in telegraphing to Trump a message that the pandemic’s threat has been overstated, death counts have been inflated, and the U.S. is already on the downside of the curve.Carlson, who received mainstream plaudits for his “admirable” early coronavirus coverage, kicked off his show by declaring that the crisis “may have passed,” noting that health-care systems across the country haven’t come close to collapsing—“except in a handful of places.”“Patients are not dying alone in the hallways of emergency rooms with physicians too overwhelmed to treat them,” he asserted. “That was the concern. It happens in other countries, it's not happening here. Thank God for that.”There have been numerous reports and testimonials from health-care workers expressing horror over the conditions of overcrowded hospitals and the stress it has placed on both medical staffers and patients. Much reporting has also been done on how many patients are dying alone and away from family members and friends from the disease.But despite nearly 13,000 U.S. deaths and at least 400,000 confirmed cases, with portions of the country having yet to suffer the worst effects of the outbreak, Carlson called for a quick reversal of social-distancing restrictions in order to jumpstart the economy, citing downward revisions of coronavirus models as the key reason.“Before we go ahead and alter our lives and our country forever, it is fair to ask about the numbers, their numbers, the ones we acted on the first time, that turned out to be completely wrong,” the Fox star fumed. “How did they screw that up so thoroughly? That is a fair question.”Adjustments of expected death tolls in some models—which, weeks ago, showed as many as 240,000 American deaths—have largely occurred due to the widespread adoption of social-distancing guidelines and the assumption that school and business closures will stay in place through the summer. Even factoring all that in, the models still project roughly 80,000 deaths.Nevertheless, over the past few days, Carlson has been pushing the president to ignore medical expertise and quickly move forward with economic activity. “Is there a single person who sincerely expects the coronavirus itself will hurt more people in the end than the damage we're causing in our response to it? Probably not,” he said on Monday night. “Mass unemployment is almost certain to cause far more harm, including physical harm, to the average family than this disease.”Carlson has also railed against top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has urged Americans to embrace social distancing in order to flatten the curve. Calling it “bewildering” that the U.S. is allowing medical “experts” to make policy decisions, Carlson claimed last week that Fauci is proposing “national suicide” by pushing aggressive social distancing. “We should never let someone like that run this country,” he said.Fox News senior analyst Brit Hume, who has recently been at the forefront of right-wing media’s questioning of coronavirus deaths, has also joined the chorus of Fox stars agitating against medical expertise. The official COVID-19 death count has been inflated, he declared Carlson on Tuesday evening.“Dr. Birx said tonight during the briefing at the White House that all deaths from anyone who died with coronavirus is counted as if the person died from coronavirus,” Hume said. “Now, we all know that isn’t true.”“And if everybody is being automatically classified, if they're found to have COVID-19, as a COVID-19 death, we’re going to get a very large number of deaths that way and we’re probably not going to have an accurate count of what the real death total is,” he added.Besides the fact that flu deaths—which Trump and Fox figures have constantly used as a comparison point to downplay the pandemic—are tracked the exact same way, and coronavirus disproportionately impacts people with pre-conditions, it is actually far more likely that the COVID-19 death count has been understated so far.Hannity, meanwhile, kicked off his Tuesday evening broadcast by claiming there is a “ton of good news” surrounding the pandemic, touting revised downward estimates of the death count to suggest that regular economic activity should restart very soon.In a phone interview with the president, Hannity—who has served as an unofficial Trump adviser and confidant—noted that the “cure can’t be worse than the problem” and nudged the president to reveal when he’d roll back social-distancing policies.