While the Washington State Department of Health had prepared a plan for the arrival of the virus in January, it assumed it still had weeks before the disease would reach the U.S. “In three days, the plan was trashed. We went through every step,” Marcia Goldoft, a clinical epidemiologist with the Washington State DOH, told Yahoo News. “I don’t think anyone involved has ever seen anything go this fast.”
The New York Times reported this week that almost a dozen Liberty University students have come down with COVID-19 symptoms since the school reopened last week. But Liberty University officials have since pushed back on these claims, calling the Times story “fake news”. Now, students are choosing sides in who they believe is telling the truth.
June 2 has now replaced April 28 as one of the biggest days in the Democratic presidential primary.
US officials have accused China of spreading disinformation, and even some Chinese residents have expressed skepticism about the numbers.
A Pennsylvania man “extremely upset” about losing his job amidst the coronavirus pandemic allegedly shot his girlfriend, before turning the gun on himself in an attempted murder-suicide, authorities said Wednesday.The Wilson Borough Police Department said in a statement to The Daily Beast that Roderick Bliss IV, 38, attempted to fatally shoot his girlfriend with a semi-automatic pistol on Monday afternoon, before dying by suicide, after he “had become increasingly upset over the COVID-19 pandemic.” The 43-year-old girlfriend, who was shot once in the back, survived the attack and is in St. Luke’s hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. “In the days prior to the shooting, Bliss had become increasingly upset over the COVID-19 pandemic,” police said. “Minutes before the shooting Bliss was extremely upset about the pandemic and the fact that he had recently lost his job.”What if This Coronavirus Lockdown Is Only the Beginning?At around 1:20 p.m. on Monday, authorities responded to reports of “multiple shots fired with injuries” at Bliss’ Wilson Borough home, about an hour outside of Philadelphia. Upon arrival, officers found Bliss “unresponsive and not breathing” and a semi-automatic pistol near his body. The Northampton County Coroner ruled Bliss’ death a suicide.The girlfriend, who is alert, and other witnesses told police that Bliss had become upset that the pandemic—which has infected more than 206,200 people and killed 4,542 nationwide—cost him his job. Authorities said an enraged Bliss “went into the basement and came outside on to the rear porch” with a handgun. “While holding the handgun, Bliss told the victim, ‘I already talked to God and I have to do this,’” police said. “The victim ran off of the porch and he shot at her four times striking her once. Bliss then shot himself.”The attempted murder-suicide marks the latest example of the collateral damage of the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic violence experts and law enforcement believe domestic violence incidents will rise as families are forced into social isolation across the country.Judy Harris Kluger, executive director of Sanctuary for Families in New York, told The Daily Beast that, for some survivors of domestic violence, being able to leave their home is critical—and forced stay-at-home orders isolate them from the “social support system” that would have previously allowed them to report abuse. White House Trots Out Grim Death Models to Drive Home Social Distancing“Domestic violence is all about power and control and what a powerful tool it is to be able to say to somebody, ‘You can’t go out of this house, you have to be here,’” Kluger said. “Even though people can go out for certain things, this environment just engages in the most negative way the power of the abuser.” Kluger said her organization, and several others across New York—the current epicenter of the outbreak in the United States—are anticipating an increase in domestic violence calls as the pandemic continues. A spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline said they haven’t yet seen a significant increase in call volumes but were receiving an increase in calls related to COVID-19 and the anxiety of people being stuck in their homes. “Right now, the people who are at risk are very isolated,” Kluger said, noting her organization is reaching out to former clients who might be at risk. “We are worried that we are going to see an uptick while this ‘shelter-in-place’ is in effect. Also, as the tension of the crisis rises, we anticipate people will begin reporting soon.”But, even as the looming number of domestic violence cases threatens New York and other cities, the number of healthy police officers is also dwindling. New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday there were at least 1,400 officers who had tested positive for coronavirus, while about 17 percent had called out sick. Despite trying to police a city with a virus-related death toll of more than 1,000, Shea has previously stressed the NYPD is focused on domestic violence cases. “What I’m concerned about is, it’s happening and it’s not getting reported,” Shea said Tuesday, noting that survivors may not be calling for help. “We’ve asked the domestic violence officers—you know who the people are in your commands, who are most vulnerable. Pick up the phone, pick up the computer keyboard and start communicating with them. Just make sure that things are OK.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
North Korea remains totally free of the coronavirus, a senior health official in Pyongyang has insisted, despite mounting scepticism overseas as confirmed global infections near one million. The already isolated, nuclear-armed North quickly shut down its borders after the virus was first detected in neighbouring China in January, and imposed strict containment measures. Pak Myong Su, director of the anti-epidemic department of the North's Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters, insisted that the efforts had been completely successful.
