Millions of jobless seek help as 1,000 die in U.S.

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New York governor holds a briefing on virus response

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is holding a briefing. He said Wednesday there are now more than 30,000 COVID-19 cases in the state and that officials anticipate 140,000 hospital beds and 40,000 ICU beds will be needed. 

You can watch the briefing in the player below:

CBSN New York

 

National Cathedral finds hidden “stash” of 5,000 medical masks in a crypt

The Washington National Cathedral says a stone mason found 5,000 medical masks in a crypt Wednesday that had been forgotten about for more than a decade. The church is now donating them to medical institutions that are in desperate need of them as they battle the coronavirus pandemic

The National Cathedral, where many American leaders have been eulogized or held prayer services, tweeted about its discovery after an employee found it. The cathedral sent a portion of the masks to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and then the rest to Children’s National Hospital. 

“Seek and ye shall find, apparently,” the Cathedral’s Twitter account said. Today @WNCathedral sent 3000 N95 masks to @MedStarGUH and 2000 to @ChildrensNatl after a stonemason found a forgotten stash in the Cathedral crypt. Certified by manufacturer as still good.” 

 

House expected to vote Friday on coronavirus relief bill

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Friday on a massive relief package responding to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate unanimously passed the measure late Wednesday night. 

The bill, which carries a price tag north of $2 trillion, will likely be approved by a voice vote in the House, which doesn’t require the presence of all members, many of whom are currently in their home states. 

The relief measure passed with a vote of 96 to 0 in the Senate The bill expands unemployment insurance, provides direct payments to most Americans and includes hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants to corporations, hospitals, state and local governments and more.  

“Tonight, the Senate voted on legislation which, thanks to the leadership of Congressional Democrats, has been turned upside down from a Republican corporate focus to a Democratic workers-first focus,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement following the Senate vote. “On Friday, the House will take up the legislation with strong bipartisan support.”

 

Germany ramps up COVID-19 testing capacity to 500k per week

Germany has increased its ability to test for the new coronavirus to 500,000 a week. Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch disease control center, says the number of tests being conducted in the country was likely the highest worldwide, both in absolute numbers and per capita.

Christian Drosten, a leading virologist at Berlin’s Charite hospital, says about 6-7% of tests come back positive. So far, there have been 39,500 cases in Germany and 222 deaths. 

The relatively low death rate in Germany — less than 1% — has been attributed by some epidemiologists to the extensive testing in the country, which enables the German health care system to quickly detect cases, isolate and treat them, and conduct the vital contract tracing.

Fewer than 500,000 people have been tested for the new coronvirus in the U.S. since the epidemic began in the country.

CBS/AP 

 

Amazon employees fear COVID-19 exposure: “I was panicking”

At least 10 Amazon warehouse employees across the country have contracted the coronavirus, according to employee and media reports. However, they are part of a select group of professions whose workers continue to serve their communities, often risking their own health to assist people self-isolating. 

“We have to make sure, you know, where we’re working at is safe,” Amazon associate Sahro Sharif told CBS News’ Adriana Diaz. Sharif, who works at the Shakopee fulfillment center in Minnesota, is part of a coalition pushing for better working conditions. Right now that means assuring employee safety as the coronavirus pandemic has many sequestered to their homes for fear of infection. 

“I was scared, I was panicking,” she said about the news of infections among warehouse workers. “When it comes to Amazon, there’s so much more they could do for their employees.” 

Click here to read the full report

Essential workers risk coronavirus exposure to serve their communities

 

“Unethical and selfish” doctors prescribing drug that may help treat coronavirus to family and friends

Some doctors are writing prescriptions for a drug that may help treat coronavirus for their family and friends, one pharmacist said, calling their actions “unethical and selfish.” Hydroxychloroquine has not been clinically proven to be safe or successful in treating coronavirus, and yet the increased demand for it is making it harder for people who need it to control their chronic diseases to get it.

Hydroxychloroquine is a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug. It often treats autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and is sold under the brand name, Plaquenil. 

Pharmacists share warning about over-prescription of potential COVID-19 drugs

Recent data show chloroquine orders spiked 3,000% in March and hydroxychloroquine orders rose 260%. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved these drugs for treatment of the coronavirus, but doctors are allowed to prescribe them.

 

American expats in the U.K. fear coronavirus could leave them in limbo

As American citizens traveling abroad are urged to return to the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic, many who live in the U.K. fear they could soon find themselves stuck in limbo: Ineligible for support from the British government if they lose their jobs, they also have no homes — or health insurance — to go back to in the U.S.

Approximately 174,000 Americans live in the United Kingdom, many of whom don’t qualify for government support under the terms of their visas. CBS News’ Haley Ott spoke to some very anxious Americans in this precarious situation.

