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HeadlinesMarch 24, 2020

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U.N. Calls for Global Ceasefire So Countries Can Unite in Fight Against Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 24, 2020

The World Health Organization warns the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating,” with cases recorded in at least 184 of 195 countries. There are nearly 385,000 confirmed cases worldwide and over 16,500 deaths. WHO’s director general said he would address world leaders this week and request global powers coordinate efforts to fight the pandemic and increase production of protective gear for frontline healthcare workers.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres Monday called for a global ceasefire to “end the sickness of war” and focus all of the world’s resources on fighting the pandemic.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly. Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world. The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price. They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.”

Italy’s COVID-19 Death Toll Tops 6,000 as Spain Officials Say Nearly 4,000 Health Workers Are Infected

Mar 24, 2020

In Europe, Italy’s death toll has topped 6,000, with nearly 64,000 confirmed cases, as the country remains in near total lockdown. In a slight glimmer of hope, Italy recorded a lower daily increase of cases for the second day in a row Monday.

Spain continues to be hit hard by the pandemic, recording over 460 deaths Monday — the biggest daily number so far. Officials say nearly 4,000 health workers have been infected with the coronavirus in Spain, amounting to more than one in 10 of all confirmed cases. Spain’s defense minister said soldiers called in to help with the outbreak have reported finding older people “dead and abandoned” in nursing homes.

France reported a surge of 186 coronavirus deaths Monday, raising the death toll to 860. People in France are under strict lockdown orders and are required to show paperwork when outside of their homes indicating the purpose of their outing.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered people to leave their homes only for food or other essential needs and is restricting public gatherings to no more than two people. Police will enforce the measures with fines and by breaking up larger gatherings.

Trump Says Country Will Be “Open for Business Very Soon” Despite Skyrocketing COVID-19 Infections

Mar 24, 2020

President Trump said America will be “open for business very soon,” and suggested the U.S. could dramatically change its approach to handling the pandemic.

President Donald Trump: “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem. At the end of the 15-day period, we’ll make a decision as to which way we want to go, where we want to go, the timing. And essentially, we’re referring to the timing of the opening, essentially the opening of our country.”

Trump’s message was in stark contrast to the United Nations, public health experts and other heads of state around the world. This is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “We’ve all seen the pictures online of people who seem to think they’re invincible. Well, you’re not. Enough is enough. Go home and stay home.”

And this is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction: You must stay at home, because the critical thing we must do to stop the disease spreading between households.”

Trump also said if solving the pandemic were up to doctors, they would “keep [the world] shut for a couple of years.” This comes as reports say Trump is growing impatient with Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has had to correct Trump’s repeated falsehoods about the pandemic. Fauci was not present at Monday evening’s press briefing.

16 U.S. States Enforce Stay-at-Home Orders Amid Coronavirus Pandemic Affecting Over 40% of Population

Mar 24, 2020

Sixteen states around the U.S. have so far announced or enacted stay-at-home orders affecting over 40% of the U.S. population as coronavirus cases start to overwhelm hospitals and threaten severe medical supply shortages. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday the military is getting ready to deploy field hospitals to New York and Seattle, and the first of two military hospital ships was dispatched on Monday to increase hospital bed capacity.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned his state is seeing the fastest growth rate in coronavirus cases in the world and that Louisiana could become “the next Italy.” Over 1,000 cases have been identified, over half in New Orleans, with 35 deaths statewide. Louisiana’s “stay at home” order went into effect Monday.

Texas Orders Abortion Providers to Stop Performing Procedures

Mar 24, 2020

Texas has become the latest state to attack reproductive freedoms amid the coronavirus crisis, as Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered abortion providers stop performing the procedure, claiming they are not “medically necessary.” Medical providers could face fines or even jail time for violating the order.

Texas Lt. Gov.: Elderly Should “Sacrifice” for U.S. Economy Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 24, 2020

In other news from Texas, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick rejected the idea of social distancing, urged a swift return to work, and said older people — who are much more vulnerable to the virus — should “sacrifice” for the country’s economy.

