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HeadlinesMarch 31, 2020

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U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Top 3,100 as Three-Quarters of the Population Are Told to Stay Home

Mar 31, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the globe with nearly 38,000 known deaths and close to 800,000 confirmed cases. In the U.S., the death toll has topped 3,100, meaning more Americans have now died from COVID-19 than from the 9/11 terror attacks. Nearly 520 of those deaths were reported Monday — the highest number in a single day so far.

Three-quarters of American residents are now under stay-at home-orders, as people in at least 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been told by officials to stay home except for necessities or if they provide essential services. Some states have resisted such moves, though, including Missouri, where Governor Mike Parson has denied pleas from across the state’s medical community to issue a stay-at-home order, even as the state’s coronavirus cases recently topped 1,000. Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., enacted their own shelter-in-place orders Monday, with D.C. and Maryland residents subject to hefty fines and even imprisonment for violating the strict measures.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, said Monday another coronavirus outbreak in the fall is likely, but that the nation would be better equipped to handle it.

Trump Alleges Lack of COVID-19 Tests No Longer an Issue as Governors Denounce Shortage of Medical Supplies

Mar 31, 2020

On Monday, President Trump boasted that 1 million people in the U.S. have been tested for coronavirus — weeks after he vowed to hit that number within days. In a conference call with governors, Trump suggested there was no longer a problem with a lack of test kits despite repeated calls for more tests around the country. Montana Governor Steve Bullock said his state was one day away from running out of tests. Other governors, including J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, have called out the administration’s handling of the crisis and the severe shortages in medical equipment and personal protective equipment. Trump has also boasted about the government’s ability to produce ventilators, and said the U.S. would be able to send a surplus to other nations in need.

During an interview on “Fox & Friends” Monday, President Trump celebrated the fact that the $2.2 trillion stimulus package left out provisions by Democrats in earlier versions of the bill that would have expanded voting access.

President Donald Trump: “If you look at before and after, the things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

NJ Nursing Home on Lockdown After a COVID-19 Outbreak Killed 8 People

Mar 31, 2020

In New Jersey, a nursing home in Wanaque is on lockdown after a COVID-19 outbreak killed at least eight people and infected many others. Last week, nearly 100 residents at a nursing home in Woodbridge, New Jersey, were evacuated from the facility after two dozen people tested positive for the coronavirus — and all residents were presumed to be infected. Clusters of coronavirus cases have been observed at nursing homes around the country, including in Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

NYC Transit Passengers Call Out Dangerously Crowded Subways, Buses

Mar 31, 2020

In New York City, public transit passengers are calling out dangerously crowded subways and buses, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has reduced service in response to a drop in ridership during the coronavirus outbreak. The MTA announced over the past week that seven employees have died due to complications from COVID-19. Over 300 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed among MTA employees.

NY Rep. Velázquez Diagnosed with Presumed Coronavirus Infection

Mar 31, 2020

As cases surge in the state of New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., some nurses say they’ve been pressured to return to work despite having COVID-19 symptoms. Meanwhile, New York Congressmember Nydia Velázquez announced Monday she’s been diagnosed with “presumed coronavirus infection.” She said she likely has a mild case but experienced muscle aches, fevers, nasal congestion and stomach upset, and that she lost the ability to smell or taste food. Congressmember Velázquez spoke on the House floor and stood alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last Friday during the signing of the coronavirus stimulus bill.

Amazon Fires Organizer of Staten Island Strike Action

Mar 31, 2020

Labor rights advocates are condemning Amazon for firing a warehouse worker who organized a strike at its Staten Island facility Monday. The fired worker, Chris Smalls, and dozens of other employees walked out to demand more protective measures and that Amazon close and sanitize the warehouse after multiple co-workers tested positive for COVID-19. This is an Amazon worker speaking Monday from the walkout.

Amazon worker: “And I’m doing this because of my health and my fellow workers’ health, as well. It should be closed down, it should be cleaned properly, and we shouldn’t be working in that environment. We can’t even get gloves from the machine.”

Grocery store delivery app Instacart also staged a protest Monday to demand better worker protections and hazard pay.

Beloved NYC Transgender Advocate Lorena Borjas Dies After Contracting COVID-19

Mar 31, 2020

In other New York City news, beloved transgender advocate Lorena Borjas has died after contracting COVID-19 at the age of 59. Originally from Mexico, Borjas has been called the mother of the transgender Latinx community in New York and fought tirelessly for the rights and well-being of LGBTQ people, immigrant communities and sex workers. Lorena Borjas started a mutual aid fund for members of the transgender community who were suffering financial hardship during the coronavirus crisis.

Renowned Neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich Dies of COVID-19 Complications

Mar 31, 2020

Also in New York, world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich has died from complications of COVID-19. Dr. Goodrich treated countless children with neurological diseases and was well known for his surgical work on conjoined twins. Tributes poured in Monday from colleagues at the Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he taught.

