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HeadlinesApril 28, 2020

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Known U.S. Deaths Top 56,000 as New Study Shows True Number Likely Much Higher

Apr 28, 2020

The U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak has topped 56,000, but more evidence is emerging that the actual death toll may be far higher. A new study by a team at the Yale School of Public Health found there were over 15,000 excess deaths in the United States during the month of March and first days of April. The figure is nearly double what officials have been citing as the death toll from the pandemic during that period. Worldwide, the known death toll has topped 211,000, though the true number is also expected to be much higher.

Trump Ignored Early Intelligence Reports as Coronavirus Spread

Apr 28, 2020

The Washington Post is reporting that intelligence agencies warned President Trump about the threat of the coronavirus in over a dozen classified briefings in January and February. The warnings came in the President’s Daily Brief, which Trump regularly skips reading, according to the Post’s sources. Despite the warnings, the president continued to downplay the severity of the threat into February.

Trump Denies Responsibility for Spike in Disinfectant Poisonings

Apr 28, 2020

On Monday, President Trump was questioned about the fallout from his dangerous suggestion last week that injecting disinfectants might help patients sick with COVID-19.

Reporter: “Maryland and other states, Governor Larry Hogan specifically said they’ve seen a spike in people using disinfectant after your comments last week. I know you said they were sarcastic, but do you take any.”

President Donald Trump: “I can’t imagine why. I can’t imagine why. Yeah.”

Reporter: “Do you yeah take any responsibility if someone were to die?”

President Donald Trump: “No, I don’t.”

Texas Reopens Businesses, California Warns Against Violating Restrictions

Apr 28, 2020

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state will start reopening businesses, including restaurants, movie theaters and shops, starting this Friday — but that they can only fill up to 25% of their licensed capacity for now. Cases are still on the rise in Texas. The state has reported 25,000 cases and around 700 known deaths. Ohio said manufacturing would be allowed to resume, and offices will start to reopen next week.

Meanwhile, as reported coronavirus deaths in California topped 1,700 Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom condemned residents who flocked to beaches over the weekend amid a heat wave in Southern California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom: “We are just a few weeks away — not months away — from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order. That is a very optimistic point to emphasize. However, that’s driven by data. It’s driven by behavior. And as we change our behavior, we can impact the science, the health and the data. This virus doesn’t take the weekends off. This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful, sunny day.”

Trump’s Plan to Give Commencement Address at West Point Could Bring Back 1,000 Cadets to Campus

Apr 28, 2020

Trump announced he will give the in-person commencement address at West Point, forcing 1,000 cadets, who had been told to leave campus in March, to return for graduation. West Point officials say they were unaware of Trump’s plan to go ahead with the address until he mentioned it earlier this month at a press briefing.

NY Cancels Primary After Removing Bernie Sanders from the Ballot

Apr 28, 2020

The New York State Board of Elections has canceled the Democratic presidential primary scheduled for June 23 after removing Bernie Sanders from the ballot. While other states have postponed primaries due to the coronavirus outbreak, New York becomes the first to outright cancel a planned primary.

The Bernie Sanders campaign blasted the decision, calling it a “blow to American democracy.” While Sanders suspended his presidential campaign earlier this month, he decided to remain on the ballot in upcoming primaries in an attempt to accrue more delegates to influence the Democratic Party’s platform at the party’s convention.

A law signed earlier this year by Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the New York State Board of Elections the power to remove candidates who have suspended their campaigns from the ballot. Senior Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver said, “Just last week Vice President Biden warned the American people that President Trump could use the current crisis as an excuse to postpone the November election. Well, he now has a precedent thanks to New York state.” Primaries will still be held in New York for other races on June 23, but turnout is expected to be much lower.

U.N. Calls for Release of Immigrant Prisoners as San Diego Facility Refuses to Allow Face Mask Delivery

Apr 28, 2020

The United Nations is urging the United States to release imprisoned immigrants as coronavirus cases continue to mount in overcrowded and unsanitary immigration jails across the country. There are 360 confirmed coronavirus cases in Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisons.

In other immigration news, staff at the privately owned Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego did not allow a group of activists to deliver nearly 1,000 face masks to immigrants imprisoned inside. The group was accompanied Friday by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who said, “These are human beings. We don’t have mass deaths, but we know where this is going.”