Man in AZ Dies, Wife in Critical Condition, After Couple Took Chloroquine to Prevent Coronavirus Infection

Mar 24, 2020

In Arizona, a man has died, and his wife is in critical condition, after the couple took chloroquine to try to prevent a coronavirus infection. The anti-malarial drug has been touted as a possible treatment for the coronavirus by President Trump, but it has not been approved by the FDA or the WHO. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists added hydroxychloroquine, a derivative of chloroquine, to a list of drug shortages last week, following Trump’s statements. The WHO’s director general urged people not to use untested drugs to treat COVID-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “There is currently no treatment that has been proven to be effective against COVID-19. It’s great to see the level of energy now being directed to research and development against COVID-19. Small, observational and nonrandomized studies will not give us the answers we need. Using untested medicines without the right evidence could raise false hope and even do more harm than good.”

ORR Refuses to Free Migrant Kids from NY Facilities Where 3 Staff Tested Positive for COVID-19

Mar 24, 2020

In New York, officials with the Office of Refugee Resettlement have refused to free migrant children who are currently being held in two facilities where staff members tested positive for coronavirus. The officials say they will not be released to sponsors, who are usually family members, until quarantines at the facilities are lifted.

NJ Plans to Release Some 1,000 Prisoners from County Jails to Limit Spread of Coronavirus

Mar 24, 2020

New Jersey said it would start releasing as many as 1,000 inmates from county jails starting today to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday 75 prisoners have already been released, and officials were reviewing cases of hundreds more. At Rikers Island, 39 coronavirus cases have been reported among prisoners and 21 among staff, as of Monday.

Meanwhile in Chicago, local authorities say they are planning to release low-risk prisoners after two inmates at the Cook County Jail tested positive for COVID-19. A corrections officer at the facility also recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

New York Now Accounts for Around 5% of All COVID-19 Cases in the World

Mar 24, 2020

New York remains the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and now accounts for around 5% of all cases around the world. The total number of confirmed cases stands at over 23,000 this morning. The “attack rate,” or the percentage of the population infected with the virus, was nearly one in 1,000 in New York — five times higher than in other parts of the country.

Over 180 New Yorkers have died, and the pace of deaths is expected to accelerate. On Monday, the Brooklyn Democracy Academy announced the passing of the school’s principal, Dezann Romain, due to complications from COVID-19. Romain was just 36 years old. She’s the first public school employee in New York known to have died from coronavirus.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York is now able to test 16,000 people a day. At a daily press briefing, Cuomo ordered New York hospitals to increase their capacity by 50%. The Javits Convention Center is expected to be converted into an additional hospital this week to start handling the overflow of coronavirus patients. Cuomo again urged the federal government to take decisive action to send emergency funding to the state, as well as to produce and distribute much-needed medical supplies.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “Let the federal government put in place the federal Defense Production Act. It does not nationalize any industry. All it does is say to a factory, 'You must produce this quantity.' That’s all it does.”

In other parts of the country, governors and local officials are also clamoring for much-needed supplies. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Monday a recent shipping of personal protective equipment, or PPE, from the national stockpile was barely enough to cover one shift at a hospital. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 400 ventilators from the federal stockpile were sent to New York City to help treat the growing number of patients.

Governor Cuomo also announced Monday New York will be the first state to test a coronavirus treatment that involves injecting blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients into individuals fighting off the disease.

Puerto Rico Passes $787 Million Financial Package as Coronavirus Pandemic Further Cripples Economy

Mar 24, 2020

Puerto Rico passed a record $787 million financial package to fight the economic hit caused by the pandemic. Measures include a three-month moratorium on mortgage payments, as well as other loans; bonuses for essential services providers such as medical staff and police; and improving remote education by buying tablets and educational tools. Governor Wanda Vázquez also said Puerto Rico’s public sector employees will keep getting paid, and small businesses and self-employed workers will receive cash to cope with the crisis.

