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Coronavirus updates: Trump hopes to open U.S. by Easter as cases accelerate

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President Trump on Tuesday said he wants the U.S. "opened up" by Easter Sunday, which falls on April 12, despite an acceleration of coronavirus cases across the country. Mr. Trump's comments came during a town hall on Fox News, where he signaled impatience over the widespread closing of businesses and slowdown of the country's economy.

Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organization warned that the U.S. could become the new epicenter of the pandemic as more than 50,000 cases were reported. More than 670 people have died from the virus in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University

"We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential," WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said, according to Reuters.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
People line up to get a test at Elmhurst Hospital due to coronavirus outbreak on March 24, 2020, in Queens, New York. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
 

CBS News poll: Views of economy drop but Americans optimistic about recovery

Assessments of the economy have plummeted, and many are concerned about a potential job loss, but most Americans are optimistic about the economy's ability to rebound in the future. 

Now, just over a quarter of Americans say the economy is in good shape, a drop of 32 points from December when six in 10 said the economy was at least somewhat good.

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CBS News

Read more here.

By Justin Carissimo
 

Person under 18 dies of coronavirus in Los Angeles, becoming youngest U.S. victim

A person under the age of 18 has died of coronavirus, becoming the youngest U.S. victim of the pandemic, officials said. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed the death and said the victim lived in Lancaster. The department also announced the deaths of two other people, who were between the ages of 50 and 70.

A spokesperson for the CDC confirmed to CBS News that the young patient who died in Los Angeles is the youngest person in the U.S. to die of the virus. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Dow jumps 2,100 points on Wall Street hopes of coronavirus bill

Stocks surged Tuesday as investors weighed the Federal Reserve's vow to support key financial markets and prospects for a nearly $2 trillion relief bill in Congress to help soften the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

The Dow jumped 2,113 points, or 11.4%, to 20,705. The broad-based S&P 500-stock index jumped 9.4% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 8.1%. 

The Dow had lost 37% of its value through Monday since its most recent high in February, with investors spooked by the sudden shutdown of economic activity across the U.S. in reaction to the pandemic. With millions of workers expected to lose their jobs this month, lawmakers are working on a stimulus bill that would provide aid to individuals and families as well as hard-hit industries. 

But despite those measures, economists say the U.S. is already in a recession and predict a historic surge in unemployment in the coming weeks.

Read more here.

By Aimee Picchi
 

First immigrant in ICE custody tests positive for coronavirus

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Tuesday revealed the first confirmed case of coronavirus among the population of tens of thousands of immigrants in its custody across the country. 

A Mexican immigrant held in New Jersey tested positive for the virus, officials announced in a statement Tuesday afternoon. The 37-year-old immigrant is being quarantined and receiving medical treatment, the agency said.

The detainee was being held at the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, New Jersey, which the federal government uses to detain dozens of immigrants. Officials say those who may have been exposed are being monitored for symptoms of the virus. ICE is also suspending the transfer of detainees to the northern New Jersey jail.

Tuesday's announcement comes as ICE continues to face intensifying pressure to downsize its detainee population, which stands at more than 37,000. 

Read more here. 

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

Judge rules Michael Cohen's sentence won't be reduced

Judge William Pauley on Tuesday denied Michael Cohen's bid to reduce his sentence. "It's time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far-reaching institutional harms," he wrote in his two-page order. 

Cohen originally petitioned the court in December — but he later used the coronavirus pandemic as part of an argument to let him out of his three-year sentence early. He is currently serving time at a minimum-security facility in New York and is set to be released in November 2021. 

"Apparently searching for a new argument to justify a modification of his sentence to home confinement, Cohen now raises the specter of COVID-19," Judge Pauley wrote. 

"That Cohen would seek to single himself out for release to home confinement appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle. As the Government points out, he is 'manifestly ineligible' for compassionate release and has not exhausted his administrative remedies." 

By Clare Hymes
 

Playwright Terrence McNally dies at 81

Playwright Terrence McNally died Tuesday due to complications of coronavirus, spokesperson Matt Polk said. McNally was 81 years old. 