 

U.S. jobless claims surge to record 3.3 million as coronavirus slams labor market

An unprecedented number of Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus shuttered businesses nationwide.

Roughly 3.3 million people filed a claim for jobless aid in the week ending March 21, a nearly fivefold increase over the previous record in 1982.

“This represents the single worst one-day piece of labor market news in America’s history,” Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, said in an email.

U.S. sees worst unemployment numbers in over 50 years

 

Japan warned of “highly likely” surge in new coronavirus cases

The Japanese capital registered 47 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, its biggest single-day rise, as the metropolis of 13.9 million people prepares for a weekend indoors. The worrying jump in infections prompted Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike to ask her counterparts in neighboring prefectures to help the greater Tokyo region to isolate itself.

Six prefectures responded quickly, asking citizens to avoid all nonessential trips into the capital, or even to stay home altogether. The region is home to about 40 million people — about a third of Japan’s total population. 

Disease experts are concerned not just about Japan’s rising case numbers, but their inability to trace the routes of infection. Koike said Tokyo “is now at a critical juncture.”

Japan Battles Against The Coronavirus Outbreak
People, some wearing face masks, walk through a park as they enjoy cherry blossom season on March 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Carl Court/Getty


Compared to Manhattan or other big cities with tens of thousands of cases, Japan’s total of 2,000-plus infections — about a third of them from the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship — might seem insignificant. But the spiraling stats are so troubling an expert government panel released its most dire analysis ever Thursday, saying it is “highly likely” Japan will see “rampant” infections.     

 

Renowned chef Floyd Cardoz mourned after dying of coronavirus complications

Chef Floyd Cardoz, who competed on “Top Chef,” won “Top Chef Masters” and operated successful restaurants in both India and New York, died Wednesday of complications from the coronavirus, his company said in a statement. He was 59.

Cardoz had traveled from Mumbai to New York through Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8. He was admitted a week ago to Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, New Jersey, with a fever and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, the statement said.

The committed advocate of making the food industry more sustainable began his hospitality training in his native Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. He later moved to Switzerland, where he honed his skills in French, Italian and Indian cuisine before moving on to the kitchens of New York City.

– CBS/AP

 

Trump under fire for pushing arbitrary coronavirus deadline

Economists, health experts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized President Trump for saying he would like to reopen thousands of businesses closed in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus by Easter.

Mr. Trump’s own top medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned against arbitrary deadlines for resuming normal activities. 

Trump under fire for suggesting April virus lockdown deadline

Mr. Trump, however, is accusing the media of wanting to keep the country shut down to hurt his re-election chances. Watch the video above for Paula Reid’s full report on the discord within the White House.  

 

Restaurant workers already living “tip to mouth” face more hardship in shutdown

Restaurant servers who rely on customers’ tips to make ends meet have seen their livelihoods vanish virtually overnight. The restaurant industry is reeling from the financial impact of coronavirus shutdowns, and so are the workers who kept it running

Surviving an Unlivable Wage

Click here for the full report, part of the new CBSN Originals documentary series REVERB. Watch the latest episode, “Surviving an Unlivable Wage,” in the video player above. It premieres on CBSN Sunday, March 29, at 8 p.m. ET.  

 

For 1st time since WWII, France uses specially-equipped train to move critically ill

For the first time since World War II, hospital patients have been transported across France by train. 

Twenty critically-ill COVID-19 patients, all on life support, were boarded onto a specially-kitted out high-speed TGV train in Strasbourg, eastern France early Thursday destined for hospitals in the Loire region and Brittany in the west.

Thirty doctors accompanied them. Some 200 rail workers were mobilized to help adapt the five cars, and to assist with embarking and disembarking the patients.

FRANCE-HEALTH-VIRUS-epidemic
Ambulances stand by to load patients affected with coronavirus (Covid-19) aboard a medicalised TGV (high-speed train) in Strasbourg, France on March 26, 2020.

FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty


Eastern France was one of the first areas hit by the new coronavirus. It was the site of the first major cluster, after people who attended a Lenten religious service caught the virus and spread it through the community before the alarm was raised.

Almost half of the more than 1,300 people who have died in the pandemic in France were in the Greater East region.

 

India announces $22.6 billion to help the poor survive world’s biggest COVID-19 lockdown

India’s government has announced a $22.6 billion plan to help the country’s poor get through a 21-day lockdown ordered to try to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The lockdown in the nation of 1.3 billion is the biggest in the world prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, and it presents a particular challenge for the impoverished.

The financial aid will provide direct cash transfers and food subsidies. It’s expected to give much needed relief to millions of daily wage earners and migrant workers who have been put out of work by the lockdown.

“No one will go hungry,” India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while announcing the relief. 

Thursday is the second day of the three-week lockdown. Most businesses and transport links are shut down across the country. Police have set up check points on major streets to look for any rule breakers.