Taiwan will donate ten million face masks to countries struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, a move that will likely rile China, which claims Taiwan as a territory and has donated far fewer masks to other countries despite its role in covering up the risk posed by a deadly virus that originated within its borders.“At the previous stage, we formed a national team, now we need to play an international match and fight the pandemic together with other countries,” said Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen. “At this stage, we will donate 10 million masks.”According to Taiwan's foreign ministry, 7 million of the masks will be sent to European Union countries, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. Taipei also plans to send masks to the U.S.Taiwan has done a remarkable job containing the spread of the virus, with only 322 confirmed cases of coronavirus and five deaths resulting from infection as of Tuesday.China criticized an agreement between Taiwan and American Institute in Taipei on coronavirus cooperation, calling it “a political plot to pursue independence with the help of the epidemic.”China shipped only two million masks to be distributed across Europe, while Jack Ma, China's richest man, donated another two million."Today, we're grateful for China's support," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said of the mask shipments.China also supplied rapid test coronavirus test kits to Spain and the Czech Republic, but the majority of the tests turned out to be faulty. Up to 80 percent of the 150,000 portable test kits China delivered to the Czech Republic earlier this month did not produce correct results. Spain, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus fatalities in the world after Italy, found that the rapid coronavirus test kits it purchased from Chinese company Bioeasy only correctly identified 30 percent of virus cases.In December, local and national officials issued a gag order to labs in Wuhan after scientists there identified a new viral pneumonia, ordering them to halt tests, destroy samples, and conceal the news. A recent collaborative study by scientists based in both China and the U.S. found that 95 percent of infections could have been prevented had China implemented measures to stem the spread just three weeks earlier.The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report Wednesday that China deliberately provided incomplete public numbers for coronavirus cases and deaths resulting from the infection.
"In the next few days, we will reach 1 million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths worldwide," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. * Mexico's economy is forecast to contract by as much as 3.9% in 2020, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, in an annual economic report used to guide the budget, adding that the numbers incorporated a "drastic" impact from coronavirus.
The state’s testing delays have limited understanding of the outbreak and hindered containment * Coronavirus – latest US updates * Coronavirus – latest global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageCalifornia has not seen the surge in coronavirus cases that have overwhelmed cities like New York and Detroit in the past week, which suggests that the state’s early and restrictive shelter-in-place orders could be slowing the virus’s spread. But experts say delays in testing have limited the understanding of the outbreak and have hindered containment efforts.California implemented one of the earliest and strictest orders to stay at home in the United States in mid-March, and as of Wednesday, there were 8,584 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 183 deaths in the state compared with the 76,000 cases and 1,714 deaths in New York. Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus taskforce coordinator, said on Tuesday that she was “reassured by what California has been able to do” to help control the virus with physical distancing orders.Some doctors have said California appears to be succeeding at “flattening the curve”, meaning slowing the spread so hospitals have enough resources and workers to manage the number of cases. The California governor, Gavin Newsom, said on Tuesday that “the current modeling is on the lower end of our projection”. Last month, Newsom had warned that more than half of the state could be infected within two weeks. “We are in a completely different place than the state of New York,” Newsom said at a briefing on Wednesday. “And I hope we continue to be, but we won’t unless people continue to practice physical distancing.”Indeed, the state’s early and ambitious efforts to enforce shelter-in-place rules do seem to have prevented hospitals from becoming as overwhelmed as New York’s system, Robert Siegel, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, told the Guardian. “But it’s difficult to accurately know the impact of your interventions if you don’t have adequate testing,” he said.As of Tuesday, more than 86,100 tests had been administered in the state, and of those, 57,400 results were still pending. By comparison, New York, which has about half the population of California, has processed more than 200,000 tests. Washington state, which has less than a fifth of California’s population, has processed 65,462 tests.Testing efforts in California have been set back due to a lack of swabs, vials and media for collecting patient samples, as well as a shortage of kits and bottlenecks at labs.Across the state, tests are in short supply and currently largely limited to