McNally won four Tony Awards: two for the plays"Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Master Class" and two for the musicals "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman."

McNally, a lung cancer survivor, lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. He died Tuesday at a hospital in Saratoga, Florida.

2014 Tony Awards - Arrivals
Terrence McNally attends the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 8, 2014 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty
By Justin Carissimo
 

Coronavirus creates long waits in nation's "virtual waiting rooms"

Shannon Picha realized Monday she needed a refill for a prescription medicine. To avoid a doctor's office, where there's a risk of interacting with someone carrying coronavirus, Picha did what officials have advised: She sought a virtual appointment using a telemedicine app. Then the hours-long wait began.

Across the country, remote appointments have suddenly become the norm, testing a relatively new industry that has never before faced demand on this scale. The telemedicine app Picha used, Amwell, allows users to choose a specific doctor and wait in their "virtual waiting room."

Picha voiced her frustration in a comment on Amwell's Facebook page. Patients of many nation's top telemedicine companies have taken to Twitter and Facebook to note similar frustrations with wait times, and the responses from customer service are consistent across the industry: "We're experiencing an unusually high volume of people seeking care due to COVID-19."

Read more of the story here.

By Graham Kates
 

India issues 21-day lockdown

India will begin the world's largest lockdown on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a TV address, warning citizens to stay inside or risk inviting the pandemic into their homes, and pledging $2 billion to bolster the country's beleaguered health care system.

"To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out," Modi said Tuesday night, acknowledging that the 21-day lockdown would be a major blow to the economy, but insisting that the alternative could set the country back 21 years.

The move puts nearly one-fifth of the world's population under lockdown. — AP

 

Trump says he wants the country "raring to go by Easter"

President Trump said during a Fox News town hall Tuesday that he wants the country "back open by Easter" on April 12, signaling impatience with the ongoing business closings, economic slowdown and stock market plunges that are a result of the spreading coronavirus. 

The "cure," meaning the severe economic slowdown, is "worse than the problem" of the deadly virus, and will kill more people, Mr. Trump insisted. 

Mr. Trump expanded upon what he said during a Monday night Coronavirus Task Force briefing — that the U.S. was not built to be shut down, and needs to return to normal soon. The president said the White House will reevaluate the president's 15-day guidelines for social distancing and business closures at the end of that 15 days, which would be early next week. 

"I would love to have it open by Easter. I would love to have it open by Easter," Trump said. "I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."

Read more here.

By Kathryn Watson
 

Amazon suspends 3,900 sellers for coronavirus-related price gouging

Amazon has booted nearly 4,000 sellers for what the ecommerce company called "seeking to profit off the COVID-19 crisis." More than half a million offers were pulled from the biggest U.S. online marketplace and more than 3,900 accounts suspended for violating Amazon's fair pricing policies, the retailer said. 

"Amazon strictly prohibits sellers from exploiting an emergency by charging excessively high prices on products and shipping," the company said Monday in a blog post

"We have deployed a dedicated team that's working continuously to identify and investigate unfairly priced products that are now in high demand, such as protective masks and hand sanitizer," the company added.

Read more here.

By Kate Gibson
 

20 House Democrats urge Trump to issue nationwide shelter in place order

A growing number of states have implemented "shelter in place" orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic, ordering the closure of nonessential businesses and barring residents from making unnecessary trips. But some in Congress believe those closures should not just be ordered on a state-by-state basis, but on a federal level as well.

Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California and 19 of his colleagues sent a letter to the White House Tuesday asking the president to issue a two-week shelter in place order for the entire country.

"We're watching our health care system collapse before us. We're seeing people separated from their loved ones. We're witnessing students shut out from their classrooms and workers let go from their jobs," Khanna told CBS News. "If we want to demonstrate true American leadership and stop this outbreak, we need a nationwide shelter in place order. Let's listen to the experts who are telling us that step is the only way we can truly mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Months of continued half-measures will cost us far more than two weeks of sheltering in place."

Read more here.