In legal news, the Supreme Court declined to temporarily halt the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule, which allows the government to deny green cards to immigrants who use public benefits such as food stamps. Earlier this month, Connecticut, Vermont and New York state and New York City asked the justices to reverse the rule in light of the economic devastation brought on by the pandemic, which has hit immigrant communities especially hard.

More Cases Reported at Prisons as New Study Shows 96% of Inmates Who Test Positive Are Asymptomatic

Apr 28, 2020

As the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States nears 1 million, more evidence is indicating far more of the population has been already infected while not showing any symptoms. Reuters reports a study of prisoners in Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia found 96% of prisoners in the states’ prison systems who tested positive for coronavirus did not show any symptoms.

In New York, two more prisoners at Fishkill Correctional Facility have died of COVID-19. The Fishkill and Sing Sing correctional facilities account for at least seven of the nine COVID-19-related deaths of incarcerated people in New York.

In California, the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex — which has one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in U.S. prisons — will reportedly reinstate phone contact between prisoners and loved ones after sustained pressure from families of inmates. Family members gathered outside the prison Saturday claiming they hadn’t been able to communicate with their loved ones — some for up to two weeks.

Law Goes into Effect Requiring Germans to Wear Face Masks in Public

Apr 28, 2020

As Germany relaxes its coronavirus lockdown, a new law has gone into effect requiring residents to wear face masks in many public spaces across most of the country. Those violating the new rule, as well as businesses that do not enforce the law, can be subject to fines.

Boris Johnson Says Too Soon to End U.K. Lockdown

Apr 28, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to work this week after his own battle with the coronavirus, said it was premature to lift the nation’s lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS.”

In other news from Britain, a judge has postponed extradition hearings for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which were set to go ahead next month, due to the coronavirus lockdown. Earlier this month, Assange’s fiancée made an urgent plea for his release from Belmarsh prison amid the pandemic.

Swedish Ambassador Says Stockholm Is Close to Reaching “Herd Immunity”

Apr 28, 2020

Sweden’s ambassador to the United States has said that Stockholm could reach “herd immunity” sometime in May. In contrast to many of its European neighbors, Sweden has imposed much more relaxed restrictions, keeping most businesses open. Over 2,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Sweden — a significantly higher death toll in relation to its population than neighboring Denmark and Norway, which both imposed strict lockdowns. The World Health Organization has warned there is no evidence that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune to reinfection.

WHO Warns Pandemic Could Exacerbate Other Public Health Crises, Children Especially Vulnerable

Apr 28, 2020

The World Health Organization is warning that as health systems become overwhelmed with combating the coronavirus, people are at heightened risk of succumbing to other diseases and health conditions, particularly children. Many poorer countries have reported shortages in vaccines and essential medicines amid the pandemic. The WHO’s director-general said African nations are increasingly vulnerable as cases across the continent mount.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “And a new modeling analysis published last week estimates the potential disruption to malaria services from COVID-19 in 41 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In the worst-case scenario, the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could double.”

Archbishop Tutu: Coronavirus Exposes South Africa’s Inequalities

Apr 28, 2020

With over 4,500 confirmed cases, South Africa is one of the hardest-hit nations on the continent. Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the coronavirus has brought racial inequalities into stark relief. “The virus has done the country a ghastly favor by exposing the unsustainable foundations on which it is built… that must be urgently fixed,” Archbishop Tutu said in a statement. In related news, over 200 doctors from Cuba arrived in South Africa Monday to help fight the outbreak.

Immigrants Deported by the U.S. Make Up 20% of Guatemala’s COVID-19 Cases

Apr 28, 2020

In Guatemala, nearly 100 immigrants recently deported from the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, making up some 20% of Guatemala’s coronavirus cases. The Guatemalan government indefinitely suspended most deportation flights from the U.S., saying it will only allow them to resume if the U.S. improves its screening protocols.

El Salvador Authorizes Lethal Force Against Suspected Gang Members as Prisons Go on Full Lockdown

Apr 28, 2020

In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele has authorized police and military to use lethal force against alleged gang members, following a spate of homicides in recent days linked to gang activity. Authorities say more than 50 people were murdered over the weekend, after imprisoned suspected gang members allegedly ordered the killings from behind bars. Shocking images, many of which were shared on Bukele’s own Twitter account, show prisoners crammed together, with only some wearing face masks, as prisons enforce a round-the-clock lockdown on suspected gang members, which includes putting metal sheets over prison bars and housing inmates from rival gangs in the same overcrowded cells. Coronavirus cases have been mounting across prisons in Latin America as human rights advocates and public health experts call on authorities to release nonviolent prisoners.