India Imposes Nationwide Lockdown As The Coronavirus Continue To Spread
Indian shopkeepers and customers are seen in a crowded market place in New Delhi, India, on March 26, 2020, amid a nationwide lockdown over the highly contagious novel coronavirus.

Getty


There are more than 650 confirmed COVID-19 cases in India and 13 deaths, but there are fears those numbers could be set to rise sharply. In spite of the lockdown, at least one wholesale vegetable market was densely packed with buyers in Delhi Thursday morning.   

– Arshad R. Zargar

 

U.S. Navy vet freed from Iranian prison with coronavirus symptoms wants to come home

A Navy veteran released from an Iranian prison last week on a medical furlough says he’s sick with coronavirus symptoms and is requesting a humanitarian evacuation to the United States for medical treatment.

Michael White was hospitalized Wednesday in a ward for coronavirus patients in Iran and has experienced fever, fatigue, a cough and shortness of breath since his furlough last week, according to a statement from Jon Franks, a family spokesman.

White, of Imperial Beach, California, “is an immunocompromised cancer patient and his situation is urgent,” Franks said. White has been tested for the coronavirus but the results haven’t come back.

U.S. Navy vet sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison

CBS/AP

 

Va. governor asks Liberty University President Jerry Falwell to reconsider welcoming students back

Virginia’s governor is asking Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to reconsider his decision to welcome students back to the Lynchburg campus this week after their spring break. 

Governor Ralph Northam criticized Liberty at a news conference Wednesday in Richmond. He said Liberty was sending “mixed messages” about the COVID-19 disease. Liberty told students they’re “welcome” to return to campus after last week’s spring break. The school is among the nation’s largest and most prominent evangelical colleges.

Many colleges nationwide have announced campus closures, but Liberty initially planned to continue on-campus instruction. Last week, after Northam restricted gatherings of more than 100, Liberty said it would transition most classes online from Monday.

However, residential students were told they were “welcome” to return to campus, according to an email sent to students. The move was at odds with many other institutions of higher education, including the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, which has said only students who have “no other options” can remain on campus, and William & Mary, which closed its residence halls.  

Associated Press

 

Desperate American woman finally gets flight out of Peru amid pandemic

A 33-year-old American woman running out of her life-saving medication to treat her auto-immune disease finally boarded a flight home Wednesday after being stuck in Peru for about 10 days, but hundreds of other U.S. citizens remained stranded after the South American nation closed its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I could not be happier,” Anna, who requested that her last name not be made public due to privacy concerns related to her medical condition, said after getting on the plane in Cusco.

At the same time, it was bittersweet. On the way to the airport, Anna and her husband saw a long line of Americans hoping to get on the flight. Her husband told The Associated Press that some people have been “sitting outside the airport for a week.”

– Associated Press

 

Marine becomes first person stationed at the Pentagon to test positive

A U.S. Marine stationed at the Pentagon tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, the Department of Defense said in a Wednesday statement. The patient, who is now in isolation, last visited the Pentagon on March 13. 

“The Marine followed U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines and DoD directives by isolating himself when an immediate family member began to show symptoms,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Once he became ill, he contacted his assigned medical facility.”   

The statement added that the marine’s workspace has been cleaned by a Pentagon response team, and that a contact investigation is ongoing. 

 

Atlanta hospitals overwhelmed by coronavirus patients

At Atlanta’s Grady Hospital, all 100 beds in the intensive care unit were full. Then COVID-19 hit. Patients are now quarantined wherever the hospital finds space.

“The stress is not just capacity,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Jansen told CBS News. “It’s not just stress of supplies, but on the individuals taking care of the patients. Because so much is not known.”

At all of Atlanta’s four major hospitals, every ICU bed is taken. At one rural hospital in Georgia, 12 COVID-19 patients have died. The hospital is overwhelmed.

“They’ve asked for help, but we can’t give it,” Jansen said.

Read more here.

ICU units are at “full capacity,” Atlanta mayor warns

 

Mnuchin says Senate stimulus package will keep economy running for 3 months

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he anticipates the Senate stimulus package will keep the economy afloat for about three months, as the nation deals with the catastrophic economic fallout from the novel coronavirus. Senate leaders of both parties have agreed on a sweeping $2 trillion financial relief package to help American workers, businesses and the strained health care system survive the virus outbreak, although some senators are threatening to delay the bill.

Mnuchin told reporters at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing Wednesday that small business retention loans would cover roughly 50% of private payroll, making loans that would supply eight weeks of salaries, as long as they keep workers employed, and overhead. The loans would be forgiven at the end of the eight-week period if the businesses keep their employees.

President Trump said he will sign the bill “immediately” after it reaches his desk. But it’s not yet completely clear when those payments to Americans will reach their wallets.

Read more here.





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