Protesters in Philadelphia, New Jersey Demand Release of Nonviolent & Immigrant Prisoners

Mar 31, 2020

In Philadelphia, at least 100 protesters shut down traffic and parked their cars in the middle of city streets surrounding City Hall and other government buildings to demand the city release nonviolent prisoners and immigrant prisoners in light of the coronavirus crisis.

In New Jersey, families with loved ones imprisoned at the Bergen County Jail held a demonstration Friday outside the jail to demand Governor Phil Murphy free all immigrants in detention.

GE and Ford to Produce 50,000 Ventilators as GE Workers in MA Demand Company Rehire Fired Workers

Mar 31, 2020

In Michigan, Ford Motor Company and General Electric will produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days to help fulfill the dire need for the life-saving device at hospitals across the country. The companies say they can produce 30,000 units per month as long as hospitals need them.

The announcement came as GE workers in Massachusetts staged a protest to demand the facility where they work — which normally manufactures jet engines — start producing ventilators and rehire thousands of recently laid-off workers. GE announced last week it was firing 10% of its domestic aviation workforce due to staggering losses experienced by the airline industry because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida Pastor Arrested for Violating Public Gathering Rules

Mar 31, 2020

In Florida, the pastor of a megachurch in Tampa Bay was arrested for refusing to cancel massive church services, in violation of emergency orders against public gatherings. The Hillsborough County sheriff said that Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne demonstrated a “reckless disregard for human life.”

Judges Strike Down Abortion Bans in Texas and Ohio

Mar 31, 2020

Federal judges have struck down recent abortion bans that Texas and Ohio enacted as part of their response to the coronavirus outbreak by claiming abortions are “non-essential” procedures. Judge Lee Yeakel said, “Regarding a woman’s right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure.”

Fired Peace Corps Volunteers Face Unemployment, Confusion Around Benefits

Mar 31, 2020

All 7,300 Peace Corps volunteers who were fired without notice amid the pandemic are now facing steep challenges, including unemployment, the loss of a regular stipend, as well as housing and healthcare benefits. This is the first time in the agency’s 60-year history that it suspended all operations.

U.S. Military Reports First COVID-19 Death

Mar 31, 2020

The first known death of a U.S. military member from coronavirus was reported Monday. At least 600 cases have been reported among members of the military.

DOJ Investigates Lawmaker Stock Transaction Before Market Crash

Mar 31, 2020

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched a joint investigation after several lawmakers sold off stocks after they received privileged briefings about the coronavirus pandemic’s threat to the economy. The FBI has also contacted Republican Senator Richard Burr for information about the transactions.

In other news from Capitol Hill, Mark Meadows resigned as a North Carolina congressmember Monday to officially start his new position today as Trump’s chief of staff.

Scientists and Medical Experts Develop New Theories About Spread of Coronavirus

Mar 31, 2020

As coronavirus cases surge across the country, infectious disease and medical experts are developing new theories about the spread of the disease and its manifestations. In Washington state, a gathering of asymptomatic choir singers earlier this month resulted in dozens of cases of COVID-19, including two deaths. Scientists say it was likely passed through the air, refuting earlier studies that say contagion via aerosolized particles is highly unlikely. Meanwhile, cardiologists are warning that some COVID-19 patients have worse cardiac symptoms than respiratory ones, in some cases mimicking a heart attack.

Spain Reports 800+ New COVID-19 Deaths; Anti-Fascist Activist José María Galante Dies

Mar 31, 2020

Spain reported over 800 new deaths Monday, as authorities called for a period of nationwide “hibernation.” Spain has now surpassed China in cases, reaching nearly 88,000. This includes over 12,000 healthcare workers. The director of emergency health services has also tested positive.

Anti-fascist activist and former political prisoner José María Galante — known as “Chato” Galante — has died from coronavirus. Chato Galante fought against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco and belonged to the Revolutionary Communist League. He was arrested and tortured multiple times during Franco’s regime. Galante was featured in the acclaimed 2018 documentary “The Silence of Others.”

Hungary Passes New Law Granting Sweeping Power to Authoritarian PM Viktor Orbán

Mar 31, 2020

In Hungary, critics warn authoritarian and anti-immigrant Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is using the crisis to pass sweeping new laws to further consolidate his power, allowing him to rule by decree and giving him authority to override existing legislation, prevent elections, and arrest and jail journalists that may be critical of his nationalist government and their response to the pandemic.

Italy Reports Lowest Daily Coronavirus Case Count in 2 Weeks as Death Toll Tops 11,000

Mar 31, 2020

In Italy, the death toll has topped 11,000, with confirmed cases nearing 102,000. But Italian officials have also reported the country experienced the lowest daily case count in two weeks, raising hopes that the country is slowly flattening the curve of infections.

In Germany, 17 people have died at a nursing home in the city of Wolfsburg, where the majority of the city’s 145 confirmed coronavirus cases come from elderly residents living at the facility.

In France, health authorities reported a new daily high Monday with more than 400 coronavirus deaths, bringing the total death toll to over 3,000.