people with severe symptoms and those with underlying health conditions, meaning large swaths of the state’s population are left untested. “The general idea is that if somebody that has been to the hospital, and they have symptoms, then you assume they’re infected,” said Siegel. But by testing more, doctors and health officials could be more strategic and selective about who they isolate, he noted.Administering more than one type of test could also help California, and the country as a whole, better understand how the coronavirus spreads through communities. The tests being used in the US detect for the presence of viral RNA. Another type of test – called a serology or antibody test – can help detect if a person’s immune system has faced off against Covid-19 and recovered from it. Antibody tests are not currently being done in the US. “It’s really important to test for immunity,” Siegel said, because people who are immune could return to work without endangering themselves or others. “They could more safely work as frontline healthcare providers,” Siegel said.Wendy Parmet, a Northeastern University health policy expert, said the testing problems made tracking the virus challenging: “You need testing to make sure you quickly identify new outbreaks and trace contacts. Put out the small sparks before they become another conflagration.” The lack of adequate testing could drag out the sheltering period, she said. “Many of the plans of how you go from where we are now to the next stage rely on testing,” she said.A bottleneck in the commercial laboratory Quest Diagnostics, which is processing tests, has further exacerbated California’s challenges. Despite initial promises of delivering results within one to two days, the private lab in southern California, which has received tests from hospitals across the country, has not been able to ramp up processing fast enough, meaning some healthcare professionals have had to wait more than a week for results.And although some in Silicon Valley are working on testing solutions, efforts in the international tech hub have been slow and largely unsuccessful.“Why California would be lagging I really don’t know,” Siegel said. “Especially because it does strike me that we do have a lot of experts.”South Korea’s widespread testing of its population, including people who did not have symptoms but might be at risk of spreading, played a major role in allowing the country to control the virus with significantly less disruption than other nations. Widespread, random testing in Iceland has similarly helped epidemiologists better understand how the virus affects people – data from the country found that half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic, and overall a low population had been infected.The test shortage not only prevents people suspected of having Covid-19 from getting a diagnosis and being counted and traced, it also hampers officials’ efforts to prevent an outbreak in the most vulnerable and high-risk communities.California has the largest homeless population in the US, with 40,000 people living in crowded shelters where advocates say testing access has improved over the last week, but continues to fall short.“It’s impeding the ability of shelters to identify people who have been infected with the virus and remove them from this incredibly dangerous environment, where the virus has the potential to spread like wildfire,” said Eve Garrow, the homelessness policy analyst with the ACLU of Southern California. She argued that all residents and staff should be tested, and noted that she recently heard from one shelter resident who has a fever, but was unable to get a test.> You need testing to make sure you quickly identify new outbreaks and trace contacts. Put out the small sparks before they become another conflagration> > Wendy ParmetAt one shelter at Skid Row in Los Angeles, where an employee tested positive this week, staff have isolated more than 100 people who may have been exposed, and are working to test as many people as they can. “They were slow to come … but hopefully we get enough tests,” said the Rev Andy Bales, who runs the shelter. He said he hoped health officials would provide enough tests for those potentially exposed and residents with symptoms.“In New York, they were more aggressive about testing,” Siegel said. “We in California moved ahead with aggressive public health interventions in the absence of testing.” And although testing is crucial, ultimately, distancing measures are more important, he said, adding that California will probably have many more cases, especially in big cities, as testing ramps up. Still, Siegel doesn’t think the state will follow New York’s pattern.Parmet said when federal and state leaders tout California’s progress, it could encourage people to stay home and distance and pressure other jurisdictions to follow suit: “It’s important for people to see that there are possibilities, that efforts can make a difference.”
Scientists offered more evidence Wednesday that the coronavirus is spread by seemingly healthy people who show no clear symptoms, and the federal government issued new guidance warning that anyone exposed to the disease can be considered a carrier. A study by researchers in Singapore became the latest to estimate that somewhere around 10% of new infections may be sparked by people who carry the virus but have not yet suffered its flu-like symptoms. In response to that study and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed how it defined the risk of infection for Americans.
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