Monday, March 30, 2020 — A Coronavirus pandemic news roundup from the United States to Spain and Italy, to Nigeria, Russia and the Philippines.
Trump Extends Social Distancing, Says U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Could Reach 100,000
The death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic is nearing 35,000 around the world as confirmed cases have now risen to over 730,000. The United States continues to lead in coronavirus cases with over 143,000 known infections — though the true number is certain to be much higher — and over 2,500 deaths.
On Sunday, Trump walked back earlier statements about lifting social distancing advisories by Easter, instead extending the government guidelines through the end of April. He said the peak death rate is likely two weeks from now.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned coronavirus could kill up to 200,000 Americans but that any estimate was still a “moving target.” Trump addressed the possible U.S. death toll while speaking at his Sunday press briefing.
President Donald Trump: “So you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people, from this. And so, if we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — it’s a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000 — so we have between 100,000 to 200,000, we, all together, have done a very good job.”
The 2.2 million figure comes from one projection model if no measures were put in place to slow down the spread of the virus.
Trump also boasted about his TV ratings and attacked PBS News reporter Yamiche Alcindor.
Yamiche Alcindor: “You said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don’t actually need. You said New York might not need 30,000” —
President Donald Trump: “I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that.”
Yamiche Alcindor: “You said it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News.”
President Donald Trump: “I didn’t say that. Come on. Come on.”
Yamiche Alcindor: “You said that you might” —
President Donald Trump: “You know, why don’t — why don’t you people act — let me ask you” —
Yamiche Alcindor: “You said some states” —
President Donald Trump: “Why don’t you act — why don’t you act in a little more positive — it’s always trying to get you.”
Yamiche Alcindor: “My question to you is” —
President Donald Trump: “Get you, get you. And you know what? That’s why nobody trusts the media anymore. That’s why people” —
Yamiche Alcindor: “My question to you is: How is that going to impact” —
President Donald Trump: “Excuse me, you didn’t hear me. That’s why you used to work for the Times, and now you work for somebody else. Look, let me tell you something: Be nice.”
Yamiche Alcindor: “Mr. President, my question is” —
President Donald Trump: “Don’t be threatening. Don’t be threatening.”
As states continue to issue dire warnings about the severe lack of medical equipment, Trump ordered General Motors Friday to produce 40,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, urging people to “refrain from non-essential domestic travel.” Trump previously said he would impose a quarantine on the tri-state area, which some state officials said was not in his purview.
States Mandate Quarantines, Set Up Checkpoints to Limit Cross-State COVID-19 Infections
Some states are taking their own measures to stop new cases of the coronavirus from traveling across state lines. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said Sunday it will require all out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine when entering Rhode Island. On Friday, she initially applied the order to just New Yorkers.
Florida recently unveiled new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus — after coming under criticism for not shutting down beaches during spring break — including an interstate highway checkpoint and requirements that travelers from New York and New Orleans self-quarantine for two weeks. Florida said it is deploying National Guard members to intercept travelers from the New York City area at airports. Governor Ron DeSantis also said the state would suspend vacation rentals for two weeks.
In other news from Florida, a reporter for the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times says DeSantis blocked her from entering a press briefing, after she requested the office allow for social distancing and video press briefings to protect journalists.
ER Doctor Who Blasted Lack of Worker & Patient Protections at WA Hospital Removed from Post
In Washington state, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine condemned the removal of a Bellingham ER doctor who publicly called out his hospital’s lack of protection for workers. Earlier this month, Dr. Ming Lin posted on Facebook that PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center was not following appropriate testing protocols and was exposing healthcare workers and patients to unnecessary risks.
Coronavirus Cases Mount in Prisons and Among Law Enforcement Workers
Coronavirus cases have been mounting across prison populations, with hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 cases among prisoners and staff in multiple jails in New York and around the country.
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he expects coronavirus cases among police officers to reach 900 today. Nearly 14% of the New York police force was out sick on Sunday, according to Commissioner Shea. Around 700 New Jersey police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 400 Detroit police officers are now in quarantine.
In Philadelphia, city officials have ended talks with the owner of what was once the Hahnemann University Hospital, which shut down last year after being purchased by a private equity firm. The owner of the property told the city to either buy the hospital, which has room for nearly 500 beds, or pay nearly $1 million per month to lease it.
9-Month-Old Is First Known Infant to Die from the Coronavirus in U.S.
In Illinois, a 9-month-old died after contracting COVID-19 — the first known infant death from the coronavirus in the U.S.
Cigna and Humana to Waive Copays for Coronavirus Treatment
In healthcare news, Trump said Cigna and Humana are waiving copays for coronavirus treatment, but some healthcare experts say insurance companies are set to make huge profits from the coronavirus crisis, in part by hiking up premiums next year.