“I’d love to open with a big bang, one beautiful country and just open,” Trump declared, adding, “We’re looking at two concepts. We’re looking at the concept where you open up sections and we’re also looking at the concept where you open up everything.”In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump further hinted that he is looking to end restrictions “sooner rather than later,” adding that the “horror” of coronavirus “must be quickly forgotten” and predicting that the economy “will BOOM” going forward.Laura Ingraham, however, may have been the most aggressive among her primetime colleagues in openly pushing Trump to view the pandemic threat as completely neutralized.Claiming the experts were “wrong” with their modeling and that it caused undue panic for Americans, Ingraham echoed Carlson by railing against medical officials, claiming this pandemic should “make us less willing to rely on the same experts to help determine when and how we should reopen our economy.”“We didn’t vote for doctors,” exclaimed Ingraham, who recently sat with the president to tout the unproven coronavirus cure hydroxychloroquine. “We voted for political leadership that sees the big picture. That means the whole picture of America.”She continued to hammer away at that message Wednesday on her Twitter account.Tucker Carlson Wants to Have It Both Ways on Coronavirus“At some point, the president is going to have to look at Drs. Fauci and Birx and say, we're opening on May 1,” she wrote on Wednesday morning. “Give me your best guidance on protocols, but we cannot deny our people their basic freedoms any longer.”“America must get back to work,” Ingraham blared in another tweet. “‘Experts’ were wrong on fatalities by a factor of 30 now want to dictate when we reopen.”While Trump’s Fox News cabinet is declaring the crisis over, the network’s brass is still taking the pandemic seriously, implementing strict social-distancing policies for its employees. In a memo sent last week, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott announced the company would distribute thermometers to all essential workers and suggested the use of face masks for anyone who had to come into one of Fox’s offices. Additionally, Scott said that Fox was targeting May 4 as a possible return date for employees currently telecommuting.And as Fox News’ biggest stars tried to convince the president to ditch social distancing altogether, one of Trump’s own health officials rebuked the network’s faux-populist manipulation of the expert data and projections.“Physical distancing is incredibly important—remember the projections,” Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said Wednesday on Fox & Friends. “I have seen people twist that like this was not going to be that bad after all and we didn’t need to do it. That’s a complete misinterpretation. The estimate of deaths going down is the result of the fact that we have listened to the president and vice president and task force.”“I do want to emphasize the point, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t keep your foot—don’t take your foot off the gas,” Giroir continued. “Because we really need to continue these efforts because we could see another peak, a second peak, a third peak if people don’t do the physical distancing or they think it’s all over.“It’s not over yet.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 14:31:18 -0400
  • Senate Democrats block McConnell's $250 billion small business loans bill, demanding double funding news

