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HeadlinesApril 21, 2020

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Trump Says He Will Shut Down All Immigration to the U.S. Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Apr 21, 2020

In the United States, deaths from the coronavirus have topped 42,000, and confirmed cases are approaching 800,000. Worldwide, total confirmed cases are closing in on 2.5 million, with 171,000 recorded deaths.

President Trump said Monday he is shutting down all immigration to the U.S. by executive order. It is his most drastic move yet to cut entry of foreigners into the country. He announced the move on Twitter last night but did not offer specifics on the legal basis for the decision.

Southern States to Reopen Businesses Despite Mounting COVID-19 Cases

Apr 21, 2020

More Southern states announced plans to start rolling back lockdowns. Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp said Monday gyms, hair and nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors will be able to operate starting Friday, and restaurants and movie theaters will reopen next Monday. Kemp acknowledged his decision would make more Georgians contract COVID-19.

Gov. Brian Kemp: “When we have more people moving around, we’re probably going to have — see our cases continue to go up. But we’re a lot better prepared for that now than we were over a month ago. We have the hospital bed capacity.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was not given advance notice of the move and that the number of fatalities is still on the rise. Savannah, Georgia, Mayor Van Johnson said he was “beyond disturbed,” noting testing was still lacking and the state has not seen the recommended 14-day decline before reopening.

In South Carolina, Republican Governor Henry McMaster is reopening public beaches, department stores and some retail businesses starting today. Ohio and Tennessee said they would start to reopen businesses from May 1.

This comes as anti-lockdown protests continued around the country Monday. The government’s top adviser on the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned protests against state lockdowns will “backfire” and cause a spike in new cases.

Coronavirus Cases Surging in Massachusetts

Apr 21, 2020

Massachusetts warned it is becoming a hot spot for the coronavirus as cases surged in recent days. The death toll is expected to top 2,000, this week, with 40,000 confirmed cases. The Boston Globe printed 16 pages of death notices on Sunday — more than double the number of pages this time last year.

NY Nurses Sue over Lack of Protection Against Coronavirus

Apr 21, 2020

Here in New York, numbers continue to trend downward. Known COVID-19 deaths dipped below 500 for the first time since April 2. The total official death toll remains by far the highest in the country at close to 19,000, with over a quarter of a million confirmed cases. New York City has canceled all public events through June.

The New York State Nurses Association sued the New York Department of Health and two hospitals Monday for their failure to provide adequate safety measures at the start of the coronavirus crisis. This is Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the Nurses Association and an emergency room nurse.

Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez: “The hospitals were cooperative with the state in doubling their capacity, but they did not double their staffing. And because so many of our nurses got sick, we were terribly understaffed, which really results in negative outcomes, and even death, of patients, because if you are only capable of taking care of one or two critically ill patients and you ended up being told you have to take care of five or six, you’re going to have to neglect four of them.”

MTA Moves Ahead with Increase in Police Force Despite Financial Hardship and Drop in Riders

Apr 21, 2020

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed plans to hire another 350 police officers this year, despite the fact that it is facing $8 billion in losses due to the coronavirus crisis. The MTA is seeking another $4 billion in federal bailout money — after receiving $3.8 billion in the first relief bill passed last month. MTA data shows black and brown people are the most targeted by fare evasion policing. At least 79 MTA employees have died, and thousands more tested positive for COVID-19.

Federal Judge Orders ICE to Consider Releasing Immigrants Vulnerable to COVID-19

Apr 21, 2020

In California, a federal judge has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to urgently review the cases of detainees most likely to suffer severe illness or death from the coronavirus, to determine whether they can be released. Judge Jesus Bernal condemned the “system-wide inaction” in responding to the outbreak. The order cites detainees over 55, pregnant immigrants and those who suffer from chronic health conditions. Around 31,000 immigrants are in immigration prison — at least 220 have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

SCOTUS to Consider Crucial Role of DACA First Responders

Apr 21, 2020

The Supreme Court said it will consider the role that undocumented workers are playing to help combat the coronavirus outbreak, ahead of a major case challenging Trump’s move to end DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. About 27,000 DACA recipients are healthcare workers. Legal groups involved in the case say terminating DACA during the public health crisis would be “catastrophic.”

Airline Industry Receives $3 Billion in Gov’t Funds as Flight Attendants Denounce Working Conditions

Apr 21, 2020

The Treasury Department announced Monday it is providing nearly $3 billion in payroll support for airlines. The L.A. Times reported at least 15 airline workers died from the coronavirus over a nine-day period earlier this month, but the true number is likely much higher, and there is no central tracking mechanism for COVID fatalities. Airline workers were previously barred from wearing face masks as the outbreak spread in earlier weeks, and some say they were kept in the dark about colleagues who contracted the virus.

Disney to Stop Paying 100,000 Workers as Executives Rake in Millions

Apr 21, 2020

Disney will stop paying over 100,000 employees this week — nearly half its workforce. The company is maintaining its executive bonus plan and a planned $1.5 billion dividend. Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said he would take half of his $2.5 million base pay due to the crisis, but he makes an estimated $25 million annually thanks to bonuses and a long-term incentive award. Disney chair and former CEO Bob Iger earned $47.5 million as CEO last year and is worth $690 million.