Dozens of Protesters Arrested in Chile as Anti-Government Demonstrations Continue

Apr 28, 2020

In Chile, dozens of protesters were arrested Monday in the capital Santiago as anti-government demonstrations continue in defiance of lockdown orders. Demonstrators are calling for a constitutional reform and the release of political prisoners, among other things. A referendum on a new Chilean constitution was meant to take place Sunday but was postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown. Police fired tear gas and sprayed protesters with water cannons. This is a 74-year old protester in Santiago.

Juan Manuel Lanata: “It’s the anniversary, I believe, of the most repudiated, the most hated organization by a great majority of Chileans, which is Chile’s Carabineros — in a few words: rapists, murderers, torturers, mutilators. And I hope someday they will disappear and a police corps will be created that will be absolutely different, with unrestricted support for people’s human rights.”

Pakistani Medical Workers Launch Hunger Strike to Protest Lack of PPE

Apr 28, 2020

In Pakistan, dozens of doctors and nurses are on hunger strike to demand adequate personal protective equipment while treating coronavirus patients. More than 150 medical workers have become infected by the coronavirus, and several have died, including a 26-year-old doctor who had just begun his medical career. Last month, police arrested more than 50 protesting doctors. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Pakistan, with 14,000 confirmed cases and around 300 known deaths, though the true numbers are believed to be much higher.

New Zealand Declares Coronavirus “Eliminated” as It Eases Lockdown

Apr 28, 2020

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country would slowly start to reopen after strict lockdown measures had helped eliminate community spread of the disease. Only one new case was reported Monday. Overall, over 1,100 cases and 19 deaths have been confirmed in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: “To succeed, we must hunt down the last few cases of the virus. This is like looking for a needle in a haystack, and we need your help to finish the job we have started. There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle. But we must remain vigilant if we’re to keep it that way.”

D.C. Activists Hold Car, Bike Caravans in Solidarity with Essential Workers

Apr 28, 2020

In the U.S., activists in Washington, D.C., formed car and bike caravans Monday in a show of support for essential workers and to call out the disproportionate toll of the pandemic on black and brown communities. The actions, which were organized by several local groups, including Black Lives Matters DC and Shut Down DC, also called for decarceration and environmental justice. More actions are set to take place throughout the week in the lead-up to May 1.

2 More People Corroborate Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Accusations Against Joe Biden

Apr 28, 2020

New developments in the sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden broke Monday as two more people who knew Tara Reade in the 1990s have come forward to corroborate details of her account. Rich McHugh reports in Business Insider that a former neighbor of Tara Reade said the pair discussed the assault in detail, in which then-Senator Biden allegedly pushed Reade up against a wall and digitally penetrated her. The alleged assault happened in 1993, when Reade was working as a staffer in his office. A former colleague who also knew Reade in the mid-’90s said she had spoken of being sexually harassed by her former boss in Washington, D.C.

The latest news broke as Joe Biden gained two significant endorsements Monday — from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington Congressmember Pramila Jayapal, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

(Watch the Democracy Now! interview with Tara Reade.)

Top NY ER Doctor Who Treated COVID-19 Patients Dies by Suicide

Apr 28, 2020

A top ER doctor who had treated coronavirus patients in New York died by suicide Sunday. Dr. Lorna Breen was the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital but had been staying with her family in Virginia at the time of her death. She herself had contracted the coronavirus and had to leave her position to recover from the illness. Her family blames her job for her death. Her father said in an interview she had described harrowing scenes from the hospital. “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was,” her father, Dr. Philip Breen, said in an interview, adding, “She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

Jerry Givens, Virginia Anti-Death Penalty Activist and Former Executioner, Dies of COVID-19

Apr 28, 2020

In Virginia, Jerry Givens, a prominent anti-death penalty activist who was once also the state’s chief executioner, has died from complications related to COVID-19. Givens served as Virginia’s chief executioner for over 25 years, but after serving his own prison sentence, he became an outspoken abolitionist, speaking out against capital punishment and contacting politicians in an attempt to halt executions. He was 67 years old.

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