    Senators will either have to return to Washington or get negotiating to get the next round of coronavirus relief funding flowing.With just four senators in the chamber on Thursday, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) blocked a unanimous voice vote in favor of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's $250 billion small business loans bill. Cardin called the bill a "political stunt," and reiterated congressional Democrats' demands for greater accountability and diversity in how the bill would be spent.Cardin's opposition didn't come as a surprise, seeing as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled Democrats' demands for the bill on Wednesday. They'd like to see that $250 billion doubled, with an extra $100 billion going to hospitals, community health centers, and health systems; $150 billion for state and local governments; and an additional 15 percent support added to SNAP food stamp benefits. They also demanded that half of the small business loans "serve farmers, family, women, and minority and veteran-owned small businesses and nonprofits in rural, tribal, suburban, and urban communities."Senators have largely scattered back to their home states amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Without a provision for remote voting, any actions Congress wants to take have to be done without opposition.More stories from Biden is the weakest major party nominee in recent history — but that might be the point 4 important parenting lessons from life in lockdown Biden pledges to lower Medicare age and reduce some student debt in olive branch to Sanders supporters

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 11:24:00 -0400
  • US shares see their biggest weekly gain in 46 years news

    Investors were in bullish mood despite record US job losses and continued coronavirus shutdowns.

