At the White House, President Donald Trump reversed course Wednesday and criticized Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp — a major ally of the president — after Kemp promised to reopen nonessential businesses on Friday.
President Donald Trump: “The spas and the beauty parlors and barber shops, tattoo parlors, I love ’em, but they can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit, not much, because safety has to predominate. We have to have that. So, I told the governor, very simply, that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right.”
More than 700 people have died of the coronavirus in Georgia, which has one of the slowest testing rates in the U.S.
Governors in Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina are also reopening parks, beaches and nonessential businesses, over the strong objections of public health officials, who say reopening now will lead to a second wave of new infections and deaths.
In New Jersey, the director of the State Funeral Directors Association believes COVID-19 has claimed far more lives than officially reported, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 15 ordered changes in how likely deaths due to the disease are reported. In Britain, a review by the Financial Times found U.K. coronavirus deaths are likely more than double the official figure — with 41,000 deaths so far likely caused by the virus.
In New York, doctors report a large number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are developing high levels of life-threatening blood clots. This is Dr. J Mocco, vice chair of the Mount Sinai Health System.
Dr. J Mocco: “We began to notice, as the curve and peak started to really take off in New York City, that across all of New York City we were seeing a large number of strokes, and that these strokes were extremely concerning, and they were blocking big vessels to the brain. And in treating these patients, they appeared to be very what we call procoagulant, or making lots of clot.”
Some doctors have begun treating patients with high doses of a blood-thinning drug even before they present symptoms of blood clotting.
President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order suspending the processing of immigrants’ green card applications for 60 days. In related news, the Los Angeles Times reports millions of U.S. citizens will not receive coronavirus stimulus checks because they are married to immigrants who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number — an ID issued by the IRS to workers who don’t have a Social Security number.
This comes as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is blocking undocumented college students from receiving coronavirus emergency aid. Congress had allocated $6 billion in its stimulus package to help college students cover living expenses such as food and housing. The Education Department then issued a new guideline mandating the money can only be given to students who qualify for federal financial aid, meaning U.S. citizens and some lawful permanent residents.
At the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican authorities are forcing people recently deported from the U.S. to walk through “disinfection tunnels” upon their arrival. Recently there was a large coronavirus outbreak at a shelter in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, after a recently deported person arrived from the U.S. without knowing he was a carrier of COVID-19. Mexico has over 10,000 cases and a death toll of nearly 1,000 people.
In Honduras, Cuba has dispatched another medical brigade to help the country’s fragile health system cope with the coronavirus outbreak. COVID-19 cases in Honduras now top 500, leaving hospitals with already weak infrastructure, scarce medicines and medical staff completely overwhelmed.
In Uganda, a women’s rights group reports at least 11 pregnant women and several children have died preventable deaths since a nationwide transport ban came into effect as part of a lockdown against the coronavirus. The travel ban has left many Ugandans seeking treatment unable to reach hospitals, with ambulances in short supply.
South Africa has deployed an additional 70,000 troops to enforce a nationwide lockdown, which began four weeks ago. It’s the largest internal deployment of South African troops since the end of apartheid in 1994. At least 65 people have died of COVID-19 in South Africa, which has more than 3,600 confirmed cases.
In Singapore, about 80% of the country’s coronavirus cases have been linked to migrant workers from South Asia who are forced to live in squalid and crowded dormitories, prompting outcry against the Singapore government for not doing enough to protect them.
In China, a journalist who had gone missing for nearly two months after posting a video from Wuhan has reportedly reappeared, saying he was detained by police and forcibly quarantined. Li Zehua provided critical reporting from the frontlines during some of the worst weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said it was Israel’s decision whether to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions. That’s an Israeli decision, and we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in a private setting.”
In response, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians “will not stand handcuffed if Israel annexes of any part of our land.” In November, 14 members of the U.N. Security Council rebuked the Trump administration’s announcement that it no longer considers Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal under international law.
In the United States, a federal appeals court is allowing the state of Arkansas to enforce a ban on most surgical abortions. Arkansas officials have deemed abortions to be “not essential” or urgent during the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, a ban on nearly all abortions in Texas during the pandemic appears to be over, as clinics began to offer the procedure again starting on Wednesday.