By Grace Segers
 

Spanish army finds dead, abandoned patients at senior care facilities

The Spanish army has been called in to help disinfect care homes in the country, and during some of their visits, they found morbid scenes, BBC News reports. Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said the military "found some older people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds."

During an interview with Spanish TV channel Telecinco, Robles said that the staff in some care homes left after coronavirus was detected at facilities. 

The government is now "going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way older people are treated" in retirement homes, Robles said, according to BBC. An investigation into the situation has been launched, Spanish prosecutors said. 

Read more here.

By Caitlin O'Kane
 

New York is experimenting with splitting one ventilator between two patients

Health officials in New York are experimenting with having two patients share one ventilator as the coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread shortages of the machine, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a press briefing Tuesday morning. 

Cuomo emphasized the severity of the shortage of hospital equipment, including beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. He said ventilators are difficult to produce and extremely expensive.

"This is a critical and desperate need for ventilators. We are going so far as to try an experimental procedure where we spit the ventilator," Cuomo said. "We use one ventilator for two patients. It's difficult to perform, it's experimental, but at this point, we have no alternatives." 

Read more here.

By Sophie Lewis
 

Egypt and Syria announce curfews

Egypt, the Middle East's most populous country, and Syria, ravaged by nine years of war, will impose nightly curfews starting this week, their governments announced Tuesday.

Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said an 11-hour nationwide curfew from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. will go into effect Wednesday, during which various forms of transportation will also come to a halt. Egypt has 366 confirmed cases and 21 fatalities, including two senior military officers.

In Syria, where the healthcare system has been decimated by conflict, the government said a 12-hour curfew beginning at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) will go into effect Wednesday. Syria has reported one coronavirus case so far. 

There are over 31,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the Mideast, the vast majority in hard-hit Iran.

-The Associated Press 

 

New York governor says 40,000 ICU beds could be needed

New York Governor Andrew Cumo said Tuesday that the rate of coronavirus cases is doubling every three days and that the anticipated need for the peak in New York, which could be in 2-3 weeks, is 140,000 hospital beds and approximately 40,000 ICU beds. 

"Those are troubling and astronomical numbers," he said, noting that they're higher than previously projected.

There are currently 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds available in the state, he said.  

Cuomo: "I will turn this state upside down to get the beds we need" for coronavirus patients
By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Senate appears close to a deal over massive coronavirus stimulus bill

The Senate appeared Tuesday to be inching closer to a deal on a massive stimulus bill to respond to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic after late-night negotiations between Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats and Republicans were "very close" to a deal and he hopeed to move forward Tuesday.

"We're on the 5-yard line," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "Today we can make all of the Washington drama fade away. If we act today, what Americans will remember and what history will record is that the Senate did the right thing."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who introduced her own $2.5 trillion stimulus package Monday, also said she was hopeful that both chambers could come to an agreement.

"I think there is real optimism that we could get something done in the next few hours," Pelosi said in an interview on CNBC.

By Grace Segers
 

Residents of 3rd largest county in U.S. ordered to stay home

Houston, Texas, and the surrounding Harris County have issued a stay-at-home order that goes into effect Wednesday. The order will remain in effect until at least April 3, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a news conference Tuesday. 

"This means that all of us should stay home unless our jobs are essential for the health and safety of our community," Hidalgo said according to CBS News affiliate KHOU.

With a population of more than 4 million, Harris is the most populated county in Texas, and the third largest county in the United States. 

By Audrey McNamara
 

South Korea says Trump has requested shipments of medical equipment

President Trump has requested medical equipment from South Korea, according to the South Korean president's office. The request was made during a phone call Tuesday between Mr. Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, according to an official read-out of the discussion provided by the Blue House, the South Korean leader's official residence.

It comes as the U.S. struggles to supply health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak with protective gear and hospitals with ventilators.

Moon apparently told Mr. Trump that he would "provide as much as I can if there is enough supply," but then noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might need to approve an imported equipment.

As coronavirus preparations ramp up, U.S. still faces medical shortage

Mr. Trump replied, according to the South Korean read-out of the 23 minute call, that he would act immediately to ensure needed items were allowed into the U.S. and made available for use, possibly even seeking approval on Tuesday.