    Fri, 10 Apr 2020 00:08:58 -0400
  • CDC releases data of worst U.S. coronavirus cases news

    The CDC gathered data on those who were hospitalized from COVID-19 in 14 states from March 1-30, in efforts to get a clearer picture of those infected who needed the most serious medical care.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 19:34:26 -0400
  • Fauci outlines return to normal once coronavirus outbreak weakens news

    In an interview on the "TODAY" show, Fauci said that when the U.S. attempts to return to normal, the virus won’t suddenly disappear.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 08:32:00 -0400
  • China says new coronavirus cases lower, tightens land border containment news

    China on Friday reported a fall in new coronavirus cases, particularly imported and asymptomatic infections which authorities fear could see a second wave of COVID-19 as city and travel restrictions are lifted. The National Health Commission said 42 new cases were reported in the mainland on Thursday, compared with 63 cases a day earlier, putting total infections at 81,907. The commission said 38 of the new patients were imported cases, down from 61 a day earlier, and there were 47 new asymptomatic cases compared with 61 a day earlier.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 19:56:40 -0400
  • Italian cemeteries can't keep up with deaths from pandemic news

    In Bergamo, a city in Northern Italy, bodies are being kept in a makeshift morgue, unrefrigerated.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 14:52:26 -0400
  • Liz Cheney Calls WHO’s Tedros ‘A Puppet of the Chinese Communist Party’ news

    Representative Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) slammed the World Health Organization’s director general Tedros Adhanom for being “a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party” over the organization’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.Cheney, speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt, cited Tedros’s kowtowing to Chinese authority in the wake of the outbreak, despite multiple reports detailing how Chinese government officials failed in their response.“The fact that the head of the WHO was unwilling to say, for example, yes, it’s right to cut off travel from China, was unwilling to acknowledge that there was, you know, community transmission, has been touting the Chinese Communist Party line from the beginning of this, tells you that he absolutely should go,” Cheney stated. “And again, you know, we’re in a situation where having somebody who is a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party running the WHO is costing lives around the world. And in order for that organization to play anywhere near the role we need it to play, it needs a new director, certainly."Beijing silenced Wuhan laboratories which had realized in December that the coronavirus was related to the deadly SARS virus from 2002-2003, and continued to claim that coronavirus could not be transmitted from human-to-human for weeks after evidence of that fact emerged.The WHO parroted Beijing's line on January 14, tweeting that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus." The WHO also defended China’s multiple drastic alterations to its coronavirus case count, and has not criticized Beijing for refusing to count asymptomatic cases until April 1. Multiple reports have detailed how China backed Tedros’s bid for WHO director general in 2017, after he had worked closely with Beijing as Ethiopia's health minister.On Wednesday, Tedros defended his leadership and the response to the virus, warning that U.S. lawmakers were “politicizing” the pandemic.“Please, unity at national level. No using COVID for political points,” he said. “And then second, honest solidarity at global level and honest leadership from the U.S. and China . . . We shouldn't waste time pointing fingers. We need time to unite."Tedros also added that he was being personally attacked with “racist comments.”“I can tell you personal attacks that have been going on for more than two, three months. Abuses, or racist comments, giving me names, black or Negro. I’m proud of being black, proud of being Negro,” he stated. “I don’t care, to be honest . . .  even death threats. I don’t give a damn.”President Trump hammered the WHO on Tuesday, tweeting that the organization “really blew it.”> The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?> > -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2020Cheney is not the only lawmaker to single out Tedros for criticism. Last week, Senator Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) called him “a communist” and said Tedros “needs to step down.”

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 10:21:05 -0400
  • Russia aims to prosecute destruction of war monuments abroad news

    Russia’s defense minister called on law enforcement officials Wednesday to consider filing criminal charges against representatives of other countries where World War II memorials commemorating the actions of the Soviet Union are demolished. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the appeal to the head of the Investigative Committee, Russia’s top criminal investigation body. Russia takes offense at any criticism of the Soviet role in the war.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 13:59:38 -0400
  • US criticizes WHO for ignoring Taiwan virus warnings news