U.S. Senate, Treasury Sec. Could Soon Agree to a $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

Mar 24, 2020

In Washington, D.C., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Monday night they are close to a $2 trillion deal and expect to come to an agreement sometime this morning. Earlier Monday, Senate Democrats again blocked a coronavirus relief bill, which they said did not have enough worker protections and created a slush fund to bail out companies. When asked who would provide oversight for corporate bailouts at Monday night’s press briefing, Trump responded, “I’ll be the oversight.” The hashtag #NotDying4WallStreet is trending on Twitter. Calls have been mounting to allow remote voting so that lawmakers can avoid gathering and potentially spreading the virus. Meanwhile Congressmembers Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar unveiled a bill to cancel $30,000 of student debt for all borrowers during the crisis.

Federal Reserve Says It’ll Buy Unlimited Amount of Bonds as U.S. Unemployment Skyrockets

Mar 24, 2020

In an unprecedented move to salvage the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve said Monday it would buy unlimited amounts of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, and extend loans to businesses. The Labor Department is expected to report next week that a record-breaking 3 million Americans have filed first-time claims for unemployment. The president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve predicted the U.S. unemployment rate could hit 30% in the coming weeks and months.

Coronavirus Death Toll in Iran Approaches 2,000 with Almost 25,000 Confirmed Cases

Mar 24, 2020

The coronavirus death toll in Iran is approaching 2,000 with nearly 25,000 confirmed cases. President Hassan Rouhani blamed U.S. sanctions for the devastating toll the coronavirus has had in Iran as the crumbling medical infrastructure is struggling to keep up with new cases.

Pakistan’s COVID-19 Cases Top 900, Prompting Gov’t Ban on All Int’l Flights; Saudi Arabia Imposes Curfew

Mar 24, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan has topped 900, with seven deaths, prompting the government to ban all international flights.

Saudi Arabia has the highest number of infections in the Gulf region with over 560 confirmed cases; it imposed a nationwide curfew Monday.

South Africa Enacts Nat’l Lockdown; Prominent Zimbabwe Journalist Zororo Makamba Dies of COVID-19

Mar 24, 2020

In Africa, the virus has been spreading quickly, with confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassing 1,700 across 45 countries.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a three-week national lockdown Monday as the country confirmed more than 550 cases — the highest number in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Zimbabwe, prominent 30-year-old television journalist Zororo Makamba has died after contracting COVID-19. He reportedly contracted the virus while he was recently visiting New York.

In West Africa, Senegal and Ivory Coast on Monday each declared states of emergency as they grapple to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Tokyo Olympics to Be Postponed Until 2021

Mar 24, 2020

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has confirmed a one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games, agreed to during talks with the International Olympic Committee.

Indonesia Reports Over 100 COVID-19 Cases as China to Lift Lockdown on Wuhan

Mar 24, 2020

Indonesia reported over 100 cases Tuesday, marking its biggest daily surge. Indonesia now has nearly 700 confirmed cases and at least 55 deaths.

Meanwhile, China has announced it will lift the lockdown on Wuhan, the city where the first COVID-19 infections were reported, on April 8, after two months of quarantine. Other lockdowns will be lifted Wednesday across other cities in Hubei province.

U.S. Cuts $1 Billion for Afghanistan After Political Stalemate Stalls Peace Deal

Mar 24, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. is cutting $1 billion of aid to Afghanistan after he failed to make any headway on his visit Monday. The country has been in political turmoil as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah both claim they won last year’s election. The fragile Afghan peace deal has also stalled over a disagreement between the government and the Taliban on the release of thousands of prisoners.

Mexican Man Is the 10th Death in ICE Custody Since October

Mar 24, 2020

In immigration news, BuzzFeed News reports a 42-year-old man from Mexico died at a hospital while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in Texas. His death is the 10th since October and the second to occur just three days after the death by an apparent suicide of a 27-year-old Honduran man at the Karnes Detention Center last week.

PG&E Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter for 2018 Camp Fire That Killed 85 People

Mar 24, 2020

In California, Pacific Gas and Electric announced it pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for its role in the devastating 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and burned the town of Paradise to the ground.


Colorado Abolishes Death Penalty

Mar 24, 2020

In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis signed into law a bill abolishing the death penalty and commuting the sentences of three men on Colorado’s death row to life in prison. Colorado joins 21 states and the District of Columbia, which have already banned the death penalty.

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