Mr. Trump was said to have shown interest in the South Korean government's handling of its own outbreak, telling Moon: "You're doing great."

-Jen Kwon and Tucker Reals

 

UN Human Rights chief urges lifting of sanctions on nations grappling with coronavirus

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on countries to "urgently" reconsider economic sanctions against adversaries to help all nations address the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

"Broad sectoral sanctions should urgently be re-evaluated in countries facing the coronavirus pandemic, in light of their potentially debilitating impact on the health sector and human rights," the former Chilean president said.

The U.N.'s top human rights advocate, Bachelet urged nations to exempt countries from the sanctions imposed on them, specifically mentioning Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. She cited the impact that outbreaks in some of those countries could have on neighboring nations.

In the case of Iran, for instance, where the economy has been put under huge pressure by a wide array of U.S. sanctions, Bachelet said the measures could end up hurting Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"It is vital to avoid the collapse of any country's medical system – given the explosive impact that will have on death, suffering and wider contagion," she said. "In a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us."

By Pamela Falk
 

Cuba shuts down vital tourism industry to curb coronavirus

Cuba's streets were tourist-free Tuesday after the country shut down a key economic sector in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

By Monday there were just 32,500 tourists still in Cuba, down from 60,000 last Friday. No more are allowed to enter. International flights arrive empty to repatriate tourists who never imagined their Caribbean vacations ending in quarantine.

No one is permitted to leave their hotel except to get to an airport. All car rentals to tourists and tourist excursions have been canceled and vehicles are being reclaimed.

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Stranded passengers line up looking for a flight to return to their countries, at Havana's Jose Marti airport, on March 23, 2020. ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty

About 9,400 tourists staying in private homes, 6,000 of them in Havana alone, will be moved to hotels. They will get reduced rates comparable to what they were already paying.  

Many of the tourists are from Canada, Russia, Spain and France.

As of Monday evening there were 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cuba, most of them Cubans who have returned from abroad and the rest tourists. Another 531 people are being monitored with suspected COVID-19.

By Portia Siegelbaum
 

Ford says its ventilators should be in hospitals by "early June"

Ford Motor Company hopes to send new ventilators to hospitals treating coronavirus patients in early June, its president and CEO said Tuesday. The company is one of the private companies stepping up after medical professionals across the country warned that hospitals will run out of the vital pieces of equipment as the number of coronavirus patients grows. 

"The problem is that the lines that have been in place produce hundreds or thousands. We're talking about needing hundreds of thousands," Jim Hackett said on "CBS This Morning." "So we're talking about early June, where we don't think it's a problem, but between now and June it's about ramping up."

Ford Motor CEO on shifting production from cars to ventilators

Ford is partnering with GE Healthcare to produce the ventilators in the United States. It is also working with McLaren Automotive and Airbus in the United Kingdom. 

 

Texas becomes latest state to halt abortion services amid coronavirus outbreak

The Texas Attorney General's office has ordered all clinics that provide abortions to immediately stop providing the procedure in order to comply with the state's temporary suspension of surgeries that are not deemed "medically necessary," according to a statement shared with CBS News. Texas is the latest state to halt abortion services amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Attorney General's office, "any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother" must be suspended. Those in violation will face "penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time."

By Kate Smith
 

Ex-FDA chief Scott Gottlieb says coronavirus must be stopped before rebooting economy

As President Trump signals his desire to restart the U.S. economy, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, his first commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is warning that society can't get back to normal as long as the coronavirus continues spreading in the nation's largest cities.

In a series of tweets Monday night, Gottlieb said it is vital for the country to end the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and that the U.S. health care system can't function and people can't return to work if they are "terrified of a virus raging uncontrolled." Gottlieb has been one of the most vocal advocates for aggressive government intervention to combat the virus.

"There's a strong and understandable desire to return to better times and a functioning economy," he wrote. "But it should not be lost on anyone that there's no such thing as a functioning economy and society so long as covid-19 continues to spread uncontrolled in our biggest cities."