    The United States on Thursday accused the World Health Organization of putting politics first by ignoring early coronavirus warnings by Taiwan, which voiced outrage over criticism from the UN body's chief. President Donald Trump has gone on an offensive with threats to withhold funding for the WHO, which is at the forefront of fighting the pandemic that has infected more than 1.5 million people worldwide since emerging in Wuhan, China late last year. Critics say that Trump's sudden threats against the WHO amount to a political ploy to find a foreign scapegoat as he comes under fire for not doing more to prepare for and control COVID-19, which has killed about 15,000 people in the United States.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 20:09:25 -0400
  • New York City will bury unclaimed bodies on a remote island after 14 days because coronavirus deaths are overwhelming morgues news

    The city typically waits 30 days before interring bodies in mass graves on Hart Island, but the coronavirus' death toll is overwhelming the system.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 15:19:00 -0400
  • Coronavirus: 'Drop in global trade to be worse than 2008 crisis' news

    The World Trade Organization (WTO) predicts a contraction of between 13% and 32% this year.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 11:36:34 -0400
  • Head of Global Strike Command Wants to Make Air Force Bombers Even More Lethal news

    The Air Force plans to have 165 to 175 bombers in its inventory once the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber comes online.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 16:07:26 -0400
  • Texas teen accused of threatening to spread coronavirus is charged news

    Maradiaga claimed in a series of Snapchat videos to have tested positive and threatened to willfully spread COVID-19, according to police.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:58:00 -0400
  • Key China coronavirus hospital says HIV drug beneficial to patients news

    Chinese doctors at the primary hospital treating severe coronavirus patients in the city of Wuhan said they have been using the HIV drug Kaletra since January and believe it is beneficial, despite a previous study that it was ineffective. "We believe taking this drug is beneficial," Zhang told reporters on Thursday in reference to Kaletra.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 07:01:27 -0400
  • President says 'we are praying for' Boris Johnson as coronavirus cases in New York overtake any other country news

    The number of coronavirus cases in New York state has now passed 151,600, meaning it has more confirmed infections than any country barring the US itself, as the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits surges to almost 17m.Despite those grim figures, Donald Trump’s mind appeared to be on other matters, including blasting the Wall Street Journal for not praising him on his ratings during Monday night's White House press briefing. The president tweeted out against the newspaper and called it "fake news" for not saying his ratings were "through the roof".

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 17:27:00 -0400
  • Japan to Pay Companies to Move Production Out of China news

    Japan will devote more than $2.2 billion of its coronavirus economic stimulus package to incentivize its manufacturers to move their production out of China as relations fray between the neighboring countries in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.The record stimulus plan provides $2 billion for manufacturers to transfer production to Japan and over $216 million to help companies move production to other countries. Imports from China, Japan's biggest trading partner, were down by nearly 50 percent in February as facilities in China closed while the coronavirus ripped through the country.A state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month — the first such visit in about a decade — was postponed indefinitely last month amid the coronavirus pandemic.“We are doing our best to resume economic development,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday of Japan's decision during a press conference in Beijing.“In this process, we hope other countries will act like China and take proper measures to ensure the world economy will be impacted as little as possible and to ensure that supply chains are impacted as little as possible.”Politicians in Japan and the U.S., among other countries, have placed blame on China for failing to respond strongly during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak and concealing the scale of the threat from other nations. Despite recent developments, Japan has donated masks and personal protective equipment to China."Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the Japanese government and people have expressed sympathy, understanding and support to us," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in early February.As of Thursday, Japan had more than 4,700 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 85 deaths from the respiratory illness.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 16:06:03 -0400
  • Stephen Colbert Grills Bernie Sanders: Are You Endorsing Biden or Not? news