Israel PM Netanyahu Enters Quarantine After Aide Tests Positive for COVID-19

Mar 31, 2020

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is entering into quarantine after an aide tested positive for COVID-19. Netanyahu is expected to agree on an emergency unity government with rival Benny Gantz amid the coronavirus crisis, in a blow to many who hoped to see Netanyahu lose political power after failing to win recent elections.

Afghanistan Releases Hundreds of Prisoners to Limit Coronavirus Outbreaks

Mar 31, 2020

In Afghanistan, authorities began releasing hundreds of prisoners as part of an effort to limit outbreaks of the coronavirus. Up to 10,000 older prisoners could be freed. Afghanistan has reported over 170 cases and four deaths. In other news from Afghanistan, at least 28 Afghan soldiers were killed in Taliban attacks across the country in recent days, postponing the release of around 100 Taliban prisoners.

1000s Gather in San Salvador to Demand Coronavirus Aid

Mar 31, 2020

In Nicaragua, fears are mounting that a devastating outbreak could overwhelm the health system as the government of President Daniel Ortega has neglected to put in place proper mitigation measures, encouraging political rallies and other gatherings. Only four known cases have been reported thus far.

In El Salvador, thousands gathered outside a government building in the capital San Salvador Monday to demand the $300 government checks President Nayib Bukele promised to some 1.5 million households who work as street vendors and other jobs in the informal economy. El Salvador has been on a nationwide lockdown for nearly two weeks.

In Mexico, the government declared a health emergency Monday and issued stricter rules aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19, after cases nationwide topped 1,000 and the death toll is nearing 30 people. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has come under fire for flouting social distancing guidelines and attending rallies and other crowded public events.

Indian Health Workers Hose Migrant Workers with Disinfectant

Mar 31, 2020

In India, footage has surfaced of health workers hosing migrant workers with disinfectant as they try to make their way home following a nationwide lockdown announced last week. Many migrants have reported harrowing journeys home following the order, including several reports of deaths along the way.

China, Hong Kong, Singapore Impose Travel Restrictions to Prevent 2nd Outbreak of COVID-19

Mar 31, 2020

Across Asia, places that have successfully stabilized coronavirus outbreaks — such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore — now fear tourists who begin traveling back to these places will trigger a second wave of outbreaks. China, Hong Kong and Singapore have all barred foreign travelers from entering to stem the spread of coronavirus.

South African Police Officer Arrested for Allegedly Killing Man Who Violated Nat’l Lockdown

Mar 31, 2020

In South Africa, a police officer was arrested for allegedly killing a man who violated recently enacted lockdown measures. The man was reportedly shot to death on Sunday after a group of police officers followed him home from a bar.

Zimbabwe has embarked on a 21-day coronavirus lockdown. This is a Harare resident.

Steven Chatora: “Our issue is that the people were not given enough time to prepare, because the majority of these people survive from hand to mouth, so when it was announced, most people did not have enough money. So, in the meantime, people will not have food to eat, and we are so afraid as to how we will survive by the time 21 days have passed.”

Despite Coronavirus Pandemic, Biden Continues to Reject Single-Payer Healthcare

Mar 31, 2020

In the United States, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has doubled down on his rejection of single-payer healthcare as the coronavirus pandemic has already created record levels of unemployment — which is costing many their employer-sponsored healthcare — and millions of Americans face economic devastation. This is Biden speaking on MSNBC.

Joe Biden: “Single payer will not solve that at all. The thing that is needed is, for example, we have a whole number of hospitals that are being so stretched, including rural hospitals, they’re going to need more financing. That doesn’t come from a single-payer system. That comes from the federal government stepping up and dealing with the concerns that they have.”

Exit polls at primary voting sites show that Democrats largely favor a single-payer system, such as Medicare for All, including in conservative states.

Several States Pass Laws to Criminalize Protests Against Fossil Fuel Industry

Mar 31, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, a number of states have quietly passed laws to criminalize protests against the fossil fuel industry. Kentucky, South Dakota and West Virginia recently approved new laws imposing harsh penalties, including jail time, on protest actions that damage or block so-called critical infrastructure — such as pipelines — that are used for the production and transport of fossil fuels.

Gannett Will Cut Pay, Furlough Employees Amid Economic Loss From Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 31, 2020

In media news, Gannett — which owns USA Today — has announced it is cutting pay and furloughing employees after a major loss in advertising revenue amid the economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Times said it is reducing its print publication to just two days per week and is furloughing workers during the coronavirus crisis.

Idaho Signs Two Anti-Trans Bills on the Eve of Transgender Day of Visibility

Mar 31, 2020

In Idaho, Republican Governor Brad Little signed into law two bills attacking the rights of transgender people. One measure prohibits transgender people from amending their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity; the other bars trans women and girls from playing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity. The anti-trans bills were signed on the eve of the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which is today. Rights groups have vowed to challenge the legislation.

Trump Admin Revokes Federal Protected Status of Mashpee Tribe Land

Mar 31, 2020

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe said it will fight back after the Trump administration announced its reservation would be “disestablished” and it would lose its land trust status. Trump’s move will halt plans to build a casino which would have competed with nearby casinos in Rhode Island that have well-established ties to Trump.

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