By Melissa Quinn
 

Japan's leader says IOC has agreed to his proposal for 1-year Olympics delay

Japanese officials and the International Olympic Committee have agreed to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.  

A statement posted online by the IOC Tuesday said the committee's President Thomas Bach and other IOC officials had reached the decision on a conference call with Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and the head of Japan's Olympic planning committee.

The statement said the World Health Organization's characterization on Monday of the pandemic as "accelerating" had led to the decision that the summer Games "must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community."  

CBS News' Lucy Craft reports from Tokyo that speculation has swirled about whether the Summer Games could actually be rescheduled for earlier in the year to avoid Japan's sultry season. The sweltering summers are an issue so problematic that the IOC decided to hold the marathon and race-walking events outside Tokyo, in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido. 

The new Olympics schedule was expected sometime in the coming weeks.

By Tucker Reals
 

Here are 700,000 open jobs that need to be filled immediately

Millions of Americans are already losing their jobs as the coronavirus spreads across the U.S. and wreaks havoc on the economy. But the pandemic is also driving a surge in hiring at businesses seeing a huge increase in demand for their products and services because of the outbreak. 

At least 700,000 jobs are open at the moment, according to a tally of big businesses such as Walmart and Amazon that have announced plans to hire. There are also plenty of "gig" economy jobs that are available for delivery workers, tutors, personal assistants and more. 

To be sure, the new jobs won't come close to replacing all the work now being lost, especially in hard-hit sectors like travel, hotels and retail. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicts that unemployment could reach 30% over the next few months — that would exceed the highest jobless rate during the Great Depression, when unemployment hit nearly 25%.

Who benefits when a business goes cashless?
By Aimee Picchi
 

Restaurant industry struggles with closures and layoffs

Restaurants across the U.S. have been required to alter their operations in order to survive, with several cities and states shutting down bars and restaurants over the coronavirus pandemic. Shifting to take-out only service is the only way some eateries can stay in business, but that requires fewer employees and altered menus. 

The shift has been difficult for restaurant workers facing increased layoffs and reduced hours. Ashley Gregg, a bartender in Ohio, was let go while still facing medical bills for her young son who died of cancer in 2018. 

"We have medical bills and everything that we need to catch up on," Gregg told CBS News' Vladimir Duthiers. However, she said she was "more concerned about the owners" of the brewery that let her go, "because, you know, this was their livelihood."  

Restaurants struggle to adapt to coronavirus precautions

Restaurant owners across the country have had to make equally difficult calls. Click here to read the full report.

By Tucker Reals
 

Americans struggle to follow "stay at home" orders and keep their distance

To help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Americans are being ordered to only leave their home for essential needs and stay six feet from other people when they do. But in crowded cities across the country, that's not always easy to do.

"You forget, and then you have to take a step back," said Matt Zender in Seattle. 

Zender said he was initially surprised by grocery store policies to help keep customers at a distance. Several major chains are limiting the number of people allowed inside. Others are adding visual cues like taped squares on the floor to space out customers waiting in line or placing large crates in front of registers to keep people away from cashiers, CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan reports. #

Cities struggle with social distancing
 

30 TSA staffers at airports nationwide have tested positive for the coronavirus

At least 30 Transportation Safety Administration workers at airports across the country have tested positive for the new COVID-19 disease since the end of February, including 25 airport screeners who deal directly with the public, the agency has confirmed.

"TSA is working with the CDC and state and local health departments to monitor local situations as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public," the agency said in a statement posted to its website.

The statement warns that some security checkpoints would be closed as necessary, so travelers "may be redirected to other security screening checkpoints at the airport."

No restrictions have been imposed on domestic U.S. travel due to the virus outbreak as of Tuesday.

By Tucker Reals
 

Arizona man dies after taking drug touted by Trump as coronavirus treatment

A Phoenix-area man has died and his wife is in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, CBS affiliate KPHO reported. The additive is used to clean fish tanks and is also found in an anti-malaria medication that has been touted by President Trump as a treatment for COVID-19.