    In his first interview since dropping out of the presidential primary campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) beamed into Stephen Colbert’s house on The Late Show. And the host’s big question was all about the “presumptive nominee” Joe Biden.Asked if he’s spoken to the former vice president since making his decision to exit the race, Sanders said yes before quickly pivoting to what separates the two men as opposed to the many things that unite them.“It’s no great secret that Joe Biden’s politics are different than mine,” he said. “But I have known Joe since I came to the Senate in 2006, worked with him when he was vice president in the Obama administration.” As he did in his address to supporters earlier in the day, Sanders called Biden a “decent human being” and added, “I hope to be able to work with Joe to move him in a more progressive direction.” Calling Biden a “good politician,” Sanders said that Biden “understands that in order to defeat the president, that in order to defeat Trump, he’s going to need to bring new people into his political world” and “start moving in a different direction than he has in the past.”Stephen Colbert Loses It Over Trump’s Coronavirus Briefings: ‘Who Gives a Sh*t?!’Dennis Quaid Believes Trump Is ‘Doing a Good Job’ Handling CoronavirusWith all of that in mind, Colbert asked Sanders directly, “Is that a full-throated endorsement of Joe Biden?” The host began to smile as Sanders evaded the question. “We’re going to be talking to Joe and we are talking to his team of advisers,” Sanders said before repeating his promise to do “everything that I can to make sure that Donald Trump is not reelected.” “I will do everything I can,” Sanders said, “but I will say that we’re talking to Joe and talking to his team about how we can work together.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 22:27:22 -0400
  • Barr says Russia probe was started 'without basis' news

    Attorney General William Barr believes the Russia investigation that shadowed President Donald Trump for the first two years of his administration was started without any basis and amounted to an effort to “sabotage the presidency,” he said in an interview with Fox News Channel that aired Thursday. Barr offered no support for his assertion that the FBI lacked a basis for opening the investigation and made no mention of the fact that the bureau began its probe after a Trump campaign adviser purported to have early knowledge that Russia had dirt on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 22:57:14 -0400
  • Singapore Reports Record Increase in New Coronavirus Cases news

    (Bloomberg) -- Singapore reported its largest daily increase in coronavirus cases on Wednesday, just as the city-state started a partial lockdown set to last several weeks to contain the spread of the infection.Authorities said there were 142 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 1,623. An Indian national who died while awaiting his test result was subsequently confirmed to have the infection, according to the Ministry of Health. Investigations are going on to establish the cause of death, it said. If confirmed, that would be the seventh fatality linked to the disease.Of the new cases, 40 are linked to clusters at foreign worker dormitories, and 28 are linked to non-dormitory clusters or other cases. Only two of the infections were imported. Contact tracing is pending on the remaining 72.City ClampdownSingapore this week banned public and private gatherings of any size and will fine or jail those involved in meetings among friends or family members who are not living together. The country has closed workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, and schools have moved to full home-based learning as part of “circuit-breaker” measures, which last to May 4.Concern has grown over the conditions of some 20,000 foreign workers housed in dormitories that have been gazetted as “isolation areas.” The government has been increasing efforts to ensure the workers receive regular meals and the dormitories are properly cleaned, according to the Ministry of Manpower.The ministry said on Wednesday that conditions at the dormitories continue to improve, with meal portions increasing and waste management and sanitation regimes being stepped up.(Updates to add comment from ministry in last paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 10:18:52 -0400
  • Linda Tripp: Woman who revealed Clinton-Lewinsky scandal dies news

    Linda Tripp, who disclosed Bill Clinton's White House affair with Monica Lewinsky dies, aged 70.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 05:44:32 -0400
  • The New York National Guard is assisting in the removal of bodies from homes, and is reportedly using Enterprise rental vans to do it news

    Around 150 National Guard soldiers are helping New York City's medical examiner in collecting the remains.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 14:20:54 -0400
  • China investigates party member critical of government's handling of coronavirus outbreak news

    China is investigating a prominent Communist Party member who criticized leader Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 07:09:54 -0400
  • Coronavirus: California woman arrested for licking $1,800 worth of groceries news

    A California woman has been arrested after licking $1,800 worth of groceries and other items at a supermarket in the northern part of the state, police said Wednesday. Chris Fiore, spokesman for the South Lake Tahoe police department, near the border with Nevada, told AFP that officers were called to the Safeway store on Tuesday following reports of "a customer licking groceries" at a time of heightened fears over the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus. "When officers arrived on the scene, a Safeway employee informed them that the suspect put numerous pieces of jewelry from the store on her hands," he said.