Jeremy Haicken, president of the UNITE HERE local representing Disney World workers in Florida, told The Hollywood Reporter, “Florida is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. The system was designed to fail even in the best of times, and now hundreds of thousands of workers are paying the price. What are workers going to do when their children are starving — ask them to wait seven weeks for [Governor Ron] DeSantis to send them a check?”

Smithfield Foods Blames Immigrant Workforce for Coronavirus Outbreak

Apr 21, 2020

Smithfield Foods, which recently had to shut down a pork production plant after more than 350 workers tested positive for COVID-19, is blaming immigrant workers for the coronavirus outbreak. A spokesperson said “living circumstances in certain cultures” enabled the rapid spread of the disease. Employees and investigations into the outbreak, however, show Smithfield made a number of missteps in managing early signs of the outbreak, including concealing infections and compelling employees to work without protection. The South Dakota Smithfield plant that was closed now has well over 700 COVID-positive people, and those related to them, in the area, a major hot spot in the United States.

5-Year-Old Michigan Girl Dies from COVID-19

Apr 21, 2020

In Michigan, a 5-year-old girl from Detroit, the daughter of two first responders, died of COVID-19. Skylar Herbert is Michigan’s youngest known death from the coronavirus. She spent two weeks on a ventilator after developing a rare complication that caused her brain to swell.

WHO Warns “Worst Is Ahead of Us” as Some Countries Relax Restrictions

Apr 21, 2020

As countries including Germany, Norway and Australia start to ease coronavirus restrictions, the World Health Organization has cautioned against a hasty lifting of protective measures, warning “the worst is yet ahead of us.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “We want to reemphasize that easing restrictions is not the end of epidemic in any country. Ending the epidemic will require a sustained effort on the part of individuals, communities and governments to continue suppressing and controlling this deadly virus.”

In Britain, a government official has said the nationwide lockdown could last for three more months as the official death toll tops 16,000. New data suggests the COVID-19 death toll in parts of the U.K. is up to 40% higher than the hospitals-only figures reported by the government earlier this month.

On Monday, France became the fourth country to report over 20,000 deaths.

In the Philippines, authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to impose martial law to enforce lockdown and social distancing measures. Duterte previously said police and military should shoot people dead if they flouted lockdown measures. Police say 120,000 people have been arrested or given warnings for violating government-imposed rules.

Cases of COVID-19 Among Deported People Spreading the Virus Beyond U.S. Borders

Apr 21, 2020

In the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, 14 asylum seekers have tested positive for COVID-19 after coming into contact with a man recently deported from the United States. Meanwhile, three migrants deported two weeks ago from the U.S. to Haiti have tested positive for COVID-19.

Kim Jong-un Reportedly in Critical Condition After Surgery

Apr 21, 2020

CNN is reporting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is “in grave danger after a surgery.” South Korean media reported Kim had a heart surgery, but few details about his condition are known. Speculation about Kim’s health was fueled when he did not appear at a recent celebration for his grandfather and state founder Kim Il-sung.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz Agree to Power-Sharing Deal

Apr 21, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his former political opponent Benny Gantz signed a deal Monday to form a national emergency government. The deal puts an end to a protracted political stalemate after neither candidate received enough votes to claim victory after three elections over the past year. Gantz previously had said he will not work with Netanyahu. Netanyahu is under criminal indictment in three corruption cases. His trial was postponed to next month because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Hong Kong Arrests High-Profile Pro-Democracy Activists Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Apr 21, 2020

In Hong Kong, activists are warning authorities are using the coronavirus pandemic as cover to target critics, after police arrested 15 high-profile activists Saturday, including former politician and legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, media tycoon Jimmy Lai and Democratic Party founder Martin Lee. Hong Kong has arrested over 7,000 people for their involvement in last year’s massive anti-government protests, which were triggered by a proposed law which would have allowed authorities to extradite people in Hong Kong to China.

Oil Price Drops Below Zero for First Time Ever

Apr 21, 2020

The price of oil dropped below zero for the first time ever Monday. The historic collapse is due in part to a massive drop in demand because of the coronavirus pandemic. The news came on the 10th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which led to the largest offshore oil spill in history, releasing over 200 million gallons of oil into the ocean, killing 11 people and tens of thousands of wildlife.

NYC Councilmembers Unveil Resolution to Divest from Banks Financing Fossil Fuel Industry

Apr 21, 2020

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day tomorrow, a group of New York City Council members announced a resolution Monday calling for the city to divest from financial institutions that back the fossil fuel industry. The move comes after sustained campaigning by climate justice groups and is supported by the Stop the Money Pipeline campaign. JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock and Liberty Mutual are some of the companies targeted by the resolution. Earlier this month, Reuters reported JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup are preparing to seize oil and gas assets as energy producers reel from the oil industry crash. This is 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, speaking during a virtual press conference announcing the resolution.

Bill McKibben: “Unlike political change in Washington, change on Wall Street could come, A, very fast, because when banks and things make announcements, they move stock markets within minutes, and, B, could come globally. Washington, for better and — better mostly, doesn’t really rule the world anymore, but Wall Street still kind of does. And so, the things that happen in New York with money are of absolute, first-order importance in this fight, especially given how little time we have.”

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