Banner Health said Monday that the couple in their 60s got sick within half an hour of ingesting the additive. The man couldn't be resuscitated when he arrived at a hospital, but the woman was able to throw up much of the chemical, Banner said.

"Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure," the woman told NBC. She said her advice for people would be: "Don't take anything. Don't believe anything. Don't believe anything that the president says and his people ... call your doctor."  Read the full story here. 

-CBS/AP

By Tucker Reals
 

Mormons criticized for crowded airport welcoming of missionaries

Hours after hundreds of people welcoming missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints crowded together in an airport parking garage, authorities announced new rules to prevent it from happening again amid the coronavirus crisis.

The people who showed up Sunday at the Salt Lake City Airport and stood shoulder-to-shoulder, some hugging arriving loved ones, should have heeded warnings to keep their distance to help prevent the spread of the virus, said critics of the gathering, including Senator Mitt Romney, Utah's governor and lieutenant governor, and the church itself.

While Utah residents welcoming returning missionaries is an airport tradition, officials this time asked for only one or two family members of each returning missionary to come, and to stay in their cars — guidance that wasn't followed by many people, said airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer.

-CBS/AP

 

With Americans in lockdown, hope and calm beat nervousness - CBS News poll

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the personal has become national: the more danger you think you and your family are in from the virus, the more trouble you think the country is in, too.

Americans report staying calm and hopeful most of the time amid the outbreak, punctuated with feelings of nervousness and stress — especially for those who aren't going out, and particularly for those concerned they'll get the virus themselves. 

Our new CBS News Poll shows, however, that few Americans report feeling lonely often, even among those not leaving the house, and most remain optimistic that their fellow Americans will take the steps needed to stop the spread.

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Detroit Police confirm member of the force has died of COVID-19

The Detroit Police Department has confirmed what appears to be the first death of a member of a U.S. police force due to the new coronavirus.

The department said in a brief statement released Tuesday morning that Chief James Craig would hold a press conference later in the day "to report out on the first loss of a member of the Detroit Police Department to COVID-19."

No further information was provided on the department member who died, and it was unclear whether the individual was a police officer or worked for the force in another capacity. 

By Tucker Reals
 

Americans see months-long pandemic fight ahead - CBS News poll

Most Americans (57%) say the nation's efforts to combat the coronavirus are going badly right now, most call it a crisis and see a months-long process before it is contained. But the public is pinning its hopes heavily on the nation's scientists, with eight in 10 optimistic about their ability to eventually find a cure or vaccine, and most are also optimistic that Americans themselves can take steps to slow the spread.  

Click here to read more about Americans' views on the U.S. COVID-19 response, and how our leaders and experts are handling it.

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WHO says "very large acceleration" of COVID-19 could make U.S. new pandemic epicenter

A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization said Tuesday that the U.N. health agency was seeing a "very large acceleration" in confirmed COVID-19 infections in the U.S.

According to the Reuters news agency, spokeswoman Margaret Harris said the rate of spread was putting the U.S. on pace to become a possible new global epicenter in the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S.," she said according to Reuters. "So it does have that potential" to become the most challenging outbreak around the world. 

Americans brace for predicted rise in coronavirus cases

For about two weeks the WHO has referred to Europe as the epicenter of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain bearing the brunt of the disease. There have been encouraging signs in Italy over the past two days, however, that draconian restrictions on daily life are starting to pay of: the rate of confirmed new infections in the hardest-hit northern region has levelled off. 

By Tucker Reals
 

Iran reports record jump in new COVID-19 cases

Iran on has announced 122 new coronavirus deaths, raising the official toll in the country to 1,934. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said a record 1,762 new cases were confirmed in Iran over the past 24 hours and 24,811 people were known to have been infected in total.

Iran accuses the U.S. of crippling its coronavirus response with sanctions, while the U.S. accuses Iran of lying about how and why the disease has spread so fast in the Islamic Republic.

As CBS News' Seyed Bathaei reported Monday, Iranian authorities say harsh U.S. sanctions have made it hard for the country to import the medical equipment needed to fight the epidemic. Some Iranian officials have even pushed a claim that the U.S. government created the virus and deliberately unleashed it on the country.