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 21:47:01 -0400
  • Mexico reports first deaths of pregnant women from coronavirus news

    Mexico has recorded its first two deaths of pregnant women from the coronavirus as the overall number of fatalities in the country reached 194, the health ministry said on Thursday. One of the two women gave birth to a son before passing away, deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told a news conference, noting that pregnant women are highly susceptible to infection caused by the virus. For a short time the baby boy had respiratory problems and is still delicate, he added.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 20:11:57 -0400
  • Woman gives birth standing with trousers on while detained at US-Mexico border news

    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.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 17:20:00 -0400
  • Bernie Sanders, Sellout news

    Yesterday, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders officially dropped out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Despite early successes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, Sanders failed to put up much of a fight against Joe Biden after the latter convincingly won South Carolina. And so, for the second campaign in a row, he has come up short against a weak but well-known presumptive front-runner.In the not-too-distant past, this would have depressed me. When Sanders announced his 2016 presidential campaign, I had never heard of him, but he didn't take too long to figure out. On economic questions, he was among the left-most political figures ever to achieve prominence in America, and was clearly proud of it. On other issues, he strayed from left-wing orthodoxy in some interesting ways. He evinced a skepticism of open borders and increased immigration that occasionally made him sound downright Trumpy. He had a surprisingly decent record on gun rights. And above all, he actually seemed to believe what he said, which I found a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed with the obfuscation and opportunism of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.Four years later, my view of the Sanders phenomenon has changed completely. I do not now mourn the end of Sanders's candidacy, because in his second run for the White House he proved himself to be just another politician: He deemphasized or outright jettisoned his politically inconvenient stances in pursuit of power, while remaining true to a core far-left agenda that, in the absence of that aura of integrity, seems far scarier than it did four years ago.It was always one of the more striking aspects of Sanders's rhetoric that he could sound like an immigration hawk. In a 2015 interview with Vox, he famously called open borders a “Koch brothers proposal”:> It would make everybody in America poorer — you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation-state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.To be fair, Sanders wasn't necessarily getting immigration-policy advice from Mark Krikorian. He represented an older strain of left-wing thought that argued against immigration from the perspective of labor unions concerned about multinational corporations and undercut wages. But nevertheless, when he spoke of the issue, he could sound surprisingly like Donald Trump, then rampaging his way through the Republican primaries.That Bernie Sanders is gone now. His 2020 platform called for “breaking up ICE and CBP and redistributing their functions to their proper authorities,” unilaterally reinstating President Obama’s DACA and DAPA programs, and decriminalizing illegal immigration, among other things. For the most part, he became difficult to distinguish from his Democratic opponents on immigration, except insofar as some of them chased after him as he moved left in the hope of capturing more votes. Thus did this unconventional aspect of his public persona recede.The story on gun rights is much the same. Vermont is caricatured as a semi-socialist state, and maybe the caricature is accurate. But it also has relatively loose gun laws, and a high rate of per capita firearm ownership. As a representative of the state in various capacities, Sanders has compiled a record that reflects this. The National Rifle Association helped him first win election to the House in 1990, where he would vote against the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. As a senator, he has supported bills that would allow firearms in checked bags on Amtrak trains. And after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, Sanders said, “If you passed the strongest gun-control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.” Though this record was a source of consternation for an otherwise adoring left in 2016, and was fodder for Hillary Clinton's campaign, he didn’t run away from it then.Four years later, the story was very different. A watershed moment came during a February Democratic primary debate, when he was asked about his past vote to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits pertaining to the use of guns in shootings. “I’ve cast thousands of votes, including bad votes,” Sanders said. “That was a bad vote.” His 2020 platform proposed a buyback program for guns and a ban on assault weapons. In a fitting bookend to his elective career, it also demanded that Democrats “take on the NRA and its corrupting effect on Washington.” Once again, Sanders had tacked left under pressure in search of votes, willingly abandoning a unique part of his persona to the political needs of the moment.Shorn of the ideological heterodoxies that made him appealing, Sanders was reduced to his essence as a crusader for hard-left economics. When, in 2015, he argued that, “You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm-spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country,” I still regarded his economic platform as a quirk that might inspire him to join with fiscally conservative Republicans to, say, cut corporate welfare. But it wasn’t a quirk at all: He recently expressed disgust at the idea that someone might make money developing drugs to fight the novel coronavirus.Meanwhile, in his second campaign certain aspects of Sanders’s record that were always there for those who wanted to see them became impossible to ignore. We knew in 2016 that, as mayor of Burlington, the just-married Sanders had visited the Soviet Union on a mission to procure a Soviet sister city that doubled as his honeymoon. Those facts would be more forgivable if he had not offered unqualified praise for Cuban “literacy programs” and the economic progress of Communist China in 2020.In 2016, smitten with the heterodox left-populist gadfly I thought I’d found, I either did not realize the currency that Sanders's economic views had in the Democratic Party or did not anticipate the extent of the foothold they would gain in it. This is due mostly to young voters, who in a 2019 Gallup survey thought almost equally well of capitalism and socialism (51 percent to 49 percent). Sanders consistently garnered more support than Clinton from this group in 2016. In 2020, he maintained that support to a certain extent, though it didn’t translate into actual votes as easily as it had before. Both times around, the center of the Democratic Party, such as it is, held. But the young democratic socialists uncovered by his campaigns continue to maintain that they are the future of the party’s politics, and of the country’s.If they are right, we can be sure that they won’t remember the Bernie Sanders whom I, as an outside conservative observer, once found somewhat compelling. For that Sanders held certain views they would abhor, views that he changed or abandoned when it became politically expedient. And that may be the most disappointing thing about Sanders: In the end, he stands revealed as just another guy all too happy to tell people what they wanted to hear.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 13:46:14 -0400
  • Trump Slammed the WHO Over Coronavirus. He's Not Alone. news