CBS News Executive and Cancer Survivor Maria Mercader Dies from Coronavirus
CBS News announced Emmy Award-winning producer and CBS News executive Maria Mercader died from coronavirus. She was 54 years old and had survived cancer, which she battled for over two decades.
New York Scrambles to Build Hospitals, Imposes Fines for Violating Social Distancing Rules
New York remains the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States with more than 1,000 deaths and over 60,000 cases statewide — over half of those in New York City. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday residents who do not adhere to strict social distancing rules can be fined up to $500 as the city scrambles to stem a surge in new cases. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday New York will build eight temporary hospitals. Tents started going up in Central Park over the weekend, and an emergency field hospital is expected to be open on Tuesday to start caring for overflow patients from nearby Mount Sinai West Hospital.
NYC Nurses Protest Lack of Critical Equipment
Nurses from Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx held a demonstration to protest the lack of personal protective equipment as they face a spike in coronavirus cases. This is emergency room nurse Kelley Cabrera.
Kelley Cabrera: “This moment is for all of us right now on the frontlines to come together to show the world that we are real people taking care of real people. We’re here to show the federal government that we exist. And yes, we are here in protest of the fact that they have the capabilities and the resources to help us, and they sadly have chosen not to do so.”
Click here to see our interview with Kelley Cabrera and pediatric emergency nurse Sean Petty. Nurses across the country, including in Georgia, Illinois and California, have staged similar protests in recent days. On Sunday, Trump accused hospitals of “hoarding” ventilators and questioned why masks were “disappearing” from hospitals.
New York Bars Hospitals from Banning Support People During Labor and Delivery
In more news from New York, Governor Cuomo released an executive order Saturday saying hospitals could not force pregnant people to give birth without a chosen support person. The order comes in response to a move by the NewYork-Presbyterian and the Mount Sinai hospital systems to bar partners from labor and delivery rooms, causing widespread outrage.
New York became the latest state to postpone its presidential primary, originally scheduled for next month, to June 23, the same date as state legislative and congressional elections.
CA Gov. Newsom Says State Received 170 Broken Ventilators from Nat’l Stockpile
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom says his state received 170 broken ventilators from a national stockpile but that a Silicon Valley company was working to fix them. California cases have topped 6,000 with over 130 deaths.
In more news from California, the mayor of Lancaster has said that a teenager who is believed to have died from COVID-19 last week was turned away from an urgent care clinic because he did not have health insurance.
President Trump Signs $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package
President Trump signed the record-breaking $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package into law Friday after the House of Representatives passed the massive bill earlier in the day. On the House floor, New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted the bill’s $500 billion corporate bailout.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “We have to go into this vote eyes wide open. What did the Senate majority fight for? One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful! The greed of that fight is wrong for crumbs for our families. And the option that we have is to either let them suffer with nothing or to allow this greed and billions of dollars, which will be leveraged into trillions of dollars, to contribute to the largest income inequality gap in our future.”
Trump said he will not adhere to oversight provisions for the corporate bailout and that his administration would not provide documentation to audit the money.
Millions of Undocumented Workers Left Out of Coronavirus Stimulus Plan; Dozens of Immigrants on Hunger Strike at Northwest Detention Center
Millions of undocumented workers have been left out of the government stimulus plan as they face some of the highest rates of job loss. Immigrant rights groups are also warning Trump’s so-called public charge rule, which allows officials to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who use public benefits, has left some too scared to seek medical help.
Dozens of immigrants at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, have been on hunger strike since Friday to protest their continued imprisonment at the for-profit facility, owned by GEO Group. This is a striking immigrant prisoner.
Striking immigrant prisoner: “We’re just asking for deportations to be postponed while the pandemic passes. We are not asking for anything more. I think we are human. We are not animals to be treated as the worst thing in this country. We are asking for a humanitarian visa.”
In other immigration news, a federal judge in Los Angeles has urged the government to work to release imprisoned immigrant children amid the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
Staten Island Amazon Employees to Walk Out as Workers for Grocery Delivery App Instacart Go on Strike
In labor news, workers for grocery delivery app Instacart are going on strike today to demand the company implement appropriate safety measures and give them hazard pay.
Amazon employees in Staten Island, New York, are walking off the job today, accusing the retail giant of continuing to work out of the warehouse despite multiple coworkers testing positive for COVID-19. Workers are demanding Amazon close and sanitize the fulfillment warehouse before they return to work.
On Tuesday, Whole Foods workers are calling for a “sick out” to demand hazard pay, guaranteed paid time off for workers who self-quarantine, and healthcare coverage for part-time and seasonal workers.
Death Toll Nearing 11,000 in Italy as Nations Hardest Hit by Coronavirus Pandemic Demand Aid from EU
In Europe, Italy’s death toll is nearing 11,000 as the country approaches 100,000 cases of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Spain reported nearly 840 new coronavirus deaths Sunday, its highest daily increase, as its death toll topped 7,300. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced Saturday all nonessential workers must remain at home for the next two weeks as the government ramps up measures to contain the outbreak that has pushed hospitals and morgues to the brink.