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly said the sanctions do not affect medical resources, and Pompeo said Monday that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's "fabrications" about the disease were "dangerous and they put Iranians and people around the world at greater risk." 

By Tucker Reals
 

Mnuchin and Schumer say deal expected today on $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package

Top congressional and White House officials emerged from grueling negotiations at the Capitol over the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package saying they expected to reach a deal Tuesday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said they had spoken by phone with President Donald Trump during the long night of negotiations. While the two sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some remain.

At midnight Monday, they emerged separately to say talks would continue into the night.

"We look forward to having a deal tomorrow," Mnuchin told reporters after exiting Schumer's office.

"The president is giving us direction," Mnuhcin said. "The president would like to have a deal, and he's hopeful we can conclude this."

Moments later, Schumer agreed that a deal was almost within reach. "That's the expectation - that we finish it tomorrow and hopefully vote on it tomorrow evening," he said. 

Associated Press

Senate continues to argue over relief package
 

Confusion as U.K.'s semi-lockdown takes effect

Confusion rippled through Britain on the first morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week halt to all nonessential activity to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. The government has told most stores to close, banned gatherings of three or more people and said everyone apart from essential workers should leave home only to buy food and medicine or to exercise once a day. 

But photos showed crowded trains on some London subway lines Tuesday amid confusion about who is still allowed to go to work.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: "I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now. Employers: please support your staff to work from home unless it's absolutely necessary. Ignoring these rules means more lives lost." 

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London
A commuter wearing a protective face mask with people on a platform at Hammersmith underground station as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 24, 2020. HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS

The government says police will have powers break up illegal gatherings and fine people who flout the rules. But some expressed doubts about whether the lockdown could be enforced.

Associated Press  

 

Virus outbreak forces major downgrading of Olympic torch relay

With this year's Tokyo Summer Olympics likely to be postponed, organizers made a last-minute decision Tuesday about how to handle one of the most visible icons of the Games: The highly symbolic torch relay will go on ― but without runners, spectators or even the flaming torch itself.

While 10,000 runners were originally enlisted to carry the Olympic flame on foot, traversing a route meant to showcase Japanese culture and scenery while building local enthusiasm for the quadrennial sporting event, the relay instead has been downgraded to just a safety lantern ― the kind used to transport the flame aboard aircraft ― ferried by car. The four-month relay is set to kick off at the J-Village soccer training center in Fukushima on March 26. 

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame is displayed outside the railway station in Tono, Iwate prefecture on March 22, 2020.  PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty

Would-be torchbearers didn't conceal their disappointment. "I was so happy when I was chosen to be a torch runner," one Fukushima man told TBS TV. "Just having a lantern is extremely regrettable."

But if reports are accurate, runners will eventually get their day on the macadam ― if the Olympics are rescheduled, organizers say a proper torch relay will be reassembled to usher it in.

By Lucy Craft
 

China eases curbs on one-time virus epicenter

Chinese authorities are lifting a lockdown in most of its virus-hit Hubei province.

People who are cleared will be able to leave the province after midnight Tuesday.

The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8. China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting Jan. 23 and expanded it to most of the province in the days that followed.

Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week. 

-Associated Press

 

Activists push for the release of vulnerable inmates during pandemic

The nearly 2.3 million people incarcerated across America are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak, activists warn, and the virus has already made its way behind bars. The close proximity of inmates, coupled with inadequate treatment, can cause diseases to spread quickly inside prisons, where resources like soap, cleaning supplies and warm water can be hard to come by.

The disease, COVID-19, has sickened tens of thousands of Americans, including 21 inmates and 12 staffers at New York City jails, the largest outbreak behind bars to date. There are more than 40,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., including more than 20,000 in New York state alone. 

After freeing two dozen inmates, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and city officials were reviewing the cases of 200 others and considering them for early release. Across the Hudson River, the New Jersey Supreme Court approved the release of up to 1,000 inmates serving time for low-level offenses, which is believed the largest release in response to the virus.

Read more here. 

By Tyler Kendall
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