    President Donald Trump unleashed a tirade against the World Health Organization on Tuesday, accusing it of acting too slowly to sound the alarm about the coronavirus. It was not the first time in this pandemic that the global health body has faced such criticism.Government officials, health experts and analysts have in recent weeks raised concerns about how the organization has responded to the outbreak.In Japan, Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister and finance minister, recently noted that some people have started referring to the World Health Organization as the "Chinese Health Organization" because of what he described as its close ties to Beijing. Taiwanese officials say the WHO ignored its early warnings about the virus because China refuses to allow Taiwan, a self-governing island it claims as its territory, to become a member.Critics say the WHO has been too trusting of the Chinese government, which initially tried to conceal the outbreak in Wuhan. Others have faulted the organization and its leader, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for moving too slowly in declaring a global health emergency.The WHO, a U.N. agency, has defended its response, saying Wednesday that it alerted the world to the threat posed by the virus in a timely manner and that it was "committed to ensuring all member states are able to respond effectively to this pandemic."The agency's defenders say that its powers over any individual government are limited, and that it has done the best it can in dealing with a public health threat with few precedents in history.There will be time later to assess successes and failings, "this virus and its shattering consequences," the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, said Wednesday in a statement praising the WHO as "absolutely critical" to vanquishing COVID-19.Here's why the WHO is coming under attack.The WHO has not pushed China on early missteps.When cases of a mysterious viral pneumonia first appeared in Wuhan in December, Chinese health officials silenced whistleblowers and repeatedly played down the severity of the outbreak.Even as late as mid-January, as the virus spread beyond China's borders, Chinese officials described it as "preventable and controllable" and said there was no evidence it could be transmitted between humans on a broad scale.The WHO endorsed the government's claims, saying in mid-January, for example, that human-to-human transmission had not been proved.Critics say the organization's repeated deference to Beijing exacerbated the spread of the disease. A group of international experts was not allowed to visit Wuhan until mid-February."They could have been more forceful, especially in the initial stages in the crisis when there was a cover-up and there was inaction," said Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert specializing in China at Seton Hall University.Huang noted that during the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003, which killed more than 700 people worldwide, the WHO pushed the Chinese government to be more transparent by publicly criticizing it for trying to conceal the outbreak.At one point during the SARS epidemic, officials at hospitals in Beijing forced SARS patients into ambulances and drove them around to avoid their being seen by a visiting delegation of WHO experts, according to reports at the time.WHO officials were slow to declare a public health emergency, critics say.Even as the virus spread to more than half a dozen countries and forced China to place parts of Hubei province under lockdown in late January, the WHO was reluctant to declare it a global health emergency.WHO officials said at the time that a committee that discussed the epidemic was divided on the question of whether to call it an emergency but concluded that it was too early. One official added that they weighed the impact such a declaration might have on the people of China.After the United States announced a ban on most foreign citizens who had recently visited China, the WHO again seemed to show deference to Chinese officials, saying that travel restrictions were unnecessary. The group officially called the spread of the coronavirus a pandemic March 11.Some experts argue that the institution's delay in making such declarations deprived other countries of valuable time to prepare hospitals for an influx of patients."It reinforced the reluctance to take early strong measures before the catastrophe had actually landed on other shores," said François Godement, senior adviser for Asia at Institut Montaigne, a nonprofit group in Paris. "The WHO's tardiness or reluctance to call out the problem in full helped those who wanted to delay difficult decisions."The WHO defended its actions, saying Wednesday that it had "alerted member states to the significant risks and consequences of COVID-19 and provided them with a continuous flow of information" ever since Chinese officials first reported the outbreak Dec. 31.Guterres of the United Nations said, "It is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities." He added in his statement: "Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe and how all those involved reacted to the crisis."China's influence at the WHO is growing.China's leader, Xi Jinping, has made it a priority to strengthen Beijing's clout at international institutions, including the WHO, seeing the U.S.-dominated global order as an impediment to his country's rise as a superpower.China contributes only a small fraction of the WHO's $6 billion budget, while the United States is one of its main benefactors. But in recent years, Beijing has worked in other ways to expand its influence at the organization.The government has lobbied the WHO to promote traditional Chinese medicine, which Xi has worked to harness as a source of national pride and deployed as a soft-power tool in developing countries, despite skepticism from some scientists about its effectiveness.Last year, the WHO offered an endorsement of traditional Chinese medicine, including it in its influential medical compendium. The move was roundly criticized by animal welfare activists, who argued that it could contribute to a surge in illegal trafficking of wildlife whose parts are used in Chinese remedies.China has sought to promote traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of symptoms of the coronavirus both at home and abroad. Last month, the WHO was criticized after it removed a warning against taking traditional herbal remedies to treat the coronavirus from its websites in mainland China.China's role at the WHO will probably continue to grow in the coming years, especially if Western governments retreat from the organization, as Trump has threatened."This is part of China's efforts to more actively engage in international institutions," said Huang, the global health expert. "It will not please every country or every actor, but it's going to affect the agenda of the WHO."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Wed, 08 Apr 2020 14:46:21 -0400
  • AP PHOTOS: Virus stills Iran's frenetic capital, Tehran news

    The typically frenetic streets of Iran's capital, Tehran, have fallen silent and empty over recent days due to the new coronavirus outbreak that's gripped the Islamic Republic. Iran’s government for days downplayed the effects of the virus. The same goes for the cinemas, the bus stations and the malls, including a massive one in Tehran's outskirts now housing a newly built clinic for the virus.

    Thu, 09 Apr 2020 02:10:39 -0400
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