France, Italy and Spain — three of the hardest-hit countries in Europe — are calling on the European Union to do more to help combat the coronavirus, including providing funds to help finance the countries’ response to the outbreak. This is Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez: “The response cannot only be national. It must be a European response. It has to be a response where we all row as one, whether we are Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian or German. It has to be a European response.”
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned that “nationalist instincts” could gain strength if the EU fails to act.
In Britain, officials say the nation could be under some type of lockdown for six months or more. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one of nearly 20,000 known coronavirus patients in Britain. Over 1,200 people have died.
In Russia, Moscow is starting a lockdown today, affecting nearly 13 million residents. Over 1,000 infections have been reported in the Russian capital.
Meanwhile, in Belarus, authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s response to the pandemic is in stark contrast to other European leaders, as he refused to implement any protective measures and advised citizens of Belarus to drink vodka and visit the sauna to combat the infection.
Popular Japanese Comedian Ken Shimura Dies of COVID-19
In Japan, the popular comedian Ken Shimura has died after contracting COVID-19 at the age of 70. Known for his slapstick style, he was a regular fixture on Japanese variety shows. His death comes as the Japanese government has resisted imposing a lockdown or social distancing measures, citing concerns for the economy. Japan recorded over 170 new cases on Sunday, 68 of those in Tokyo. Testing has remained extremely limited.
Police in Philippines Reportedly Are Locking People Who Violate Nat’l Lockdown in Dog Cages
In the Philippines, law enforcement officers have reportedly been subjecting people who violate the national lockdown to violent punishment, including locking them in crowded dog cages.
First COVID-19 Death Reported in Syria as Libya Announces It’ll Free 450 Prisoners to Stem Spread of Coronavirus
In the Middle East, the first coronavirus death in Syria was reported Sunday, one week after it announced its first confirmed case.
Saudi officials say they shot down ballistic missiles fired at Riyadh and along its southern border with Yemen, days after warring parties in Yemen agreed to a nationwide ceasefire amid the coronavirus pandemic. An outbreak in Yemen would have catastrophic effects in the war-torn country, which is already home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis thanks to the U.S.-supported, Saudi-led war, which has decimated the healthcare system.
Meanwhile, as fighting escalates in Libya between the so-called Libyan National Army and the United Nations-backed government, officials say there are now eight confirmed cases. Libya says it is freeing around 450 prisoners as part of the effort to stem the spread of the virus.
Brazilian Govs. to Promote Social Distancing; Guatemalan Man Deported from U.S. Tests Positive for COVID-19
In Brazil, as President Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the coronavirus pandemic, governors across the country have decided to promote social distancing and other measures among their constituents. Meanwhile, press freedom groups are denouncing Boslonaro’s recent approval of a provisional regulation restricting access to public records, including information about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Brazil.
In Central America, Guatemalan officials have confirmed a man who was deported from the U.S. last week has tested positive for COVID-19.
In Panama, at least four people died and two others have tested positive for COVID-19 aboard a Dutch-owned cruise ship anchored near Panama City.
Coronavirus Cases Mount in Africa as Governments Turn to Repressive Measures
A U.N. body says the African continent is two to three weeks away from its peak of coronavirus cases and needs an emergency economic stimulus of $100 billion to ensure its healthcare systems can cope with the oncoming onslaught.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous county, has ordered residents of Lagos and Abuja to stay at home. Nigeria has registered over 100 cases, but testing remains very limited.
In Kenya, security forces in Mombasa deployed tear gas and hit crowds with batons as they tried to board a passenger ferry ahead of a 7 p.m. curfew.
In South Africa, police and military forces fired rubber bullets at shoppers gathered outside a Johannesburg supermarket amid a nationwide lockdown. Nearly 1,300 cases have been recorded in South Africa — the highest number on the continent.
U.S. Pulls Out of Third Iraqi Base
In Iraq, U.S. coalition forces withdrew Sunday from a third base as the military continues to consolidate its troops following attacks earlier this month. The K1 military base is the site of a December rocket attack that killed an American contractor and triggered a series of retaliatory attacks between U.S. forces and Iranian-backed militias, and the Trump-ordered assassination of Iran’s top military commander, Qassem Soleimani.
Civil Rights Icon Rev. Joseph E. Lowery Dies at 98
Reverend Joseph E. Lowery, civil rights pioneer and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died Friday at the age of 98. He died of natural causes. Reverend Lowery worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. until King’s assassination in 1968. He organized the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. He delivered protesters’ demands to George Wallace, the state’s segregationist governor, at the 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery. In 2006, at the funeral for Coretta Scott King, Reverend Lowery blasted President George W. Bush over the Iraq War and his conservative agenda — even as Bush sat in the front row. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama.